Sunday: Dead to the Law

Read Romans 7:1-6. What illustration does Paul use here in order to show his readers their relationship to the law, and what point is he making with that illustration?

Paul’s illustration in Romans 7:1-6 is somewhat involved, but a careful analysis of the passage will help us to follow his reasoning.

Ceremonial law

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In the overall context of the letter, Paul was dealing with the system of worship established at Sinai; that is often what he means by the word law. The Jews had difficulty grasping the fact that this system, given to them of God, should end with the coming of the Messiah. This is what Paul was dealing with – Jewish believers still not ready to abandon what had been such an important part of their lives.

In essence, Paul’s illustration is as follows: a woman is married to a man. The law binds her to him as long as he lives. During his lifetime she cannot consort with other men. But when he dies, she is free from the law that bound her to him (Rom. 7:3).

How does Paul apply the illustration of the law of marriage to the system of Judaism? Rom. 7:4-5.

As the death of her husband delivers the woman from the law of her husband, so the death of the old life in the flesh, through Jesus Christ, delivers the Jews from the law they had been expected to keep until the Messiah fulfilled its types.

Now the Jews were free to “remarry.” They were invited to marry the risen Messiah and thus bring forth fruit to God. This illustration was one more device Paul used to convince the Jews that they were now free to abandon the ancient system.

Again, given all else that Paul and the Bible say about obedience to the Ten Commandments, it doesn’t make sense to assert here that Paul was telling these Jewish believers that the Ten Commandments were no longer binding. Those who use these texts to try to make that point – that the moral law was done away with – really don’t want to make that point, anyway; what they really want to say is that only the seventh-day Sabbath is gone, not the rest of the law. To interpret Romans 7:4-5 as teaching that the fourth commandment has been abolished or superseded or replaced with Sunday is to give them a meaning that the words were never intended to have.

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Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons