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A critical and exegetical commentary on the Epistle to the Romans online

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Christianity was bound before his conversion. But the cessation of
these ties does not carry with it the cessation of all ties ; it only
means the substitution of new ties for the old. So is it with the
slave, who is emancipated from one service only to enter upon
another. So is it with the wife who, when released by the death of
one husband, is free to marry again. In the remaining verses of
this chapter St. Paul deals with the case of Slavery. Emancipation
from Sin is but the prelude to a new service of Righteousness.

15. The Apostle once more reverts to the point raised at the
beginning of the chapter, but with the variation that the incentive
to sin is no longer the seeming good which Sin works by calling
down grace, but the freedom of the state of grace as opposed to the
strictness of the Law. St. Paul's reply in effect is that Christian
freedom consists not in freedom to sin but in freedom from sin.

afiapTfi<7co(i€v : from a late aor. ^^fxaprrjaa, found in LXX (Veitch, /rre^.
Verbs, p. 49). Chrys. codd. Theodrt. and others, with minuscules, read
d/ia/jTij cro/xev.

16. A general proposition to which our Lord Himself had


appealed in 'No man can serve two masters' (Matt. vi. 24). There
are still nearer parallels in John viii. 34 ; 2 Pet. ii. 19 : passages
however which do not so much prove direct dependence on St. Paul
as that the thought was 'in the air' and might occur to more
writers than one.

ijTOi . . . f\: these (disjunctive* state a dilemma in a lively and emphatic
way, implying that one limb or the other must be clicsen (Baumlein, Par-
tikellehre, p. 344 ; Kiihner, Gram. § 540. 5).

17. €is or . . . 8i8a)(T]S : stands for [uTri^KoiVaTf J nVw St^o;^^? (\i

hv nape^odrjTt. We expect rather 05 in'iv napeSuOr} : it seems more
natural to say that the teaching is handed over to the persons
taught than that the persons taught are handed over to the teach-
ing. The form of phrase which St. Paul uses however expresses
well the experience of Christian converts. Before baptism they
underwent a course of simple instruction, like that in the ' Two
Ways' or first part of the Di'dack/ (see the reff. in Hatch, Hibbert
Lectures, p. 314). With baptism this course of instruction ceased,
and they were left with its results impressed upon their minds.
This was to be henceforth their standard of living.

Tu'iroi' SiSaxTis. For rvn-oy see the note on ch. v. 14. The third
of the senses there given ('pattern,' 'exemplar/ 'standard') is by
far the most usual with St. Paul, and there can be little doubt that
that is the meaning here. So among the ancients Chrys. (Wj 5e i
Tvnoi T^f biba^rjsl 6p6a>s C']" *«* fxtra iioXiTfLas opicrTjjs) Euthym.-Zig.
(els TVTTOV, fj'yovv Toi' Kai'oi'a Koi opov ttJs evcrf/Sovy TT'iXirft'ay), and

among moderns all the English commentators with Oltr. and Lips.
To suppose, as some leading Continental scholars (De W. Mey.-W.
Go.) have done, that some special ' type of doctrine/ whether
Jewish-Christian or Pauline, is meant, is to look with the eyes of
the nineteenth century and not with those of the first (cf. Hort,
J^om. and Eph. p. 32 'Nothing like this notion of a plurality of
Christian tvttoi SiSn^^y occurs anywhere else in the N. T., and it is
quite out of harmony with the context').

19. dv'GpoSmi'ov Xe'yci). St. Paul uses this form of phrase (cf.
Gal. iii. 15 Kara avdpunov Xeyo)) where he wishes to apologize for
having recourse to some common (or as he would have called it
' carnal ') illustration to express spiritual truths. So Chrys. (first

explanation) u>aavfi fXeytv, dno av6pQi)-nivu)V \oyiapo)v, dno roop ip

<rvvr)6e'ia yiv(ip.tvu)v.

Sid Tr]v daOeVciar ttjs o-apKog. Two explanations are possible •
(i) * because of the moral hindrances which prevent the practice of
Christianity' (Chrys. Theodrt. Weiss and others); (2) 'because
of the difficulties of apprehension, from defective spiritual experi-
ence, which prevent the understanding of its deeper truths' (most
moderns). Clearly this is more in keeping with the context In

VI. 19-2L] LAW AND GRACE 169

any case the clause refers to what has gone before, not (as Orig.
Chrys., &c.) to what follows.

ffdpf ■■ human nature in its weakness, primarily physical and moral, but
secondarily intillectual. It is intellectual weakness in so far as this is deter-
mined by moral, by the limitations of character : cf. (ppoveTv ri rrji aap/coi,
4>p6vr]fia rfJT aapKui Rom. viii. 5 f. ; ao(pul Kara aapfca I Cor. i. 26. The
idea of this passage is similar to that of i Cor. iii. a 7<iA.a vfids iwoTiaa, ov
Ppuj^a' ovnoD -yap TjSvvaaOe.

Tjj dxaOapo-ia. aKadapcria znd ai/o/xt'a fitly describe the characteristic
features of Pagan life (cf. i. 24 ff.). As throughout the context these
forms of sin are personified; they obtain a mastery over the man;
and tit TTjv avojxiav describes the effect of that mastery — 'to the
practice of iniquity.* With these verses (19-21) compare especially
I Pet, iv. 1-5.

ets dyiaafjLOK. Mey. (but not Weiss) Lips. Oltr. Go. would make
&yia(Tp.6i here practically = ayicoavvrj, i. e. not so much the process of
consecration as the result of the process. There is certainly this
tendency in language; and in some of the places in which the word
is used it seems to have the sense of the resulting state (e. g. i Thess.
iv. 4, where it is joined with rifirj ; i Tim. ii. 15, where it is joined
with iriaris and dydnrj). But in the present passage the word may
well retain its proper meaning : the members are to be handed over
to Righteousness to be (gradually) made fit for God's service, not
to become fit all at once. So Weiss Gif. Va. Mou. (' course of
purification'). For the radical meaning see the note on ayios
ch. i. 7, and Dr. A. B. Davidson, Hebrews, p. 206 : dyiacr/ids = ' the
process of fitting for acceptable worship,' a sense which comes
out clearly in Heb. xli. 14 StwACfT* . . . rov dyiaaixov oS x^P'-^ ov8us
oy}ffTai TOP Kvpiov. The word occurs some ten times (two w. II.)
in LXX and in Ps. Sol. xvii. 33, but is not classical.

21. riva oSi' . . . eiraio-xuVeoGe ; Where does the question end and
the answer begin? (i) Most English commentators and critics
(Treg. WH. RV. as well as Gif. Va.) carry on the question to
tnata-xiveadc. In that case fKiiueov must be supplied before €(}>' oU,
and its omission might be due to the reflex effect of iKeivav in the
sentence following (comp. invo6av6vT(s (v w KarfixopeGa vii. 6 below).
There would then be a common enough ellipse before to yap reXoj,
'What fruit had ye . . .? [None:] for the end,' &c. (2) On the
other hand several leading Germans (Tisch. Weiss Lips., though
not Mey.) put the question at t6t(, and make €(^' o*s fnai(Txvi'f<rd«
part of the answer. ' What fruit had ye then ? Things [pleasures,
gratifications of sense] of which you are now ashamed : for their
end is death.' So, too, Theod.-Mops. (in Cramer) expressly : tear

fpu>Tr](Tiv avayvuiariov to riva ovv Kapirov <i;^6T6 TOTf, ftra Kara

anoKpKTw f(p' ois vvp tnaicrxivea-^e. Both interpretations are
possible, but the former, as it would seem, is more simple and natural


(Gif.). When two phrases link together so easily as e^' oh fVaio-x.
with what precedes, it is a mistake to separate them except for
strong reasons ; nor does there appear to be sufficient ground for
distinguishing between near consequences and remote.

rd Ydp : ri fxiv y&p N" B D* E F G. There is the usual ambiguity of
readings in which B alone joins the Western authorities. The probability is
that the reading belongs to the Western element in B, and that fiiy was
introduced through erroneous antithesis to vvvl 5e.

23. oiliwvia. From a root irftr- we get itpcu, oipov, 'cooked' meat, fish, &c.
as contrasted with bread. Hence the compound d^wvioi' (ujv^ofiai, ' to buy ') =
(ij provision -money, ration-money, or the rations in kind given to troops;
(2) in a more general sense, ' wages.' The word is said to have come in
with Menander : it is proscribed by the Atticists, but found freely in Polybius,
I Mace. &c. (Sturz, Dial. Maced. p. 187).

Xapio-fia. Teitullian, with his usual picturesque boldness, translates this by
donativum (Z?« Res. Carn.c. 47 Stiptndia enim delinquentiae mors, donativum
autem del vita aeterna). It is not probable that St. Paul bad this particular
antithesis in bis mind, though no doubt he intends to contrast 6\puvta and


VII. 1-6. Take another illustration from the Law of
Marriage. The Marriage Lazv only binds a woman while
her husband lives. So with the Christian. He was wedded,
as it were^ to his old sinful state ; and all that time he was
subject to the law applicable to that state. But this old life
of his was killed through his identification with the death of
Christ; so as to set him free to contract a new marriage —
ivith Christ, no longer dead but risen: and the fruit of that
marriage should be a new life quickened by the Spirit.

* I say that you are free from the Law of Moses and from Sin.
You will see how : unless you need to be reminded of a fact which
your acquaintance with the nature of Law will readily suggest to
you, that Law, for the man who comes under it, is only in force
during his lifetime. 'Thus for instance a woman in wedlock is
forbidden by law to desert her living husband. But if her husband
should die, she is absolved from the provisions of the statute ' Of
the Husband.' * Hence while her husband is alive, she will be
styled ' an adulteress ' if she marry another man : but if her

VII. 1-6.] LAW AND GRACE 1 71

husband die, she is free from that statute, so that no one can call
her an adulteress, though she be married to another man.

*We may apply this in an allegory, in which the wife is the
Christian's 'self or 'ego'; the first husband, his old unregenerate
state, burdened with all the penalties attaching to it.

You then, my brethren in Ch'rist, had this old state killed in you
— brought to an abrupt and violent end — by your identification
with the crucified Christ, whose death you reproduce spiritually.
And this death of your old self left you free to enter upon a new
marriage with the same Christ, who triumphed over death —
a triumph in which you too share — that in union with Him you,
and indeed all of us Christians, may be fruitful in good works, to
the glory and praise of God. ' Our new marriage must be fruitful,
as our old marriage was. When we had nothing better to guide
us than this frail humanity of ours, so liable to temptation, at that
time too a process of generation was going on. The impressions
of sense, suggestive of sin, stimulated into perverse activity by their
legal prohibition, kept plying this bodily organism of ours in such
a way as to engender acts that only went to swell the garners of
Death. • But now all that has been brought to an end. Law and
the state of sin are so inextricably linked together, that in dying, at
our baptism, a moral death, to that old state of sin we were absolved
or discharged from the Law, which used to hold us prisoners under
the penalties to which sin laid us open. And through this discharge
we are enabled to serve God in a new state, the ruling principle of
which is Spirit, in place of that old state, presided over by Written

1-6. The text of this section — and indeed of the whole chapter
—is still, ' Ye are not under Law, but under Grace ' ; and the
Apostle brings forward another illustration to show how the transi-
tion from Law to Grace has been effected, and what should be its

In the working out of this illustration there is a certain amount
of intricacy, due to an apparent shifting of the stand-point in the
middle of the paragraph. The Apostle begins by showing how
with the death of her husband the law which binds a married
woman becomes a dead letter. He goes on to say in the
application, not ' The Law is dead to you,' but ' You are dead to
the Law' — which looks like a change of position, though a
legitimate one.


Gif. however may be rip:ht in explaining the transit ion rather
differently, viz. by means of the n-aXatoj audp^nos of ch. vi. 6, The
' self of the man is double ; there is an ' old self and a ' new self;
or rather the 'self remains the same throughout, but it passes
through different states, or phases. Bearing this in mind we shall
find the metaphor work out consistently.

The Wife = the true self, or ego, which is permanent through

all change.
The (first) Husband = tlie old state before conversion to

The 'law of the husband' = the law which condemned that old

The new Marriage =s the union upon which the convert enters

with Christ,

The crucial phrase is Ifittg (QavaraOryrt in ver. 4. According to
the way in which we explain this will be our explanation of the
whole passage. See the note ad loc.

There is yet another train of thought which comes in with
vv. 4-6. The idea of marriage naturally suggests the offspring of
marriage. In the case of the Christian the fruit of his union with
Christ is a holy life.

1. "H dyi-oeiTe: ['surely you know this — that the regime of Law
has come to an ena, and that Grace has superseded it,] Or do you
require to be told that death closes all accounts, and therefore that
the state of things to which Law belongs ceased through the death
of the Christian with Christ— that mystical death spoken of in the
last chapter?'

yii'cjo-KoocTi yAp vh^w XoXS: ' I speak ' (lit. ' am talking ') ' to men
acquainted with Law.' At once the absence of the article and the
nature of the case go to show that what is meant here is not
Roman Law (Weiss), of which there is no reason to suppose that
S'.. Paul would possess any detailed knowledge, nor yet the Law of
Moses more particularly considered (Lips.), but a general principle
of all Law ; an obvious axiom of political justice — that death clears
all scores, and that a dead man can no longer be prosecuted or
punished (cf. Hort, Rom. and Eph. p. 24).

2. tj Y^P <J^ci>'8pos Y"*^ • [* the truth of this may be proved by
a case in point.] For a woman in the state of wedlock is bound
by law to her living husband.' Ivav'ipoi : a classical word, found
in LXX.

KaTTJpyTjTai : 'is compiletely (perf.) absolved or discharged' (lit
'nullified' or 'annulled,' her status as a wife is abolished). The
two correlative phrases are treated by St. Paul as practically
convertible ; ' the woman is annulled from the law,' and * the lav*
t§ annulled to the woman.' For Karapytlv see on iii. 3.

VII. 2-4.] LAW AND GRACE 1 73

dirJ ToO viJfiou TOO dfSpos : from that section of the statute-book
which is headed ' The Husband,' the section which lays down his
rights and duties. Gif. compares ' the law of the leper ' Lev. xiv. 2 ;
'the law of the Nazirite' Num. vi. 13.

S. xp'Hf^'*''"^*''*'" The meanings of xp?7/iaTiffiv ramify in two directions.
The fnndaniLntal idea is that of ' transacting business' or 'managing affairs.'
Hence we get on the one hand, f?om the notion of doing business under
a certain name, from Polyblus onwards (i) ' to bear a name or title* (xpvf^° -
ri^ei BaaiKevt Polyb. V. IviL a); and so simply, as here, *to be called or
styled ' (Acts xi. 26 i-^tvero . . . xP^MCTtcrat irpuTov iv 'Avrioxfio. toiis fiaOrjras
Xptariavovi) ; and on the other hand (2) from the notion of 'having dealings
with,' 'giving audience to' a person, in a special sense, of the 'answers,
communications, revelations,' given by an oracle or by God. So six times
in LXX of Jerem., Joseph. Antiq., Plutarch, &c. From this sense we get
pass, 'to be warned or admonished' by God (Matt. ii. 12, 22 ; Acts x. 22 ;
Heb. viii. 5 ; xi. 7). Hence also subst, x/"7A'a'''ior;idy, ' a Divine or oracular
response,' a Mace. ii. 4 ; Rom. xi. 4. Burton {M. and T. § 69) calls the
fut. here a ' gnomic future ' as stating ' what will customarily happen when
occasion offers.'

ToO (JLTJ etvai — wart ^va\\ the stress is thrown back upon l\(v9(pa, 'so
as not to be,' ' causing her not to be,' — not ' so that she is.' According to
Burton rov ^17 here denotes ' conceived result ' ; but see the note on war*
dovXevfiv in ver. 6 below.

4. too-TC with indie, introduces a consequence which follows as a matter
of fact.

Kol fi|ieis iBavardi6i\Te. We have said that the exact interpreta-
tion of the whole passage turns upon this phrase. It is commonly
explained as another way of saying ' You had the Law killed to

you.' So ChryS. dK6\ov6ov rjv elnelv, Tov vnfiov Tf\fVTT]cravTOi ov Kpivfade
lxoL)(fias, dv8p\ ytvofievoi eTepay, 'AXX' ovk fiirfv ovras, dWa Treof J E6ava-

To)6r]Tt Tw vofia (cf. Euthym.-Zig.). In favour of this is the parallel

KaTrjpyr]Tai dno TOv vopov rov dvhpns in Ver. 2, and KaTtjpytjdijfjiev dno tov

vopov in ver. 6. But on the other hand it is strange to speak of the
same persons at one moment as 'killed' and the next as 'married
again.' There is therefore a strong attraction in the explanation of
Gif., who makes vftds = not the whole self but the old self, i.e. the
old state of the self which was really 'crucified with Christ'
(ch. vi. 6), and the death of which really leaves the man (= the wife
in the allegory) free to contract a new union. This moral death
of the Christian to his past also does away with the Law. The
Law had its hold upon him only through sin; but in discarding
his sins he discards also the pains and penalties which attached to
them. Nothing can touch him further. His old heathen or Jewish
antecedents have passed away ; he is under obligation only to Christ.

Kal {i(t€ts. The force of ical here is, ' Yon, my readers, as well as the wife
in the allegory.'

Si& Tou CTcjjiaTos Tou XpiCTTou. The Way in which the death of
the ' old man' is brought about is through the identification of the


Christian with the Death of Christ. The Christian takes his place,
as it were, with Christ upon the Cross, and there has his old self
crucified. The ' body ' of Christ here meant is the ' crucified
body': the Christian shares in that crucifixion, and so gets rid
of his sinful past. We are thus taken back to the symbolism of the
last chapter (vi. 6), to which St. Paul also throws in an allusion
in Tw fK vfKpcbr ('yepdevn. The two lines of symbolism really run
parallel to each other and it is easy to connect them.

6 iraXmos av6p(onoi = The Husband :

Crucifixion of the naX. tivd. = Death of the Husband:

Resurrection = Re-Marriage:

f/;i', bovKtvdv rw ©eto ^ Kaprro^opfli' tc5 0fc3.

€is ri ytvio-Qai. vjiSs Irtpw. Lips, takes this not of ' being married to
another husband,' but of 'joining another master,'' on the ground that there
is no marriage to the Law. This however (i) is unnecessary, because
marriage to the 'old man ' carries with it subjection to the Law, so that the
dissolution of the marriage involves release from the Law by a step which is
close and inevitable; (2) it is wrong, because of ko pnocpopfjaai, y/hich it is
clearly forced and against the context to refer, as Lips, does, to anything but
the offspring of marriage.

KapTro(j)op^o-cjfAci' tu 0eu. The natural sequel to the metaphor of
'Marriage.' The 'fruit' which the Christian, wedded to Christ, is
to bear is of course that of a reformed life.

5. ore Y^P V^** ^•' Tfj crapKi. This verse develops the idea con-
tained in Kapno({>npfi(TcoiJ.ev : the new marriage ought to be fruitful,
because the old one was. tTvm tv rfj a-apKi is the opposite of umi
iv Tw TtvfvuaTi : the one is a life which has no higher object than
the gratification of the senses, the other is a life permeated by the
Spirit. Although aap^ is human nature especially on the side of
its frailty, it does not follow that there is any dualism in St. Paul's
conception or that he regards the body as inherently sinful.
Indeed this very passage proves the contrary. It implies that it
is possible to be 'in the body' without being 'in the flesh.' The
body, as such, is plastic to influences of either kind : it may be
worked upon by Sin through the senses, or it may be worked upon
by the Spirit. In either case the motive-force comes from without.
The body itself is neutral. See esp. the excellent discussion in
Gifford, pp. 48-52.

Toi ira0T)|xaTa twi' dfiapriwi': itd0r]fia has the same sort of ambiguity
as our word * passion.' It means (i) an ' impression,' esp. a ' pain-
ful impression' or suffering; (2) the reaction vvhich follows upon
some strong impression of sense (cf. Gal. v. 24). The gen. TS>t
afiapTiwv = ' connected with sins,' ' leading to sins.'

Ti Slot Tou I'o'fjiou. Here St. Paul, as his manner is, ' throws
up a finger-post ' which points to the coming section of his argu-
ment. The phrase Bia rov p6hov is explained at length in the nexr

VII. 6, e.] LAW AND GRACE 1 75

paragraph : it refers to the effect of Law in calling forth and

aggravating sin.

ckTipYeiTo. The pricks and stings of passion were active in our
members (of. i Thess. ii. 13; a Thess. ii. 7; a Cor. i. 6, iv, 12 ;
Gal. V. 6, &c.).

Tu Bavaria : da/, commodi, contrasted with Kapixo^. tw Gfw above.

6. vwX %\ KaTT]pYTJ6T]|i€i' diTo ToO t'o'jioo. ' But as it is we ' (in our
peccant part, the old man) ' were discharged or annulled from the
Law' {i.e. we had an end put to our relations with the Law; by
the death of our old man there was nothing left on which the Law
could wreak its vengeance ; we were * struck with atrophy ' in

respect to it: see on ver. 2). ircos r]yitii KOXJipyriQmitv \ tov Korexof^^fo^
Ttapa Trjs dfiaprlas dvdpumov TtdXaiov dnodavovTos Koi Ta(pfPTos Chrys.

We observe how Chrys. here practically comes round to the same
Bide as Gif.

The renderings of KaTrjpyrjOrjiuev are rather interesting, and show the diffi-
culty of finding an exact equivalent in other languages: evacuati sumus
Tert. ; soliiti sumus Codd. Clarom. Sangerm. Vulg. (='we were un-
bounden' Wic. ; *we are loosed' Rhem.) ; 'we are delivered' Tyn. Cran.
Genev. AV. ; 'we are discharged' RV. ; tious avons iti degagis Oltr. {I.e
Nouveazi Test., Geneva, 1S74); nun aber sind wir fur das Gesetz nicht
mehr da Weizsacker {Das Neue Test., Freiburg i. B. 1883, ed. 2).

ttTro9av6vT€s. AV. apparently read Q.T!o6avl,vjos, for which there is no
MS. authority, but which seems to be derived by a mistake of Eeza following
Erasmus from a comment of Chrysostom's (see Tisch. ad loc). The
Western text (D E F G, codd. ap. Orig.-lat. and most Latins) boldly corrects
to 1 oC Qa\ arox), which would go with tov vojjlov, and which gives an easier
construction, though not a better sense. After dnodavovTis we must supply
iKeiv<f), just as in vi. ai we had to supply (Keivur,

iv (S KareixofieSa. The antecedent of «V w is taken by nearly all
commentators as equivalent to tw v6pa (whether €K(lvm or tovtw is
regarded as masc. or better neutr.). Gif. argues against referring
it to the 'old state,' 'the old man,' that this is not sufficiently
suggested by the context. But wherever ' death ' is spoken of it is
primarily this ' old state,' or ' old man ' which dies, so that the use
of the term uTrodavSvTfs aloae seems enough to suggest it. It was
this old sinful state which brought man under the grip of the Law ;
when the sinful life ceased the Law lost its hold.

waxe SouXeuetv: not 'so that we serve' (RV. and most com-
mentators), but * so as to serve,' i. e. ' enabling us to serve.' The
stress is thrown back upon KOTTjpyrjdquey, — we were so completely
discharged as to set us free to serve.

The true distinction between fiffre with infin. and &art with indie, which is
not always observed in RV., is well stated by Goodwin, Moods and Tenses, ed.
1889. § 584 (with the quotation from Shilleto, De Fals. Leg. App. in the note),
and for N. T. by the late Canon T. S. Evans in the Expos, for 1882, i. 3 ff . :
moTi with indie, states the definite result which as a matter of fact does
follow ; SiOTi with infin. states the contemplated result which in the natiual


course ought to follow, loart with indie, lays stress on the effect; &ort with
infin. on the cause. Thus in i Cor. i. 7 HiaTt vffTtptiadai = 'causing or
inspiring you to feel behindhand ' (see S/>. Comm. ad loc.) ; in Matt. xiii. 3a
fivirm Sivdpov, wart ikOuv rd. neTtivd koI Karaatcrivovv = ' becomes a tree
big enough for the birds to come,' &c. It will be seen that the distinction
corresponds to the difference in the general character of the two moods.

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