Background Scripture: Romans 7:1-23
Lesson Context: In Romans 5, 6, and 7, Paul identifies three tyrants of humankind: sin, death, and the Law. Each of these has had a role in oppressing men and women and robbing them of the possibility of a reconciled relationship with the Lord. Each of these three has had “dominion” (Romans 6:9, 14, 7:1), the language of tyranny. Death has reigned in the lives of men and women (6:12), leading to the consequences of judgment. Law (whether Mosaic or secular) exists as the authority to define and punish wrong behavior (6:15-23). In Romans 7, Paul returned to a discussion of the rightful place of the law in God’s plan.
Bondage of the Law (Romans 7:1-4):
A. Released by Death (vv. 1-3).
1. “Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man so long as he liveth?”
a. The law has dominion in Romans 6:14. Paul told us that you are not under law but under grace. After the discussion in Romans 6:15-23 regarding practical implications of this, he now explains more completely how it is that we are no longer under the dominion of the law.
b. That the law has dominion over a man. The ancient Greek wording here has no word “the” before law. This means Paul speaks of a principle broader than the Mosaic Law. The law that has dominion over man includes the Law of Moses, but there is a greater principle of law communicated by creation and by conscience, and these also have dominion over a man.
c. The law has dominion over a man as long as he lives. Paul makes the point that death ends all obligations and contracts. A wife is no longer bound to her husband if he dies because death ends that contract. If her husband dies, who is free from the law.
B. Released by the Spirit (vv. 4-6).
4. “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”
a. You also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ. In Romans 6: 3b, Paul carefully explained that we died with Jesus and we also rose with Him, although Paul there only spoke of our death to sin. Now he explains that we also died to the law.
b. That you may be married to another. However, we are not free from the law so we can live unto ourselves. We are free so we can be “married” to Jesus and so that we can bear fruit to God.
6. “But we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”
a. Here Paul summarizes the theme of Romans 7:15. Because we died with Jesus at Calvary, we are dead to the law and delivered from its dominion over us as a principle of justification or of sanctification.
b. So that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit. Our freedom is not given so we can stop serving God but so we can serve Him better, under the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.
References: David Guzik Study Guide for Romans 7, International Sunday School Lesson, KJV 2023-2024, Standard Lesson Commentary