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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Romans 7

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAPTER 7

Romans 7:7-13. How easily might the Jewish Christian, in his reverence for the law of his fathers, take offence at Romans 7:5 ( τὰ διὰ τ. νόμου) and 6, and draw the obnoxious inference, that the law must therefore be itself of immoral nature, since it is the means of calling forth the sin-affections, and since emancipation from it is the condition of the new moral life! Paul therefore proposes to himself this possible inference in Romans 7:7, rejects it, and then on to Romans 7:13 shows that the law, while in itself good, is that which leads to acquaintance with sin, and which is misused by the principle of sin to the destruction of men.

Paul conducts the refutation, speaking throughout in the first person singular (comp. 1 Corinthians 6:12; 1 Corinthians 13:11). This mode of expression, differing from the μετασχηματισμός (see on 1 Corinthians 4:6), is an ἰδίωσις; comp. Theodore of Mopsuestia on Romans 7:8 : τὸ ἐν ἐμοὶ ὅτε λέγει, τὸ κοινὸν λέγει τῶν ἀνθρώπων, and Theophylact on Romans 7:9 : ἐν τῷ οἰκείῳ δὲ προσώπῳ τὴν ἀνθρωπίνην φύσιν λέγει. Thus he declares concerning himself what is meant to apply to every man placed under the Mosaic law generally, in respect of his relation to that lawbefore the turning-point in his inner life brought about through his connection with that law, and after it. The apostle’s own personal experience, so far from being thereby excluded, everywhere gleams through with peculiarly vivid and deep truth, and represents concretely the universal experience in the matter. The subject presenting itself through the ἐγώ is therefore man in general, in his natural state under the law, to which he is bound, as not yet redeemed through Christ and sanctified through the Spirit (for which see chap. 8); without, however, having been unnaturally hardened by legal righteousness or rendered callous and intractable through despising the law, and so estranged from the moral earnestness of legal Judaism. Into this earlier state, in which Paul himself had been before his conversion, he transports himself back, and realizes it to himself with all the vividness and truth of an experience that had made indelible impression upon him; and thus he becomes the type of the moral relation, in which the as yet unregenerate Israelite stands to the divine law. “He betakes himself once more down to those gloomy depths, and makes all his readers also traverse them with him, only in order at last to conclude with warmer gratitude that he is now indeed redeemed from them, and thereby to show what that better and eternal law of God is which endures even for the redeemed,” Ewald. Augustine (prop. 45 in ep. ad Rom.; ad Simplic. i. 91; Conf. vii. 21), in his earlier days, acknowledged, in harmony with the Greek Fathers since Irenaeus, that the language here is that of the unregenerate man; though later, in opposition to Pelagianism (especially on account of Romans 7:17-18; Romans 7:22; see Retract. i. 23, 26, ii. 3; c. duas ep. Pel. i. 10; c. Faust. xv. 8), he gave currency to the view that the “I” is that of the regenerate. In this he was followed by Jerome, who likewise held a different opinion previously; and later by Luther, Melancthon, Calvin, Beza (not by Bucer and Musculus), Chemnitz, Gerhard, Quenstedt and many others, more, however, among Protestant than among Catholic commentators (Erasmus says of him: “dure multa torquens;” and see especially Toletus). On the other hand, the Socinians and Arminians, as also the school of Spener, returned to the view of the Greek Fathers, which gradually became, and has down to the present day continued, the dominant one. See the historical elucidations in Tholuck and Reiche; also Knapp, Scr. var. arg. p. 400 ff. The theory that Paul is speaking simply of himself and exhibiting his own experiences (comp. Hofmann), must be set aside for the simple reason, that in that case the entire disquisition, as a mere individual psychological history (7–13) and delineation (Romans 7:14 ff.), could have no general probative force whatever, which nevertheless, from the connection with what goes before and follows (Romans 8:1), it is intended to have. Others, like Grotius, who correctly referred it to the state anterior to regeneration, and among them recently Reiche in particular, represent Paul as speaking in the person of the Jewish people as a people.1 But, so far as concerns Romans 7:7-13, it is utterly untrue that the Jewish nation previous to the law led a life of innocence unacquainted with sin and evil desire; and as concerns Romans 7:14 ff., the explanation of the double character of the “I,” if we are to carry out the idea of referring it to the nation, entangles us in difficulties which can only force us to strange caprices of exegesis, such as are most glaringly apparent in Reiche. Fritzsche also has not consistently avoided the reference of the “I” to the people as such, and the impossibilities that necessarily accompany it, and, in opposition to the Augustinian interpretation, has excluded, on quite insufficient grounds, the apostle himself and his own experience. Paul, who had himself been a Jew under the law, could not describe at all otherwise than from personal recollection that unhappy state, which indeed, with the lively and strong susceptibility of his entire nature and temperament, he must have experienced very deeply, in order to be able to depict it as he has done. Testimonies regarding himself, such as Philippians 3:6, cannot be urged in opposition to this, since they do not unveil the inward struggle of impulses, etc. Similarly with Paul, Luther also sighed most deeply just when under the distress of his legal condition, before the light of the gospel dawned upon him, and he afterwards lamented that distress most vividly and truly. Philippi has rightly apprehended the “I” coming in at Romans 7:7 as that of the unregenerate man; but on the other hand, following the older expositors, has discovered from Romans 7:14 onwards the delineation of the regenerate state of the same “I,”—a view inconsistent in itself, opposed to the context (since Paul does not pass on to the regenerate till Romans 8:1), and, when applied to the details, impossible (see the subsequent exposition). Hammond very truly observes: “Nihil potest esse magis contrarium affectioni animi hominis regenerati, quam quae hic in prima persona Ego exprimuntur.” Still Umbreit, in the Stud. u. Krit. 1851, p. 633 ff., has substantially reverted, as regards the entire chapter, to the Augustinian view, for which he especially regards Romans 7:25 ( αὐτὸς ἐγώ) as decisive; and no less have Delitzsch (see especially his Psychol. p. 387 ff.); Weber, v. Zorne Gottes, p. 86; Thomasius, Chr. Pers. u. Werk, I. p. 275 f.; Jatho; Krummacher in the Stud. u. Krit. 1862, p. 119 ff.; and also Luthardt, v. freien Willen, p. 404 f., adopted this view with reference to Romans 7:14 ff. Hofmann, who in his Schriftbew. I. p. 556 to all appearance, though he is somewhat obscure and at variance with himself (see Philippi, p. 285 f., and Glaubenslehre, III. p. 243), had returned to the pre-Augustinian interpretation, in his N. T., hampers a more clear and candid understanding of the passage by the fact that, while he decidedly rejects the theory that the “I” of Romans 7:7 is that of the unregenerate man, he at the same time justly says that what is related of that “I” (which is that of the apostle) belongs to the time which lay away beyond his state as a Christian; and further, by the fact, that he represents Romans 7:14-24 as spoken from the same present time as Romans 7:25, but at the same time leaves the enigma unsolved how the wretched condition described may comport with that present; and in general, as to the point in question about which expositors differ, he does not give any round and definite answer. For if Paul is to be supposed, according to Hofmann, in Romans 7:14 ff., not to treat of the natural man, and nevertheless to depict himself in the quality of his moral state apart from his life in Christ, we cannot get rid of the contradiction that the “I” is the regenerate man apart from his regeneration, and of the obscuring and muffling up of the meaning thereby occasioned. The view which takes it of the unregenerate is followed by Julius Müller, Neander, Nitzsch, Hahn, Baur, Tholuck, Krehl, Reithmayr, van Hengel, Ewald, Th. Schott, Ernesti, Lipsius, Mangold, Messner (Lehre der Ap. p. 220), and many others, including Schmid, bibl. Theol. II. p. 262; Gess, v. d. Pers. Chr. p. 338; Lechler, apost. u. nachapost. Zeitalt. p. 97; Kahnis, Dogm. I. p. 595; the anonymous writer in the Erlangen Zeitschr. 1863, p. 377 ff.; Weiss, bibl. Theol. § 95; Märcker, p. 23; Grau, Entwickelungsgesch. II. p. 126. The just remark, that the apostle depicts the future present of the state (Th. Schott) does not affect this view, since the future state realized as present was just that of the unregenerate Israelite at the preliminary stage of moral development conditioned by the law. Compare Ritschl, altkath. Kirche, p. 70 f.; Achelis, l.c. p. 678 ff.; Holsten, z. Ev. d. Paul u. Petr. p. 406.


Verse 1

Romans 7:1.(1513) ἀγνοεῖτε] Paul certainly begins now the detailed illustration, still left over, of οὐ γάρ ἐστε, Romans 6:14; but he connects his transition to it with what immediately precedes, as is clear from the nature of (comp Romans 6:3). Nevertheless the logical reference of ἀγνοεῖτε is not to be sought possibly in the previous τῷ κυρίῳ ἡμῶν, with which the following κυριεύει is here correlative (Reiche), since that κυρίῳ has in fact no essential importance at all and is for the progress of the thought immaterial; but rather in the leading idea last expressed (Romans 7:22), and established (Romans 7:23), namely, that the Christian, freed from the service of sin and become the servant of God, has his fruit to holiness, and, as the final result, eternal life. This proposition could not be truth, if the Christian were not free from the law and did not belong to the Risen Christ instead, etc., Romans 7:1-6.

ἀδελφοί] address to the readers collectively (comp Romans 1:13), not merely to the Jewish Christians (Toletus, Grotius, Estius, Ch. Schmidt, and others, including Tholuck and Philippi), because in that case an addition must have been made excluding Gentile Christians, which however is so far from being contained in γινώσκουσι, especially when it is without the article, that in the case of Christians generally the knowledge of the O. T. was of necessity to be presupposed; see below. This applies also against Hofmann’s view, that Paul, although avoiding a specific express designation, has in view that portion of his readers, which had not been capable of the misconception indicated in Romans 7:15. This limitation also—and how easily could the adroit author of the Epistle have indicated it in a delicate way!—cannot be deduced either from ἀδελφοί or from γινώσκουσι κ. τ. λ(1516)

γινώσκ. γὰρ νόμ. λ.] justifies the appeal to the readers’ own insight: for I speak to such as know the law. “We may not infer from these parenthetical words, or from Romans 7:4-6, that the majority of the Roman congregation was composed of Jewish-Christians;(1517) for, looking to the close connection subsisting between the Jewish and Gentile-Christian portions of the Church, to the custom borrowed from the synagogue of reading from the Old Testament in public, and to the necessary and essential relations which evangelical instruction and preaching sustained to the Old Testament so that the latter was the basis from which they started, the Apostle might designate his readers generally as γινώσκοντες τὸν νόμον, and predicate of them an acquaintance with the law. Comp on Galatians 4:21. The less need is there for the assumption of a previous proselytism (de Wette, Beyschlag, and many others), with which moreover the ἀδελφός addressing the readers in common is at variance; comp Romans 1:13, Romans 8:12, Romans 10:1, Romans 11:23, Romans 12:1, Romans 15:14; Romans 15:30, Romans 16:17.

νόμος] not every law (Koppe, van Hengel); nor the moral law (Glöckler); but the Mosaic, and that in the usual sense comprehending the whole; not merely of the law of marriage (Beza, Toletus, Bengel, Carpzov, Chr. Schmidt; comp Olshausen). This is required by the theme of the discussion generally, and by the foregoing γινώσκ. γ. νόμ. λαλῶ in particular.

τοῦ ἀνθρώπου] is not to be connected with νόμος (Hammond, Clericus, Elsner, and Mosheim), but belongs, as the order of the words demands, to κυριεύει.

ἐφʼ ὅσον χρ. ζῇ] For so long time as he liveth ( ἐπί as in Galatians 4:1 in the sense of stretching over a period of time, see Bernhardy, p. 252; comp Nägelsbach, z. Ilias, ii. 299, ed. 3, Ast. Lex. Plat. I. p. 768), the (personified) law is lord over the man who is subjected to it ( τοῦ ἀνθρ.). That ἄνθρωπος is the subject to ζῇ, is decided by Romans 7:2-4. By the assumption of νόμος as subject (Origen, Ambrosiaster, Erasmus, Vatablus, Grotius, Estius, Bengel, Koppe, and Flatt), in which case ζῇ is supposed to signify viget or valet (in spite of Romans 7:2-3), the discourse is quite disarranged; for Paul is not discussing the abrogation of the law, but the fact that the Christian as such is no longer under it. Nor do Romans 7:2-3 require νόμος as subject, because the point there illustrated is, that the death of the man (not of the law) dissolves the binding power of the law over him. Comp Schabb. f. 151, 2 : “postquam mortuus est homo, liber est a praeceptis;” Targ. Psalms 88:6 in Wetstein on Romans 7:3. The proposition in Romans 6:7 is similar, and presupposes this thought. To take ζῆν as equivalent to ζῆν ἐν σαρκί (“so long as the man continues to lead his old natural life, he is a servant of the law,” Philippi, also Umbreit), is quite opposed to the context: see ζῶντι and ζῶντος in Romans 7:2-3, with their antitheses. The emphasis, moreover, is not on ζῇ (Hofmann), but, as is shown by the very expression ὅσον, on ἐφʼ ὅσον χρόνον, for the entire time, that he lives; it does not lose its power over him sooner than when he dies; so long as he is in life, he remains subject to it. If this is attended to and there is not introduced a wholly irrelevant “only so long as he liveth,” the thought appears neither trivial nor disproportionate to the appeal to the legal knowledge of his readers. For there is a peculiarity of the νόμος in the fact, that it cannot have, like human laws, merely temporary force, that it cannot be altered or suspended, nor can one for a time be exempted from its control, etc. No, so long as man’s life endures, the dominion of the νόμος over him continues.(1523) Nor is the proposition incorrect (because that dominion ceases in the case of the believer, Philipppi); for it simply contains a general rule of law, which, it is self-evident, refers to the ἄνθρωπος ἔννομος as such. If the Jew becomes a Christian, he dies as a Jew (Romans 7:4), and the rule in question is not invalidated.


Verses 1-6

Romans 7:1-6. The Christian is not under the Mosaic law; but through his fellowship in the death of Christ he has died to the law, in order to belong to the Risen One and in this new union to lead a life consecrated to God.


Verse 2

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 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 νόμος περί τοῦ ἀνδρός; see Kühner, II. 1, p. 287.


Verse 3

Romans 7:3. ἄρα οὖν] See on Romans 5:18.

χρηματίσει] she shall (formally) bear the name. See Acts 11:26; Plut. Mor. 148 D Polyb. v. 27, 2, 5, xxx. 2, 4. The future corresponds to the following: ἐὰν γένηται ἀνδρὶ ἑτέρῳ] if she shall have become joined to another husband (as wife). Comp Deuteronomy 24:2; Ruth 1:12; Judges 14:20; Ezekiel 16:8; Ezekiel 23:4. It is not a Hebraism; see Kypke, II. p. 170; Kühner, II. 1, p. 384.

ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου] from the law, so far, that is, as it binds the wife to the husband. From that bond she is now released, Romans 7:2.

τοῦ μὴ εἶναι κ. τ. λ(1532)] Not a more precise definition (Th. Schott); nor yet a consequence (as usually rendered), which is never correct, not even in Acts 7:19 (see Fritzsche, a(1533) Matth. p. 845 ff.); but rather: in order that she be not an adulteress. That is the purpose, involved in the divine legal ordinance, of her freedom from the law.


Verse 4

Romans 7:4. ὥστε] does not express the “agreement” or the “harmony” with which what follows connects itself with the preceding (Hofmann), as if Paul had written οὕτως or ὁμοίως. It is rather the common itaque (Vulgate), accordingly, therefore, consequently, which, heading an independent sentence, draws an inference from the preceding, and introduces the actual relation which results from Romans 7:1-3 with respect to Christians, who through the death of Christ are in a position corresponding with that of the wife. This inference lays down that legal marriage relation as type.

καὶ ὑμεῖς] ye also, like the wife in that illustration quoted in Romans 7:2-3, who through the death of her husband is dead to the dominion of the law. In this, in the first instance (for the main stress falls on εἰς τὸ γενέσθαι κ. τ. λ(1534)), lies the point of the inference; analogously with the case of that wife Christians also are dead to the law through the death of Christ, because, in their spiritual union with Him, they have suffered death along with Him. Van Hengel takes καὶ ὑμεῖς in the sense: ye also, like other Christians, which, however, since Romans 7:4 begins the application of what had previously been said of the woman, is neither in harmony with the text nor rendered necessary by the first person καρποφορ.

ἐθανατ. τῷ νόμῳ] ye were rendered dead to the law,(1535) so that over you as dead persons it rules no longer (Romans 7:1). The dative as in Romans 6:2; Romans 6:10. The passive (not ye died) is selected, because this (ethical) death of Christians is fellowship with the death of Christ, which was a violent one. Therefore: διὰ τοῦ σώμ. τ. χ.] by the fact, that the body of Christ was put to death. The conception of the participation of believers (as respects their inner life and its moral self-consciousness) in the death of their Lord, according to which the putting to death of their Master included their own putting to death, is justly assumed by Paul, after ch. 6, as something present to the consciousness of his readers, and therefore views deviating from this (e. g. that διὰ τ. σώμ. τ. χ. applies to the atoning sacrificial death, which did away the dominion of the law) are to be rejected as here irrelevant, and not in keeping with the proper sense of ἐθανατ. For that ἐθανατ. τ. νόμῳ is meant to be a mild expression for νόμος ἐθανατώθη, ἀπέθανεν ὑμῖν (Koppe and Klee, following Calvin, Grotius, and others, also several Fathers; comp on Romans 7:2), is an assumption as gratuitous, as is a “contraction of the thought and expression,” which Philippi finds, when he at the same time introduces the conception of the putting to death of the law through the body of Christ, which is here alien.

εἰς τὸ γενέσθαι ὑμᾶς ἑτέρῳ] in order to become joined to another (than the law)—this is the object which the ἐθανατ. τ. νόμῳ κ. τ. λ(1537) had, and thereby the main point in the declaration introduced by ὥστε, parallel to the τοῦ ΄ὴ εἶναι κ. τ. λ(1538) in Romans 7:3. Paul apprehends the relation of fellowship and dependence of the Christian’s life to Christ—as he had prepared the way for doing so in Romans 7:2-3, and as was in keeping with his mode of view elsewhere (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25 ff.)—under the image of a marriage connection, in which the exalted Christ is the husband of His Church that has become independent of the law by dying with Him.

τῷ ἐκ νεκρ. ἐγερθ.] apposition to ἑτέρῳ, in significant historical reference to διὰ τ. σώμ. τ. χ. For if Christ became through His bodily death our deliverer from the law, we cannot now belong to Him otherwise than as the Risen One for a new and indissoluble union. The importance of this addition in its bearing on the matter in hand lies in the καινότης ζωῆς (Romans 6:3; Romans 6:11; Romans 6:13; Romans 6:22) which, on the very ground of the ethical communion with the Risen One, issues from the new relation. Certainly the death of Christ appears here “as the end of a sin-conditioned state of the humanity to be united in Him” (Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 354); but this great moral epoch has as its necessary presupposition just the vicarious atoning power of the ἱλαστήριον which was rendered in the death of Jesus; it could not take place without this and without the faith appropriating it, Romans 3:21 ff.; Romans 5:1 ff.

ἵνα καρποφ. τ. θεῷ] The aim not of ἐκ νεκρῶν ἐγερθέντι (Koppe, Th. Schott, Hofmann), but rather—because the belonging to is that which conditions the fruit-bearing—of the γενέσθαι ὑμᾶς ἑτέρῳ, τῷ ἐκ νεκρ. ἐγ., consequently the final aim of the ἐθανατ. τῷ νόμῳ. There is here (though van Hengel and others call it in question, contrary to the clear connection) a continuation of the figure of marriage with respect to its fruitfulness (Luke 1:42; Psalms 127:3, Symm. and Theod. Psalms 91:15). The morally holy walk, namely, in its consecration to God is, as it were, the fruit which issues from our fellowship of life with Christ risen from the dead as from a new marriage-union, and which belongs in property to God as the lord-paramount of that union (the supreme ruler of the Messianic theocracy); the bringing forth of fruit takes place for God. The opinion of Reiche and Fritzsche that καρποφ. taken in the sense of the fruit of marriage yields an undignified allegory (the figure therefore is to be taken as borrowed from a field or a tree, which Philippi, Tholuck, and Reithmayr also prefer) is untenable, seeing that the union with Christ, if regarded as a marriage at all, must also necessarily, in accordance with its moral design, be conceived of as a fruitful marriage.(1539)

(1534) . τ. λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.


Verse 5

Romans 7:5. Confirmation of the ἵνα καρποφ. τ. θεῷ. That we should bring forth fruit to God, I say with justice; for formerly under the law we bore fruit to death, but now (Romans 7:6) our position is quite different from what it was before.

ὅτε ἦμεν ἐν τῇ σαρκί] This is the positive and characteristic expression for the negative: when we were not yet made dead to the law. Then the σάρξ—the materially human element in us, in its psychically determined antagonism to the Divine Spirit and will—was the life-element in which we moved. Comp Romans 8:8 f.; 2 Corinthians 10:3. We are ἐν τ. σώ΄ατι, 1 Corinthians 5:3 (2 Corinthians 12:2), even after we have died with Christ, because that is an ethical death; but for that very reason we are now, according to the holy self-consciousness of the new life of communion with the Risen One, no longer ἐν τ. σαρκί; and our body, although we still as respects its material substance live in the flesh (Galatians 2:20), is ethically not a σῶ΄α τῆς σαρκός any more, Colossians 2:11. The interpretation of Theodoret: τῇ κατὰ νό΄ον πολιτείᾳ (so also Oecumenius), though hitting the approximate meaning of the matter, has its inaccurate arbitrariness exposed by the reason assigned for it: σάρκα γὰρ τὰς τῇ σαρκί δεδο΄ένας νο΄οθεσίας ὠνό΄ασε, τὰς περὶ βρώσεως κ. πόσεως. The description ἐν τῇ σαρκί must supply the ethical conception which corresponds with the contents of the apodosis. Therefore we may not render with Theodore of Mopsuestia: when we were mortal (the believer being no longer reckoned as mortal); but the moral reference of the expression requires at least a more precise definition of the contents than that the existence of the Christian had ceased to be an existence locked up in his inborn nature (Hofmann).

τὰ παθ. τῶν ἁμαρτ.] the passions through which sins are brought about, of which the sins are the actual consequence. On παθήματα compare Galatians 5:24, and παθή, Romans 1:26. They are the passive excitations (often used by Plato in contrast to ποιή΄ατα), which one experiences ( πάσχει). Comp esp. Plat. Phil. p. 47 C.

τὰ διὰ τ. νόμου] sc(1542) ὄντα, which are occasioned by the law; How? see Romans 7:7-8. It is erroneous in Chrysostom and Grotius to supply φαινόμενα. Comp rather 1 Corinthians 15:56.

ἐνηργεῖτο] were active, middle, not passive (Estius, Glöckler) which would be contrary to Pauline usage. See 2 Corinthians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 4:12; Ephesians 3:20; Galatians 5:6; Colossians 1:29; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:7. The Greeks have not this use of the middle.

ἐν τ. μέλ. ἡμ.] in our members (as in Romans 7:23; Romans 6:13) they were the active agent.

εἰς τὸ καρποφ. τ. θανάτῳ] This is the tendency (the parallel ἵνα καρποφ. τ. θεῷ in Romans 7:4 is decisive here against the interpretation, everywhere erroneous, of the consequence) which the passions of sin, in their operation in our members, had with us: that we should bring forth fruit unto death, that is, divested of figure: that we should lead a life falling under the power of death. The subject ἡμᾶς is supplied, as often along with the infinitive (comp Kühner, a(1545) Xen. Mem. iii. 6, 10; Anab. ii. 1, 12), naturally and easily from the immediately preceding ἡμῶν (comp 1 Corinthians 8:10; 2 Thessalonians 3:9; Hebrews 9:14). There is therefore the less reason to depart from the mode of conception prevailing in Romans 7:4, and to understand the παθή΄ατα as the fruit-bearing subjects (Hofmann; comp Vulgate, Luther, Calvin, and others), in which case there is imported the conception that the occurrence is something foreign to the man himself (Hofmann). The θάνατος, personified as the lord-paramount opposed to τῷ θεῷ in Romans 7:4, is not physical (Fritzsche) but eternal death, Romans 6:21; Romans 6:23, which. is incurred through sinful life. The καρποφ. however retains here the figure of the fruit of marriage, namely, according to the context, of the marriage with the law (Romans 7:4), which is now dissolved since we have died with Christ. Comp Erasmus, Paraph.: “ex infelici matrimonio infelices foetus sustulimus, quicquid nasceretur morti exitioque gignentes.” In Matthew 12:39 the conception is different. But comp James 1:15.


Verse 6

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

ἀποθανόντες ἐν 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 (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 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.

ὥστε δουλεύειν κ. τ. λ(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.


Verse 7

Romans 7:7. νόμος ἁμαρτία;] Is the law sin? a something, whose ethical nature is immoral? Comp. Tittmann, Synon. p. 46; Winzer, Progr. 1832, p. 5; also Fritzsche, Rückert, de Wette, Tholuck, and Philippi. For the contrast see Romans 7:12, from which it at once appears that the formerly current interpretation, still held by Reiche and Flatt, “originator of sin” ( διάκονος ἁμαρτίας, Galatians 2:17), is, from the connection, erroneous; as indeed it would have to be arbitrarily imported into the word, for the appeal to Micah 1:5 overlooks the poetical mode of expression in that passage. The substantive predicate (comp. Romans 8:10; 2 Corinthians 5:21, al.) is more significant than an adjectival expression ( ἁμαρτωλός), and in keeping with the meaning of the remonstrant, whom Paul personates. The question is not to be supposed preposterous, setting forth a proposition without real meaning (Hofmann), since it is by no means absurd in itself and, as an objection, has sufficient apparent ground in what precedes

After ἀλλά we are no more to understand ἐροῦμεν again (Hofmann) than before νόμ. ἁμαρτ., for which there is no ground (it is otherwise at Romans 9:30). On the contrary, this ἀλλά, but, brings in the real relation to sin, as it occurs in contrast to that inference which has just been rejected with horror: ἁμαρτία μὲν οὐκ ἔστι, φησὶ, γνωριστικὸς δὲ ἁμαρτίας, Theophylact.

τὴν ἁμ. οὐκ ἔγνων, εἰ μὴ δ. νόμου] Sin I have not become acquainted with, except through the law. The ἁμαρτία is sin as an active principle in man (see Romans 7:8-9; Romans 7:11; Romans 7:13-14), with which I have become experimentally acquainted only through the law (comp. the subsequent οὐκ ᾔδειν), so that without the intervention of the law it would have remained for me an unknown power; because, in that case (see the following, and Romans 7:8), it would not have become active in me through the excitement of desires after what is forbidden in contrast to the law. The τὴν ἁμ. οὐκ ἔγν., therefore, is not here to be confounded with the ἐπίγνωσις ἁμ. in Romans 3:20, which in fact is only attained through comparison of the moral condition with the requirements of the law (in opposition to Krehl); nor yet is it to be understood of the theoretic knowledge of the essence of sin, namely, that the latter is opposition to the will of God (Tholuck, Philippi; comp. van Hengel and the older expositors), against which view Romans 7:8 ( χωρὶς νόμου ἁμαρτ. νεκρά) and Romans 7:9 are decisive. The view of Fritzsche is, however, likewise erroneous (see the following, especially Romans 7:8): I should not have sinned, “cognoscit autem peccatum, qui peccat.”

οὐκ ἔγνων is to be rendered simply, with the Vulgate: non cognovi. The sense: I should not have known, would anticipate the following clause, which assigns the reason.

The νόμος is nothing else than the Mosaic law, not the moral law generally in all forms of its revelation (Olshausen); for Paul is in fact declaring his own experimental consciousness, and by means of this, as it developed itself under Judaism, presenting to view the moral position (in its general human aspect) of those who are subject to the law of Moses.

τήν τε γὰρ ἐπιθ. κ. τ. λ.] for the desire (after the forbidden) would in fact be unknown to me, if the law did not say, Thou shalt not covet. The reason is here assigned for the foregoing: “with the dawning consciousness of desire conflicting with the precept of the law, I became aware also of the principle of sin within me, since the latter (see Romans 7:8-9) made me experimentally aware of its presence and life by the excitement of desire in presence of the law.” What the law forbids us to covet (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21), was no concern of the apostle here, looking to the universality of his representation; he could only employ the prohibition of sinful desire generally and in itself, without particular reference to its object.

On τὲγὰρ, forindeed, comp. Romans 1:26; it is not to be taken climactically (van Hengel), as if Paul had written καὶ γὰρ τὴν ἐπιθ. or οὐδὲ γὰρ τὴν ἐπιθ. ᾔδ. To the τε, however, corresponds the following δέ in Romans 7:8, which causes the chief stress of the sentence assigning the reason to fall upon Romans 7:8 (Stallb. ad Plat. Polit. p. 270D); therefore Romans 7:8 is still included as dependent on γὰρ. Respecting the imperative future of the old language of legislation, see on Matthew 1:21.


Verse 8

Romans 7:8. δέ] placing over against the negative declaration of Romans 7:7 the description of the positive process, by which the consciousness of desire of Romans 7:7 emerged: but indeed sin took occasion, etc. In this ἀφορμήν placed first emphatically, not in ἁμαρτία (Th. Schott), lies the point of the relation.

ἁμαρτία] as in Romans 7:7, not conceived as κακοδαίμων (Fritzsche); nor yet the sinful activity, as Reiche thinks; for that is the result of the ἐπιθυμία (James 1:5), and the sin that first takes occasion from the law cannot be an action.

For examples of ἀφορμὴν λαμβ., to take occasion, see Wetstein and Kypke. The principle of sin took occasion, not, as Reiche thinks, received occasion; for it is conceived as something revived (Romans 7:9), which works.

διὰ τῆς ἐντολῆς] through the command, namely, the οὐκ ἐπιθυμ. of Romans 7:7. This interpretation is plainly necessary from the following κατειργάσατο κ. τ. λ. Reiche, following De Dieu and several others, erroneously (comp. Ephesians 2:15) takes ἐντολή as equivalent to νόμος. We must connect διὰ τ. ἐντ. with κατειργ. (Rückert, Winzer, Benecke, de Wette, Fritzsche, Tholuck, Umbreit, van Hengel, and Hofmann), not with ἀφορμ. λαβ. (Luther and many others, including Reiche, Köllner, Olshausen, Philippi, Maier, and Ewald), because ἀφορμ. λαμβάνειν is never construed with διὰ (frequently with ἐκ, as in Polyb. iii. 32. 7, iii. 7. 5), and because Romans 7:11 ( διʼ αὐτῆς ἀπέκτ.) and Romans 7:13 confirm the connection with κατειργ.

κατειργ. ἐν ἐμοὶ πᾶσαν ἐπιθ.] it brought about in me all manner of desire. Respecting κατεργάζ., see on Romans 1:27. Even without the law there is desire in man, but not yet in the ethical definite character of desire after the forbidden, as ἐπιθυμία is conceived of according to Romans 7:7; for as yet there is no prohibition, and consequently no moral antithesis existing to the desire in itself (“ignoti nulla cupido,” Ovid, A. A. 397), through which antithesis the inner conflict is first introduced. Every desire is, in accordance with the quite general οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις, to be left without limitation. No desire (as respects category) was excluded. A reference to the desires, which the state of civilisation joined with a positive legislation calls forth (de Wette), is foreign to the connection. Comp. Proverbs 9:17.

χωρὶς γὰρ νόμου ἁμαρτία νεκρά] sc. ἐστι, not ἦν (Beza, Reiche, Krummacher), just because the omission of the verb betokens a general proposition: for without the law, i.e. if it do not enter into relation with the law, sin, the sinful principle in man, is dead, i.e. not active, because that is wanting, by which it may take occasion to be alive. The potentiality of the nitimur in vetitum is indeed there, but, lacking the veto of the νόμος ( τοῦ τὸ πρακτέον ὑποδεικνύντος καὶ τὸ οὐ πρακτέον ἀπαγορεύοντος, Theodoret), can exhibit no actual vital activity; it does not stir, because the antithesis is wanting. Hence the law becomes the δύναμις τῆς ἁμαρτίας, 1 Corinthians 15:56, though it is not itself τοῦ παρανομεῖν παραίτιος (Chrysippus in Plut. de Stoic. Rep. 33). Erroneous is the view held by Chrysostom, Calvin, Estius, Olshausen, and others, that νεκρά implies the absence of knowledge of sin ( οὐχ οὕτω γνώριμος). The νόμος is here, as throughout in this connection, the Mosaic law, which contains the ἐντολή (Romans 7:7; Romans 7:9; Romans 7:12). That this may be and is misused by the principle of sin, in the way indicated, arises from the fact, that it comes forward merely with the outward command (thou shalt, thou shalt not), without giving the power of fulfilment; comp. Lipsius, Rechtfertigungsl. p. 63 ff. And the analogous application, which the general proposition admits of to the moral law of nature also, is indeed self-evident, but lies here aloof from the apostle’s sphere of thought.


Verse 9

Romans 7:9. But I was once alive without the law. ἐγὼ δὲ, the antithesis of ἁμαρτία; ἔζων, antithesis of νεκρά; νόμου, just as in Romans 7:8.

ἔζων] The sense is, on account of the foregoing ( νεκρά) and the following ( ἀπέθανον, Romans 7:10) contrast, necessarily (in opposition to Reiche and van Hengel) to be taken as pregnant; but not with the arbitrary alteration, videbar mihi vivere (Augustine, Erasmus, Pareus, Estius), or securus eram, (Luther, Melancthon, Beza, Calvin, Piscator, Calovius, Bengel, and others, including Krummacher), thus representing Paul as glancing at his Pharisaic state, in which the law had not yet alarmed him,—a view which is at variance with the words themselves and with the antitheses, and which is certainly quite inadmissible historically in the case of a character like Paul (Galatians 1:14; Galatians 3:23; Philippians 3:6), who could testify so truly and vividly of the power of sin and of the curse of the law. No, Paul means the death-free (Romans 7:10) life of childlike innocence (comp. Winzer, p. 11; de Wette and Ewald in loc.; Umbreit in the Stud. u. Krit. 1851, p. 637 f.; Ernesti, Urspr. d. Sünde, I. p. 101; Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 287; also Delitzsch), where—as this state of life, resembling the condition of our first parents in Paradise, was the bright spot of his own earliest recollection—the law has not yet come to conscious knowledge, the moral self-determination in respect to it has not yet taken place, and therefore the sin-principle is still lying in the slumber of death. Rightly explained already by Origen: πᾶς γὰρ ἄνθρωπος ἔζη χωρὶς νόμου ποτὲ, ὅτε παιδίον ἦν, and by Augustine, c. duas ep. Pelag. i. 9. This is certainly a status securitatis, but one morally indifferent, not immoral, and not extending beyond the childhood unconscious of the ἐντολή. Hence, in the apostle’s case, it is neither to be extended till the time of his conversion (Luther, Melancthon, etc.), nor even only till the time of his having perceived that the law demands not merely the outward act, but also the inward inclination (Philippi and Tholuck)—which is neither in harmony with the unlimited χωρὶς νόμου (Paul must at least have written χωρὶς τῆς ἐντολῆς), nor psychologically correct, since sin is not dead up to this stage of the moral development. From this very circumstance, it is clear also that the explanation of those is erroneous, who, making Paul speak in the name of his nation, are compelled to think of the purer and more blameless life of the patriarchs and Israelites before the giving of the law (so Grotius, Turretin, Locke, Wetstein, following several Fathers, and recently Reiche; comp. Fritzsche.)

The pregnant import of the ἔζων lies in the fact that, while the sin-principle is dead, man has not yet incurred eternal death (physical death has been incurred by every one through Adam’s sin, Romans 5:12); this being alive is therefore an analogue—though still unconscious and weak, yet pleasingly presenting itself in the subsequent retrospect—of the true and eternal ζωή (comp. Matthew 18:3) which Christ (comp. Romans 7:24 f.) has procured through His atoning work. The theory of a pre-mundane life of the pre-existent soul (Hilgenfeld in his Zeitschr. 1871, p. 190 f.) is a Platonism forced on the apostle (comp. Wisdom of Solomon 8:20, and Grimm in loc.) in opposition to the entire N. T.

ἐλθούσης δὲ τῆς ἐντολ.] but when the command, namely, the οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις of the Mosaic law, had come, i.e. had become present to my consciousness. To the person living still in childlike innocence the ἐντολή was absent; for him it was not yet issued; it had not yet presented itself. Comp. on Galatians 3:23. Reiche, consistently with his view of the entire section, explains it, as does also Fritzsche, of the historical Mosaic legislation.

ἀνέζησεν] is by most modern commentators rendered came to life. So Tholuck, Rückert, Fritzsche, Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette, Maier, and Hofmann. But quite contrary to the usus loquendi (Luke 15:24; Luke 15:32; Romans 14:9; Revelation 20:5), in accordance with which it means: came again to life. See also Nonnus, Joh. v. 25: αὖτις ἀναζήσωσιν, where (in opposition to the view of Fritzsche) αὖτις is added according to a well-known pleonasm; comp. ἐπαναζώσει, reviviscet, Dial. Herm. de astrol. i. 10, 42; respecting the case of ἀναβλέπω, usually cited as analogous, see on John 9:11. So, too, ἀναζωόω in Aquila and Symmachus means reviviscere facio. See Schleusner, Thes. I. p. 219. And also the frequent classical ἀναβιῶ and ἀναβιώσκο΄αι, always mean to come to life again; Plat. Rep. p. 614 B Polit. p. 272; Lucian, Q. hist. 40: ἀνεβίουν ἀποθανών, Gall. 18. Comp. ἀναβίωσις, 2 Maccabees 7:9. It is therefore linguistically correct to explain it, with the ancients, Bengel, and Philippi: sin lived again (revixit, Vulgate); but this is not to be interpreted, with Bengel, following Augustine and others: “sicut vixerat, cum per Adamum intrasset in mundum” (comp. Philippi), because that is foreign to the context, inasmuch as Paul sets forth his experience as the expression of the experience of every individual in his relation to the law, not speaking of humanity as a whole. The ἀνέζησεν, which is not to be misinterpreted as pointing to a pre-mundane sin (Hilgenfeld), finds its true explanation, analogously to the ἀναβλέπω in John 9:11, in the view that the ἁ΄αρτία, that potentiality of sin in man, is originally and in its nature a living power, but is, before the ἐντολή comes, without expression for its life, νεκρά; thereupon it resumes its proper living nature, and thus becomes alive again. Comp. van Hengel: “e sopore vigorem recuperavit.”


Verse 10

Romans 7:10. ἀπέθανον] correlative of ἀνέζησεν, antithesis of ἔζων. It is neither to be understood, however, of physical nor of spiritual death (Semler, Böhme, Rückert; comp. Hofmann and others), but, as the contrast εἰς ζωήν requires, of eternal death. This was given with the actual sin brought about through the sin-principle that had become alive; the sinner had incurred it. Paul, full of the painful recollection, expresses this by the abrupt, deeply tragic ἀπέθανον.

εἰς ζωήν] sc. οὖσα, aiming at life. For the promise of life (in the Messianic theocratic sense, Leviticus 18:5; Deuteronomy 5:33; Galatians 3:12), which was attached to the obedience of the Mosaic law generally, applied also to the ἐντολή.

εὑρέθη] was found, proved and showed itself in the actual experimental result; comp. Galatians 2:17; 1 Peter 1:7. Chrysostom has well said: οὐκ εἶπε· γέγονε θάνατος, οὐδὲ ἔτεκε θάνατον, ἀλλʼ εὑρέθη, τὸ καινὸν καὶ παράδοξον τῆς ἀτοπίας οὕτως ἑρμηνεύων, καὶ τὸ πᾶν εἰς τῶν ἐκείνων (of men) περιτρέπων κεφαλήν.

αὕτη] haec. To be written thus, and not αὐτή, ipsa (Bengel and Hofmann), after the analogy of Romans 7:15 f., Romans 7:19 f. It has tragic emphasis. Comp. on Philippians 1:22.


Verse 11

Romans 7:11. Illustration of this surprising result, in which ἁμαρτία, as the guilty element, is placed foremost, and its guilt is also made manifest by the διὰ τῆς ἐντολ. placed before ἐξηπάτ. Sin has by means of the commandment (which had for its direct aim my life) deceived me, inasmuch as it used it for the provocation of desire. An allusion to the serpent in Paradise is probable, both from the nature of the case, and also from the expression (LXX. Genesis 3:13). Comp. 2 Corinthians 11:2. But such an allusion would be inappropriate, if it were “the struggle of the more earnest Pharisaism” (Philippi), and not the loss of childlike innocence, that is here described. As to the conception of the ἐξηπάτησε (sin held out to me something pernicious as being desirable), comp. Ephesians 4:22, Hebrews 3:13.

ἀπέκτεινεν] like ἀπέθανον in Romans 7:10.


Verse 12

Romans 7:12. ὥστε] The result of Romans 7:7-11.

μὲν νόμος] The contrast for which μέν prepares the way was intended to be: “but sin has to me redounded unto death through the law, which in itself is good.” This follows in Romans 7:13 as regards substance, but not as regards form. See on Romans 7:13.

The predicates

ἅγιος (holy, as God’s revelation of Himself, Romans 7:14; 2 Maccabees 6:23; 2 Maccabees 6:28), which is assigned to the Mosaic law generally, and ἁγία, δικαία (just, in respect to its requirements, which are only such as accord with the holiness), and ἀγαθή (excellent, on account of its salutary object), which are justly (comp. Acts 7:38) attributed to the ἐντολή—exhaust the contents of the opposite of ἁμαρτία in Romans 7:7. They are accumulated on ἐντολή, because the latter had just been specially described in Romans 7:7 ff. as that which occasioned the activity of the sin-principle.


Verse 13

Romans 7:13. Paul has hardly begun, in Romans 7:12, his exposition of the result of Romans 7:7-11, when his train of thought is again crossed by an inference that might possibly be drawn from what had just been said, and used against him (comp. Romans 7:7). He puts this inference as a question, and now gives in the form of a refutation of it what he had intended to give, according to the plan begun in Romans 7:12, not in polemical form, but in a sentence with δέ that should correspond to the sentence with μέν.

ἀλλὰ ἁμαρτία] sc. ἐμοὶ ἐγένετο θάνατος. Altogether involved is the construction adopted by Luther, Heumann, Carpzov, Ch. Schmidt, Böhme, and Flatt: ἀλλὰ ἁμαρτία διὰ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ μοι κατεργαζομένη ( ἦν) θάνατον, ἵνα φανῇ ἁμαρτία.

ἵνα φανῇ κ. τ. λ.] in order that it might appear as sin thereby, that it wrought death for me by means of the good. ἵνα introduces the aim, which was ordained by God for the ἁμ. ἐμοὶ ἐγένετο θάνατος. This purposed manifestation ( φανῇ has the emphasis) of the principle of sin in its sinful character served as a necessary preparation for redemption,—a view, which represents the psychological history of salvation as a development of the divine μοῖρα.

ἁμαρτία is certainly shown to be the predicate by its want of the article and the parallel ἁμαρτωλός in the second clause. The predicate attributed to the law in Romans 7:7 is appropriated to that power to which it belongs, namely, sin. Ewald: that it might be manifest, how sin, etc. But ἁμαρτία, because it would thus be the sin-principle, must have had the article, and the “how” is gratuitously imported.

ἵνα γένηται κ. τ. λ.] Climactic parallel (comp. on 2 Corinthians 9:3; Galatians 3:14) to ἵνα φανῇ κ. τ. λ., in which γένηται is to be taken of the actual result; see on Romans 3:4. The repetition of the subject of γένηται ( ἁμαρτία), and of the means employed by it ( διὰ τῆς ἐντολῆς), may indeed be superfluous, because both are self-evident from what goes before; but it conveys, especially when placed at the close, all the weightier emphasis of a solemnly painful, tragic effect. The less, therefore, is ἁμαρτία διὰ τ. ἐντολ. to be separated from γένηται, and regarded as the resumption and completion of ἁμαρτία (sc. ἐμοὶ ἐγ. θάνατος); in which view there is assigned to the two clauses of purpose a co-ordinate intervening position (Hofmann), that renders the discourse—running on so simply and emphatically—quite unnecessarily involved. καθʼ ὑπερβ., in over-measure, beyond measure. Comp. 1 Corinthians 12:13; 2 Corinthians 1:8; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Galatians 1:13; and see Wetstein.

διὰ τῆς ἐντολ.] by means of the commandment, which ἀγαθὸν it applied so perniciously; a pregnant contrast.

Observe the pithy, climactic, sharply and vividly compressed delineation of the gloomy picture.


Verse 14

Romans 7:14. οἴδαμεν] ὡσανεὶ ἔλεγεν ὡμολογημένον τοῦτο κ. δῆλόν ἐστι, Chrysostom. Comp. Romans 2:2, Romans 3:19. It is not to be written οἶδα μέν (Jerome, Estius, Semler, Koppe, Flatt, Reiche, Hofmann, Th. Schott), since the following δὲ would only correspond logically with the μέν, if Paul, with a view to contrast the character of the law with his own character (so Hofmann), had said: οἶδα γὰρ, ὅτι μὲν νόμος κ. τ. λ.; or, in case he had desired to contrast his character with his knowledge (so Schott): οἶδα μὲν γὰρ κ. τ. λ., σάρκινος δὲ εἰμὶ, or εἰμὶ δὲ σάρκινος, omitting the ἐγώ, which is the antithesis of the νόμος.

πνευματικός] obtains its definition through the contrasted σάρκινος. Now σάρξ is the material phenomenal nature of man opposed to the divine πνεῦμα, animated and determined by the ψυχή (comp. on Romans 4:1, Romans 6:19), and consequently σάρκινος (of flesh) affirms of the ἐγώ, that it is of such a non-pneumatic nature and quality. So πνευματικός must affirm regarding the law, that its essence (not the form in which it is given, according to which it appears as γράμμα) is divine = spiritual: its essential and characteristic quality is homogeneous with that of the Holy Spirit, who has made Himself known in the law. For believers no proof of this was needed ( οἴδαμεν), because the νόμος, as νόμος θεοῦ, must be a holy self-revelation of the Divine Spirit; comp. Romans 7:12; Acts 7:38. In consequence of this pneumatic nature the law is certainly διδάσκαλος ἀρετῆς καὶ κακίας πολέμιος (Chrysostom), and its tenor, rooting in the Divine Spirit, is only fulfilled by those who have the πνεῦμα (Tholuck, with Calovius, joining together different references), as indeed the necessary presupposition is that it θείῳ ἐγράφη πνεύματι (Theodoret), and the consequence necessarily bound up with its spiritual nature is that there subsists no affinity between the law and death (Hofmann); but all this is not conveyed by the word itself, any more than is the impossibility of fulfilling the law’s demands, based on its pneumatic nature (Calvin: “Lex coelestem quandam et angelicam justitiam requirit”). Following Oecumenius 2, and Beza, others (including Reiche, Köllner, and de Wette) have taken πνεῦμα of the higher spiritual nature of man (Romans 1:9; Matthew 26:41), and hence have, according to this reference, explained πνευματικός very variously. E.g. Reiche: “in so far as it does not hinder, but promotes, the development and expression of the πνεῦμα;” de Wette: “of spiritual tenor and character, in virtue of which it puts forward demands which can only be understood and fulfilled by the spiritual nature of man.” So too, substantially, Rückert. But Romans 7:22; Romans 7:25 show that πνευματικός characterizes the law as νόμος θεοῦ; consequently the πνεῦμα is just the divine, which the natural man, who knows and has nothing of the Spirit of God, resists in virtue of the heterogeneous tendency of his σάρξ.

ἐγὼ δέ] but I, i.e. according to the ἰδίωσις pervading the entire section: the man, not yet regenerate by the Holy Spirit, in his relation to the Mosaic law given to him,—the still unredeemed ἐγέ, who, in the deep distress that oppresses him in the presence of the law, Romans 7:24, sighs after redemption. For the subject is in Romans 7:14-25 necessarily the same—and that, indeed, in its unredeemed condition—as previously gave its psychological history prior to and under the law (hence the preterites in Romans 7:7-13), and now depicts its position confronting ( δέ) the pneumatic nature of the law (hence the presents in Romans 7:14 ff.), in order to convey the information ( γάρ), that not the law, but the principle of sin mighty in man himself, has prepared death for him. It is true the situation, which the apostle thus exhibits in his own representative Ego, was for himself as an individual one long since past; but he realizes it as present and places it before the eyes like a picture, in which the standpoint of the happier present in which he now finds himself renders possible the perspective that lends to every feature of his portrait the light of clearness and truth.

σάρκινος, made of flesh, consisting of flesh, 2 Corinthians 3:3; 1 Corinthians 3:1; comp. Plat. Leg. x. p. 906 C Theocrit. xxi. 66; LXX. 2 Chronicles 32:8; Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26; Addit. Esther 4:8 : βασιλέα σάρκινον. The signification fleshy, corpulentus, Polyb. xxxix. 2. 7, is here out of place. It is not equivalent to the qualitative σαρκικός, fleshly, (see Tittmann’s Synon. p. 23), that is, affected with the quality that is determined by the σάρξ. The σάρκινος, as the expression of the substance, is far stronger; and while not including the negation of the moral will in man (see Romans 7:15 ff., Romans 7:15; Romans 7:22; Romans 7:25), indicates the σάρξ—that unspiritual, material, phenomenal nature of man, serving by way of vehicle for sin—as the element of his being which so preponderates and renders the moral will fruitless, that the apostle, transporting himself into his pre-Christian state, cannot—in the mirror of this deeply earnest, and just as real as it was painful, self-contemplation—set forth the moral nature of the natural man otherwise than by the collective judgment, I am of flesh; the σάρξ, my substantial element of being, prevails on me to such an extent that the predicate made of flesh cleaves to me as if to a nature consisting of mere σάρξ. This is the Pauline τὸ γεγεννημένον ἐκ τῆς σαρκὸς σάρξ ἐστιν (John 3:6). The Pauline τὸ γεγενν. ἐκ τοῦ πνεύματος πνεῦμά ἐστιν follows in chap. 8. Since the σάρξ is the seat of the sin-principle (see Romans 7:18, comp. Romans 7:23), there is connected with the σάρκινος also the πεπραμένος ὑπὸ τὴν ἁμαρτ., sold, as a slave, under the (dominion of) sin, i.e. as completely dependent on the power of the sin-principle as is a serf on the master to whom he is sold: πρᾶσις δοῦλον πάντως ποιεῖ τὸν πεπραμένον ὑπὸ τὴν τῆς ὑπηρεσίας καθιστάμενον ἀνάγκην, Theodore of Mopsuestia. Comp. 1 Kings 21:20; 1 Kings 21:25; 2 Kings 17:17; 1 Maccabees 1:15. The passive sense of πεπραμ. finds its elucidation in Romans 7:23. πιπράσκεσθαι, in Greek authors (Soph. Tr. 251; Dem. 1304. 8; Lucian, Asin. 32) with τινί (comp. also Leviticus 25:39; Deuteronomy 28:68; Isaiah 50:1; Baruch 4:6), is here coupled with ὑπὸ (comp. Galatians 4:3) for the more forcible indication of the relation. Compare πιπράσκειν εἰς τὰς χεῖρας, 1 Samuel 23:7; Judith 7:25; and on the matter itself, Seneca, de brev. vit. 3.


Verses 14-25

Romans 7:14-25. Proof not merely of the foregoing telic sentence (Th. Schott), but of the weighty main thought μὴ γένοιτο· ἀλλὰ ἁμαρτία. “For the law is spiritual, but man (in his natural situation under the law, out of Christ) is of flesh and placed under the power of sin; against the moral will of his better self, he is carried away to evil by the power of the sinful principle dwelling in him.”


Verse 15

Romans 7:15 elucidates and assigns the reason of this relation of slavery. “For what I perform I know not,” i.e. it takes place on my part without cognition of its ethical bearing, in the state of bondage of my moral reason. Analogous is the position of the slave, who acts as his master’s tool without perceiving the proper nature and the aim of what he does. Augustine, Beza, Grotius, Estius, and others, including Flatt, Glöckler, Reiche, and Reithmayr, erroneously take γινώσκω as I approve, which it never means, not even in Matthew 7:23; John 10:14; 1 Corinthians 8:3; Romans 10:19; 2 Timothy 2:19; Psalms 1:6; Hosea 8:4; Sirach 18:27. Hofmann’s view, however, is also incorrect, that the cognition is meant, “which includes the object in the subjectivity of the person knowing,” so that the passage denies that the work and the inner life have anything in common. In this way the idea of the divine cognition, whose object is man (Galatians 4:9; Matthew 12:23), is extraneously imported into the passage.

οὐ γὰρ θέλω κ. τ. λ.] The proof of the κατεργ. οὐ γινώσκω. For whosoever acts in the light of the moral cognition does not, of course, do that which is hateful to him following his practical reason ( μισῶ), but, on the contrary, that towards which his moral desire is directed ( θέλω). The person acting without that cognition, carried away by the power of sin in him, does not pursue as the aim of his activity ( πράσσει, comp. on Romans 1:32) that which in the morally conscious state he would pursue, but, on the contrary, does ( ποιεῖ) what in that state is abhorrent to him. The ethical power of resolution, which decides for the good, is inactive, and man does the evil that he abhors. Paul consequently ascribes to the unregenerate man also the moral wish, which he has in rational self-determination; but he denies to him the action corresponding thereto, because his moral self-determination does not come into exercise in the state of his natural bondage, but he is, on the contrary, hurried away to the performance of the opposite. His θέλειν of the good and his ΄ισεῖν of the evil are not, therefore, those of the regenerate man, because the new man, in virtue of the holy πνεῦ΄α, emerges from the conflict with the σάρξ as a conqueror (against Philippi); nor yet the weak velleitas of the schoolmen (Tholuck, Reithmayr, comp. Baumgarten-Crusius); but a real, decided wishing and hating (comp. Romans 7:16), which present, indeed, for the moral consciousness the theory of self-determination, but without the corresponding result in the issue. The “I” in θέλω and ΄ισῶ is conceived according to its moral self-consciousness, but in πράσσω and ποιῶ, according to its empiric practice, which runs counter to the self-determination of that consciousness. Reiche, in consistency with his misconception of the entire representation, brings out as the pure thought of Romans 7:15 : “the sinful Jew, as he appears in experience and history, does the evil which the Jew free from sin, as he might and should have been, does not approve.” As profane analogies of the moral conflict meant by Paul, comp. Epict. Enchir. ii. 26. 4 : μὲν θέλει ( ἁμαρτάνων) οὐ ποιεῖ, καὶ μὴ θέλει ποιεῖ; Eur. Med. 1079: θυμὸς δὲ κρείσσων (stronger) τῶν ἐ΄ῶν βουλευ΄άτων, and the familiar “video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor” (Ovid, Met. vii. 19). See also Wetstein, and Spiess, Logos spermat. p. 228 f.


Verse 16

Romans 7:16. Not an incidental inference (Rückert), but an essential carrying on of the argument, from which then Romans 7:17 is further inferred. For the relation of the ἐγώ to the law is in fact the very aim of the section (see Romans 7:25).

οὐ θέλω] whereto I am unwilling, for in fact I hate it, Romans 7:15. By οὐ the θέλειν is turned into its opposite. Comp. Baeuml. Partik. p. 278; Ameis on Homer, Odys. iii. 274.

σύμφημι τῷ νόμῳ, ὅτι καλός] since indeed the law also desires not what I do. My conduct, therefore, so far as my desire is opposed to it, appears, according to this contradiction, as a proof that I concur with the law, that it is beautiful, i.e. morally good; the moral excellence which the law affirms of itself (e.g. Deuteronomy 4:8) I also agree with it in acknowledging; in point of fact, I say yes to it. Comp. also Philippi and Hofmann. The usual view: I grant to the law, that, etc., overlooks the συν, and the reference of the τῷ νόμῳ to συν (I say with). Comp. Plat. Rep. p. 608 B, Theaet. p. 199 C, Phaed. p. 64 B Soph. Aj. 271, Oed. R. 553; Eur. Hippol. 265; Sturz, Lex. Xen. IV. p. 153. We may add that Chrysostom, in loc., has appropriately directed attention to the οἰκεία εὐγένεια of the moral nature of man.


Verse 17

Romans 7:17. νυνὶ δέ] does not introduce a minor proposition attaching itself with a “but now” (Reithmayr and Hofmann)—a view which is unsuitable to the antithetical form of the expression; nor is to be taken, with Augustine, as “nunc in statu gratiae;” but it is the quite common and, in Paul’s writings especially, very frequent as it is, however (see on Romans 3:21), that is, in this actual state of the case, however; namely, since my θέλειν, notwithstanding my conduct, is not opposed to the law, but on the contrary confirms it. In connection with this view οὐκέτι also is not, possibly, temporal, “pointing back to a time in which it was otherwise with the speaker” (Hofmann), namely, to what is related in Romans 7:7-11, but logical, as in Romans 7:20; Romans 11:6; Galatians 3:18. What is indicated by νυνὶ δέ stands to ἐγὼ κατεργ. αὐτό in an excluding relation, so that after the former there can be no mention of the latter. It is the dialectic non jam, non item (Bornemann ad Xen. Cyr. i. 6. 27; Winer, p. 547 f. [E. T. 772]; comp. Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 432).

ἐγά] with emphasis: my personality proper, my self-consciousness, which is my real, morally wishing Ego. It is not this “I” that performs the evil ( αὐτό, i.e. οὐ θέλω, Romans 7:16), but the principle of sin, which has its dwelling-place in me (the phenomenal man), enslaving my better—but against its power too weak—will, and not allowing it to attain accomplishment. That ἐν ἐμοί is not, like ἐγώ, to be taken of the moral self-conscious “I,” is affirmed by Paul himself in Romans 7:18. But it is erroneous to infer, from what he here says of the ἐγώ, the necessity of the explanation in the sense of the regenerate person (see especially Calvin and Philippi); for if the power practising the evil be not the “I,” but the potentiality of sin, this accords perfectly with the state of the σαρκικός, ψυχικός (1 Corinthians 2:14), ὑπὸ τὴν ἁμαρτίαν πεπραμένος (Romans 7:14), consequently of the unregenerate, in whom sin rules, and not the grace and power of the Holy Spirit leading the moral Ego to victory. In the regenerate man dwells the Spirit (Romans 8:8; Galatians 5:16 f.; 1 Corinthians 3:16), who aids the “I” in conquering the sin-power of the flesh (Romans 8:13 ff.; Galatians 5:24).


Verse 18

Romans 7:18. Basing of the ἀλλʼ οἰκοῦσα ἐν ἐμοὶ ἁμαρτία in Romans 7:17 on the human (not: Christian) experimental consciousness of the ἔμφυτον κακόν (Wisdom of Solomon 12:10).

τοῦτʼ ἔστιν ἐν τῇ σαρκί μου] More precise definition to ἐν ἐμοί, by which it is designated, in order to make the meaning clear beyond all doubt, according to its aspect of self-verification here meant; and the latter is expressly distinguished from that of the moral self-consciousness, conveyed by the ἐγώ in Romans 7:17.

That good, that is, moral willing and doing, consequently the opposite of ἁμαρτία, has its abode in the σάρξ of man, i.e. in his materiophysical phenomenal nature (comp. on Romans 7:14), is negatived by οὐκ οἰκεῖ.… ἀγαθόν, and this negation is then proved by τὸ γὰρ θέλειν κ. τ. λ. If the σάρξ, namely, were the seat of the moral nature, so that the will of the moral self-consciousness and that residing in the σάρξ harmonized, in that case there would be nothing opposed to the carrying out of that moral tendency of will; in that case, besides the willing, we should find also in man the performance of the morally beautiful ( τὸ καλόν, “quod candore morali nitet,” van Hengel). On the identity of the καλόν and the ἀγαθόν, according to the Greek view of morality, see Stallb. ad Plat. Sympos. p. 201 C.

παράκειταί μοι] lies before me (Plat. Tim. p. 69 A, Phil. p. 41 D 2 Maccabees 4:4)—a plastic expression of the idea: there is present in me. Paul presents the matter, namely, as if he were looking around in his own person, as in a spacious sphere, to discover what might be present therein. There he sees the θέλειν ( τὸ καλόν) immediately confronting him, before his gaze; but his searching gaze fails to discover ( οὐχ εὑρίσκω) the κατεργάζεσθαι τὸ καλόν. The performance of the good, therefore, is something not characteristic of the natural man, while that θέλειν of the moral “I” is present with him. “Longe a me abest,” says Grotius aptly in explanation of the reading οὐ sc. παράκειται, with which, however, οὐχ εὑρίσκω is perfectly equivalent in sense; so that to render the latter “I gain it not, i.e. I can not” (Estius, Kypke, Flatt, Tholuck, and Köllner), or, “it is to me unattainable” (Hofmann), is inconsistent with the correlative παράκειταί μοι, as well as the εὑρίσκω in Romans 7:21. Theodoret has rightly noted the ground of the οὐχ εὑρίσκω: ἀσθενῶ.… περὶ τὴν πρᾶξιν, ἑτέραν ἐπικουρίαν (namely, that of the Holy Spirit) οὐκ ἔχων. But the ἐγώ, which has the willing, can not at all be the καινὸς πνευματικὸς ἄνθρωπος (against Philippi), whose θέλειν is the “fidei promptitudo” (Calvin), because that ἐγώ, clogged by the sinful power of the flesh, is naked and void of the κατεργάζεσθαι. The latter is the simple to bring about, to bring into execution (see on Romans 1:27); and if, in order to interpret it appropriately of the regenerate person, it be made to mean, to live quite purely (Luther), or the “implere qua decet alacritate” (Calvin), or the act which is in harmony with the will sanctified by the Spirit of God (Philippi), these shades of meaning are purely imported.


Verse 19

Romans 7:19. Proof of τὸ δὲ κατεργ. τὸ καλὸν οὐχ εὑρίσκω in Romans 7:18. For the good that I desire I do not; but the evil that I desire not, that I pursue. Respecting the interlocking of the relative and main clauses, see Winer, p. 155 [E. T. 205].


Verse 20

Romans 7:20. From this follows, however, the very proposition to be proved, Romans 7:17, that it is not the moral self, but the sin-principle in man, that performs the evil.

οὐ θέλω] as in Romans 7:16.


Verse 21

Romans 7:21. Among the numerous interpretations of this passage, which Chrysostom terms ἀσαφὲς εἰρημένον, and the exposition of which has been given up as hopeless by van Hengel and Rückert, the following fall to be considered:—(1) τὸν νό΄ον taken generally as rule, necessity, and the like: “I find therefore for me, who am desirous of doing the good, the rule, the unavoidably determining element, that evil lies before me;” so that it is substantially the ἕτερος νόμος ἐν τοῖς μέλεσι, Romans 7:23, that is here meant. So, in the main, Luther, Beza, Calvin, Grotius, Estius, Wolf, and others, including Ammon, Boehme, Flatt, Köllner, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Nielsen, Winer, Baur, Philippi, Tholuck, Delitzsch, Psychol. p. 379, Umbreit, Krummacher, Jatho, and the latest Catholic expositors, Reithmayr, Maier, and Bisping. But it is fatal to this view, that νόμος, in accordance with the entire context, can be nothing else than the Mosaic law, since a definition altering this wonted reference of the meaning is not appended, but is only introduced in Romans 7:23 by the addition of ἕτερον; further, that ὅτι ἐ΄οὶ τὸ κακὸν παράκειται is not a relation that presents itself in idea as a νό΄ος, but, on the contrary, as something empirical, as a phenomenon of fact; and lastly, that we should have to expect τὸν νόμον, in that case, only before ὅτι. (2) τὸν νό΄ον understood of the Mosaic law: “I find therefore in me, who am desirous of doing the law, (namely) the good, that evil lies before me.” According to this view, consequently, τὸ καλόν is in apposition with τ. νό΄ον, and ὅτι κ. τ. λ. is the object of εὑρίσκω. So, in substance, Homberg, Bos, Knapp, Scr. var. arg. p. 389, Klee, Bornemann in Luc. p. 67, Olshausen, Fritzsche, and Krehl. But after what goes before (Romans 7:15-20), it is inconsistent with the context to separate ποιεῖν τὸ καλόν; and, besides, the appositional view of τὸ καλόν is a forced expedient, feebly introducing something quite superfluous, especially after the τὸν νό΄ον prefixed with full emphasis. (3) τὸν νό΄ον likewise taken of the Mosaic law, and ὅτι taken as because: “I find therefore the law for me, who am disposed to do the good, because evil lies before me;” i.e. I find therefore that the law, so far as I have the will to do what is good, is by my side concurring with me, because evil is present with me (and therefore I need the law as συνήγορον and ἐπιτείνοντα τὸ βούλη΄α, see Chrysostom). So substantially the Peschito, Chrysostom, Theophylact ( εὑρίσκω ἄρα τὸν νό΄ον συνηγοροῦντά ΄οι, θέλοντι ΄ὲν ποιεῖν τὸ καλὸν, ΄ὴ ποιοῦντι δὲ, διότι ἐ΄οὶ παράκειται τὸ κακόν); comp. also Origen, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Oecumenius (less clearly Theodoret), Hammond, Bengel, Semler, Morus, and my own second edition. But the idea, which according to this view would be conveyed by the dative τῷ θέλοντι ἐ΄οὶ κ. τ. λ., must have been more definitely and expressly indicated than by the mere dativus commodi; moreover, this explanation does not harmonize with the apostle’s purpose of summing up now, as the result of his previous view, the whole misery, in which the natural man sees himself when confronted with the law; see Romans 7:22-25. Hofmann also, modifying his earlier similar view (Schriftbew. I. p. 549), now understands under τ. νόμον the Mosaic law, and takes ὅτι in the sense of because, but τὸ καλόν as predicate to τ. νό΄ον, the dative as depending on τὸ καλόν, and ποιεῖν, which is supposed to be without an object, as belonging to θέλ. The speaker thus declares what he recognises the law as being, “namely, as that which to him, who is willing to do, is the good;” and he finds it so, “because the evil is at hand to him;” when he “comes to act,” the evil is there also, and presents itself to him to be done; which contradiction between the thing willed and the thing lying to his hand makes him perceive the harmony between his willing and the law, so that, namely, he “would be doing what he wills, if he were doing that which the law commands.” This extremely tortuous explanation, which first of all imports the nucleus of the thought which is supposed to be expressed so enigmatically, breaks down at the very outset by its assumption that ποιεῖν is meant to stand without object (when I come to act!), although the object (comp. Romans 7:15-20) stands beside it ( τὸ καλόν) and according to the entire preceding context necessarily belongs to it,—a statement as to which nothing but exegetical subjectivity can pronounce the arbitrary verdict that it is “groundless prejudice.” (4) Ewald’s attributive reference of τὸ κακόν to the law is utterly erroneous: “I find therefore the law, when I desire to do what is beautiful, how it lies at hand to me as the evil.” Paul assuredly could not, even in this connection, have said τὸ κακόν of the divine law after Romans 7:12; Romans 7:14; comp. Romans 7:22. (5) Abandoning all these views, I believe that τὸν νό΄ον is to be understood of the Mosaic law and joined with τῷ θέλοντι, that ποιεῖν is to be taken as infinitive of the purpose (Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 224), and ὅτι κ. τ. λ. as object of εὑρίσκω (comp. Esr. Romans 2:26): “it results to me, therefore, that, while my will is directed to the law in order to do the good, the evil lies before me.” What deep wretchedness! My moral will points to the law in order to do the good, but the evil is present with me in my fleshly nature, to make the θέλειν void! What I will, that I cannot do. In connection with this view, observe: (a) That the position of the words τὸν νόμον τῷ θέλοντι ἐμοί serves, without any harshness, to set forth τὸν νό΄ον emphatically, just as often also in classical writers the substantive with the article is emphatically prefixed to the participle with the article, on which it depends (see Kühner ad Xen. Mem. i. 6. 13; Bornemann and Kühner ad Anab. v. 6, 7; Krüger, § 50, 10. 1; Bernhardy, p. 461);—(b) That θέλειν with the accusative as object of the willing, i.e. of the moral striving and longing, of desire and love, is particularly frequent in the LXX. (see also Matthew 27:43 and the remark thereon); compare here, especially, Isaiah 5:24 : οὐ γὰρ ἠθέλησαν τὸν νόμον κυρίου. (c) Finally, how aptly the συνήδομαι γὰρ τῷ νόμῳ κ. τ. λ. in the illustrative clause that follows, Romans 7:22, harmonizes with the τὸν νό΄ον τῷ θέλοντι ἐ΄οί; while the subsequent βλέπω δὲ ἕτερον νό΄ον κ. τ. λ., in Romans 7:23, answers to the ὅτι ἐ΄οὶ τὸ κακὸν παράκειται.

The dative τῷ θέλοντι ἐμοί is that of the ethical reference: deprehendo mihi, experience proves it to me. Comp. εὑρέθη μοι, Romans 7:10; Hom. Od. xxi. 304: οἷ δʼ αὐτῷ πρώτῳ κακὸν εὑρέτο οἰνοβαρείων. Soph. Aj. 1144: φθέγμʼ ἀν οὐκ ἄν εὗρες. O. R. 546: δυσμενῆ γὰρ καὶ βαρὺν σʼ εὕρηκʼ ἐμοί. Oed. C. 970: οὐκ ἂν ἐξεύροις ἐμοὶ ἁμαρτίας ὄνειδος οὐδέν. Plat. Rep. p. 421 E Eur. Ion. 1407.


Verses 21-23

Romans 7:21-23. Result from Romans 7:14-20.


Verse 22-23

Romans 7:22-23. Antithetical illustration of Romans 7:21.

συνήδομαι τ. νόμῳ τ. θεοῦ] The compound nature of the verb is neither to be overlooked (as by Beza and others, including Rückert and Reiche), nor to be taken as a strengthening of it (Köllner), or as apud animum meum laetor (Fritzsche, Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette, Tholuck, and Philippi). It means: I rejoice with, which sense alone consists with linguistic usage (Plat. Rep. p. 462 E Dem. 519. 10, 579. 19; Soph. Oed. C. 1398; Eur. Med. 136; Sturz, Lex. Xen. IV. p. 184; Reisig, Enarr. Soph. Oed. C. 1398). By this, however, we are not to understand the joy over the law, shared with others (van Hengel and others)—an idea here foreign to the connection; nor yet the joyful nature of taking part in the law (Hofmann), whereby the necessary conception of joy in common falls away; but rather: I rejoice with the law of God, so that its joy (the law being personified) is also mine. It is the agreement of moral sympathy in regard to what is good. Comp. on σύμφημι in Romans 7:16. So also συμπενθεῖν τινι, συναλγεῖν τινι, κ. τ. λ.; similarly συλλυπούμενος, Mark 3:5. Rightly given in the Vulgate: “condelector legi (not lege) Dei.” Comp. 1 Corinthians 13:6 : συγχαίρει τῇ ἀληθείᾳ. The Mosaic law is described as νόμος θεοῦ (genit. auctoris) in contrast to the ἕτερος νόμος, which is the law opposed to God.

κατὰ τ. ἔσω ἄνθρ.] The rational and moral nature of man, determined by conscience (Romans 2:15), is, as the inward man, distinguished from the outward man that appears in the body and its members. νοῦς in its contrast to σάρξ designates the same thing a potiori; see on Ephesians 3:16, 2 Corinthians 4:16; also 1 Peter 3:4, and Huther in loc. Philo (p. 533, Mang.) terms it ἄνθρωπος ἐν ἀνθρώπῳ.

βλέπω] Here also Paul represents himself as a spectator of his own personality, and as such he sees, etc.

ἕτερον] a law of another nature, not ἄλλον. Comp. Romans 7:4, and on Galatians 1:6.

ἐν τοῖς μέλεσί μου] sc. ὄντα, correlative, even by its position, with κατὰ τὸν ἔσω ἄνθρωπον. Fritzsche and Hofmann join ἐν τοῖς μέλ. μου ἀντιστρατ., whereby, however, the importance of the added elements ἀντιστρατ. κ. τ. λ. is more subordinated to the ἐν τ. ΄έλ. ΄ου, and the symmetry of the discourse unnecessarily disturbed; comp. below, τῷ ὄντι ἐν τοῖς ΄έλ. ΄ου. The members, as the instruments of activity of the σάρξ, are, seeing that the σάρξ itself is ruled by sin (Romans 7:18; Romans 7:25), that in which the power of sin (the dictate of the sin-principle, νό΄ος τῆς ἁ΄αρτ.) pursues its doings. This activity in hand, eye, etc. (comp. Romans 6:13; Romans 6:19), is directed against the dictate of the moral reason, and that with the result of victory; hence the figures drawn from war, ἀντιστρατ. and also αἰχ΄αλωτ.

The νό΄ος τοῦ νοός—in which the genitive is neither to be taken as that of the subject (Fritzsche: “quam mens mea constituit;” comp. Hofmann, “which man gives to himself”), nor epexegetically (Th. Schott), but locally, corresponding to the ἐν τοῖς μέλ. μου—is not identical with the νό΄ος τ. θεοῦ in Romans 7:22 (Usteri, Köllner, Olshausen, and others), just because the latter is the positive law of God, the law of Moses; but it is the regulator of the συνήδεσθαι τῷ νόμῳ τοῦ θεοῦ (Romans 7:22), implied in the moral reason anal immanent in the νοῦς. As to νοῦς, which is here, in accordance with the connection, the reason in its practical activity, the power of knowledge in its moral quality as operating to determine the moral will, see Stirm in the Tüb. Zeitschr. 1834, 3, p. 46 ff.; Beck, bibl. Seelenl. p. 49 ff.; Delitzsch, p. 179; Kluge in the Jahrb. f. D. Th. 1871, p. 327. The form νοός belongs to the later Greek. See Lobeck ad Phryn. p. 453.

καὶ αἰχμαλ. κ. τ. λ.] and makes me prisoner-of-war to the law of sin (makes me subject to the power of the sin-principle) which is in my members. The με does not denote the inner man, the νοῦς (Olshausen), for it, regarded in itself, continues in the service of the law of God (Romans 7:25); but the apparent man, who would follow the leading of the νοῦς. He it is, for the control of whom the law of sin contends with the moral law. The former conquers, and thereby, while the moral law has lost its influence over him, makes him its prisoner-of-war (Luke 21:24; 2 Corinthians 10:5); so that he is now—to express the same idea by another figure

πεπραμένος ὑπὸ τ. ἁμαρτίαν, Romans 7:14,—a trait of the gloomy picture, which likewise does not apply to the condition of the redeemed, Romans 8:2.

τῷ νόμῳ τῆς ἁμαρτ.] is identical with the νόμος that was previously, without more precise definition, called ἕτερος νόμος. Instead, namely, of saying: “and made me its prisoner,” Paul characterizes—as he could not avoid doing in order to complete the antithesis—the victorious law, not previously characterized, as that which it is, and says: αἰχμαλ. με τ. νόμῳ ἁμαρτ. Here τ. ἁμαρτ. is the genitivus auctoris; τ. νόμῳ, however, is not instrumental (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact), but can only be taken as the dative of reference (commodi). The observation τῷ ὄντι ἐν τοῖς μέλεσί μου, emphatically added to make the disgrace more palpably felt, obviates the misconception that a power different from the ἕτερος νόμος was meant. We must dismiss, therefore, the distinctions unsupported by evidence that (following Origen, Jerome, and Oecumenius, but not Ambrosiaster) have been attempted; e.g. recently by Köllner, who thinks that the ἕτερος νόμος means the demands of the sensuous nature, so far as they manifest themselves in individual cases as bodily lusts, while the νόμος τ. ἁμαρτ. is the sensuous nature itself conceived as a sinful principle; or by de Wette, who thinks that the former is the proneness to sin which expresses itself in the determinableness of the will by the sensuous nature, while the latter is the same proneness, so far as it conflicts with the law of God, and by the completed resolution actually enters into antagonism thereto (comp. Umbreit); or by Ewald (comp. also Grotius and van Hengel), who thinks that Paul here distinguishes two pairs of kindred laws: (1) the eternal law of God, and alongside of it, but too weak in itself, the law of reason; and (2) the law of desire, and along with it, as still mightier, the law of sin. Similarly also Delitzsch, Reithmayr, and Hofmann. The latter distinguishes the law of sin from the law in the members, in such a way that the former is prescribed by sin, as the lawgiver, to all those who are subject to it; the latter, on the contrary, rules in the bodily nature of the individual, as soon as the desire arises in him.

αἰχμαλωτίζω belongs to the age of Diodorus, Josephus, etc. ( αἰχ΄αλωτεύω is still later). See Thom. Mag. p. 23; Lobeck ad Phryn. p. 442.


Verse 24

Romans 7:24. The marks of parenthesis in which many include Romans 7:24-25, down to ἡμῶν, or (Grotius and Flatt) merely Romans 7:25 down to ἡμῶν, should be expunged, since the flow of the discourse is not once logically interrupted.

ταλαίπωρος κ. τ. λ.] The oppressive feeling of the misery of that captivity finds utterance thus. Here also Paul by his “I” represents the still unredeemed man in his relation to the law. Only with the state of the latter, not with the consciousness of the regenerate man, as if he “as it were” were crying ever afresh for a new Redeemer from the power of the sin still remaining in him (Philippi), does this wail and cry for help accord. The regenerate man has that which is here sighed for, and his mood is that which is opposite to the feeling of wretchedness and death, Romans 5:1 ff., Romans 8:1 ff.; being that of freedom, of overcoming, of life in Christ, and of Christ in him, of peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, of the new creature, to which old things have passed away. Comp. Jul. Müller, v. d. Sünde, I. p. 458 f., ed. 5. The objection of Reiche, that Paul would, according to this view, speak of himself while he was thinking of men of quite an opposite frame of mind, is not valid; for that longing, which he himself had certainly felt very deeply in his pre-Christian life, and into whose painful feelings he transports himself back all the more vividly from the standpoint of his blissful state of redemption, could not but, in the consistent continuation of the idiosis, be here individualized and realized as present through his ἐγώ. And this he could do the more unhesitatingly, since no doubt could thereby be raised in the minds of his readers regarding his present freedom from the ταλαιπωρία over which he sighs. Reiche himself, curiously enough, regards Romans 7:24 as the cry for help of Jewish humanity, to which “a redeemed one replies” in Romans 8:1; Romans 7:25, standing in the way, being a gloss!

ταλαίπ. ἐγὼ ἄνθρ.] Nominative of exclamation: O wretched man that I am! See Kühner, II. 1, p. 41; Winer, p. 172 [E. T. 228].

ταλαίπ., Revelation 3:17, very frequent in the tragedians: Plat. Euthyd. p. 302 B Dem. 548. 12, 425. 11.

ῥύσεται] Purely future. In the depth of his misery the longing after a deliverer asks as if in despair: who will it be?

ἐκ τοῦ σώματος τ. θανάτου τούτου] τούτου might indeed grammatically be joined to σώ΄ατος (Erasmus, Beza, Calvin, Estius, and many others, including Olshausen, Philippi, Hofmann, and Th. Schott), since one may say, τὸ σῶ΄α τ. θ. τοῦτο; but the sense is against it. For that which weighs upon him, namely, the being dependent on the body as captive of the law of sin, lies in the fact that the body belongs to this death, i.e. to the death incurred by sin (which is not physical, but eternal death, comp. Romans 7:10 ff.), consequently to this shameful death, as its seat; not in the fact that this relation takes place in the present body, or in a present time posited with the quality of the earthly body. If the words of the person who exclaims should amount to no more than “the hopeless wish to get rid of the body, in which he is compelled to live,” without expressing, however, the desire to be dead (Hofmann), they would yield a very confused conception. Moreover, by postponing the pronoun, Paul would only have expressed himself very unintelligibly, had his meaning been hoc corpus mortis, and not corpus mortis hujus (Vulgate). Comp. Acts 5:20; Acts 13:26. The correct explanation therefore is: “Who shall deliver me, so that I be no longer dependent on the body, which serves as the seat of so shameful a death?” or, in other words: “Who shall deliver me out of bondage under the law of sin into moral freedom, in which my body shall no longer serve as the seat of this shameful death?” Comp. Romans 8:9, Romans 6:6, Romans 7:5; Romans 7:10 ff.; Colossians 2:11. With what vivid and true plastic skill does the deeply-stirred emotion of the apostle convey this meaning! underneath which, no doubt, there likewise lies the longing “after a release from the sinful natural life” (Th. Schott). In detail, τίς με ῥύσεται corresponds with the αἰχμαλωτίζ. με τῷ νόμῳ τῆς ἁμ. in Romans 7:23; ἐκ τοῦ σώμ. with the τῷ ὄντι ἐν τοῖς μέλεσί μου in Romans 7:23; and τούτου denotes the death as occasioned by the tragic power of sin just described also in Romans 7:23; the genitive relation is the same as in Romans 6:6. The rendering “mortal body” is condemned by the close connection of τούτου with θανάτου, whether (inconsistently enough with the context, see Romans 7:23; Romans 7:25; Romans 8:1-2) there be discovered in the words the longing for death (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, Erasmus, Pareus, Estius, Clericus, Balduin, Koppe, and others), or, with Olshausen (introducing what is foreign to the argument), the longing “only to be redeemed from the mortal body, i.e. from the body that through sin has become liable to perish, so that the Spirit may make it alive.” Finally, as in Romans 6:6, so also here, those explanations are to be rejected which, in arbitrary and bold deviation from the Pauline usage, take σῶμα not of the human body, but as “mortifera peccati massa” (Calvin, Cappel, Homberg, Wolf); or: “the system of sensual propensities ( σῶμα), which is the cause of death” (Flatt); or: “death conceived as a monster with a body, that threatens to devour the ἐγώ” (Reiche).


Verse 25

Romans 7:25. Not Paul himself for himself alone, but, as is shown by the following ἄρα οὖν κ. τ. λ., the same collective “I” that the apostle has personated previously, speaks here also—expressing, after that anguish-cry of longing, its feeling of deep thankfulness toward God that the longed-for deliverance has actually come to it through Christ. There is not change of person, but change of scene. Man, still unredeemed, has just been bewailing his wretchedness out of Christ; now the same man is in Christ, and gives thanks for the bliss that has come to him in the train of his cry for help.

εὐχαριστῶ τ. θεῷ] For what? is not expressed, quite after the manner of lively emotion; but the question itself, Romans 7:24, and the διὰ . χ., prevent any mistake regarding it.

διὰ ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ] αἰτίου ὄντος τῆς εὐχαριστίας τοῦ χριστοῦ· αὐτὸς γὰρ, φησὶ, κατώρθωσεν νόμος οὐκ ἠδυνήθη· αὐτός με ἐῤῥύσατο ἐκ τῆς ἀσθενείας τοῦ σώματος, ἐνδυναμώσας αὐτὸ, ὥστε μηκέτι τυραννεῖσθαι ὑπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίας, Theophylact. Thus, to the apostle Christ is the mediator of his thanks,—of the fact itself, however, that he gives thanks to God, not the mediator through whom he brings his thanks to God (Hofmann). Comp. on Romans 1:8; 1 Corinthians 15:57; Colossians 3:17; similar is ἐν ὀνόματι, Ephesians 5:20.

ἄρα οὖν] infers a concluding summary of the chief contents of Romans 7:14-24, from the immediately preceding εὐχαριστῶ.… ἡμῶν. Seeing, namely, that there lies in the foregoing expression of thanks the thought: “it is Jesus Christ, through whom God has saved me from the body of this death,” it follows thence, and that indeed on a retrospective glance at the whole exposition, Romans 7:14 ff., that the man himself, out of Christ—his own personality, alone and confined to itself—achieves nothing further than that he serves, indeed, with his νοῦς the law of God, but with his σάρξ is in the service of the law of sin. It has often been assumed that this recapitulation does not connect itself with the previous thanksgiving, but that the latter is rather to be regarded as a parenthetical interruption (see especially Rückert and Fritzsche); indeed, it has even been conjectured that ἄρα οὖν.… ἁμαρτίας originally stood immediately after Romans 7:23 (Venema, Wassenbergh, Keil, Lachmann, Praef. p. X, and van Hengel). But the right sense of αὐτὸς ἐγώ is thus misconceived. It has here no other meaning than I myself, in the sense, namely, I for my own person, without that higher saving intervention, which I owe to Christ. The contrast with others, which αὐτός with the personal pronoun indicates (comp. Romans 9:3, Romans 15:14; Herm. ad Vig. p. 735; Ast, Lex. Plat. I. p. 317), results always from the context, and is here evident from the emphatic διὰ ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ, and, indeed, so that the accent falls on αὐτός. Overlooking this antithetic relation of the “I myself,” Pareus, Homberg, Estius, and Wolf conceived that Paul wished to obviate the misconception as if he were not speaking in the entire section, and from Romans 7:14 onwards in particular, as a regenerate man; Köllner thinks that his object now is to establish still more strongly, by his own feeling, the truth of what he has previously advanced in the name of humanity. Others explain: “just I,” who have been previously the subject of discourse (Grotius, Reiche, Tholuck, Krehl, Philippi, Maier, and van Hengel; comp. Fritzsche: “ipse ego, qui meam vicem deploravi,” and Ewald); which is indeed linguistically unobjectionable (Bernhardy, p. 290), but would furnish no adequate ground for the special emphasis which it would have. Others, again, taking αὐτός as equivalent to αὐτός (see Schaefer, Melet. p. 65; Herm. ad Soph. Antig. 920, Opusc. I. p. 332 f.; Dissen ad Pind. p. 412): ego idem: “cui convenit sequens distributio, qua videri posset unus homo in duos veluti secari,” Beza. So also Erasmus, Castalio, and many others; Klee and Rückert. But in this view also the connection of ἄρα οὖν κ. τ. λ. with the foregoing thanksgiving is arbitrarily abandoned; and the above use of αὐτός, as synonymous with αὐτός, is proper to Ionic poetry, and is not sanctioned by the N. T. OIshausen, indeed, takes αὐτ. ἐγώ as I, the one and the same (have in me a twofold element), but rejects the usual view, that ἄρα.… ἁμαρτίας is a recapitulation of Romans 7:14 ff., and makes the new section begin with Romans 7:25; so that, after the experience of redemption has been indicated by εὐχαριστῶ κ. τ. λ., the completely altered inner state of the man is now described; in which new state the νοῦς appears as emancipated and serving the law of God, and only the lower sphere of the life as still remaining under the law of sin. But against this view we may urge, firstly, that Paul would have expressed himself inaccurately in point of logic, since in that case he must have written: ἄρα οὖν αὐτὸς ἐγὼ τῇ μὲν σαρκὶ δουλεύω νόμῷ ἁμαρτίας, τῷ δὲ νοῒ νόμῷ θεοῦ; secondly, that according to Romans 7:2-3; Romans 7:9 ff. the redeemed person is entirely liberated from the law of sin; and lastly, that if the redeemed person remained subject to the law of sin with the σάρξ, Paul could not have said οὐδὲν κατάκριμα κ. τ. λ. in Romans 7:1; for see Romans 7:7-9. Umbreit takes it as: even I a climactic sense, which is neither suggested by the context, nor in keeping with the deep humility of the whole confession.

δουλεύω νόμῳ θεοῦ] in so far as the desire and striving of my moral reason (see on Romans 7:23) are directed solely to the good, consequently submitted to the regulative standard of the divine law. At the same time, however, in accordance with the double character of my nature, I am subject with my σάρξ (see on Romans 7:18) to the power of sin, which preponderates (Romans 7:23), so that the direction of will in the νοῦς does not attain to the κατεργάζεσθαι.

Remark 1. The mode in which we interpret Romans 7:14-25 is of decisive importance for the relation between the Church-doctrine of original sin, as more exactly expressed in the Formula Concordiae, and the view of the apostle; inasmuch as if in Romans 7:14 ff. it is the unredeemed man under the law and its discipline, and not the regenerate man who is under grace, that is spoken of, then Paul affirms regarding the moral nature of the former and concedes to it what the Church-doctrine decidedly denies to it—comparing it (Form. Conc. p. 661 f.) with a stone, a block, a pillar of salt—in a way that cannot be justified (in opposition to Frank, Theol. d. Concordienformel, I. p. 138 f.). Paul clearly ascribes to the higher powers of man (his reason and moral will) the assent to the law of God; while just as clearly, moreover, he teaches the great disproportion in which these natural moral powers stand to the predominance of the sinful power in the flesh, so that the liberum arbitrium in spiritualibus is wanting to the natural man, and only emerges in the case of the converted person (Romans 8:2). And this want of moral freedom proceeds from the power of sin, which is, according to Romans 7:8 ff., posited even with birth, and which asserts itself in opposition to the divine law.

Remark 2. How many a Jew in the present day, earnestly concerned about his salvation, may, in relation to his law, feel and sigh just as Paul has here done; only with this difference, that unlike Paul he cannot add the εὐχαριστῶ τῷ θεῷ κ. τ. λ.!

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Romans 7:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/romans-7.html. 1832.

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