Romans 7
Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures

After the Apostle has exhibited the antithesis of Adam and Christ in its principal or fundamental form and significance, Romans 5:12–21, he passes on to exhibit the same antithesis in all its consequences, first of all for believers, but then also for the whole world.

The negative side of this consequence is exhibited in chaps. 6 and 7: The dying with Christ to sin and to the entire old form of life.

The positive side is exhibited in Romans 8: The new life in Christ.

I. The first division is again divided into four parts.

A. As Christians have fundamentally (objectively by the death of Christ himself, and subjectively through the faith sealed by baptism) died with Christ to sin in order to walk in newness of life, so should they act as those who are dead to sin. For their new life is an organic connection with Christ, an organic development; yet it is not a life subject to fatalistic natural necessity, but, in conformity with fellowship with Christ, it is a life in true freedom, as life after Adam has been one in false freedom, or the seeming freedom of hard service. It is a religiously or ethically organic relation; Romans 6:1–11.

B. Because believers are dead to sin, they are free from its dominion. They should therefore take knowledge of the fact that they are delivered, and keep themselves from the bondage of sin; and in the power of their freedom, they should yield themselves under grace to be the servants of righteousness; Romans 6:12–23.

C. But their being dead to sin means also that they, as those who passed into newness of life, have received in themselves the new principle of life, which is righteousness, or the inward substance of the law. Therefore, by Christ, they are dead to the law in the narrower sense, in which they lived in matrimonial alliance. They should serve, not in outward ordinances, but inward principle—from the force of grace, the impulse of the heart; Romans 7:1–6.

D. But if to be dead to sin means also to be dead to the law, as well as the reverse, there follows nothing therefrom contrary to the holiness of the law. The law, rather, was designed, by its constant operation in awakening and increasing the conflict with sin, to effect the transition from the state of sin to the state of grace; Romans 7:7–25.

II. The second or positive part is thus prepared. The condition of believers is free from all condemnation, because, in harmony with its character, it is a life in the Spirit of Christ. But it is a life in the Spirit which is prepared by the Spirit through the glorification of the body and the whole nature; for the Spirit, as the Spirit of adoption, is the first security for it, and the believer is certain of it before-hand in blessed hope; chap. 8.

A. This life in the Spirit now demands, first of all, the laying off, in the conduct of the Christian, of all carnal lusts, which must, however, be distinguished from a positively ascetic mortification of the body; Romans 8:1–10.

B. As the Spirit of God testifies to adoption, so does it, as the Spirit of the risen Christ, secure the inheritance—that is, the renewal of the body, and the glorification of life; v Romans 8:11–17. The certainty of this blessed hope is established: a. On the development of life in this world, Romans 8:18–30; b. On the future or heavenly administration of the love of God and the grace of Christ, which make all the forces that apparently conflict with salvation even serviceable to its realization; Romans 8:31–39.

Meyer’s inscription over chaps. 6–8 is: “Ethical Effects of the δίχαιοσύνη θεοῦ. Chap. 6; 7 shows that the δικ., far from giving aid to immorality, is the first to exclude it, and to promote, restore, and vitalize virtue; and chap. 8 exhibits the blessed condition of those who, being justified, are morally free.” Tholuck: “It has been shown down to this point how much the Christian has received by that δικ. πιστ.; Romans 1:17. It is the mention of the fulness of grace called forth by the power of sin, that now leads the Apostle to exhibit the moral consequences of this communication of grace, which in turn leads him further (chap. 7). to the statement of the insufficiency of the legal economy; and in antithesis thereto (chap. 8), to the moral effects of the economy of grace and its saving issue; so that the Apostle, after amplifying and enriching the explanations between Romans 1:18 and chap. 5, returns to the same point with which chap. 5 concluded.” The Apostle does, indeed, return to the same point with which, not the whole of chap. 5 concluded, but with which Romans 5:11. concluded, but in a sense altogether different, inasmuch as from Romans 5:12 on, the Apostle brings out, not merely the actual antagonism of sin and grace in humanity, as before, but the principial antagonism of the two principles in its ethical and organic aspect.

Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?
FOURTH SECTION.The transition, in principle and reality, of Christians from the service of the letter under the law into the service of the Spirit under grace, by virtue of the death of Christ. Believers should live in the consciousness that they are dead to the law.THOLUCK: “Your marriage with Christ, having taken the place of the dominion of the law, necessarily leads to such a dominion of God in a new life.”

ROMANS 7:1–6

1Know ye not, brethren (for I speak to them that [those who] know the law), how [omit how] that the law hath dominion over a man as long [ἐφ̓ ὅσον κρόνον,for as long time] as he liveth? 2For the woman which hath a husband [the married woman]1 is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth [to the living husband]; but if the husband be dead [have died],2 sheis loosed from the law of her husband. 3So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead [have died], she is free from that law; so that she is4no [not an]3 adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore [Accordingly], my brethren, ye also are become [were made]4 dead to the law by [through] the body of Christ; [,] that [in order that]5 ye should be married to another, even to him who is [was] raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto [to]6 God. 5For when we were in the flesh, the motions [passions]7 of sins, which were by [by means of] the law, did work [ἐνηργεῖτο,, wereefficient, wrought] in our members to bring forth fruit unto [to] death. 6But now we are [have been] delivered from the law, that being dead [having died to that]8 wherein we were held; that we should serve [so that we serve]9 in newness of spirit [the Spirit],10 and not in the oldness of the letter.


Summary.11a. The figure of marriage and the law of marriage to describe the relations of believers to the law (Romans 7:1–3); b. The application of the figure: the marriage did not remain pure, because sin, whose motions were by the law, insinuated itself. It is dissolved by death (Romans 7:4–6).

Romans 7:1. Know ye not. [̓̀Η ἀγνοεῖτε. Comp. 6:3. The particle implies a doubt, and connects always with some preceding categorical clause (Winer, p. 474).—On the connection. Meyer deems it a resumption of 6:14, but immediately linked to last main thought (6:22), viz., that the Christian had his fruit unto holiness, and the end, eternal life (which is proved in 6:23).—R.] Since the assumes a doubt at the beginning (Romans 3:29; 6:3); the Apostle intimates that not all the believers in Rome are conscious of the whole conclusion, that the gospel has made them free from the service of the Mosaic law—a conclusion that he will now make clear to them by the figure of the law of marriage. Therefore the question, Should you not fully know the consequence of the right of marriage in case one of the couples dies? has this meaning: Should you not fully know the consequence of the death of believers by and for the law? The course of treatment is this: After having shown that they are no more under sin, with, more particular reference to the Gentiles, the Apostle now declares, with more particular reference to the Jews, that they too are no more under the law. The unity warranting this transition consists in the fact, that one cannot be under sin without being under the sense of the law, and that he cannot be under the law without being under the sense of sin. So far, therefore, our deduction extends back not only to Romans 6:14, but even to Romans 5:20; 3:9; 2:17. That is, the law comes into consideration here so far as it is the power of the letter, which kills (2 Cor. 3:6)—the phenomenon is completed as the experience of sin (see Romans 7:24).

Singular views: 1. Reiche: The κυριεύειν. in Romans 7:1 refers to the χύριος in the concluding verse of chap. 6; 2. Meyer: The freedom of Christians from the law follows from the truth of the foregoing verse. But the Apostle’s transition consists in his design to show that Christians are just as dead to the law by baptism in the death of Christ, as they are dead to sin. This arises from the fact that they have received eternal life as the gift of God in Christ. They are therefore dead, by the death of Christ, to death, as a result of sin, as they are dead to death as a result of the law, according to Romans 7:24. [Meyer’s view in 4th edition is indicated above.—R.]

Brethren. Certainly not merely the Jewish Christians (according to Grotius, and others; also Tholuck, in a qualified way) are meant in this address (Meyer). Yet Meyer, in denying this, overlooks the fact that the Jewish Christians are regarded most prominently, because the point in question is respecting the law (see Romans 9:3). [The only limitation being “those who know the law,” it must be remembered that in the apostolic age, as well as since, the knowledge of the Old Testament on the part of Christians in general is presupposed.—R.]

For I speak to those who know the law. [Parenthetical, as in the E. V. Explanatory of brethren.—R.] Of what law does he speak? It must not be overlooked, that what the Apostle further adduces as the design of the law, already reminds of the law of nature. Therefore Koppe: every law is meant. Glöckler: the moral law. But though the Roman law might have a similar purport, the Apostle nevertheless means the Mosaic law itself; for the point of his argumentation is, that, according to the principles of the Mosaic law itself, Christians must be regarded as having been made free by this law. It is not necessary to prove that the Mosaic law in general, but not the law of marriage in particular (Beza, Carpzov [Bengel], and others), is meant here. The Jew did not have a separate marriage-law; yet the Mosaic law, with reference to the marriage-law, is meant.—And who are those who know the law? Explanations: 1. The Roman Christians, the majority of whom were Jewish Christans; 2. The Jewish-Christian portion, to whom Paul addresses himself in particular (Philippi, and others); 3. In addition to these, the Gentile Christians, who, as Jewish proselytes, had been entrusted with the law (De Wette, and others); 4. Tholuck calls to mind, that the Gentile Christians became acquainted with the law. [As the customs of the synagogue remained to a large extent those of the early Christian assemblies, the Old Testament was read to all believers, as indeed was necessary to their Christian instruction. One could not be a Christian even then, and remain ignorant of the law.—R.] The question in general here is not a difficult specialty of the Mosaic law, but a principle evidenced also by natural law, which, for this very reason, does not result from one passage, but from the connection of the Mosaic law. Tholuck: “One of the legal maxims current among the Jews; Este endeavors in vain to prove it from the Old Testament.” Yet the example of Ruth, Abigail, and even of the second marriage of Abraham, is more than one legal maxim current among the Jews. Moreover, the legal principle in Romans 6:7 is of kindred nature.

That the law hath dominion. We must not connect ὁ νόμος τοῦ ἀνθρώπου (Mosheim, and others), but νόμος with κυριεύει. Man is certainly, however, the man in question placed under the law. [Wordsworth explains: “The law (of Moses) is lord over the man—the human creature—whether man or woman. Comp. Chrysostom, Theodoret, Augustine.” This takes the verb in the literal sense: to be lord, and introduces the figure of the marriage at once, thus avoiding any difficulty about the special law, for the whole law is personified. Meyer seems to favor this view also.—R.]

For as long time as he liveth [ἐφ’ ὅσον χρόνον ζῇ]. According to Romans 7:2–4, the ζῇ evidently refers to the man himself, and not to the law, so that, in a metaphorical sense, it would have the force (as Origen, Erasmus, Bengel, and others think) of making the figure itself plainer. This would have been to prove first that the law has no more force. Philippi understands the ζῇν to be the old, natural life. See Tholuck on the contrary: in this case the appeal to legal knowledge would be inappropriate, and the figure already violated. The law is personified as master, just as sin is in the foregoing section. [And the point of the figure is not affected by referring the verb to the man, for whichever party dies, the relation ceases. Comp. Hodge.—R.] Meyer gives prominence to the point, that ἐφ̓ ὅσον χρόνον is emphatic.12

Romans 7:2. For the married woman is bound by the law to the living husband [ἡ γὰρὕπανδρος γυνὴ τῷ ζῶντι ἀνδρὶ δέδεταινόμω̣. A concrete explanation of the proposition of Romans 7:1 (Meyer), introduced by γάρ, which has here the force of for example (Hodge, Alford). The perfect δέδεται here denotes the continuing character of the binding (Winer, p. 255), which agrees with the emphatic ἐφ’ ὅσον χρόνον (Romans 7:1). ̔̔̔́Υπανδρος, subject to the man, married, only here in the New Testament, but current in later Greek authors.—R.] The figure in Romans 7:2 and 3 is quite clear, but its application is difficult. Since the law is compared with the first man, and Christ with the second, this seemed to be the application that should follow: The law, as the first man of the theocratic Church, is dead; now, the Church can be freely married to Christ. Therefore even Usteri, Rückert, and others, have remarked that the figure is not clearly carried out; and Chrysostom took the view, that Paul, through forbearance toward the Jews, reversed the relation in his application, and that, instead of saying, the law or the husband is dead, he says, You who were formerly bound by the law are dead. [So Wordsworth, who, however, joins with it several other reasons.—R.] Meyer, with Fritzsche, thus relieves the difficulty: In consequence of the unity of the matrimonial relation, death is an event common to both parties; when the husband is dead, the wife is legally dead to the husband. We may in this case ask, Why did not the Apostle conform his figure to the application, and designate the wife herself as the dead part? Clearly, because of the second marriage. This explanation of Fritzsche and Meyer (concinnity) is established by the Apostle, and also rendered emphatic by his language. As the woman is not dead, but is killed in respect to her marriage relation, or is situated as dead, by the natural death of her husband, so believers have not died a natural death, but are made dead to the law, since they are crucified to the law with Christ. The idea, dead in a marriage. relation is therefore the tertium comparationis. The θανατοῦσθαι in Romans 7:4 is therefore like the καταργεῖσθαι of a widow, in which also a death-like orphanage is indicated. That the law itself is also dead, as a letter, by its statutory application to the crucifixion of Christ, follows, without any thing further, from what has been said. Tholuck, not being satisfied with Meyer’s removal of the difficulty, seems desirous of placing himself on the side of those who give an allegorical interpretation to the passage commencing with Romans 7:2. Explanations:

1. The wife is the soul, the husband is sin; sin dies in the fellowship of believers with Christ’s death (Augustine, and others; Olshausen).

2. Only the νόμος can be regarded as the husband (Origen, Chrysostom, Calvin, Philippi). Likewise, with special reference to the sense of guilt (Luther); with special reference to sin (Spener).

De Wette and Meyer have properly rejected the introduction of allegory in Romans 7:2, 3; it destroys all legal evidence of the figure. The Apostle did not avoid saying ἐθανατώθη ὁ νόμος because he wished to give a more pregnant expression to the thought, and to include in one the other side also, but because θανατοῦσθαι is different from a simple ἀποθνήσκειν, and because the retroactive inference from the act which the administration of the law has committed on the body of Christ is proximate to the dying of the law (according to Heb. 8:13; decayed and waxed old). The gospel is eternally new, because it refers to only eternal relations. The law grows old from the beginning, because, in its outward and national character, it relates to transitory and ever-changing relations. Application to Catholicism and Protestantism. (All they that take the sword, &c.) ̔́Υπανδρος, viro subjecta; the wife had no right to separate herself.13

But if the husband have died, she is loosed from the law of her husband [ἐὰν δὲ αποθάνῃ ὁ ὰνήρ, κατήργηται ἀπὸ τοῦνόμουτοῦ ἀνδρός. On the conditional clause, see Textual Note2. On the verb, comp. Gal. 5:4, Lange’s Comm., p. 127. The genitive is one of reference, of the object respecting which, see Winer, p. 177.—R.] That is, which relates to her husband. On the relationship of the expression χατήργηται to the ἐθανατώθητε, comp. Meyer’s translation: “She has become undone, and thereby free and absolved from the law which related to her husband (united her to him).” (See Gal. 5:4.)

Romans 7:3. She shall be called an adulteress. She receives the name in a formal and legal way. And therewith she is subject to the severest punishment of the law—stoning. [Levit. 21:10; comp. John 8:5.]

[She is free from that law, ἐλευθέραἐστὶν ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου. The article shows that the reference is to the law of the husband, hence the E. V.: that law, is correct.—R.]

So that she is not an adulteress. Meyer insists upon the idea of design: in order that she be no adulteress; and declares this to be the design of the Divine legal ordinance—which Tholuck there pedantically finds. Yet the expression here might certainly have been chosen with reference to this application. The Judaists assuredly charged the believing Jews with apostasy, and therefore with religious adultery. Hence Paul says εἶναι instead of χρηματίζει;14 and Fritzsche has strikingly made the τοῦ μὴ εἶναι dependent on ἐλευθέρα. [All these views are alike grammatical. That of Fritzsche is harsh, however, while Meyer’s seems to be adopted more to prepare the way for the parallel he makes (Romans 7:4): in order that ye should be married to another. It is not necessary to press the figure to this extent, however.—R.]

Romans 7:4. Accordingly, my brethren. [̔́Ωστε, see Winer, p. 283.—R.] The explanation follows here first; this is not allegorical, but symbolical, because marriage represents, in the external sphere of life, what religion does in the inward and higher (Eph. 5:32).—Ye also, as the widowed wife.—Were made dead to the law15 [ἐθανατώθητετ ῷ νόμω. See Textual Note4. The verb is aorist, referring to a definite act in the past, viz., the release from the law at justification.—R.] That is, in relation to the marriage-covenant. The expression ἐθανατώθητε is chosen, not merely because Christ’s death was a violent one, but also because it describes the death of Christians to the law as a death incurred by virtue of the administration of the law.

Through the body of Christ [διὰ τοῦσώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ]. In, and, at the same time, with Him, as He was put to death. The atoning effect of the sacrificial death cannot, at all events, be the premise here, although it is included. [The aorist shows that the reference is definite; the proposition indicates the means of the death to the law. Two opinions prevail: (1) That it refers to the atoning death of Christ as the ground of justification. So Hodge, and others. It may be urged in favor of this, that this is the means or ground of justification, and that thus the antithesis to “was raised” is preserved. But the Apostle generally speaks of the death of Christ in plain terms, when he refers to it. Col. 1:22, which Hodge quotes as an instance of “His body,” meaning His death, adds the qualifying phrases, “of His flesh,” “through death.” (2) With Tholuck, Meyer, Lange, and others, it may be referred to the fellowship with Christ in His death. This view accords better with the point which the Apostle has reached in his argument, as well as the idea of union with Christ underlying this passage. This does not deny, but implies the atoning efficacy of His death, which is always latent, if not patent, in the Apostle’s argument. It has been the fault of some commentators, to insist en finding an expression of it, where it is only implied.—R.]

Christians are dead, buried (chap. 6.), and risen (Col. 3:1) with Christ; indeed, they are even, in principle, transported to heaven (Phil. 3:20). But since they are dead with Him, they are, like Him, dead “to the law through the law” (Gal. 2:19). [Comp. Commentary in loco, pp. 50, 51.—R.] Calvin, Grotius, Koppe, and others, have explained, that the ἐθανατώθη τῶ νόμῳ is a milder expression for ὁ νόμ. ἐθανατώθη, ἀπέθανεν ὑμῖν. This explanation does not regard the difference between natural and violent death, nor self-destruction. The law could not be dead; this would have been revolution. As a Divine form of revelation, it had to grow old and vanish away (Heb. 8:13); but as a human ordinance it has itself inflicted death. Therefore the law still retained its former historical and ethical (not religious and essential) force toward those who were not dead to it by the fellowship of Christ.

Through the body of Christ, διὰ τοῦ σώματος θανατωθέντος. It may be asked, in what relation this being dead with the body of Christ stands to the being reconciled by the body of Christ. Tholuck: “Fellowship with the death of Christ includes freedom from the καταρά of the law (Gal. 3:10), and this latter, which is brought to pass by thankful love in return, includes the death of the old man to sin (Romans 6:6) and strengthening to a new life.” The becoming free from the νόμος is consummated with the development of repentance and faith—that is, with justification; the having become free from the old law is decided when the new law, the law of the Spirit, the righteousness of faith, appears (Eph. 2:16).

In order that ye should be married to another [εἰς τὸ γενέσθαι ὑμᾶς ἕτερω. The clause seems to be final. In order that; the purpose of the death to the law was union to Christ.—R.] Γίνεσθαι τίνος, to become the possession of a husband. The figure of conjugal communion of the believing Church with the Lord (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:2, 5; Rev. 21:8). To another. The stronger ἕτερω̣ is here used. [And it is more closely defined, even to him who was raised from the dead, τῷ ἐκ νεκρῶν ἐγερθέντι.—With good reason is this added.—R.] Not only do Christians belong to the risen Christ because He has acquired them by His death (1 Peter i.), but also because they themselves, having been dead with Him, have become a heavenly race, a super-terrestrial people, who, as risen ones, can be united only with the Risen One; therefore their continued connection with the law of this life would be a misalliance. The common element of this new communion is the new life.

That we should bring forth fruit to God [ἵνακαρποψορήσωμεν τῶ̣ θεῶ. Final clause (so Tholuck, Meyer, De Wette, Alford). The dative is dat. commodi apparently.—R.] The figure of marriage leads to that of the fruit of marriage (Theodoret, Erasmus, Meyer, and others). Tholuck, on the contrary: “Since a reference to καρπός (Romans 6:22) occurs, and since καρπὸν ποιεῖν, ψέρειν, and even κα̇ρποψορεῖν (Mark 4:20; Luke 8:15; Col. 1:10), frequently occur in a metonyme derived from the fruits of the field, as a technical Christian phrase for the practical effects of the life of faith, and the allusion recurs in Romans 7:6, where the figure is not that of marriage, it seems very unsafe to accept the figure of the fruit of children.” Reiche and Fritzsche have even rejected this interpretation, because an undignified allegory arises; they have therefore construed the figure as referring to the field, or fruits of the field. Philippi likewise; De Wette, on the contrary, accepts the former view. But the allegory of an unfruitful marriage cannot be more dignified than that of a fruitful one. Yet the spiritual fruit of righteousness, in accordance with its supersensuous nature, is produced for God, for glorifying God. [The figure must not be so pressed as to make the fruit of the marriage to God, as Father; to His glory, is the meaning.—R.]

Romans 7:5. For when we were in the flesh [ὅτε γὰρ ἦμεν ἐν τῇ σάρκι. Meyer: “The positive and characterizing expression for the negative: when we were not yet made dead to the law.” Alford: “Virtually = ‘under the law. ” Hodge; “When in your unrenewed and legal state.” For a more thorough discussion, see the Excursus in the next section.—R.] The antithesis of Romans 7:5 should serve to explain the last conclusion in Romans 7:4. The γάρ tells us: According as we were situated in our fleshly tendency, we must now also be situated in the Divine tendency. The εἶναι denotes the stand point of personality; the outward tendency of life from a definite principle. Here, therefore, the tendency of life is from the principle of the flesh. Explanations: 1. Meyer: The σάρξ, the humanity in us (what, then, would not be human in us?),16 in its opposition to the Divine will; the element of life in which we exist. The opposite to the ἀποθανόντες of Romans 7:6. 2. Theodoret, Œcumenius: In the κατὰνόμου πολντεία. The flesh is the material and external part of the body and the life. Therefore, since we stood in this external tendency, which, as an external and analytical form of life (dependent on the individual ἐπιθυμίαι), also in its better form, took the law as a combination of external and analytical precepts. [Of these, (1) is much to be preferred. Dr. Lange does not make it clear whether he adopts the view of flesh, given immediately above. There are very strong objections to it in any case.—R.]

The passions of sins [τὰ παθήματατῶν ἁμαρτ ιῶν]. According to Meyer and Tholuck, the genitive of object. “From which the sins arose.” Tholuck cites James 1:15 as proof. We hold, however, that sins are here denominated producers of the passions. For the passions, παθ., are not, as Tholuck holds, the same as the ἐπιθυμίαι (according to which Luther translates lusts), but they are the ἐπιθυμίαι enhanced by the impulse of the law. Then, in the case of sins arising as consequences of the παθήμ., the idea would follow that abortions to death have been produced from the marriage-bond of the law itself with man. The connection with the law assumes, therefore, at the same time, a connection with the ἁμαρτία (see Romans 6:13), and this, in the isolation of individual ἁμαρτίαι, was operative as producer by the sinful passions excited by the law in the members. The law itself did not bring forth the fruit of death; but it stirred up sin, so that the latter made the ἐπιθυμίαι into παθήματα, and thus into productive forces. [Either view is preferable to the Hendiadys: sinful feelings (Olshausen, Hodge), which is forbidden by the plural ἁμαρτιῶν. Π·αθήματα is passive (comp. Gal. 5:24), and hence it is perhaps better to take the genitive, as that of the object (which led to sins), so as to accord with what is predicated in ἐνηργεῖτο.—R.]

Which were by means of the law. Τὰδιὰ τοῦ νόμου. Grotius supplies ψαινόμενα, which is too little; Meyer, sc., ὄντα, which is far too much. According to Romans 7:9, ἀναζώντα. Tholuck: “Many of the older commentators, in order not to let the law appear in too unfavorable a light, explained thus: of the knowledge of sin communicated by the law (thus Chrysostom, Ambrose, Bullinger, and others). Yet, thus construed, διὰ νόμου would stand beyond the pragmatism of the passage.” Tholuck, like Meyer, would also supply the verb. subst. [The proximity of Romans 7:7 supports the obvious meaning: occasioned by the law (Meyer: vermittelt), not caused, however.—R.]

Wrought [ἐνηργεῖτο]. Middle. Were efficient in a fruitful manner.

In our members [ἐν το·ῖς μελεσιν ἡμῶν. Hodge weakens the force, by making this almost = in us.—R.] Single productions between individual passions and individual members, in which the central consciousness was enslaved for the production of individual miscarriages.

To bring forth fruit to death [εἰς τὸκαρποψορῆσαι τῶ̣ θανάτω. This clause expresses not merely the result (Hodge), but the final object of the energizing (Meyer, Alford,), being parallel to the last clause of Romans 7:4.—R.] Meyer: To lead a life terminating in death. Expressing but little, almost nothing, here. That false fruit, abortions, or miscarriages, might arise (wherefore the subst. καρπός itself must be avoided). Erasmus: ex infelici matrimonio infelices fœtus sustutimus, quidquid nasceretur morti exiltoque gignentes. Luther: Where the law rules over people, they are indeed not idle; they bring forth and train up many children, but they are mere bastards, who do not belong to a free mother. Meyer would also here limit death to the idea of eternal death; see above. [He also carries out the figure of progeny, which Lange retains here, so far as to make “death” here a personification. This is less justifiable than the reference to eternal death, which conveys a truth, and forms a fitting antithesis to τῷ θεῷ (Romans 7:4).—R.]

Romans 7:6. Bat now we have been delivered from the law [νυνὶ δὲ (antithesis to ὅτε, Romans 7:5) κατηργήθημεν ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου. Notice the aorist, which Paul uses so constantly in reference to the accomplished fact of justification.—R.] We are annulled in relation to the law, and therewith the law is annulled to us. (On the reading ἀποθανόντος, see the Critical Note on the Text; also Tholuck, p. 330.)

Having died to that wherein we were held [ἀποθανόντες ἐν ᾧ κατειχόμεθα]. We must understand τούτω̣ before ἐν ᾧ. Meyer explains: in which we were confined as in a prison. More in harmony with the former view is this: whereby we were chained as by a legal and even matrimonial obligation. Wherefore we certainly do not need to refer ἐν ᾧ merely to νόμος (with Origen, Koppe, De Wette, Philippi [Hodge], and others). Tholuck: “The law, therefore, is regarded as χατέχων, as a chain, analogously to the ἐψρουρούμεθα συγχεχλεισμένοι, Gal. 3:23, so far as it holds its subjects in δουλεία (Rom. 8:15; 2 Tim. 1:7). The direct reference of the ἐν ᾧ to sin (according to Chrysostom, Œcumenius, and others) is too strong on the opposite side.”—The cause of the chaining of man by sin on one side, as well as by the law on the other, was the totality of the εἶναι ἐν τῇ, as it expressed itself in mere divisions of lust and legality. This is clear from what follows: in the oldness of the letter.

So that we serve [ὥστε δουλεύειν ἡμᾶς. The clause is not final, as the E. V. indicates; the service is a present state, already resulting from the accomplished fact of deliverance from and death to the law. Serve God, is the meaning, the omission of θεῷ being due to the self-evident difference of reference in the two phrases which follow. The consciousness of the readers would tell them that the old service was one to sin, the new one to God (so Meyer).—R.] The δουλεύειν can be spoken ironically in only a conditional manner. We have really our external life to enslave, but not after the old way, in single portions and acts, according to individual precepts, motives, and affections, but in the newness of the Spirit; therefore by virtue of the perfect principle of the Spirit, which is ever new, and always assuming a new form. The ἐν denotes not merely the sphere of activity (Meyer), but the power, the principle of activity itself.

In newness of the Spirit [ἐν καινότητε πνεύματος. Untenable views: That ἐν is redundant, and the dative the object of the verb δουλεύειν; that there is a Hendiadys (new spirit, Hodge). The E. V. is fond of Hendiadys, and very often misconstrues ἐν, but has avoided these mistakes in the present instance. Alford correctly remarks, that the datives “are not” as in 6:4, attributes of the genitives which follow them, but states in which those genitives are the ruling elements.—What is the precise force of πνεύματος?—R.] Meyer: “It is the Holy Spirit, as the operative principle of the Christian life.” Clearly, it is the spirit as itself the inward Christian principle of life, which is certainly not to be thought of without the communion of the Holy Spirit. For the Holy Spirit as πνεῦμα simply, operating objectively, was also the producer of the γράμμα, which here constitutes the antithesis. This principle is itself an eternal newness, and has, as a result, an eternal newness as the principle of the absolute renewal. Tholuck: “The spirit of grace produced by God’s gracious deed.” [With Meyer, Alford, and others, it seems best to refer this to the Holy Spirit. The absence of the article is not against this view; as the opinion of Harless, that π·νεῦμα without the article is subjective, is not well established. (Comp. Meyer on Rom. 8:4; Harless, Eph. 2:22; Lange’s Comm., Gal. 5:16, p. 137.) This passage seems to point to chap. 8, where πνεῦμα occurs so frequently, in the sense of the Holy Spirit; the more so as σάρξ occurs just before (Romans 7:5). The objection, that the Holy Spirit, working objectively, was the author of the letter, and hence that the antithesis requires another meaning, has not much weight. See notes on Rom. 8:4 ff.—R.]

And not in the oldness of the letter [καὶ οὐ παλαιότητι (only here) γράμματος. Not = old letter (Hodge), nor yet = under the law, in the flesh, though these latter thoughts are implied. The genitive seems to be gen. auctoris, as πνεύματος in the previous clause.—R.] On the γράμμα, see Romans 2:29; 2 Cor. 3:6. The law viewed externally, and, by its historical and subjective externalization, become an old and dying object, παλαιότης. Meyer writes somewhat unintelligibly: The παλαιόης, according to the nature of the relation in which the γράμμα stands to the principle of sin in man, was necessarily sinful (see Romans 7:7 ff.), as, on the other hand, the χαινότης must be necessarily moral in consequence of the vitally influencing πνεῦμα. [The service which resulted from the rule of the letter, was not merely their old service, but a service having in it an element of decay. The service under the law, precisely the written law (when viewed as the γράμμα), was a killing yoke, is still, when the service is in the oldness of the letter. Meyer evidently means, that a law with external precepts, of the letter, necessarily so acts upon man’s sinfulness, that the very service he attempts to render is sinful. The letter killeth (2 Cor. 3:6).—Such a characterization of the service under the law forms a fitting warning against a return to legalism—an appropriate conclusion to this section, and a point of connection with Romans 7:7.—R.]


1. The connection with sin, according to Romans 6:12–23, was a slavish state; the connection with the law, on the other hand, according to the present section, was comparable to an earthly marriage-state. The connection of believers with Christ now appears, in comparison with this, as a super-terrestrial marriage-covenant (see Eph. 5:32).

2. It is only by keeping the figure of the law of marriage free from an allegorical interpretation, and by distinguishing between the figure itself and its historical application, that the evidence clearly appears which the argumentation of the Apostle contemplated, and particularly for the Jewish Christians. But this evidence still continues in force. The standpoint of external legality, and that of living faith, cannot be confused as religious principles. Both standpoints are sundered by the death of Christ. Where they seem to be united, the confession of the law, or the legal confession of faith, is the dominant religious principle; while the opposite principle has the meaning only of a historical and ethical custom, which, from its nature as a legal custom, as much limits the Catholic man of faith, as it, in the character of an evangelical custom, burdens the legal, Romanizing Protestant.

3. Tholuck: “The law is annulled in relation to believers, not in its moral import, but, as Calovius remarks, quoad rigorem exactionis, quoad maledictionem, et quoad servilem coactionem.” According to the Sermon on the Mount, as well as according to Paul, it is done away so far as it is fulfilled; it is annulled in a negative sense so far as it is annulled in Christian principle, the law of the Spirit. An inward principle has come from the external precept; an inward rule from the external form; an inward tendency from the external law; a unity from multiplicity; a synthesis from the analysis; and from the ordinance, “Do this and live,” the order, “Live and do this.” It must be borne in mind, that Paul here speaks of the finite, formal character of the law, and not of the law as a type of the New Testament, as it has become transformed into the law of the Spirit. [Comp. Doctrinal Notes on Galatians, 3:19–29, pp. 88, 89.—R.]

4. The figure of marriage, which extends through the Old Testament in typical forms, is here employed in reference to the relation between Christ and the whole body of believers. The individual believer participates freely in the marriage-bond of this body, yet not in a mystical, separatistic isolation of his relation to Christ.

5. In Romans 7:5 Paul speaks especially concerning the passions of sins, which are excited and occasioned by the law; and there is no reason for understanding among them the abnormal forms of passionate excitement. The history of Pharisaism, and of fanaticism in general, from the crucifixion of Christ down to the present day, teaches us how very much additional weight is also added by the normal forms. In this direction there has arisen the odium generis humani, as well as the increasingly strong warfare of hierarchical or ecclesiastical party-law against the eternal moral laws of humanity, in which the nature of God himself is represented, while in the statute only the distorted apparent image of the Church, and not its eternal pith, is reflected.

6. The abortions of ordinances at enmity with the gospel and humanity reached the centre of their manifestation in the crucifixion of Christ; but they everywhere reappear, where Christ is again crucified, in a grosser or more refined sense. And this not only occurs where the written revealed law is perverted into fanatical ordinances, but also where the ideals of the natural law (Rom. 2:14) are distorted to fanatical caricatures, as is shown in the history of the Revolution of 1848.

7. On Romans 7:6. Tholuck: “γράμμα, πνεῦμα (Romans 2:29). The former is chiefly a designation of the external principle; the latter, of the inwardly operative principle. And this inwardly operative principle is the gracious spirit produced by God’s gracious act. Calvin: Spiritum litterœ opponit, quia antequam ad dei voluntatem voluntas nostra per spiritum sanctum formata sit, non habemus in lege nisi externam litteram, quœ frœnum quidem externis nostris actionibus injicit, concupiscentiœ autem nostrœ furorem minime cohibet. And Melanchthon: Ideo dicitur littera, quia non est verus et vivus motus animi, sed est otiosa imitatio interior vel exterior, nec ibi potest esse vera invocatio, ubi cor non apprehendit remissionem peccatorum.

8. How the law, in its letter or finite relation, began to grow old immediately after the beginning of legislation, is shown to us clearly by the history of the Israelites; and Deuteronomy even gives the canonical type of this truth. The history of the Christian Church teaches, on the other hand, how the newness of the spiritual life becomes constantly newer in its power of renewal. But the same antithesis is again manifested in the continual obsolescence of the Church in the Middle Ages, and in the continued rejuvenating of the evangelical Church.



As Christians, we belong no more to the law, but to Christ. 1. Because we are dead to the law by Jesus, who abolished the power of the law; 2. Because we are united to Him by the same fact, in order to bring forth fruit to God (Romans 7:1–6).—Marriage as a type of spiritual relations: 1. As a type of our relation to the law; 2. As a type of our relation to Christ (Romans 7:1–6).—As the relation of man to Christ is altogether different from that to the law, so is Christian marriage, on the other hand, altogether different from that of the Old Testament (Romans 7:1–6).—How death divides, but also unites (Romans 7:4).—Union of heart with Christ the Risen One is the condition of the happy union of human hearts with each other so as to bring forth fruit unto God (Romans 7:4).—How miserable it was to live under the law in the flesh; how happifying it is to live under grace in the Spirit! Proof: 1. Description of the state under the law: a. we were in bondage; b. sinful lusts worked in our members to bring forth fruit unto death; c. we served the letter. 2. Description of the condition under grace: a. we are free; b. the newness of the Spirit incites us to bring forth fruit unto God; c. we serve the Spirit, and not the letter any more (Romans 7:5, 6).

STARKE: As a thistle-bush is full of thistles, so are unconverted and carnal men full of the fruits of the flesh (Romans 7:5).—Christ frees us from the burden of the law, that we may take His yoke upon us (Romans 7:6).—HEDINGER: We are free from the law, not as a precept of duty—which remains perpetually—but in its condemnation, compulsion, and sharpness (Romans 7:1).—Where there is not a heart and ready will, there is only external labor and weariness; where conversion of the life and spiritual increase are not exhibited in the inner man, it is lost work and the service of the letter, even if one should wear out the temple-floor with his knees, give his body to be burned, and become a beggar and a hermit!

SPENER: Our perverted nature is such, that, when any thing is forbidden, we have all the greater desire to have it. We have often seen children think less of, and have no desire for, a certain thing, for which they have all the more desire when forbidden. So, when the law forbids this and that, we are prompted toward it by our wicked nature (Romans 7:5).—We are not so free that we do not have to serve any more; only the kind of service is different. Formerly it was compulsory, now it is rendered with a joyful will; then it was the letter, now it is the spirit (Romans 7:6).—Roos: The truth which Paul here portrays (Romans 7:1–4) is this: that nothing but death annuls the dominion of the law.

LISCO: The complete freedom of man from the law promotes his true sanctification (Romans 7:1–6).—The relation of man to the law.—Application of this relation to believers (Romans 7:4).—Advantages of the new state above the old one under the law (Romans 7:5, 6).

HEUBNER: The Christian is free from the coercion of the law (Romans 7:1–6).—The death of Christ became freedom from the compulsory power and curse of the law: 1. As abrogation of the Levitical sacrificial system; 2. As inducement toward free and thankful love toward God (Romans 7:4).—Irreligious politicians express only their ignoble and servile manner of thinking, when they deem all religion to be only of service as a bridle for the people (Romans 7:4).—The nature of the Christian is spirit: 1. In reference to faith; 2. In reference to action. The latter stands in contrast with this spirit in these same respects (Romans 7:6).

BESSER: Here, for the first time since Romans 1:13, Paul addresses the saints at Rome as brethren—brethren “in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 7:1).—”But now”—this now is an evangelical key-note of the Epistle to the Romans; comp. Romans 3:21, and other places (Romans 7:6).

LANGE: The death of Christ a serious boundary between the legal and the evangelical, believing, standpoints: 1. The meaning of this boundary itself; 2. The application: no religious confusions of the two standpoints. By a customary connection of them, one is made to mean only a moral limitation, which, after all, is not in conformity with the internal relations.—The sensuous power and spiritual weakness of legalism consists in its being an earthly relation, confined to this life, though in the fear of God (in this life the head, the city of God, the apparent image of the kingdom, &c).—The marriage-bond of the free Church of God is a super-terrestrial relation, and therefore the power of the renewal of the earthly life: a. Christ in the next life and in this one; b. Faith also; c. The Church as well.—The reciprocal action between the law and sin unto death, a counterpart to the reciprocity between the Spirit of Christ and faith unto new life.—The contrast between the Old and New Testament in its full meaning: 1. The Old Testament growing old and making old from the beginning; 2. The New Testament renewing itself and the world from the beginning.—But a New Testament is in the essence of the Old, as well as an Old is in the manifestation of the New.

[BURKITT: All the wisdom of the heathen, and of the wisest persons in the world, was never able to discover the first sinful motions arising from our rebellious natures; only the holy law of God makes them known, and discovers them to be sin. Such is the holiness of the law of God, that it requires not only the purity of our actions, but also the integrity of all our faculties.—SCOTT: Self-righteous pride and antinomian licentiousness are two fatal rocks on which immense multitudes are continually wrecked, and between which none but the Holy Spirit can pilot us; and the greatest objections of open enemies to the doctrines of grace derive their greatest plausibility from the unholy lives of many professed friends.—CLARKE: The law is only the means of disclosing our sinful propensity, not of producing it; as a bright beam of the sun introduced into a room shows millions of motes in all directions—but these were not introduced by the light, but were there before, only there was not light enough to make them manifest—so the evil propensity was in the heart before, but there was not light sufficient to discover it.

LITERATURE, CHIEFLY HOMILETICAL, ON THE 7 TH CHAPTER OF ROMANS: ARMINIUS, Dissertation on the True and Genuine Sense of Romans VII., Works, 2, 471; E. ELTON, Complaint of a Sanctified Sinner Answered, or Explanation of the 7th Chapter of Romans, London, 1618; J. STAFFORD, Scripture Doctrine of Sin Considered, in Twenty-five Discourses on Romans VII., London, 1772; J. GLAS, The Flesh and the Spirit, Works, 3, 142; J. FRASER, Scripture Doctrine of Sanctification; A. KNOX, Letter to J. S. Harford, Esq., on the Seventh Chapter to the Romans, Remains, 3, 409.—J. F. H.]


[1]Romans 7:2.—[The E. V. renders ὕπανδ ρος: which hath a husband; which is less forcible than the single word married. It is true that neither renderings convey the exact sense of the original, so well as: das dem Manne unterthänige Weib (Lange); yet, as the idea of subjection, expressed in the Greek, is still, to some extent, implied in married, it is the best rendering that can be given.—The periphrasis: so long as he liveth, is altogether unnecessary; the living husband, is both more forcible and more exact.

[2]Romans 7:2.—[The active verb die should be substituted for be dead. The question arises, How can we best express the delicate shade of the Greek conditional proposition: ἐὰνδὲ ἀπο θάνῃ. Alford gives: have died; Wordsworth: shall have died; Amer. Bible Union: die. The first seems preferable; the second is strictly literal, since the aorist implies something which takes place antecedent to what is affirmed in the apodosis, but is not so elegant; the last is that bald conditional form, which should be reserved for the equivalent Greek form (εἰ with the optative or indicative). These remarks apply to the same clause, as it occurs in ver 3.

[3] Romans 7:3.—[The negative belongs to the verb, and is joined to the noun, at the expense of forcibleness. Forbes remarks, that here the E. V. destroys the regularity of the parallelism. The first, second, and third lines in the original correspond exactly to the fourth, fifth, and sixth respectively.

Ἄρα οὖν ζῶντος τοῦ ἀνδρὸς

μοιχαλὶς χρηματίσει,

ἐὰν γἑνηται ἀνδρὶ ἑτέπω̣·

ἐὰν δὲ ἁποθάνη ͅὁ ἀνήρ,

ἑλευθέρα ἐστὶν ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου, τοῦ μὴ εἶραι αὐτἡν μοιχαλίδα,

γενομένην ἀνδρὶ ἑτέρω̣

So then, as long as her husband liveth,

She shall be called an adulteress,

If she be married to another man;

But if her husband be dead,

She is free from the law so as to be no adulteress,

Though she be married to another man.

[4]Romans 7:4.—[Were made dead (Amer. Bible Union), though not very elegant, is perhaps the best rendering of ἐθανατώθητε. Mortify, would be ambiguous here. Were slain, is preferred by Alford, because the more violent Greek verb is used, recalling the violent death of Christ; but this would point to the act of killing, rather than to the fact of being deprived of life, which is the prominent thought here.

[5]Romans 7:4.—[Both clauses are final, though differing in form. By changing the first that of the E. V. into in order that, the force of the Greek is preserved, and its varied form in a measure reproduced.

[6]Romans 7:4.—[As unto God is the usual rendering of εἰς τον θεόν, to God will serve to represent the simple dative: τῷ θεῷ. The meaning seems to be: to the glory of God.—The dative, τῷθαν άτω̣ is also found at the close of Romans 7:5.

[7]Romans 7:5.—[The E. V. usually renders παθήματα, sufferings. Here, passions (Wordsworth, and others; Lange: Leidenschaften) is etymologically exact, and, on the whole, preferable to motions, emotions (Amer. Bible Union), stirrings (Alford).

[8]Romans 7:6.—[The Recepta reads ἀποθανόντ ος; a conjecture of Beza’s, arising from a misunderstanding of the text, having no uncial support. D. E. F. G. (Vulgate, and some Latin authorities) read τοῦ θανάτου; a gloss, to get rid of the participle, which was regarded as disturbing the structure of the sentence (Meyer). א. A. B. C. K. L., many versions and fathers, warrant the correctness of ἄποθανόντες, which is now almost universally adopted. (The English text is emended to correspond.)

[9]Romans 7:6.—[The clause is ecbatic and present: ὥστε δουλεύειν.

[10]Romans 7:6.—[If the reference be to the Holy Spirit, the above emendation is necessary. If not (as Dr. Lange holds), the clause should read: in newness of spirit and not in oldness of letter. See Exeg. Notes on both views.—R.]

[11][On the difficulty respecting the figure, see the full remarks of Prof. Stuart in loco.—R.]

[12][Meyer’s note is excellent: “Not before he dies does the law lose its dominion over him; so long as he lives, he remains subject to it. If this is considered, and an entirely irrelevant ‘only so long as he lives’ be not interpolated, the thought seems neither trivial nor disproportionate to the appeal made to the legal knowledge of the readers. For a peculiarity of the νόμος consists in this, that it cannot, as human laws, have only temporary validity, or be altered, suspended, nor can one be exempt from it for a time, &c. No, so long as man lives, the dominion of the νόμος over him remains.” Of course, this means previous to the death to the law (Romans 7:4).—R.]

[13][She is bound to him by the law—i.e., the Mosaic law—which made no provision for her loosing herself (in Deut. 24:2 it was the power of the husband, not the wife, to repudiate the relation). Here the law is no longer spoken of figuratively.—R.]

[14][That is, they might be and were so called, but yet were not guilty of religious adultery.—R.]

[15][Dr. Hodge at some length combats the view, that the Mosaic law (or rather the Jewish economy) is alone referred to throughout this passage. He rightly says: “Paul here means by the law, the will of God, as a rule of duty, however revealed.” See on 3:20, p. 122 (also Galatians, 2:16, pp. 49, 52). The most untenable of all views is that which limits νόμος to the ritualistic Jewish observances.—R.]

[16][To this interpolation it may be rejoined: What, then, would not be σάρξ in us? What is not carnal, sinful, in us?—R.]

What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
FIFTH SECTION.Synopsis: The law, in its holy design, by the feeling of death, to lead to the new life in grace. The development of the law from externality to inwardness. The experience of Paul a sketch from life of the conflict under the law, as well as of the transition from the old life in the law to the new life in the Spirit.

ROMANS 7: 7–25

7What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. [Let it not be!] Nay, [but] I had not known [i. e., recognized] sin, but by [except through] the law: for I had not known lust [evil desire],17 except the law had [if the lawhad not] said, Thou shalt not covet. 8But sin, taking occasion [,] by the commandment, [omit comma] wrought in me all manner of concupiscence [evil desire]. 9For without the law sin was [is] dead. For [Now] I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived [sprang into life], andI died. 10And the commandment, which was ordained to [was unto]18 life, Ifound [the same, or, this, was found by me] to be unto death. 11For sin, taking occasion [,] by the commandment, [omit comma] deceived me, and by it slew me.12Wherefore [So that] the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

13Was [Did] then that which is good made [become]19 death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in [to] me by [through] that which is good; [,] that sin by [through] the commandment might become exceeding [exceedingly] sinful.

14For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal,20 sold under sin.15For that which I do [perform],21 I allow [know] not: for what I would, that do I not [not what I wish,22 that I practise]; but what I hate, that do I.16If then I do that which I would not [But if what I wish not, that I do], Iconsent unto [I agree with] the law that it is good. 17Now then it is no more18[longer] I that do [perform] it, but sin that dwelleth [dwelling] in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh), dwelleth no good thing [good doth not dwell]: for to will [wish] is present with me; but how [omit how] to performthat which is good I find not [or, is not].23 19For the good that I would [wish],20I do not: but the evil which. I would [wish] not, that I do [practise]. Now [But] if I do that I24 would [wish] not, it is no more [longer] I that do21[perform] it, but sin that dwelleth [dwelling] in me. I find then a [the] law,that, when I would [wish to] do good, evil is present with me. 22For I delightin the law of God after the inward man: 23But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to25 the law of sin which is in my members.

24O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of thisdeath [or, this body of death]?26 25I thank God [or, Thanks to God]27 through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself [I myself with the mind]28 serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

A.—The development of life under the law as development of the knowledge of sin.

Summary.—1. The law in relation to sin; Romans 7:12, 13. a. The holiness of the law in its relation to the sinfulness of man; Romans 7:7–12. b. The effect of the law in harmony with its design: Disclosure of the deadly effect of sin, in causing it to complete itself as well in facts as in the consciousness; Romans 7:13.–2. The sinner in relation to the law; Romans 7:14–23. a. The revelation of man’s carnal nature or tendency in general under the spirituality of the law; Romans 7:14. b. The disclosure of the sinful obscuration of the understanding; or the dispute of knowledge; Romans 7:15, 16. c. The disclosure of the sinful obscuration of the will; or the dispute of the will; Romans 7:17, 18. d. Disclosure of the sinful obscuration of feeling; or of the unconscious ground of life; Romans 7:19, 20. e. Disclosure of the darkening of the whole human consciousness by the opposition of God’s law and a mere seeming law; or the deadly rent in the whole man; Romans 7:21—23.—3. The unhappy premonition of death, in the sense of the entanglement by the (seeming) body of death, and the release from it; Romans 7:24. 4. The transition from death to life; Romans 7:25. a. The redemption, in the former half of the verse. b. Conclusion in relation to the starting-point of the new life; second half of Romans 7:25.

B.—The same development as transition from the law to the Gospel, from ruin to salvation.

(Eph. 5:13: “But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.”) a. The holy design of the law to discover the root of sin, and with the sense of guilt to awaken the sense of death; Romans 7:7–12.—b. The wholesomeness of this complete unmasking of sin in its absolute sinfulness; Romans 7:13.—c. View of the conflict between the spiritual and divine character of the law, and the carnal character of the sinner; Romans 7:14.—d. Consciousness of the want of clearness and supremacy of understanding; Romans 7:15, 16.—e. Consciousness of the want of firmness and energy of will; Romans 7:17, 18.—f. Consciousness of the weakness of the nobler sentiments, and the superior power of the lower; Romans 7:19, 20.—g. The consciousness of the chasm between the inner man and the outward life; of the rent between the two reciprocally contradictory laws; Romans 7:21–23.—h. The fruit of this development: the consummated consciousness of the necessity of deliverance; Romans 7:24—i. Deliverance and the new law of life: clear distinction between knowledge and flesh; Romans 7:25. The I is distinguished, first from sin in knowledge, then in the will, then in the, feeling then in the whole consciousness of the inward nature, but finally in the inquiring cry for the Redeemer.

GENERAL PRELIMINARY REMARKS.—We come first of all to the question, In what sense does the Apostle speak in the first person singular? what does the ἐγώ mean? Different views: The expression is a μετασκηματισμός, see 1 Cor. 4:6—that is, the representation of one figure in another. Thus the Greek fathers applied the passage to the fall of Adam, or of the human race (Tholuck: “By way of example, the introduction of man into the paradisaical condition”).—Others believed the Jewish people before and under the law denoted (Chrysostom, Turretin, Wetstein, Reiche). The view of the Socinians and Arminians (Grotius, and others) was a modification of this one, that the homines plerique are meant, who, under the legal economy, have surrendered themselves to a gross life of sin. But the Apostle evidently speaks of a human condition of soul, in which the inward conflict of life is very earnest and great; and the language of his own experience is unmistakable. Even if he spoke of the human race in general, or of the Israelitish people in particular, he could not speak of a mere μετασχηματισμός, which would be excluded from the organic connection by the Apostle’s theological view. But since the Apostle uses the most forcible language of his own experience, his expression is ἰδίωσις (χοινοποιιιῒα); that is, he expresses in his experience a universal human experience of the relation of man to the law (Meyer, and others).29 For it is self-evident that the Apostle could have no occasion to describe a special experience concerning himself alone.

But now the second question arises: What state of the soul has the Apostle portrayed? Does this passage refer to the condition of the unregenerate, or of the regenerate?

Views.—1. The unregenerate: The Greek fathers, Augustine before his controversy with the Pelagians (prop. 44 in Ep. ad Rom.); also Jerome, Abelard (to a certain extent), and Thomas Aquinas; then Erasmus, Bucer, Musculus, Ochino, Faustus Socinus, Arminius (on Affelman, see Tholuck, p. 328); the Spener school (according to the suggestions of Spener); and later exegetical writers. [Among these, Julius Müller, Neander, Nitzsch, Hahn, Tholuck, Krehl, Hengstenberg, Rückert, De Wette, Ewald, Stier, Stuart, Ernesti, Messner, Schmid, Lechler, Kahnis, and Meyer (most decidedly). Some of these, however, really support the modified view upheld below (4).—R.].

2. The regenerate: Methodius in the Origenianis (see Tholuck, p. 336); Augustine in the controversy with the Pelagians (on account of Romans 7:17, 18, 22, 25: Retract. i. 23, &c.);30 Jerome, Luther, Calvin, Beza, the orthodox school; recently Kohlbrügge, Das 7te Kapitel des Briefes an die Römer (1839).

3. The first section, from Romans 7:7–13, treats of the unregenerate; Romans 7:14–25, of the regenerate: Philippi [whose careful and thorough discussion (Comm., pp. 249–258) is one of the ablest in favor of this reference.—R.]. The identity of the subject is against this view. Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, i. p. 469: “The Apostle does, indeed, speak of his present condition, but apart from the moral ability to which he had grown in Christ.” According to Meyer, this is the earlier Augustinian view (of the unregenerate); but it seems to be scarcely an intelligible one. [This view (referring only Romans 7:14–25 to the regenerate) is that of most Scotch expositors (latterly Brown, Haldane, Forbes); of Delitzsch (Bibl. Psychol., pp. 368 ff., 2d ed.), and is ably defended by Dr: Hodge. As the current Calvinistic interpretation, it requires further consideration. Mention must be made also of the modified form of it held by Alford.31 The arguments in favor of making the sharp transition at Romans 7:14, are as follows, as urged by Hodge: (1) The onus probandi is on the other side (on account of the first person and present tense). (2) There is not an expression, from the beginning to the end of the section, Romans 7:14–25, which the holiest man may not and must not adopt. (3) There is much which cannot be asserted by any unrenewed man. (4) The context is in favor of this interpretation. The positions (2) and (3) must be discussed in the exegesis of the verses as they occur (especially Romans 7:14, 15, 22). It will be found that there is very great difficulty in applying all the terms in their literal sense exclusively to either class. Philippi is most earnest in upholding the 3d position of Hodge. In regard to (1), it may be observed, that the first person is used in Romans 7:7–13, so that the change from the past to the present tense alone enters into the discussion. Is this change of tense sufficient to justify so marked a change in the subject? A consistent attempt to define the subject throughout on this theory, leads to the “confusion,” which Alford admits in the view he supports.—The context, it may readily be granted, admits of this view; for in chaps. 5. and 6. the result of justification, the actual deliverance from sin, has been brought into view, and Romans 7:6 says: we serve, &c. But, on the other hand, it must be admitted that Romans 7:7–13 recur to the ante-Christian, legal position. Not until Romans 7:2532 is there a distinct Christian utterance, while chap. 8 sounds like a new song of triumph. If the Apostle is holding the distinctively Christian aspect of the conflict in abeyance, though describing the experience of a Christian, in order that he may give it more force in chap. 8., he is doing what is not usual with him as a writer, still less with a struggling believer in his daily experience. The context, we hold, points most plainly to the view given next, and adopted by Dr. Lange.—R.]

4. The Apostle is not describing a quiescent state, but the process in which man is driven from the law to Christ, and an unregenerate person becomes a regenerate one. So Olshausen: “The state under the law cannot coëxist with regeneration, and without question, therefore—as Romans 7:24 is to express the awakened need of redemption, and Romans 7:25 the experience of redemption itself

Romans 7:14–24 are to be referred to a position before regeneration, and to be understood as a description of the conflict within an awakened person. Since, however, the Apostle makes use of the present for this section, while before and afterwards he applies the aorist, we are led to the idea that he does not intend to have this state of conflict regarded as concluded with the experience of redemption. In the description (Romans 7:14–24) itself, also, as will afterwards be more particularly shown, an advance in the conflict with sin is clearly observable; the better I stand out in the man, more and more the pleasure in God’s law gradually increases. This is the case in a still higher degree, as Romans 7:25 expresses, after the experience of the redeeming power of Christ, where the conflict with sin is described as for the most part victorious on the side of the better part in man. But a battle still continues, even after the experience of regeneration,” &c.—In all this, the antithesis, under the law and being free from the law, does not bear being confounded. It only admits of the condition, that the Christian must again feel that he is weak, so far as he falls momentarily under the law of the flesh, and thereby under the law of death. Even Bengel finds in this section a progress, but he does not correctly describe it: Sensim suspirat, connititur, enititur ad libertatem. Inde paulatim serenior fit oratio. But after the combatant experiences deep conviction, he declines, rather, into despair; but then this is the way to complete deliverance.

Tholuck properly remarks: “As the question is usually raised, whether the regenerate or the unregenerate person is spoken of, it produces misunderstanding so far as the status irregenitorum comprehends in itself the very different states of soul of the status exlex carnalis and of the status legalis; then, how far the relation of Old Testament believers to law and regeneration is regarded differently; and finally, how far the idea of regeneration has been a self-consciously variable one.”

[This view is, on the whole, the most satisfactory. It admits the conflict after regeneration, but guards against the thought that this is a description of distinctively Christian experience. It is rather that of one under the pedagogy of the law “unto Christ,” whether for the first time or the hundredth time. It is the most hopeful state of the unregenerate man; the least desirable state of the regenerate man. Of course, it cannot be admitted that there is a third class, a tertium quid, the awakened. This view seems to be the one which will harmonize the polemics of the past. Jowett adopts it, Schaff also, while Delitzsch, after advocating (3), says: “He speaks of himself the regenerate—i. e., of experiences still continuing, and not absolutely passed away—but he does not speak of himself quà regenerate—i. e., not of experiences which he has received by the specifically New Testament grace of regeneration.” He further admits that such experiences might occur in the heathen world, according to Rom. 2:15. The advantages of this view are very numerous. It relieves the exegesis of a constant constraint, viz., the attempt to press the words into harmony with certain preconceived anthropological positions. It agrees best with the context. Its practical value is beyond that of any other. See Doctr. Notes.—R.]

On the literature, see the Introduction. Also Tholuck, p. 339, where the explanations of Hunnius and Aretius may also be found. Winzer, Programm, 1832. A treatise in Knapp, Scripta varii argumenti.



Romans 7:7. What shall we say then? [Τίοὖν ἐροῦμεν; see the note on this expression, 3:5, p. 118. Comp. also 9:30, where the use is different.—R.] Intimation that another false conclusion must be prevented. Though the Christian be dead to the law, it does not follow that the law is not holy. But it belongs to a preceding stage of development.

Is the law sin [ὁ νόμος ἁμαρτία]? Origen [Jerome]: the lex naturalis. Tholuck: the Mosaic law. Certainly the question is respecting the justification of the latter. [Jowett paraphrases: Is conscience sin?—which seems almost an exegetical caprice. His reason for it, that the consciousness of sin, rather than a question of new moons and Sabbaths, is under consideration, betrays an entire misapprehension of the ethical purpose of the law of Moses. It may be admitted that an inferential reference to all law can be found here, but the passage is an account of an historical experience, which took place under the Mosaic law.—R.]

Sin. The usual interpretation: cause of sin. Metonymically, the operation named, instead of the cause, as 2 Kings 4:40; Micah 5:1: Samaria is sin for Jacob. On the other hand, De Wette and Meyer say: Is the law sinful, immoral? After what precedes, it may well mean: Is it the real cause of sin, and, as such, itself sinful? [Bengel: “causa peccati peccaminosa.” “Ὁ νόμος itself being abstract, that which is predicated of it is abstract also” (Alford).—R.] Even this conclusion is repelled by the Apostle with abhorrence, μὴ γένοιτο.

Nay, but. The ἀλλά is taken by some in the sense of ἀλλάγε: but certainly. He repels the thought that the law is sin, but yet he firmly holds that it brought injury (Stuart, Köllner, and others; Meyer, Hofmann). Tholuck, on the other hand (with Theodore of Mopsvestia, Abelard, and others), sees, in what is here said, the expression of the opposite, viz., that the law first brought sin to consciousness. It may be asked whether this alternative is a real one. If the law be really holy, because it has driven sin from its concealment and brought it fully to manifestation, then there is no alternative here. [This seems decisive against Stuart’s view. Meyer (4th ed.) renders ἀλλὰ, sondern. The law is not sin, but its actual relation to sin is that of discoverer of sin. This is much simpler than Alford’s view: I say not that, but what I mean is that. The objection that this implies a praise of the law (De Wette) is without force. He might well praise it as leading toward Romans 7:25; 8:1.—R.]

But it may be asked, in connection with this view, How are the words, I had not known sin [τὴν ἁμαρτίαν οὑκ ἔγνωγ], to be explained? According to Cyril, Winzer, De Wette, Philippi, and Tholuck, this refers to the knowledge of sin alone; but, according to Meyer, and others, it refers to the becoming acquainted with sin by experience. Meyer: “The principle of sin in man, with which we first become experimentally acquainted by the law, and which would have remained unknown to us without the law, because then it would not have become active by the excitement of desires for what is forbidden, in opposition to the law.” This explanation lays too much stress upon the second point of view. According to Romans 5:20, 6:15, and Romans 7:8 of this chapter, it is, however, not doubtful that the Apostle has here in mind not only the knowledge of sin, but also the excitement of sin. But he does not have it in mind as the increase of sin in itself, but as the promotion of its manifestation and form for the judgment.

Except through the law [εἰ μὴ διὰ νόμου]. Olshausen: “The law in all the forms of its revelation.” Meyer properly rejects this. Although the law further appears as immanent in man, yet, ever since the Mosaic law, by which it was awakened, it has the character of the second, threatening, and deadly law. The moral law of nature, ideally conceived, is one with human nature. [The citation from the Decalogue, immediately following, shows what the reference is.—R.]

For I had not known evil desire [τήν τεγὰρ ἐπιθυμίαν οὐκ ᾔδειν. See Textual Note1. Γάρ confirmatory, not = for example. On τε, see Tholuck, Stuart, Winer, p. 404. It is untranslatable in English; here a sign of close logical connection. On the distinction between the verbs, Bengel says: ἕγνων majus est, οἶδα minus. Hinc posterius, cum etiam minor gradus negatur, est in incremento. The verb is strengthened also, in this conditional clause, by the absence of ἄν, which would usually be inserted.—R] We cannot translate this, with Meyer: “For I would not have known desire,” &c. This would make the law the producer of lust, which is not the Apostle’s meaning. That lust was present without the law, he had sufficiently asserted in chaps.1. and 5. But now he has become acquainted with the corrupting and condemnatory character of wicked lust, under the prohibition:

Thou shalt not covet (Exod. 20:17), [Οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις. On the prohibitory future of the law, as quoted in the New Testament, see Winer, p. 296; Buttmann, N. T. Gramm., p. 221.—R.] As this was to him the principal thing in the law, he thus first understood the inner character of the law and the inward nature of sin; but thus also was the propensity to evil first excited, in the most manifold way, by the contradiction in him. The desire was now to him universally and decisively the principal and decisive thing. The first view of the inner life, or of the interior of life, had now occurred. Tholuck remarks, that Augustine and Thomas Aquinas regarded the concupiscentia as the generale peccatum from which all the others proceeded; but he observes, on the contrary, that the τέ in the sentence suggests rather a subordinate relation. But is the ᾔδειν subordinated or separated in relation to the whole sentence? For I never once understood the meaning of wicked lust without the law.

To what period of Paul’s life does this belong? To the time of his childhood (Origen); or of his Pharisaical blindness (“the elder Lutheran and Reformed exegesis down to Carpzov”)? Tholuck gives reasons for the latter. According to Matt. v., Pharisaism was narrowed to the act. He cites pertinent expressions of Kimchi, and other Jewish writers (see also the note, p. 352). In Jarchi, the explanation of the Tenth Commandment is wanting; in Aben Ezra there is a dwarfish construction. But then he raises the objection, that a person like Paul must have earlier come to a knowledge of the sinfulness of the ἐπιθυμία. But the knowledge of the sinfulness of the ἐπιθυμία has its first awakening significance, when wicked lust is recognized as the root of supposed good works, and thereby leads to a revolution of the old views on good works themselves. Even the fanatic rejects not only wicked works in themselves, but also their root—wicked desires. But he defines wicked desires and good affections according to evil and good works, while the awakened one begins to proceed from the judgment on inward affections, and afterwards to define the works. Therefore we cannot say, that οὐκ ἔγνων and οὐκ ᾔ δειν stand here merely hypothetically; the question as to the subject of this declaration must be raised first in Romans 7:9 (Tholuck). Romans 7:7 and 9 denote the same experience through which Paul, as the representative of all true contestants, passed under the law: Romans 7:7 on the side of the perception of sin, Romans 7:9 on the side of the excitement of sin.

Romans 7:8. But sin. The δέ is, indeed, “continuative” (Meyer), [not adversative (Webster and Wilkinson).—R.], yet not in reference to the history of the development of the sinful experience, but so far as its second stage is given.—Sin, ἡ ἁμαρτία; that is, sin inwardly present as peccability; the ἐπιθυμία, as it was just shown to be sin. [The principle of sin in man, as in Romans 7:7. To admit a personification, as held by Fritzsche and Stuart,33 is unnecessary; to refer it to actual sin (Reiche), is contrary to the context. Comp. Olshausen, Koppe, Philippi, Hodge.—R.]

Taking occasion [ἀφορμὴν δέ λαβοῦσα]. The ἀφορμή denotes the external impulse or occasion, in opposition to the inner. [Not merely opportunity; “it indicates the furnishing the material and ground of attack, the wherewith and whence to attack” (Alford). Its position is emphatic, though the whole phrase is probably thus rendered prominent.—R.] The λαμβάνειν in λαβοῦσα, as free, moral activity, must be made emphatic here. Therefore Reiche says, incorrectly: it received occasion.

By the commandment wrought in me [διὰ τῆς ἐντολῆς κατηργάσατο ἐν ἐμοί]. The διὰ τῆς ἐντολ. must be connected with χατηργ. (Rückert, Tholuck, Meyer), and not with ἀφορμ. (Luther, Olshausen, Tholuck).34 The sentence contains the declaration how sin took an occasion for itself. It operated just by the commandment [the single precept referred to Romans 7:7], since it regarded the categorical commandment as a hostile power, and struggled and rebelled against it.

The immediate design of the commandment in itself was the subjection of the sinner; but the prospective result was the rising of sin, and this result should bring sin clearly to the light in order to capacitate the sinner for deliverance. Meyer says ambiguously: “Concupiscence is also without law in man, but yet it is not concupiscence for what is forbidden.” Certainly the positive prohibition first appears with the law; but the variance of the sinner with the inner law of life is already perfectly present. But now refractoriness toward the positive command makes its appearance, and enhances and consummates sin.

All manner of evil desire [πᾶσαν ἐπιθύμιαν]. The ἐπιθυμία was already present; but it now first unfolded and extended itself to the contrast. Zwingli, and others, interpret this as the knowledge of lust; Luther, Calovius, Philippi, and others, interpret it properly as the excitement of lust. Tholuck: “According to Romans 7:11, sin deceives, as is exhibited in the history of the fall of man; to man every thing forbidden appears as a desirable blessing; but yet, as it is forbidden, he feels that his freedom is limited, and now his lust rages more violently, like the waves against the dyke;” see 1 Cor. 15:46. [Philippi well says of this: “An immovably certain psychological fact, which man can more easily reason away and dispute away, than do away.”35—R.]

For without the law sin is dead [χωρὶς γὰρ νόμου ἁμαρτία νεχρά. A general proposition, hence, with the verb omitted. Beza and Reiche incorrectly supply ἦν; so E. V., was. It will readily be understood that νεκρά is not used in an absolute, but relative sense, = inoperative (or unobserved, if the reference be limited to the knowledge of sin). Against this the antithesis of the following verse may be urged.—R.] Meyer, incorrectly: “not actively, because that is wanting whereby it can take occasion to be active.” Rather, sin cannot mature in its root; it cannot come to παράβασυς. Man has, to a certain extent, laid himself to rest with it upon a lower bestial stage, which is apparently nature; the commandment first manifests the demoniacal contradiction of this stage, the actual as well as the formal contradiction to God and what is divine (see Romans 8:3). It is incorrect to limit the statement, with Chrysostom, Calvin, and others, to knowledge—it was not known; or, with Calovius, to the conscience (terrores conscientiœ); or, finally, to limit the idea to the sphere of desire (Tholuck). It has not yet acquired its most real, false life, in the παράβασις. Reference must here be made to the antithesis: Sin was dead, and I was alive. [The clauses, however, are not strictly antithetical.—R.]

Romans 7:9. Now I was alive without the law once [ἐγὼ δὲ ἔζων χωρὶς νόμου ποτέ. For (E. V.) is incorrect; δέ must then be rendered but or now (i. e., moreover), as it is taken to be adversative or continuative. The latter is to be preferred, on the ground that this clause continues a description of the state without the law, while the real antithesis occurs in the following clause, for which the particle but should be reserved.—R.] In order to define the sense, we must apply the twofold antithesis. Paul could only have lived first in the sense in which sin was dead in him, and also be dead in the sense in which sin was alive in him.

I was alive. The I must be emphasized: “the whole expression is pregnant (Reiche, on the contrary, merely ἦν)”.

Explanations: 1. Videbar mihi vivere (Augustine, Erasmus [Barnes], and others).

2. Securus eram (Melanchthon, Calvin, Bengel [Hodge], and others), I lived securely as a Pharisee.

3. Meyer says, to the contrary: “Paul means the life of childlike innocence which is free from death (Romans 7:10), (comp. Winzer, p. 11; Umbreit in the Studien und Kritiken, 1851, p. 637 f.), where (as this condition of life, analogous to the paradisaical state of our first parents, was the cheerful ray of his earliest recollection) the law had not yet come to knowledge, the moral spontaneity had not yet occurred, and therefore the principle of sin was still in the slumber of death. This is certainly a status securitatis, but not an immoral one.”36 Tholuck reminds us of the fact, that the Jewish child was not subject to the law until his thirteenth year; but he accedes (and properly so) to the views of the elder expositors. Paul first perceived the deadly sting of the law when he was forbidden to lust. The child, as a child, has childish devices; 1 Cor. 13; but it can here come into consideration only so far as its religious and moral consciousness began to develop. But the status securitatis of which the Apostle here speaks, first begins where the innocent child’s status securitatis ceases. It consists in the sinful life being taken, after the course of the world, as naturalness instead of unnaturalness. And this can also continue under the law, so long as the law is regarded as something external, and is referred to mere action. The Apostle first dates the true existence of the law for man from the understanding of the Thou shalt not covet. As, therefore, Meyer has above given too Augustinian a view of original sinfulness, so he here construes it too much on the opposite side.

In a historical reference, this text, according to Rom. 5:13, has especially in view the period from Adam to Moses. It has, therefore, even been said that Paul here speaks, in the name of his people, of the more innocent and pure life of the patriarchs and Israelites before the gift of the law (Grotius, Lachmann, Fritzsche, and others). Undoubtedly, that historical stage is included; yet here the psychological point of view predominates: the life of the individual up to the understanding of the Mosaic expression, Thou shalt not covet. The law also points, by the οὐκ ἐπιθ., beyond itself; as the sacrificial offering, &c.

Now I was alive. This means, according to Meyer, “Man, during the state of death (Todtsein) of the principle of sin, was not yet subject to eternal death. Certainly he became subject to physical death by the sin of Adam.” We have already refuted this distinction. The condemned are first actually subject to death at the final judgment; in principle, the children of Adam are subject to it; but the living man, of whom Paul here speaks, had not yet fallen into it, in the personal consciousness of guilt and the personal entanglement in the παράβασις.

But when the commandment came [ἐλθούσης δε Ìτῆς ἐ ντολῆς. The specific command, not the whole law. Camei. e., was brought home to me.—At this point the older Lutheran and Calvinistic expositors found a reference to the conviction of sin immediately preceding conversion. But the use of ἐντολή is against this, as well as the drift of the whole passage. A writer, so loving in his repetition of the name of Christ, and in direct reference to the work of Christ, would not have left such a meaning obscure. Comp. Philippi on the psychological objections.—R.] When its inward character became known. This certainly has an historical application to the gift of the Mosaic law (Reiche, Fritzsche), but a psychological application to the designated moments of introspection.

Sin sprang into life [ἡ ἁμαρτία ἀνέζησεν]. The explanation of the ἀνέζησεν, revived (in Rückert, De Wette, and others. Tholuck:37 “The ἀνά stands, as elsewhere in compound words, in the strengthened meaning of sursum; comp. ἀναβλέπω, in John 9:11,” &c), is opposed by Meyer, in accordance with the elder expositors, and by Bengel and Philippi. Bengel makes this explanation: sicut vixerat, cum per Adamum intrasset in mundum. Certainly the ἁ μαρτία became perfectly alive first in Adam as παράβασις, and then as such νεκρά, until the gift of the Mosaic law again brought it to life. But this is also repeated psychologically in the individual so far as the Adamic παράβασις is psychologically reflected more or less strongly in his first offences; thus an individual λαμβ. of the fall takes place, but then, until the awakening light, of the law penetrates the conscience, a false state of nature enters, connected with an active sense of life. [Here, too, must be included both the knowledge of and excitement to sin.—R.]—Some Codd. read ἔζησε, because the expression ἀναζῇν did not occur in the classical Greek and in the Septuagint. Origen thought there was here a reminder of a pre-terrestrial fall. Cocceius: evidentius apparuit.

And I died [ἐγὼ δὲ ἀπέθανον]. In the same sense as sin became alive, did the sinner die. That is, with the sense of conscious [and increasing] guilt, the sense of the penalty of death has made its appearance. Meyer makes an inadequate distinction here: “We must understand neither physical nor spiritual death (Semler, Böhme, Rückert, and others), but eternal death, as the antithesis, εἰς ζωήν, requires.” The sense of the penalty of death makes no distinction of this kind. [The aorist points to a definite occurrence. He entered into a certain spiritual state, which he calls death. Calvin: Mors peccati vita est hominis; sursum vita peccati mors hominis.—R.]

Romans 7:10. And the commandment, which was unto life, the same was found by me to be unto death [καὶ εὑρέθη μοι ἡ ἐντολὴ ἡ εἰς ζωήν, αὕτη εἰς θάνατον. Καί introduces the verse as an epexegesis of died, with the addition of a new circumstance (Stuart).—R.] Supply οὖσα before unto life. In what sense was the commandment thus found? The commandment has certainly promised life to the one observing the law; Lev. 18:5; Deut. 5:33; Matt. 19:17. It is, however, easily misunderstood when there is such a general explanation as this: “the promise of life was connected with the observance of the Mosaic commandments” (Meyer). The sense is rather from the beginning, that the kind of promise is conditional on the kind of observance. External obedience has also only an external promise, or a promise of what is external (Exod. 20:12). But this is, for the pious, only the figure of a higher obedience and promise. The self-righteous man, on the other hand, made a snare for himself out of that promise. Now, in the highest sense, life according to the law of the Spirit—that is, in faith (which is the end of the law)—results in the ζωὴ αἰώνιος. Only the transition from death to life lies between the two. It is just the most intense effort to fulfil the law that results in death. This is a circumstance which seems to contradict the εἰς ζώήν, and yet it does not contradict it, but is quite in harmony with it.

The same. We hold that, according to the sense, we must read αὐτή (with Lachmann, De Wette, Philippi), and not αὕτη with Meyer and Tischendorf [Alford, Tregelles]. For the law has only temporarily become transformed, as the same law of life, into a law of death; it has not permanently become a law of death.38

Romans 7:11. For sin, &c. [ἡ γὰρ ἁμαρτία, κ.τ.λ. The γάρ introduces an explanation of Romans 7:10. The first words are similar to Romans 7:8, but ἁμαρτία here stands emphatically first. The position of διὰ τῆς ἐντολῆς is also slightly emphatic.—R.] Not the commandment in itself has become a commandment unto death; sin has rather made it thus. How far? Sin took occasion, or made itself an occasion. That it took it of the commandment, is assumed, and is explained by what follows. The following καὶ δι ̓ αὐτῆς, &c., favors the connection of the διὰ τῆς ἐντολῆς with ἐξηπάτησὲ́ με, deceived me. It first made the commandment a provocation, and then a means of condemnation. Thus what applies to Satan, that he was first man’s tempter, and then his accuser, applies likewise to sin. This passage calls to mind the serpent in Paradise, as 2 Cor. 11:3. But in what did the deception of sin consist? Philippi: “Since sin made me pervert the law, in which I thought that I had a guide to righteousness, into a means for the promotion of unrighteousness.”39 Not clear. It deceived me, in that it represented the law to me as a limit which seemed to separate me from my happiness. Behind that limit it charmed me to transgression by a phantom of happiness. Accordingly, it is not satisfactory to explain the following clause: And by it slew me [καὶ δι’ αὐτῆς ἀπέκτεινεν], thus: sin gave me over to the law, so that it slew me. In this respect sin rather falsified the law, since it represented to me my well-merited death as irremediable, or my judge as my enemy (see Gen. 3; Heb. 2:15; 1 John 3:20). [“Brought me into the state of sin and misery,” already referred to in Romans 7:10. The allusion to the temptation is to be admitted here also.—R.] Tholuck: “Decision of Simeon Ben Lachish: The wicked nature of man rises every day against him, and seeks to slay him (Vitringa, Observ. Sacr., 2:599); also by the יֵצֶר הָרָע is denoted the angel of death.”

Romans 7:12. So that the law is holy, &c. [ὥστε ὁ μὲν νόμος ἄγιος. The ὤστε introduces the result of the whole discussion, Romans 7:7–11. It is not = ergo, yet of a more general conclusive character. To μέν, the corresponding δέ is wanting. The antithesis we should expect, according to Meyer, is: but sin brought me to death through the law, which was good in itself. This is the thought of Romans 7:13; but as the form is changed, δέ does not appear.—R.] Not only innocent (Tholuck), but also absolutely separated from, and opposed to, sin. And this applies not only to the law in general, but also to its explanation in the single commandment.

[And the commandment holy and just and good, καὶ ἡ ἐντολὴ ἁγία καὶ δικαία καὶ ἀγαθή.] The commandment is first holy in its origin as God’s commandment; secondly, just, as the individual determination of the law of the system of righteousness (Meyer:40 “rightly constituted, just as it should be”); and good—that is, not in the vague sense of excellent (Meyer, Philippi, and others), but according to the idea of what is good: beneficial promotion of life in itself, in spite of its working of death in me; indeed, even by its working of death. The term good refers to the blessed result of divine sorrow, and to the gospel.41 The elaborate apology for the commandment is certainly (according to Meyer) occasioned by the fact that the ἐντολή has been described as precisely the object of sin, in Romans 7:7.


The Law in relation to the Sinner

Romans 7:13. Did then that which was good become death unto me? [Τὸ οὖν ἀγαθὸν ἐυοὶ ἐγένετο θάνατος; See Textual Note 3.] Tholuck: “The μέν in Romans 7:12 prepared for the antithesis ἡ δέ ἁμαρτία χ.τ.λ. Yet the Apostle again presents his thoughts in the form of a refutation of an antagonistic consequence. The ἀγαθόν should lead us to expect only wholesome fruits.” Undoubtedly, the expression ἀγαθή (Romans 7:12) is the new problem now to be sοlved. It was not so much to be wondered at that the commandment, as holy and just, brought death; but it was an enigma that it, as ἀγαθή, should bring forth death. The explanation of this enigma will also show how the law has brought about the great change: Through Death to Life! Was that which is good, of itself and immediately, made death unto me? This conclusion, again, is to be repelled by Let it not be! μὴ γένοιτο.

But sin [ἀλλὰ ἡ ἁμαρτία (supply ἐμοͅὶἐγένετο θάνατος). So all modern commentators.—R.] Namely, that was made death unto me. “The construction of Luther, Heumann, Carpzov, &c., is totally wrong: ἀλλὰ ἡ ἁμαρτία διὰ τοῦὰγαθοῦ μοι κατεργαζομένη (ἦν) θάνατον ἵναφανῇ ἁμαρτία” (Meyer); so also the Vulgate.

That it might appear sin [ἵνα φανῇ ἁμαρτία The ἵνα is telic; φανῇ, be shown to be (Alford). This second ἁμας τία is a predicate; anarthrous, therefore, and also as denoting character.—R.] This was therefore the most immediate design of the law: Sin should appear as sin (Eph. 5:13; Gen. 3: Adam, where art thou?).

[Working death to me, by that which is good, διὰ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ μοι κατεργαζομένη θάνατον.] The idea of perfectly disclosed sin is just this: that it works death by the misconstruction and abuse of what is good. Thus the law is first made to serve as a provocation to sin unto death; second, the gospel is made a savor of death; and third, the truth is made a mighty anti-christian lie (2 Thess. 2:11). Tholuck: “The nature of sin should thereby become manifest, that it should appear as something which makes use of what is even good as a means of ruin, and in this manner the commandment should become a means of exhibiting sin in all the more hideous light.” Scholium of Matthæus: “ ἵνα αὐτὴ ἑαντῆν ἐλέγξη, ἵνα ὅλη τὴν ἑαντῆς πιχρίαν ἐκκαλύψη.” In addition to this, these pertinent words: “In fact, as it is the sovereign right of good to overrule evil results for good, so is it the curse of sin to pervert the effects of what is good to evil.” Thus an emphasis rests on the διὰ τοῦ ὰγαθοῦ, for which reason it comes first.

Meyer correctly urges, against Reiche, that this ἵνα is telic, in opposition to the ecbatie view. Death was already present before the law, but sin completed it by the law; κατεργαζομένη. The law is not sin; sin disclosed itself completely as sin in making what is good a means of evil.

That sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful [ἵνα γένηται καθ̓ ὑπερβολὴν ἁμαρτωλὸς ἡ ἁμαρτία διὰ τῆς ἐντολῆς. Parallel clause to the last, of increased force: “Observe the pithy, sharp, vividly compressed sketch of the dark figure” (Meyer).—R.] Καθ’ ὑπερβολήν. Frequently used by Paul; 2 Cor. 1:8; 4:17; Gal. 1:13. The άμαρτωλός appears to be an intimation that sin, as an imaginary man, should be driven from real human nature to destruction. [The telic force of these clauses is thus expanded by Dr. Hodge: “Such is the design of the law, so far as the salvation of sinners. It does not prescribe the conditions of salvation. Neither is the law the means of sanctification. It cannot make us holy. On the contrary, its operation is to excite and exasperate sin—to render its power more dreadful and destructive.”—R.]

[EXCURSUS ON BIBLICO-PSYCHOLOGICAL TERMS.—The exact significance of the terms σάρξ and πνεῦμα, as used so frequently by the Apostle in this and the eighth chapters, requires careful consideration at this point. But such a discussion must necessarily be preceded by some remarks on the words, σῶμα, ψυχή, πνεῦμα, body, soul, and spirit, as used by Paul in a strictly anthropological sense.

I. Σῶμα, BODY. This term is readily understood as generally used in the New Testament. Still it refers, strictly speaking, to the bodily organism, and has a psychological meaning almost = sense, the sensational part of man’s nature. As distinguished from σάρξ (in its physiological sense), it means the organism, of which σάρξ is the material substance. (Κρέας differs from σάρξ, in not including the idea of an organism.) That σῶμα must not be restricted to the material body, irrespective of its organism and vital union with the immaterial part of man’s nature, is evident from the numerous passages (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 7:27; Eph. 1:23; Col. 1:18, &c.), where the Church is called the body of Christ. This expression would convey little meaning, if σῶμα had not this psychological sense. No difficulty arises in regard to this term, except in the interpretation of a few passages which seem to imply an ethical sense; e. g., Rom. 6:6 (q. v.); 7:24; 8:10, 13; Col. 2:11. It must be remarked, that in most of these the ethical force really belongs to some attributive word, σῶμα being in itself indifferent. We may explain most of these cases by giving the word a figurative sense, the organism of sin (Rom. 6:6; 7:24; Col. 2:11), analogous to the old man; or by admitting a reference to the body as the chief organ of the manifestation of sin. The term μέλη, members (which is usually associated with σῶμα, rather than with σάρξ, because the idea of an organism is more prominent in the former term), must be interpreted accordingly (see Col. 3:5; Bibelwerk, p. 64, Amer. ed.). In any case, the thought that the body is the chief source and seat of sin, must be rejected as unscriptural, unpauline, and untrue. We must also avoid a dualistic sundering of the material and immaterial in man’s nature.

II. Ψυχή, SOUL. This term is from ψύχω, to breathe, to blow and, like נֶפֶשׁ, its Hebrew equivalent, originally means animal life (see the New Testament usage, especially in the Gospels), but, like the Hebrew word, it also is frequently referred to the whole immaterial part of man’s nature, in distinction from σῶμα. By synecdoche, it is put for the whole man, in enumeration (Acts 2:41: about three thousand souls), and in the phrase, πᾶσαψυχή, every soul. As the word occurs but four times in the Epistle to the Romans—twice in the sense of life, and twice in the phrase, every soul—it would not be necessary to discuss it further, did not the precise meaning of πνεῦμα depend upon a further discrimination. Twice in the New Testament (1 Thess. 5:23; Heb. 4:12) the word is distinguished from πνεῦμα. As both passages may be regarded as Pauline, the one occurring in his earliest written Epistle, and the other in an Epistle of much later date, which is Pauline, even if not written by Paul, the question of a Pauline trichotomy cannot be avoided. The fuller discussion will be found under πνεῦμα, below, but here we must define ψυχή more closely. Although it is true that the term does mean the animal soul, it is very doubtful whether it means simply this in the two passages above referred to. If “animal soul” be restricted to the principle of life, then σῶμα, in such a connection, should include this; and a wish that the principle of life be “preserved blameless,” is singular, to say the least. If, however, “animal soul” be taken to include more than this—viz., what we share with the brutes—then it is highly probable that this largely includes the intellectual part of our nature, and ψυχή must then be = the seat of the Understanding, in distinction from the Reason. That some wide sense is involved, is evident both from 1 Cor. 15:45, “the first Adam was made a living soul,” and from 1 Cor. 2:14, where the adjective ψυχιχός undoubtedly includes the intellectual part of man’s nature. In both these cases the antithesis is πνεῦμα in the ethical sense; hence the greater necessity for enlarging the idea of ψυχή.42 Passing over many distinctions which have been made, we consider the view of Olshausen, who makes ψυχή the centre of our personality, the battlefield of the flesh and human spirit. In this view, also, σάρξ and σῶμα are almost identical, though he admits that, in the unrenewed man, the ψυχή is under the dominion of the σάρξ. It excludes the νοῦς from the ψυχή, making it the organ of activity for the human spirit. This view still restricts ψυχή too much, even admitting the trichotomy.43 It confuses psychological and ethical terms. It leans toward the error which makes the body the source of sin, while, on the other hand, it excludes the human spirit from the dominion of sin (and its organ, the νοῦς). It cannot be justified by Paul’s language, for the very passages which indicate a trichotomy imply the sinfulness of the human spirit, while it is altogether unpauline, as already remarked, to refer sin to the body as its source. The use of the word ψυχιχός, as quoted above, is equally opposed to this view, which probably grows out of the attempt to find in ψυχή and πνεῦμα, terms analogous to the Understanding and Reason. We therefore object to this view, and claim a still wider sense for ψυχή. How much can be claimed for it, will appear from what follows.

III. Πνεῦμα, SPIRIT. This term, from πνέω, to blow, to breathe, means (like the Hebrew רוּחַ) breath, then wind, then anima, lastly animus, spirit, in all the various meanings we give that word. It must first be discussed in its strictly psychological meaning.

A. Besides the secondary meaning, temper, disposition, it is used by most of the New Testament writers to denote man’s immaterial nature, including, together with σῶμα (Rom. 8:10; 1 Cor. 6:20; 7:34), and also with σάρξ (2 Cor. 7:1; Col. 2:5), the whole man. In the phrase, “gave up the ghost,” it is doubtful whether it means the whole immaterial nature, or simply life; in Luke 23:46; Acts 7:59, the former seems to be the meaning. But there are a number of passages where the exact signification turns on the previous question: Do the Scriptures assume or teach a trichotomy in human nature?—that man is a unity made up of body, soul, and spirit? It is essential to the proper understanding of chaps. 7. and 8. that this question be discussed.44

1. First of all, it must be admitted as a fact that the Scriptures recognize the dualism of spirit and matter, and that man is both material and immaterial, without any tertium quid, which is neither material nor immaterial. The presumption, then, is against the trichotomy, so far as it would ignore this fact. The presumption is also against any view which classes soul under the material part of the complex nature, since both soul and spirit are used to include the whole immaterial part of man.

On the other hand, Plato and Aristotle undoubtedly held that there was a trichotomy (for their views, see Delitzsch, p. 93; Eng. ed. p. 212). This fact may be used to explain 1 Thess. 5:23 as popular language, but “we must needs turn to the Holy Scriptures, and accept without prejudice what it answers to us, be it Platonic or anti-Platonic.” Some such view was held by Origen, by the Apollinarians and semi-Pelagians. All these, like the modern rationalistic notions on the subject, were extenuations of human corruption. Vain speculations on the subject are abundant, but this should not be to the prejudice of truth.45

Turning to 1 Thess. 5:23, we find a distinct assumption of a tripartite nature in man, all the more weighty because it is not in didactic form. To say that this is merely popular language, does not meet the case. For, while it may be said that Paul does not profess to teach metaphysics, the question then recurs: Was the popular language of that day correct, or that of another age? Besides, it is a hazardous method of dealing with a writer so uncommonly exact, and with a book which concerns itself with human salvation. Experience has proven how largely the diffusion and acceptance of biblical truth are dependent on correct anthropological views. If we believe that Paul chose his words wittingly, much more, if we hold them to be inspired, this text, taken by itself, assumes “that in the original structure of man there is something—yet remaining, needing and capable of sanctification—corresponding to the three terms, body, soul, and spirit.46 The same is implied in Heb. 4:12.

Leaving these passages, we find little else in the New Testament to support this view. Of course, when accepted, it must modify to some extent the signification given to these terms in other places; but there is no other passage in the New Testament which could be relied on to prove the trichotomy were these absent. Hence we infer that the distinction, if real, is not of such importance as has been thought, and cannot be made the basis of the startling propositions which human speculation has deduced from it. This does not deny that, from other sources, the trichotomy may receive important support; it refers simply to the place it should take in biblical psychology. Judging from the rare allusions to it, the prevailing dichotomic tone of the Scriptures, we infer that, while it may be necessary, in order to explain these passages, to accept a trichotomy, the advantages of so doing are incidental, rather than of the first moment.47

2. Admitting that there is a tripartite nature in man, the main difficulty is a precise definition of these three parts. Here the German authors are in a very Babel of confusion. For the sake of clearness, we first of all reject

(a.) All views of the human spirit which make it the real soul over against a brute soul, termed ψυχή, for the reasons given above under II.

(b.) All views of the human spirit which make it a higher unfallen part of man’s nature, over against a soul under the power of the σάρξ. This, which is the view of Olshausen, and, with modifications, of many others, is not borne out by the anthropology of Scripture; is contradicted by the very passages which alone can establish a trichotomy, and is in the very face of 2 Cor. 7:1, where “filthiness,” μολυσμός, defilement, stain, is attributed to the human spirit. Did such an unfallen spirit, in any sense, exist in man, we might expect that term to be used in this chapter instead of νοῦς and ὁ ἔσω ἄνθρωπος, whatever the reference may be. Jul. Müller (i. p. 450) well remarks: “Πνεῦμα in this anthropological sense is itself exposed to pollution (2 Cor. 7:1), and needs sanctification and cleansing just as ψυχή and σῶμα (1 Thess. 5:23; 1 Cor. 7:34); this spiritual sphere of life is the one which, in the work of regeneration, most needs to be renewed (Eph. 4:23, compared with Rom. 12:2). The notion that man’s spirit cannot be depraved—that it is only limited in its activity from without—and that sin is the consequence of this limitation, cannot be attributed to the Apostle.” This excludes, also, the view of Schöberlein and Hofmann (since given up by him), that the third term of the trichotomy is “the Spirit of God immanent in the soul.”

(c.) But this would also exclude the view of Philippi, Schmid (apparently of Tholuck, Romans, p. 301), that the third term is the pneumatic nature imputed to the believer at regeneration. If it be this, how can it need sanctification? Besides, this involves the theory of regeneration, which makes it the impartation of an entirely new nature, not in soul and body, but in addition to soul and body, as the third term in the complex being. This view cannot satisfactorily explain the trichotomy in 1 Thess. 5:23; Heb. 4:12.

(d.) There remains, then, this view, which meets all the requirements of exegesis: that man has a body in vital connection with his soul, which latter term includes all the powers of mind and heart, having as their object the world and self (hence including νοῦς and ὁ ἔσω ἄνθρωπος in this chapter). That, besides, he has, in his unity of nature, a spirit which is of the same nature as the soul, of a higher capacity, yet not separated or separable from it. This spirit is the capacity for God, God-consciousness (Heard); but in man’s present condition it is dormant, virtually dead in its depravity, needing the power of the Holy Spirit to renew it. After such renewal it becomes spirit in the sense intended in the proposition: “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). This seems to be, in substance, the view of Müller, Delitzsch, and Heard.48 It admits a dichotomy, and also a trichotomy; claims that the soul is spiritual rather than material; that there is no gulf between soul and spirit; that the human spirit is powerless for good, yet that here, where depravity is really most terrible, redemption begins. “In consequence of sin, the human spirit is absorbed into soul and flesh, and man, who ought to pass over from the position of the ψυχὴ ζῶσα into the position of the πνεῦμα ζωοποιοῦν, has become, instead of πν́ευματιχός, a being ψυχιχός and σαρχιχός; and further, just for that reason, because the spirit stands in immediate causal relation to God, all the Divine operations having redemption in view, address themselves first of all to the πνεῦμα, and thence first attain to the ψυχή; for when God manifests himself, He appeals to the spirit of man” (Bibl. Psych., p. 96, Eng. ed., p. 117). It may be urged that this presents no real distinction; I reply, that it is not claimed that the distinction is of essential importance. But as Paul uses the word πνεῦμα in preference to ψυχή, when he speaks of man’s immaterial nature, especially as regenerated by the Spirit of God, there seems to be no other way of accounting for it except on this view. (The objections to that of Philippi have been considered above.) Delitzsch very properly remarks: “Should any prefer to say, that the Apostle, by πνεῦμα and ψυχή, is distinguishing the internal condition of man’s life, and especially of the Christian’s life, in respect of two several relations, even this would not be false.” It is, indeed, the nearest expression of the truth; for the human spirit is not brought into any special prominence by Paul, save as in a given relation in the Christian’s life. Hence we have a second meaning of πνεῦμα.

B. The human spirit as acted upon by the Holy Spirit, and thus becoming the seat of those Divine impulses, which are the means of redeeming the whole man. Of course, as opinions differ respecting the first meaning, they will vary from our definition. Philippi makes this identical with A, while others would claim that we should distinguish here rather a new principle of life (Lange), than a part of our renewed nature. Dr. Lange seems to prefer this meaning throughout chap. 8. There, however, the reference seems to be mainly to the Holy Spirit, the objective agent. In Romans 7:10, 16, the subjective meaning is undoubtedly the correct one, as in John 3:6; 4:23, 24 (so Rom. 2:29, see p. 115, where Dr. Lange gives a different view), 1 Cor. 6:17; Phil. 3:3. In many other passages this meaning is implied, as indeed it is even in 1 Thess. 5:23, though this cannot be explained satisfactorily, without presupposing a human spirit antecedent to regeneration.

C. The most common use of the term is obviously the strictly theological one: the Holy Spirit. Opinions vary as to the propriety of this meaning in certain passages. No definite rule can be laid down. The absence of the article is by no means a certain indication that the reference is subjective (against Harless). The reason for preferring this meaning, rather than “spiritual life-principle” (Lange), in chap. 8., is that, in Romans 7:2, the Holy Spirit is undoubtedly referred to, over against sin and death. When, then, σάρξ afterwards occurs as the antithesis to πνεῦμα, there is still more reason for taking the latter term as the Holy Spirit, since the σάρξ is, as it were, personified and externalized, and the correct antithetical term must be an objective agent. We can thus far more definitely fix the meaning of σάρξ, since to admit any subjective antithesis, compels us to admit also some remnant of unfallen nature in the subject, for which the use of the word πνεῦμα in the New Testament gives no ground whatever.

IV. Σάρξ, FLESH. This term is used by the LXX. to translate the Hebrew word בָּשָׂר. This Hebrew word, in its simplest meaning, is applied to the material substance of the body, then occasionally to the human body itself. Out of this grows the application to all terrestrial beings who possess sensational life. But a more frequent use is in the sense of human nature, with the personal life attached to it (Gen. 6:12; Deut. 5:26; Ps. 78:39; 144:21; Isa. 49:26; 66:16, 23, 24, and in numerous other passages). In Deut. 5:26; Isa. 31:3; Jer. 17:5; Ps. 56:5, human nature is contrasted with God, His Spirit, eternity, and omnipotence, and the more prominent thought is therefore “that of the weakness, the frailty, the transitoriness of all earthly existence” (J. Müller). We reach, then, this sense: “Man with the adjunct notion of frailty” (Tholuck). There does not appear, however, any distinct ethical sense, still less any implication that man’s sensuous nature is the seat of sin, or of opposition to his spirit.

1. Passing to the New Testament, we find also the narrower physiological meaning (1 Cor. 15:39; Eph. 5:29; in the phrase, “flesh and blood,” Matt. 16:17; 1 Cor. 15:50; Gal. 1:16; Eph. 6:12). It is also used as = body, the sensational part of man’s nature, in Rom. 2:18; 1 Cor. 5:5; 7:28; 2 Cor. 4:11; 7:1, 5; 12:7, &c, the antithesis being spirit, or the immaterial part of man’s nature, never, however, with a distinctly ethical import. The prevailing use of the word in the New Testament undoubtedly is, that which corresponds with the wider meaning of בָּשָׂר, human nature, sometimes, as Müller holds, with a reference to the earthly life and relations (Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 10:3; Phil. 1:22, 24; Col. 1:22; Eph. 2:15, and a number of other passages, where the whole earthly side of man’s life are contrasted with his relation to God in Christ); but also in the sense of man, with the idea of frailty more or less apparent (Rom. 3:20; 1 Cor. 1:29; Gal. 2:16; Acts 2:17, which is a citation of בָּשָׂר in this sense; John 17:2; Luke 3:6). Here we must class those passages which refer to the human nature of Christ: John 1:14; Rom. 1:3; 9:5;49 1 Tim. 3:16; 1 John 4:2 (comp. p. 61). This list might be enlarged, but it is only necessary to establish the New Testament use of σάρξ in the wide sense of the Hebrew equivalent. Up to this point we find no distinct ethical meaning—only a basis for it.

2. The ethical sense. Our inquiry here is of a twofold nature. A. How much is included under the term? B. What is its precise significance?

A. How much is included under this term? (1) If we choose a few passages where the ethical sense is admitted by all commentators, such as Rom. 8:4, or 7:14. (σάρχινος); 8:8, and attempt to substitute “body,” or “sensational nature,” for σάρξ, it will be evident that such a meaning does not at all meet the case. It is not only contrary to the scriptural anthropology throughout, but in the passages themselves the antitheses are not of a character to justify it, especially in view of the wide meaning of σάρξ, already established. (2) Nor can we limit it to the body and soul, and exclude the human spirit. It has already been shown how little prominence is given to this distinction in the New Testament, how there is no evidence whatever that the spirit is not under the dominion of the sarcical tendency, but that, on the contrary, an immoral tendency is implied.50 Nor will this view find support in the use of the adjective ψυχιχός in an ethical sense as = σαρκικός; for in the only case where such an ethical sense is undoubted (1 Cor. 2:14), the antithesis is not simply πνευματικός (applied to spiritual things and persons as proceeding from, or influenced by, the Holy Ghost), but also “the things of the Spirit of God.” (3) Whatever ethical sense is to be attributed to the word σάρξ, must include the whole man, body and soul, or body, soul, and spirit. This agrees with the scriptural delineations of human nature, the use of the word above referred to, and its usual antithesis, when the ethical meaning is intended, viz., the Spirit of God; never the human spirit irrespective of the influence of the Spirit of God. This antithesis is not always expressed, but it is invariably implied. (Comp. Rom. 7:5; 8:3, 4 ff.; Gal. 3:3; 5:16, 17, 19, 24; 6:8; Col. 2:18, 23.) If it be claimed that, in Rom. 7:18, 25, the expressed antithesis is, in the former case, the inward man (Romans 7:22), then we reply, that the real antithesis is stated in Romans 7:14: “spiritual,” “carnal,” and that, under the influence of this spiritual law, any antagonism to the σάρξ has been awakened. Of course, if the reference to the regenerate be admitted, this objection disappears. So in Romans 7:25, although νοῦς is the expressed antithesis, it is the νοῦς under the influence either of the Holy Spirit, or the spiritual law. Σάρξ, in its ethical sense, therefore, means, not merely an earthly or fleshly tendency, or direction of life, but the whole human nature; not, as Olshausen thinks, so far as it is separated from God, but as it is separated from God, body, soul, and spirit, as sinful. Being in the flesh, is being in an ungodly state, a state of sin. (This view has obtained from the times of Augustine until now, among the mass of theologians.)

B. What, then, is the precise significance of this ethical sense of σάρξ?

1. Its usual antithesis indicates what the Scripture doctrine of sin so strongly asserts, that human nature, thus described, has become alienated from God. As love to God is the only true moral impulse, apostasy from God is sin, and the natural, carnal condition, is thus to be regarded. The Decalogue, Rom. 1:5, are sufficient to support this position. In the law, holy, just, and good, love to God is the chief requirement; in Rom. 1:21, wilful rejection of God is described as the seed of all the vices, subsequently catalogued, ending in the most fearful sensual excesses; in Rom. 5:12–21, sin is described as entering through one man, through his act of disobedience, and this is the immediate cause of the carnal condition of humanity. Yet this does not exhaust the meaning; it is rather its negative expression.

2. The positive principle of sin and the ruling principle of the flesh is undoubtedly selfishness, for, God being rejected, some personal object is required by the human personality. It is found in self; its interests become paramount. This is not, however, very prominent in the ethical term under consideration, but must be assumed in order to reach the further idea which it involves.

3. The human nature, thus alienated from God, with selfishness as its ruling principle, must, however, seek gratification. There is but one resource, the creature. As σάρξ means man in his entire earthly relations, which are relations to the creature, its moral significance must include devotion to the creature, if the use of the term is to be fully justified. This, then, implies slavery to the creature in the search for self-gratification. Carnality, then, is as truly the moral state of one absorbed in intellectual and æsthetic pursuits, as of one sunk in sensuality. But as sensuous and sensual are cognate terms, so we find, not only in the teachings of the Scripture, but in the history of humanity, that the development of selfish devotion to the creature is in the direction of sensuality (fleshly sins, in a narrower sense). “Without God,” has, as its positive expression, “in the world” (Eph. 2:12). And the very want of satisfaction in worldly things leads to ever fiercer longing after the creature, to sin in its lowest forms. Sinking God in the material, or natural world, over which He rules, is, in effect, sinking man into the deepest slavery to the creature. To be “in the flesh,” is therefore to be under “the law of sin and death.” Sin is not, in its essence, devotion to the sensuous, nor is carnality essentially sensuality, but toward these as their manifestations they inevitably tend. We thus guard against both asceticism and materialism.

Flesh is, then, the whole nature of man, turned away from God, in the supreme interest of self, devoted to the creature. It is obvious that this is biblical, in linking together godliness and morality, ungodliness and sin, in implying both the inability of the law, and the necessity of the renewing influence of the Holy Spirit, in order to human holiness. Hence the propriety of the choice of this term to express man’s sinful nature in this part of the Epistle, where sanctification and glorification are the themes.

On σάρξ, see J. Müller, Christliche Lehre von der Sünde, especially pp. 434 ff.; Delitzsch, Bibl. Psychologie, pp. 373 ff.; Tholuck, Römerbrief, pp. 288 ff.; Wieseler, Galaterbrief, pp. 443 ff. (a very clear discussion); Lange’s commentary on Galatians, p. 142, Amer. ed. This list might be increased by referring to works on Doctrinal Theology and Ethics, but it is limited to discussions of an exegetical character.—R.]


The Sinner in relation to the Law

Romans 7:14. For we know. Οἴδαμεν, not οἶδα μέν (Jerome, &c). [The former reading is almost universally adopted. Dr. Hodge, who inclined to the latter in earlier editions, now rejects it, on the ground that there is no: δέ to correspond with μέν. The singular would imply that the subject was aware of the spiritual nature of the law at the time of the conflict; hence it would favor the reference to the regenerate. The plural, we know, simply means that Christians recognize this.—R.]

That the law is spiritual [ὅτι ὁ νόμος πνευματικός ἐστιν]. It is the specific knowledge peculiar to Christians that religion is inwardness; that the law is incorrectly understood, when it is changed by the σάρξ of external feeling into a σάρξ of external precepts—a complication of finite objects, while its nature is of a spiritual character; that is, revealing in every tittle the infinity of God’s Spirit, and relating to the Spirit. The γάρ declares the stiff-necked and malignant nature of sin. The law is γράμμα only in form; its nature is divine and spiritual (Meyer). Explanations:

1. Inspired by the Holy Spirit (Theodoret).

2. Requiring a heavenly and angelic righteousness (Calvin).

3. Relating to the higher spiritual nature of man (in different applications, by Beza, Reiche, De Wette, and Rückert).

4. In suo genere prœclarum et egregium (Koppe, and others).

5. The spiritual, and not the literal sense of the law, is meant (Origen).

6. Operating spiritually, διδάσκαλος ἀρετῆς, &c. (Chrysostom).

7. Presupposing the presence of the Spirit as the condition of its fulfilment (Tholuck).

8. Identical in its spirit with that of the Holy Spirit (Meyer). Πνευματικός describes its whole spirituality (James 2:10), the absolute unity of its origin, its elements, and its purpose in the Divine Spirit (which reveals itself in the human spirit), in contrast with the presupposition of its finite force, its finite and sundered parts of membership, and its finite design. [The view of Meyer is the simplest and best: in its nature it is divine. (So Hodge.) This undoubtedly accords best with the antithesis, σάρκινος, made of flesh.—R.]

But I am carnal [ἐγὼ δὲ σάρκιτός εἰμι. See Textual Note4, and below.] The ἐγὼ, in accordance with the ἰδίωσις mentioned above, is Paul himself, in the exhibition of his standpoint under the law, for the exhibition of the historical development of man standing under the law. Meyer: “The still undelivered ἐγὼ, which, in the great need that presses upon it in opposition to the law, groans for deliverance;” Romans 7:24. The same writer properly maintains, against Philippi, that the subject is identical through the entire section. On the other hand, Meyer incorrectly distinguishes the past tenses of Romans 7:7–13, and the present tenses of Romans 7:14 ff., by saying that, in the former case, Paul has described his psychological history before and under the law, and in the latter, that he portrays his nature standing in opposition to the spiritual character of the law. But down to Romans 7:13 he has rather portrayed the genesis of the really internal and legal standpoint. But after Romans 7:14, he describes the whole development of this standpoint; that is, the inward conflict of the sinner who has perceived the inward character of the law.

Carnal (fleischern). Σάρκινος, made of flesh, like flesh (2 Cor. 3:3; 1 Cor. 3:1). The word could also be translated fleshly, if this were not a conventional term for carnally minded, σαρκιχός. Meyer thinks that σάρκινός “gives a deeper shade” than σαρκικός, with reference to John 3:6; but the case is about the reverse, since we must understand by σαρκικός, carnally minded, and by σάρκινος, carnally formed, inclined, and disposed; a being whose natural spontaneity and view of things are external, according to the σάρξ. (On the opposition of the readings, comp. Tholuck, p. 363.)51 The σάρκινος is immediately afterwards explained as:

Sold under sin [πεπραμένος ὑπὸ τῆν ἁμαρτίαν]. On the one hand, this state of slavery declares the complete subjection of the sinner to sin; but, on the other, we must not overlook his unwillingness and opposition to his being sold. This will probably be the case, if, with Tholuck and Meyer, we regard the σάρκινος merely as a higher degree of σαρκικός. Therefore Tholuck regards Bengel’s expression as too refining: Servus venditus miserior est quam verna, et venditus dicitur homo, quia ab initio non fuerat servus. Meyer correctly observes, that this opinion is in conflict with Augustine’s explanation of the passage, as referring to the regenerate. Similar passages, 2 Kings 17:17; 1 Mac. 1:15.

Revelation of the obscuration of perception (Romans 7:15, 16).

Romans 7:15. For that which I perform I know not [ὃ γὰρ κατεργάζομαι οὐ γινώσκω]. There is wanting in this condition the authority of the conscious spirit; but the consciousness of this want has made its appearance. Meyer calls up the analogy of the slave, who acts as the instrument of his master, without knowing the real nature and design of what he does. But this slave here is not altogether in such a condition, for he knows at least that he cannot effect (πράσσω) what he will, or would like, and that he rather does (ποιῶ) what he hates. Thus one thing dawns upon him—that he acts in gloomy self-distraction, and in contradiction of a better but helpless desire and repugnance. The sense of the passage is removed, if, with Augustine, Beza, Grotius, and others, we explain γινώσκω to be, I approve of.52 (Appeal to Matt. 7:23; John 10:14; 2 Tim. 2:19, and elsewhere.) Here, moreover, the emphasis does not yet rest on the θέλειν (which Tholuck applies to a mere velleitas, and Meyer to a real and decided wish, but which, after all, remains only theory!) and μισεῖν, but on the οὐ γινώσχω.

[For not what I wish, that I practise; but what I hate, that do I. Οὐ γὰρ ὃ θέλω, τοῦτο πράσσω, ἀλλ’ ὃ μισῶ, τοῦτο ποιῶ. Although γάρ is explanatory of the preceding clause, there seems to be an advance here, a step toward the light of self-knowledge.—The meaning of θέλω is open to discussion. It means, I will (within the sphere of spontaneity, Dr. Hitch cock claims). The two questions to be decided are: (1) Has it here a reference to the will in the strict sense (either = velleitas, Tholuck, and others, or = a full determination of the will, Philippi); or does it mean, I desire, wish? The former is, perhaps, favored by the psychological character of the whole passage; but the latter is preferable, since μισῶ is so opposed, that both words must be referred to the same faculty; and it is easier to class θέλω within the region of the emotions, than to transfer μισῶ to that of the will. (2) How intense is its meaning? Here μισῶ is undoubtedly in itself a stronger word. Perhaps the use of two different verbs (πράττω, ποιῶ) in the main clauses would justify a difference of intensity in the antithetical verbs θέλω, μισῶ (i. e., the desire for good is less strong than the hatred of evil); or μισῶ may be taken as = οὐ θέλω (I do not wish.). Romans 7:16 strongly favors the latter. Either of these views is preferable to that which strengthens the antithesis into I love, I hate (Hodge). For this forces a meaning upon θέλω which the Apostle could have expressed far more plainly by another term.—R.]

The wish here is the better desire and effort of the man awakened to his inward state. First of all, the sinner becomes a gloomy enigma to himself in the contradictions of his doing and leaving undone. (See Meyer on the odd explanation of Reiche, that the sinful Jew does the wickedness which the sinless Jew does not approve of. Also on statements kindred to the foregoing, in Epictetus: ὃ μὲν θέλει (ὁ ἁμαρτάνων) οὐ ποιεῖ, καὶ ὃ μὴ θέλει, ποιεῖ; and in Ovid: Video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor. Still other examples in Tholuck, p. 366.) On Philippi’s interpretation of this passage as applicable to the regenerate, see Tholuck, p. 355.53 The choice of the expressions is very delicate; from the real θέλειν in spirit he does not come to the consistent and vigorous πράσσειν; but even the μισεῖν cannot prevent a weaker ποιεῖν of the rebellious one.

Romans 7:16. But if what I wish not, that I do [εἰ δὲ ὃ οὐ θέλω, τοῦτο ποιῶ. Δέ is perhaps logical, and marks a step in self-discovery with respect to the law.—R.] The mental consent to the law now appears above the perceived dissension between willing and doing. As the sinner places himself, with his judgment, on the side of his awakened will, he places himself, with his judgment, on the side of the law.

[I agree with the law that it is good,σύμφημι τῷ νόμῳ ὅτι καλός. The verb may not here imply more than an intellectual acquiescence in the high moral character of the law, yet that acquiescence extends as far as the θέλειν. That this must be actual in the case of an awakened man, is evident. How, else, could the sense of sin arise?—R.] This is the first step on the way of self-knowledge: Acquiescence in the law in opposition to his own actions. But at the same time, the law is acknowledged to be good in an eminent sense, as noble, standing ideally above the life—καλός. Meyer: “The usual construction, I grant that the law is good, neglects the συν.” Against the reference of the τῷ νόμῳ to συν, see Tholuck; see him also for quotations from Chrysostom and Hugo St. Victor on the innate nobility of the soul.

The illumination of the darkness of the will (Romans 7:17, 18).

Romans 7:17. Now then it is no longer I that perform it [νυνὶ δὲ οὐκέτι ἐγὼ κατεργάζομαι αὺτό. Νυνί is logical, not temporal (so all modern commentators). If temporal, then it might mark the transition into a state of grace. The same is true of οὐχέτι. See Winer, p. 574. “Since I consent to the law, that it is good, it can no longer be affirmed that I,” &c. (Meyer).—R.] Tholuck: “Nuvi Aug. nunc in statu gratiœ—rather a designation of the inference.” But it denotes not merely a continued movement in the treatment, but also in the subject discussed. The understanding has first entered upon the side of the law; now this is done also by the real will of the ego. The sinner distinguishes between his ego—which now emerges from the darkness of the personality—and the sin [the principle of sin personified] dwelling in him—now like a foreign and wicked co-habitant. He places himself, with his ego and his will, on the side of the law, and abjures the bad part of his condition. The ἐγώ, as well as the χατεργάζομαι, must be emphasized. The αὐτό is that which he, according to Romans 7:16, now no more wills with his real will. [As yet, however, there is no indication that this state of things does or can lead to “what is good,” save in powerless desire, even if, with Meyer, we take the ego here as = the moral self-consciousness. Romans 7:18 acknowledges this.—R].

But sin dwelling in me [ἀλλὰ ἡ οἰκοῦσα ἐν ἐμοὶ ἁμαρτία]. The Apostle distinguishes between the ἐγώ and an individuality in a wider sense, described by in me, in which sin dwells. [Stuart takes in me as referring, not to the wider individuality, but to the carnal self, which here begins to appear over against the better self. It may be doubted whether there is such a better self as is referred to in the first clause of this verse, in the unregenerate man. But all men under the law feel such a discord as this.—As the attributing of the doing to indwelling sin by the Christian is not a denial of responsibility, so, in the case of one not yet a Christian, it is not the assumption of a power to do right. There is no sign of release as yet. Even if we limit in me to the narrower sense it has in Romans 7:18, the whole personality seems to be under the power of sin.—Wordsworth finds here, and in the succeeding verses, a vindication of God from the charge of being the author of sin!—R.]

Romans 7:18. For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, good doth not dwell [οἶδα γὰρ ὅτι οὐκ οἰκεῖ ἐν ἐμοὶ, τοῦτ ἐστιν ἐν τῇ σαρκί μου; ἀγαθόν. For I know, is regarded by Philippi as an expression of Christian consciousness; yet some such consciousness is the very result which the law is designed to produce.—R.] More special definition of the dwelling of sin in him. This arises from the fact that good does not dwell in him—that is, in his flesh. The negative expression is noteworthy: If in a moral being no good dwells, the opposite (sin) does dwell in him. The σάρξ is here established as the other side of the ego, which, with this, constitutes the whole man. But we cannot identify the σάρξ, either with the body, or with the lusts of the body alone (the Greek fathers). Tholuck cites, in favor of this view, the different expressions, “in my members,” “body of death,” Romans 7:24. But these terms must not be understood materially. The σάρκ is the external, finite nature and mode of relation and view; it is the finite tendency in both its immaterial and sensuous character, which certainly has its substantial basis in the external σάρξ. Calvin interprets σάρξ here as human nature. It would be better to say: in my naturalness.

[See, on σάρξ, the Excursus above. The word may be here used in the physiological sense (Wieseler). But this seems strangely out of place. It is assumed to escape the difficulty that arises, if the reference to the unregenerate be held. In the case of a Christian, the limitation is made, because he has a spiritual nature, over against his carnal nature, in which good does dwell. But since σάρξ, in the ethical sense, includes the whole natural man, why should any limitation be made, if the reference be to the unregenerate? The grave objection must be admitted; but if the verse be referred to the regenerate man, why this studious avoidance of mentioning the πνεῦμα? and why such a powerlessness as is expressed in the next clause? The only satisfactory explanation is, that the distinction between unregenerate and regenerate is not in question, but the man of the law is here represented as conscious of being σάρχινος, made so more fully by the conflict which the law has awakened. The immediate antithesis (which is not strongly marked here) is simply the better desire, the ego longing to be better, powerless, however, in every case, until escaping from the law to Christ; yet this implies, as the real ethical antithesis, the spiritual law here acting on the man.—R.] The Apostle’s declaration is far removed from the Flacian, Gnostic, and Manichean definitions. He could not have sought a real “moral willing and doing” (Meyer) as “good” in his “flesh,” but only religious morality and excellence. But he does not even find this in it; and hence there arises the contrary propensity, a pseudo-plastic will of the flesh.

For to will is present with me [τὸ γὰρ θέλειν παράκειταί μοι]. Not, “is present in me,” as Meyer says, but who corrects himself when he also says: Paul represents the matter as if he were looking about after it in his personality—as if seeking himself in a spacious sphere. “The θέλειν is present with him—before his gaze.” To will is immediately before his eyes, but he can nowhere find the treasure of performing that which is good.

[To perform that which is good I find not, τὸ δὲ κατεργάζεσθαι τὸ καλὸν οὐχ εὑρίσκω. See Textual Note7. If the briefer reading be accepted, παράχειται must be supplied. The meaning is then obvious.—R.] Explanations: I do not gain it; I can not, &c. (Estius, Flatt, &c.). We must first emphasize the χατεργάζεσθαι, and secondly, the καλόν. The question is not concerning the justitia civilis, but the carrying out of the ideal. The ἐγώ is not yet the new man of the spirit (Philippi); it is the better self as an awakened moral will, from which the aim is removed and the way stopped up by the accustomed propensity of the flesh.

The revelation of the obscuration and dispension in the unconscious ground of life—that is, in the life of feeling (Romans 7:19, 20). According to Tholuck and Meyer, we have in these verses only proofs of the preceding. Meyer: Romans 7:19 is a proof of Romans 7:18, and Romans 7:20 of Romans 7:17. [Stuart: “ ‘If what I have said in Romans 7:18 and 19 be true, then what I have affirmed in Romans 7:17 must be true.’ “—R.]

Romans 7:19. [For the good, &c. Ιάρ is confirmatory. “I find not,” is proved by acts which are not according to the better desire. Dr. Hodge presses the meaning of θέλω. That Paul, as a Christian, would mean more by these words than Seneca or Epictetus, is undoubtedly true; but whether he does mean more than is true in every case, to a certain extent, of a man awakened under the law, is very doubtful.—R.]—But the evil which I wish not, that I practise, ὃ οὐ θέλω κακόν, τοῦτο πράσσω. This strong expression is new. It points to a fountain of wicked action which proceeds immediately from the unconscious life in opposition. And this is the darkness of the sensuous [the carnal] life.

Romans 7:20. [Now if I do that I would not, εἰ δὲ ὃ οὐ θέλω ἐγώ, τοῦτο ποιῶ. Εἰ δὲ = since, then, hypothetical only in form. On ἐγώ, see Textual Note8. There is undoubtedly a progress in thought. Alford thinks the ego is here perceived to be the better ego of the inward man; but this progress is perceptible in the case of the awakened, only, however, to produce the cry of Romans 7:24.—R.] This verse, then, specifies also the real author of these actions of the man against his will: it is sin dwelling in me [ἡ οἰχοῦσα ἐν ἐμοὶ ἁμαρτία], the habitual life of sense [i. e., of the flesh]. This, in its obscurity, he now renounces in his consciousness; in his I. But now, to a certain degree or apparently, a foreign personality with a foreign law arises in him, against the awakening personality of his inner man. [The condition is not in itself, as yet, more hopeful. The progress is still toward wretchedness, despite or even because of the better desire.—R.]

Disclosure of the inward rent in man in general; the dissension between the true personality and the false personality with its false law (Romans 7:21, 22).

Romans 7:21. I find then the law [εὑρίσκω ἄρα τὸν νόμον]. The difficulty of the passage has led Chrysostom to call it ἀσαφὲς εἰρημένον, and Rückert to give up its explanation.

Explanations: a. The Mosaic law is meant; ὅτι for because. “I find, then, the law for me, so far as I am willing to do good, because evil is present with me.” That is, the law is designed for me, because I have the will to do good, but evil, &c. (Origen, Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsvestia, Theophylact, Bengel, &c.; Meyer,54 and even Ulfilas. See Tholuck’s Note, p. 372: Invenio nunc legem, volenti mihi bonum facere, nam mihi adest malum). We may say, in favor of this, that it certainly describes also the, origin of the law; that contradiction has made the law necessary.

Still, this exposition is thoroughly untenable.

1. Since the beginning—that is, from Romans 7:7—the speaker has known that the law is appointed for him.

2. Here the question is no more concerning the law for the sinner, but the relation of the sinner to the law; the explanation is thus totally against the connection.

3. The explanation, now I have discovered the law to be a law for me, would be strange.

4. The law is previously for him also, whose willingness to do what is good has not yet developed, while the legal stage for the condition here described soon terminates. Hofmann’s modification does not help the matter: That to do evil is ever present with me, shows me that the law is good to me, who am willing to do it. He has already said this more plainly in Romans 7:12. But, strictly, it is not yet decided here that the law is also good to him. Another view of the Mosaic law: I find, then, for me, who am willing to do the law, the good (namely, the law), that evil is present before me (Homberg, Knapp, Klee, Olshausen,55 Fritzsche, &c). Unimportant repetition of the foregoing. Likewise the ποιεῖν τὸ καλόν must not be separated.

b. “The law denotes here a general rule, a necessity.” I find, then, for me, who am willing to do good—the law—that evil is present with me (Luther, Beza, Calvin, and many others; De Wette and Philippi [Stuart, Hodge]). Thus the sense would be the same as in the expression, ἕτερος νόμος ἐν τοῖςμέλεσι. Meyer remarks, on the other hand, that, according to

the whole context, νόμος can be nothing else than the Mosaic law. Another law appears first in Romans 7:23. Also, the ὅτι ἐμοὶ τὸ κακόν παράκειται could not be described as νόμος; it is something empirical—a phenomenon. But why, then, can the Apostle call even the motions in the members a law? Why can he call the old man, who is nevertheless not a man, a man?

Accepting this view in general, we may ask whether the sense is: I find in me, or, for me, willing to do good—the law, &c.—as formerly; or, I find the law, that, when I would do good, &c. (Grotius, Limborch, Winer).56 This construction is decidedly preferable, because it suits the expression as well as the sense. For here the one law resolves itself even into a group of laws. The law of God now becomes to the Apostle the law of his mind; the foreign law in his members becomes in its effect the law of sin. But this antagonism of law to law is so fearfully strong, that it appears to the Apostle himself as in itself a law of moral contradiction; and this a terribly strong contradiction, for, just when he would do what is good, and high, and great (for example, protect the Old Testament theocracy), evil is present to him (persecution of the Christians). Therefore the one law is resolved into two.

[This view involves a slight trajection of ὅτι, and then the dative is not governed by εὑρίσχω, but an anacoluthon is accepted, which causes the repetition of ἐμοὶ. Though, in general, the view is the same as that of Luther and Calvin, yet this law is thus distinguished as neither the law of the mind nor the law in the members, but the contradiction of the two. Romans 7:22, 23, taking up, as they do, the two sides of this contrariety, favor our view also. It may be added: (1) The presence of the article does not decide that the Mosaic law is meant; for the article occurs in Romans 7:23, where it is certainly not meant. (2) The article has a sufficiently demonstrative force (this law) without τοῦτον being inserted. (3) The phrase, law of God (Romans 7:22), seems, by its definiteness, to point to another sense here. Our English version, therefore, presents the best sense.—R.]

Romans 7:22. For I delight in the law of God [συνήδομαι γὰρ τῷ νόμῳ τοῦ θεοῦ. The γάρ introduces the two verses as an antithetical explanation of Romans 7:20. The συν in συνήδομαι is as in συλλυπούμενος, Mark 3:5, after the analogy of σύνοιδά μοι, = apud animum (Tholuck). No thought of delighting with, as Meyer holds. It is undoubtedly stronger than σύμφημι, Romans 7:16 (against Stuart). It belongs to the sphere of feeling. See further below.—R.] Tholuck: “The two contending forces in the one personality (Romans 7:17) are locally divided, one being in the inward man, the other in the outward members; the will is taken captive in the way from the inward to the outward man—that is, to the executing organs.” But the powers named here assume a concrete form. The moral judgment, in Romans 7:15 and 16, the moral will, or the I, in Romans 7:17 and 18, and the moral inwardness, in Romans 7:19 and 20, have now become the inner man, who delights in the law of God. But just now sin in the members comes in, with the power of a strange law, so that a chasm pervades his whole being, in which even he, who at the beginning of the process was a slave, is now, in consequence of his helpless resistance, become a military captive of sin.

[After the inward man, κατὰ τὸν ἔσω ἄνθρωπον.] The ἔσω ἄνθρωπος is not so much the νοῦς or τὸ νοερόν (Theod. and Gaunad.) itself, as the man choosing in the νοῦς his standpoint, his principle (which is not really gained until the conclusion of Romans 7:25). It is also so far the inner man as that he withdraws almost desperately from the outwork of his external life. Lyra explains similarly to the Greek writers: In homine duplex pars, ratio et sensualitas, quœ aliter nominantur caro et spiritus, homo interior et exterior. This reminds us of the Platonic use of language: In Plato and Plotinus we find the termini, ὁ εἲσω ἄνθρωπος, ὁ ἐντὸς ἄ., ὁ ἀληθὴς ἅ. Tholuck, on the other hand, understands by the ὁ ἔσω ἄνθρ., after the analogy of ὁ χαινὸς ἄνθρ., ὁ χρυπτὸς τῆς χαρδ.ἄ. (1 Peter 3:4), rather the inward I of the man than a single attribute—the inward man, who permits himself to be controlled by his conscience, the man of conscience. But this does not remove the difficulty. For the question is not, that the real and true man is created for God; for this holds good of flesh and blood, ontologically considered. But it may be asked, What actual standpoint does the Apostle here denote? According to his antithesis, it is this: he distinguishes his inward nature, as the true man, from the antagonism and conflict of the law in his members. It is in this self-comprehension that he now has his delight in the law, which is more than the σύμφημι of Romans 7:16. Meyer also sees in the συνήδομαι, the law designated as also rejoicing with him; on which, see Tholuck, p. 367. Luther, Calvin, and others, have thought the new-born man here described. The standpoint here denoted is true as a point of transition, yet the dualists have erroneously attempted to establish it as theory and fundamental law.

[The strong expression, συνήδομαι, seems to indicate that the inward man is the new man, under the influence of the Spirit (see Philippi, Hodge, Alford in loco), but this view is beset with difficulties also. Why is this influence purposely kept in the background? Alford answers: To set the conflict in the strongest light. But that is not like Paul, who can hardly refrain from his references to grace in Christ. As a matter of fact, the conflict under the law produces a divided state, where something in the man does not only consent to the law, but, in aroused feeling, delights in the law. Such a state may be the result of gratia prœveniens, or may always result in deliverance; but its present effect, as here described, is only “captivity,” helplessness. An abnormal condition in the case of the Christian, though his delight, even in this introspective quasi-legal condition, is more pronounced. This inward man, independently of gracious influences, leads only to misery. Notice, too, that when, as here, an apparent reference to the Christian occurs, it is immediately followed by language that seems totally inapplicable to him. This confirms the view that this distinction is not prominent.—R.]

Romans 7:23. But I see another law [βλέπω δὲ ἕτερον νόμον. Paul here represents himself as a looker-on upon his own personality (Meyer). Δέ adversative or disjunctive.—R.] His seeing indicates his surprise. Gal. 1:6 and 7 serves to explain how the ἕτερον is here distinguished from the ἄλλον. As there the ἕτερον εὐαγ. is not a true gospel, so this ἕτερος νόμος is not a true νόμος. How could the one real law of God be in perpetual conflict with the other? [As indicated above (Romans 7:21), this is not the law there found, but that law is the rule of contradiction between the two here referred to.—R.]

In my members [ἐν τοῖς μέλεσί μου. This is to be joined with νόμον, rather than with the participle ἀντιστρατ.—R]. Namely, operative in my members. Fritzsche construes thus: Which opposes in my members. Incorrectly: For the conflict is not decided in the members. The σάρξ, which, being spiritually disordered, has become the basis of the desires, has its essence in its dismemberment, in the division of its members; therefore the false law is operative in the members.57

[Warring against the law of my mind, ἀντιστρατευόμενον τῷ νόμῳ τοῦ νοός μου. The form νοός belongs to later Greek (Meyer). See Winer, p. 61.—R.] Earlier, this law was master, and the ἐγώ servant; now, after the ἐγώ has become distinct from the sinful σάρξ as the inner man of himself, sin carries on a formal war by the members, but with the force of a law which it describes as the law of nature, or one similar to it. Simultaneously with the fact that the combatant has recognized the Mosaic law again as the expression of his inward steadiness, and has made it the νόμος of his νοῦς, of his personal consciousness, sin has assumed the semblance of a law of nature dominant in the members.

[And bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. See Textual Note58. The participle αἰχμαλωτίζοντα (later Greek: to take by the spear in war, to take prisoner) is very strong.—R.] Sin, in this semblance, opposes the inward man, and conquers him; the I finds itself the captive of another law, which now audaciously appears as the law of sin; that is, sin will now assert itself as an insurmountable fatality.—Meyer will not accept the genitive νόμος τοῦ νοός as subjective, but local. He would distinguish it further from the νόμος τοῦ θεοῦ (against Usteri, Köllner, &c.), without observing that “the law of God” has reproduced itself in “the law of the mind.” [The difference is thus expressed by Bengel: dictamen mentis meœ lege divina delectatœ. There seems to be two pairs of laws here, each pair closely related: The law of God, with its answering law in the mind (taken locally); the law in the members, subservient and causing subserviency to the law of sin. The parallelism is not strict, for the conflict is evoked by the law of God, and ends in the law of sin. It is unlikely that this is a peculiarly Christian state.—R.]

The νοῦς denotes the thinking and moral consciousness, which constitutes the essence of personality. [Meyer: “the reason in its practical activity.” Olshausen, and others, find here the organ of the unfallen spirit; the Augustinian interpreters, the organ of the renewed man, the spiritual nature; all agree that it answers to the inward man (Romans 7:22). If that means renewed nature, we would expect here some expression of the Spirit’s influence. The choice of another word, as well as of another phrase than “the law of God” here, where it would seem so appropriate were the reference to a Christian, confirms the view held throughout in our exegesis.—R.]

Meyer says further: The inward man is not brought into captivity, for he, considered in and of himself, always remains in the service of God’s law (Romans 7:25); but the apparent man is. Then the warfare would be carried on by the apparent man! It is indeed correct, that in τῷ νόμῳ τῆς ἁμαρ τίας the dative is not instrumental (according to Chrysostom, and others), but is dat. commodi.59

On the different distinctions between the law in the members and the law of sin, see Meyer, p. 288 (Köllner: Demands of the desires, and the desires themselves). We distinguish between the first appearance and the final manifestation: The law in the members passes itself off for, or appears to the sinner first as, the law of nature; therefore it brings him into captivity, and appears to him finally as the law of sin—the law of anomy, of unnaturalness. Pareus’ understanding of the μέλη as the pars nondum regenita, coincides with the reference to the new-born man. When Calovius and Socinius held that the facultates interiores are included, they intimated that not the μέλη of itself, but only in connection with spiritual dispositions, could form the semblance of another and wicked law.


The Transition from the Law to the Gospel

It is a characteristic of the interpretation of this passage, that some have made Romans 7:24 and 25 parenthetical down to ἡμῶν; Grotius and Flatt, Romans 7:25 to ἡμῶν. Tholuck: “As, in the case of the morally fickle, such an experience, daily renewed, calls forth the renunciatory exclamation to virtue, ‘Thou art too hard for me; take away my crown, and let me sin;’ so, from the morally earnest warrior, is there called forth the cry of distress for deliverance and the power of victory.” He adds to this: “Knight Michaelis gives this cry of distress a very moderate sound: ‘It is the lamentation of a distressed Jew which Paul answers thus: I thank God that I do not have to lament so.’ ”—But the deeply moral warrior, who has once arrived at this degree, does not readily turn back. De Wette says, very pertinently: “From what has occurred, there now follows the need of deliverance, which has been satisfied by the grace of God.”

Romans 7:24. O wretched man [Ταλαίπωρος ἐγὼ ἄνθρωπος]. Ταλαίπωρος, strictly, exhausted by hard labor (τλῆναι πῶρος, callum pati). Similar to the expressions in Matt. 11:28. [The nominative is the nominative of exclamation (Philippi, Meyer). The word occurs only here and Rev. 3:17 (of the Laodicean church); there joined with ἐλεεινός, to which it is almost equivalent in popular usage. The corresponding verb occurs in James 4:9, and the noun, Rom. 3:16; James 5:1. From these passages it would seem that here the prominent idea is of helplessness and misery; the cry for help from without follows. Bengel is certainly incorrect: “me miscrum, qui homo sim!”—R.] It is the desperate cry for personal righteousness, and also of the completed repentance now about to be transformed into faith—but a faith which the law cannot give. Repentance asks, faith responds. (Reiche’s explanation: The cry of Jewish humanity for help, to which a delivered one responds in Romans 8:1. With this view, the passage from εὐχαριστῶ to ἡμῶν is said to be a gloss.)

Who shall deliver me [τίς με ῥύσεται. Simple future. Not = would that I were delivered. Calvin thinks it expresses no doubt, but only the absence of the deliverance at the time. Yet Olshausen seems nearer right in making it imply: who can, with a reference to a personal deliverer.—R.] ̔ Ρύομαι, Septuagint for הוֹשִׂיעַ , גִּאַל, &c. It refers both to the fundamental deliverance (as in the present passage), and to the continued and final deliverance; Matt. 6:13. [Comp. Col. 1:13, where the reference is to a definite act of deliverance.—R.]

From this body of death? [Ἐκτοῦσώματος τοῦ θανάτουτούτου;]. Explanations: Connection of the τούτου with σώματος.

1. The universitas vitiorum (Ambrose, Calvin); mors velut corpus quasi res per se subsistens (Piscator, Crell). As the Rabbinical גּוּף corpus mortis pro ipsa morte (Socinius, Schöttgen). Wolf: mortifera peccata massa. Flatt: The system of sensuous affections, which is the cause of death. Tholuck observes, against these explanations: But the reader will suppose that σῶμα is meant in no other sense than as σῶμα ἁμαρτίας, τὸ θνητὸν σῶμα; Romans 6:12. We have already remarked, however, that these two ideas are radically different. The explanation before us needs, however, a more exact proof.

2. The same connection of the τούτου with σῶματος. The sense: Mortal body. a. Longing for death (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Erasmus, Koppe, and others), according to Meyer. Tholuck, on the other hand, thus sets him right: They have not intended, on the negative side, the wish for deliverance from the body of death, but, on the positive side, the wish for the glorification and clothing-upon of the body. b. Olshausen: the spirit would like to make the mortal body living, &c.

3. Death as a monster personified with a body, which threatens to swallow up the ἐγώ (Reiche).

Connection of the τούτου with θανάτου.

From the body of this death. (Vulgate, Ulfilas, Luther, Fritzsche, De Wette, Tholuck, Meyer.) [So E. V., Hodge, Alford, Jowett.] a. θάνατος is the same as vitiositas (Calvin, and others); b. “He means here that death is the misery and labor endured in conflict with sin ”(Luther); c. De Wette: Who will deliver me from the body of this death? that is, from the body which, in consequence of sin dwelling or reigning in it, is subject to death and misery. Reference to 2 Cor. 5. Fritzsche similarly. d. Meyer gives as much as two explanations: Who will deliver me, so that then I shall be no more dependent upon the body, “which serves as the seat for so ignominious a death?” Or, in other words: “Who will deliver me from dependence upon the law of sin to moral freedom, so that then my body will no more serve as the seat of so ignominious a death?” If we understand the body to be a real body, with all these contortions, we do not find our way out of the external desire of death.

Of the expositors under 1, Krehl approaches nearest to our view. The “body” is the organism of sin. [The most natural construction is: the body of this death. The stress, then, lies on the word “death.” The context forbids a reference to physical death and future glorification, which would be far-fetched. Death seems to mean: the whole condition of helplessness, guilt, and misery just described, which is, in effect, spiritual death. How, then, shall “body” be understood? Rejecting the allusion to the custom of chaining a living man to a corpse, but two views remain:

(a.) The literal sense, the body as the seat of this death; against this is the fact that this gives the word an ethical sense, which is unpauline. In its favor is the preceding phrase: “the law of sin in my members.” If it be adopted, we must limit the meaning thus: “the body whose subjection to the law of sin brings about this state of misery” (Alford); but this is really a desire for death.

(b.) We prefer the figurative sense (with Calvin, Hodge, and others); “this death” has an organism, which is not only like a body in its organism, but in its close clinging to me; “from this death (thus represented) who shall deliver me?” The genitive is then possessive; the unity of the thought is preserved, and many difficulties avoided. This figurative sense of σῶμα is certainly more Pauline than the ethical one (comp. Excursus above, and 6:6; 8:10).—R.]

We here group the single elements of the idea of a pseudo-plasmatic human image, which sin has set up as a power that has become inherent in human nature:

1. The old man, who is not a real man; Romans 6:6, and elsewhere.

2. The νοῦς τῆς σαρκός, which is not a real νοῦς; Col. 2:18.

3. The φρόνημα τῆς σαρκός, which is not a real φρόνημα; Romans 8:6.

4. The σῶμα τῆς άμαρτίας, which is not a real σῶμα; Romans 6:6.

5. The σῶμα τοῦ θανάτου, which is not a real σῶμα; the present passage.

6. The νόμος ἐν τοῖς μέλεσι, which is not a real νόμος; Romans 7:23.

7. The μέλη, which are not real μέλη; Col. 3:5.

8. The σάρξ, which is something else than the external σάρξ; Rom. 8:8.

9. The θάνατος, which is something else than physical death; Rom. 8:6.60

Tholuck: On the exclamation of Romans 7:24: “The exclamation does not appear to us explicable merely from transition to earlier occurrences, but only because the continuously felt reaction of the old man has, so to speak, set off the preceding description.” [Alford thinks, with De Wette, that the cry is uttered “in full consciousness of the deliverance which Christ has effected, and as leading to the expression of thanks which follows.” A turning-point is reached, whatever be the reference, and no view is correct which does not admit that Paul here expresses what he feels, as well as what he has felt.—R.]

Romans 7:25. Thanks to God [χάρις τῷ θεῷ, or, I thank God, εὐχαριστῶ τῷ θεῷ. See Textual Note61]. This reading corresponds to the previous exclamation much better than εὐχαριστῶ does. Those who continue the reference to the unregenerate to the conclusion, get into difficulty with this second exclamation. Hence the adoption of a parenthesis (Rückert, Fritzsche), or of a conditional construction (Erasmus, Semler). If that had not taken place, I would have been snatched asunder, with the spirit to serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. Meyer observes: “For what he thanks God, is not mentioned.” But the for what is plainly enough indicated by the context, as Meyer himself subsequently brings out. It is also indicated by his thanking God through Jesus Christ.

So then I myself with the mind [ἄρα οὖν αὐτὸς ἐγὼ τῷμὲννοῒ]. In the consideration of this difficult passage there are two questions: 1. Is what is here said connected with the previous thanksgiving, or with Romans 7:24? 2. What, accordingly, is the meaning of αὐτὸς ἐγώ?

1. Some think that the thanksgiving does not come at all into consideration; the words are connected with Romans 7:24 (Rückert, Fritzsche). This makes the passage only a final opinion on the miserable condition under the law, a declaration of the consummated dissension in which man is situated under the law. Others (De Wette, Meyer, and others), on the contrary, very properly take the thanksgiving also into consideration, although both De Wette and Meyer find in the passage only a recapitulation of what has been said from Romans 7:14–24, which, according to Meyer, should follow from the immediately preceding εὐχαριστῶ. But the Apostle’s language does not declare the dissension previously described, but the alternative now finally established. By accepting the probable breviloquence, and supplying the words which are at hand, we are relieved even here of the apparent obscurity. We read τῷ μὲν νοῒ (δουλεύων) δουλεύω; the Apostle has even omitted the δουλεύω from the τῇ δὲ σαρκί—a proof that both can be mentally supplied. Thus: If I serve in the νοῦς, then I serve in the law of God; but if I serve (or, I would serve) in the flesh, then I serve the law of sin. Either, or! This is favored, first of all, by the αὐτὸς ἐγώ. A recapitulation of the foregoing cannot be united with this view. For in Romans 7:20 we read: νυνὶ δέ οὐχέτι ἐγώ, &c. (comp. Romans 7:20). The following is the inference from the previous verses: that now there is a definite distinction between standing in the νοῦς (that is, in the principle of the νοῦς) and standing in the flesh (that is, in the principle of the flesh); but that, through Christ, he has gained the power to stand in the principle of the νοῦς. From this there arises the following thesis: I, the same man, can have a double standpoint. If I live with the νοῦς, I serve the law of God in truth; but if I live in the flesh, even in the form of the service of the law, I serve the (false) law of sin. In other words, the life in the νοῦς is the life in Christ, the life in the Spirit, and, like love, the fulfilment of the law (see Romans 13:8). It follows, therefore, on the one hand, that there is nothing condemnatory in the man of this standpoint. But there also follows the conclusion that they must live decidedly in harmony with their principle. But if they live purely in the νοῦς, the body, as a principle, must be dead—that is, rendered merely indifferent as a principle, and have nothing to say, on account of the sinfulness inherent in it (see Romans 8:10). But this applies only to the present body, which is burdened with the propensity to sin. It is not to be trusted; it is devoid of pure harmony with the law of the Spirit, and therefore the Christian must keep it, as a bondservant, under discipline and oversight. But this order is also temporary, so far as mortal bodies shall again be made alive by the Spirit of the risen Christ. As now the resurrection itself belongs to the future and the one period, so also does the completion of the purity of the body, its removal to the glorious liberty of the children of God, belong to the same future. But as the germ of the resurrection-body has already been made alive and increased in the believer in this life, so is it also the case with religious and moral purity in his body. In every conflict of the body with the law of the Spirit this alone should be decided; yet not carnally, in legal mortifications, but spiritually, in a dynamical reckoning of ourselves to be dead (see Romans 6:1 ff.). That is, in a powerful departure beyond the πράξεις of the body with the works of the Spirit (see Romans 8:13).

2. Different explanations of the α̣ὐτὸς ἐγώ. (1) I myself, Paul. The Apostle’s description of himself as an example for others (Cassian, Pareus, Umbreit); (2) Ego idem. The dissension in one and the same man made prominent (Erasmus, Calvin, and others); (3) Ille ego. Reference to what he had earlier said of himself (Fritzsche, De Wette); (4). I alone; that is, so far as I am without the mediation of Christ (Meyer, Baur, Hofmann); (5) What he had heretofore described as the experience of mankind, he now describes as his own (Köllner).62

Olshausen’s explanation is the nearest approach to correctness: “He thanks the Author of the work of redemption, God the Father, through Christ, whom he can now call his Lord from the heart. With this experience there now appears a totally changed condition in the inward life of the man, whose nature the Apostle describes in what follows, until its perfect completion, even the completion of the mortal body” (Romans 8:11). He further holds, that the Divine law was reflected in the νοῦς; and in the inward man there arose the wish, yea, even the joy, to be able to observe it; but the principal thing was wanting—the χατεργάζεσθαι. “But by experiencing the redeeming power of Christ, by which the νοῦς is strengthened, man finds himself able, at least by the highest and noblest power of his nature, to serve the Divine law.” Yet the σάρξ still remains subject to the law of sin. Therefore the conflict in the regenerate still continues, but yet it is generally victorious in the strength of Christ. Here Olshausen is led, to a certain extent, away from the Apostle’s train of thought. As the Christian should die on the supposition of his being dead with Christ, so should he live on the supposition of his resurrection with Christ, and therefore he should fight on the supposition of victory (see 1 John 5:4). “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” If the watchword for the sanctification of the Christian gains its point, to fight for victory, it is nevertheless in conformity with the gospel standpoint that this takes place on the supposition of fighting from victory, or in conformity with the principle, εἶναι ἐν Χριστῷ. But Olshausen, not without reason, regards Romans 7:25 as the beginning of the section commencing with the first of chap. 8.; it constitutes, at least, the transition to it.

Serve the law of God [δουλεύω νόμω̣ θεοῦ]. It is when man has become free from the law in its external form, that he truly serves the law of God in its real import (see Romans 3:31; 13:8). (Reiche: the νοῦς is the ideal Jew; the flesh, as it were, is the empirical Jew.) Yet we may remark, that the αὐτὸς ἐγώ expresses the fact, that the time for decision is now come. A vacillation between the better and the false ἐγώ could take place under the law; but, after acquaintance with Christ, the real and complete ἐγώ will live either in the νοῦς, or in the flesh; will either serve God, or sin. But external legality, placed over against Christ, is now also a life in the flesh (see Romans 6:14; Gal. 5:3 ff.; Col. 2:18).

[Note on the final sentence of Romans 7:25. The interpretation is beset with difficulties.

1. Taking ἄραοὖν as summing up the whole preceding section, and referring it to the regenerate, the service with the mind is of course the result of the new spiritual life, and, with the flesh, the result of indwelling sin. But why such a statement as this between the thanksgiving and the triumphant utterances of chap. 8.? It looks like taking this discord as the normal condition of the Christian life. If I myself be taken, with Meyer, and others, as opposed to “in Christ Jesus,” then Forbes’ explanation is satisfactory: “I in myself, notwithstanding whatever progress in righteousness the Spirit of Christ may have wrought in me, or will work in this life, am still most imperfect; with my mind indeed I serve the law of God, but with my flesh the law of sin; and, tried by the law, could not be justified, but would come under condemnation, if viewed in myself, and not in Christ Jesus.” But this view of I myself is somewhat forced, as De Wette, who formerly adopted it, confesses. On doctrinal grounds, this interpretation is open to the same objections as those which refer the section to the unregenerate.

2. We may, with Lange, accept a future reference, in consequence of the turning-point being reached in the thanksgiving. But this requires us to supply a great deal, and to force the alternative meaning on μέν, δέ. It also confuses; for νοῦς and δάρξ, already used in contrast, on this view present a new distinction; and yet that new distinction is immediately afterwards repeatedly set forth by the terms, spirit, flesh. The only escape from this confusion is the assumption that, all along, the νοῦς was really in the interest of spiritual life, and now, being delivered, it acts out its impulses. This, for obvious reasons, we reject.

3. We may take So then, as summing up the preceding (as is done by the Augustinian expositors), I myself as the same mani. e., I, the man there described, under the law, with my mind, &c. It is not necessary to suppose a parenthesis; but, having depicted the experience up to, and inclusive of, the deliverance, he gathers up in meaning words the whole conflict, to contrast with it the normal state of the Christian; chap. 8. To this it will, of course, be objected, that “with my mind I serve the law of God” is too strong an expression to be referred to the man of the law; but it is precisely this service to the law that is the aim of the awakened conscience, the better desire, and it is precisely this he finds he cannot do, because the flesh is the ruling power by which he is brought into captivity, in every case where the mere service of law, even of the law of God, is all that is sought for. Should he seem to reach this aim, and be “touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless” (Phil. 3:6), yet the service of the mind is not, by any means, the service of the Spirit. And, moreover, we must expect to find here, even after the thanksgiving, a quasi-confession of defeat as the point of connection with, “There is now, therefore, no condemnation,” &c. Were the reference previously solely to the Christian, this would seem unnecessary. There are difficulties attending this view, it must be granted, but they are not so numerous as those I find in the others. The whole passage seems, by its alternations, its choice of words, as well as its position in the Epistle, to point to an experience which is produced by the holy, just, and good law of God, rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ; so that even the outburst of Christian gratitude is followed by a final recurrence to the conflict, which is, indeed, ever-recurring, so long as we seek holiness through the law rather than through Christ. See Doctr. Note1.—R.]


1. See the above Summary; also the Preliminary Remarks.

[Paul here enters into a very remarkable psychological analysis of the working of the law, in order to show that it, although holy and good in itself, cannot effect the sanctification of man, on account of the power of indwelling sin, which can be overcome only through redeeming grace. He gives a chapter out of his own experience, especially out of the transition period from the law to the gospel. In this experience, however, is reflected, to a certain extent, the history of the religious development of humanity as a whole. What is here so vividly individualized, repeats itself also in the experience of every earnest Christian. The law, instead of slaying sin, first brings it to a full manifestation (Romans 7:7–13); in the internal contest it is proven powerless; it but leads to the painful confession of helplessness (Romans 7:14–24); no other hope remains, save the grace of Jesus Christ (Romans 7:25).

Those expositors who follow the later Augustinian view, refer Romans 7:14–25 to the regenerate, because they are unwilling to ascribe to the natural man even this powerless longing after higher and better things.63 On the other hand, those who refer them to the unregenerate, urge this reason, that the regenerate man is not so powerless, so captive to sin, as the person here described, but has overcome the dominion of sin, as the Apostle clearly indicates both in chaps. 6. and 7. The correct interpretation lies between these two. Paul describes his state, not when sunk in sin, but when awakened to earnest struggles against sin under the scourge of the law, under preparation for a state of grace—i. e., in the period of transition from the law to the gospel, in the Judaico-legalistic state of awakening.

Thus much, however, must be conceded to the Augustinian view, that this contest is repeated in modified form in the regenerate. So long as they are in the flesh, the old life of Adam rules beside the new life in Christ. Temptations from the world, assaults of Satan, disturb; not unfrequently sin overcomes, and the believer, feeling deeply and painfully his own helplessness, turns in penitence to Christ’s grace, to be the victor at last. It must be remembered, too, that there are many legal, despondent, melancholy Christians, who never pass out of the contest here described into the triumph of grace, the full freedom, the peace with God and assurance of salvation. The temperament and physical condition have a great influence in many such cases, but the main reason is, that such Christians depend too much upon themselves, and do not look sufficiently to the cross of Christ.—P. S.]

2. According to the above, the passage treats throughout neither of the unregenerate nor the regenerate, nor partially of the former and of the latter; but it describes the process, the living transition, of a man from the unregenerate to the regenerate state, who inwardly, and therefore properly, understands the law, and regards the commandment, Thou shalt not covet, as the root of all commandments. The question is not concerning a permanent condition, but a movement and a crisis; therefore first in the preterite, then in the present tense. The coöperation of the promise as well as the hope in this process of death which leads to life, is indeed assumed, but not described with it, because, to the combatant of the law, every thing, even the promise, the gospel-element itself, is transformed first of all into law; while, reversely, the finally triumphant faith, and then even the law (according to Origen), are transformed into pure gospel.

3. We must not overlook the fact that the Apostle here describes a gradation, whose stages are brought out prominently in the explanations—a gradation which apparently leads backward to despair and the sense of death, but, at the same time, truly upward to the true life. It is the way of godly sorrow to salvation; according to Luther, the descent of self-knowledge into hell, which is the preliminary condition to ascension to heaven with Christ. “Alas, what am I, my Redeemer? I find my state of soul daily worse.” The full appearance of the leprosy on the surface of the body is the symptom of its healing.

[“Paul means to show how utterly unavailing are all efforts to get rid of sin by mere nature, however much intensified by views of law and the actings of conscience, until the power of sin is broken by faith in the Source of spiritual life. No convictions of the excellence of the law, no acknowledgment of its purity and rightful obligation, no assent or consent to it as good, no approbation of it in the real ego, no preference for it nor temporary delight in it as commending itself to the judgment, and no strivings after obedience to its precept nor fear of its penalty admitted to be just, will avail against the law of sin and death, till it is superseded by another law of spiritual life derived from Christ by faith.”—R.]

4. The law effects not only the knowledge, but also the revelation of sin—its full development and manifestation, but not its genesis. It accelerates its process to judgment, in order to make the sinner susceptible of, and fully in need of, deliverance. Thus it corresponds with the trials and appointments of God’s government, which also impel man more and more to the development of his inward standpoint. The only difference is, that the law, as a spiritual effect, impels to the ideal saving judgment (“for if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged”), while the guidance of man by trials and temptations results principally in real condemnatory judgments. But here, too, God’s law and ordination agree. To the elect, the ray of the law becomes a flash of lightning which prostrates them before the throne of grace; to harder natures, the flash of lightning which destroys their earthly glory must first become, in many forms, an illuminating beam. It is a fundamental thought of the Apostle, that the ἁμαρτία, which has unmasked itself in the nature of man, is compelled by the law to reveal itself in human life as παράβασις—as deadly unnaturalness. Thus the law drives the serpent from its concealment.

5. On the different definitions of the idea of the unregenerate and the regenerate, see Tholuck, p. 344. From Rom. 8. it is plain that the υἱοθεσία is the result of the original new birth, which is thus decided by justification. This new birth must be distinguished prospectively from the broader and final new birth in the resurrection (Matt. 19:28), and retrospectively from the spiritual production of man by the word of God as the seed of the new birth, which begins with the strong and penetrating call of man by law and gospel (1 Peter 1:23). It must be distinguished laterally from its sacramental symbolization and sealing, which is, at the same time, its normal foundation, as the ideal and social new birth, as in the apostolical sphere it coincided identically with it, and it accords with it in normal ecclesiastical relations, but, amid ecclesiastical corruptions, can also go to ruin with it.

6. A description of three stages of the vita sanctorum, in Bucer, see Tholuck, p. 337. See also the views on the practical effects of the twofold exposition of this passage, as applying to the regenerate and the unregenerate, in the note, p. 338. Also, a further treatment of this question, Tholuck, p. 341 ff.

[Dr. Hodge rightly reprobates the saying of Dr. A. Clarke (quoted approvingly by Tholuck in the note referred to by Lange): “This opinion has most pitifully and shamefully not only lowered the standard of Christianity, but destroyed its influence and disgraced its character.” The danger from an exclusive reference to the unregenerate, is discouragement to weak believers; but that from the other reference is not false security in sin, so much as a tendency to keep the Christian under the scourge of the law. It does encourage a morbid, unrelieved state of conscience, and legal efforts after sanctification. (Comp. the latter part of Doctr. Note1.) To refer it to a movement possible both before and after conversion, a state with reference to the law, encourages unbelievers to go to Christ, and rouses believers to go to Him, since the existence of the conflict shows that the schoolmaster is nearer than the delivering Master. Here Delitzsch is excellent: “Every Christian is compelled to confirm what the Apostle here says, from his own personal experience. And well for him if he can also confirm the fact that God’s law, and therefore God’s will, is his delight—that he desires the good, and hates the evil; and, indeed, in such a way that the sin to which, against his will, he is hurried away, is foreign to his inmost nature. But woe to him, if, from his own personal experience, he could confirm only this, and not also the fact that the spirit of the new life, having its source in Christ Jesus, has freed him from the urgency of sin and the condition of death, which were not abrogated through the law, but only brought to light; so that his will, which, although powerless, was by the law inclined toward what is good, is now actually capable of good, and opposed to the death still working in him, as a predominating, overmastering power of life, to be finally triumphant in glory.”—R.]

7. The prohibition, “Thou shalt not covet” (Romans 7:7), is known to be of very great weight in dividing the Ten Commandments. If it be divided into two commandments, the objects of the lust (coveting) are the principal thing. But the Apostle views it as a prohibition of wicked lust itself, and thereby it becomes a complete commandment, which extends, in sense, even through all the commandments. (Comp. Tholuck, p 350.) On the shallow constructions of the doctrine of the sinfulness of wicked lust, by the Rabbins, see the same, p. 351. In a similar way, a regard for a life of feeling recedes to an ever-increasing distance in the dogmatics of the Middle Ages, in consequence of the stress laid on the merit of good works.

8. On Romans 7:8. Different variations of the nitimur in vetitum among the classical writers (see Tholuck, p. 353, note; Prov. 9:17). The law produces reflection on the forbidden object, curiosity, doubt, distrust of the lawgiver, imaginations, lusts, susceptibility of the seed of temptation, and of seduction, and, finally, the production of rebellion—the παράβασις. The history of childhood, of Israel, and the Antinomianism of the early Christian period (Nitzsch, Die Gesammterscheinung des Antinomismus); the history of Antinomianism in the time of the Reformation (the Münster Anabaptists, the Genevan Libertines, &c.); and the whole history of Divine and human legislation furnishes proof of the Apostle’s proposition (Balaamites, Nicolaitans). Nevertheless, the law is holy, just, and good (see the Exeg. Notes); its design and operation are saving. Because Christ was the law of God personified, He has experienced in Himself the full Divine revelation of the opposition of sinful humanity to the law; He was proscribed as if He had been sin personified. But with this complete revelation of the power of sin, grace attained its still more powerful revelation.

9. On the reference of Romans 7:9 to the age of childhood, see Tholuck, p. 356, and the above Exeg. Notes.

10. On Romans 7:13. On the different meanings of the commandment, “This do, and thou shalt live,” see the Exeg. Notes. This do, and thou shalt live, means: 1. Living in the outward blessing of external obedience; 2. Dying in order to live; 3. First really living after this death.

11. The law is holy in its principle (the will of God); just in its method (establishing and administering justice); good in its design (promoting life itself by the ideal death in self-knowledge). The sinner had to be delivered from death by death—objectively by the death of Christ, subjectively by the reception of the death of Christ in his own life—by his spiritual dying. Calovius: Sancta dicitur lex ratione causœ efficientis et materialis: quia a deo sanctissimo est et circa objecta sancta occupatur; justa est formaliter: quia justitiœ divinœ ὰπειχόνισμα, nostrœ regula est; bona est ratione finis, quia bona temporalia et œterna promittit. The last definition is the weakest. Of justa, Tholuck uses these words: “more correctly, since it produces ‘righteousness.’ ”

12. On the manner in which sin misconstrues the law, in order to make it minister to its own ends, and also on the gradual development of self-knowledge, see the Exeg. Notes.

13. Unless we have a definite idea of the false forms in organic life, we cannot gain the Apostle’s complete view, which we have sketched in the Exeg. Notes. Either the individual figures in question are volatilized into hyperbolical metaphors, or people have fallen into dualistic and Manichæan notions, which have been made to underlie the Apostle’s thoughts, now in order to appeal to him, now to govern him. See “Sydenham,” by Jahn, Eisenach, 1840, p. 56: As diseases in the vegetable world are known to show themselves in inferior and parasitical organisms (fungi, mosses, mistletoes, &c.), so does disease in man show a lower, half-independent vital process and inferior organism, secreted like a germ and parasite in the original life. Similar expressions by Paracelsus, on the inferior organisms undermining the healthy life.—Comp. Schuh’s Pathologie und Therapie der Pseudoplasmen, Vienna, 1854.—False organic forms pervert the functions and material substance of natural life into noxious shapes and poisons. The false spiritual form—sin—perverts the true life of man into a luxuriant growth of false spiritual images of this life.


Acquaintance with sin is effected by the law, so far, 1. as the law, as a prohibition, provokes sin; 2. but also that the consciousness of sin be complete (Romans 7:7–12).—What does sin take from and give to man? 1. It takes life from him; 2. It gives him death (Romans 7:7–12).—The abuse of what is holy, 1. is indeed horrible, but yet, 2. what is holy is not itself destructive (Romans 7:7–12).—The destruction of the state of innocence: 1. Apparently produced by the Divine prohibition; 2. Actually produced by human sin (Romans 7:7–12).—How the best teacher can become a tempter against his will, when he, 1. exempts from a well-meant prohibition; 2. but when this very prohibition awakens the desire for transgression (Romans 7:7–12).—We should not prohibit children from too much.—The best thing we have is corrupted by sin (Romans 7:10).—The fearful deception of sin (Romans 7:11).—The holiness of the Divine law. It is shown to us when we, 1. look at the lawgiver; 2. carefully prove the principal statements of the commandments; 3. have in mind the design for which it was given (Romans 7:12).—Whence does it come that what is good is made death unto me? 1. The fault does not lie in the law, which is spiritual; but, 2. in me, who am carnal (properly, “flesh-like”), sold under sin (Romans 7:13, 14).—Proof of how sin, aiming at the ruin of man, prepares its own overthrow (Romans 7:13).—What is, “to be sold under sin?” 1. Not to know what we do—blindness of self-knowledge; 2. Not to do what we will, but to do what we hate—perversion of our own spontaneity (Romans 7:14, 15).—Even in his sin, man must testify to the goodness of the law (Romans 7:16).—In the flesh there dwelleth no good thing (Romans 7:16).—To will and to perform! 1. How near the willing of what is good is to us; 2. But how far from us is the performance of it (Romans 7:18, 19)!—The deep sorrow expressed in the confession, “for to will is present with me, but how to perform,” &c.; because we then say as much as: 1. I wish the good very much; but, 2. I am just as much devoid of the power to do it (Romans 7:18).—The surprising discovery of man on the way to his conversion (Romans 7:21).—The double law in man: 1. The true law in the mind; 2. The false law in the members (Romans 7:22–25).—The divided state of the human heart: 1. Caused by sin (Romans 7:13–20); 2. Manifesting itself in the conflict of the two laws (Romans 7:22, 23, 25); 3. Calling forth the longing for deliverance (Romans 7:24).—The thanksgiving of the Apostle for the peace of deliverance (Romans 7:25; comp. Romans 1:25).

LUTHER: To do does not mean here to perform the work, but to feel the excitement of the lusts. But to perform, is to live without lust, totally pure; this does not take place in this life (Romans 7:18, 19).—He here calls death the misery and pains endured in the conflict with sin (as Exod. 10:17). Pharaoh says: “That he may take away from me this death only” (this was the locusts).

STARKE: The natural man is like the earth since the curse has been pronounced upon it. The earth has the seeds of all kinds of weeds in it; and although they seem, in Winter, to lie perfectly dead in the earth, yet, by the warm rain in the Spring, they will again germinate and grow (Romans 7:8).—Sin is a real highway robber; it associates in a friendly way with us, and strives to lead us off from the right road, but afterwards kills us (Romans 7:11).—When sin has become suddenly powerful, do not despond; God does not wish the death of the sinner. Flee in penitence to Christ, and you shall be holy (Romans 7:13).—Believers do many good works, but not all that they should; and what they do, is far from being as perfect as it should be (Romans 7:18).—Believing Christians lament more over the weaknesses still cleaving to them, than over temporal torments, chains, and bonds (Romans 7:20).

OSIANDER: The law is a beautiful mirror, which shows us our sins, in order that, when we perceive such great evil, we may get counsel and help from Christ (Romans 7:7).—If believers sin, and it occurs against their will, they do not lose the favor of God (Romans 7:17).—CRAMER: Innate wicked lust a fountain of all sins, and it is also against God’s law; we should not allow ourselves to lust at all (Romans 7:7).—There are two characteristics of true Christians, so long as they are in the world: they give themselves trouble about their wretchedness, but they rejoice and take comfort because of the deliverance (redemption) that has taken place through Jesus Christ (Romans 7:25).—Nova Bibl. Tüb.: There is nothing so good that it cannot become evil by abuse. In this way the blessed gospel becomes to many a savor of death unto death (Romans 7:10).—SPENER: Our nature is so sinful that we do not take as much pleasure in any thing as in what is forbidden (Romans 7:8).—It is a most eminent attainment, and one necessary for a right understanding of the law and sin, that we properly understand the spiritual character of the law (Romans 7:14).—Those can profit by this Pauline example (Romans 7:25) who strive with all earnestness to do what is good; but those who do not stride with all earnestness to do what is good, but still sin frequently with the will, cannot employ the language of Paul, for they are not in harmony with his example.—In short, if one will have a pattern, let him take this: No one must lay claim to any comfort in this chapter whose counterpart is found in chaps. 6. or 8.; but these three chapters must harmonize.

BENGEL: We have here a figure from military life: The soul is the king, the members are the subjects, and sin is the enemy whom the king has admitted. The king is now punished by the insurrection of his subjects, who rise in rebellion With the enemy.—GERLACH: The law is spiritual, means: it is an emanation from God, who is a Spirit (John 4:24); that is, omnipotent, personal, and holy love. It is, further, spiritual in its import—that is, divine and holy. It pertains to the inmost being of man, which it would fully conform to God.—There stands in opposition to it the carnal sense of man; that is, his desire, which is directed, by virtue of sin, to the world, finiteness, and sensuousness, and makes him who is sundered from his Creator a servant of the creature (Romans 7:14).—An Apostle glowing with love, like Paul, humbles himself, and trembles and groans under the law of sin; and shall we, who are like ice in comparison with him, foolishly expose ourselves, and boast of whatever can awaken lust in us? (Romans 7:14.)—The incapacity of man to do good, is an incapacity of the will; this, and not an incapacity of spiritual disposition, has necessitated it; it is therefore a weakness, which is continually attended by the sense of guilt (Romans 7:18).—The exclamation of the Apostle is the cry for help of all humanity, which, in despair of all help through and of itself, looks for aid from without. The law leads to this desire, but it cannot deliver from the wretchedness (Romans 7:24).—He who sighs most deeply over the bondage in the body of this death, stands nearest to deliverance (Romans 7:24).

LISCO: What Paul here makes clear in itself, is a truth of universal human experience—namely, that there are two successive states (the third is described in chap. 8.): one (Romans 7:9), where sin slumbers in us, because we are not fully conscious of the moral law; the other (Romans 7:14–24), where, having a clear knowledge of the law, but yet without the grace of redemption, we become acquainted with the profound corruption of our heart, which is opposed to the law of God, and feel wretched in this condition.—The conflict described in Romans 7:14–25 occurs, before the new birth, in the heart of a man awakened by the law; yet, in the life of the regenerate person, similar conflicts and phenomena arise, in which, however, he is ever triumphant.—The Apostle was far from holding the erroneous view, that sin dwells only in man’s body, and not also in his soul (Romans 7:24).—I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Through Him, He has delivered me in and from all this wretchedness (Romans 7:25).—HEUBNER: The best thing can be made an injury to the wicked will (Romans 7:13).—Every thing becomes impure in the impure heart. Corruptio optimi est generatio pessimi (Romans 7:13).—Description of the evil propensity (Romans 7:14–25).—It is the best people who confess, that strong sensuous impulses in them are sinful (Romans 7:14).—The inward contradiction of man with himself. The conflict between knowing, willing, and doing (Romans 7:15).—Even the immoral man feels that it would have been better if he had kept the law (Romans 7:16).

BESSER: The twofold way in which sin becomes exceeding sinful by the commandment: 1. Its wicked, ungodly nature, plays a prominent part in the transgression of the plain commandment; 2. The sentence of death which transgression effects, drives sin into the conscience of man, so that he feels and perceives it to be a horror and abomination before God (Romans 7:13).—The conflict between spirit and flesh in believers (Romans 7:14–25).—”Believers know and feel,” says Luther (Works, viii., 2747), “that no good thing dwells in their flesh, so that they may become more humble, and let their peacock-tail fall; that is, do not depend on their own righteousness and good works,” &c. (Romans 7:18).

LANGE: The way of the law from sin to grace: 1. Apparently, ever darker and deeper toward death; 2. Really, always nearer to light and life.—The sad revelation of sin a preliminary condition of the joy—bringing revelation of salvation.—The development of self-knowledge under the law: 1. Clear view which reason has of the authority of the law; 2. Earnest wrestling of the will; 3. Outburst of deeply-affected feeling (oh, wretched man that I am).—How the proverb, “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity,” is most gloriously verified in the conversion of man.—The struggle between sin and the law: 1. The deception which sin practises with the law; 2. The unmasking effected by the law through the apparent charm of sin.—How the law becomes always more inward to the candid person, until he has perceived it as his spiritual I, his consciousness, his reason.—The fearful, false power of evil: 1. It assumes all the features of personal life; 2. In order to exhaust and destroy personal life in all its features.—The cry for deliverance occurs in close proximity with thanksgiving and praise to God.—On Romans 7:25: Either, or!

[JEREMY TAYLOR (condensed from sermon on the Christian’s Conquest over the Body of Sin, Rom. 7:19): The evil natures, principles, and manners of the world are the causes of our imperfect willings and weaker actings in the things of God. Let no man please himself with perpetual pious conversation or ineffective desires of serving God; he that does not practise, as well as talk, and do what he desires and ought to do, confesses himself to sin greatly against his conscience; and it is a prodigious folly to think that he is a good man, because, though he does sin, it was yet against his mind to do so. Every good man can watch always; running from temptation is a part of our watchfulness; every good employment is a second and great part of it; and laying in provisions of reason and religion beforehand is a third part of it; and the conversation of Christians is a fourth part of it.—MATT. HENRY, on Romans 7:24, 25: When, under the sense of the remaining power of sin and corruption, we shall see reason to bless God through Christ and for Christ. Through Christ’s death, an end will be put to all our complaints, and we shall be wafted to an eternity without sin or sigh.—It is a special remedy against fears and sorrows, to be much in praise.—SCOTT: A proper knowledge of the holy law of God is the two-edged sword which gives the death-wound to self-righteousness and to Antinomianism; for it is perfectly fit to be the rule of our duty, written in our hearts, and obeyed in our lives.—CLARKE: We never find that true repentance takes place where the moral law is not preached and enforced. The law is the grand instrument, in the hands of a faithful minister, to alarm and awaken sinners; and he may safely show that every sinner is under the law, and consequently under the curse, who has not fled for refuge to the hope held out by the gospel.—HODGE: It is an evidence of an unrenewed heart to express or feel opposition to the law of God, as though it were too strict; or to be disposed to throw the blame of our want of conformity to the Divine will from ourselves upon the law, as unreasonable.—The Christian’s victory over sin cannot be achieved by the strength of his resolutions, nor by the plainness and force of moral motives, nor by any resources within himself. He looks to Jesus Christ, and conquers in His strength. The victory is not obtained by nature, but by grace.—BARNES: We have here: 1. A view of the sad and painful conflict between sin and God. They are opposed in all things; 2. We see the raging, withering effect of sin on the soul. In all circumstances it tends to death and wo; 3. We see the feebleness of the law and of conscience to overcome this. The tendency of both is to produce conflict and wo; 4. We see that the gospel only can overcome sin. To us it should be a subject of ever-increasing thankfulness, that what could not be accomplished by the law, can be thus effected by the gospel; and that God has devised a plan that thus effects complete deliverance, and gives to the captive in sin an everlasting triumph.—J. F. H.]


[17]Romans 7:7.—[The E. V. renders ἐπιθμίαν here lust, in Romans 7:8, concupiscence, and the verb ἐπιθυμήσεις, covet. In order to preserve the correspondence, the Amer. Bible Union translates the noun coveting in both places. We are forced to retain covet in rendering the verb, but it seems better to give the noun a more exact translation, even at the cost of variation from the verb. Lust is too specific, concupiscence too rare, desire would be indefinite without the adjective evil. “The misfortune is that we have no English noun that corresponds well to the generic sense of the verb covet” (Stuart).

[18]Romans 7:10.—[The italics of the E. V. are virtually a gloss. Was only need be supplied. For is a favorite emendation, but unto brings out the telic force of εἰς quite as well.—The passive form of the Greek is restored in the second clause.

[19]Romans 7:13.—[א. A. B. C. D. E., Lachmann, Meyer, Alford, Wordsworth, Tregelles, read ἐγἐνετο instead of γέγονε (Rec., K. L.). The correction probably arose from not understanding the historical aorist (Alford). The Amer. Bible Union follows the latter reading, which is now considered incorrect.

[20]Romans 7:14.—[א1. A. B. C. D. E. F. G., Griesbach, Lachmann, Scholz, Tischendorf, Meyer, Wordsworth, Tregelles, and Lange, read σάρκινος instead of σαρκικός (Rec., א3. K. L.); the latter being very naturally substituted to correspond with πνευματικός. It was also more familiar. On the meaning, see Exeg. Notes.

[21]Romans 7:15.—[Three Greek verbs of kindred signification: κατεργάζομαι, πράττω, ποιέω, occur in this verse, recurring throughout the section. The E. V. renders all three, do, except in Romans 7:18, where the first verb is translated, perform. It is better to retain this throughout, and render πράττω, practise, as etymologically exact. Alford denies any distinction between the last two verbs.

[22]Romans 7:15.—[Would (E. V.) is an inexact rendering of θέλω. The choice lies between will and wish. The former is to be preferred, if the idea of simple, spontaneous volition is deemed the prominent one; the latter is favored by the presence of μισῶ, indicating an emotional feature in the volition. See Exeg. Notes.

[23]Ver 18.—[א. A. B. C., many versions and fathers, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford, Tregelles, omit εὑρίσκω. It is inserted in D. F. K. L., Rec., by many fathers, Meyer, Wordsworth, Lange, and others. Meyer deems the omission due to the transcriber’s hastily passing over from οὐχ to οὐ at the beginning of Romans 7:19. Lange holds that εὑρίσκω would disappear, as soon as the sententious antithesis (To will is immediately present, but the carrying out of that which is good I can never find) was no longer understood.

[24]Romans 7:20.—[א. A. K. L., insert ἐγώ after θέλω. Meyer, Alford, Tregelles, and others, follow B. C. D. F. in omitting it. The analogy of Romans 7:15, 18 is against it, but Lange deems it important to mark a progress in the thought.

[25]Romans 7:23.—[א. B. D. F. K., and some cursives, insert ἐν before τῷ νόμω̣. Omitted in Rec., A. C. L., fathers. Most modern editors reject it. Tregelles retains it. If retained, it cannot mean by means of (see Alford).

[26]Romans 7:24.—[On these two renderings, see Exeg. Notes.

[27]Romans 7:25.—[There is considerable variation here. The Rec., א1. A. K. L., read εὐχαπιστῶ. B. has χάριςτῷθεῷ, which is adopted by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford, Tregelles, Lange. We find also: ἡ χάρις τοῦ θεοῦ and τοῦ κυρίου. Meyer contends for the reading of the Recepta, which certainly has the best MSS. support.

[28] Romans 7:25.—[Forbes:

Ἅρα οὖν αὐτὸς ἐγώ

Τῷ μὲν νοῒ δουλεύω νόμω̣ Θεοῦ,

Τῇ δε δαρκὶ, νόμω̣ ἁμαρτίας.

So then I myself

With my mind serve the law of God,

But with my flesh the law of sin.

Lange, however, seems to take μένδέ as = either … or. See Exeg. Notes.—R.]

[29][Wordsworth, less correctly, says: “By the pronoun 1. the holy Apostle personifies Human Nature, and identifies it with himself, and says, in his own name and person, what he means to be applied to Mankind generally, in their unregenerate state.” This author follows his usual patristic bent, in implying that this is a description, not of what was, but might have been Paul’s experience. This zeal for the honor of “the holy Apostle” is undoubtedly at the expense of his sincerity.—R.]

[30][Tholuck, Stuart (Meyer, Lange, apparently), attribute the change in Augustine’s views to the Pelagian controversy; Dr. Hodge, on the other hand: “to a deeper insight into his own heart, and a more thorough investigation of the Scriptures.” In the Expositio Quarundam Prop. Ep. Rom. Prop. 45 (not the incomplete commentary) the earlier view is stated (394). It is repeated in Ad Simp. (397), Conf. vii. 21 (400). The Pelagian controversy began about 412. It is not until 420 that the other view is presented (Contra duas Epistolas Pel. ad Bonifac., i. 12). It is repeated in Retractationes, i. 23, i. 1 (427), and in Contra Jul., vi. 13 (about the same time). The language of Augustine is as follows (in Retrac.): quæ postea lectis quibusdam divinorum tractatoribus etoquiorum, quorum me moveret auctoritas, consideravi diligentius et vidi etiam de ipso apostolo posse intelligi quod ait” (Romans 7:14); “quod in eis libris quos contra Pelagianos nuper scripsi, quantum potui diligenter ostendi.” The tone of the whole section is polemic. This fact, in connection with the dates above given, shows that the probabilities are strongly in favor of the view of Stuart. A general change may have been going on, but, as regards this passage, the change seems due to the exigencies of the controversy. Comp. Migne’s edition Augustini Opera, i. 620, iii. 2071, &c.; also Schaff, History of the Christian Church, iii. pp. 988 ff.—R.]

[31][This view is as follows: From Romans 7:7–13 is historical, carnal self under the convictions of sin in the transition state. Romans 7:14 is still of the carnal self, but Paul, in passing forward, transfers himself into his present position by the change of tense. Speaking in this tense, he begins to tell of the motions of the will toward God (Romans 7:15, which is true only of the regenerate). Then an apparent verbal confusion arises, the ego having a wider meaning in Romans 7:17 than in Romans 7:18, &c. After Romans 7:20, the subject is the actual then existing complex self of Paul in his state of conflict. This view is more easily justified by the exegesis of separate verses than that of Dr. Hodge, yet the “confusion” is great—R.]

[32][Forbes defends this view, however, from the parallelism in the latter part of Romans 7:25.—R.]

[33][Stuart makes ἁμαρτία here almost = ἐγὼ σαρκικός (Romans 7:14 ff.). If an equivalent is necessary, σάρξ is a preferable one. For full, almost fanciful, notes on the presumed personification, see Wordsworth in loco.—R.]

[34][The proof of this connection is, that διά is never joined with ἁφ. λαμβ. (ἐκ is usual); that Romans 7:11, 13 seem to require it.—R.]

[35] [The following citations from the classics support the universality of the principle set forth in this verse (comp. Prov. 9:17):

Cato (Livy 34:4): Nolite eodem loco existimare, Quirites, futurom rem, quo fuit, antequam lex de hoc ferretur. Et hominem improbum non accusare tutuis est, quam absolvi, et luxuria non mota tolerabilior esset, quam erit nunc, ipsis vinculis, sicut fera bestia irritata, deinde emissa. Seneca (de Clementia, 1:23): Parricidæ cum lege cœperunt, et illis facinus pœna monstravit. Horace (Carm., i. 3):

Audax omnia perpeti

Gens humana ruit per vetitum nefas.

Ovid (Amor., 2, 19, 3): Quod licet ingratum est, quod non licet acrius urit; (3, 4) Nitimur in vetitum semper cupimusque negata.

To this may well be added the remark of Goethe (in a letter to Lavater): Ich möchte das Element woraus des Menschen Seele gebildet ist und warin sie lebt, ein Fegfeuer nennen, worin alle höllischen und himmlischen Kräfte durcheinander gehen und wirken (I might call the element, out of which the soul of man is formed and in which it lives, a purgatory, in which all hellish and heavenly powers confusedly walk and work).—R.]

[36][The legitimate result of this interpretation is Jowett’s position: “The state which the Apostle describes is in some degree ideal and imaginary.” There is no such time of innocence, but rather a time of security, “before the deeper energies of the moral nature are aroused.” All that period, in the individual consciousness, as well as secondarily in the historical development of redemption, is referred to by ποτέ. Granting, as a fair exegesis of the whole context compels us to do, that the termination of this period was not at the entrance of Christian knowledge of the law, we may well include the thought urged so strongly by Prof. Stuart: “Before an individual has a distinct and vivid perception of the nature and spirituality and extent of the Divine law, he is less active and desperate in his sin and guilt than after he comes to such a knowledge.” The view of Romans 7:7, 8, as including excitement of sin, commits us in advance to this position.—R.]

[37][So Stuart: “to gather new life, to show additional vigor, not merely a renewal of life which had before existed.” On the lexical objections to this view, see Philippi in loco.—R.]

[38][It is more difficult than important to decide this point. Αὕτη, hæc, this; αὐτή, ipsa, the same. The former, though not in itself so emphatic, here takes the preceding subject, this very commandment, giving it a tragical force (so Meyer and Philippi, whom Lange cites in favor of the other view). The analogy of Romans 7:15, 16, 19, 20 (τοῦτο) is against Lange’s preference.—R.]

[39][So Hodge: “The reference is not to the promised joys of sin, which always mock the expectation and disappoint the hopes, but rather to the utter failure of the law to do what he expected from it.” This view consists with the assumption, that the point in experience here reached is one necessarily and immediately preceding conversion. Dr. Hodge does not thus assume, yet he appeals to Christian experience in confirmation. If the excitement to sin be allowed throughout these verses, the other interpretation, adopted by Dr. Lange, is preferable. Comp., however, a beautiful setting forth of the first view in Neander, Pflanzung, 2:681 (quoted in Tholuck).—R.]

[40][This is a mistake. The quotation is from Philippi. Meyer says: “right, with respect to its requirement, which corresponds exactly with holiness.”—R.]

[41][Bengel is excellent: Sancta, justa; bona, ratione causæ efficientis, formæ, finis. His second view is less exact: respectu officiorum erga Deum, respectu, proximi, respectu naturæ meæ. Comp. Calovius (in Tholuck and Philippi), and Theodoret (in Alford).—R.]

[42][Akin to the view under discussion is that of Göschel: “that the soul proceeds at once from body and spirit to unite the two.” This contradicts, or, at least, confuses the immateriality of the soul, and makes a living body antecedent thereto. Hegelianism regards the soul as only the band that connects body and spirit.—R.]

[43][Against so limited a view of ψυχή, see Tholuck, p. 302, who includes under it the νοῦς and ἔσω ἄνθρωπος. Comp. Irenæus, c. hæres., v. 304.—R.]

[44][On the trichotomy, see Delitzsch, Bibl. Psych., pp. 84–98; Olshausen, Romans, pp. 271, 272, 2d ed.; De naturæ hum. trichotomia, &c., Opuscc. Theol., Berlin, 1834, pp. 143 ff.; Messner, Die Lehre des Apostel, Leipzig, 1856, p. 207; Bishop Ellicott, Sermon on the Destiny of the Creation; Notes on 1 Thess. 5:23; Lange’s Comm. on Genesis, pp. 212 f., 285 f.; Tholuck, Romans, pp. 288–302; J. B. Heard, Tripartite Nature of Man, 2d ed., Edinb., 1868; Lange, Dogmatik, pp. 307, 1243.—R.]

[45][The anthropology of Swedenborg assumes a trinity rather than a trichotomy, and by his doctrine of correspondences, spirit seems to lose its real significance.—R.]

[46][It must be noted how this passage assumes (1), that the spirit needs sanctification; (2) that body and soul are also to be preserved for God; thus guarding against Pelagianism and rationalism on the one hand, and asceticism and mysticism on the other.—R.]

[47][Any argument from the analogy of the Trinity must be left out of view, since it can prove nothing, though it may be pleasing to some minds to trace such an analogy.—R.]

[48][Of course, the term will be given a more or less extended meaning by different authors; but if the two positions be held fast: (1) That this spirit is the point of contact with Divine influences; (2) That it, too, has been depraved, all erroneous conclusions will be avoided. Dr. Lange (Genesis, p. 213) seems to coincide with the view here presented: “It must be held fast, that man could not receive the Spirit of God, if he were not himself a spiritual being; yet it is a supposition of the Scripture, that, since the fall, the spiritual nature is bound in the natural man, and does not come to its actuality.”—R.]

[49][In Rom. 8:3, where the term occurs three times, it is highly probable that in the last two cases this sense is the more correct one.—R.]

[50][Comp. Delitzsch, Bib. Psych., pp. 374 f., Eng. ed., pp. 440 ff., against the view of Günther, that there is a fleshly soul in distinction from the spiritual soul.—R.]

[51][The Greek adjectives ending in -ινος (with the accent on the antepenult) describe the material out of which any thing is made (comp. the English -en, wooden, earthen). Σάρκινος is therefore carneus, made of flesh; σαρκικός, carnalis, fleshly, of this character. Adopting the former reading, three modes of view present themselves: (1) That the Apostle has here purposely chosen the stronger word (so Meyer), and thus a reference to the regenerate, spiritual man is necessarily excluded. (2) That here, σάρκινος = σαρκικός. (So Lange.) This is also adopted in the interest of the reference to the believer. (3) Delitzsch even finds the former the weaker word: “σάρκινος is one who has in himself the bodily nature and the sinful tendency inherited with it; but σαρκικός is one whose personal fundamental tendency is this sinful impulse of the flesh.” I prefer (1); but (3) should be adopted by those who insist on the Augustinian view. Otherwise, the first time the present tense, upon which so much stress is laid as indicating a change in the state of the subject, occurs, the predicate must be tampered with, and made to mean, not simply, I am carnal, but, I was, I am so to a certain extent, I am still carnal, though not as formerly. Dr. Hodge deems the extreme (i.e., simple) sense of the words, “inconsistent with the context,” but the immediate context has to be limited in the same way to make this applicable, especially exclusively applicable, to a regenerate person.—R.]

[52][This interpretation is altogether untenable on philological grounds. Dr. Hodge justifies it, by saying: “With regard to moral objects, knowledge is not mere cognition. It is the apprehension of the moral quality, and involves, of necessity, approbation or disapprobation.” But a correct inference is not always a correct interpretation.—R.]

[53][Dr. Hodge is certainly correct in saying, “that every Christian can adopt the language of this verse;” but when Alford (following Philippi) asserts, that no such will exists in the carnal, unregenerate man, the remark is incorrect, unless θέλω be referred either to a full determination of the will, or to the strongest possible desire. That neither of these is a necessary conclusion, is evident not only from the language of Epictetus, but from the close connection with Romans 7:14 (γάργάρ), as well as from Romans 7:16, where οὐ θέλω is evidently used as explaining μισῶ. It is a gratuitous inference, that a reference of this verse to the unregenerate implies a contradiction of the depravity of the human will.—R.]

[54][Meyer (4th ed.) holds that the article requires us to understand the Mosaic law, but his view of the construction is as follows: the law is joined with the participle, the infinitive is the infinitive of design, and the last clause introduced by ὅτι is the object of I find: “I find, then, while my will is directed to the law in order to do good, that evil is present with me.” As be well adds: “What deep misery!” But this seems forced, and is only an attempt to preserve consistently his dictum, that τὸν νομον must mean the Mosaic law. See, however, his full grammatical justification.—R.]

[55][Olshausen (2d ed., p. 280) rejects this view as harsh; but what his precise opinion is, is not very obvious.—R.]

[56][Winer (7th ed.) favors the other view (that of Luther), while Tholuck (5th ed.), Philippi (2d ed.), and apparently Olshausen (2d ed.), adopt this, which is that of the E. V. Our English and American commentaries combat many authors, who have already given up the opposed opinions on this verse.—R.]

[57][Philippi holds that “members” here has a meaning between the physiological and ethical. Hodge makes it = in my flesh; but the phrase seems purposely chosen to indicate the locality where the opposing law is most evident, rather than its precise seat.—R.]

[58]Romans 7:23.—[א. B. D. F. K., and some cursives, insert ἐν before τῷ νόμω̣. Omitted in Rec., A. C. L., fathers. Most modern editors reject it. Tregelles retains it. If retained, it cannot mean by means of (see Alford).

[59][If ἐν be accepted in the text, then this would not be instrumental, but describe the department in which the taking captive has place (Alford).—R.]

[60][Many will feel that Dr. Lange here gives an explanation which is not a real explanation. Sin, and flesh, and the old man, are real enough; but if he means that over against them is something, which is the ideal man, to be made real through the grace of Christ, then his remarks are significant. That the true explanation of this passage is to he sought in a discovery of modern science, anticipated by Paul, is improbable. Comp. Doctr. Note12.—R.]

[61]Romans 7:25.—[There is considerable variation here. The Rec., א1. A. K. L., read εὐχαπιστῶ. B. has χάριςτῷθεῷ, which is adopted by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford, Tregelles, Lange. We find also: ἡ χάρις τοῦ θεοῦ and τοῦ κυρίου. Meyer contends for the reading of the Recepta, which certainly has the best MSS. support.

[62][The explanation of Jowett is altogether untenable: “I in my true self serve the law of God; the remainder of the sentence may be regarded as an afterthought.” The presence of μέν totally overthrows this. Jowett accepts it in his text, too, without even taking advantage of its omission in א. F., to give a seeming propriety to his interpretation!—R.]

[63][Hence the Arminian controversy really began upon the exegesis of this passage. It cannot be doubted that this controversy has led to extreme views in both directions respecting the meaning of this chapter.—R.]

Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

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