Romans 7:6
But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
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(6) That being dead.—Our translators seem to have had a false reading here, which is not found in any MS., but arose from an error of Beza and Erasmus in interpreting a comment of Chrysostom’s. The true reading runs thus: “But as it is we were” (not “are”) “delivered from the Law, having died to that wherein we were held.” In the act of our baptism, which united us to Christ, we obtained a release from our old tyrant, the Law.

Wherein we were held.—Oppressed, held in bondage.

That we should serve.—Rather, perhaps, so that we serve; result, not purpose. Our release from one master implied an engagement to another. Our new state is one in which we serve an active living Spirit; our old state was a bondage to the dead and formal letter.

The “Spirit” is here the Holy Spirit, as the animating principle of the new life, and as opposed to a system which proceeds merely by external precepts and requirements.

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.But now - Under the gospel. This verse states the consequences of the gospel, in distinction from the effects of the Law. The way in which this is accomplished, the apostle illustrates more at length in Romans 8 with which this verse is properly connected. The remainder of Romans 7 is occupied in illustrating the statement in Romans 7:5, of the effects of the Law; and after having shown that its effects always were to increase crime and distress, he is prepared in Romans 8 to take up the proposition in this verse, and to show the superiority of the gospel in producing peace.

We are delivered - We who are Christians. Delivered from it as a means of justification, as a source of sanctification, as a bondage to which we were subjected, and which tended to produce pain and death. It does not mean that Christians are freed from it as a rule of duty.

That being dead - Margin, "Being dead to that." There is a variation here in the manuscripts. Some read it, as in the text, as if the Law was dead; others, as in the margin. as if we were dead. The majority is in favor of the reading as in the margin; and the connection requires us to understand it in this sense. So the Syriac, the Arabic, the Vulgate, AEthiopic. The sentiment here, that we are dead to the Law, is what is expressed in Romans 7:4.

Wherein we were held - That is, as captives, or as slaves. We were held in bondage to it; Romans 7:1.

That we should serve - That we may now serve or obey God.

In newness of spirit - In a new spirit; or in a new and spiritual manner. This is a form of expression implying,

(1) That their service under the gospel was to be of a new kind, differing from that under the former dispensation.

(2) that it was to be of a spiritual nature, as distinguished from that practiced by the Jews; compare 2 Corinthians 3:6; Note, Romans 2:28-29.

The worship required under the gospel is uniformly described as that of the spirit and the heart, rather than that of form and ceremony; John 4:23, "The true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; Philippians 3:3.

And not in the oldness of the letter - Not in the old letter. It is implied here in this,

(1) That the form of worship here described pertained to an old dispensation that had now passed away; and,

(2) That that was a worship that was in the letter.

To understand this, it is necessary to remember that the Law which prescribed the forms of worship among the Jews, was regarded by the apostle as destitute of that efficacy and power in renewing the heart which he attributed to the gospel. It was a service consisting in external forms and ceremonies; in the offering of sacrifices and of incense, according to the literal requirements of the Law rather than the sincere offering of the heart; 2 Corinthians 3:6, "The letter killeth; the spirit giveth life;" John 6:63; Hebrews 10:1-4; Hebrews 9:9-10. It is not to be denied that there were many holy persons under the Law, and that there were many spiritual offerings presented, but it is at the same time true that the great mass of the people rested in the mere form; and that the service offered was the mere service of the letter, and not of the heart. The main idea is, that the services under the gospel are purely and entirely spiritual, the offering of the heart, and not the service rendered by external forms and rites.

(But the contrast here is not between services required under the legal and gospel dispensations respectively, but between service yielded in the opposite states of nature and grace. In the former state, we are "under the law" though we live in gospel times, and in the latter, we are "delivered from the law" as a covenant of works, or of life, just as pious Jews might be though they lived under the dispensation of Moses. The design of God in delivering us from the Law, is, that we might "serve him in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter," that is, in such a spiritual way as the new state requires, and from such spiritual motives and aids as it furnishes; and not in the manner we were accustomed to do, under our old condition of subjection to the Law, in which we could yield only an external and forced obedience. "It is evident," says Prof. Hodge that the clause "in the oldness of the letter is substituted by the apostle, for 'under the law' and 'in the flesh;' all which he uses to describe the legal and corrupt condition of people, prior to the believing reception of the gospel.")

6. But now—On the same expression, see on [2214]Ro 6:22, and compare Jas 1:15.

we are delivered from the law—The word is the same which, in Ro 6:6 and elsewhere, is rendered "destroyed," and is but another way of saying (as in Ro 7:4) that "we were slain to the law by the body of Christ"; language which, though harsh to the ear, is designed and fitted to impress upon the reader the violence of that death of the Cross, by which, as by a deadly wrench, we are "delivered from the law."

that being dead wherein we were held—It is now universally agreed that the true reading here is, "being dead to that wherein we were held." The received reading has no authority whatever, and is inconsistent with the strain of the argument; for the death spoken of, as we have seen, is not the law's, but ours, through union with the crucified Saviour.

that we should—"so as to" or "so that we."

serve in newness of spirit—"in the newness of the spirit."

and not in the oldness of the letter—not in our old way of literal, mechanical obedience to the divine law, as a set of external rules of conduct, and without any reference to the state of our hearts; but in that new way of spiritual obedience which, through union to the risen Saviour, we have learned to render (compare Ro 2:29; 2Co 3:6).

False Inferences regarding the Law Repelled (Ro 7:7-25).

And first, Ro 7:7-13, in the case of the UNREGENERATE.

But now; i.e. being brought out of our fleshly state.

We are delivered from the law: see the notes on Romans 7:4.

That being dead wherein we were held; the relative is not in the Greek text, but it is well supplied to fill up the sense. The antecedent must be either sin or the law; by both of these we were held or detained whilst unregenerate; but now neither of these have any power to hold us with. Some read it, he being dead; the old man, of which he spake in the foregoing chapter.

That we should serve in newness of spirit; i.e. that we should serve God, or Jesus Christ, our new husband, in true holiness, which is wrought in us by the renewing of the spirit; or serve him in a new spiritual manner.

And not in the oldness of the letter; i.e. not in an outward and ceremonial manner, according to the letter of the law; which service, or way of worship, is now antiquated, and grown out of date. The word oldness insinuates the abolishing thereof, because of insufficiency, Hebrews 8:13.

But now we are delivered from the law,.... From the ministration of it, by Moses; from it, as a covenant of works; from its rigorous exaction; from its curse and condemnation, all this by Christ; and from its being an irritating, provoking law to sin, through the corruption of nature, by the Spirit and grace of Christ; but not from obedience to it, as in the hands of Christ. The Vulgate Latin version, and some copies read, "from the law of death"; and the Ethiopic version renders it, "we are loosed from the law, and are delivered from the former doctrine"; the doctrine of the legal dispensation.

That being dead; not sin, but the law: in what sense believers are dead to the law, and that to them; see Gill on Romans 7:4.

Wherein we were held: as a woman is by the law to her husband, or as persons guilty, who are detained prisoners; so we were "kept under the law, shut up unto the faith", as in a prison, Galatians 3:23; Now the saints deliverance from the law through the abrogation of it, that losing its former life, vigour, power, and dominion, is not that they may live a loose licentious life and conversation, but that they

should serve the Lord their God without slavish fear, and with a godly one, acceptably, in righteousness and holiness, all the days of their lives; and their Lord and Master Jesus Christ, who is King of saints, lawgiver in his church, and whose commandments are to be observed from a principle of love, in faith, and to his glory; yea, even the law itself, as held forth by him, as the apostle says in the close of this chapter, "with the mind I myself serve the law of God", Romans 7:25, the manner in which this service is to be, and is performed, is,

in newness of Spirit; under the influences of the Spirit of God, the author of renovation, of the new creature, or new man created in us, in righteousness and true holiness; and from a new heart, and new Spirit, and new principles of life, light, love, and grace, formed in the soul; and by walking in "newness of life", Romans 6:4, or by a new life, walk, and conversation:

and not in the oldness of the letter; not in the outward observance of the law of Moses, which is the "letter"; not indulging the old man, or walking after the dictates of corrupt nature; nor behaving according to the old former course of living: on the whole it may be observed, that a believer without the law, being delivered from it, that being dead to him, and he to that, lives a better life and conversation under the influence of the Spirit of God, than one that is under the law, and the works of it, destitute of the grace of God; the one brings forth "fruit unto death", Romans 7:5, the other serves the Lord, "in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter".

But now we are delivered from the law, that {i} being dead {k} wherein we were {l} held; that we should serve in {m} newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the {n} letter.

(i) As if he said, The bond which bound us is dead, and has disappeared, in as much that the sin which held us does not have anything to hold us with now.

(k) For this husband is within us.

(l) Satan is an unjust possessor, for he deceitfully brought us into bondage to sin and himself: and yet nonetheless, as long as we are sinners, we sin willingly.

(m) As is appropriate for those who, after the death of their old husband, are joined to the Spirit, the ones whom the Spirit of God has made new men.

(n) By the letter he means the law, with respect to that old condition: for before our will is shaped by the Holy Spirit, the law speaks but to deaf men, and therefore it is dumb and dead to us, with regard to the fulfilling of it.

Romans 7:6. κατηργ.] See on Romans 7:2.

ἀποθανόντες ἐν ᾧ κατειχ.] dead (see Romans 7:4) to that (neuter) wherein we were held fast. So also Fritzsche and Reiche in his Comm. crit. The construction is consistent and regular, so that τούτῳ is to be understood before ἐν ᾧ (Winer, p. 149 f. [E. T. 203 f.]). That wherein we were held fast (as in a prison), is self-evident according to the text; not as the government of sin (van Hengel, Th. Schott), or as the σάρξ (Hofmann), but as the law, in whose grasp we were. Comp Galatians 3:28. Were we with the majority (including Rückert, de Wette, Köllner, Krehl, Philippi, Maier, Winer, Ewald, Bisping, and Reithmayr) to take ἘΝ ᾯ as masculine (and how unnecessarily!), the ἀποθανόντες as modal definition of ΚΑΤΗΡΓ. would have an isolated and forlorn position; we should have expected it behind ΝΥΝῚ ΔΈ.

[2]] actual result, which has occurred through our emancipation from the law: so that we (as Christians) are serviceable in newness of spirit, and not in oldness of letter; that is, so that our relation of service is in a new definite character regulated by spirit, and not in the old constitution which was regulated by literal form. That the δουλεύειν in καινότης πνεύμ. was a service of God, was just as obvious of itself to the consciousness of the readers, as that in παλαιότης γράμμ. it had been a service of sin (Romans 6:20). On account of this self-evident diversity of reference no definition at all is added. On the οὐ in the contrast (not μή) see Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 300.

ἐν indicates the sphere of activity of the δουλεύειν, and is to be understood again along with παλ.; comp Romans 2:29. The qualitatively expressed πνεύματος, meaning in concrete application the Holy Spirit as the efficient principle of the Christian life, and the qualitative γράμματος, characterising the law according to its nature and character as non-living and drawn up in letters, are the specifically heterogeneous factors on which the two contrasted states are dependent. The παλαιότης—in accordance with the nature of the relation in which the law, presenting its demands in the letter but not inwardly operative, stands to the principle of sin in man—was necessarily sinful (not merely in actual abnormality, as Rothe thinks; see Romans 7:7 ff., and comp on Romans 6:14); just as on the other hand the καινότης, on account of the vitally active πνεῦμα, must also necessarily be moral. Where this is contradicted by experience and the behaviour of the Christian is immoral, there the πνεῦμα has ceased to operate, and a καινότης πνεύματος is in fact not present at all. Paul however, disregarding such abnormal phenomena, contemplates the Christian life as it is constituted in accordance with its new, holy, and lofty nature. If it is otherwise, it has fallen away from its specific nature and is a Christian life no longer.

[2] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

Romans 7:6. νυνὶ δὲ as things stand, considering what we are as Christians. κατηργήθημεν: cf. Romans 7:2. We are discharged from the law, by our death to that in which we were held. But what is this? Most expositors, say the law; Philippi even makes τοῦ νόμου the antecedent of ἐν ᾧ, rendering, we have been delivered, by dying, from the law in which we were held. This construction is too artificial to be true; and if we supply τούτῳ with ἀποθανόντες, something vaguer than the law, though involving and involved by it (the old life in the flesh, for instance) must be meant. ὥστε δουλεύειν κ.τ.λ.: “enabling us to serve” (S. and H.): for ὥστε with inf in N.T., see Blass, Gramm. des N.T. Griech., § 219. ἐν καινότητι πνεύματος κ.τ.λ. = in a new way, which only the possession of the spirit makes possible, not in the old way which alone was possible when we were under the letter of the law. For the Pauline contrast of πνεῦμα and γράμμα, see 2 Corinthians 3; for οὐ in this expression, see Burton, § 481.

6. now] as the fact stands.

are delivered] Lit., and better, were delivered; by our Representative’s death ideally, and actually through faith in Him.

delivered] Lit. cancelled, abolished. This peculiar expression confirms the remark above on Romans 7:4, that St Paul designedly avoids the idea of the Law’s death, though the metaphor in strictness suggests it. Here, similarly, in strictness, the Law “was cancelled from us;” but we are said to be “cancelled from the Law.”—“From the Law:”—a pregnant phrase=so as to be free from it.

that being dead] i.e. the Law. But a better-supported reading (with a change of one letter only in the Gr.) gives, we being dead to that wherein, &c. This precisely accords with the evident avoidance hitherto of the idea of the Law’s death; for our death (in Christ) to the claim of the Law is thus put where we should expect to read of the death of its claim to us.

we were held] Lit. held down; i.e. from freedom; both as to the claim of the law and as to the consequent influence of sin.

that we should serve] Here the metaphor of marriage gives way to that of bondservice once more. The obedience of the wife is the connecting idea of the two.

newness of spirit] Better, of the Spirit; though the word is without article. The contrast of Spirit and letter has occurred Romans 2:29, (see too Romans 2:27,) and occurs also 2 Corinthians 3:6, twice. Comparing those passages, we find that the practical meaning here of “the letter” is the Law (as a covenant), and that of “the Spirit,” the Gospel. The common ground on which they are compared and contrasted is that of Obedience; at which both Law and Gospel ultimately aim. The Law does so “by the letter,” by prescribing its own inexorable terms. The Gospel does so “by the Spirit;” by the Divine plan of Redemption, which brings direct on the soul the influence of “the Spirit of the Son of God,” who “pours out the love of God in the heart” (ch. Romans 5:5). The Gospel thus both intends, and effects, the submission of the will to the will of God; a submission absolute and real; a bondservice. But the bond is now the power of adoring and grateful love.—It will be seen that we take “Spirit” here to mean the Holy Paraclete. The Gr. word rarely, if ever, bears our modern sense of “the spirit of a law, of an institution, &c.” It must here be, then, either the human spirit or the Divine Spirit. And as the idea of “the letter” is that of an objective ruling power, so it is best to explain “the Spirit” as objective also to the man, and therefore here the Divine Spirit.—We may now paraphrase the last words, “so that we might live as bondmen still, but in the sacred novelty of the bondservice which the Holy Ghost constrains, not in the now-obsolete way of the bondservice prescribed by the covenant of merit”.

Romans 7:6. Ἀποθανόντες, being dead) So Romans 7:4, ye became dead, said of that party, which corresponds to the wife: comp. Galatians 2:19. I have shown in der Antwort wegen des N. T. p. 55. A. 1745, that Chrysostom also read ἀποθανόντες, not ἀποθανόντος.[68]—) A plain construction in this sense: we have been set free by death from the law, which held us fast.—κατειχόμεθα) an expressive term; comp. συνέκλεισε, ch. Romans 11:32, ἐφρουρούμεθα, Galatians 3:23.—ἐν καινότητι πνεύματος, καὶ οὐ παλαιότητι γράμματος, in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter) We have the same antithesis, ch. Romans 2:29; 2 Corinthians 3:6. The letter is not the law considered in itself, inasmuch as, thus considered, it is spiritual and living [instinct with life] Romans 7:14; Acts 7:38 [the lively oracles], but in respect of the sinner, to whom it cannot give spirit and life, but leaves him to death, nay even it to a more profound extent hands him over to its power: although he may in the mean time aim at the performance of what the letter and its mere sound command to be done; so that the appearance and the name may still remain, just as a dead hand is still a hand. But the Spirit is given by the Gospel and by faith, and bestows life and newness, 2 Corinthians 3:6; comp. John 6:63. The words oldness and newness are used here by Paul in relation to the two testaments or covenants, although believers have now for a long time enjoyed the first fruits of the New Testament; and at the present day unbelievers retain the remnants, nay rather the whole substance, of the Old Testament. Observe too, the ἐν, in. is put once, not twice [The Engl. Vers. wrongly supplies in before the oldness. But Beng. That we should not serve the oldness, etc.] We have served oldness not God: comp. Galatians 4:9, οἷς, to which [The beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage]; now we serve not newness, but [we serve] God in newness, ch. Romans 6:22.

[68] So also A (B?) C, both Syr. Versions, Memph. The first correction of the Amiatine MS. of Vulg. read ἀποθάνοντες. D (Λ) G fg Vulg. read τοῦ θανάτου [The law of death]. Rec. Text (and B?) ἀποθάνοντος.—ED.

Verse 6. - But now (meaning, as things are, not at the present time, as is shown by the aorist following) we have been (properly, we were) delivered (κατηργήθημεν, the same verb as in ver. 2; see note on that verse) from the Law, having died to that wherein we were held; so that we serve in newness of the Spirit, and not in oldness of the letter. In the word "serve" (δουλεύειν) we observe a resumption of the idea of Romans 6:16, seq., where we were regarded under the aspect of being still bond-servants, though to a new master. There the apostle intimated that he was but speaking humanly in describing our new allegiance to righteousness as bond-service, such as we had once been under. Here he intimates the true character of our new service by the addition of the words, ἐν καινότητι πνεύματος καὶ οὐ παλαιότητι γράμματος. These are characteristic and significant expressions. "Spirit" and "letter" are similarly contrasted (Romans 2:29; 2 Corinthians 3:6). "Spiritum literae opponit, quia antequam ad Dei voluntatem voluntas nostra per Spiritum sanctum formats sit, non habemus in Lege nisi externam literam; quae fraenum quidem externis nostris actionibus injicit, concupiscientiae autem nostrae furorem minime cohibet. Novitatem. vero Spiritui attribuit, quia in locum veteris hominis succedit; ut litera vetus dicitur quae interit per Spiritus regenerationem" (Calvin). Otherwise, with regard to newness and oldness, "Vetustatis et novitatis vocabulo Paulus spectat duo testamenta" (Bengel). That the latter idea may have suggested the expressions seems not unlikely from 2 Corinthians 3:6-18 (cf. also Hebrews 8:6-13). For in both these passages the idea of the verse before us enters, and in both the old and new covenants are contrasted with regard to it. It may be enough here to say that the contrast in its essence is between exacted conformity to an external code (which was the characteristic of the old covenant) and inspired allegiance to the Law of God written on the heart (which is the characteristic of the new). Romans 7:6We are delivered (κατηργήθημεν)

Rev., have been discharged, as the woman, Romans 7:2. See on Romans 3:3.

We were held

Lit., held down. See on Romans 1:18.

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