Rom 7.1-6

From: Andrew J. Goddard (
Date: Mon May 19 1997 - 14:46:26 EDT

I only recently joined the list and have enjoyed listening in on other's
discussions and questions. I have now decided to take the plunge and send off
something of my own. I have for some time struggled with the complexities of
Paul's illustration and argument at the beginning of Rom 7 and have ended up
with queries relating to the Greek of two of the verses for which I have no
(1] In Rom 7.4a when Paul applies his seemingly flawed illustration he writes
KAI HUMEIS ETHANATOTHETE TO NOMO which is usually translated "and you also have
died to the law". But it is a passive verb and Paul has changed the verb from
APOTHNESKO to the rarer THANATOO ie "you also have been put to death to the
law". Is there any possiblity that this Greek phrase, rather than paralleling
Paul's earlier references to the Christian's death to sin through identification
with Christ's death [which causes all sorts of problems with the illustration as
the "wife" not the "husband" dies but she is then alive to remarry the second
husband !], might be simply another way of speaking of the "discharge" and
"freedom" from the law of the earlier verses. Then, being "put to death to"
something does not have to raise the question of how and in what sense the
person "died". Paul has simply reversed the structure of the illustration and
given the same result [put to death to the law] but expressed it in different
terms and prior to the means [through the body of Christ].
[2] In v6 Paul again uses the language of death after referring to our discharge
from the law. How should one translate and interpret the clause - APOTHANONTES
EN HO KATEICHOMETHA ? It's often read as repeating the initial point - we're
free of law because, although it bound us, we have died to it. Does the change
of verb [aorist participle after initial aorist passive (?)] have any
significance ? Can it mean that this is an elaboration or explanation of the
initial statement [eg how we are discharged] rather than a repetition of the
same point ? Also, most translations omit the EN - what force should it have ?
Can the clause be translated "having died in that which constrained us" or as
"having died to that in which we were constrained" ?
As some of the above doubtless shows, I am no Greek scholar - I get by with a
very basic grammar and vocabulary and depend on a good number of reference books
to hand when trying to unravel the text. I've not found much to help me from
any of these sources with these points so any further help on the above
greatfully received.

Andrew Goddard.

Andrew J. Goddard,
27 Newland Mill,
OX8 6HH,

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