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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Romans 7

Verse 1

To men that know the law (γινωσκουσιν νομονginōskousin nomon). Dative plural of present active participle of γινωσκωginōskō The Romans, whether Jews or Gentiles, knew the principle of law.

A man (του αντρωπουtou anthrōpou). “The person,” generic term αντρωποςanthrōpos not ανηρanēr f0).

Verse 2

The wife that hath a husband (η υπανδρος γυνηhē hupandros gunē). Late word, under (in subjection to) a husband. Here only in N.T.

Is bound (δεδεταιdedetai). Perfect passive indicative, stands bound.

By law (νομωιnomōi). Instrumental case.

To the husband while he liveth (τωι ζωντι ανδριtōi zōnti andri). “To the living husband,” literally.

But if the husband die (εαν δε αποτανηι ο ανηρean de apothanēi ho anēr). Third class condition, a supposable case (εανean and the second aorist active subjunctive).

She is discharged (κατηργηταιkatērgētai). Perfect passive indicative of καταργεωkatargeō to make void. She stands free from the law of the husband. Cf. Romans 6:6.

Verse 3

While the husband liveth (ζωντος του ανδροςzōntos tou andros). Genitive absolute of present active participle of ζαωzaō

She shall be called (χρηματισειchrēmatisei). Future active indicative of χρηματιζωchrēmatizō old verb, to receive a name as in Acts 11:26, from χρημαchrēma business, from χραομαιchraomai to use, then to give an oracle, etc.

An adulteress (μοιχαλιςmoichalis). Late word, in Plutarch, lxx. See note on Matthew 12:39.

If she be joined (ean genētai). Third class condition, “if she come to.”

So that she is no adulteress (tou mē einai autēn moichalida). It is a fact that εαν γενηταιtou and the infinitive is used for result as we saw in Romans 1:24. Conceived result may explain the idiom here.

Verse 4

Ye also were made dead to the law (και υμεις ετανατωτητεkai humeis ethanatōthēte). First aorist indicative passive of τανατοωthanatoō old verb, to put to death (Matthew 10:21) or to make to die (extinct) as here and Romans 8:13. The analogy calls for the death of the law, but Paul refuses to say that. He changes the structure and makes them dead to the law as the husband (Romans 6:3-6). The relation of marriage is killed “through the body of Christ” as the “propitiation” (Romans 3:25) for us. Cf. Colossians 1:22.

That we should be joined to another (εις το γενεσται ετερωιeis to genesthai heterōi). Purpose clause with εις τοeis to and the infinitive. First mention of the saints as wedded to Christ as their Husband occurs in 1 Corinthians 6:13; Galatians 4:26. See further Ephesians 5:22-33.

That we might bring forth fruit unto God (ινα καρποπορησωμεν τωι τεωιhina karpophorēsōmen tōi theōi). He changes the metaphor to that of the tree used in Romans 6:22.

Verse 5

In the flesh (εν τηι σαρκιen tēi sarki). Same sense as in Romans 6:19 and Romans 7:18, Romans 7:25. The “flesh” is not inherently sinful, but is subject to sin. It is what Paul means by being “under the law.” He uses σαρχsarx in a good many senses.

Sinful passions (τα πατηματα των αμαρτιωνta pathēmata tōn hamartiōn). “Passions of sins” or marked by sins.

Wrought (ενεργειτοenergeito). Imperfect middle of ενεργεωenergeō “were active.”

To bring forth fruit unto death (εις το καρποπορησαι τωι τανατωιeis to karpophorēsai tōi thanatōi). Purpose clause again. Vivid picture of the seeds of sin working for death.

Verse 6

But now (νυνι δεnuni de). In the new condition.

Wherein we were holden (εν ωι κατειχομεταen hōi kateichometha). Imperfect passive of κατεχωkatechō picture of our former state (same verb in Romans 1:18).

In newness of spirit (εν καινοτητι πνευματοςen kainotēti pneumatos). The death to the letter of the law (the old husband) has set us free to the new life in Christ. So Paul has shown again the obligation on us to live for Christ.

Verse 7

Is the law sin? (ο νομος αμαρτιαho nomos hamartiȧ). A pertinent query in view of what he had said. Some people today oppose all inhibitions and prohibitions because they stimulate violations. That is half-baked thinking.

I had not known sin (την αμαρτιαν ουκ εγνωνtēn hamartian ouk egnōn). Second aorist indicative of γινωσκωginōskō to know. It is a conclusion of a second class condition, determined as unfulfilled. Usually ανan is used in the conclusion to make it plain that it is second class condition instead of first class, but occasionally it is not employed when it is plain enough without as here (John 16:22, John 16:24). See note on Galatians 4:15. So as to I had not known coveting (lust), epithumian ouk ēidein But all the same the law is not itself sin nor the cause of sin. Men with their sinful natures turn law into an occasion for sinful acts.

Verse 8

Finding occasion (απορμην λαβουσαaphormēn labousa). See note on 2 Corinthians 5:12; 2 Corinthians 11:12; Galatians 5:13 for απορμηνaphormēn a starting place from which to rush into acts of sin, excuses for doing what they want to do. Just so drinking men use the prohibition laws as “occasions” for violating them.

Wrought in me (κατειργασατο εν εμοιkateirgasato en emoi). First aorist active middle indicative of the intensive verb κατεργαζομαιkatergazomai to work out (to the finish), effective aorist. The command not to lust made me lust more.

Dead (νεκραnekra). Inactive, not non-existent. Sin in reality was there in a dormant state.

Verse 9

I was alive (εζωνezōn). Imperfect active. Apparently, “the lost paradise in the infancy of men” (Denney), before the conscience awoke and moral responsibility came, “a seeming life” (Shedd).

Sin revived (η αμαρτια ανεζησενhē hamartia anezēsen). Sin came back to life, waked up, the blissful innocent stage was over, “the commandment having come” (ελτουσης της εντοληςelthousēs tēs entolēs genitive absolute).

But I died (εγω δε απετανονegō de apethanon). My seeming life was over for I was conscious of sin, of violation of law. I was dead before, but I did not know. Now I found out that I was spiritually dead.

Verse 10

This I found unto death (ευρετη μοιαυτη εις τανατονheurethē moi̇̇hautē eis thanaton). Literally, “the commandment the one for (meant for) life, this was found for me unto death.” First aorist (effective) passive indicative of ευρισκωheuriskō to find, not active as the English has it. It turned out so for me (ethical dative).

Verse 11

Beguiled me (εχηπατησεν μεexēpatēsen me). First aorist active indicative of εχαπαταωexapataō old verb, completely (εχex) made me lose my way (αa privative, πατεωpateō to walk). See note on 1 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 11:3. Only in Paul in N.T.

Slew me (apekteinen). First aorist active indicative of apokteinō old verb. “Killed me off,” made a clean job of it. Sin here is personified as the tempter (Genesis 3:13).

Verse 12

Holy, and righteous, and good (αγια και δικαια και αγατηhagia kai dikaia kai agathē). This is the conclusion (wherefore, ωστεhōste) to the query in Romans 7:7. The commandment is God‘s and so holy like Him, just in its requirements and designed for our good. The modern revolt against law needs these words.

Verse 13

Become death unto me? (εμοι εγενετο τανατοσemoi egeneto thanatoṡ). Ethical dative εμοιemoi again. New turn to the problem. Admitting the goodness of God‘s law, did it issue in death for me? Paul repels (μη γενοιτοmē genoito) this suggestion. It was sin that (But sin, αλλα η αμαρτιαalla hē hamartia) “became death for me.”

That it might be shown (ινα πανηιhina phanēi). Final clause, ιναhina and second aorist passive subjunctive of παινωphainō to show. The sinfulness of sin is revealed in its violations of God‘s law.

By working death to me (μοι κατεργαζομενη τανατονmoi katergazomenē thanaton). Present middle participle, as an incidental result.

Might become exceedingly sinful (γενηται κατ υπερβολην αμαρτωλοςgenētai kath' huperbolēn hamartōlos). Second aorist middle subjunctive of γινομαιginomai with ιναhina in final clause. On κατ υπερβοληνkath' huperbolēn see note on 1 Corinthians 12:31. Our hyperbole is the Greek υπερβοληhuperbolē The excesses of sin reveal its real nature. Only then do some people get their eyes opened.

Verse 14

Spiritual (πνευματικοςpneumatikos). Spirit-caused and spirit-given and like the Holy Spirit. See note on 1 Corinthians 10:3.

But I am carnal (εγω δε σαρκινος ειμιegō de sarkinos eimi). “Fleshen” as in 1 Corinthians 3:1 which see, more emphatic even than σαρκικοςsarkikos a creature of flesh.”

Sold under sin (πεπραμενος υπο την αμαρτιανpepramenos hupo tēn hamartian). Perfect passive participle of πιπρασκωpipraskō old verb, to sell. See note on Matthew 13:46 and note on Acts 2:45, state of completion. Sin has closed the mortgage and owns its slave.

Verse 15

I know not (ου γινωσκωou ginōskō). “I do not recognize” in its true nature. My spiritual perceptions are dulled, blinded by sin (2 Corinthians 4:4). The dual life pictured here by Paul finds an echo in us all, the struggle after the highest in us (“what I really wish,” ο τελωho thelō to practise it steadily, πρασσωprassō) and the slipping into doing (ποιωpoiō) “what I really hate” (ο μισωho misō) and yet sometimes do. There is a deal of controversy as to whether Paul is describing his struggle with sin before conversion or after it. The words “sold under sin” in Romans 7:14 seem to turn the scale for the pre-conversion period. “It is the unregenerate man‘s experience, surviving at least in memory into regenerate days, and read with regenerate eyes” (Denney).

Verse 16

I consent unto the law (συνπημι τωι νομωιsunphēmi tōi nomōi). Old verb, here only in N.T., with associative instrumental case. “I speak with.” My wanting (τελωthelō) to do the opposite of what I do proves my acceptance of God‘s law as good (καλοςkalos).

Verse 17

So now (νυνι δεnuni de). A logical contrast, “as the case really stands.”

But sin that dwelleth in me (αλλ η ενοικουσα εν εμοι αμαρτιαall' hē enoikousa en emoi hamartia). “But the dwelling in me sin.” Not my true self, my higher personality, but my lower self due to my slavery to indwelling sin. Paul does not mean to say that his whole self has no moral responsibility by using this paradox. “To be saved from sin, a man must at the same time own it and disown it” (Denney).

Verse 18

In me (εν εμοιen emoi). Paul explains this by “in my flesh” (εν τηι σαρκι μουen tēi sarki mou), the unregenerate man “sold under sin” of Romans 7:14.

No good thing (ουκαγατονouk̇̇agathon). “Not absolutely good.” This is not a complete view of man even in his unregenerate state as Paul at once shows.

For to will is present with me (το γαρ τελειν παρακειται μοιto gar thelein parakeitai moi). Present middle indicative of παρακειμαιparakeimai old verb, to lie beside, at hand, with dative μοιmoi Only here in N.T.

The wishing is the better self, the doing not the lower self.

Verse 19

But the evil which I would not (αλλα ο ου τελω κακονalla ho ou thelō kakon). Incorporation of the antecedent into the relative clause, “what evil I do not wish.” An extreme case of this practise of evil is seen in the drunkard or the dope-fiend.

Verse 20

It is no more I that do it (ουκετι εγω κατεργαζομαι αυτοouketi egō katergazomai auto). Just as in Romans 7:17, “no longer do I do it” (the real ΕγοEgo my better self), and yet there is responsibility and guilt for the struggle goes on.

Verse 21

The law (τον νομονton nomon). The principle already set forth (αραara accordingly) in Romans 7:18, Romans 7:19. This is the way it works, but there is no surcease for the stings of conscience.

Verse 22

For I delight in (συνηδομαι γαρsunēdomai gar). Old verb, here alone in N.T., with associative instrumental case, “I rejoice with the law of God,” my real self “after the inward man” (κατα τον εσω αντρωπονkata ton esō anthrōpon) of the conscience as opposed to “the outward man” (2 Corinthians 4:16; Ephesians 3:16).

Verse 23

A different law (ετερον νομονheteron nomon). For the distinction between ετεροςheteros and αλλοςallos see note on Galatians 1:6.

Warring against (αντιστρατευομενονantistrateuomenon). Rare verb (Xenophon) to carry on a campaign against. Only here in N.T.

The law of my mind (τωι νομωι του νοοςtōi nomōi tou noos). The reflective intelligence Paul means by νοοςnoos “the inward man” of Romans 7:22. It is this higher self that agrees that the law of God is good (Romans 7:12, Romans 7:16, Romans 7:22).

Bringing me into captivity (αιχμαλωτιζονταaichmalōtizonta). See note on this late and vivid verb for capture and slavery Luke 21:24; note on 2 Corinthians 10:5. Surely it is a tragic picture drawn by Paul with this outcome, “sold under sin” (Romans 7:14), “captivity to the law of sin” (Romans 7:23). The ancient writers (Plato, Ovid, Seneca, Epictetus) describe the same dual struggle in man between his conscience and his deeds.

Verse 24

O wretched man that I am (ταλαιπωρος εγω αντρωποςtalaipōros egō anthrōpos). “Wretched man I.” Old adjective from τλαωtlaō to bear, and πωροςpōros a callus. In N.T. only here and Revelation 3:17. “A heart-rending cry from the depths of despair” (Sanday and Headlam).

Out of the body of this death (εκ του σωματος του τανατου τουτουek tou sōmatos tou thanatou toutou). So the order of words demands. See Romans 7:13 for “death” which finds a lodgment in the body (Lightfoot). If one feels that Paul has exaggerated his own condition, he has only to recall 1 Timothy 1:15 when he describes himself a chief of sinners. He dealt too honestly with himself for Pharisaic complacency to live long.

Verse 25

I thank God (χαρις τωι τεωιcharis tōi theōi). “Thanks to God.” Note of victory over death through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

So then I myself (αρα ουν αυτος εγωara oun autos egō). His whole self in his unregenerate state gives a divided service as he has already shown above. In 6:1-7:6 Paul proved the obligation to be sanctified. In 7:7-8:11 he discusses the possibility of sanctification, only for the renewed man by the help of the Holy Spirit.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Romans 7". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.