Presbyterian theologian Albert Barnes wrote a hugely popular Commentary on the New Testament. Though he apparently later on taught some unorthodox Protestant doctrines, his reputation became somewhat tarnished, but his Commentary does not seem to have received much criticism considering it's still widely popular. When I took a look at what he said in regards to Romans 4:3, I nearly fell off my seat. Since his comments are relatively long for this short post, I'll condense it and add my own emphasis (Full Source Here):
Abraham believed God - The faith which Abraham exercised was, that his posterity should be like the stars of heaven in number. This promise was made to him when he had no child, and of course when he had no prospect of such a posterity. See the strength and nature of this faith further illustrated in Romans 4:16-21. The reason why it was counted to him for righteousness was, that it was such a strong, direct, and unwavering act of confidence in the promise of God.While Barnes says other things here that I did not quote (for the sake of brevity) that could be sufficient to keep him within the realm of Protestant orthodoxy on this matter, what I have quoted ultimately cripples the Protestant attempts to point to Romans 4 as proof for Sola Fide. In regards to what I did quote and highlight, I have been saying these same thing for years (see This Document as one of many examples), but not getting much feedback from Protestants (or even Catholics!). I and a few other Catholics have been striving to point out that the Hebrew and Greek terms popularly translated as reckon, count, impute, etc, speak principally about what something is in itself and thus being treated according to what that object really is. It is a term that has nothing to do with "transferring" or even (graciously) counting something other than what it really is. Now that I found a Protestant theologian who says this in a popular commentary, I see this as confirmation of what I and other Catholics have been saying all along. I would just hope many Catholics reading this get on board and spread the word!
And it - The word "it" here evidently refers to the act of believing. It does not refer to the righteousness of another - of God, or of the Messiah; but the discussion is solely of the strong act of Abraham's faith, which in some sense was counted to him for righteousness. In what sense this was, is explained directly after. All that is material to remark here is, that the act of Abraham, the strong confidence of his mind in the promises of God, his unwavering assurance that what God had promised he would perform, was reckoned for righteousness. The same thing is more fully expressed in Romans 4:18-22. When therefore it is said that the righteousness of Christ is accounted or imputed to us; when it is said that his merits are transferred and reckoned as ours; whatever may be the truth of the doctrine, it cannot be defended by "this" passage of Scripture.
Was counted - ἐλογίσθη elogigisthē. The same word in Romans 4:22, is is rendered "it was imputed." The word occurs frequently in the Scriptures. In the Old Testament, the verb חשׁב chaashab, which which is translated by the word λογίζομαι logizomai, means literally, "to think, to intend," or "purpose; to imagine, invent," or "devise; to reckon," or "account; to esteem; to impute," that is, to impute to a man what belongs to himself, or what "ought" to be imputed to him. It occurs only in the following places: Psalm 32:2; Psalm 35:4; Isaiah 10:7; Job 19:11; Job 33:10; Genesis 16:6; Genesis 38:15; 1 Samuel 1:13; Psalm 52:4; Jeremiah 18:18; Zechariah 7:10; Job 6:26; Job 19:16; Isaiah 13:17; 1 Kings 10:21; Numbers 18:27, Numbers 18:30; Psalm 88:4; Isaiah 40:17; Lamentations 4:2; Isaiah 40:15; Genesis 31:16. I have examined all the passages, and as the result of my examination have come to the conclusion, that there is not one in which the word is used in the sense of reckoning or imputing to a man what does not strictly belong to him; or of charging on him what ought not to be charged on him as a matter of personal right. The word is never used to denote imputing in the sense of transferring, or of charging that on one which does not properly belong to him. The same is the case in the New Testament. The word occurs about forty times (see "Schmidius' Concord)," and, in a similar signification. No doctrine of transferring, or of setting over to a man what does not properly belong to him, be it sin or holiness, can be derived, therefore, from this word. Whatever is meant by it here, it evidently is declared that the act of believing is what is intended, both by Moses and by Paul.
For righteousness - In order to justification; or to regard and treat him in connection with this as a righteous man; as one who was admitted to the favor and friendship of God.