What was the time gap between the event Abraham justified by Faith in

James 2:23 Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness

Genesis 15:6 And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

a and later Abraham justified by works in

James 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

Genesis 22:2 2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.


  • 1
    We are not aware of Isaac's age at the time of the events described in Genesis 22, but we do know that the immediately following chapter, 23, is about Sarah's death at age 127 (she begat Isaac at about ninety, see Genesis 17:17-24), and the one after that, 24, about Isaac's marriage at age forty (see Genesis 25:20).
    – Lucian
    Commented Jul 27, 2019 at 9:34
  • 1
    Isaac carried enough wood to burn himself in sacrifice. That's a hefty weight for anyone younger than about 12. 'Chabad.org' following Jewish tradition says he was 37... Commented Jul 28, 2019 at 12:57
  • Abraham never was justified by works since the righteous shall live by faith. Or did you mean to ask about the age difference between the two events? Because if not, it could falsely imply That Abraham was justified by faith at age 75 and then by works 20 years later.
    – sara
    Commented Jul 29, 2019 at 19:44

3 Answers 3


Abe was 75 when he went to Haran, 86 when Ishmael was born, 100 when Isaac was born. My estimation would be approximately 14 years plus age of Isaac. I'm guessing 20 plus years.

  • 1
    The most important thing to realize in James 2 is (justified in whose eyes) God or others. Also "dead" in James 2 means useless or profitless, not spiritual death. Romans 3:20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
    – Lionsden
    Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 13:57

Such an event occurred numerous times in the life of Abraham.

  • Gen 12:1 - Abraham was instructed to leave Haran and go to an unknown place and so we did. See also Heb 11:8
  • Gen 14 - Abraham acts by faith to save Lot and his household but does not take any of the plunder but pays tithe to Melchizedek and returns the rest to their owners.
  • Heb 11:9 - Abraham continued to live as an alien in a foreign land before he was actually given possession. It was his descendants (Moses and the Israelites) who took possession of the land.
  • Gen 17 - Abraham was told to circumcise his entire household and he did.
  • Gen 18 & 21 - Abraham and Sarah told they would have a son and they did
  • Gen 22 - Abraham is told to offer is son as a sacrifice and he did.

Heb 11 contains many more examples of people who acted by faith in this way - their actions were born of a faith and trust in God.



Abraham's age when he believed the LORD (Gen ch. 15) = 75 + a

Abraham's age when he offered Isaac in sacrifice: 100 + b


a = time elapsed between Abraham's departure from Haran in Gen 12:4-5 and the events of Gen ch. 15

b = Isaac's age when we was offered in sacrifice

then we have, by substracting the first age from the second:

Interval = 25 + b - a

Imposing now the following 2 constraints [1]:

  • As stated by Paul in Gal 3:16-17 - reflecting the view in the proto-rabbinic circle of Gamaliel, under whom Paul had studied the Torah - the Law was given to Israel 430 years after God's promise to Abraham and to his offspring (Gen 15:18).

  • The 400 years of servitude and affliction of Abraham's offspring prophecied in Gen 15:13 began when Abraham laid the wood of the burnt offering on Isaac (Gen 22:6) and then bound him and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood, and reached out his hand and took the knife to slay him (Gen 22:9-10), and ended at the Exodus.

which are expressed as:

a + 430 = 25 + b + 400

we have:

5 = b - a

so that:

Interval = 25 + 5 = 30 years

[1] How old was Isaac when he was offered up by Abraham?

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