Re: Rom. 7.1-6

From: Jim Beale (
Date: Wed May 21 1997 - 16:36:36 EDT

On May 21, 1:44pm, Mark Goodacre wrote:

> So what are we disagreeing over? I think that you object to
> the notion that for Paul the Law, as I put it, is irrelevant in God's
> plan of salvation. Let me stress the last part. I did not say that
> I thought Paul regarded the Law as irrelevant fullstop (or - as
> Americans would say - period). Rather, for Paul the Law plays no
> part in the justifying (righteous-ing, right-wising, whichever
> translation you prefer) of the individual. I see this as being at
> the heart of what Paul says about the Law throughout.

Certainly our keeping of the law plays no role in our justification.
There can be no doubt about that. In this I agree. But "the plan of
salvation" includes far more than justification. We ought not forget
about the time period extending from justification to glorification!!
And in Romans 6-8 the focus is not on justification, but rather on
sanctification. Romans 7:1-6 is not about justification...

> So in the analogy of 7.1-3, Paul is talking about the old
> era in which the Law was that under which one served Sin, or
> under which one was married to sin. Now, in the new
> relationship with Christ, one serves not under Sin but under
> the Spirit.

Of course, in the "old era" the law did not have a role in
justification either; the law _never_ did have such a role;
except perhaps ante lapsum.

> Last time I wrote:
> > >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
> > >PNEUMATOS KAI OU PALAIOTHTI GRAMMATOS (7.6). Thus, under the old
> > >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.
> >
> And Jim Beale responded:
> > But this destroys the analogy which you struggled to preserve
> > intact!
> To which I respond:
> Why does my interpretation destroy the analogy? Like any parable /
> allegory / analogy, there are inevitable constraints. Paul has
> fixed hO NOMOS (of marriage) in 7.2 to the Law (=Torah). In 7.3
> the woman is freed from the Law because the husband has died. No
> 'law' is mentioned in relation to the new marriage. There is thus
> only a problem if you are determined to import law of marriage
> into this verse. My earlier response suggested that *if* you
> want to stretch the analogy, the answer that Paul hints at in 7.6
> is that in the new marriage to Christ, one is joined by the
> Spirit, under which one now serves.

You have argued that the law is not what has died. To then assert
that the law binds the woman only to her first husband, not to her
second, seems wholly arbitrary, I think. The law of marriage is
binding wherever there is a marriage. Since there is a marriage to
the new husband, necessarily the law is as binding as before. The
law does not changed, the husband is changed; you have argued that
the husband is not the law. This is not to press the analogy, but
to work within the confines that it sets up.

cut cut cut

> Some of this is again I would agree with and most of it does not
> contradict my interpretation of 7.1-6. The most important thing to
> realise is, I think, that in the new regime, the Law plays no role in
> relation to salvation. That is, as Paul would say, 'a person is not
> justified by works of the Law but through faith in [or of] Jesus
> Christ' (Gal. 2.16).

But, again, it seems both too strong and dangerously vague to say
that the law "plays no role in relation to salvation." Salvation is
a term that is frequently construed in the broadest terms, inclusive
of every element of soteriology stemming from faith (repentance,
conversion, justification, sanctification, glorification, etc.) I
agree (with all my heart) that our works play no role WHATSOEVER in
justification, but even here it is false to say that the Law has
_no_ role to play -- for by the law is the knowledge of sin:

   Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no
   flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law
   is the knowledge of sin.
   (Romans 3:20)

Justification can only be understood in forensic terms. Fallen man's
ability to keep the law is nil, and the generation of this knowledge
is just the role that law is intended to play. So, I don't think the
idea is that the law has _no_ role in justification, but rather that
it has no "positive" role. In other words, it is instrumental in
showing us that we stand condemned for our works. Without this
awareness as a backdrop against which to view justification, what
would we be justified from?

I apologize for waxing theological -- sometimes it can't be helped
in coming to understand the meaning of the text. Grammatical, semantic
and syntactical analysis go far, but contextual analysis is truly king.


In Christ,
Jim Beale

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:38:16 EDT