Do you remember the questions related to this passage?
From Bible Gem 185:
- In the body of the chapter is Paul writing about himself or is this the general Christian?
- If he is writing about himself, when?
- Is it Paul as he is at the time of writing or is it Paul before his conversion?
- Have all the things that have been said before been abandoned and now we are all trapped in wrong doing because we can’t do the thing we know we should?
- Are we forever confined to being wretched men and women waiting for God to free us from this body of death?
- And what does “the body of death” mean?
Paul uses the first person pronoun between 7:7 and 7:25 forty nine times. Forty nine times in 18 verses. There is one verse where the pronoun is not used – 7:12. But other verses evidence multiple usage of the first person pronoun. Either the subject form “I” [31 times] or the object “me” [13 times] or the possessive “my” [4 times]. In verse 7:25 Paul intensifies the pronoun found in the verb with the stand alone pronoun yielding “I myself” . . . Take a look at Rom 7:14 “For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am fleshly, having been sold under sin.” He has contrasted the pronouns as well as the concept. We know the Law is spiritual but I am fleshly. It is very clear that Paul is talking of himself and not Christians in general. Just the sheer number of times he has used the first person pronoun makes it inescapable that this is Paul talking about Paul.
So which Paul is this? The pre-Christian one or Paul “now”?
Present tense verbs abound in the second half of this section, but aorist verbs, the-particular-point-in-time-in-the-past-verb abound in the first part. In verses 7-13 the verbs are all in the aorist tense but from 14 to 24 they are all present tense verbs. Notice his comment in verse 7:18 – For I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwells no good (thing). Paul is beginning to develop a new dichotomy – the flesh and the spirit. He has talked about being in Christ and that is still an important concept. But now he begins to develop the thought of in the flesh and in the spirit. Watch for this concept to be developed in the next chapter. This is the true Christian experience.
There are four major interpretations of this passages among the scholars.
- The Unsaved Man – this view is that Paul is talking as an unsaved man. Paul before his conversion. But this is problematic as he says in 7:14 – he is a slave to sin. Yet in 6:17-18 he said you used to be slaves to sin, you have been set free and have become slaves to righteousness. There are problems with this interpretation. It is not consistent with Paul’s testimony and not consistent with Paul’s teaching. Paul says the law is good (verse 16) and in his inner being he delights in God’s law (verse 22).
- The Carnal Christian – the truth is we do have a carnal nature and we cannot achieve victory without the Holy Spirit. Note that the Holy Spirit is not mentioned in this chapter. We are waiting for the all conquering Holy Spirit to be announced.
- The Christian under Conviction – the one who has woken up to his true state in the flesh and knows what he must do to live in the Spirit.
- The Mature Victorious Christian – more to come on this category.
Take some time now to think about and research the meaning of “this body of death”. It helps immensely in understanding Paul’s point here. I will give you some time to check it out and tell you in the next Gem. Following that we move to the jewel in the crown as some have described Roman Chapter 8. While we could have taken the time to slow down and thoroughly cover every concept in chapters 6 and 7 we will certainly do that in Chapter 8. Don’t forget to apply all you know.
It is only as we look carefully at the text and make sure we understand what the writer is saying by investigating his word use that we understand the passage well. This morning in our Kartidaya devotional time we missed the point of what James was saying by not looking carefully at the word use and making sure we had the correct understanding of the passage. It is easy to do and then we wonder why we don’t really understand how the pieces go together.
WINNERS make things happen; LOSERS let things happen.Anon
Happiness is not defined by what happens TO you, but what happens IN you.Jose Carol