Romans 7:2
For the woman which has an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he lives; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) For the woman which hath an husband.—The illustration is not quite exact. The Law is here represented by the husband, but the Apostle does not mean to say that the Law dies to the Christian, but the Christian to the Law. The proposition must therefore be understood to be stated in a somewhat abstract form. Relations of the kind indicated are terminated by death (not necessarily the death of one party to them more than another). The relation of wife and husband ceases absolutely and entirely on both sides, and not merely so much of it as affects the person who dies.

7:1-6 So long as a man continues under the law as a covenant, and seeks justification by his own obedience, he continues the slave of sin in some form. Nothing but the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, can make any sinner free from the law of sin and death. Believers are delivered from that power of the law, which condemns for the sins committed by them. And they are delivered from that power of the law which stirs up and provokes the sin that dwells in them. Understand this not of the law as a rule, but as a covenant of works. In profession and privilege, we are under a covenant of grace, and not under a covenant of works; under the gospel of Christ, not under the law of Moses. The difference is spoken of under the similitude or figure of being married to a new husband. The second marriage is to Christ. By death we are freed from obligation to the law as a covenant, as the wife is from her vows to her husband. In our believing powerfully and effectually, we are dead to the law, and have no more to do with it than the dead servant, who is freed from his master, has to do with his master's yoke. The day of our believing, is the day of being united to the Lord Jesus. We enter upon a life of dependence on him, and duty to him. Good works are from union with Christ; as the fruitfulness of the vine is the product of its being united to its roots; there is no fruit to God, till we are united to Christ. The law, and the greatest efforts of one under the law, still in the flesh, under the power of corrupt principles, cannot set the heart right with regard to the love of God, overcome worldly lusts, or give truth and sincerity in the inward parts, or any thing that comes by the special sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit. Nothing more than a formal obedience to the outward letter of any precept, can be performed by us, without the renewing, new-creating grace of the new covenant.For the woman - This verse is a specific illustration of the general principle in Romans 7:1, that death dissolves those connections and relations which make law binding in life. It is a simple illustration; and if this had been kept in mind, it would have saved much of the perplexity which has been felt by many commentators, and much of their wild vagaries in endeavoring to show that "men are the wife, the law of the former husband, and Christ the new one;" or that "the old man is the wife, sinful desires the husband, sins the children." Beza. (See Stuart.) Such expositions are sufficient to humble us, and to make us mourn over the puerile and fanciful interpretations which even wise and good people often give to the Bible.

Is bound by the law ... - See the same sentiment in 1 Corinthians 7:39.

To her husband - She is united to him; and is under his authority as the head of the household. To him is particularly committed the headship of the family, and the wife is subject to his law, in the Lord, Ephesians 5:23, Ephesians 5:33.

She is loosed ... - The husband has no more authority. The connection from which obligation resulted is dissolved.

2, 3. if her husband be dead—"die." So Ro 7:3. He here exemplifies and illustrates the foregoing assertion.

The woman is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth: see a parallel place, 1 Corinthians 7:39. This is the general rule, yet there is an exception in the case of fornication or desertion: see Matthew 5:32 1 Corinthians 7:15.

From the law of her husband; from the obligation of the law of marriage. For the woman which hath an husband,.... The former general rule is here illustrated by a particular instance and example in the law of marriage; a woman that is married to a man,

is bound by the law to her husband; to live with him, in subjection and obedience to him,

so long as he liveth; except in the cases of adultery, Matthew 19:9, and desertion, 1 Corinthians 7:15, by which the bond of marriage is loosed, and for which a divorce or separation may be made, which are equal to death:

but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband; the bond of marriage is dissolved, the law of it is abolished, and she is at entire liberty to marry whom she will, 1 Corinthians 7:39.

For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 7:2. Concrete illustration of the proposition in Romans 7:1, derived from the relation of the law to marriage and its dissolution, which in the woman’s case can only take place through the, death of the husband, so that it is only after that death has occurred that she may marry another. This example, as the tenor of the following text shows (in opposition to Hofmann), is selected, not because the legal ordinance in question was in its nature the only one that Paul could have employed, but because he has it in view to bring forward the union with Christ, which takes place after the release from the law, as analogous to a new marriage, and does so in Romans 7:4. The illustration is only apparently (not really; Usteri, Rückert, and even Umbreit in the Stud. u. Krit. 1851, p. 643) awkward, in so far namely as the deceased and the person released from the law through the event of death are represented in it as different. This appearance drove Chrysostom and his followers to adopt the hypothesis of an inversion of the comparison; thus holding that the law is properly the deceased party, but that Paul expressed himself as he has done out of consideration for the Jews (comp Calvin and others), whereas Tholuck contents himself with the assumption of a (strange) pregnancy of expression which would include in the one side the other also; and Umbreit regards “the irregularity in the change of person” as unavoidable. But the semblance of inappropriateness vanishes on considering καὶ ὑμεῖς in Romans 7:4 (see on that passage), from which it is plain that Paul in his illustration, Romans 7:2 f., follows the view, that the death of the husband implies (in a metaphorical sense by virtue of the union of the two spouses in one person, Ephesians 5:28 ff.) the death of the woman also as respected her married relation, and consequently her release from the law, so far as it had bound her as a ὕπανδρος γυνή to her husband, so that she may now marry another, which previously she could not do, because the law does not cease to be lord over the man before he is dead. So in substance also Achelis l.c[1525] Consequently Romans 7:2 f. is not to be taken allegorically, but properly and concretely; and it is only in Romans 7:4 that the allegorical application occurs. It has been allegorically explained, either so, that the wife signifies the soul and the husband the sin that has died with Christ (Augustine, comp Olshausen); or, that the wife represents humanity (or the church) and the husband the law, to which the former had been spiritually married (Origen, Chrysostom, Calvin, and others, including Klee, Reiche, and Philippi). But the former is utterly foreign to the theme of the text; and the latter would anticipate the application in Romans 7:4.

ὕπανδρος] viro subjecta, married; also current in later Greek authors, as in Polyb. x. 26, 3, Athen. ix. p. 388 C; in the N. T. only here. See Wetstein and Jacobs, a[1527] Ael. N. A. iii. 42.

τῷ ζῶντι ἀνδρί] to her (τῷ) living husband. ζῶντι has the emphasis, correlative to the ἐφ ὅσον χρόνον ζῇ in Romans 7:1. On δέδεται comp 1 Corinthians 7:27.

νόμῳ] by the law. For by the law of Moses the right of dismissing the husband was not given to the wife (Michaelis, Mos. R. § 120; Saalschütz, p. 806 f.). Paul however leaves unnoticed the case of the woman through divorce ceasing to be bound to her husband (Deuteronomy 24:2; Kiddusch. f. 2, 1 : “Mulier possidet se ipsam per libellum repudii et per mortem mariti”), regarding the matter, in accordance with his scope, only in such a way as not merely seemed to be the rule in the majority of cases, but also harmonized with the original ordinance of the Creator (Matthew 19:8).

κατήργηται ἀπὸ τ. νόμου τ. ἀνδρ.] that is, with respect to her hitherto subsisting subordination under the law binding her to her husband she is absolved, free and rid of it. See on Galatians 5:4. The Apostle thus gives expression to the thought lying at the basis of his argument, that with the decease of the husband the wife also has ceased to exist as respects her legal connection with him; in this legal relation, from which she is fully released, she is no longer existent. Comp on ἀπό 2 Corinthians 11:3. She is still there, but no longer as bound to that law, to which she died with the death of her husband; comp Romans 7:6. The joining of ὁ νόμος with the genitive of the subject concerned (frequent in the LXX.) is very common also in classic authors. Th. Schott, following Bengel, erroneously takes τ. ἀνδρ. as genitive of apposition; the law being for the wife embodied in the husband. The law that determines the relation of the wife to the husband is what is intended, like ὁ νόμος ὁ περί τοῦ ἀνδρός; see Kühner, II. 1, p. 287.

[1525] .c. loco citato or laudato.

[1527] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.Romans 7:2 f. An illustration of the principle. It is the only illustration in which death liberates a person who yet remains alive and can enter into new relations. Of course there is an inexactness, for in the argument the Christian is freed by his own death, and in the illustration the wife is freed by the husband’s death; but we must discount that. Paul required an illustration in which both death and a new life appeared. κατήργηται ἀπό: cf. Romans 7:6, Galatians 5:4 : she is once for all discharged (or as R.V. in Gal. “severed”) from the law of the husband: for the genitive τοῦ ἀνδρός, see Winer, 235. χρηματίσει = she shall be publicly designated: cf. Acts 11:26. τοῦ μὴ εἶναι αὐτὴν μοιχαλίδα κ.τ.λ.: grammatically this may either mean (1) that she may not be an adulteress, though married to another man; or (2) so that she is not, etc. Meyer prefers the first; and it may be argued that in this place, at all events, the idea of forming another connection is essential: cf. εἰς τὸ γενέσθαι ὑμᾶς ἑτέρῳ, Romans 7:4 (Gifford); but it is difficult to conceive of innocent remarriage as being formally the purpose of the law in question, and the second meaning is therefore to be preferred. Cf. Burton, Moods and Tenses, § 398.2. to her husband so long, &c]. Lit. to the living husband. So it should be rendered; q. d., “to the present, not to a past or future, husband.”

she is loosed] Lit. she has been cancelled from, &c. The perfect tense indicates the ipso facto character of the release. The obvious equivalent of the phrase is, “the law of her husband has been cancelled ipso facto in respect of her.”

the law of the husband] i.e. “that special part of the law which affects her husband and his claim;” viz. the sanctions of marriage.Romans 7:2. Ὓπανδρος) So the LXX.—δέδεται, is bound) It may be construed with to her husband, and with by [to] the law.—τοῦ νόμου τοῦ ἀνδρὸς) It would not be an unsuitable apposition, were we to say, from the law [that is, from] her husband.Verses 2-4. - For (this is an instance of the application of the general principle, adduced as suiting the subject in band) the woman that hath an husband (ὕπανδρος, implying subjection, meaning properly, that is under an husband) is bound to her living husband; but if the husband die, she is loosed (κατήργηται; cf. ver. 6 and Galatians 5:4. The word expresses the entire abolition of the claim of the husband's law over her) from the law of the husband. So then if, while the husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if the husband die, she is free from the Law, so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also were made dead to the Law through the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who was raised from the dead, that we may bring forth fruit unto God. The general drift of the above verses is plain enough; namely, that, as in all cases death frees a man from the claims of human law, and, in particular, as death frees the wife from the claims of marital law, so that she may marry again, so the death of Christ, into which we were baptized, frees us from the claims of the law which formerly bound us, so that we may be married spiritually to the risen Saviour, apart from the old dominion of law, and consequently of sin. But it is not so easy to explain the intended analogy in precise terms, there being an apparent discrepance between the illustration and the application with regard to the parties supposed to die. Even before the application there is a seeming discrepance of this kind between the general statement of ver. 1 and the instance given in ver. 2. For in ver. 1 it is (according to the view we have taken of it) the death of the person who had been under law that frees him from it, whereas in ver. 2 it is the death of the husband (representing law) that frees the wife from the law she had been under. Hence the interpretation of ver. 1 above referred to, according to which law, and not a man, is the understood nominative to liveth. But, even if this interpretation were considered tenable, we should not thus get rid of the subsequent apparent discrepance between the illustration and the application. For in the former it is the death of the husband that frees the wife; whereas in the latter it seems to be the death of ourselves, who answer to the wife, in the death of Christ, that frees us. For that it is ourselves that are regarded as having died to the Law with Christ appears not only from other passages (e.g. vers. 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 11, in ch. 6.), but also, in the passage before us, from άθανατώθητε in ver. 4, and ἀποθανόντες in ver. 6. (The reading ἀποθανόντος of the Textus Receptus rests on no authority, being apparently only a conjecture of Beza's.) There are various ways of explaining.

(1) That (notwithstanding the reasons against the supposition that have just been given) it is the Law, and not the man, that is conceived as having died in the death of Christ. Ephesians 2:15 and Colossians 2:14 may be referred to as supporting this conception. Thus the illustration and the application are made to hang together, the law of the husband being regarded as having died in the husband's death, as the Law generally to us in Christ's death; and we have already seen how ver. 1 may be forced into correspondence. This view of the Law itself being regarded as having died has the weighty support of Origen, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Ambrose, and other Greek Fathers. Chrysostom accounts for the apostle introducing a different conception in ver. 4: by suggesting that he avoided saying explicitly that the Law had died, for fear of wounding the Jews: Τὸ ἀκόλουθον ῆν αἰπεῖν, Ὤστε ἀδελφοί οὐ κυριεύει ὑμῶν ὁ νόμος ἀπέθανε γάρ Ἀλλ οὐκ εῖπεν οὕτως ἴνα μὴ πλήξη τοὺς Ιουδαίους. This explanation hardly commends itself as satisfactory; and besides, in addition to what has been already said, it may be observed that throughout the whole passage there is no phrase to suggest in itself the idea of the Law's death, but only of some death which emancipates from law (ver. I being taken in its natural sense, and ἀποθάνοντες, in ver. 4, being accepted as the undoubtedly true reading).

(2) That in the illustration the wife is really supposed to die when the husband dies. The death of either party to the marriage-bond cancels it; and when one dies, the other virtually dies to the law that both were under. Thus the statement of principle in ver. 1, the particular illustration in vers. 2, 3, and the application are made to hang together. Meyer takes this view decidedly, and cites Ephesians 5:28, seq., to show that the husband's death may be considered as implying the wife's death also.

(3) That there is a discrepance between the illustration and the application, the husband being regarded as dying in the former, and ourselves, who represent the wife, in the latter; but that this is of no consequence; the idea, common to both, of death abrogating the claims of law being sufficient for the apostle's argument. Death, it may be said, however regarded in the application, is an ideal conception, and not an actual fact with respect to ourselves; and it is immaterial how it is regarded, as long as the idea comes out that through death, i.e. ours in the death of Christ, we are freed from the dominion of law. (So, in effect, De Wette, and also Alford.)

(4) That the former husband is not the law, but the lust of sin (τὰ παθήματα τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν, ver. 5); the wife, the soul; the new husband, Christ. Augustine, who is the author of this view, puts it thus: "Cum ergo tria sint, anima, tanquam mulier; passiones peccatorum tanquam vir; et lex tanquam lex viri; non ibi peccatis mortuis, tanquam viro mortuo liberari animam dicit, sed ipsam animam mort peccato, et liberari a lege, ut sit alterius viri, i.e. Christi, cum mortua fuerit peccato, quod fit, cum adhuc manentibus in nobis desideriis et incitamentis quibusdam ad peccandum, non obedi-mus tamen, nec consentimus, mente servientes legi Dei" (Aug., 'Prop.,' 33). Beza, taking up the view of Augustine, puts it somewhat differently, and more clearly, thus: "There are two marriages. In the first, the old man is the wife; predominating sinful desires, the husband; transgressions of every kind, the offspring. In the second, the new man is the wife; Christ, the Husband; and the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) are the children." This explanation being still apparently open to the objection that, in the illustration, the wife continues the same, but not so that which corresponds to her in the application, Olshausen explains thus: "In man the old man is distinguished from the new without prejudice to the unity of his personality, which Paul subsequently (ver. 20) signifies by ἐγώ. This true personality, the proper self of man, is the wife, who in the natural state appears in marriage with the old man, and, in intercourse with him, generates sins, the end of which is death (Romans 6:21, 22). But in the death of the mortal Christ this old man is dead with him; and, as the individual man is grafted by faith into Christ. his old man dies, by whose life he was holden under the Law." The commentator on the Epistle in the 'Speaker's Commentary' adopts this explanation, with the remark that "St. Paul's application of the figure is quite clear, if we follow his own guidance." The view rests mainly on, and certainly derives some support from, vers. 5 and 6, if regarded as carrying out the application of the figure. Others, however, in view of the difficulties of the whole passage, may prefer to content themselves with explanation (3), as conveying as precise an idea as may possibly have been even in the apostle's mind when he wrote. Commentators may sometimes go beyond their office in attributing to their author more exactness of thought than his words in themselves imply. It is to be observed that the con-eluding expression in ver. 4, "that we should bring forth fruit unto God," brings us back to the main purport of this whole section, which begins at Romans 6:1, viz. the obligation of a holy life on Christians. In vers. 5, 6, which follow, the hindrance to our living such a life "when we were in the flesh," and our power of doing so now, are briefly intimated in preparation for what follows. It does not seem necessary to conclude - as is done by those who adopt interpretation (4) of what precedes - that the illustration of the marriage bond is meant to be kept up in these two verses. That hath a husband (ὕπανδρος)

Lit., under or subject to a husband. The illustration is selected to bring forward the union with Christ after the release from the law, as analogous to a new marriage (Romans 7:4).

Is loosed (κατήργηται)

Rev., discharged. See on Romans 3:3, Lit., she has been brought to nought as respects the law of the husband.

The law of the husband

Her legal connection with him She dies to that law with the husband's death. There is an apparent awkwardness in carrying out the figure. The law, in Romans 7:1, Romans 7:2, is represented by the husband who rules (hath dominion). On the death of the husband the woman is released. In Romans 7:4, the wife (figuratively) dies. "Ye are become dead to the law that ye should be married to another." But as the law is previously represented by the husband, and the woman is released by the husband's death, so, to make the figure consistent, the law should be represented as dying in order to effect the believer's release. The awkwardness is relieved by taking as the middle term of comparison the idea of dead in a marriage relation. When the husband dies the wife dies (is brought to nought) so far as the marriage relation is concerned. The husband is represented as the party who dies because the figure of a second marriage is introduced with its application to believers (Romans 7:4). Believers are made dead to the law as the wife is maritally dead - killed in respect of the marriage relation by her husband's death.

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