17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;
Paul supported his argument of verse 16 with verse 17, using a citation from Genesis. This quotation justifies calling Abraham the “father of us all.”
17 (as it is written [stands written],
This is a quotation from Genesis 17:5. It was a promise to Abraham, the first Jew. By quoting this verse to believers of the Church Age, God includes the church in an aspect of the Abrahamic covenant. God made Abraham the “father” of Gentiles (“nations”) as well as Jews.
“I have made you a father of many nations”)
The words “have made” indicate permanence (perfect tense). God set forth a final word about establishing the Jewish nation with the Abrahamic covenant. This is an unadulterated, unconditional promise.
Abraham’s original name was Abram (father) and became Abraham (father of many nations). Imagine Abraham changing his name from “father” to “father of many” when he did not have a son by Sarah! No doubt some ridiculed him and had a big laugh over that.
in the presence [esteem] of Him whom he believed—
Abraham believed God would provide a son as He promised. In God’s estimation, Abraham’s faith was adequate to give him a son. His faith was beyond natural expectation; it was a faith that trusted God would provide outside the sexual capacity of his and Sarah’s old age. This was so because of the character of the God Abraham believed.
True faith is never daunted by obstacles, because it looks to God’s promises. God promised Abraham and Sarah a child and He would do it.
God, who gives life to the dead
Although Abraham was 100 years of age and Sarah was 90, he believed God would fulfill His promise to him that they would have a son (Ge 17:17,19; 18:10; 21:5). He and Sarah were dead sexually because of their age. God gave them Isaac when Abraham was 99 years old. God’s Word proved true that He would multiply Abraham’s seed “exceedingly” (Ge 17:1) and that he would be the father of “many nations” (Ge 17:4,5).
and calls those things which do not exist [functional sexual genitalia] as though they did [as though they did exist];
Abraham had a son that did not as yet exist, yet Abraham believed he would exist. God brought into existence Isaac yet unborn by rejuvenating Abraham’s sexual genitalia. Sarah until this point had never delivered children (at 89 years of age, and Abraham 99). The God who brings creation into existence out of nothing (ex nihilo) can conceive a child from very old, sexually dead parents. God is true to His promise that all the families of the earth would be blessed through Abraham’s progeny. God does not operate on the same plane as His creatures. Isaac is proof that God brings life out of nothing. God said, “Let there be Isaac,” and Isaac came into being.
Believing God’s promises is at the heart of Christian living.
It is the object of our faith that matters to God. Knowledge of the object of belief is necessary before we can have adequate faith. Knowing that God will keep His promise to us is at the heart of Christian living. It is important to understand God’s principles before we can apply them.
Faith does not look at the non-existent; it looks at a promise. Every promise that God makes comes into existence. We can count on God’s Word. God cannot lie or go back on His Word.