This week we are gathering to explore Romans 7. Please read Romans 6-8 in order to gain the full context of Paul’s argument of what happens to the Law now that Christ has come, and particularly the barriers that the Mosaic Law has erected between Jew and Gentile, Insider and Outsider.
In the first part of our reading in vv.1-3, Paul compares the present power of the law to the present relationship between spouses once one spouse has died. When the husband dies, the wife is free to remarry and take a new husband. Therefore if we have died to our old self under the old covenant (6:5), then we to are allowed to form a new relationship under a new covenant with Jesus. But this new relationship can only be formed once we have died to the requirements of the Biblical law. For now “we do not serve under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.” (7:6). Why is Paul so adamant that we are no longer under any of the obligations given by God to Moses? And what does this mean for us and how we govern our life?
As to the remainder of the chapter, I have attached the relevant excerpt from Worthington’s Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. pp.179-206. Worthington brings out a very different and more ancient way to read vv.7-25. Within the Protestant Church (and in most of Western Christianity going back to St. Augustine (354-430)) we have read this section as autobiographical of Paul’s present personal struggles. Paul uses the word “I” throughout this section, and therefore a fair reading of the text is autobiographical. However, the earliest commentaries of Romans, beginning with Origen of Alexandria (185-254), see these verses as a rhetorical device of Paul impersonating another character. Specifically, in vv.7-13, Paul is impersonating Adam and in vv. 14-25 he is impersonating those who are currently in Adam. These verses personalize the statements concerning Adam in Chapter 6 and raise issues that will later be answered in Chapter 8. Therefore, read vv.7-13 as if they were spoken by Adam himself as a lament upon his expulsion from the garden. And read vv.14-25 as if it is being said by someone who remains enslaved to sin. Please read through Worthington and see if his argument for a radically different reading of Romans 7 makes sense.
Dinner is at 6. The menu is ribs. Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you here. (FYI – This Sunday I am preaching at Messiah.)
So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian; for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.Galatians 3:24-28