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Verse 22

22.For I consent (230) to the law of God, etc. Here then you see what sort of division there is in pious souls, from which arises that contest between the spirit and the flesh, which [Augustine ] in some place calls the Christian struggle (luctam Christianam .) The law calls man to the rule of righteousness; iniquity, which is, as it were, the tyrannical law of Satan, instigates him to wickedness: the Spirit leads him to render obedience to the divine law; the flesh draws him back to what is of an opposite character. Man, thus impelled by contrary desires, is now in a manner a twofold being; but as the Spirit ought to possess the sovereignty, he deems and judges himself to be especially on that side. Paul says, that he was bound a captive by his flesh for this reason, because as he was still tempted and incited by evil lusts; he deemed this a coercion with respect to the spiritual desire, which was wholly opposed to them. (231)

But we ought to notice carefully the meaning of the inner man and of the members; which many have not rightly understood, and have therefore stumbled at this stone. The inner man then is not simply the soul, but that spiritual part which has been regenerated by God; and the members signify the other remaining part; for as the soul is the superior, and the body the inferior part of man, so the spirit is superior to the flesh. Then as the spirit takes the place of the soul in man, and the flesh, which is the corrupt and polluted soul, that of the body, the former has the name of the inner man, and the latter has the name of members. The inner man has indeed a different meaning in 2 Corinthians 4:16; but the circumstances of this passage require the interpretation which I have given: and it is called the inner by way of excellency; for it possesses the heart and the secret feelings, while the desires of the flesh are vagrant, and are, as it were, on the outside of man. Doubtless it is the same thing as though one compared heaven to earth; for Paul by way of contempt designates whatever appears to be in man by the term members, that he might clearly show that the hidden renovation is concealed from and escapes our observation, except it be apprehended by faith.

Now since the law of the mind undoubtedly means a principle rightly formed, it is evident that this passage is very absurdly applied to men not yet regenerated; for such, as Paul teaches us, are destitute of mind, inasmuch as their soul has become degenerated from reason.

The γὰρ here would be better rendered “indeed:” the Apostle makes declaration as to his higher principle; and then in the next verse he states more fully what he had said in Romans 7:21. This exactly corresponds with his usual mode in treating subjects. He first states a thing generally, and afterwards more particularly, in more specific terms, and with something additional. — Ed.

The construction of Romans 7:21, is difficult. [Pareus ] quotes [Chrysostom ] as supposing σύμφηναι from Romans 7:16, to be understood after “law,” so as to give this rendering, “I find then that the law assents to me desiring to do good,” etc., that is, that the law of God was on his side, “though evil was present with him.” He then gives his own view, it being essentially that of [Augustine ] : he supposes ὅτι καλὸς from Romans 7:16, to be understood after “law,” and that ὅτι, in the last clause, is to be construed “though:” the verse is then to be rendered thus, — “I find then the law, that it is good to me desiring to do good, though evil is present with me;” The verse taken by itself may thus present a good meaning, but not one that harmonizes with the context, or that forms a part of the Apostle’s argument. The only other construction that deserves notice is that of our own version, and of [Calvin ], and it is that alone which corresponds with the context. It has been adopted by [Beza ], [Grotius ], [Venema ], [Turrettin ], [Doddridge ], and others.

This verse, and the two which follow, conclude the subject, and also explain what he had been saying about willing and doing. He in fact accounts here for the paradoxical statements which he had made, by mentioning the operation and working of two laws, which were directly contrary to one another. It seems to be a mistake that he alludes to four laws; for the law of the mind and the law of God are the same, under different names; it is that of the mind, because it belongs to and resides in the mind: and it is the law of God, because it comes from him, and is implanted by his Spirit. To the other law he also gives two names, the “law in his members,” and the “law of sin.” This view is confirmed by the last verse in the chapter, which contains a summary of the whole.

The latter part of Romans 7:23 is in character with the Hebraistic style, when the noun is stated instead of the pronoun; see Genesis 9:16; Psalms 50:23; and it is also agreeable to the same style to add the same sentiment with something more specific appended to it. This part then might be rendered thus, — “and making me captive to itself, even to the law of sin, which is he my members.” — Ed.

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