Interpretation of Romans 7, Part 1

From CSAP 527: Hermeneutics & Bible Study Methods (Russell)

Dr. Walt Russell examines Romans 7 with an approach that is sensitive to the role of the audience.


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In this collection

  • 7. The Reader's Role in Meaning

    by Walter Russell

    72:00 — September 22, 2011

    The Reader's Role in Meaning

    Dr. Walt Russell teaches on the role of the reader in biblical interpretation and examines the Western paradigm with which most students approach Scripture.


    8. Interpretation of Romans 7, Part 1

    by Walter Russell

    65:10 — September 27, 2011

    Interpretation of Romans 7, Part 1

    Dr. Walt Russell examines Romans 7 with an approach that is sensitive to the role of the audience.

  • Interpretation of Romans 7, Part 2 & 12 Steps of Exegesis

    Dr. Walt Russell continues to examine Romans 7. He emphasizes the importance of the text for interpretation.

Comments on this Resource

Comments Closed 1 comment from 1 person
    • Dell Russell
    • about 6 years ago

    Dr. Russell,
    I listened to your teaching here and would like to say I did enjoy it. I do agree Romans 7 is Paul giving a pre-salvation experience here, as this Romans 7:7-25 is not a Christian under the New Covenant with Christ. And as you mentioned, there is no mention whatsoever of the Holy Spirit. The man of Romans 7 is a failure, because he is still in the flesh. All that being said I would also like to mention a few disagreements I have with some of your interpretations on certain parts.

    First, when you begin you do not ask the question of "who or what" is the first husband in Paul's analogy in 7:1-6, you only make the statement that the first husband is the law and the law died. I realize being a teacher it can be one of those things that after you have taught something many times you just assume that is what everyone should know and it is never questioned otherwise. It is that kind of thinking that has gotten so many thinking Romans 7 is a saved man, because that is what was taught for more than 1500 years and no one questioned it or was afraid to. Then it got to the point that because the majority accepted it as a saved man, it must be a saved man.
    To get to the point I do not believe Paul is saying the first husband is the law or that the law died. As we read through Romans we see Paul making many contrasts. He contrasts Gentiles to Jews, Law to faith, Spirit/spirit to flesh, Adam to Christ, death to life, sin to righteousness and holiness, and so on.
    Christ makes the statement to Nicodemus in John chapter 3, "Except a man be born again, he can not see the kingdom of God." Then He also says in John 3:6; "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." And Paul tells us Adam was made a living soul and the last Adam was made a quickening spirit, 1 Corinthians 15:45. Taking everything into consideration and especially Paul's contrasting of Adam to Christ, we can see the first husband in Paul's analogy of Romans 7:1-6 is Adam. Adam is the head of the human race from the beginning, all of mankind was in the loins of Adam and sprang from him. To say the law is the first husband is a contradiction of terms in Romans. It goes against the flow of Romans. If the first husband was the law the second husband would have to be faith, but we clearly know who the second husband is, Jesus Christ, so the first husband has to be Adam.
    We are connected to Adam through the flesh. So in order to sever that tie Christ comes in the flesh, is crucified (in the flesh) on the cross, and His flesh dies. He is then buried and raised. The gospel is preached, we believe it and are baptized into Christ's crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, so then being cut off from Adam and his flesh we are quickened and joined with Christ!
    It's not that the law died or passed away, but we passed away, as a believer.

    So then, how does all of this fit Paul's analogy? Perfectly! You see, Paul has given us an analogy that flows perfectly with Romans 5-8.

    Romans 7:2 and 3 is about chapter 5.
    The first husband is representing Adam of chapter 5. In chapter 5 the problem is, we are born from the line of Adam, but the cure for that is to be joined with Christ.

    Romans 7:4 is about chapter 6.
    Just as 7:4 tells us we 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, so we see the same things being said in chapter 6. This is a one verse summation of chapter 6.

    Romans 7:5 is about chapter 7.
    Just as the man in 7:5 is in the flesh, so is the man of chapter 7.
    This is a one verse summation of the man of chapter 7.

    Romans 7:6 is about chapter 8.
    Again, we see, "that being dead we were held." That thing that held us was our body of flesh, or old man crucified, our members, the Adam part of us. So with that we see the first husband was more than just Adam, it was everything of flesh about us. But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit.... Rms 8:9. And now we serve in newness of spirit and not the oldness of the letter.
    This is a one verse summation of chapter 8.

    The analogy is about us the believer! It is about us and to us. We may have not been under the Law, but we are under the understanding of right and wrong and that is a law unto us.

    It's not that the law is or was inadequate to ordain eternal life, but as Paul says, The law was weak through the flesh, 8:3.

    I agree with most of your teaching, but just thought I would give another viewpoint on some of the finer points. There is MUCH more to be said on Romans 7, as Paul gives a number of summations in Romans pointing out some of his main points as he goes along. Each time he does this he makes clear Romans 7 is a lost man.

    In Christ,
    Dell Russell

Biola University
13800 Biola Ave. La Mirada, CA 90639