“For the promise that he would be heir of the world was not to Abraham or his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith” (Romans 4:13).
A promise was made to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3; 17:5-6; 22:16-18; 28:14). It would be through his seed salvation would come to humanity (Genesis 12:3; 22:18 cf. Acts 3:24-26). He would be the father of many nations (Genesis 17:5). His name was changed from Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of a multitude) and his wife’s was changed from Sarai (my princess) to Sarah (princess) by God (Genesis 17:5,15). He would be the father of the faithful (Romans 4:11-12, 16).
The promise was not through law (note: the definite article is not present in the Greek) but through the righteousness of faith. Abraham did not receive this promise by so perfectly keeping the law that he never needed forgiveness. Instead, he received this promise because he lived a life of faith (Romans 4:1-8). Abraham’s faith was more than a mental belief. It directed his steps (Romans 4:12).
“For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void…” (Romans 4:14).
If one flawlessly kept law (note: the definite article is not present in the Greek), then he would stand justified by works (cf. Romans 4:1-4). He would not need to have faith in God for salvation (cf. Romans 4:5-8; 1:16-17). One would not need the blood of Christ.
This was not God’s plan for man’s righteousness. Paul remarked, “if righteousness comes through the law (Note: the definite article is not present in the Greek), then Christ died in vain” (Galatians 2:21).
“For if those of the law are heirs… the promise is of no effect, because the law brings wrath…” (Romans 4:14-15).
If one be required to flawlessly keep law (note: the definite article is not present in the Greek) in order to be an heir of the promise, then the promise is of no effect. This is the case because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 33:23). “Therefore by the deeds of the law (the definite article is not present in the Greek) no flesh will be justified in His sight…” (Romans 3:20). Roy Deaver commented, “There was no justification by law, and this because no one kept the law perfectly” (Deaver, Romans: God Plan For Man’s Righteousness, p. 137).
“Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law (Note: the definite article is present in the Greek), but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham” (Romans 4:16).
The blessing God promised through Abraham is available to Abraham’s children. That is, those who have the faith of Abraham (cf. Romans 4:11-12; John 8:39-40; Galatians 3:26-29). It is not only for Israelites. It is available to all. The blessing is available by the grace of God through faith. Perfect works of law is not demanded.
Many Israelites, and Judaizing teachers almost consider the Mosaic law itself an amulet, charm, or talisman. However, Abraham was counted righteous long before the law of Moses come forth. It was 430 years between the Abrahamic promise and the Mosaic law (Galatians 3:15-18).