Dead to the Law (Part 2)
Romans 7:1-3
"If a criminal dies, he is no longer subject to prosecution and punishment, no matter how numerous and heinous his crimes may have been."
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#jurisdiction
Published November 26th, 2018; Updated November 27th, 2018
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The Axiom (7:1) and the Analogy (7:2-3)
Romans 7:1-3
NASB
What did the text mean to the biblical audience?
What's the difference between us and the biblical audience?
What's the theological principle(s)?
How does the theological principle(s) fit with the rest of Scripture?
How should individual Christians today live out the theological principle(s)?
Dead to the Law (7:1-6)
Questions for Clarification
What is revealed about God in this passage?
Quotes
notes
The Axiom (7:1) and the Analogy (7:2-3)
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Romans 7:1-3 NASB
NT
Romans 7:1-3
nasb
Believers United to Christ 7 1 Or do you not know, a brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? 2 For a the married woman is bound by law to her 1 husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law 2 concerning the husband. 3 So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.
What did the text mean to the biblical audience?
Paul directs another rhetorical question to his Roman audience, one which they should know the obvious answer to, in making his point - that the law is only binding on the living. Since Paul has already made clear that the believer has died to sin and the law, this has the implication of saying that the law no longer is binding on the believer. He illustrates this by using an analogy from marriage law.
What's the difference between us and the biblical audience?
No differences in the context of this passage. The concept of law, and its jurisdiction on living VS dead people is the same in our time as it was in theirs.
What's the theological principle(s)?
Since believers have died to the law and to sin, they no longer are bound by the law - the law does not have jurisdiction over dead people.
How does the theological principle(s) fit with the rest of Scripture?
Rom 6 - The whole of Romans 6 details the believer having died to sin, being made alive to God, being freed from sin and enslaved to God. Col 2:12 - The act of baptism is a symbolic gesture representing the truth of us dying with Christ, and raising with Him through God's resurrection from the dead, bringing freedom from the law and from sin. Rom 5:20 - Grace abounded all the more to those who are in Christ.
How should individual Christians today live out the theological principle(s)?
Christians today must remember that they have died to the law. They are no longer bound by the law in terms of its penalty. Christ has been judged according to the law on our behalf, if we have true saving faith.
Dead to the Law (7:1-6)
editing
Romans 7:1-6
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Or do you not know, a brethren
The Axiom (7:1)
( for I am speaking to those who know the law),
ground
that the law has jurisdiction over a person [as long as he lives]
as long as he lives?
temporal
ideaexplanation
For a the married woman is bound by law to her 1 husband
The Analogy (7:2-3)
while he is living ;
conditional
but if her husband dies ,
[ then ] she is released from the law 2 concerning the husband.
alternative
So then , if while her husband is living
she is joined to another man,
[ then ] she shall be called an adulteress;
but if her husband dies ,
[ then ] she is free from the law [if her husband has died] ,
so that she is not an adulteress
though she is joined to another man.
concessive
actionresult
negativepositive
inference
Therefore, my brethren, you also were a made to die b to the Law
The Application (7:4-5)
through the body of Christ,
so that you might be joined to another,
to Him who was raised from the dead,
in order that we might bear fruit for God.
For while we were a in the flesh,
the sinful passions,
which were b aroused by the Law,
were at work c in 1 the members of our body
to bear fruit for death.
The Affirmation (7:6)
But now we have been a released from the Law,
having b died to that by which we were bound,
so that we serve in c newness of d the 1 Spirit
and not in oldness of the letter.
discourse
Questions for Clarification
Q. What does the "or" conjunction in 7:1a connect to? A. This conjunction seems to connect to the previous passages in 6:15-23 stating that believers have freedom from sin. It seems to indicate that believers being dead to the law is the reason why they are also free from sin, because the law no longer has jurisdiction over them. Q. What's the significance of the question without answer used here? A. Paul uses a rhetorical question here to emphasise the fact that they should know the answer to this question. An axiom is "a statement or proposition which is regarded as being established, accepted, or self-evidently true." Q. Why does Paul specify here that he is talking to those who know the law? A. This apparently gives the grounds on which Paul assumes that they should know the answer to the rhetorical question - they know the law, they know how law (in general) works, therefore they should know that the law only has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives. Q. What does it mean for the believer that the law only has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? A. Paul has already established that the believer has died with Christ (Rom 6:3-10). If that is true, then it must be true that the law now no longer has any jurisdiction over that believer. "Whatever authority the law may continue to exercise over others, for the believer that power has been abrogated" ˜ Expositor's Bible Commentary on Romans Q. If the law no longer has jurisdiction over the believer, how does this harmonise with Paul's comment in Rom 3:31 , where he explicitly states that he does not abolish the law, but establishes it? A. "It (the law) remains, of course, as an entity that expresses the will of God. The life under grace does not belittle the ethical demands of the law." ˜ Expositor's Bible Commentary on Romans One could say that we aren't totally freed from the requirements of the law - obeying it, doing it, loving it, etc. We are freed, however, from the consequences of failing to keep those requirements. Christ fulfilled the requirements perfectly, therefore as Christians we are judged on His ability of having done so, not on our inability to do so. Q. What type of speech is Paul using here (7:2)? A. "The apostle is not presenting a complex allegory, or an allegory of any kind. He is simply making an analogy to marriage law to illustrate the single point he has just mentioned, namely that no law has jurisdiction over a person after he is dead. Paul is calling attention to the fact that marriage laws are binding only as long as both partners are alive. Being joined to another man while her husband is alive makes a woman an adulteress, an offender against the law. But to be joined in marriage to another man after her husband dies is perfectly legal and acceptable. A widow is absolutely free from the law that bound her to her former husband." ~ MacArthur's New Testament Commentary on Romans Likewise, if we have died to the law and to sin through Christ, we are free to be joined to God and to righteousness. As Paul has indicated in Romans 6, the relationship type that we are released from is one of slavery, and the one to which we are joined in is similarly one of slavery. We are never truly free as secular thinking would suggest, but we are always joined in some form of slave-master relationship. allegory (noun) : a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one analogy (noun): a comparison between one thing and another, typically for the purpose of explanation or clarification. - a correspondence or partial similarity. - a thing which is comparable to something else in significant respects.
What is revealed about God in this passage?
God's mercy is revealed - only God could enable us to die the sin and the law, and only God could resurrect us with Christ and free us from the penalty of sin and the law.
Quotes
"If a criminal dies, he is no longer subject to prosecution and punishment, no matter how numerous and heinous his crimes may have been... Law is binding only on the living." ˜MacArthur's New Testament Commentary on Romans "Whatever authority the law may continue to exercise over others, for the believer that power has been abrogated: 'Only for him who in faith appropriates the righteousness of God in Christ is the law abolished' (TDNT 4:1075). It remains, of course, as an entity that expresses the will of God. The life under grace does not belittle the ethical demands of the law (cf. 3:31)." ˜Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol 11
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