What does Romans 4:17-18 really mean?

Romans 4:17-18 is about Abraham’s unwavering faith in God’s ability to bring life out of death, serving as an example for believers to trust in God’s promises even in the face of seemingly impossible circumstances.

17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.
18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.”


Setting the Scene for Romans 4:17-18

In Romans chapter 4, the apostle Paul is writing to the early Christian community in Rome, explaining the concept of faith and righteousness. As he delves into the story of Abraham, he sets the scene of a quiet evening in the ancient city of Ur. Abraham, then known as Abram, is sitting outside his tent under the vast starlit sky, contemplating the promises of God. His wife Sarah, still called Sarai at this point, is nearby, perhaps preparing a meal or tending to their belongings.

Abram and Sarai had been called by God to leave their homeland and journey to a new land that God would show them. Despite their old age and barrenness, God had promised them descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. As they sit together in the cool night air, the weight of their unfulfilled promise hangs heavy on their hearts. Yet, in that moment, Abram’s faith in God’s promise begins to grow, and he starts to believe that God is able to do what He has promised.

The scene captures a pivotal moment in the lives of Abram and Sarai, as they wrestle with doubts and fears but ultimately choose to trust in God’s faithfulness. It is a moment of vulnerability and surrender, as they come to realize that their righteousness does not come from their own works, but from their faith in the promises of God.

What is Romans 4:17-18 about?

Oh, the story of Abraham is truly a testament to unwavering faith and trust in God’s promises. Despite facing challenging circumstances and uncertainties, Abraham continued to believe in God’s plan for him. Just imagine the strength and courage it must have taken for him to hold onto his faith through it all.

This verse serves as a powerful reminder for us to trust in God’s promises, even when things seem impossible or when the odds are stacked against us. It teaches us the value of faith and perseverance, showing that with belief and dedication, anything is possible. Let Abraham’s unwavering faith inspire us to hold onto our own faith in times of doubt and uncertainty, trusting that God’s plan is always unfolding, even if we cannot see it clearly at the moment.

Understanding what Romans 4:17-18 really means

In Romans 4:17-18, Paul delves into the faith of Abraham, highlighting a crucial aspect of his righteousness – it stemmed from faith, not adherence to the law. This distinction underscores the profound power of faith and the unwavering nature of God’s promises. The phrase “Father of many nations” encapsulates God’s assurance to Abraham that he would be the progenitor of numerous nations, a pledge made despite his advanced age and Sarah’s inability to conceive. It showcases God’s ability to bring about the seemingly impossible and to fulfill His promises beyond human limitations.

Moreover, the statement “Calls into existence the things that do not exist” vividly portrays God’s creative might and His capacity to breathe life and purpose into situations that appear devoid of hope. It serves as a poignant reminder of God’s sovereignty over all circumstances, emphasizing His ability to transform the bleak into the bountiful. Abraham’s resolute faith, as depicted in “In hope he believed against hope,” serves as a beacon of unwavering trust in God’s faithfulness, even when faced with insurmountable odds.

Drawing parallels from related passages such as Genesis 17:5, Hebrews 11:11-12, and Galatians 3:6-9, we witness a tapestry of faith interwoven with God’s promises and the fulfillment thereof. These narratives echo the enduring truth that faith transcends temporal constraints and aligns believers with the eternal promises of God. In a contemporary context, the message of Romans 4:17-18 resonates profoundly, urging individuals to anchor their faith in God’s unchanging promises amidst the uncertainties of life.

Consider a scenario where an individual receives a dire medical diagnosis. Despite the grim prognosis, their unwavering faith in God’s healing power sustains them, akin to Abraham’s steadfast belief in God’s promises. This anecdote illustrates the transformative impact of faith and hope, showcasing how trust in God’s sovereignty can usher in peace and miraculous outcomes even in the face of adversity.

In conclusion, Romans 4:17-18 stands as a poignant testament to the enduring power of faith and hope. It beckons believers to lean into God’s promises, trusting in His ability to bring forth life and fulfillment in the midst of life’s most daunting challenges. As we navigate the complexities of our modern world, may we draw inspiration from Abraham’s unwavering faith and find solace in the unchanging nature of God’s promises.

How can we increase our faith in God’s promises?

We can increase our faith in God’s promises by considering the example of Abraham, who believed in the promises of God despite the circumstances that seemed impossible. Just like Abraham, we can choose to focus on God’s ability to fulfill His promises rather than our own limitations or the obstacles we face. Meditating on God’s faithfulness and power strengthens our trust in His promises.

Additionally, we can increase our faith by recalling the character of God as revealed in His Word. Studying and meditating on the Scriptures helps us gain a deeper understanding of God’s reliability, love, and faithfulness. This knowledge anchors our faith in His promises, reminding us that He is trustworthy and true to His word. Reflecting on the countless times God has proven Himself faithful in the past can also bolster our confidence in His promises for the future.

Prayer is another powerful tool to increase our faith in God’s promises. We invite Him to strengthen our faith and deepen our trust in His promises by bringing our hopes, fears, and uncertainties before God in prayer. Pouring out our hearts to Him in prayer opens us up to receiving His peace, assurance, and guidance, which can help us cling more firmly to His promises in times of doubt or uncertainty.


Embrace the words of Romans 4:17-18 as a guiding light in your journey of faith. Let them fuel your belief in a God who can bring forth life from the void and make the impossible possible. Reflect on Abraham’s steadfast hope in the face of adversity, and draw strength from his unwavering faith. Will you join this legacy of trust and resilience, standing firm in the knowledge that God’s promises will never falter?