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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Romans 7

 

 

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Verses 1-6

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

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

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

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


Verses 7-23

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Romans 7:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/romans-7.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, December 13th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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