New American Standard Bible
For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.
King James Bible
For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
Darby Bible Translation
For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am fleshly, sold under sin.
World English Bible
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am fleshly, sold under sin.
Young's Literal Translation
for we have known that the law is spiritual, and I am fleshly, sold by the sin;
Romans 7:14 Parallel
CommentaryBarnes' Notes on the Bible
The remainder of this chapter has been the subject of no small degree of controversy. The question has been whether it describes the state of Paul before his conversion, or afterward. It is not the purpose of these notes to enter into controversy, or into extended discussion. But after all the attention which I have been able to give to this passage, I regard it as describing the state of a man under the gospel, as descriptive of the operations of the mind of Paul subsequent to his conversion. This interpretation is adopted for the following reasons:
(1) Because it seems to me to be the most obvious. It is what will strike plain people as being the natural meaning; people who do not have a theory to support, and who understand language in its usual sense.
(2) because it agrees with the design of the apostle, which is to show that the Law is not adapted to produce sanctification and peace. This he had done in regard to a man before he was converted. If this relates to the same period, then it is a useless discussion of a point already discussed, If it relates to that period also, then there is a large field of action, including the whole period after a man's conversion to Christianity, in which the question might still be unsettled, whether the Law there might not be adapted to sanctify. The apostle therefore makes thorough work with the argument, and shows that the operation of the Law is everywhere the same.
(4) because it accords with parallel expressions in regard to the state of the conflict in a Christian's mind.
(5) because there is a change made here from the past tense to the present. In Romans 7:7, etc. he had used the past tense, evidently describing some former state. In Romans 7:14 there is a change to the present, a change inexplicable, except on the supposition that he meant to describe some state different from that before described. That could be no other than to carry his illustration forward in showing the inefficacy of the Law on a man in his renewed state; or to show that such was the remaining depravity of the man, that it produced substantially the same effects as in the former condition.
(6) because it accords with the experience of Christians, and not with sinners. It is just such language as plain Christians, who are acquainted with their own hearts, use to express their feelings. I admit that this last consideration is not by itself conclusive; but if the language did not accord with the experience of the Christian world, it would be a strong circumstance against any proposed interpretation. The view which is here expressed of this chapter, as supposing that the previous part Romans 7:7-13 refers to a man in his unregenerate state, and that the remainder describes the effect of the Law on the mind of a renewed man, was adopted by studying the chapter itself, without aid from any writer. I am happy, however, to find that the views thus expressed are in accordance with those of the late Dr. John P. Wilson, than whom, perhaps, no man was ever better quailfled to interpret the Scriptures. He says, "In the fourth verse, he (Paul) changes to the first person plural, because he intended to speak of the former experience of Christians, who had been Jews. In the seventh verse, he uses the first person singular, but speaks in the past tense, because he describes his own experience when he was an uncoverted Pharisee. In the fourteenth verse, and unto the end of the chapter, he uses the first person singular, and the present tense, because he exhibits his own experience since he became a Christian and an apostle."
We know - We admit. It is a conceded, well understood point.
That the law is spiritual - This does not mean that the Law is designed to control the spirit, in contradistinction from the body, but it is a declaration showing that the evils of which he was speaking were not the fault of the Law. That was not, in its nature, sensual, corrupt, earthly, carnal; but was pure and spiritual. The effect described was not the fault of the Law, but of the man, who was sold under sin. The word "spiritual" is often thus used to denote what is pure and hoy, in opposition to that which is fleshly or carnal; Romans 8:5-6; Galatians 5:16-23. The flesh is described as the source of evil passions and desires; The spirit as the source of purity; or as what is agreeable to the proper influences of the Holy Spirit.
But I am - The present tense shows that he is describing himself as he was at the time of writing. This is the natural and obvious construction, and if this be not the meaning, it is impossible to account for his having changed the past tense Romans 7:7 to the present.
Carnal - Fleshly; sensual; opposed to spiritual. This word is used because in the Scriptures the flesh is spoken of as the source of sensual passions and propensities, Galatians 5:19-21. The sense is, that these corrupt passions still retained a strong and withering and distressing influence over the mind. The renewed man is exposed to temptations from his strong native appetites; and the power of these passions, strengthened by long habit before he was converted, has traveled over into religion, and they continue still to influence and distress him. It does not mean that he is wholly under their influence; but that the tendency of his natural inclinations is to indulgence.
Sold under sin - This expression is often adduced to show that it cannot be of a renewed man that the apostle is speaking. The argument is, that it cannot be affirmed of a Christian that he is sold under sin. A sufficient answer to this might be, that in fact, this is the very language which Christians often now adopt to express the strength of that native depravity against which they struggle, and that no language would better express it. It does not, mean that they choose or prefer sins. It strongly implies that the prevailing bent of their mind is against it, but that such is its strength that it brings them into slavery to it. The expression used here, "sold under sin," is "borrowed from the practice of selling captives taken in war, as slaves." (Stuart.) It hence, means to deliver into the power of anyone, so that he shall be dependent on his will and control. (Schleusner.) The emphasis is not on the word "sold," as if any act of selling had taken place, but the effect was as if he had been sold; that is, he was subject to it, and under its control, and it means that sin, contrary to the prevailing inclination of his mind Romans 7:15-17, had such an influence over him as to lead him to commit it, and thus to produce a state of conflict and grief; Romans 7:19-24. The verses which follow this are an explanation of the sense, and of the manner in which he was "sold under sin."
LibraryThe Original and the Actual Relation of Man to Law.
ROMANS vii. 10.--"The commandment which, was ordained to life, I found to be unto death." The reader of St. Paul's Epistles is struck with the seemingly disparaging manner in which he speaks of the moral law. In one place, he tells his reader that "the law entered that the offence might abound;" in another, that "the law worketh wrath;" in another, that "sin shall not have dominion" over the believer because he is "not under the law;" in another, that Christians "are become dead to the law;" in …
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1 Kings 21:20
Ahab said to Elijah, "Have you found me, O my enemy?" And he answered, "I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the LORD.
1 Kings 21:25
Surely there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do evil in the sight of the LORD, because Jezebel his wife incited him.
2 Kings 17:17
Then they made their sons and their daughters pass through the fire, and practiced divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him.
What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;
knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;
1 Corinthians 3:1
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.
So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world.
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