Romans 7: Who is the "I"? Before or After?
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The "I" in Romans 7 refers to:
"the Jew" under the Law (before conversion)
77%
 77%  [ 7 ]
the battle between my flesh & my mind
22%
 22%  [ 2 ]
"I" can be a "carnal Christian"
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Total Votes : 9

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Rick_C



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PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2007 3:42 am    Post subject: Romans 7: Who is the "I"? Before or After? Reply with quote

This passage has been, for me, one of the hardest to interpret in the entirety of Scripture. There are two basic views: 1] that the "I" Paul talks about is himself (after salvation), and, 2] that he is speaking "to, or about, 'the Jew' under the Law" (before salvation). Another view, and actually there are several, is that it applies to "both" (pre- and post- conversion). While there are certain spiritual principles Paul outlines in the chapter that have practical applications to Christian living, the "both" interpretation of what Paul initially meant is difficult (more on that later, maybe).

Steve talks about the passage in his Romans lectures and refers to it in others. My opinion, so far, is #2, above. I'm relatively convinced of it and would like to discuss it (even with Steve, except I know he (you) will be gone for a while in Africa).

I generally agree with the exegesis presented here (though not on all details):
An Analysis of Romans 7:7-25
by Jeff Smelser


(You can click the sidebar to make it small)...an excerpt:

Jeff Smelser wrote:
The question concerning whom the first person pronoun represents in Romans seven has long been debated. Augustine, most Calvinists, and most commentators since Augustine take the chapter as a whole to be a description of Paul's own state at the time that he wrote the epistle, and consequently, the state of every Christian. On the other hand, the ancient Greek commentators, Arminians, as well as a few Calvinists argue that when saying such things as "I am carnal, sold under sin" (7:14), Paul is not talking about his own present state, but is rather describing the state of a sinner who becomes aware of his plight by the operation of law.

This writer, for the most part, holds to the position which Isaiah Boone Grubbs defended in his commentary. Grubbs stated that "It has been a needless puzzle . . . to decide whether this passage is applicable to the regenerate or the unregenerate." Grubbs contended that the apostle Paul is concerned, not with the distinction between the regenerate and the unregenerate, but rather "between the state of any one under a legal system without grace on the one hand, and the state under a gracious system on the other."

It will be the purpose of this article to demonstrate by means of a careful exegesis that this passage can not be describing an inner conflict that is typical of Christians, but is rather describing the futility of attempting to achieve a righteousness under a legal system. Such a view of the passage is entirely in harmony with the rest of an epistle which teaches that, "now apart from the law a righteousness of God hath been manifested . . . even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ unto all them that believe" (3:21-22).



To begin the discussion, where Smelser writes..."....but is rather describing the futility of attempting to achieve a righteousness under a legal system." I don't necessarily see this as being the case as I tend toward N.T. Wright's view that obedience to the Law was more of a "badge of covenant membership" than the Reformation-influenced view (common to most Protestants) that the Jews obeyed the Law to "earn salvation." But this is an aside to exegesis of the passage (yet, that I thought I should mention).

To really cover this entire chapter would take quite a lot of study in terms of context and Paul's overall train of thought (in the book).

But, for me, this is more than just trying to unravel a Bible mystery. What I'm seeing and trying to understand has profound consequences to my life and how I'm living it.

We can proceed slowly...I don't know, lol. Anyone care to join in on this? If for nothing else, we could learn & practice hermeneutics (Bible interpretation).

Thanks,
Rick

P.S. I almost want to wait till Steve gets back coz this is one area in theology that I, um, Well...I think I-like strongly disagree with him on.
But: JESUS REIGNS! is the main thing tho, huh? Smile
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Rick_C



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PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2007 4:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've just re-read this link (after having it for several years). Actually, I disagree with several of Smelser's points along the lines of N.T. Wright (as Steve so often mentions how we can change our views).

My own interpretation is: Paul's "I" is "the Jew" (under the Law). Smelser applies it to the person (anyone) who becomes aware of their sinfulness. At any rate, I agree that the "I" is describing a non-converted (before salvation) someone ("the Jew").

My reason for this?

"Or do you not know, brethren, (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person for as long as he lives?" Rom 7:1, (NASB, updated).

"Brethren" (or "brothers" in other translations) is often used to address believing Jews in Scripture. So Paul made it a point that he was now speaking to his believing brothers according to the flesh (he wanted to talk to them now). Elsewhere Paul refers to believing "Gentiles who do not have the law..." (Rom 2:14).

Do a word study on "brothers" and you will find it almost always refers to believing Jews (in the NT). I noticed it in other places in Romans but....

I really need a nap Wink
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Sean



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PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2007 5:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believe Paul is speaking about "the flesh" and the effect the law has on it. In other words, he is referring to life in the flesh. Doesn't really matter if it's saved flesh or unsaved flesh, flesh is flesh. Even if you are saved you can walk in the flesh (Gal 5:16-17, Gal 6:Cool and we continue as Christians to war against the flesh (1 Pet 2:11; or is it warring against us Smile) I do believe Paul is speaking of a person without the Spirit to overcome power of the flesh, but again, his major point, IMO, is the inability to overcome sin:

Rom 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

Paul points out the solution to the problem:
Rom 8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Anyway, I copied this from another post I made about Romans 7:

Rom 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.
Rom 7:15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
Rom 7:16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.
Rom 7:17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
Rom 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.


So the law can show a man who is "of the flesh" what is good. That man, who is "sold under sin" can "desire to do what is good"! Lets not get this wrong, Paul plainly states that "in the flesh" he has the desire but not the ability to carry out what is right. This is why Paul continues in Romans 8 saying:

Rom 8:3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
Rom 8:4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.


People get tied up over weather or not Paul was speaking in Romans 7 about if this is his pre-conversion life or post-conversion. Paul's not talking either way! Paul's explaining what "the flesh" is like, the law's effect on the flesh (teaches and condemns but does not give power to overcome sin), and the overcoming power that comes through the Spirit.

It's noteworthy that Paul says that although man is dead in sin, he is able to desire what is good, even though "in the flesh" this desire cannot be carried out. The evil his does not want to do, this he keeps on doing, in the flesh. Romans 8:4 Paul uses the reverse language when speaking of the Spirit filled man "who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit".

Rom 7:22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.

I'm sorry but this is not the Christian walk! Is a Christian made "captive" to the law of sin in "his members"? Exactly what improvement would there be over the non-Christian? The desire to do good can come from a man captive to sin, even the desire to believe the Gospel. The receiving of the Holy Spirit breaks the captivity to sin so that man can live pleasing to God:

Rom 8:12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.
Rom 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Rom 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.


This is why when Romans 3 says: "I have already charged that all men, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin" it means just what Paul goes on to discuss in Romans 7.

Anyway, that's my $.02

Steve Gregg says it's speaking about Paul in a saved state because his mind desires good (a repentant mind) but the flesh does not:

Rom 7:16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.


Then if we look at this passage:
Eph 2:3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

We see Steve's point that at one time our body and mind were both in agreement about carrying out the desires of the flesh.

I've given this a lot of thought, but I think this is just Paul's way of speaking. Certainly, the body and mind were carrying out the desires of our flesh. However, I believe in Romans 7 Paul is introducing the law into the equation. The law was thought to bring life, but in reality it brought death (Rom 7:10) because instead of setting us free it only stirred up sin.

I think this is illustrated in this verse:
Rom 8:6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

Someone can be saved and can still sin, at that time the mind is set on the flesh and at that time the mind and flesh are in agreement, so I don't agree that this proves the person in Romans 7 is different than the person in Ephesians 2:3. When the law came it told us what was good, but it gave no power to perform what was good. The Spirit does that.

Rom 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
Rom 8:3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
Rom 8:4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.


So in my opinion, Paul is speaking in Romans 7 about a man with the law and in the flesh. The law could not reform man, even if he desired it to, because of the flesh. God's remedy is the Spirit leading us.
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Allyn



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PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2007 5:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rick, the letter was certainly written to a specific reader(s) but is easily applied to us as well. We should be able to tell when it applied only to the Jews but just as well we should be able to see the generic applications. Anyone living today is a part of those in the generic application whether Jew or Gentile. If chapter 7 was only for the Jew then it has no significance for those who claim to be Jews today since there is no true genetic Jew living today, and if it is about religion then we also know what God thinks about that. Genetically speaking, Jews today are more Gentile then Jew.
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Rick_C



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PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2007 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Brother Allyn Smile

You wrote:
We should be able to tell when it applied only to the Jews but just as well we should be able to see the generic applications. Anyone living today is a part of those in the generic application whether Jew or Gentile. If chapter 7 was only for the Jew then it has no significance for those who claim to be Jews today since there is no true genetic Jew living today, and if it is about religion then we also know what God thinks about that. Genetically speaking, Jews today are more Gentile then Jew.


Yes, Romans was written to the church in Rome which was comprised of both Gentiles and Jews. And, yes, the entire letter was written to "all of them." When Paul wrote (I speak to those who know the law), he was letting the entire congregation know that he is (now, at this chapter) speaking to "Jewish issues." This doesn't mean he mean was speaking only to the Jews in the church in Rome as the letter is addressed to them all: The letter, in many ways, tries to fix Jewish and Gentile issues.

The Greek word for "know" is ginoskousin, which indicates a deep and intimate knowledge. Some Gentiles in the church in Rome may have had a measure of understanding about the law. "God-fearers" attended synagogues regularly without becoming Jewish and probably knew the Ten Commandments and other Jewish regulations. They undoubtedly knew about the ones they didn't keep, like circumcision.

The church in Rome had believing Jews who knew the law (as described above), God-fearers (who were virtually everywhere there was a synagogue in the first century), and Gentiles who did not have the law, and therefore, didn't have an intimate knowledge of it.

(Romans 2, NIV) 12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law 13 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; 14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)....

That these Gentiles are believers is emphasized with "by nature do the things in the law." In Romans 7:1 Paul was letting his readers know that he is now speaking to Jews who have, and understand, the law. Of course, Gentiles in the church in Rome had various levels of knowing the law. Some, apparently, weren't very familiar with it though they did what the law says through their new nature in Christ. Others were probably God-fearers who got saved and had more knowledge of the law, though not as intimately as the Jews in the church.

Here are other reasons I think the "brothers" being specifically addressed in Romans 7 were Jews (though the whole church heard Romans while it was read):
(Romans 9, NIV) 1 I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit— 2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, 4the people of Israel.

Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved (Rom 10:1).

Paul writes to "brothers" of his own race: the Jews in the Roman church while knowing all -- Jews and Gentiles alike -- will hear him.

When you wrote:
Rick, the letter was certainly written to a specific reader(s) but is easily applied to us as well.


This letter isn't easily applied if I have a "sinful nature" inside of me. Do I? Right now I don't think the Bible teaches I do, which is why I started this thread. (I want to unravel and understand this chapter much more fully).

God bless you, Bro,
Rick
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Rick_C



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PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2007 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sean,

Wow, 'nice study you posted!

You summarized when you wrote:
So in my opinion, Paul is speaking in Romans 7 about a man with the law and in the flesh. The law could not reform man, even if he desired it to, because of the flesh. God's remedy is the Spirit leading us.


I agree. There are details I would really like to discuss with you (by way of reply)...but need to get ready to go to church.

Thanks for the blue font. A handy posting tool, huh? Wink

For right now, (I gtg): Is God's remedy merely that we are led by the Spirit? I would think so, if we follow. The question is: On what basis do we follow? Do I still have a "sinful nature" (lit., the flesh) inside of me? Is this "nature" what keeps me from obeying the Lord? (I don't think the Bible teaches this. Paul's use of the word "body" in Romans helps clear this up, imo)...more on that later, after I reply to more stuff from your post....

Your quote from Ephesians is pertinent and right-on-target, imo...but I better get going!
Rick
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STEVE7150



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PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2007 4:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rom 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.
Rom 7:15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
Rom 7:16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.
Rom 7:17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
Rom 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.



Is it so important who Paul is talking to instead of what he is talking about which is the battle that HE has between his inner spirit man and his flesh. It's the battle we all have between our lustful flesh which tempts us into sin and our process of sanctification through the Holy Spirit. Paul apparently had the same battles every other believer has and perhaps the fact he visably saw Christ yet still had'nt completely overcome sin really grieved him.
I just don't see why Paul's words should'nt be taken at face value since it's consistent with similar musings he made in other epistles like Gal and 1st Tim.
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Paidion



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PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2007 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am convinced that Paul was NOT talking about himself in this passage, but is using the hypothetical "I". He is talking about a person who is trying to be good by sheer self-effort without appropriating the enabling grace of God made available through Christ's sacrifice. He shows in chapter 8 that through Christ's sacrifice the righteous requirement of the law will be fulfilled in us. Paul never spoke of "a continous struggle between our old nature and our new" as so often is taught in our day. Rather he spoke of the victory over sin which is in Christ Jesus.

When Paul said, "I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do," and "So then with my mind I serve the law of God, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin", he was not speaking about the normal Christian life.

In I Corinthians 6:11, when speaking about various sinful life styles, he said:

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were shown to be righteous in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. I Corinthians 6:11

I'd like to share with you a little analogy of part of Romans 7 and part of chapter 8 which I wrote concerning my terrible handwriting.

Each verse in the Biblical text from Rom 7:12 - 8:4 has its counterpart in my analogy. I think you will see from this analogy how I interpret the text:

Chapter 7

12. Handwriting is important, and instruction in it is good.

13. So did that which is good cause my illegible handwriting? No way. It was the natural lack within me (perhaps my left handedness and my lack of artistic talent) which made the scrawl come out, through the good instruction, in order that my poor handwriting truly be shown to be a scrawl, and through the handwriting instruction given to me, shown to be what it really is,absolutely illegible.

14. I know that handwriting instruction is good. But I am a scrawler.

15. I do not understand my own actions.

16. For I do not write the way I want, but I write the very way that I hate. Now even though I do not write the way I want, I agree that the handwriting instruction I received was good.

17. So then it is not that I do it deliberately, but that weakness which dwells within me is the cause.

18. For I know that no ability for handwriting dwells within me. I can will to write beautifully, but I cannot do it.

19. For I do not write the way I want, but the illegible scrawl that I do not want, is what I do.

20. Now if I scrawl in a way I don't want, it is not I doing it deliberately, but the lack of skill within me.

21. So I find it to be a law of my nature, that when I want to write beautifully, an ugly scrawl comes out.

22. For in my inmost self, I delight in the thought of writing beautifully and legibly,

23. But I see in my nature another law at war with the law of my mental desire, making me captive to my weakness and my illegible handwriting.

24. Wretched man that I am! What can deliver me from this inability to write legibly?

25. Thank God for my computer!

26. So then, I of myself (without my computer), write beautifully and legibly with my mind, but with my hand, I write an illegible scrawl.

Chapter 8

1. There is now no criticism for those who write documents using a word processor and printer.

2. For the power of the word processor in my computer has set me free from the law of my incapable hand.

3. For the computer has done what handwriting instruction weakened by my inability could not do; by means of a word processor and printer, it did away with my illegible scrawl,

4. in order that the requirements for writing documents may be fulfilled in us who write not with our incapable hands, but with a word processor and printer.
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Sean



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PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2007 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rick_C wrote:

Thanks for the blue font. A handy posting tool, huh? Wink


I believe I got the idea from Steve7150. Smile

Rick_C wrote:

For right now, (I gtg): Is God's remedy merely that we are led by the Spirit? I would think so, if we follow. The question is: On what basis do we follow? Do I still have a "sinful nature" (lit., the flesh) inside of me? Is this "nature" what keeps me from obeying the Lord? (I don't think the Bible teaches this. Paul's use of the word "body" in Romans helps clear this up, imo)...more on that later, after I reply to more stuff from your post....

Your quote from Ephesians is pertinent and right-on-target, imo...but I better get going!
Rick


I'm not sure what "sinful nature" means exactly. I don't agree with the NIV that translates sarx as "sinful nature" where other translations translate sarx as "flesh".

I do agree that the flesh is still with us as long as we live (1 Pet 2:11). It is a war. But through the Spirit we can actually gain victory or sin in our lives.

Rom 2:14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts

There are multiple scriptures that mention the victory over sin in those who have received salvation.

STEVE7150 wrote:

Is it so important who Paul is talking to instead of what he is talking about which is the battle that HE has between his inner spirit man and his flesh. It's the battle we all have between our lustful flesh which tempts us into sin and our process of sanctification through the Holy Spirit. Paul apparently had the same battles every other believer has and perhaps the fact he visably saw Christ yet still had'nt completely overcome sin really grieved him.
I just don't see why Paul's words should'nt be taken at face value since it's consistent with similar musings he made in other epistles like Gal and 1st Tim.


I do believe the battle still rages on! The difference is that without the Spirit, we are powerless to overcome sin, even with the law telling us outwardly what to do and what not to do. Romans 7-8 hang together and in my opinion demonstrate the powerless man in the flesh, even with the law. But through the Spirit we can actually accomplish something that is impossible otherwise:

Rom 8:12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.


So I don't want it to seem that I'm denying a struggle with sin in the convert. I'm just saying that we can actually live a new life buy putting to death the deeds of the fleshly body by the power of God. I think Gal 5 mentions this very thing:

Gal 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

So Paul admonishes us to walk (not in the flesh) by the Spirit, and if you do, you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. What I am saying is that in Romans 7, the man without the Spirit is powerless (even if he knows the law and desires otherwise) until the Spirit of God sets you free from the law of sin and death (Rom 8:2). At least that is what makes sense to me.
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Homer



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PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2007 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have long felt that this passage could not possibly refer to Paul's experience as a Christian; perhaps I am wrong.

I believe Paul is speaking of himself prior to conversion. If you follow his thought from 7:7 to 7:25, in v.9 Paul says: "I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. " Many of us who believe in an age of accountability have taken this statement to refer to Paul as an innocent child who, when he learned of and understood the law, "died". It is a personal statement of his experience.

Then in v.14 Paul said: "For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin." The word "sold" here is the Greek piprasko which means "sold as a slave" to sin. If we place ourselves among those who heard Romans read, what would we think Paul meant? What did it mean in those days to be a slave? Would they not have immediately recognized that Paul was speaking of a person in a hopeless condition, a person who had no choice whatever to do what he might wish to do, but one who must do the will, and only the will, of his master? Yet Paul goes on to say in 8:2: "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."

It seems to me Paul was either rather careless with his use of the word piprasko or using hyperbole if he meant to describe his life as a Christian. And if he was using hyperbole, how would we ever know just what he meant?

Long ago I thought that I could find refutation of the idea Paul was speaking of his experience as a Christian in every epistle Paul wrote, and though I never took the time to do it, I still feel that way.
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Rick_C



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PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2007 9:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sean,

I have a lot to cover, lol, but will begin with your last.

You wrote:
I'm not sure what "sinful nature" means exactly. I don't agree with the NIV that translates sarx as "sinful nature" where other translations translate sarx as "flesh".


I agree about the NIV. The text says "flesh." The NIV translators were biased, probably because of their belief in the doctrine of Original Sin and/or their Calvinistic "bent."

The thing of it is, if you ask the average evangelical Christian that has a working knowledge of the Bible what the flesh in Romans 7 is, they usually say, "It is our sinful nature"...something they believe we still have. I'd estimate that at least 80% of evangelicals see it this way, but could be wrong.

And you wrote:
I do agree that the flesh is still with us as long as we live (1 Pet 2:11). It is a war. But through the Spirit we can actually gain victory or sin in our lives.


(1 Peter 2, NKJV) 11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.

Peter acknowledges that fleshly lusts exist and that we are to abstain from them. But he doesn't tell us anything about if there is, or isn't, something remaining inside us called "the flesh" (or sinful nature, if you will) that prompts us to sin.

You also wrote:
Rom 2:14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts....There are multiple scriptures that mention the victory over sin in those who have received salvation.


Yes. And to borrow a medical term, they are almost "TNTC" (too numerous to count)!

On another thread about eschatology you mentioned that you begin with passages that are clear or easily understood when trying to understand complexities. The many "victory over sin" passages seem quite clear to me. They also contradict the "I" in Romans 7 if Paul is, indeed, talking about his own personal experiences in the present. I don't believe he is, based on this hermeneutical principle of contradiction, as well as his specially addressing Jews and/or Jewish issues that I mentioned earlier (Rom 7:1).

cont'd....
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Last edited by Rick_C on Sun Aug 26, 2007 1:48 am; edited 1 time in total
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Sean



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PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2007 12:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rick_C wrote:

The thing of it is, if you ask the average evangelical Christian that has a working knowledge of the Bible what the flesh in Romans 7 is, they usually say, "It is our sinful nature"...something they believe we still have. I'd estimate that at least 80% of evangelicals see it this way, but could be wrong.


I certainly agree we are in the flesh until we die, since our bodies are made of it. Smile So as long as we are alive, the desires will come to us. But if we walk in the Spirit we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh. The desires are still there, but we will not fulfill them, if we walk in the Spirit.

Rick_C wrote:

On another thread about eschatology you mentioned that you begin with passages that are clear or easily understood when trying to understand complexities. The many "victory over sin" passages seem quite clear to me. They also contradict the "I" in Romans 7 if Paul is, indeed, talking about his own personal experiences in the present. I don't believe he is, based on this hermeneutical principle of contradition, as well as his specially addressing Jews and/or Jewish issues that I mentioned earlier (Rom 7:1).

cont'd....


I'm actually not trying to debate that point specifically, I'm only saying that Paul's argument is what the flesh is like (since we are all flesh beings, Paul using himself as an example works great, especially since Paul is one who knows the law), and what the law's effect is on the man of flesh, and how this bondage is overcome (by the Spirit). This is another of many examples Paul gives throughout Romans of how a Jewish man and the law combined do not produce the life God is looking for. The law, rather, points to Christ, not to yourself.
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Rick_C



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PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2007 12:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Homer,

I agree with what you wrote in your post. But first, I want to get contextual here!

(Rom 7, NKJV) 1 Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? 2 For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. 4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. 5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. 6 But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. 7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law.

In special address to the Jews and/or Jewish issues in the church at Rome; which would be read in the presence of Jews and Gentiles alike; Paul makes an analogy to marriage. The law, as it would have been intimately known to Paul's Jewish brothers, has dominion over "a [Jewish] man" for his entire life (verse 1). A wife is "bound to her husband" by the law as long as he lives: She and he are "one flesh" (verse 2). Paul proclaims that believing Jews are presently free from the law in the same way a widow is free to remarry. Her remarrying after the death of her husband frees her from the "law of her husband": You shall not commit adultery (verse 3).

The wife in this analogy has been married and widowed. The Jews are depicted as having been formerly married to the law: The wife is free to remarry when her husband died -- as -- believing Jews are freed from the law when Jesus died: "Therefore, my [Jewish] brothers, you have become dead to the law through the body of Christ" emphasizes that the death of Jesus was, for the Jews, the vehicle through which they obtained liberation from the law: They are no longer bound or "married" to it, seems to be Paul's idea. As a widow's husband has died -- so -- Jesus has died in a manner that has "widowed" the Jews from the law. They are now free to "marry him" (verse 5).

Paul is saying that a widow's remarrying -- keeping in mind that marriage (including lawful remarriage) was a "very good" thing (Gen 1:27, 31) -- is essentially what Christ has done for the Jews: Jesus has married them as "widowers!"

The underlined words (in my Romans 7 quote) reiterate why I don't believe Paul's "I" is in the present tense.

(Rom 7:7) What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law.

Paul shifts from the "we" to the "I."

It seems crystal clear that the "we" cannot be anyone other than the Jewish believers in the Roman church. Paul's discussion up to this point is specific to them and Paul includes himself (personally) with them ("brothers," verses 1 and 4). All of the "we" statements are Jewish and are about Jewish issues.

So who is this "I" fellow?

The "a man" is a Jew under under the law (verse 1). Paul now makes the transition by picking up on "a man" using an "I statement" to be descriptive of him. Him who? "A Jewish man" who had formerly been bound by law. Paul can be said to be describing himself in that he (personally) was a Jew under the law. Paul's "I" autobiography, so to speak in a metaphorical sense, is "a Jewish's man's" biography. "I" is Paul's corporate representative of every Jewish man's past experience. Paul wasn't talking about his present struggle! Rather, he goes back and tells how he -- or any Jewish "I" -- came to learn and understand the law...beginning with its bringing of the knowledge of sin (verse 7b).

(Rom 7:7, my added words in bold) What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, (this is what we shall say): "I would not have known sin except through the law...." (and up to the end of the "I" statements (the rest of the chapter, verse 25). I might be wrong in this particular angle with "(this is what we shall say):"...just brainstorming & it seems to be implied....

I need more time on this section, and, a nap....Thanks for reading Smile
Rick
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Rick_C



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PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2007 1:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paidion,

Your hand-writing/computers analogy generally "fits" how I see the passage.

Thanks Wink
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Rick_C



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PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2007 2:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sean,

I haven't replied to a lot of what you posted but can't pass up on:

Where you wrote:
It's noteworthy that Paul says that although man is dead in sin, he is able to desire what is good, even though "in the flesh" this desire cannot be carried out.


I would say, "It's noteworthy that Paul says that although a Jewish man, Paul's corporate representative "I", is dead in sin, he is able to desire what is good, even though "in the flesh" this desire cannot be carried out."

And add: "in the flesh" means those who are not "in Christ Jesus" (Rom 8:1) because "...those who are in the flesh cannot please God" (Rom 8:8b). "In the flesh" people, according to Paul, aren't Christians.

Years ago, anyway, we used to say "I got in the flesh" when we, as Christians, had committed a sin or error. This wasn't really inaccurate! A biblical way to have said this would have been, "I got weak and walked off the path" (Rom 8:26, 8:4, respectively).

My main thing to you is: You just gave Calvinism a strong rebuttal!
"Dead men can do something!"
To wit: desire to do good!!!
(their wills are even involved)....... Wink

out
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