The word “impute” means “count” or “take account of”. So, “blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin” (ESV).

Paul here is using Old Testament examples to explanation how we can appear before righteous before God. He cites the example of Abraham, who “believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness” (Rom 4:3; cf. Gen 15:6). Abraham wasn’t sinless but he trusted in God and this was counted as righteousness.

Then Paul cites the example of David, who writes in the psalms “blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord wil not count his sin” (Rom 4:7-8; cf. Ps 32:1-2). David wasn’t sinless but his sins were forgiven and were not counted against him.

This is the way that we can be righteous before God. If God forgives our sins then they are not counted against us. If we trust in God then that faith will be counted as righteousness.

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2 Responses to What does Romans 4:8 mean when it says, “blessed is the man to whom God will not impute sin”?

  1. Nick says:

    In my study on this topic of imputed righteousness, the Greek term “logizomai” is the English term for “reckon/impute/credit/etc,” (all terms are basically equivalently used) and when I look up that term in a popular lexicon here is what it is defined as:


    QUOTE: “This word deals with reality. If I “logizomai” or reckon that my bank book has $25 in it, it has $25 in it. Otherwise I am deceiving myself. This word refers to facts not suppositions.”



    The lexicon states this term first and foremost refers to the actual status of something. So if Abraham’s faith is “logizomai as righteousness,” it must be an actually righteous act of faith, otherwise (as the Lexicon says) “I am deceiving myself.” This seems to rule out any notion of an alien righteousness, and instead points to a local/inherent righteousness.

    The Lexicon gives other examples where “logizomai” appears, here are some examples:


    Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude [logizomai] that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

    Rom 4:4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted [logizomai] as a gift but as his due.

    Rom 6:11 Likewise reckon [logizomai] ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Rom 8:18 For I reckon [logizomai] that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.


    Notice in these examples that “logizomai” means to consider the actual truth of an object. In 3:28 Paul ‘reckons’ faith saves while the Law does not, this is a fact, the Law never saves. In 4:4 the worker’s wages are ‘reckoned’ as a debt because the boss is in debt to the worker, not giving a gift to him. In 6:11 the Christian is ‘reckoned’ dead to sin because he is in fact dead to sin. In 8:18 Paul ‘reckons’ the present sufferings as having no comparison to Heavenly glory, and that is true because nothing compares to Heavenly glory.

    To use logizomai in the “alien status” way would mean in: (1) 3:28 faith doesn’t really save apart from works, but we are going to go ahead and say it does; (2) 4:4 the boss gives payment to the worker as a gift rather than obligation/debt; (3) 6:11 that we are not really dead to sin but are going to say we are; (4) 8:18 the present sufferings are comparable to Heaven’s glory.

    This cannot be right.

    So when the text plainly says “faith is logizomai as righteousness,” I must read that as ‘faith is reckoned as a truly righteous act’, and that is precisely how Paul explains that phrase in 4:18-22. That despite the doubts that could be raised in Abraham’s heart, his faith grew strong and convinced and “that is why his faith was credited as righteousness” (v4:22). This is also confirmed by noting the only other time “credited as righteousness” appears in Scripture, Psalm 106:30-31, where Phinehas’ righteous action was reckoned as such. This is confirmed even more when one compares anoth

  2. Thomas Gaston says:

    Thank you Nick for your comment, however I do not think it is helpful to give a more rigid definition of logizomai than the word itself will allow. Logizomai means (depending on context) “count”, “reckon”, “take account of”, etc. It does not necessarily imply the accuracy or reality of this reckoning.

    Remember in this context Paul is talking about grace (“undeserved favour”). This is why our faith can be counted as righteousness. This is why our sins can be not counted against us.

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