Father of the Faithful

James Cook

READ : Romans 4:1–12

He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. (v. 11

Scripture confers the rich title “the father of the faithful” upon Abraham. This is hardly an overstatement, for this lone patriarch is held in honor by the followers of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. What was there about him that made Abraham a prince with God? Did God discover in him an example of perfection to hold up before the ages? Paul says no! Abraham’s greatness stemmed from his personal relationship with God. God had come to him with a call to leave home, family, and livelihood. It was an invitation to a great leap of faith with nothing in hand but a promise. It was as if God said, “Abraham, how much do you trust me?” And Abraham’s answer was to start packing. He took God at his word and went out without knowing where God would lead.

For Paul, this complete trust and full surrender to God was the hard core of faith. He is careful to point out that this is a response that any person can make. For Abraham did not make it as a member of God’s chosen people. The badge of circumcision had not yet been given. To some, the point might seem small. But Paul knew better. By responding outside circumcision, Abraham has become the holy ancestor, not only of the faithful Jew, but of all who trust in God. (originally published October 7, 1961)


Thank you, God, for the gift of life, for daily work, and the strength to do it. Amen.