Read & Study the Bible Online - Bible Portal

Romans 7:14 - Exposition

For we know (we are all already aware of this; we recognize it as a principle; we can surely have no doubt of it; cf Romans 2:2 ; Romans 3:10 ) that the Law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin . The statement of Romans 7:12 is here in effect repeated as being one that cannot be gainsaid with respect to the Law , but with use now of the epithet πνευματικός ; and this in opposition to myself being σαρκινός . The new word, πνευματικός , is obviously meant to express a further idea with respect to law, suitable to the line of thought now about to be pursued. Without lingering to mention varying suggestions of various commentators as to the sense in which the Law is here called spiritual, we may offer the following considerations in elucidation. πνεῦμα and σάρξ are, as is well known, constantly contrasted in the New Testament. The former sometimes denotes the "Holy Spirit of God," and sometimes that highest part in ourselves which is in touch with the Divine Spirit. σάρξ , though it may, in accordance with its original meaning, sometimes denote our mere bodily organization, is usually used to express our whole present human constitution, mental as well as bodily, considered as apart from the πνεῦμα . When St. Paul in one place distinguishes the constituent elements of human nature, he speaks of πνεῦμα ψυχὴ , and σῶμα ( 1 Thessalonians 5:23 ). There ψυχὴ seems to denote the animal life or soul animating the σῶμα for the purposes of mere human life, but distinguished from the πνεῦμα , which associates him with the Divine life. Usually, however, πνεῦμα and σάρξ alone are spoken of; so that the term σάρξ seems to include the ψυχὴ , expressing our whole weak human nature now, apart from the πνεῦμα , which connects us with God (see Galatians 5:17 , etc.). That in this and other passages σάρξ does not mean our mere bodily organization only, is further evident from sins not due to mere bodily lusts—such as want of affection, hatred, envy, pride—being called "works of the flesh" (cf. Galatians 5:19-22 ; 1 Corinthians 3:3 ). What, then, is meant by the adjective πνευματικός ? Applied to man, it is, in 1 Corinthians 3:2 , 1 Corinthians 3:3 , opposed to σαρκικὸς (or σαρκινὸς ), and in 1 Corinthians 2:14 , to ψυχικὸς (cf. Jude 1:19 ); the latter word apparently meaning one in whom the ψυχὴ (as above understood), and not the πνεῦμα , dominates. Further, St. Paul ( 1 Corinthians 15:44 ) speaks of a σῶμα ψυχικὸν and a πνευματικὸν , meaning by the former a tenement fitted for and adequate to the mere psychic life, and by the latter a new organism adapted for the higher life of the spirit, such as we hope to have hereafter; and in the same passage he uses the neuters, τὸ ψυχικὸν and τὸ πνευματικὸν , with reference to "the first Adam," who was made, or became ( ἐγένετο ) εἰς ψυχὴν ζῶσαν , and "the last Adam," who was made εἰς πνεῦμα ζωοποιοῦν . Thus πμεῦμα , generally, denotes the Divine, which man apprehends and aspires to, nay, in which he has himself a part in virtue of the original breathing into him of the breath of life ( πνοὴν ζωῆς ) directly from God ( Genesis 3:7 ), whereby he became a living soul ( ἐγένετο εἰς ψυχὴν ) for the purposes of his mundane life (itself above that of the brutes), but retained also a share of the Divine πνεῦμα connecting him with God,and capable of being quickened so as to be the dominant principle of his being through contact with the πνεῦμα ζωοποιοῦν . It would seem that the Law is here called πνευματικὸς , as belonging to the Divine sphere of things, and expressive of the Divine order. "The Law, both the moral law in the bosom of man, and the expression of that law in the Decalogue, is, as Augustine profoundly expresses it, a revelation of the higher order of things founded in the being of God. It is hence a πνευματικόν " (Tholuck). But man (t ἐγὼ δὲ ), though still able to admire, nay, to delight in and aspire to, this higher order, cannot yet conform himself to it because of the σάρξ , infected with sin, which at present enthrals him: ἐγὼ δὲ σαρκινὸς πεπραμένος ὑπὸ τὴν ἁμαρτίαν . Thus is fitly introduced the analysis of human consciousness with reference to law which follows. The word σαρκινὸς (which, rather than σαρκικὸς , is the best-supported reading) may be used to express merely our present constitution Ñ our being of flesh— so as to account for our inability, rather than our being fleshly, or carnally minded, as σαρκικὸς would imply. In two other passages ( 1 Corinthians 3:1 and Hebrews 7:16 ) authority is also in favour of σαρκινὸς instead of σαρκικὸς as in the Textus Receptus. Tholuck, however, doubts whether there was, in common usage, a distinction between the meaning of the two forms. The word πεπραμένος is significant. It denotes, not our having been originally slaves ( vernae ), but our having been sold into slavery . Slavery to sin is not the rightful condition of our nature. We are as the Israelites in Egypt, or as the captives in Babylon who remembered Zion. Hence the possibility of deliverance, if we feel the burden of our slavery and long to be free, when the Deliverer comes.

Be the first to react on this!

Scroll to Top

Group of Brands