Know you not, brothers, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?…
The apostle has spoken of freedom from the Law, and of the new reign of grace; but lest this freedom should be disputed, he here establishes it. The Mosaic Law, as such, touches only this present life; death does away with its claims. Christ, therefore, by his death, is freed from its demands; and we, by our spiritual fellowship with him, are likewise free. Free from the old union, to enter on the new. Such is the argument of these verses.
I. DEAD TO THE LAW. Law is not spoken of here in its Divine perfection, but in its partial, external character as revealed through Moses. A law of rigid retribution: "Do this, and live;" "Do that, and die." A law of mere restraints, not of renewal
1. Of this law, death was the annulment, even as the penalties did not extend beyond the grave. It laid its sanctions on the whole of life; further than life it did not go. An example of this is found in the Jewish law of marriage, which, like all mere national laws of marriage, can only touch this present life. The law of the union, in such external legislation, is only until death. The death of either destroys the law.
2. Has not Christ, then, by his death, escaped the claims of all such legislation? Dying, he has died unto the dispensation of Moses; he is now no longer the Jew; the Law has no authority over him. He is now only the Divine Man; he has risen into all the spiritual freedom and power of the life of God. No narrow, prohibitive Law is the law of his risen life; but the perfect, quickening law of God. And are not we dead, in ]aim, to all the limitations and restraints of the Law? Our very union with him, by faith, releases us now from all its claims. It is as though we were dead. The unhappy marriage-bond is broken.
II. ALIVE TO CHRIST. But if so, a new marriage-bond is formed. Dead to the Law, we live to Christ. The one has no more claim; the other has every claim. We are joined to him now, indissolubly one.
1. The plenitude of spiritual power is ours in him. No law of the letter restrains, but a law of the Spirit inspires. His Spirit] which he hath "poured forth" (Acts 2:33), which he hath "poured out upon us richly" (Titus 3:6). Is it not so? a law written on the heart - the law of liberty, the law of love.
2. And being thus filled with power, through faith in him, we bring forth fruit unto God. The old union, with the Law, wrought fruit, but it was fruit unto death. Its very holiness, as a mere exterior restraint in contact with our carnal nature, was an excitant to sin. Fruit unto death] yes; for, sowing to the flesh, we reaped corruption. But now, God's law works in us, as a quickening power. God's love is our very life; and the fruit is unto life, unto God! Have we such union with Christ? an indefeasible union, utter and for evermore? For such is truly the new life of faith. "Christ liveth in me" (Galatians 2:20): we must be satisfied with nothing short of this. - T.F.L.
Parallel VersesKJV: Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?