Pristine Grace

Rom 7:1-4, (GILL)

The Apostle, in this chapter, discourses concerning the freedom of justified and regenerated persons from the law, and concerning the nature, use, and excellency of it; in which he removes several objections to it, and gives an account from his own experience of the struggle and combat there is between flesh and spirit in a regenerate person; and which shows, that though believers are justified from sin, yet still sin remains in them, and is the complaint of their souls. Whereas he had in Ro 6:14, of the preceding chapter, asserted that believers are not under the law, but under grace: he knew that this would be matter of offence to the believing Jews, who still retained an high opinion of the law; wherefore he takes it up in the beginning of this chapter, and explains his meaning, and shows in what sense justified ones are delivered from it; and first observes a known maxim, which everyone, especially such as know anything of the nature of laws, must allow of; that the law has power over a man as long as he lives, and no longer, Ro 7:1, and then particularly instances in the law of marriage, Ro 7:2, which is in force as long as both parties live and no longer: during the husband's life the wife is bound, but when dead she is loosed, and which is further explained, Ro 7:3, that should she marry another while her husband is alive, she would be an adulteress; but he being dead, should she marry, she is liable to no such imputation: this the apostle accommodates, Ro 7:4, to the case of the law, and the saints' deliverance from it, in which he asserts that they are dead to the law, and that to them, as in Ro 7:6, by the body of Christ; and therefore the law could have no dominion over them, as is the case of all laws when men are dead; and so they might be lawfully married to another, to bring forth fruit to God, according to the particular law of marriage. This is illustrated by the different state and condition of God's elect, before and after conversion; whilst in an unconverted state the law irritates indwelling sin, and the lusts of it, and by the members of the body operates to the bringing forth the deadly fruit of sin, Ro 7:5, but when delivered from the irritating power of the law, that being dead in consequence of the sufferings and death of Christ, they are both in a capacity, and under an obligation to serve the Lord, in a new and spiritual manner, Ro 7:6, and whereas he had said that the motions of sin are stirred up by the law, Ro 7:5, he saw that an objection might be raised against the law, as if that was sinful; this he removes by expressing his abhorrence of such a thought, by pointing out the law as that which makes known sin, and by the experience he himself had of it, making known indwelling sin to him, Ro 7:7, when he goes on to give an account of the workings of corrupt nature in him, under the prohibition of the law; how it was with him before it entered into his conscience, and how it was with him afterwards; that before he thought himself alive, and in a fair way to eternal life; but afterwards, as sin appeared to him more vigorous than ever, he found himself a dead man, and dead to all hope of life by the law, being killed by it, or rather by sin which worked by it, Ro 7:8, and therefore he vindicates the law as holy, just, and good, Ro 7:12, and answers an objection that might be formed from what he had said concerning the effect the law had upon him, as if it was made death unto him; whereas the office it did was to show him the exceeding sinfulness of sin, which, and not the law, was the cause of death, Ro 7:13, for to it with other saints he bears this testimony, that it is spiritual, though in comparison of it he was carnal and sold under sin, Ro 7:14, and from henceforward to the end of the chapter, he gives an account of the force and power of indwelling sin in him, and the conflict there was in him between grace and corruption: he had knowledge of that which is good, approved of it, and yet did it not, hated sin and yet committed it, Ro 7:15, but however, his desire after that which was good, and his approbation of it, showed that he agreed to this, that the law was good, Ro 7:16, nor was his commission of sin to be imputed to his renewed self, but to indwelling corruption, Ro 7:17, the fleshly part in him, in which was no good thing, Ro 7:18, he found he had a will to that which is good, but not power to perform it; which was abundantly evident by his practice, seeing what he would he did not, and what he would not he did. Ro 7:19, from whence he concludes again, Ro 7:20, as in Ro 7:17, that the evil he did was to be reckoned not to his spiritual, or renewed self, but to his corrupt nature; which he found, as a law that had power to command and to cause to obey, always at hand, close by him when he was desirous of doing good, Ro 7:21, and yet amidst all these workings of sin in him, he found a real delight and pleasure in the holy law of God, as he was renewed in the spirit of his mind, Ro 7:22, upon the whole he perceived there were two contrary principles in him, which militated one against the other, and sometimes so it was, that through the strength of corrupt nature in him, he was made a captive to the law of sin and death, Ro 7:23, which fetched from him a doleful lamentation and complaint, as if his case was desperate, and there was no deliverance for him, Ro 7:24, and yet upon a view of his great Redeemer and Saviour, Jesus Christ, he takes heart, and thanks God that there was, and would be a deliverance for him through Christ, Ro 7:25, and then closes the account which stood thus in his experience, and does in the experience of every regenerate man; that with his renewed mind he served the holy law of God from a principle of grace, and with his fleshly and carnal part the law of sin.

Know ye not, brethren,.... The apostle having asserted, Ro 6:14, that the believing Romans were "not under the law"; which he knew would be displeasing to many, and excepted to by them, especially the Jews that were among them, who though they believed in Christ, yet were zealous of the law, takes it up again, and explains and defends it. That they were the Jewish converts at Rome he here particularly addresses, appears partly from his calling them "brethren", for they were so according to the flesh, as well as in a spiritual relation, and this he rather mentions to soften their resentments, and conciliate their minds to him; and partly from the words included in a parenthesis,

for I speak to them that know the law; not the law of nature, but the law of Moses, as the Jews did, being trained up in the knowledge of it; to these he appeals, saying, "know ye not", for the truth of a principle or maxim he afterwards improves, which they could not be ignorant of,

how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he, or "it",

liveth; for the word "liveth" may refer either to man or to the law. The law may be said to live, when it is in full force, and to be dead, when it is abrogated and disannulled; now whilst it lives, or is in force, it has dominion over a man; it can require and command obedience of him, and in case of disobedience can condemn him, and inflict punishment on him: and this power it has also as long as the man lives who is under it, but when he is dead it has no more dominion over him; then "the servant is free from his master", Job 3:19; that is, from the law of his master; and children are free from the law of their parents, the wife from the law of her husband, and subjects from the law of their prince. This is so clear a point that none can doubt of it. The Jews have a saying [d], that

"when a man is dead, he becomes twumh Nmw hrwt Nm yvpx, free from the law, and from the commands.''

[d] T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 30. 1. Niddah, fol. 61. 2. & T. Hieros. Kilaim, fol. 32. 1.

2  For the woman which hath an husband,.... The former general rule is here illustrated by a particular instance and example in the law of marriage; a woman that is married to a man,

is bound by the law to her husband; to live with him, in subjection and obedience to him,

so long as he liveth; except in the cases of adultery, Mt 19:9, and desertion, 1Co 7:15, by which the bond of marriage is loosed, and for which a divorce or separation may be made, which are equal to death:

but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband; the bond of marriage is dissolved, the law of it is abolished, and she is at entire liberty to marry whom she will, 1Co 7:39.

3  So then if while her husband liveth,.... True indeed it is, that whilst her husband is alive, if

she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; she will be noted and accounted of as such everybody, except in the above mentioned cases:

but if her husband be dead; then there can be no exception to her marriage:

she is free from the law; of marriage, by which she was before bound:

so that she is no adulteress; nor will any reckon her such; she is clear from any such imputation:

though she be married to another man; hence it appears that second marriages are lawful.

4  Wherefore, my brethren, ye also,.... Here the apostle accommodates the foregoing instance and example to the case in hand, showing, that the saints were not under the law, the power and dominion of it; since that, as when a man is dead, the woman is loosed from that law by which she was bound whilst he lived, that she may lawfully marry another man, and bear children to him without the imputation of adultery; so believers being dead to the law, and the law dead to them, which is all one, they are loosed from it, and may be, and are lawfully married to Christ, that they may bring forth the genuine fruits of good works, not in order to obtain righteousness and life by them, but for the honour and glory of God; in which account may be observed, an assertion that the saints and children of God

are become dead to the law, and that to them, as in Ro 7:6, and can have no more power over them than a law can have over dead persons, or a dead abrogated law can have over living ones. They are represented as "dead to sin", and "dead with Christ", Ro 6:2; and here, "dead to the law", as in Ga 2:19, and consequently cannot be under it; are out of the reach of its power and government, since that only has dominion over a man as long as be lives the law is dead to them; it has no power over them, to threaten and terrify them into obedience to it; nor even rigorously to exact it, or command it in a compulsory way; nor is there any need of all this, since believers delight in it after the inward man, and serve it with their minds freely and willingly; the love of Christ, and not the terrors of the law, constrains them to yield a cheerful obedience to it; it has no power to charge and accuse them, curse or condemn them, or minister death unto them, no, not a corporeal one, as a penal evil, and much less an eternal one. And the way and means by which they become dead to the law, and that to them is,

by the body of Christ; not by Christ, as the body or substance of the ceremonial law; see Col 2:17; since that is not singly designed, but the whole law of Moses; but by "the body of Christ", is either meant Christ himself, Heb 10:10, or rather the human nature of Christ, Heb 10:5, in which the law meets with every thing it can require and demand, as holiness of nature, which is the saints' sanctification in Christ; obedience of life, which is their righteousness; and sufferings of death, which is the penalty the law enjoins, whereby full expiation of sin is made, complete pardon is procured, and eternal redemption obtained; so that the law has nothing more to demand; its mouth is stopped, it is not in its power to curse and damn believers, they are dead to that, and that to them: the reason why the law is become so to them, and they to that, is,

that ye should be married to another; or "that ye should be to another", or "be another's"; that is, that ye should appear to be so in a just and legal way; for they were another's, they were Christ's before by the Father's gift, and were secretly married to him in the everlasting covenant, before he assumed their nature, and in the body of his flesh bore their sins, satisfied law and justice, paid their debts, and so freed them from the power of the law, its curse and condemnation, or any obligation to punishment; all which was done in consequence of his interest in them, and their marriage relation to him; but here respect is had to their open marriage to him in time, the day of their espousals in conversion; to make way for which, the law, their former husband, must be dead, and they dead to that, that so their marriage to Christ might appear lawful and justifiable; who is very fitly described by him,

who is raised from the dead; and is a living husband, and will ever continue so, will never die more; and therefore as the saints can never be loosed from the marriage bond of union between Christ and them, so they can never be loosed from the law of this husband; wherefore though they are dead to the law as a covenant of works, and as ministered by Moses, and are free from any obligation to it, as so considered, yet they are "under the law to Christ", 1Co 9:21; under obligation, by the ties of love, to obedience to it, and shall never be loosed from it. The end of being dead to the law, and of being married to Christ, is,

that we should bring forth fruit unto God. The allusion is to children being called "the fruit of the womb", Ps 127:3, and here designs good works, the fruits of righteousness, which are brought forth by persons espoused to Christ, under the influence of the Spirit and grace of God; and they are "unto God", that is, for the honour and glory of God; meaning either Christ the husband of believers, who is God over all blessed for ever; or God the Father, to whose praise and glory they are by Christ; and which is a reason and argument which strongly excites and encourages the saints to the performance of them: and let it be observed, that as children begotten and born in lawful marriage are only true and legitimate, and all before marriage are spurious and illegitimate; so such works only are the true and genuine fruits of righteousness, which are in consequence of a marriage relation to Christ; are done in faith, spring from love, and are directed to the glory of God; and all others, which are done before marriage to Christ, and without faith in him, are like spurious and illegitimate children.

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