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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
Romans 7

 

 

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Verse 1

Romans 7:1. ) The disjunctive interrogation. There is a close connection here with ch. 6, the words of which, at Romans 7:6; Romans 7:14; Romans 7:21, καταργεῖσθαι, κυριεύειν, καρπὸς, θάνατος κ. τ. λ. again occur prominently in this chapter. The comparison of the Old and New state is continued.— γινώσκουσι, to them that know) the Jews; although it is the duty of all Christians to know the law.— νόμος, the law) for example, of marriage. The whole law, in consonance with the opening of this portion, is put by synecdoche,(67) for the law of marriage.— τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, over a man) i.e., over a woman, Romans 7:2, comp. 1 Peter 3:4, where the inner [“the hidden man”] presupposes the outer man, and the parallelism consists in this, that man is predicated also separately of the woman, not merely of Adam, the husband [‘viro,’ the man, in the restricted sense of the term.] Man here is used generically; but in the second verse, Paul applies it in a special and subordinate sense to the woman, as falling under the generic term.— ἐφʼ ὅσον, as long as) neither any longer nor any shorter.— ζῇ, lives) the Law [lives. But Engl. Vers. “As long as he—the husband—liveth.”] A personification. In the apodosis, life and death are ascribed, not to the law, but to us; whereas, here we have the protasis, in which, according to the meaning of the apostle, life or death is ascribed to the [marriage] law itself, and to the husband. What is here said, depends on the nature of the things related, which are the law and man. When either party dies, the other is considered to be dead. Thus the protasis and apodosis cohere.


Verse 2

Romans 7:2. ὒπανδρος) So the LXX.— δέδεται, is bound) It may be construed with to her husband, and with by [to] the law.— τοῦ νόμου τοῦ ἀνδρὸς) It would not be an unsuitable apposition, were we to say, from the law [that is, from] her husband.


Verse 3

Romans 7:3. χρηματίσει) viz. εἁυτὴν, she will come under the appellation of an adulteress, and that too by the power of the law. She shall bring upon herself the name of an adulteress.— εἂν γένηται ἀνδρὶ ἑτέρῳ, LXX. Deuteronomy 24:2.


Verse 4

Romans 7:4. ὥστε) This word has a stronger meaning than if οὕτως had been used.— ἐθανατώθητε, ye have become dead) which denotes more than ye are dead. The comparison is thus summed up: the husband or wife, by the death of either, is restored to liberty; for in the protasis, the party dying is the husband; in the apodosis, the party dying is that, which corresponds to the wife.— διὰ τοῦ σώματος, by the body) A great mystery. In the expiation [atonement] for sin, why is it that mention generally is made of the body, rather than of the soul of Christ? Ans. The theatre and workshop of sin is our flesh; and for this, it is the holy flesh of the Son of God, which is the remedy.— ἐγερθέντι, who is raised) and so is alive [which the law no longer is to the believer].— καρποφορήσωμεν, we should bring forth fruit) He comes from the second person to the first; fruit corresponds to offspring; for the simile is derived from marriage.


Verse 5

Romans 7:5. ἦμεν ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ, we were in the flesh) that is [we were] carnal. See the opposite Romans 7:6, at the end.— διὰ, by) Romans 7:8.— τῷ θανάτῳ, to that death) of which Romans 7:13, ch. Romans 8:6, speak.


Verse 6

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


Verse 7

Romans 7:7. νόμος ἁμαρτία; is the law sin?) He, who has heard the same things predicated of the law and of sin, will perhaps make this objection: is, then, the law sin, or the sinful cause of sin? comp. Romans 7:13, note.— τὴν ἁμαρτίαν, sin) We must again observe the propriety of the terms, and the distinction between them:

νόμος· τὸ λέγειν τοῦ νόμου.

the law;

ἁμαρτία· ἐπιθυμία.

sin;

οὐκ ἔγνων , (from γινώσκω·) οὐκ ᾔδειν, (from οἶδα.) ἔγνων is the greater, οἶδα the less. Hence the latter, since even the less degree is denied, is expressive of increase.(69) αμαρτία, sin, is as it were sinful matter, from which all manner of [The all taken from πᾶσαν ἐπιθυμίαν, Romans 7:8] disease and paroxysm of concupiscence [Romans 7:8] originates.— οὐκ ἔγνων, I had not known) Paul often sets forth his discourse indefinitely in the first person, not only for the sake of perspicuity, but from the constant application of what is said to himself; see 1 Corinthians 5:12; 1 Corinthians 6:12. And so also in this passage.— τήν τε γὰρ ἐπιθυμίαν, for even lust) ἁμαρτία, sin, is more deeply seated [inward] and recondite: ἐπιθυμία, lust, rather assails [rushes into] the sense, and at the same time betrays [the inwardly seated] sin, as smoke does fire. The particles τὲ γὰρ, for even indicate this διορισμός, this contra-distinction; and sin, that one indwelling evil, works out [produces] a variety of lust [all manner of concupiscence]: see what follows; and again lust brings forth sin consummated [finished], James 1:15. [Sin lies concealed in man, as heat in drink, which, if we were to judge by mere sensation, may possibly at the time be very cold, V. g.]— οὐκ ᾔδειν, I had not known) lust to be an evil; or rather, I had not known [even the existence of] lust itself; its motion at length [when the law came, then and not till then] met the eye.— ἔλεγεν, said) Moreover it said so, [first] by itself; then, [also] in my mind: comp. when the law came, Romans 7:9.lust.the fact of the law saying [Taken out of, “Except the law had said”].


Verse 8

Romans 7:8. διὰ τῆς ἐντολῆς, by the commandment) The construction is with the following verb [ κατειργάσατο, wrought concupiscence by the commandment. Not as Engl. V., Taking occasion by the commandment, here and at Romans 7:11]; as in Romans 7:11 twice.— χωρὶςνεκρὰ, without—dead) A self-evident principle.— νεκρὰ, dead) viz. was: it did not so much rage through concupiscence: or the word to be supplied may be, is.


Verse 9

Romans 7:9. ἔζων, I was alive) ζῇν here does not merely signify to pass one’s life, but it is put in direct antithesis to death. This is the pharisaic tone, comp. the following verse. [I seemed to myself indeed to be extremely well, V. g.]— χωρὶς νόμου, without the law) the law being taken out of the way, being kept at a distance, as if it did not exist.— ἐλθούσης) The antithesis to χερὶςἐντολῆς, the commandment) ἐντολὴ, a commandment is part of the law, with the addition of a more express idea in it of compulsory power, which restrains, enjoins, urges, prohibits, threatens.— ἀνέζησεν, revived) just as [even as] it had been alive, when it had entered into the world by Adam.


Verse 10

Romans 7:10. απέθανον, I died) I lost that life, which I [fancied that I] had.— εὑρέθη, was found) So εὑρίσκω, I find, Romans 7:21.— εἰς ζωὴν, to life) on the ground of the original intention of God, and in another point of view, on the ground of my own opinion, which I held, when I was living without the law. Life pointedly indicates both joy and activity; while death implies the opposite.— αὐτὴ, itself) the same [the very same commandment]. It is commonly written αὓτη, but Baumgarten has αὐτὴ, which is correct.(70) Comp. Acts 8:26, note.


Verse 11

Romans 7:11. ἐξηπάτησε, deceived) led me into by-paths, as the robber leads the traveller; and while I supposed that I was going onward to life, I fell into [upon] death.— ἀπέκτεινεν, slew me) This is the termination of the economy of sin, and is on the confines of that of grace.


Verse 12

Romans 7:12. ἅγιος, holy) supply from what follows, and just and good; although it was necessary to accumulate these synonymous terms chiefly in defence of the commandment, with its stinging power [rather than of the law]: holy, just, good, in relation respectively to its efficient cause, its form, and its end; (as we find in the MS. notes of Dorscheus) or holy in respect of my duties to God; just, in respect of my neighbour; good in respect of my own nature;(71) with which whatever is commanded is in harmony, for life is promised, Romans 7:10. The third of these three epithets is taken up with very great propriety in the following verse.


Verse 13

Romans 7:13. τὸ) therefore what is good.—The power of the article is to be noticed.— θάνατος, death) the greatest evil, and the cause of death, the grestest evil: κατεργαζομένη, working [death in me].— ἀλλὰ ἁμαρτία, but sin) namely, was made death to me; for the participle κατεργαζομένη, working, without the substantive verb, does not constitute the predicate.— ἵνα φανῇ ἁμαρτία, that it might appear sin) Ploce(72): sin, [which, as opposed to the law, which is good, is] by no means good. This agrees with what goes before.— διὰ τοῦ ἀγαθῦθάνατον, by that which is good—death) A paradox; and the adjective good is used with great force for the substantive [of which it is the epithet] the law.— κατεργαζομένη, working) A participle, which must be explained thus: sin was made death to me, inasmuch as being that which accomplished my death even by that which is good. It is no tautology; for that expression, by that which is good, superadds strength to the second part of this sentence.— ἵνα γένηται, that it might become) This phrase is dependent on working. So ἵνα, that, repeated twice, forms a gradation. If any one should rather choose to make it an anaphora,(73) the second part of the sentence will thus also explain the first.— καθʼ ὑπερβολὴν ἁ΄αρτωλὸς) Castellio translates it, as sinful as possible: because, namely, [sin,] by that which was [is] good, i.e. by the commandment, works in me that which is evil, i.e. death.— διὰ, by) It is construed with might become [that sin might by the commandment become exceeding sinful].


Verse 14

Romans 7:14. πνευματικός ἐστι, is spiritual) it requires, that every feeling of man should correspond to the feeling [i.e. the will] of God; but God is a Spirit.— σαρκικὸς, carnal) Romans 7:18.— εἰμὶ, I am) Paul, after he had compared together the twofold state of believers, the former in the flesh, Romans 7:5, and the present in the Spirit, Romans 7:6, proceeds in the next place from the description of the first to the description of the second, and does so with a view both to answer two objections, which, in consequence of that comparison might be framed in these words: therefore the law is sin, Romans 7:7, and, therefore the law is death, Romans 7:13; and to interweave in the solution of those objections the whole process of a man, in his transition from his state under the law to his state under grace, thinking, sighing, striving, and struggling forth, and to show the function of the law in this matter: this, I say, he does, Romans 7:7-25, until at ch. Romans 8:1, he proceeds to the topics, which are ulterior to these. Therefore in this 14th verse the particle for does not permit any leap at all, much less does the subject itself allow so great a leap to be made from the one state into the other; for Paul diametrically opposes to each other the carnal state in this verse, and the spiritual state, ch. Romans 8:4, as also slavery in this [“sold under sin”] and the 23d [“bringing me into captivity”] verse, and liberty, Romans 8:2, [“free from the law]. Moreover he uses, before the 14th verse, verbs in the preterite tense; then, for the sake of more ready expression [more vivid realization of a thing as present], verbs in the present tense, which are to be resolved into the preterite, just as he is accustomed to exchange cases, moods, etc., for the sake of imparting ease to his language; and as an example in ch. Romans 8:2; Romans 8:4, he passes from the singular to the plural number, and in the same chapter Romans 7:9, from the first to the second person. Also the discourse is the more conveniently turned from the past to the present time, inasmuch as a man can then, and then only, understand really the nature of that [his former] state under the law, as soon as he has come under grace; and from the present he can form a clearer judgment of the past. Finally, that state and process, though being but one and the same, has yet various degrees, which should be expressed either more or less in the preterite tense, and it is step by step that he sighs, strives eagerly, and struggles forth to liberty: The language of the apostle becomes by degrees more serene, as we shall see. Hence it is less to be wondered at, that interpreters take so widely different views. They seek the chief force [the sinews] of their arguments, some from the former, others from the latter part of this passage, and yet they endeavour to explain the whole section as referring to one simple condition, either that under sin, or that under grace. [We must observe in general, that Paul, as somewhat often elsewhere, so also in this verse, all along from Romans 7:7, is not speaking of his own character, but under the figure of a man, who is engaged in this contest. That contest is described here at great length, but the business itself, so far as concerns what may be considered the decisive point, is in many cases quickly accomplished; although believers must contend with the enemy, even till their deliverance is fully accomplished, Romans 7:24, ch. Romans 8:23, V. g.]— πεπραμένος, sold) A man, sold to be a slave, is more wretched, than he who was born in that condition, and he is said to be a man sold, because he was not originally a slave. The same word occurs in Judges 3:8, 1 Kings 21:25. Sold: Captive, Romans 7:23.


Verse 15

Romans 7:15. γὰρ, for that which) He describes slavery in such a way as not to excuse himself, but to accuse the tyranny of sin, and to deplore his own misery, Romans 7:17; Romans 7:20. γὰρ, for, tends to strengthen the word sold. The slave serves an unworthy master, first, with joy, then afterwards, with grief, lastly, he shakes off the yoke.— οὐ γινώσκω, I do not acknowledge [allow]) as good; ([ γινώσκω] the same as to consent to it, that it is good, Romans 7:16, which forms the antithesis); its opposite is I hate.— θέλω, I would, [wish]) he does not say, I love, which would imply more, but I would, intending to oppose this [I would] to, I hate, following immediately after.— πράσσωποιῶ) There is a distinction between πράσσω and ποιῶ commonly acknowledged among the Greeks;(74)—the former implies something weightier than the latter. The former is put twice in the present tense, first in a negative assertion, and then in an affirmative assertion, οὐ πράσσω I practise not, the thing is not put in practice; ποιῶ I do, refers to action both internal and external. These words are interchanged, Romans 7:19; Romans 13:3-4; and this interchange is not only not contrary to the nature of the discourse which is gradually rising to a climax, but it even supports and strengthens it; for at Romans 7:15, the sense of the evil is not yet so bitter, and therefore he does not so much as name it, but by the time he reaches Romans 7:19, he is now become very impatient [takes it exceedingly ill] that he should thus impose evil on himself. The farther the soul is from evil, the greater is its distress [torture], to touch even the smallest particle of evil with so much as one finger.


Verse 16

Romans 7:16. σύμφημι, I consent) συνήδομαι, I delight is a stronger expression, Romans 7:22, note. The assent of a man, given to the law against himself, is an illustrious trait of true religion, a powerful testimony for God.— καλὸς, beautiful) The law, even apart from its legality, is beautiful: καλὸς, beautiful, suggests holiness, justice, and goodness, Romans 7:12.


Verse 17

Romans 7:17. οὐκ ἔτι, no longer) These words are repeated, Romans 7:20.— οἰκοῦσα, dwelling) Romans 7:18; Romans 7:20. This word is afterwards used concerning the Spirit, ch. Romans 8:9.


Verse 18

Romans 7:18. οἶδα, I know) This very knowledge is a part of this state, which is here described.— τουτέστιν, that is) It is a limitation of the sense; in me is more than in my flesh, and yet the flesh is not called sin itself(75) (we must make this observation contrary to the opinion of Flacius); but what Paul says, is: sin dwells in the flesh. And already this state, of which Paul is treating, carries along with it some element of good.— θέλειν to will) The Accusative, good, is not added after to will; and the delicacy [minute accuracy] of this language expresses the delicacy [minute accuracy] in the use of the expression, to will.— παράκειται) [is present] lies in view, without [my being able to gain] the victory. The antithesis, concerning the performance of good works, is the not [I find not] which occurs presently after. My mind, though seeking [that, which is good], does not in reality find it.


Verse 20

Romans 7:20. οὐκ ἔτι) no longer,(76) namely, as I formerly used to perpetrate it [taken from κατεργάζομαι]. Some degree of serenity and deliverance gradually arises. I is emphatic, in antithesis to sin. He who says with emphasis, it is not I that will it [non volo ego], instead of the former, I would not [non volo (without ego) I do not will] (Romans 7:15) is already farther removed from sin.


Verse 21

Romans 7:21. εὑρίσκω) In this distressing conflict I find the law, [But Engl. Vers. “a law”] without which I formerly lived. This is all [I merely find the law]. That proposition, which occurs at Romans 7:14, is repeated.— τὸν νόμον) the law itself, which is in itself holy.— τῷ θέλοντι, [for, or to me] willing) The Dative of advantage: I find the law, which is not sinful or deadly [for, or] to me [so far as I am concerned; in my experience]. The first principles of harmony, friendship, and agreement between the law and man, are expressed with admirable nicety of language. The participle is purposely put first, τῷ θέλοντι ἐμοὶ, for, or to the person willing, viz. me,(77) in antithesis to the second [with] me, which presently after occurs absolutely. With the words, for, or to me willing, comp. Philippians 2:13.— ὅτι, because) [But Engl. Vers. I find a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me].— παράκειται, lies near, [is present with me]) Here the balance is changed; for at Romans 7:18, the good will lies near [is present;] the same word, παράκειται] as the lighter part [side of the scale]; whereas by this time, now the evil, though not the evil will, lies near [is present], as the lighter part [side of the scale].


Verse 22

Romans 7:22. συνήδομαι, I delight) This too is already a further step in advance than σύμφημι, I consent, Romans 7:16.— τὸν ἔσω, the inward) He already upholds the name and character of the inward, but not yet however of the new man; so also in Romans 7:25 he says, “with my mind,” not, with my spirit.


Verse 23

Romans 7:23. βλέπω) I see, from the higher department of the soul, as from a watch-tower, [the department, or region of the soul] which is called νοῦς, the mind, and is itself the repository of conscience.— ἕτερον, another [law] and one alien [to the law of my mind].— μέλεσι, in the members) The soul is, as it were, the king; the members are as the citizens; sin is, as an enemy, admitted through the fault of the king, who is doomed to be punished by the oppression of the citizens.— τῷ νόμῳ τοῦ νοός μου) the dictate [law] of my mind, which delights in the Divine law.— αἰχμαλωτίζοντά με, bringing me into captivity) by any actual victory which it pleases.(78) The apostle again uses rather a harsh term, arising from holy impatience:(79) the allegory is taken from war, comp. the similar term, warring.


Verse 24

Romans 7:24. ταλαίπωρος ἐγὼ ἄνθρωπος) [“O wretched man that I am!” Engl. Vers. But Beng.] wretched me, who am [inasmuch as I am] a man! Man, if he were without sin, is noble as well as blessed; with sin, he rather wishes not to be a man at all, than to be such a man as man actually is: The man [whom Paul personifies] speaks of the state of man in itself, as it is by nature. This cry for help is the last thing in the struggle, and, after that henceforth convinced, that he has no help in himself, he begins, so to speak, unknowingly to pray, who shall deliver me? and he seeks deliverance and waits, until God shows Himself openly in Christ, in answer to that who. This marks the very moment of mystical death.(80) Believers to a certain extent continue to carry with them something of this feeling even to the day of their death,(81), Romans 8:23.— ρύσεται, shall deliver) Force is necessary. The verb is properly used; for ρύεσθαι, is, ἐκ θανατου ἕλκειν (to drag from DEATH), Ammonius from Aristoxenus.— ἐκ) from.— τοῦ σώματος, from the body of death) the body being dead on account of sin, ch. Romans 8:10. The death of the body is the full carrying into execution of that death, of which Romans 7:13 treats, and yet in death there is to be deliverance.— τούτου) σῶμα θανάτου τούτου is said for σῶμα θανάτου τοῦτο, the body of this death, for, this body of death.—Comp. Acts 5:20, note.


Verse 25

Romans 7:25. εὐχαριστῶ, I give thanks) This is unexpectedly, though most pleasantly, mentioned, and is now at length rightly acknowledged, as the one and only refuge. The sentence is categorical: God will deliver me by Christ; the thing is not in my own power: and that sentence indicates the whole matter: but the moral made [modus moralis. end.] (of which, see on ch. Romans 6:17), I give thanks, is added. (As in 1 Corinthians 15:57 : the sentiment is: God giveth us the victory; but there is added the ηθος, or moral mode, Thanks be to God.) And the phrase, I give thanks, as a joyful hymn, stands in opposition to the miserable complaint, which is found in the preceding verse, wretched that I am.— οὖν, then) He concludes those topics, on which he had entered at Romans 7:7.— αὐτὸς ἐγὼ) I myself.— νόμῳ θεοῦνόμῳ ἁμαρτίας, the law of God—the law of sin) νόμῳ is the Dative, not the Ablative, Romans 7:23. Man [the man, whom Paul personifies] is now equally balanced between slavery and liberty, and yet at the same time, panting after liberty, he acknowledges that the law is holy and free from all blame. The balance is rarely even. Here the inclination to good has by this time attained the greater weight of the two.

 


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Bibliography Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Romans 7:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/romans-7.html. 1897.

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Thursday, December 12th, 2019
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