(Rom 7:1 NASB) Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives?
Rom 7:1: “Or do you not know,….” Paul is saying, “Are you ignorant?” He was always blunt in his teaching and never beat around the bush. Torah has jurisdiction and should be followed by a person as long as he lives.
Paul never taught against following Torah. He says here a man should follow it all his life.
But Paul is going to make a comparison between those who seek to follow Torah for their own salvation, such as those who were steeped in Judaism sought to do, and those who are alive to Torah through the blood of Messiah.
Paul says that Torah has jurisdiction over a man as long as he lives. Death is the only thing that separates a man from the jurisdiction of Torah. It is only at death that we are released from the judgment of Torah. Because of this, we must die with Messiah on the tree in order to be wed to Him. Then we have life through Him.
(Rom 7:2 NASB) For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband.
Rom 7:2: Paul is not trying to give us rules about marriage and divorce. He is using this law to illustrate that a wife is bound to her husband until death. In other words, if he is dead, she is no longer married to him.
He is using this illustration to show how we are under the jurisdiction of Torah while we are alive. Paul is using the law of marriage here as a “drash” to make another point.
(Rom 7:3 NASB) 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.
Rom 7:3: Some people claim that this verse prohibits divorce and remarriage. That is not what Paul is trying to convey here. For someone to make that claim means that they have no idea what Paul is saying in this section of Romans. Neither divorce nor remarriage are mentioned in this passage at all.
Paul is making the narrow illustration that a woman is bound to her husband until he dies. Then she is free to remarry.
(Rom 7:4 NASB) Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God.
Rom 7:4: The wife represents the believer in Messiah. The second husband represents Messiah. Who (or what) is represented by the first husband? The first husband represents Adam and our sinful position in Him which leads to judgment according to Torah which means death. We have been told in previous chapters how we are joined to Adam and death is the result.
Torah was given to control our sinfulness, but we in our sinful flesh are not able to live up to Torah in and of itself.
Paul says that when Messiah died in His body, we are identified in Messiah in His death, and now we are dead to the condemnation of the Torah and that condemnation through Torah is dead to us. The first husband is Adam, and we are no longer joined with him. We are now joined to the living Messiah. We died with Him and are raised with Him. He is the second husband and enables us to bear fruit. The believer (the follower of Torah through the Spirit of the Father) is not under the condemnation of Torah, but is under grace of Elohim.
(Rom 7:5 NASB) For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.
Rom 7:5: Before we came to Messiah, the sinful passions which were defined by Torah, were at work in our body. Those sinful passions led to death. The word “arounsed” is not in the Greek. Torah does not “arouse us to sinful passions.”
The Law is there to define sin for us. The Torah tells us what our sinful passions consist of. It is not there to control the flesh, but to inform it. Torah informs us of what sin is, and what the punishments for being disobedient to it are. The flesh, without Messiah, has no desire to follow Torah. The flesh broke the Law and suffers the penalty. Death.
(Rom 7:6 NASB) But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.
Rom 7:6: Just as the woman was released from her first husband because he died, we are released from the sinful passions defined by Torah when we die to our sin. We don’t follow the Torah simply because it is a list of written rules and regulations. But His people delight in serving Elohim because we love Him and want to please Him.
Yeshua said to the disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15, 21-24, 1 John 2:3-7). Serving Yeshua is not a matter of reading and observing the rules. It is an act of love.
The question for His people is not whether or not they will follow a written set of rules for salvation. The question for the believer is this, “Do you love Yeshua? If so, then there is only one way to do so (2 John 6).
Paul is saying that we should not follow Torah because it is a written set of dos and don’ts. We should follow Torah out of love because of the newness of His Spirit is within us (Romans 7:6).
(Rom 7:7 NASB) What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.”
Rom 7:7: Paul is making it clear here that Torah is not the problem. Torah defines for us what “sin” is. Paul admits that he would not know not to covet if it were not for Torah. Torah tells us what sin consists of, and what the penalties are for disobedience. That is what Paul is telling us here (Romans 3:20).
(Rom 7:8 NASB) But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead.
Rom 7:8: Paul says that apart from Torah sin is “dead.” Sin does not exist, or is dead in our own minds, if we do not have Torah to define it for us.
Paul is going to show here that the Torah and sin are not the same thing. Torah is Elohim’s will for us. The problem is not with the Torah, but with us.
Why don’t more people want to study Elohim’s Word? We all like to look at ourselves in the mirror on many occasions, but the Word of Elohim is a mirror that the sinful flesh does not want to look into. We cannot look good if we gaze into that mirror. We end up looking like sinners.
Notice here in this section that Paul uses himself as an example of our struggle against sin. He uses “I, me, and myself” in the next few verses.
(Rom 7:9 NASB) And I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died;
Rom 7:9: Torah does not bring us salvation. It only brings death to us because it shows us our sins and brings about our condemnation.
When there is Torah, sin becomes alive and it kills us, or condemns us. Torah shows us our sinfullness and our judgment that awaits us.
Once again, Paul is demonstrating the futility of attempts at obedience to Elohim from our own efforts and without the Spirit of the Father.
(Rom 7:10 NASB) and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me;
Rom 7:10: Elohim tells us if we obey the commandments, we will live (Deut. 8:1, 5:32-33). Through Yeshua we can obey Elohim and have life. Yeshua said that is why He came (John 10:10). Through the Messiah, who sends us the Spirit of Elohim, we have life and have it abundantly.
(Rom 7:11 NASB) for sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me.
Rom 7:11: Sin will lead us to death. Torah merely defines sin. We are dead and condemned in Torah through our own efforts.
(Rom 7:12 NASB) So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
Rom 7:12: Paul never preaches against the Law of Elohim. He knows the Torah is set-apart. He clearly states that the commandments are holy and righteous and good. Paul has already said in this letter that we establish Torah through faithfulness (Romans 3:31).
He knows there is nothing at all wrong with Torah. It is exact, precise, and is the will of Elohim. The only problem is mankind. Man is the sinful and unpredictable one.
(Rom 7:13 NASB) Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.
Rom 7:13: Torah did not cause our death. It is our own actions, our own sin, which produced death. Torah defines sin for us. Paul makes that abundantly clear. If Torah defines sin, why should we not follow the Torah and avoid that which is utterly sinful?
Man needed help because sin was defined by Torah and man cannot overcome the judgment and awfulness of sin.
(Rom 7:14 NASB) For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.
Rom 7:14: Torah is spiritual. Torah is not just “a writing to follow” as the Jews were treating it. Paul states this in his letters to the Hebrews also (Heb. 4:12). Paul states that Torah is how we are equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:13-17).
(Rom 7:15 NASB) For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.
Rom 7:15: In this chapter, Paul initially said he is talking to those who know Torah. He is speaking here of those who know His Torah and try to follow His Torah for redemption through the oldness of the letter, instead of the newness of the Spirit.
He is speaking as one who knows Torah and denies Messiah. He knows what he must do, but he did not die to the sin in his life through Messiah. He ends up doing the very things he knows he must not do. We must die to Torah as a means of redemption and live for Messiah in faithfulness (Romans 7:1-6).
(Rom 7:16 NASB) But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good.
Rom 7:16: Paul is once again speaking from his own experience of knowing Torah and trying to follow it for redemption. He did that for much of his life in Judaism as a Pharisee. Paul was not disagreeing with Torah because he sometimes was not fully in compliance. He knew that Torah is perfect and good. Since he was doing the very thing he did not wish to do, Torah was death for him (Romans 7:7-11).
(Rom 7:17 NASB) So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me.
Rom 7:17: He is stating that his works will not produce the redemption that the Jews claim it does. As he just stated, the Torah came and his sin became “alive.” He cannot be perfect. There is no salvation, redemption, or reconciliation to Elohim purely through Torah because Torah only makes us aware of our sin.
(Rom 7:18 NASB) For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
Rom 7:18: Paul is still speaking in terms of himself before he realized Messiah. Paul has learned that he himself, in his flesh, had nothing good.
Paul also learned that even though he wanted to do Elohim’s will, he didn’t have the ability to do it himself. Merely wishing to do good is meaningless. It is the works of following Torah (fruits of Torah) that are good.
(Rom 7:19 NASB) For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish.
(Rom 7:20 NASB) But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
Rom 7:20: Paul says that since he has the desire to follow Torah, but sin still exists in him. Paul is describing the futility in Pharisaic Judaism.
(Rom 7:21 NASB) I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good.
(Rom 7:22 NASB) For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,
(Rom 7:23 NASB) but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.
Rom 7:23: The different law that he saw were his actions through his own efforts. They were futile because he could not reach perfection in Torah.
(Rom 7:24 NASB) Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
Rom 7:24: We are in a situation in trying to please Elohim to perfection, but we are imperfect and sinful creatures.
(Rom 7:25 NASB) Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
Rom 7:25: The answer to Paul’s problem is in Yeshua Messiah. Elohim provides redemption and sanctification through Messiah. Elohim does it all and provides it all. We have nothing to add whatsoever. He saves us. He gives us the desire and love to serve Him and follow His Torah.
In ourselves alone, we are utterly helpless. We see in the next chapter that the answer to this is through the Spirit of Life through Yeshua Messiah (Romans 8:1-11).
Patrick McGuireCopyright 2014 Patrick McGuire and Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly All rights reserved, no portion of this Lesson may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly Fort Smith, Arkansas