Bible Commentaries
Romans 7

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary

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Verses 1-6

Romans 7:1-6 . Espousal to Christ.— Paul returns to his paradox about Law and Grace ( Romans 6:14 f.) and illustrates it by marriage, Christ now standing for Grace.

Romans 7:1-3 . Wedlock binds “ while the husband lives” ; on his death the wife is free for another union.

Romans 7:4 a . You” are the wife in this case; “ the law” the first husband, the risen “ Christ” the second; the new marriage presupposes a discharge from the old ( Romans 7:6). In the expression “ that she should not be an adulteress,” Paul tacitly repudiates the charge of apostasy brought against Jewish Christians ( cf. James 4:4 RV, Jeremiah 2:2, Hosea 2:2 ff., etc.).

Romans 7:4 b Romans 7:6 . The difference in the offspring shows how much happier and better the second marriage is than the first: wedded to the law, “ our carnal nature bore fruit for death” ; now, “ we bear fruit to God ( cf. Galatians 5:22 f.), with the result that we serve ( cf. Romans 6:18-22) in newness of spirit ( cf. Romans 6:4), not in the oldness of the letter.” The old system worked by external rule; the new by internal principle. Paul takes liberties with his simile: in the figure, the husband dies; in the application, the wife—“ you were put to death as regards the law through the (dying) body of Christ” ( Romans 7:4); so again in Romans 7:6, where the AV, mistakenly, removes the incongruity. For the Christian believer dies with his Redeemer, to share His heavenly life ( Romans 6:2-11). The death of either partner dissolves the prior union ( cf. Galatians 6:14).

Verses 7-23

Romans 7:7-23 . Autobiography of the Man under Law.— What it means to be “ in bondage to the old letter” ( 6 ), the apostle will show from his own experience. That the following description belongs to Paul’ s legal past appears from ch. 6 , and from the contrastive “ now” of Romans 8:1. Failing to “ reckon himself dead unto sin,” the believer may, doubtless, relapse into the misery of Romans 7:24.

Romans 7:7 f. The legalist interjects: “ What shall We say then? is the law sin?” Paul has, indeed, in a sense, identified it with sin ( Romans 5:20, Romans 6:14; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:56); he explains by expounding Romans 3:20, “ Through law comes the knowledge of sin.” Take, for instance, the command, “ Thou shalt not covet,” the hearing of which “ awakened slumbering desire.”

Romans 7:9-11 . At that moment “ sin came to life,” “ and” the innocent child “ I” was “ died,” slain by “ the” very “ law” which “ pointed the way to life”— a result due to “ the deceit of sin,” which “ got through the command” a fatal “ leverage” upon me.

Romans 7:12 f. In making this “ deadly” use of a thing so “ holy and good,” sin unmasked itself.

Romans 7:14 . The abuse was possible through the fault of my nature: “ The law is spiritual; I am a creature of flesh” ( cf. Romans 8:7 f.). In adding “ sold under sin” the apostle recalls Romans 5:12-14: the child of Adam is compromised by his heredity. “ Sold,” he needs “ redemption” ( Romans 3:24).

Romans 7:15-20 . A struggle ensues between duty and desire: young Saul finds himself “ doing what he would not,” what “ he loathes.” In conviction “ he agrees with the law, delights in it.” “ The will” to obey is there, “ the operative power” is wanting; a hostile force lodged “ in his flesh” determines his action.

Romans 7:21-23 . “ Another (the de facto) law rules in my members,” which dictates “ evil” for “ good” ; from this fortress “ the law of sin wages war against the law of God, the law of my reason, making me its captive.”

Romans 7:24-25 a . As the prisoner cries for deliverance, “ Jesus Christ comes to his rescue!”

Romans 7:25 b . The conclusion of the whole matter: “ I by myself” (without Christ; contrast Galatians 2:20) “ with my reason serve God’ s law, but with my flesh sin’ s law” ; in theory the former is sovereign, in practice the latter.—“ The body of this death” ( Romans 7:24) is the actual body ( cf. Romans 7:18; Romans 7:23; also Romans 6:6; Romans 6:12), whose mortality ( cf. Romans 5:21) betokens the death of the whole man ( cf. Ephesians 2:1-5); when “ sin came to life” ( Romans 7:9), “ this (conscious) death” began. Cf. Romans 5:12 *.

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Romans 7". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.