A Global Association of Orthodox Jewish Believers in Messiah Yeshua
Understanding Romans 7 (Dead to the Law, Married to Messiah)
Do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to men who know the law
Question, why does Paul preface this, speaking to Romans if in fact he is making the case that they aren’t to bother with the law at all? Since Paul says this, it is very clear then that one can not understand what Paul is saying in Romans without first knowing and understanding the Torah!
1 Do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to men who know the law—that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives?
2 For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage.
3 So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man.
4 So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to G-d.
5 For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death.
6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
One should ask this very obvious question: if Paul is writing to “men who know the Torah,” then how can anyone understand what he writes in Romans without first knowing the Torah? At best such a person would only see very dimly what he’s talking about, and at worst their conclusions could wind up contradicting the very Torah he is teaching from. Do you see the danger in removing the foundation of truth from the teaching and practice of the believers of G-d in Christ? Romans 7 is my favorite passage of all of Paul’s writings. Let’s go on:
When comparing the analogy Paul gives with the explanation Paul gives, in Romans 7, ask yourself these questions when doing the comparison:
1. Who dies.
Paul’s Analogy: The first husband.
Paul’s Explanation: “my brothers, you also died to the law”
2. Who remains?
Paul’s Analogy: the wife.
Paul’s Explanation: “the law” (for you, the first husband, died to it, remember?)
3. Who lives to the wife after the first husband dies?
Paul’s Analogy: the second husband.
Paul’s Explanation: “you belong… to him who was raised from the dead”
4. How many wives are mentioned in the analogy?
5. If the second husband marries the same wife which the first husband died to, then who is this wife, which the second husband is married to?
Paul’s Analogy: the wife.
Paul’s Explanation: “the law,” is also called “him who was raised from the dead”
To stay consistent with the analogy to the explanation, one can only conclude that Paul is saying that the wife is the Torah that condemned the sinner, and is the same wife, then called the Messiah, that the regenerated saint belongs to!
And is this not so? Is not the standard Jesus lives (the Torah) the very standard that condemns sinners, but is also the very standard which he kept perfectly for the sake of the justification of saints who trust in him? Is not the Torah the full and complete description of the perfect Messiah? Is it not written that Jesus is the “Word of G-d made flesh?” and elsewhere it is written that G-d’s Word is living, which the Messiah can rightly be called the Living Torah?
So then, when our sinful natures (first husband) die to the Torah (the wife), which is the Messiah, it is our new natures (second husband) that is alive to the Torah, which is the Messiah (the wife), by what he did.
Notice then that Paul is teaching that the Torah’s relationship with sinners functions to condemn them to death, but when one becomes a saint, that relationship changes to where now the Torah, which is the Messiah living in us, functions to have us live in the Spirit by what he did, and not what we do. What’s this? When we live in the Spirit we keep the Torah? But this is precisely what Paul says next:
“We know that the law is spiritual.”
The Torah is spiritual? Of course. It is only lived by those who are spiritual. It condemns all those who live in the flesh.
And in classic rabbinic teaching, after giving the analogy, and the explanation, he then launches in the application of just exactly how we, the first husband with the sinful nature, dies to the wife, the Torah, the Messiah, and then how we, the second husband with the new nature lives, to the Torah, the Messiah, and concludes in Romans 7:24-25:
“Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to G-d—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then (because I am saved from this body of death by Jesus Christ), I myself in my mind am a slave to G-d’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”
Notice the difference. In his mind, now as a saint, he is a slave to the Torah; but in the sinful nature he is a slave to sin. It follows his entire application, explanation, and analogy. We miss this totally when we don’t let Paul speak for himself and insert our own anti-Torah bias in the text. This is Romans 7.