Romans 8:2
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
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(2) A statement of the great antithesis, of which the rest of the section is a development, between the law of the Spirit of life and the law of sin and of death.

The law of the Spirit of life.—A phrase defining more fully the mode in which the union with Christ becomes operative in the believer. It begins by imparting to him the Spirit of Christ; this Spirit creates within him a law; and the result of that law is life—that perfect spiritual vitality which includes within itself the pledge of immortality.

The Spirit.—That is, the Spirit of Christ, as in Romans 8:9, which is hardly as yet conceived of as a distinct personality, but representing the continued action and influence which the ascended Saviour exercises upon the believer.

In Christ Jesus.—These words are best taken with “hath made” (rather, made, when it was imparted to me) “me free.” The law of the Spirit of life, in Christ (i.e., operating through my union with Christ), made me free from the law of sin and of death.

From the law of sin and death.—The direct contrast to the foregoing. Not here the law of Moses, but the power of sin, the corrupt element in our nature, acting upon the soul, and itself erecting a kind of law, saying, “Thou shalt,” where the law of God says “Thou shalt not;” and “Thou shalt not,” where the law of God says “Thou shalt.” The effect of this reign of sin is death—spiritual death—bearing in itself the pledge of eternal death.



Romans 8:2

We have to distinguish two meanings of law. In the stricter sense, it signifies the authoritative expressions of the will of a ruler proposed for the obedience of man; in the wider, almost figurative sense, it means nothing more than the generalised expression of constant similar facts. For instance, objects attract one another in certain circumstances with a force which in the same circumstances is always the same. When that fact is stated generally, we get the law of gravitation. Thus the word comes to mean little more than a regular process. In our text the word is used in a sense much nearer the latter than the former of these two. ‘The law of sin and of death’ cannot mean a series of commandments; it certainly does not mean the Mosaic law. It must either be entirely figurative, taking sin and death as two great tyrants who domineer over men; or it must mean the continuous action of these powers, the process by which they work. These two come substantially to the same idea. The law of sin and of death describes a certain constancy of operation, uniform and fixed, under the dominion of which men are struggling. But there is another constancy of operation, uniform and fixed too, a mighty antagonistic power, which frees from the dominion of the former: it is ‘the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.’

I. The bondage.

The Apostle is speaking about himself as he was, and we have our own consciousness to verify his transcript of his own personal experience. Paul had found that, by an inexorable iron sequence, sin worked in himself the true death of the soul, in separation from God, in the extinction of good and noble capacities, in the atrophying of all that was best in himself, in the death of joy and peace. And this iron sequence he, with an eloquent paradox, calls a ‘law,’ though its very characteristic is that it is lawless transgression of the true law of humanity. He so describes it, partly, because he would place emphasis on its dominion over us. Sin rules with iron sway; men madly obey it, and even when they think themselves free, are under a bitter tyranny. Further, he desires to emphasise the fact that sin and death are parts of one process which operates constantly and uniformly. This dark anarchy and wild chaos of disobedience and transgression has its laws. All happens there according to rule. Rigid and inevitable as the courses of the stars, or the fall of the leaf from the tree, is sin hurrying on to its natural goal in death. In this fatal dance, sin leads in death; the one fair spoken and full of dazzling promises, the other in the end throws off the mask, and slays. It is true of all who listen to the tempting voice, and the deluded victim ‘knows not that the dead are there, and that her guests are in the depth of hell.’

II. The method of deliverance.

The previous chapter sounded the depths of human impotence, and showed the tragic impossibility of human efforts to strip off the poisoned garment. Here the Apostle tells the wonderful story of how he himself was delivered, in the full rejoicing confidence that what availed for his emancipation would equally avail for every captived soul. Because he himself has experienced a divine power which breaks the dreadful sequence of sin and of death, he knows that every soul may share in the experience. No mere outward means will be sufficient to emancipate a spirit; no merely intellectual methods will avail to set free the passions and desires which have been captured by sin. It is vain to seek deliverance from a perverted will by any republication, however emphatic, of a law of duty. Nothing can touch the necessities of the case but a gift of power which becomes an abiding influence in us, and develops a mightier energy to overcome the evil tendencies of a sinful soul.

That communicated power must impart life. Nothing short of a Spirit of life, quick and powerful, with an immortal and intense energy, will avail to meet the need. Such a Spirit must give the life which it possesses, must quicken and bring into action dormant powers in the spirit that it would free. It must implant new energies and directions, new motives, desires, tastes, and tendencies. It must bring into play mightier attractions to neutralise and deaden existing ones; as when to some chemical compound a substance is added which has a stronger affinity for one of the elements, a new thing is made.

Paul’s experience, which he had a right to cast into general terms and potentially to extend to all mankind, had taught him that such a new life for such a spirit had come to him by union with Jesus Christ. Such a union, deep and mystical as it is, is, thank God, an experience universal in all true Christians, and constitutes the very heart of the Gospel which Paul rejoiced to believe was entrusted to his hands for the world. His great message of ‘Christ in us’ has been wofully curtailed and mangled when his other message of ‘Christ for us’ has been taken, as it too often has been, to be the whole of his Gospel. They who take either of these inseparable elements to be the whole, rend into two imperfect halves the perfect oneness of the Gospel of Christ.

We are often told that Paul was the true author of Christian doctrine, and are bidden to go back from him to Jesus. If we do so, we hear His grave sweet voice uttering in the upper-room the deep words, ‘I am the Vine, ye are the branches’; and, surely, Paul is but repeating, without metaphor, what Christ, once for all, set forth in that lovely emblem, when he says that ‘the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death.’ The branches in their multitude make the Vine in its unity, and the sap which rises from the deep root through the brown stem, passes to every tremulous leaf, and brings bloom and savour into every cluster. Jesus drew His emblem from the noblest form of vegetative life; Paul, in other places, draws his from the highest form of bodily life, when he points to the many members in one body, and the Head which governs all, and says, ‘So also is Christ.’ In another place he points to the noblest form of earthly love and unity. The blessed fellowship and sacred oneness of husband and wife are an emblem sweet, though inadequate, of the fellowship in love and unity of spirit between Christ and His Church.

And all this mysterious oneness of life has an intensely practical side. In Jesus, and by union with Him, we receive a power that delivers from sin and arrests the stealthy progress of sin’s follower, death. Love to Him, the result of fellowship with Him, and the consequence of life received from Him, becomes the motive which makes the redeemed heart delight to do His will, and takes all the power out of every temptation. We are in Him, and He in us, on condition, and by means, of our humble faith; and because my faith thus knits me to Him it is ‘the victory that overcomes the world’ and breaks the chains of many sins. So this communion with Jesus Christ is the way by which we shall increase that triumphant spiritual life, which is the only victorious antagonist of the else inevitable consequence which declares that the ‘soul that sinneth it shall die,’ and die even in sinning.

III. The process of the deliverance.

Following the R. V. we read ‘made me free,’ not ‘hath made me.’ The reference is obviously, as the Greek more clearly shows, to a single historical event, which some would take to be the Apostle’s baptism, but which is more properly supposed to be his conversion. His strong bold language here does not mean that he claims to be sinless. The emancipation is effected, although it is but begun. He holds that at that moment when Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus, and he yielded to Him as Lord, his deliverance was real, though not complete. He was conscious of a real change of position in reference to that law of sin and of death. Paul distinguishes between the true self and the accumulation of selfish and sensual habits which make up so much of ourselves. The deeper and purer self may be vitalised in will and heart, and set free even while the emancipation is not worked out in the life. The parable of the leaven applies in the individual renewal; and there is no fanaticism, and no harm, in Paul’s point of view, if only it be remembered that sins by which passion and externals overbear my better self are mine in responsibility and in consequences. Thus guarded, we may be wholly right in thinking of all the evils which still cleave to the renewed Christian soul as not being part of it, but destined to drop away.

And this bold declaration is to be vindicated as a prophetic confidence in the supremacy and ultimate dominion of the new power which works even through much antagonism in an imperfect Christian. Paul, too, calls ‘things that are not as though they were.’ If my spirit of life is the ‘Spirit of life in Christ,’ it will go on to perfection. It is Spirit, therefore it is informing and conquering the material; it is a divine Spirit, therefore it is omnipotent; it is the Spirit of life, leading in and imparting life like itself, which is kindred with it and is its source; it is the Spirit of life in Christ, therefore leading to life like His, bringing us to conformity with Him because the same causes produce the same effects; it is a life in Christ having a law and regular orderly course of development. So, just as if we have the germ we may hope for fruit, and can see the infantile oak in the tightly-shut acorn, or in the egg the creature which shall afterwards grow there, we have in this gift of the Spirit, the victory. If we have the cause, we have the effects implicitly folded in it; and we have but to wait further development.

The Christian life is to be one long effort, partial, and gradual, to unfold the freedom possessed. Paul knew full well that his emancipation was not perfect. It was, probably, after this triumphant expression of confidence that he wrote, ‘Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect.’ The first stage is the gift of power, the appropriation and development of that power is the work of a life; and it ought to pass through a well-marked series and cycle of growing changes. The way to develop it is by constant application to the source of all freedom, the life-giving Spirit, and by constant effort to conquer sins and temptations. There is no such thing in the Christian conflict as a painless development. We must mortify the deeds of the body if we are to live in the Spirit. The Christian progress has in it the nature of a crucifixion. It is to be effort, steadily directed for the sake of Christ, and in the joy of His Spirit, to destroy sin, and to win practical holiness. Homely moralities are the outcome and the test of all pretensions to spiritual communion.

We are, further, to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord, by ‘waiting for the Redemption,’ which is not merely passive waiting, but active expectation, as of one who stretches out a welcoming hand to an approaching friend. Nor must we forget that this accomplished deliverance is but partial whilst upon earth. ‘The body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness.’ But there may be indefinite approximation to complete deliverance. The metaphors in Scripture under which Christian progress is described, whether drawn from a conflict or a race, or from a building, or from the growth of a tree, all suggest the idea of constant advance against hindrances, which yet, constant though it is, does not reach the goal here. And this is our noblest earthly condition-not to be pure, but to be tending towards it and conscious of impurity. Hence our tempers should be those of humility, strenuous effort, firm hope. We are as slaves who have escaped, but are still in the wilderness, with the enemies’ dogs baying at our feet; but we shall come to the land of freedom, on whose sacred soil sin and death can never tread.Romans 8:2. For the law of the Spirit of life — That is, the doctrine of divine grace in the gospel, accompanied with the quickening, commanding influence of the Holy Spirit, hath made me free from the law of sin and death — That is, not only from the Mosaic dispensation, which, if relied on for justification, left men under the guilt and power of sin, and condemned them to the second death; but also and especially from the law, or constraining power of sin itself, which is attended with spiritual death, and, if not removed, brings men to death eternal. In other words, “The Spirit of Christ, giving me a new life, is now another law, or rule of my actions, freeing me from the motions and power of sin, to which I was subject while under the [Mosaic] law, and from the death to which that law subjected me; or, the gospel, attended with the Spirit, hath wrought this freedom in me.” So Whitby. The gospel, or covenant of grace, may be fitly termed the law of the Spirit, or a spiritual law; and that not only as it reaches to the spirit of man, but is such a law as gives spiritual life, or is the ministration of the Spirit, and of life, 2 Corinthians 3:6; 2 Corinthians 3:8; being accompanied with a divine power, which communicates spiritual life to the soul here, and prepares it for eternal life hereafter. It is observable, that the person who speaks in the foregoing chapter is introduced here as continuing the discourse, and showing the method in which his deliverance from the body of sin and death, mentioned Romans 7:25, was accomplished. And what is affirmed concerning him, is intended of other believers also. Here, therefore, we have a second motive to holiness, namely, that under the new covenant sufficient assistance being given to all who in faith and prayer apply for it, to free them from the law of sin and death, they cannot excuse their sins by pleading the strength of their sinful passions, or the depravity of their nature.8:1-9 Believers may be chastened of the Lord, but will not be condemned with the world. By their union with Christ through faith, they are thus secured. What is the principle of their walk; the flesh or the Spirit, the old or the new nature, corruption or grace? For which of these do we make provision, by which are we governed? The unrenewed will is unable to keep any commandment fully. And the law, besides outward duties, requires inward obedience. God showed abhorrence of sin by the sufferings of his Son in the flesh, that the believer's person might be pardoned and justified. Thus satisfaction was made to Divine justice, and the way of salvation opened for the sinner. By the Spirit the law of love is written upon the heart, and though the righteousness of the law is not fulfilled by us, yet, blessed be God, it is fulfilled in us; there is that in all true believers, which answers the intention of the law. The favour of God, the welfare of the soul, the concerns of eternity, are the things of the Spirit, which those that are after the Spirit do mind. Which way do our thoughts move with most pleasure? Which way go our plans and contrivances? Are we most wise for the world, or for our souls? Those that live in pleasure are dead, 1Ti 5:6. A sanctified soul is a living soul; and that life is peace. The carnal mind is not only an enemy to God, but enmity itself. The carnal man may, by the power of Divine grace, be made subject to the law of God, but the carnal mind never can; that must be broken and driven out. We may know our real state and character by inquiring whether we have the Spirit of God and Christ, or not, ver. 9. Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. Having the Spirit of Christ, means having a turn of mind in some degree like the mind that was in Christ Jesus, and is to be shown by a life and conversation suitable to his precepts and example.For the law - The word "law" here means that "rule, command, or influence" which "the Spirit of life" produces. That exerts a control which is here called a law, for a law often means anything by which we are ruled or governed; see the notes at Romans 7:21, Romans 7:23. Of the Spirit. I see no reason to doubt here that this refers to the Holy Spirit. Evidently, at the close of Romans 8:1, the word has this reference. The phrase "the Spirit of life" then means the Holy Spirit producing or giving life; that is, giving peace, joy, activity, salvation; in opposition to the law spoken of in Romans 7 that produced death and condemnation.

In Christ Jesus - Under the Christian religion; or sent by Christ to apply his work to people. John 16:7-14. The Spirit is sent by Christ; his influence is a part of the Christian scheme; and his power accomplishes what the Law could not do.

Hath made me free - That is, has delivered me from the predominating influence and control of sin. He cannot mean that he was perfect, for the whole tenor of his reasoning is opposed to that. But the design, the tendency, and the spirit of the gospel was to produce this freedom from what the Law could not deliver; and he was now brought under the general power of this scheme. In the former state he was under a most bitter and galling bondage; Romans 7:7-11. Now, he was brought under the influence of a scheme which contemplated freedom, and which produced it.

The law of sin and death - The controlling influence of sin, leading to death and condemnation; Romans 7:5-11.

2. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free—rather, "freed me"—referring to the time of his conversion, when first he believed.

from the law of sin and death—It is the Holy Ghost who is here called "the Spirit of life," as opening up in the souls of believers a fountain of spiritual life (see on [2220]Joh 7:38, 39); just as He is called "the Spirit of truth," as "guiding them into all truth" (Joh 16:13), and "the Spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord" (Isa 11:2), as the inspirer of these qualities. And He is called "the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus," because it is as members of Christ that He takes up His abode in believers, who in consequence of this have one life with their Head. And as the word "law" here has the same meaning as in Ro 7:23, namely, "an inward principle of action, operating with the fixedness and regularity of a law," it thus appears that "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" here means, "that new principle of action which the Spirit of Christ has opened up within us—the law of our new being." This "sets us free," as soon as it takes possession of our inner man, "from the law of sin and death" that is, from the enslaving power of that corrupt principle which carries death in its bosom. The "strong man armed" is overpowered by the "stronger than he"; the weaker principle is dethroned and expelled by the more powerful; the principle of spiritual life prevails against and brings into captivity the principle of spiritual death—"leading captivity captive." If this be the apostle's meaning, the whole verse is to this effect: That the triumph of believers over their inward corruption, through the power of Christ's Spirit in them, proves them to be in Christ Jesus, and as such absolved from condemnation. But this is now explained more fully.

The law of the Spirit of life; some understand hereby the doctrine of the gospel, which is called the law of the Spirit of life, because it is the ministry of the Spirit and of life. Others understand the efficacy and power of that grace and holiness, wherewith the living and quickening Spirit of God hath filled the human nature of Christ. Others rather understand a regenerating and working the new and heavenly life in the soul, with great power and efficacy.

In Christ Jesus; i.e. which was poured out upon him, and doth still reside in him after a very eminent manner: see Isaiah 11:2 Luke 4:1. Or, in Christ Jesus, is as much as by Christ Jesus, it is he that gives and conveys this Spirit, how, when and to whom he pleases.

Hath made me free from the law of sin: by sin here he aims chiefly at original sin; he doth not say, that those who are in Christ are simply and absolutely delivered from sin, but from the law of sin; i.e. the power, dominion, and tyranny thereof.

And death; i.e. from sin that is deadly, or of a deadly nature; as the Spirit of life is the living Spirit, so sin and death is no more, say some, than deadly sin. Others take death to be distinct from sin, and think he speaks of a double deliverance; and then by death they understand eternal or the second death: see Revelation 20:6. The sense of the whole is this: That the mighty power of the renewing and quickening Spirit did free the apostle, and does free all believers, from the command and rule of sin, so that it does not reign over them, as formerly it did; and being thus freed from the power of sin, they are also freed from the power of death and eternal condemnation. So it seems as a proof of the foregoing proposition, That there is no condemnation to them, &c. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus,.... These words are of difficult interpretation. They may be understood of the Gospel revealing and declaring deliverance from the law of Moses; wherefore there can be "no condemnation", Romans 8:1, by it. The Gospel may be designed by "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus"; which may be called a law, not as succeeding the law of works, by which that is abrogated; nor as requiring conditions to be performed, or as enjoining duties to be observed, or as delivering out threatenings in case of disobedience; but as it is a doctrine, order, and chain of truths, as the Hebrew word signifies, and which is sometimes used for the Gospel, Isaiah 2:3 as is, Romans 3:27. It may be called the law, or doctrine "of the Spirit", because the Spirit is the author of it, and makes it powerful and effectual to the good of souls; by it the Spirit of God is conveyed into the heart; and the substance of it are spiritual things: and the "law of the Spirit of life", because it discovers the way of life and salvation by Christ; is the means of quickening dead sinners; of working faith in them, by which they live on Christ, and of reviving drooping saints; and also it affords spiritual food, for the support of life: and this may be said to be "in Christ", or by him, inasmuch as it comes from, and is concerning him; he is the sum, the substance, and subject matter of it:

the law of sin and death may intend the law of Moses, called "the law of sin"; not as if it was sinful, or commanded or encouraged sin, for it severely prohibits it; but because by it, through the corruption of man's nature, sin is irritated, and made to abound; it is the strength of sin, and by it is the knowledge of it: and it may be called "the law of death", because it threatened with death, in case of disobedience; it sentences and adjudges transgressors to death; and when it is attended with power, it strikes dead all a man's hopes of life, by obedience to it; it leaves persons dead as it finds them, and gives no life, nor hopes of it; by it none can live, or be justified: now, though Christ is the author of deliverance from it, yet the Gospel is the means of revealing and declaring this deliverance; which designs not an exemption from obedience to it, but freedom from the curse and condemnation of it; and this sense well agrees with Romans 8:1; likewise the words are capable of being understood of the power and efficacy of the Spirit of God, in delivering regenerate persons from the dominion and tyranny of sin; and which may be considered as a reason why they "walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit", Romans 8:1, "life" may well be ascribed to the Spirit of God, or be called the Spirit of life, because he has life in himself as the Father and Son have; and is the author of life to others, of natural life to all men as creatures, and of spiritual life to the people of God in regeneration; and is a quickening spirit to them afterwards, as he will be to the dead bodies of the saints in the resurrection: by "the law" of the Spirit may be meant, the energy and power of the Spirit in conversion; which work requires power, and a man has no power of himself to effect it; but there is a power in the Spirit, which works irresistibly, though not by any force or compulsion to the will, but it moves upon it sweetly, powerfully, and effectually: and all this may be said to be "in Christ": the life which the Spirit is the author and giver of, is in Christ as the head of his people, the proper repository of all grace, and the fountain of life; the Spirit himself is in him, both as God and as man, and as Mediator, hence the saints receive him and his gifts and graces from him; and the law of the Spirit, or his power and efficacy in working, is "in" or "by" Christ, through his sufferings and death, and in consequence of his mediation: now this powerful and quickening efficacy of the Spirit delivers regenerate persons from the force and tyranny of sin, called here "the law of sin and death"; a "law of sin", because it has power and dominion over unregenerate persons, its throne is in the heart of man, and its laws are many and powerful; and "the law of death", because its reign is tyrannical, barbarous and cruel, it is unto death: and from its governing influence, and tyrannical power, does the Spirit of God free his people in regeneration; not from the being of sin; nor from the rage of it, and disturbance it gives; nor from such power of it, but that they may fall into sin; but so as that sin does not properly reign over them, nor legally, nor universally, or so as to bring a death on their graces, and their persons into condemnation. Once more, those words may be understood of the holiness of Christ's human nature, as a branch of our justification, and freedom from the guilt of sin, and condemnation by it: for as "the law of sin and death" may design inherent corruption, and the force and power of it in the saints; so the opposite to it, "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ", may mean the purity and holiness of his human nature. That Christ's human nature is pure and holy is certain, from express texts of Scripture, from its union to the Son of God, from the ends and purposes of its assumption, from the inefficacy of Satan's temptations, and from the whole course of his life and conversation; for though he was in the likeness of sinful flesh, was reckoned a sinner by men, was attended with infirmities, the effects of sin, though not sinful, had all the sins of his people imputed to him, and endured afflictions, and at last death; yet his nature was pure and untainted: for he did not descend from Adam by ordinary generation; and though made of a woman, yet the flesh he took of her was sanctified by the Holy Ghost; his body was prepared by God, and curiously wrought by the Spirit, from whom his whole human nature received a fulness of habitual holiness: and this may be called "the Spirit of life" in him, because he is a quickening Spirit in regeneration, justification, and the resurrection from the dead; "the law" of it, because the holiness of his nature lies in, arises from, and is conformable to a law that is within him, written on his heart; and because, together with his obedience and death, it has a force, power, and authority, to free from condemnation; for this is not a mere necessary qualification of him to be the Mediator, or what renders his obedience, sacrifice, and intercession, efficacious and valuable, or is merely exemplary to us, but is what is imputed to us, as a part of our justification. The law requires a holy nature of us, we have not one, Christ assumed one for us, and so is the end of the law, or answers the requirement of the law in this respect, as well as in all others: and hence, though sanctification begun in us, does not free us from the being of sin, and all its force and power, yet perfect sanctification in Christ frees from all condemnation by it.

{3} For the {b} law of the Spirit of {c} life in {d} Christ Jesus hath {e} made me free from the law of sin and death.

(3) A preventing of an objection: seeing that the power of the Spirit is in us is so weakly, how may we gather by this that there is no condemnation for those that have that power? Because, he says, that power of the life-giving Spirit which is so weak in us, is most perfect and most mighty in Christ, and being imputed to us who believe, causes us to be thought of as though there were no relics of corruption and death in us. Therefore until now Paul reasons of remission of sins, and imputation of fulfilling the Law, and also of sanctification which is begun in us: but now he speaks of the perfect imputation of Christ's manhood, which part was necessarily required for the full appeasing of our consciences: for our sins are destroyed by the blood of Christ, and the guiltiness of our corruption is covered with the imputation of Christ's obedience, and the corruption itself (which the apostle calls sinful sin) is healed in us little by little, by the gift of sanctification: but yet it is not complete, in that it still lacks another remedy, that is, the perfect sanctification of Christ's own flesh, which is also imputed to us.

(b) The power and authority of the Spirit, against which is set the tyranny of sin.

(c) Which kills the old man, and brings the new man to life.

(d) That is, absolutely and perfectly.

(e) For Christ's sanctification being imputed to us perfects our sanctification which is begun in us.

Romans 8:2. For the law of the Spirit leading to life delivered me in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For the right explanation, it is to be observed—(1.) The νόμος τ. ἁμ. κ. τοῦ θαν. necessarily, in view of the connection, receives the definition of its meaning from chap. Romans 7:23; Romans 7:25, as indeed ἨΛΕΥΘ. answers to the ΑἸΧΜΑΛΩΤΊΖ. in Romans 8:23. For this very reason neither the moral law (Wolf) nor the Mosaic law (Pareus, de Dieu, Semler, Böhme, Ammon, and Reiche) can be meant; the latter cannot, for the further reason that, after Romans 7:7; Romans 7:12; Romans 7:16, Paul could not thus name the Mosaic νόμος here, as Chrysostom has already urged. It is rather the law in our members, the power of sin in us, which, according to Romans 7:24, comp. Romans 7:10; Romans 7:13, is at the same time the power of (eternal) death (καὶ τοῦ θανάτου), that is meant. The two are one power, and both genitives are genitives of the subject, so that sin and death are regarded as ruling over the man.—(2.) Since the νόμος τ. ἁμ. κ. τ. θαν. cannot be the Mosaic law, so neither can the contrasted ΝΌΜΟς Τ. ΠΝ. Τῆς ΖΩῆς be the Christian plan of salvation, like νόμος πίστ. in Romans 3:27, but it must be an inward power in the man by which the law of sin and death is rendered powerless. It is not, however, the νόμος τοῦ νοός (which had become strengthened through Christ), as, following older expositors, Morus, Köllner, and Schrader think; because, on the one hand, ΝΟῦς and ΠΝΕῦΜΑ are specifically different, and if Paul had meant the law of the ΝΟῦς, he must have so designated it, as in Romans 7:23; and, on the other hand, there would result the utterly paradoxical idea, that the law of reason (and not the divine principle of the ΠΝΕῦΜΑ) makes man morally free. The ΤῸ ΠΝΕῦΜΑ Τῆς ΖΩῆς is rather the Holy Spirit, who, working inwardly in the Christian (Romans 8:5), procures to him eternal life (comp. 2 Corinthians 3:6); and ὁ νόμος τοῦ πνεύματος τῆς ζωής is the ethically regulative government exercised by the πνεῦμα (not the Spirit Himself, as Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Maier, and Th. Schott understand it, but His ruling power).

ἘΝ Χ. .] On account of ver 3, to be connected neither with Τῆς ΖΩῆς (Luther, Beza, and others, including Böhme, Klee, Ewald, and Hofmann), nor with ΤΟῦ ΠΝΕΎΜ. (Flatt; Tholuck: “the sphere, in which the Spirit of life operates”), nor with ΝΌΜΟς (Semler, Reiche), nor with Ὁ ΝΌΜ. Τ. ΠΝ. Τ. Ζ. (Calvin, Köllner, Glöckler, Krehl, and others), but with ἨΛΕΥΘΈΡΩΣΕ. So Theodoret, Erasmus, Melancthon, Vatablus, and others, including Rückert, Olshausen, de Wette, Fritzsche, Reithmayr, Maier, Philippi, and Bisping. In Christ, the law of the Spirit has made us free; for out of Christ this emancipating activity could not occur (comp. John 8:36); but in the fellowship of life with Him, in the being and living in Him (Romans 8:1), the deliverance which has taken place has its causal ground. The view which takes it of the objective basis that is laid down in the appearance and work of Christ, is unsuitable, because the discourse treats of the subjective ethical efficacy of the Spirit, which has the εἶναι ἐν Χριστῷ as the necessary correlative.

ἨΛΕΥΘ.] aorist. For it is a historical act, which resulted from the effusion of the Spirit in the heart. The progressive sanctification is the further development and consequence of this act.Romans 8:2. There is no condemnation, for all ground for it has been removed. “The law of the spirit of the life which is in Christ Jesus made me [thee] free from the law of sin and death.” It is subjection to the law of sin and death which involves condemnation; emancipation from it leaves no place for condemnation. For the meaning of “the law” see on Romans 7:23. The spirit which brings to the believer the life which is in Christ Jesus brings with it also the Divine law for the believer’s life; but it is now, as Paul says in Galatians 3:21, a “νόμος ὁ δυνάμενος ζωοποιῆσαι,” not an impotent law written on tables of stone, and hence righteousness comes by it; it proves more than a match for the authority exercised over man by the forces of sin and death. Paul would not have called the Divine law (even as a series of statutes) a law of sin and death, though he says τὸ γράμμα ἀποκτείνει; Sin and Death are conceived objectively as powers which impose their own law on unredeemed men.2. For the law, &c.] What is this law? We take it to be a phrase by way of paradox, meaning the institute, or procedure, of the Gospel of Grace. Cp. “the law of faith,” Romans 3:27. It is the Divine Rule of Justification, (which alone, as the whole previous reasoning shews, removes “all condemnation,”) and is thus “a law” in the sense of “fixed process.” But also it is here “the law of the Spirit,” because its necessary sequel (indeed we may say its final cause as regards man) is the impartation of the Holy Spirit, (see John 7:39,) of whose influences so much is now to be said. And He is here specially “the Spirit of Life,” because He is the Agent who first leads the soul to believe in the Propitiation (see 1 Peter 1:2), and so to escape sentence of “death;” and who then animates it with the energies of the new life. Lastly, this whole process is “in Christ Jesus,” who is the meritorious Cause of Justification, the Head of the Justified, and the Giver of the Spirit.—The sum of the meaning thus is that the deliverance from doom is by faith in the Justifying Merit of Christ, which faith is attended, as well as produced, by the influences of the Holy Spirit, given through and by Christ.

hath made me free] An aorist in the Gr.; probably referring to the definite past fact of the delivering Work. The phrase thus refers to Justification rather than Sanctification, which is a present process, not a past event.—“Me:”—there is another reading “thee;” but “me” is certainly right. The word is an echo from ch. 7, Cp. Galatians 2:17-21, where the Apostle similarly turns from the plural of general truth to the singular of his own appropriation of it.—“Free:”—i.e. in respect of condemnation—not in respect of influence; which indeed (see next note) would be an alien idea here. He is here summing up the whole previous argument of the Epistle.

the law of sin and death] i.e. the Law, which, as regards man apart from Christ, is invariably linked with sin, as evoking it, and with death, as thus, in the nature of things, calling it down on the sinner. In other words it is the Divine Law, (instanced in that of Moses,) which, as a Covenant, is by its very holiness the sinner’s doom. The word “law” is (though not at first sight) used in the sense of a fixed process in both parts of the verse: the “new covenant” is linked, by the chain of cause and effect, with the Spirit of Life; the “old covenant,” with sin and death.Romans 8:2. Νόμος τοῦ πνεύματος) the law of the spirit, the Gospel inscribed on the heart; comp. ch. Romans 3:27; 2 Corinthians 3:8. The spirit makes alive, and this life invigorates [vegetat] the Christian.—ἠλευθέρωσέ με, hath made me free) a mild term, and in the preterite tense; he had formerly put the weightier verb ῥύσεται in the future. Grace renders that most easy, which seems difficult to man under the law, or rather does it itself. Both are opposed to the phrase, bringing me into captivity, ch. Romans 7:23.—τῆς ἁμαρτίας καὶ τοῦ θάνατου, of sin and death) He has respect to those things which he said in behalf of the law of God, ch. Romans 7:7; Romans 7:13. Observe that and is put here, and is not put at the beginning of the verse in the antithesis, πνεύματος τῆς ζωῆς, of the spirit of life, where either the conjunctive particle is wanting, of spirit, [and] of life, or it must be explained thus, τὸ Πνεῦμα τῆς ζωῆς, the Spirit of life.Verse 2. - For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free (not hath made me; the aorist refers to the time when the Christian became possessed of the Spirit of life in Christ) from the law of sin and death. Here is a distinct contrast to the state described in vers. 14, 23 of ch. 7, and a realization of what was yearned for in ver. 24, "the law of sin and of death" being evidently "the law of sin in the members" previously spoken cf. The ἐγὼ, before in captivity to this law, is now freed from it. And how? Not by its becoming a different ἐγὼ; not by a change of the constituent elements of human nature; but by the introduction of a new law - the law of the Spirit of life - which has emancipated the ἐγὼ from its old unwelcome thraldom. In virtue of this new law, introduced into my being, I am now free to give my entire allegiance to the law of God. Νόμος, be it observed, is here again used in a sense different from its usual one, and we thus have a still further νόμος, in addition to those defined in the note after Romans 7:25. The designation of this new law is in marked opposition to that in which the ἐγὼ was before said to be held; we have life in opposition to death, and the Spirit in opposition to the flesh, as well as freedom in opposition to captivity. The Spirit is, in fact, the Divine Spirit, taking possession of what is spiritual (now at length brought into view) in the inward man, making him partaker in the Divine life, and able to serve God freely. The expressions used bring out strikingly one essential distinction between Law and Gospel, viz. that the principle of the former is to control and discipline conduct by requirements and threats; but of the latter to introduce into man's inner being a new principle of life, whence right conduct may spontaneously flow. Coercion is the principle of the one; inspiration of the other. An illustration may be found in the treatment of disease - on the one hand by attempted repression of specific ailments, and on the other by imparting a new vitality to the system, which may of itself dispel disease. It is shown next how this new state of freedom has been brought about. First, by what God in Christ has done for us apart from ourselves; the subjective condition in ourselves being introduced at the end of ver. 4, τοῖς μὴ, etc. The law of the Spirit of life (ὁ νόμος τοῦ πνεύματος τῆς ζωῆς).

The law, the regulative principle; the Spirit, the divine Spirit who inspires the law (compare Romans 7:14). Of life, proceeding from the life of Jesus and producing and imparting life. Compare John 16:15.

In Christ Jesus

Construe with hath made me free. Compare John 8:36.

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