Re: Rom. 7.1-6

From: Jim Beale (
Date: Wed May 21 1997 - 04:42:26 EDT

At 11:56 AM +0000 5/21/97, Mark Goodacre wrote:

>Jim Beale excerpted what I wrote, as follows:
>> >i.e. overall - the situation has changed. The Law is irrelevant in
>> >God's plan of salvation for it is the thing that bound the
>> >individual to the past / sin / the flesh. Not surprisingly, this
>> >turns out to be the theme of the rest of Chapter 7, and, indeed of
>> >much of the rest of the Epistle.
>And replied:
>> I must say that this conclusion does not follow from your exegesis.
>> The woman that remarries is bound by Law to her new husband, and the
>> believer that has died to sin presents his members as instruments of
>> righteousness to his new master (Romans 6:13) -- having been freed
>> from sin, he becomes a slave of righteousness (6:18,19). Certainly
>> the apostle jealously guards against the conclusion which you draw
>> (cf. Romans 8:4).
>To which I will briefly respond by saying:
>But the woman is not 'bound by Law to her new husband'. This is not
>in the passage.

But of course it is! If, as in 7:3, she is joined to another man,
then she is bound by law to that husband. The law has not perished;
it was her former husband that perished, which you have labored to
show is "husband = body of sin (not the Law)". The relevance of the
law continues intact -- this is the tacit assumption of the passage,
as your own exegesis makes plain. It is necessary to continue the
analogy to the new husband.

>If you want to try to push the analogy further, I
>suppose one would have to say that in the new marriage the woman
>is united to Christ by the Spirit - the believer now serves EN KAINOTHTI
>regime (the Law), one was married to sin. Under the new
>regime (the Spirit), one is married to Christ. One has died to that
>in which one was held captive (7.6) - captive to sin, under the Law.

But this destroys the analogy which you struggled to preserve intact!
I think your exegesis is right, but your conclusion that the law is
now irrelevant is non sequitir. For example, in 1 Cor. 9:21, Paul is
careful to make clear that he is under the law of Christ. Here, in
7:6, the idea is not that the law is irrelevant, but rather that we are
not under the resources of the law, but of the Spirit; He is the source
of our ability to keep the law. Paul calls this the "law of his mind"
(7:23) with which he "joyfully concurs in the inner man" (7:22).

>I do not see that Paul ' jealously guards against the conclusion
>which [I] draw'. 8.4 certainly does not show this. On the contrary,
>here one walks according to the Spirit (in the new marriage to
>Christ), not according to the flesh (as in the old marriage to sin).
>The great irony of the new regime is that TO DIKAIWMA TOU NOMOU
>PLHRWQH EN hHMIN - this does not contradict my reading but enhances

I think 8:4 does show it. Let's see!


hINA introduces a purpose clause which indicates God's purpose for us
in sending His Son. The purpose is that the ordinances, or requirements
of the law might be fulfilled in us. TO DIKAIWMA TOU NOMOU are the
things that the law requires of us (cf. 2:26). This is not something
that is done hUPER hHMWN, objectively, but it is something that is done
EN hHMIN, subjectively, in the sphere of our persons. It could also be
taken as instrumental, "by us." PLHROW means to fulfill, to perform,
to bring into effect. (Compare 13:8). The sense of the whole is that
God's purpose is that, by His grace which is at work in us, through the
power of the Holy Spirit, the ordinances of the law might be performed
by us.

Hubner, says, "Rom. 8:4 ... as a theological assertion is difficult
to reconcile with Galatians" ("PLHROW", EDNT III, 109). Be that as
it may (the two can be reconciled) the point is clear that the apostle
here asserts in the clearest terms, the continued essential relevance
of the law. As Murray, in his commentary, writes:

   The fact, however, cannot be disputed, and it is conclusive
   proof that the law of God has the fullest normative _relevance_
   in that state which is the product of grace. To construe the
   relations of law and grace otherwise is to go counter to the
   plain import of this text.
   (NICNT, 283)

>Kind wishes


In Christ,
Jim Beale

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