If then I do that which I would not, I consent to the law that it is good.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Romans 7:16-17. If then I do that which I would not, &c. — In willing not to do it, I do so far, though to my own condemnation, consent to the law, and bear my testimony to it that it is good — And do indeed desire to fulfil it; though when temptations assault me, contrary to my resolution, I fail in my practice. This is an inference from the former verse, the obvious sense of which is, that men, even in an unconverted state, approve of the law of God: they see its propriety and equity, consequently their judgment approves of it as good, though their passions and inclinations oppose it. It is not supposed here that the person spoken of consents at all times to the whole of God’s law as good: this inference is limited by what he said in the former verse. Nor is it every evil which he hates, that he does; nor does he always feel that hatred which he mentions against the sins which he commits. He only mentions it as a thing which frequently happened, that the evils which he hated, and was inclined to avoid, were actually committed by him; and the good deeds which his conscience inclined him to do, were not performed. From this he infers, that this inclination implied the consent of his judgment unto the goodness of those laws, which under these circumstances he was in the habit of breaking. And, that the minds even of wicked men consent to the law of God as good, is obvious from their approbation of good actions in others. Now then it is no more I that can properly be said to do it, but rather sin that dwelleth in me — Which makes, as it were, another person, and tyrannises over me. “Here the apostle considers man as composed of two parts, flesh and spirit, each of which has distinct volitions, affections, and passions. And, because the influence of these on men’s actions is very powerful, he calls the one the law of the members, and the other, the law of the mind; (Romans 7:23;) and, like the ancient philosophers, he considers these two principles as distinct persons. And as in this discourse he personates mankind, he speaks of the former, which (Romans 7:22) he terms, ο εσω ανθρωπος, the inward man, or spiritual part of human nature, as his real self, and calls it, εγο, I, (Romans 7:17; Romans 7:19,) and αυτος εγω, I myself (Romans 7:25,) because it is the part in which man was made after the image of God. The other person he calls his flesh, or carnal part; and, ο εξω ανθρωπος, the outward man; (2 Corinthians 4:16;) and sin dwelling in him, in this verse; and the body of sin; (Romans 6:6;) and the body of death; (Romans 7:24;) and the old man; (Romans 6:6; Ephesians 4:21; Colossians 3:9;) and denies that this part is his self; (Romans 7:17;) and to prevent our confounding this with his real self, having said, (Romans 7:18,) I know that in me dwelleth no good thing, he immediately corrects himself by adding, that is, in my flesh. But notwithstanding the apostle considered the flesh and spirit as distinct persons, who have different affections and members, and though he ascribes to those persons different volitions and actions, and denies that the actions of the outward man, or flesh, are his actions, it does not follow that he thought himself no way concerned in, or accountable for, the actions of his flesh. For he told the very persons to whom he said those things, (Romans 8:13,) If ye live after the flesh ye shall die. But he thus spake to give a more lively idea of the struggle between reason and passion, [or rather, between grace and nature,] which subsists in the minds of those whose conscience is awakened by the operation of the law, but who are not completely converted.” Perhaps, as Doddridge conjectures, he might have read the passage in Xenophon’s Cyropedia, lib. 6., where Araspes complains of two souls contending within him.
But sin that dwelleth in me — “As the apostle had personified sin, he very properly represents it as dwelling in him; because this suggests to us the absolute and continued influence which sin hath in controlling the reason and conscience of the unregenerated, and in directing all their actions. By distinguishing his real self, that is, his spiritual part, from the self, or flesh, in which sin dwelt, and by observing that the evil actions which he committed were done, not by him, but by sin dwelling in him, the apostle did not mean to teach that wicked men are not accountable for their sins, but to make them sensible of the evil of their sins, by showing them that they are all committed in direct opposition to reason and conscience, the superior part of their nature, at the instigation of passion and lust, the lower part. Further, by appealing to the opposition which reason and conscience make to evil actions, he hath overturned the grand argument, by which the wicked justify themselves in indulging their lusts. Say they, since God hath given us passions and appetites, he certainly meant that we should gratify them. True, says the apostle; but God hath also given you reason and conscience, which oppose the excesses of lust, and condemn its gratification: and as reason and conscience are the superior part of man’s nature, a more certain indication of the will of God may be gathered from their operation, than from the impulses of the other.” — Macknight.
I consent unto the law that it is good—"the judgment of my inner man going along with the law."Romans 7:12,14. This shows my consent to the holiness and goodness of the law; I vote with it, and for it, as the only rule of right or righteousness.
consented to the law, that it was good; lovely and amiable; that it forbad those things which were hateful, and commanded those things which were desirable to a good man; and so is acknowledged to be a very beautiful rule of obedience, walk, and conversation.If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Romans 7:16. Not an incidental inference (Rückert), but an essential carrying on of the argument, from which then Romans 7:17 is further inferred. For the relation of the ἐγώ to the law is in fact the very aim of the section (see Romans 7:25).
ὃ οὐ θέλω] whereto I am unwilling, for in fact I hate it, Romans 7:15. By οὐ the θέλειν is turned into its opposite. Comp. Baeuml. Partik. p. 278; Ameis on Homer, Odys. iii. 274.
σύμφημι τῷ νόμῳ, ὅτι καλός] since indeed the law also desires not what I do. My conduct, therefore, so far as my desire is opposed to it, appears, according to this contradiction, as a proof that I concur with the law, that it is beautiful, i.e. morally good; the moral excellence which the law affirms of itself (e.g. Deuteronomy 4:8) I also agree with it in acknowledging; in point of fact, I say yes to it. Comp. also Philippi and Hofmann. The usual view: I grant to the law, that, etc., overlooks the συν, and the reference of the τῷ νόμῳ to συν (I say with). Comp. Plat. Rep. p. 608 B, Theaet. p. 199 C, Phaed. p. 64 B; Soph. Aj. 271, Oed. R. 553; Eur. Hippol. 265; Sturz, Lex. Xen. IV. p. 153. We may add that Chrysostom, in loc., has appropriately directed attention to the οἰκεία εὐγένεια of the moral nature of man.Romans 7:16. ὃ οὐ θέλω takes up ὃ μισῶ the negative expression is strong enough for the argument. In doing what he hates, i.e., in doing evil against his will, his will agrees with the law, that it is good. καλός suggests the moral beauty or nobility of the law, not like ἀγαθή (Romans 7:12) its beneficial purpose.16. If then, &c.] The emphasis is obviously on “that which I would not:” q. d., “If my faulty course of action is contradicted by my will, I thereby consent to the goodness of the Law, which also contradicts it.”Romans 7:16. Σύμφημι, I consent) Συνήδομαι, I delight is a stronger expression, Romans 7:22, note. The assent of a man, given to the law against himself, is an illustrious trait of true religion, a powerful testimony for God.—καλὸς, beautiful) The law, even apart from its legality, is beautiful: καλὸς, beautiful, suggests holiness, justice, and goodness, Romans 7:12.
Lit., speak together with; concur with, since the law also does not desire what I do. Only here in the New Testament.
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