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Bible Commentaries

James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary
Romans 7



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Verse 12


“Wherefore” leads back to chapter 3, where the apostle is referring to the sinful condition of all men. It was by one man that sin entered the world bringing physical death as a penalty, and that all have sinned is proven by the fact that all have paid that penalty (Romans 5:12). To be sure the law was not given to Moses till Sinai, but as “death reigned from Adam to Moses,” it is evident that there was a transgression of another law than that written on stone, for “sin is not imputed when there is no law” (Romans 5:13). For the nature of this other law compare again Romans 2:15.

But as sin came through the first Adam, so the gift of righteousness came through the second Adam. It was just one offense that brought the condemnation, but the gift of righteousness covers “many offences” (Romans 5:16; Romans 5:19). It was the giving of the law at Sinai that revealed how many these offences were (Romans 5:20) for “by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). Nevertheless, though sin was thus seen to abound, yet “grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20). “Sin” as used here is different from “sins,” the former referring to our fallen nature, and the latter to manifestations of that nature.

What Paul had said about grace abounding where sin abounded, might lead an uninstructed mind to infer that it put a premium on sin. Or in other words, if man were justified by faith only, what provision was made for a change of character? How did salvation by grace affect one’s experience as well as his standing before God? Chapters 6 to 8 work out this thought as follows.


The believer is identified with Christ in His death and resurrection (Romans 6:1-10). The baptism into Jesus Christ (Romans 6:3), is the pentecostal experience which becomes the birthright of every believer the moment he believes. He is then baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of which Christ is the Head (1 Corinthians 12:13); and being so baptized he is considered as one with Christ as any member of a human body is one with the head of that body. This means of course, that he is regarded in God’s sight as having died when Christ died he was “baptized into His death.” The sequel however, must be equally true, and he is regarded as having risen from the dead when Christ rose. Hence he is now in a legal or judicial sense walking before God “in newness of life.” Being dead he “is freed from sin” (Romans 6:7), i.e., having legally died in Christ when Christ died just as every member of a body dies when its head dies, he has paid the penalty of his sin in Christ, and having now arisen in Christ after the payment of that penalty, “death hath no more dominion over him” (Romans 6:9), he has not again to pay the penalty of sin.

It is now his duty to reckon this to be true, and no longer to allow sin to reign in his “mortal body” (Romans 6:11). The way to accomplish this is not by efforts and resolutions on his part, but by yielding his new life unto God. He yields his new life by yielding the members of his body unto God his eyes, ears, tongue, hands, feet, brain, etc. (Romans 6:13).

The result will be his deliverance from the dominion of sin God will see to it (Romans 6:14). The old relation of the man to the law of sin, and his new relation to Christ are illustrated by the effect of death upon servitude (Romans 6:16-23). The old servitude was rendered to sin the end of which was death. But death in another form, i.e., crucifixion with Christ, has now intervened to free the servant from sin, and enable him to become the servant of God, with “fruit unto holiness and the end everlasting life” (Romans 6:22). The relationship is next illustrated by marriage (Romans 7:1-6). Death dissolves the marriage relationship, and as natural death flees a wife from the law of her husband, so crucifixion with Christ sets the believer free from the law, or rather its penalty resting upon him on account of his sin.

“Newness of spirit” and “oldness of the letter” (Romans 7:6) are expressions requiring a word of comment as we meet with them again in another epistle. By the “letter” is meant the Mosaic law, and by the “spirit” the power and relationships of the new life in Christ Jesus (see 1 Corinthians 3:6).


1. What is the significance of “wherefore” at the beginning of this lesson?

2. How is it proven that all men have sinned?

3. Did you cross-reference 2:17?

4. What is the distinction between “sin” and “sins”?

5. What thought is it that chapters 6-8 are working out?

6. What is the meaning of “baptized into Jesus Christ?”

7. How may the dethronement of sin be accomplished in a believer?

8. What two illustrations of this truth are employed in this lesson?

9. Describe “oldness of letter” and “newness of spirit.”

Verses 7-35


That part of chapter 7 on which we now enter is biographical, giving Paul’s experience at a period when, though, regenerated, he was still living under the law and in ignorance of the deliverance to be had in Christ. It is a revelation that the believer possesses two natures that of the first Adam received at his physical birth, and that of the second Adam received in regeneration by the Holy Spirit through faith. The man here described has been baptized into Jesus Christ, is judicially free from the law, and is walking in newness of life, and yet sin reigns more or less in his mortal body. How is he to be delivered from it? In chapter 6 Paul taught that it was by yielding oneself to God, as the result of which sin would not have dominion over him. In chapter 7 he shows in his own person the need of doing this, while in chapter 8 he describes the Divine process by which the change from defeat to victory is thus produced.

He makes clear that the Christian believer is not made holy by the law (7:7-14). At one time, as a Jew, he thought he had kept the law (Philippians 3:6), but now as a regenerated Christian he had come to see the law in a new light, i.e., as spiritual, and that which was not sin theretofore now became so. He had thought himself “alive” in a spiritual sense, but now he perceived that he was really dead.

He shows the conflict of the two natures under the law (Romans 7:15-25). He spoke of himself as “carnal” (Romans 7:14), by which he meant that, as a believer, he was still more or less under the power of his fallen nature. He did things that were wrong and yet it was not the new Paul that was doing them but the old Paul, “sin that dwelleth in me” (Romans 7:17; Romans 7:20). This “sin,” this “old man” was like a dead body lashed to his back. Was there no deliverance from it? He thanked God that there was such deliverance through Jesus Christ.

This deliverance he now reveals (Romans 8:1-27): (1) It is through the Holy Spirit dwelling in the believer who sets him “free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2-4). In his fallen state he was subject to a bias or tendency towards sin, the outcome of which was death. But now as a regenerated man that bias or tendency is broken; (2) The Holy Spirit also gives him a spiritual mind to desire this new freedom (Romans 8:5-10); (3) And the spiritual power to exercise the desire (Romans 8:11-13); (4) And the spiritual motive to lay hold of the power (Romans 8:14-25); and (5) And the spiritual wisdom to appreciate the motive (Romans 8:26-27). The spiritual motive to lay hold of the power of the Holy Spirit for a life of victory, is that of our relationship to God as His children, which implies joint heirship with Christ. This heirship is so glorious in its full manifestation that the whole creation is groaning for it, because it means its deliverance from bondage.

The practical conclusion to be drawn from all this on the part of the believer is stated in Romans 8:28, a conclusion which reaches into the glorified state (Romans 8:29-30). The man whom God has called in Christ to be his, is already considered “glorified,” so certain is that event to follow in his experience. No wonder that the challenges of verses 31-35 should follow. Read them in the Revised Version.


1. How is the latter half of chapter 7 described?

2. Of what is it a revelation?

3. What does chapter 8 describe?

4. What does Romans 7:7-14 make clear, and how?

5. What is shown in Romans 7:15-25, and how?

6. By whom is deliverance from the power of sin wrought in the believer? 7. Name the five-fold process by which this is done.

8. What is the spiritual motive for a life of victory?

9. Quote the practical conclusion of Romans 8:28.

10. How far does this extend in its application?


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on Romans 7:4". The James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 24th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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