CONCLUSION OF THE
In this surpassing chapter the several streams of the preceding argument
meet and flow in one "river of the water of life, clear as crystal,
proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb," until it seems to
lose itself in the ocean of a blissful eternity.
FIRST: The Sanctification of Believers
1. There is therefore now, &c.--referring to the immediately
&c.]. The subject with which the seventh chapter concludes is still
under consideration. The scope of
is to show how "the law of sin and death" is deprived of its power to
bring believers again into bondage, and how the holy law of God
receives in them the homage of a living obedience
no condemnation: to them which are in Christ Jesus--As Christ, who
"knew no sin," was, to all legal effects, "made sin for us," so are we,
who believe in Him, to all legal effects, "made the righteousness of God
and thus, one with Him in the divine reckoning. there is to such
"NO CONDEMNATION." (Compare
Joh 3:18; 5:24;
Ro 5:18, 19).
But this is no mere legal arrangement: it is a union in
life; believers, through the indwelling of Christ's Spirit in
them, having one life with Him, as truly as the head and the members of
the same body have one life.
who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit--The evidence of
manuscripts seems to show that this clause formed no part of the
original text of this verse, but that the first part of it was early
introduced, and the second later, from
probably as an explanatory comment, and to make the transition to
2. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me
free--rather, "freed me"--referring to the time of his conversion,
when first he believed.
from the law of sin and death--It is the Holy Ghost who is here
called "the Spirit of life," as opening up in the souls of
believers a fountain of spiritual life (see on
Joh 7:38, 39);
just as He is called "the Spirit of truth," as "guiding them into all
and "the Spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the
fear of the Lord"
as the inspirer of these qualities. And He is called "the Spirit of
life in Christ Jesus," because it is as members of Christ that
He takes up His abode in believers, who in consequence of this have one
life with their Head. And as the word "law" here has the same
meaning as in
namely, "an inward principle of action, operating with the fixedness
and regularity of a law," it thus appears that "the law of the
Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" here means, "that new principle of
action which the Spirit of Christ has opened up within us--the law of
our new being." This "sets us free," as soon as it takes
possession of our inner man, "from the law of sin and death" that is,
from the enslaving power of that corrupt principle which carries death
in its bosom. The "strong man armed" is overpowered by the "stronger
than he"; the weaker principle is dethroned and expelled by the more
powerful; the principle of spiritual life prevails against and brings
into captivity the principle of spiritual death--"leading captivity
captive." If this be the apostle's meaning, the whole verse is to this
effect: That the triumph of believers over their inward corruption,
through the power of Christ's Spirit in them, proves them to be
in Christ Jesus, and as such absolved from condemnation. But this is
now explained more fully.
3, 4. For what the law could not do, &c.--a difficult and much
controverted verse. But it is clearly, we think, the law's inability to
free us from the dominion of sin that the apostle has in view;
as has partly appeared already (see on
and will more fully appear presently. The law could irritate our sinful
nature into more virulent action, as we have seen in
but it could not secure its own fulfilment. How that is accomplished
comes now to be shown.
in that it was weak through the flesh--that is, having to address
itself to us through a corrupt nature, too strong to be influenced by
mere commands and threatenings.
God, &c.--The sentence is somewhat imperfect in its structure, which
occasions a certain obscurity. The meaning is, that whereas the law
was powerless to secure its own fulfilment for the reason given, God
took the method now to be described for attaining that end.
his own Son--This and similar expressions plainly imply that
Christ was God's "OWN SON"
before He was sent--that is, in His own proper Person, and
independently of His mission and appearance in the flesh (see on
and if so, He not only has the very nature of God, even as a son
of his father, but is essentially of the Father, though in a
sense too mysterious for any language of ours properly to define (see
on the first through fourth chapters). And this peculiar relationship
is put forward here to enhance the greatness and define the
nature of the relief provided, as coming from beyond the
precincts of sinful humanity altogether, yea, immediately from
the Godhead itself.
in the likeness of sinful flesh--literally, "of the flesh of sin"; a
very remarkable and pregnant expression. He was made in the reality of
our flesh, but only in the likeness of its sinful condition. He took
our nature as it is in us, compassed with infirmities, with nothing to
distinguish Him as man from sinful men, save that He was without sin.
Nor does this mean that He took our nature with all its properties save
one; for sin is no property of humanity at all, but only the
disordered state of our souls, as the fallen family of Adam; a disorder
affecting, indeed, and overspreading our entire nature, but still purely
and for sin--literally, "and about sin"; that is, "on the business of
sin." The expression is purposely a general one, because the design was
not to speak of Christ's mission to atone for sin, but in virtue of
that atonement to destroy its dominion and extirpate it altogether
from believers. We think it wrong, therefore, to render the words
(as in the Margin) "by a sacrifice for sin"
(suggested by the language of
the Septuagint and approved by CALVIN, &c.);
for this sense is too
definite, and makes the idea of expiation more prominent than it is.
condemned sin--"condemned it to lose its power over men"
ALFORD]. In this glorious
sense our Lord says of His approaching death
"Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this
world be cast out," and again (see on
"When He (the Spirit) shall come, He shall convince the world of
. . . judgment, because the prince of this world is
judged," that is, condemned to let go his hold of men, who,
through the Cross, shall be emancipated into the liberty and power to
in the flesh--that is, in human nature, henceforth set free from the
grasp of sin.
4. That the righteousness of the law--"the righteous demand," "the
requirement" [ALFORD], Or "the precept" of the law; for it is not
precisely the word so often used in this Epistle to denote "the
righteousness which justifies"
(Ro 1:17; 3:21; 4:5, 6; 5:17, 18, 21),
but another form of the same word, intended to express the
enactment of the law, meaning here, we believe, the practical
obedience which the law calls for.
might be fulfilled in us--or, as we say, "realized in us."
who walk--the most ancient expression of the bent of one's life, whether in the direction of good or of evil
1Jo 1:6, 7).
not after--that is, according to the dictates of
the flesh, but after the spirit--From
it would seem that what is more immediately intended by "the spirit"
here is our own mind as renewed and actuated by the Holy
5. For they that are after the flesh--that is, under the influence
of the fleshly principle.
do mind--give their attention to
the things of the flesh, &c.--Men must be under the predominating
influence of one or other of these two principles, and, according as the
one or the other has the mastery, will be the complexion of their life,
the character of their actions.
6. For--a mere particle of transition here
[THOLUCK], like "but" or
to be carnally minded--literally, "the mind" or "minding of the flesh"
(Margin); that is, the pursuit of fleshly ends.
is death--not only "ends in" [ALFORD, &c.], but even now "is";
carrying death into its bosom, so that such are "dead while they live"
Eph 2:1, 5)
but to be spiritually minded--"the mind" or "minding of the spirit";
that is, the pursuit of spiritual objects.
is life and peace--not "life" only, in contrast with the "death" that
is in the other pursuit, but "peace"; it is the very element of the
soul's deepest repose and true bliss.
7. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God--The desire and
pursuit of carnal ends is a state of enmity to God, wholly incompatible
with true life and peace in the soul.
for it is not subject--"doth not submit itself."
to the law of God, neither indeed can be--In such a state of mind
there neither is nor can be the least subjection to the law of God. Many
things may be done which the law requires, but nothing either is or can
be done because God's law requires it, or purely to please God.
8. So then--nearly equivalent to "And so."
they that are in--and, therefore, under the government of
the flesh cannot please God--having no obediential principle, no
desire to please Him.
9. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the
Spirit of God dwell in you--This does not mean, "if the disposition
or mind of God dwell in you"; but "if the Holy Ghost dwell in
1Co 6:11, 19; 3:16,
&c.). (It thus appears that to be "in the spirit" means here to be
under the dominion of our own renewed mind; because the
indwelling of God's Spirit is given as the evidence that we are "in the
if any man have not the Spirit of Christ--Again, this does not
mean "the disposition or mind of Christ," but the Holy
Ghost; here called "the Spirit of Christ," just as He is called "the
Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" (see on
It is as "the Spirit of Christ" that the Holy Ghost takes possession of
believers, introducing into them all the gracious, dove-like
disposition which dwelt in Him
Now if any man's heart be void, not of such dispositions, but of the
blessed Author of them, "the Spirit of Christ."
he is none of his--even though intellectually convinced of the truth
of Christianity, and in a general sense influence by its spirit. Sharp,
solemn statement this!
10, 11. And if Christ be in you--by His indwelling Spirit in virtue of
which we have one life with him.
the body--"the body indeed."
is dead because of--"by reason of"
sin; but the spirit is life because--or, "by reason"
of righteousness--The word "indeed," which the original requires, is of
the nature of a concession--"I grant you that the body is dead . . . and
so far redemption is incomplete, but," &c.; that is, "If Christ be
in you by His indwelling Spirit, though your 'bodies' have to pass
through the stage of 'death' in consequence of the first Adam's 'sin,'
your spirit is instinct with new and undying 'life,' brought in by the
'righteousness' of the second