Chapter # 7 Paragraph # 1 Study # 4
January 16, 2007
4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
1901 ASV Translation:
4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also were made dead to the law through the body of Christ; that ye should be joined to another, even to him who was raised from the dead, that we might bring forth fruit unto God.
5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were through the law, wrought in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
6 But now we have been discharged from the law, having died to that wherein we were held; so that we serve in newness of the spirit, and not in oldness of the letter.
- I. The Impact of the Law.
- A. Requires that we be "in the flesh".
- 1. This terminology, as a theological description of our condition, is first used here by Paul in Romans. [It was used in 2:28 as a physical description of circumcision, but not as a description of our condition.]
- a. As a description, it seems clear that Paul was using it to describe a pre-conversion situation in which we were a composite of body, "old man", and "wife". He follows up on this characterization, and explains it, in 8:8-9 where he clearly says that it is the presence of the Holy Spirit in us that makes us "in the Spirit" and not "in the flesh".
- b. There is a possibility of confusion in that Paul admits that we are yet "in the flesh" in the sense that we are still inhabitants of our physical, fallen, bodies (Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 10:3; Philippians 1:20, 24; etc.).
- 2. The specific details of this condition are, as in 1.a. above, the "married state of the 'wife' to the 'old man' ". Being "in the flesh" means that the capacity for fruitfulness is tied to the "old man" which we derived from Adam and which is corrupt by the sin of Adam.
- B. Has much to do with the expression of "sinful passions".
- 1. Paul uses a "dia plus the genitive" phrase to tie "sinful passions" to "Law". According to Robertson (A Grammar of the Greek New Testament, pps. 582-3), this type of phrase indicates "agency". This would make the Law the intermediate agent between two -- the actual agent and the subject of the agency. Thus, the Law is a "tool". It is used by an initiator to enable dominion over the members of the body.
- 2. The larger, general, picture is not difficult: Sin, having "passions", seeks a way to dominate the members of the body so as to express those passions. That "way" is the "way of Law".
- 3. The specific picture -- the Law being used to gain dominion over the body -- is more difficult. In what sense does "Law" become useful to "Sin" as a method of dominion and bondage?
- a. First, "Law" is a resolute expression of Justice by which every action is "characterized" as either "righteous" or "unrighteous". The "Law" calls "joining oneself to another while being married to a living spouse" adultery. This is its function of "description" in respect to Justice.
- b. Second, "Law" is a resolute expression of Justice by which every action is met by its "just due". Adulterers were to be put to death. The violation of marital loyalty was "met" by an assigned penalty.
- c. Third, "Law" sustains the "right" of the spouse. The husband has the "right" to use his wife to produce his "fruit". The "wife" has no "right" under Law to refuse to be a fruit-bearer for her husband. Thus, as bad as it is, "Sin" has a "right" by the Law to use his "wife" to bear his fruit of wickedness.
- II. The Method of Deliverance.
- A. Initially, the "method" is to dispense with "Law", not "Sin".
- 1. Paul's entire point that "ye are not under Law" is that "Sin" is always "present" to take advantage if "Law" is the overseer.
- 2. Thus, is there no "real" deliverance from "Sin" -- is there only "real" deliverance from what Sin can bring about under Law?
- a. It seems that if the "real" issue were addressed, "Sin" would be eliminated, not the rule of Law.
- 1) That, of course, raises the issue of just what "Sin" is and how it could be eliminated.
- 2) And there is the issue of the promise of the future -- that "Sin" will be totally eliminated at some point in our future experience...which continues to raise the questions of just what "Sin" is and how it is removed from the Kingdom of God forever.
- a) Under this issue, we have the reality of our post-conversion experience in this current, fallen world: why do we need to be here once we have been converted? Why does God not "save" us and immediately "extricate" us? The answer has something to do with being "under tutors and governors" so that we have the opportunity to learn how to function properly.
- b) Under this issue, we also have the reality that learning has a real impact upon whether "Sin" can even exist, let alone dominate.
- b. If all it takes is for "Law" to say "Do not covet" to "produce all manner of coveting in me" (Romans 7:7-8), is there not something fundamentally "wrong"?
- 3. Is Paul's "solution", then, not really a solution?
- a. Paul's "solution" is, at best, an "interim" solution -- designed for the "interim time" when we are yet in these mortal bodies and still subject to the passions of sins within them.
- b. Thus, the "solution" is "real"; it is just not "comprehensive".
- B. There is only one "legal" way to be delivered from the husband's "right" to produce his fruit: death.
- 1. Either the wife can "die" so that the husband is left a widower without a way to produce his fruit, or the husband can "die" so that the wife is left a widow without a way to give birth to fruit.
- 2. Interestingly, Paul declares that the method of Christ is to "put the old man to death" so that the wife is free to remarry. This picture seems to have a problem: the "man" who wishes to "marry" the woman kills off the woman's husband so he can "legally" marry her??? If we buy into this scenario, we must do so very carefully. In the final analysis, the only One who has a legitimate right to "kill" is the "Owner/God". If a woman is married to a brute, and God exercises mercy toward her by killing the brute, who is there to fault Him?
- 3. The picture is difficult because the "death of the old man" is by means of the "death of the New Husband". There is no "remarriage" except to the One raised from the dead. Jesus does not get to "marry" the woman by killing her husband; He gains the right to marry her by dying with her husband and being raised from the dead. This raises this question: did not Paul teach that we were raised together with Christ after having died together with Him? What is this "we"? Surely Paul does not wish us to think that the "old man" was brought back to life by resurrection, does he? The entire point of the illustration is that the "old man" is corrupt and the wife must be separated from him to be delivered from the task of bearing his fruit. The issue is not that the "old man" is purged of his corruption by death and resurrection so that the "wife" can be "remarried" to the resurrected "old man" -- she is married to Christ.