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Romans Lecture Notes

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Romans 1:1-17  INTRODUCTION

Many, although certainly not all, commentators recognise this as the introductory section of the letter.  It contains many features typical of the openings of ancient letters and more specifically of Paul.  It is probably also appropriate to follow the NRSV paragraphs in seeing this introduction as having three stages (although the second might reasonably be subdivided, into prayer [Rom 1:8-10] & statement of intention) i.e.:

Rom 1:1-7                   Salutation (A to B, greeting)

Rom 1:8-15                 Exordium (building of relationship)

Rom 1:16-17               Statement of theme

Romans 1:1-7  SALUTATION

A typical Pauline Christianising of the normal letter opening, except that the first element (Paul’s self-identification) is singled out for expansion, probably because Paul is introducing himself to a church, or churches, which he has not visited.  He is, in a sense, presenting his credentials, declaring the ground on which he can assume the right to teach and exhort the believers of Rome.

Rom 1:1  Paul chooses first to designate himself as “a slave (douloj) of Christ Jesus”, which to Gentiles may have been a little surprising but to Jews would have recalled an honourable LXX background.  Certainly it stresses Paul’s dedication to his Lord, who is the Messiah Jesus.  But he then claims authority as  avpostoloj, although emphatically an authority of God’s making.  Dunn’s suggestion is interesting, that a New Covenant comparison is implied, i.e. - set-apart not now from but for the other peoples (cf. Lev 20:26).  Since he is set apart “unto God’s gospel”, this may not be overly imaginative.  There is a decidedly minor textual variant in this verse – purely a matter of word order.

Rom 1:2-4  That gospel is now characterised in terms which seem to reflect the general character of early Christian preaching, and many commentators believe Paul is using established creedal language [see, e.g., Fitzmyer, pp 229f].  Paul first characterises the gospel as that which God “promised before”. The Greek word proephggeilato has the redundant prefix pro- added to the verb “promised”, a rare compound which occurs only here and in II Cor 9:5 in the NT. This suggests a strong emphasis on fulfilment, and the implication that the gospel which Paul preaches is grounded in the OT scriptures. He then proceeds to characterise the gospel as peri tou ui`ou avutou tou genomenou evk spermatoj Dauid kata sarka (“concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh”). This clearly claims that Jesus has a legitimate human claim to be of the line of David, and hence strongly implies that he is the Messiah. There is debate about the force of genomenou, but it most obviously means “having come (or become)”, which suggests pre-existence. Then comes the balancing affirmation that Jesus is ui`ou qeou evn dunamei (“Son of God with power”). Here the most difficult phrase is kata pneuma `agiwsunhj (NRSV: “according to the spirit of holiness”) - see Cranfield, I, 62-64 &/or Moo(1996), 47-50 for a careful discussion.  I favour Moo’s view that “the Son” of Rom 1:3 is appointed, or designated (a more natural rendering of the Greek  `orizw than “declare”) Son-of-God-with-power by resurrection from the dead. This is his appropriate designation as the one who ushers in the new era of salvation history, the era of the powerful work of the Holy Spirit.

Rom 1:5  Paul returns to his own apostleship, in terms which tie it to God’s gospel and which probably point to:

·           carin kai apostolhn – literally, grace and apostleship, but best understood with reference back to Rom 1:1 as hendiadys, that is, “grace of apostleship”, i.e. this is God’s doing

·           evlabomen - Paul’s standing among all so commissioned (many would see the “we” as used as epistolary singular but here Paul’s associating himself with others makes sense).

·           eivj u`pakohn pistewj evn pasin toij evqnesin - the nature of Paul’s commission - to call forth faith and obedience, or faith/obedience, among the Gentiles [see Morris, 49f. on former phrase; latter could mean “all nations” inclusively but NRSV probably correctly interprets ta eqnh  in relation to Paul’s apostleship]

Rom 1:6  The first part of the salutation formula concludes with a phrase which bridges into the second part: evn oi`j evste kai u`meij klhtoi vIhsou Cristou - literally, “among whom are you also called-ones of Jesus Christ”.  This may suggest that most, or even all, of his readers are Gentiles but could simply place them in the midst of the nations/Gentiles, in Rome with a gospel to proclaim.

Rom 1:7  A fairly standard brief expansion of the second and third elements of the salutation [which is not to say that there is nothing of interest: see Morris, 52-54 or Dunn, 19-21]. There is a textual variant: the inclusion or omission of evn `Rwmh. – UBS4 rates inclusion as A, since witness for omission are few and late or indirect. It is generally thought that this was a deliberate removal to convey the general relevance of the letter.


Paul seeks to initiate a positive rapport with his audience through complimentary language of thanksgiving (Rom 1:8), assurance of interested prayer (Rom 1:9), bridging (Rom 1:10) into a reiterated statement of his desire to come to them, with apology for delay (Rom 1:11-15).

Rom 1:8  This is conventional but nonetheless may be taken to express real thankfulness for the presence of people of faith at the heart of the Empire.  The emphasis on pistij (“faith”) is both common in Paul [see Dunn 28 for other examples] and particularly appropriate in this letter. The note of kataggelletai evn o`lw| tw| kosmw| (“is proclaimed throughout the world”) may support the interpretation of Rom 1:6 as placing them as witnesses among the nations.

Rom 1:9  Paul solemnly calls God to witness, i.e.: he is very emphatic that he prays much for the believers in Rome.  The phrase w` latreuw evn tw| pneumati mou evn tw|| euvaggeliw| tou ui`ou autou  (“whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of his Son”) is intriguing.  Paul seems likely to be claiming to be one who spirituallytruly serves/worships God, which is a matter not of ritual or law-keeping but adherence to the gospel, and possibly associating this with faithfulness in prayer. 

Rom 1:10  Paul specifies one thing he prays, and thus leads into his protesting his earnest desire to come to them. Paul heaps up words (note the elements of circumlocution in the Greek) in order, I think, to affirm strongly the sincerity of his desire, something which he reinforces in the next few verses.

Rom 1:11-13  Paul somewhat labours his desire to come, and many infer some measure of embarrassment (is he aware of criticism of his not coming?  does he feel some awkwardness about writing in this fashion before coming?)  Worthy of comment are:

·           ti charisma pneumatikon (“some spiritual gift”) - both the context and the usage of  Rom 5:15 favour a broad sense, i.e. anything from God which strengthens people for the Christian life.

·           the reference to mutually encouraging - the mutuality is emphasised in the Greek, lit. “that is, to-be-encouraged-together [sumparaklhqhnai] among you through the faith among one another, both yours and mine”. This emphasis is probably prompted by Paul’s care not to seem presumptuous, but it also certainly expresses an important element in Paul’s view of ministry (cf. I Thess 5:11).

·           i`na tina karpon scw (NRSV, “in order that I may reap some harvest” - lit. “have some fruit”)  - probably in this context is indefinite, of any fruitful outcome, rather than specifically meaning converts. [So, e.g., Dunn, vs., e.g., Morris]

The reading ouv qelw is rated A by UBS4, on the grounds of strong manuscript support, Pauline usage and contextual sense.

Rom 1:14-15  Paul states the inclusiveness of his sense of obligation.  It is not easy to go beyond this in interpreting Rom 1:14  [See Cranfield, I, 83-85 for a discussion]. But it may be in this context that it is only a Gentile inclusiveness that is in mind, and that he expects the Romans to identify themselves as `Ellhnej (people of Greek language and culture) and  sofoi (wise, cultured) in contrast with the inhabitants of Spain, and possibly other places Paul has already visited, as barbaroi and avnohtoi (foolish, uncultured).  He then attaches his eagerness to proclaim-the-gospel [euvaggelisasqai] to them to this inclusive obligation.

The textual variant in Rom 1:15 is the same as in Rom 1:7.



This word about proclamation leads naturally into a statement about the gospel itself, a brief declaration of Paul’s understanding of the gospel which many, with good reason, have seen as a brief statement of the theme of the letter as a whole.

Rom 1:16  Paul’s introduction very likely is phrased this way – Ouv gar evpaiscunomai (“For I am not ashamed”) - under the influence of the words of Jesus as recorded in Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26, although it is possible it reflects a consciousness of criticism of his preaching. He then declares that his confidence in the gospel is grounded in its being dunamis qeou eivj swthrian panti tw| pisteuonti (that is, God’s power is at work through the proclaimed gospel to bring salvation to every person who puts his or her faith in it).  The verse ends with a wider inclusiveness (or, under another view of Rom 1:14 a reiterated inclusiveness), of both Jew and Greek. The presence of prwton (“first”) in most manuscripts probably reflects Paul’s concern both to urge full acceptance of Gentile believers by Jewish believers and to urge respect for Jews and the Jewish roots of the gospel by Gentiles.

Rom 1:17  The great statement beloved of Luther and many others, to which I cannot hope to do justice in the time available.  See Morris, 69-72 or, more fully, Dunn, 40-46 &/or Moo,69-79. 


·           dikaiosunh is best understood in the light of Rom 1:16, of the OT background (in LXX usage denotes God’s covenant loyalty/rightness) and of Paul’s subsequent concerns (especially evident in Rom 3:25-26) as embracing both God’s being just (and doing justly) and God’s gift of declaring-just.

·           “through faith for faith” (NRSV) [evk pistewj eivj pistin - lit., “from faith to/into faith”] clearly serves to stress the importance of faith in Paul’s gospel, but the precise meaning is difficult [see Cranfield, I, 99-100 for a concise discussion].  A rendering something like Barrett’s “on the basis of nothing but faith” seems likely to have captured Paul’s intent, provided we realise that this pistij, like an Hebraic dikaiosunh is thoroughly relational, so that a sharp choice between “faith” and “faithfulness” is unnecessary.

·           the closing citation of Habakkuk 2:4 (gegraptai `O de dikaioj ek pistewj zhsetai) is literally “the just/righteous person  out of faith/faithfulness will live”, so that evk pistewj stands in the central position and can be connected either way. I believe that this is intentional, i.e. Paul is saying both that one can be just only by faith and that the person who is this will live by faith/faithfulness.

Romans 1:18-3:20  UNIVERSAL SINFULNESS (the “bad news” assumed by the Good News)

Or, as Fitzmyer puts it in his analysis, “the theme negatively explained: without the gospel God’s wrath is manifested against all human beings”.


In this first section Paul generalises about God’s wrath against sin, but in terms which suggest that it is the Gentiles who are primarily in mind, a suggestion confirmed by his later explicit attention to the Jews.  But the inclusiveness of avnqrwpwn in Rom 1:18 and the language of Rom 2:1 suggest that the Jews are by no means entirely excluded at this point.  Cf. Amos.

Rom 1:18  The use of gar and the repetition of  avpokaluptetai (“is revealed”) from Rom 1:17 suggest a close and positive connection with what precedes, either Rom 1:17 or Rom 1:16-17.  I think Paul sees the revealing of God’s wrath as inseparably linked with the revealing of his justice and salvation.  In the light of what follows God’s ovrgh (“wrath”/ anger) is probably best thought of as his judgment in action but Paul (unlike C.H. Dodd, or many Greek philosophers) would not have been troubled by the idea of God’s personal anger.  The latter part of the verse characterises this sinfulness as wilful rebellion.

Rom 1:19-21  There is much understandable debate about the precise meaning of some expressions here [see Morris, pp. 78-85 or Moo,103-107] but the general intent seems clear, i.e. to argue that although God is himself invisible that the visible creation conveys sufficient information that idolatry is blameworthy. 

Rom 1:22-23  Paul uses contrasting terms to underline this blameworthy folly: sofoi vs.  evmwranqhsan (“became-fools”), and avfqartoj (“immortal”/incorruptible) vs. fqartoj (“mortal”/corruptible).  And he uses a verbal structure (evmwranqhsan and hvllaxan/”exchanged”) which places the responsibility upon the idolaters (vs. God’s action in Rom 1:19).

Rom 1:24-25  Paul returns to God’s action, which is his ovrgh, his judgment in action, then underlines that this action is because of wilful human rejection of the truth and rebellious refusal to acknowledge God as God.  This underlining occurs by a restating of the sense of Rom 1:23 in different but parallel terms. We have methllaxan for the synonym hvllaxan [both accurately rendered by “exchanged”] and the fresh contrasts of avlhqeian (“truth”) vs. yeudei (“lie”) (with “the truth about God” parallel with “the glory of God”) and ktisanta (“Creator”) vs. ktisei (“creature”) (parallel with “immortal” and “mortal”).

Rom 1:26-27  Paul now uses the pagan practice of homosexuality as concrete illustration of his point.  He uses it, I believe, not because he believed it to be worse than other sins but because:

·           it was an area of marked difference between pagan and Jewish morality;

·           it served as a clear illustration of the true nature of all sin, as perversion of God’s right order;

·           it lent itself to a use of the widely acknowledged Greek ideal of “the natural” – fusikoj - against behaviour wrongly accepted within the Greek culture.

Rom 1:28  Repeats the motif of God’s judgment being appropriate to wilful wrong action, this time using a play on words relating to opinion, i.e. ouvk evdokimasan (did not see fit, or approve) and avdokimon (debased, i.e. disapproved).

Rom 1:29-31  It is now made clear that homosexuality is merely the representative of the whole range of sins, all of which are actually unnatural, i.e. against God’s right order.  For a more thorough discussion of these see Morris, 95-99.  More briefly and selectively:

·           the first four are probably intended as a heaping up of general terms, since pleonexia (“covetousness”) covers all wrong or inordinate desire and was a common theme in first century moral thought, often being seen as the underlying cause of all kinds of wrongdoing

·           the next five begin with the like-sounding fqonou and fonou (of-envy, of-murder), which perhaps helps to draw attention to the bringing together of wrong attitudes and destructive actions

·           the last two refer to lack of expected family affection (avstorgouj) and lack of a broader, less generally demanded, mercy ( avnelehmonaj).

Rom 1:32  Both summative and intensifying: all these are wilful sins, not failings committed in ignorance, and they are not only practised but encouraged. [Dunn discusses this verse usefully in I, 68-70].


Paul now addresses those who might not recognise themselves in the previous passage, and particularly brings Jews into the picture along with Gentiles, although it is not till the next section (Rom 2:17) that he explicitly addresses himself to his Jewish readers.

Rom 2:1  Paul picks up the word avnapologhtoj (“without excuse”) from Rom 1:20 and suddenly puts it into the second person.  Similarly, the latter part of the verse stands in parallel with Rom 1:32: he addresses those who condemn rather than applaud, but who practise nonetheless.  In principle all who believe themselves superior are included – note the broadly inclusive wv avnqrwpe paj o` krinwn - but what follows suggests that Jews are particularly in mind, and 2 Esdras 3:32-36 (306 AP) has been suggested as representative of the attitude attacked.  What they are guilty of is presumably not idolatry or homosexuality, but the sins listed in Rom 1:29-31.  Paul is clearly stressing the idea of judgment/condemnation (with krinw 3x and katakrinw 1x), preparing for setting God’s judgment over against merely human judgment. 

Rom 2:2  The NRSV, along with some commentators (Barrett, Dunn) takes Paul to be representing what they say, but this requires supplying the words “you say”. Paul simply writes oivdamen o`ti (“we know that....”), and this works perfectly well as a statement of what is generally accepted. Dunn points out (p.80) that these words frequently introduce such a statement, particularly in Romans, and he puts forward as exemplary Rom 3:19, Rom 7:14, Rom 8:22 and Rom 8:28. But this doesn’t greatly affect interpretation: either way, Paul uses what they know (or claim to know) against them. What is generally accepted, certainly among Jews, is that God exercises his krima (“judgment” – continuing the verbal pattern begun in Rom 2:1) justly (kata avlhqeian – “in accordance with truth”) against those practising the evil things listed in Rom 1:29-31.

Rom 2:3  Paul now drives home the point for which he has prepared in the previous two verses. He repeats the form of address from Rom 2:1 (wv avnqrwpe), and challenges his imagined interlocutor to recognise (lit. “reckon” – logizh) the contradiction of passing judgment (krinwn again) on what others do while doing the same things, yet expecting to escape God’s judgment (krima). The challenge is made more confronting by the use of the emphatic pronoun su.

Rom 2:4-5  Here the point seems to be that the qualities of God customarily prized by the Jews are to be rightly seen as opportunity for the repentance at this time often seen primarily as necessary for Gentiles, not as reason for Jewish complacency - is Wisdom 15:1f. (77 AP) in mind?  Without it they will face the judgment they see as awaiting the Gentiles.  There is probably a play on ploutoj (“riches” – both literal and figurative wealth) versus qhsaurizw (“I store up” – especially treasure, both literal and figurative): through their hardness of heart, they store up not the riches of mercy which they might expect, but its opposite.  Among the attributes of God here named, particular emphasis is given to crhstothj (and the equivalent to crhston): this goodness/kindness, which was seldom used of the gods in Greek thought, but often of God in Jewish thought, especially in the Psalms. To his imagined addressees Paul attributes qualities both clearly opposite to what God’s mercy requires (avmetanohtoj kardia vs. metanoia) and arguably opposite to God’s own character (since sklhrothj covers harshness as well as hardness. [See further on these two verses:  Dunn, I, 81-84 &/or Moo(1996), pp.132-135]

Rom 2:6-8  Paul here builds on the language of Psalm 62:12 or Proverbs 24:12 to state a principle that real or imagined Jewish hearers would certainly accept.  The debate among commentators is how to square this with what Paul says later, and the main suggestions are:

(i)        this is what applies without taking the gospel into account (and none actually qualify).  My preference

(ii)       the “doing good” which Paul has in mind is precisely trusting God, is faith.

(iii)             it is not the faith itself, but the fruit of faith, well-doing which demonstrates faith.

More specifically:

·           kaq v u`pomonhn evrgou avgaqou (Rom 2:7) (literally “by persistence/endurance of a good work”) seems to speak of a life marked by doing what is good – most commentators seem to agree that attempts such as Barrett’s (p.46) to avoid this do violence to the Greek

·           avfqarsia (Rom 2:7) may well hark back to Rom 1:23, so that these people stand in contrast to those described in that passage

·           evriqeia (Rom 2:8) has presented difficulties for translation and interpretation, and might be understood to refer to selfishness or self-seeking, which would contrast appropriately with seeking the things of God (in Rom 2:7), or to factiousness, which would be more difficult, but could be understood of aligning oneself with an anti-God faction

·           the use of the nominative form of ovrgh kai qumoj is unexpected, failing to parallel the previous verse’s zwhn aivwnion, and requiring that we understand a verb to be – this is possibly designed to emphasise these words

Rom 2:9-11  Paul brings his argument to its conclusion: Jewish confidence in being Jewish is unwarranted, since God’s declared basis of judgment is applicable to Jew and Gentile alike, otherwise God would be guilty of a partiality improper in a just judge (contrary to Deuteronomy 10:16-17).  These verses balance chiastically the previous three: in Rom 2:6 a general principle is first stated then illustrated by the contrasting Rom 2:7-8 (good vs. evil), whereas in Rom 2:9-11 the contrast is in reverse order (evil vs. good), and is followed by the general principle. One detail worth noting is the phrase in Rom 2:10  vIoudaiou te prwton kai `Ellhnoj, and its repetition in the dative in Rom 2:11: this may well echo what Paul has said about the gospel in Rom 1:16, thus likening the inclusiveness and impartiality of God’s judgment to the inclusiveness and impartiality of the gospel.  [See further on vv.6-11, Cranfield I,146-153 and/or Moo, 135-143].

Rom 2:12-13  Paul elaborates on the position just stated, and he is probably to be seen as meeting the obvious Jewish objection, i.e. we are different, because we have the Law.  Paul’s initial response is in terms for which rabbinic parallels have been found, i.e. having the law is not enough (even “hearing” it, in a narrow sense); it is doing which matters.

Rom 2:14-16  In turning to look at the case of the Gentiles Paul uses two important Greek concepts (but found also in Hellenistic Judaism), those of fusij (“nature”) [NRSV’s “instinctively” is literally “by nature”] and suneidhsij (“conscience”).  So he uses essentially Gentile ideas to put forward the case of Gentiles who act rightly despite not having the Law. He would thus probably prompt Hellenistic Jews (as those of Rome would probably be) to think of Gentiles whom they knew to be people who genuinely endeavoured to live in accord with ideals of natural law.  Rom 2:15 is not easy to translate or interpret: kai mataxu avllhlwn twn logismwn kathgorountwn hv kai avpologoumenwn is literally: “and between one another the thoughts accusing or even/indeed defending/ excusing”. This seems to speak of the contrasting verdicts of one’s conscience, but the context, aided by the second kai, places emphasis on the positive verdict. So where does this leave us?  Dunn is, I believe, right to warn against too quickly reading in later material on justification by faith, since Paul’s readers had not yet taken that in, but if Paul is preparing the way for it he presumably is not consciously contradicting it.  These twin facts seem to me to point to the view that Paul speaks here provisionally. That is, he is saying that Gentiles do in fact at times act in line with what is right in God’s sight, and the possibility of their consistently doing so may be entertained (although later it emerges that none do, as also no Jews). 

The only UBS4 textual variant in ch.2 occurs in Rom 2:16. The two main variants are, as in Rom 1:1, just a matter of word order. This time the UBS4 editors express considerable uncertainty (C reading) because, I think, there is significant manuscript support for both. If the priority of cristou is original, a slight emphasis on Messiahship would certainly fir the context (final judgment). The third alternative has limited support in Greek manuscripts and probably reflects a liturgical expansion.


Having drawn Jews into the scope of the human sinfulness which stands under God’s condemnation, Paul now directly addresses the Jew.

Rom 2:17-20  Paul heaps up expressions which characterise an imagined and representative Jew’s view of himself.  There is ample evidence in Jewish writings that Paul is accurately (though, of course, selectively) reflecting Jewish self-conceptions.  Dunn gives numerous examples of this in his commentary on these verses [I, 109-113] including a particularly striking one from the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch, 48:22-24:

          In you we have put our trust, because, behold, your Law is with us,

          and we know that we do not fall as long as we keep your statues.

          We shall always be blessed; at least, we did not mingle with the nations.

          For we are all a people of the Name;

          we, who received one Law from the One.

          And that Law which is among us will help us,

          and that excellent wisdom which is in us will support us.

The effect of this heaping up of phrases is intensified by an initial repetition of sound [Eiv de su  vIoudaioj evponomazh| kai epanapauh| nomw| …], then by twice further using the word nomoj [at the end of Rom 2:18 and at the end of Rom 2:20]. Other specifics:

·           epanapauh| (Rom 2:17) means literally to rest upon, and the NRSV’s “rely on” is appropriate, but it is less clear whether this is a right or a wrong kind of reliance (depending whether this is simply the Jew’s claim or whether there is Pauline irony) – Moo (pp.159f.) believes the latter and suggests a similarity to Micah 3:11

·           there is a similar ambiguity about kaucasai evn qew| (Rom 2:17) - this could be appropriate (as in Jeremiah 9:23-24) or inappropriate, as over-confident or exclusive (not surprisingly, Dunn favours the latter) [my preference is that Paul initially wants both possibilities to stand, but ends in a way that favours a negative reading]

·           the absolute to qelhma (Rom 2:18) is clearly a reference to God’s will, and this is in line with Jewish usage

·           ta diaferonta (Rom 2:18) can mean either simply the things which differ (and hence are morally significant, vs. things indifferent – ta adiafora), or the things which differ positively (and hence are excellent, or NRSV’s “what is best”) – this will not substantially affect the impact of what Paul is saying

·           commentators (e.g. Dunn I,112) cite numerous parallels to v.19 in Jewish writings, including Isaiah 42:6-7, parallels confirming the accuracy of what Paul here attributes to “the Jew” – the problem is presumably that they fail to live in consistency with such a self-description

·           but it is generally admitted that it is much less easy to find verbal parallels for Rom 2:20, although similar ideas can readily be found, and Jesus’ words in Matt 11:25/Luke 10:21 may be relevant – if they are, perhaps the problem here is an arrogant self-importance which stands in the way of receptiveness toward God

Rom 2:21-23  Paul breaks his grammatical structure and moves into a series of challenging questions which clearly carry an implied accusation of inconsistency.  If they are to be taken literally the point seems to be that the commission of such sins by many Jews invalidates the claim that mere possession of the Law sets them apart.  Or Paul may be assuming that his readers are aware of Jesus’ radicalising and internalising of the commandments, and hence that any Jew must plead guilty to transgression.

In this case the word  `ierosuleij (translated “rob temples” by the NRSV) must presumably be given its broader sense of “commit sacrilege” (i.e. fail to accord to God the exclusive and wholehearted allegiance due to Him). On Rom 2:21-23, see further, Moo(1996), 163-166 and/or Dunn I,113-115.

Rom 2:24  Paul clinches his accusation by citing the LXX of Isaiah 52:5 [which has “among the Gentiles” and “because of you”, which are lacking in the Hebrew].  There, however, the exile alone is explicitly in view, so some suggest Paul has also in mind Ezekiel 36:16-23.  This may well be so, but even without this it is fair comment upon Isaiah alone that Judah’s sin lies behind its exile.

Rom 2:25  Paul now focuses on circumcision, a focus which again reflects an emphasis genuinely found among the Jews.  Morris quotes a saying of Rabbi Levi (pp139f):  “In the Hereafter Abraham will sit at the entrance to Gehenna, and permit no circumcised Israelite to descend therein.”  Both Dunn and Fitzmyer cite several verses in I & II Maccabees as exemplifying the great importance attributed to circumcision.  But Paul understands the covenant sign of circumcision to be a commitment to keep the whole law (as in Galatians), hence it is negated by law-breaking.

Rom 2:26-27  More radically, Paul poses the opposite case: an uncircumcised Gentile who keeps the Law thereby shows himself to be circumcised in spirit.  Some, such as Godet, understand Paul to be thinking of Gentile Christians, while Morris prefers to understand it of Gentiles such as Cornelius who display the faith and love desired by God.  But it seems to me best to understand it hypothetically of a pagan who actually acts in conformity with all the requirements of the Law. Moo takes essentially this position although not in quite these words, pp.169-171.

Rom 2:28-29  Paul brings the section to its conclusion with a positive statement of principle. He is saying that the Jew errs by giving primary importance to what is apparent to human sight, to the flesh and the written Law, whereas he is advocating the primacy of the hidden obedience which is of heart and spirit (Spirit?).  There are several OT statements which Paul probably expects to come to mind, perhaps particularly Jeremiah 9:25f., but there is also a striking similarity of both thought and language to Matthew 6:1-6.


In beginning at this point, we have passed over the introductory section of the letter, including the great thematic statement of Rom 1:1-17. We have also passed over the first part of the body of the letter, and of the major section on “Universal Sinfulness” (Rom 1:18-3:20) [my analysis, of course]. In my customary analysis, the first sub-section of omitted material is Rom 1:18-32, which generalises about God’s wrath against sin, but in terms which suggest that the Gentiles are primarily in mind. Then in Rom 2:1-16 Paul addresses those who might not recognise themselves in Rom 1:18-32, and particularly brings Jews into the picture along with Gentiles, although it is not until Rom 2:17 that Jews are explicitly addressed. The last omitted sub-section is Rom 2:17-29, which focuses on the condemnation of Jewish sinners. Paul ends by challenging an exclusivist confidence in Jewish identity and in the mark of circumcision – Rom 2:25-29


Paul now seems to respond to the objection that he makes Jewishness (that is, literal, racial Jewishness) of no value at all.  He denies this in the language of pistij and goes on to argue that God’s faithfulness (and hence, I think it is implied, the value of His covenant with Israel) is not negated by the faithlessness of Israel.

Rom 3:1-2  Paul raises the possible implication that he is saying there is no value either in circumcision or in the Jewish identity which it represents. He introduces this by ti ouvn, but shifts to tij in the parallel clause. The difference is clearly not important, but Jewett (p.241), drawing on H.W.Smyth’s Greek grammar, suggests that ti refers to a class, the category of the Jew, whereas tij concerns the nature of a thing, so here the nature of the advantage which a Jew enjoys. Paul immediately denies the charge of devaluing circumcision and Jewish identity, and does so emphatically, even hyperbolically, with his polu kata panta tropon (“much, in every way”).  He then seems to begin a list of ways, but only provides one, the form of which leads into the issue of divine faithfulness.  He does, however, provide a list later on (Rom 9:4-5). An alternative view is that prwton here means “chiefly”, but this still implies that a longer list could be given, and the preceding panta suggests a multiplicity of ways. The expression ta logia (oracles, divine words) has attracted debate – what constitutes these divine words? Moo concisely reviews the range of opinions (p.182) before settling on “the OT as a whole, with special reference, perhaps, to the promises”, on the grounds that this “suits best the general application of the word in the LXX and the NT”. The verb evpisteuqhsan (translated appropriately as “were entrusted” by the NRSV) introduces the pistij word group, which will be central in the next verse.

Rom 3:3  Paul now picks up that word: the advantage of the words of God and the covenant thus established is in a sense nullified by human unfaithfulness [doubly stated by means of the verb avpisteuw and the noun avpistia]. That is, those Jews who have rejected God’s Messiah have rejected the promises of God which point toward the Messiah. Later, in chapters 9-11, he will argue that this is not absolute, but here his concern is to say that such faithlessness does not nullify God’s pistij.

Rom 3:4  Paul’s first response to a possible questioning of God’s faithfulness is emphatic rejection. The rejection is conveyed first by the exclamatory mh genoito, the first of ten occasions in Romans. Then by the use of the imperative to make a strong positive assertion: God remains faithful and true, no matter what may be said about human beings. For a survey of the considerable debate concerning how this imperative works, see Jewett, p.245. But its strong affirmative force is clear in context. Dunn points out (I,133) that the Hebrew word usually translated by pistij in the LXX is almost always translated by avlhqeia in the Psalms. Finally, Paul supports his assertion by means of Psalm 51:4, which constitutes an illustration of God’s blamelessness in judgment being upheld, not compromised, by the recognition of human sin.

Rom 3:5  Paul now moves into argumentation. He begins by raising a possible objection to his strong assertion of God’s faithfulness, truth and justice. It arises particularly from his use of Psalm 51. If human avdikia serves to demonstrate, or show up, the dikaiosunh of God, then is not God actually avdikoj to pour out the wrath of his judgment on what has served this good purpose? There is some debate about whether this verse is still about Jews, or whether Paul has now broadened to include all human beings. Its strong connection with what precedes suggests that it is at least primarily about Jews, although the language may have been chosen to allow a secondary, universal application. Before answering this objection Paul characterises it as kata avnqrwpon, as the perspective of suspect human logic.

Rom 3:6  Paul now explicitly dismisses the objection by a second use of mh genoito, then supports this by asking his own question: how could God judge the world if this objection were upheld? The force of this depends on the fact that God’s role as Judge was axiomatic to any Jew, and probably also on an allusion to Genesis 18:25.

Rom 3:7  There is some uncertainty about how this verse connects with what precedes. Is it a resumption of the objection in Rom 3:5, or does it support the dismissal of the objection in Rom 3:6? The textual variant has a possible bearing on this issue. Is the connecting word de or gar? Although UBS4 gives a B rating to de (vs C in UBS3), the manuscript support is reasonably even, and Metzger actually argues back the other way, from an assumption that this verse is in parallel with Rom 3:5. See Moo, 177, footnote 1. The advantage of seeing it as supporting Rom 3:6 is that it avoids the problem of Paul’s not appearing to answer the objection this time, but it is scarcely obvious. It requires that we understand the “I” language to express the excuse available to any person facing God’s judgment if we should allow that it is unjust for God to punish sins which manifest his righteousness. But it doesn’t sound like a universal hypothetical – rather it sounds very like Rom 3:5 in both form and content. If so, it may well be seen as a slight intensification, particularly through the introduction of doxa – what better thing can I do than promote the glory of God?

Rom 3:8  Again there is debate about how this verse relates to the previous one. The connecting kai suggests a direct parallel, but the introductory mh, looking for a negative answer, suggests Paul’s perspective. The shift to first person plural might also weaken the parallel, but this could simply be a return to the language of Rom 3:5. It is possible to see it as Paul’s continuation of the objector’s challenge, in which he draws out a consequence of the objector’s position. If so, Paul is saying that the falsity of the objector’s position is made clear by its leading to so plainly repugnant a proposal as poihswmen ta kaka, which is by no means retrieved by adding  `ina evlqh| ta avgaqa. Therefore what is formally a continuation of the objector’s position is in fact an answer to it. But the language used seems more natural in Paul’s own mouth, particularly the claim of being slandered, so it may be better understood as Paul’s direct attack on where the objector’s line of argument is leading, to the very libertinism of which his opponents falsely accuse him. Under either view, Paul is rejecting the objector’s position, as the final exclamation plainly declares. The krima in question is presumably God’s, recalling the assertion of God’s role as Judge in Rom 3:6.


Paul comes back to his main point, that all people, both Jews and Greeks, stand under condemnation for sin. Then he supports this point by appeal to a collection of citations of Scripture. Then he states it yet again, but contrasting it now with the idea that human beings might be vindicated by “works of law”.

Rom 3:9  This is difficult.  The verb proecomeqa is middle or passive in form, but some want to argue for the active meaning, hence three possible meanings (an ambiguity which is linked with the uncertainty as to whether there are two questions or one, and with debate over the identity of the “we”). 

The alternatives are:

(i)                 ACTIVE MEANING (BAGD jut out, excel, be first) - fits best if two questions and yields NRSV translation, requiring an undeclared shift back to “we” as exclusively “we Jews”.

(ii)               MIDDLE MEANING (BAGD hold something before oneself for protection)- yields something like, “what then do we put forward (in our defence)?” with the “we” continuing to mean “we human beings” and the answer meaning “nothing at all”.

(iii)             PASSIVE MEANING (BAGD be excelled) - yields something like “what then?  Are we actually worse off?”, hence again of Jews but from opposite perspective.

I agree with Dunn (who leans heavily on Dahl) that the second is to be preferred, since it accepts both a normal verb meaning and the more obvious understanding of “we”.  See Dunn, I pp. 146-148.  And for (i) Barrett, 66-68 (iii) Jewett, 256f

[Morris, 163-166 favours variant of (ii), understanding it of “we Christians”, while Moo, 198-201 canvasses a slightly wider range of possibilities before concluding that either (i) or (ii) is likely but that the choice doesn’t materially affect Paul’s point].

The second part of the verse supports Moo’s contention, in that it makes it clear that Paul’s positive affirmation is that Jews and Gentiles are alike in both being  u`f’ a`martian, literally “under sin”. This probably means under the power of sin, as Jewett, following Kasemann, argues (258f.).

Rom 3:10  The string of OT citations is introduced with the common formula kaqwj gegraptai o`ti. It drives home the final affirmation of Rom 3:9, that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin. It contains both several strong negatives (ouvk evstin) about goodness among human beings, and several broad generalisations about the presence of evil (the initial pantej of Rom 3:12 being picked up in the repeated, unqualified auvtwn). Paul has generally followed the LXX, and he has broadened the scope of some citations.

Rom 3:10-12  The primary basis of this is Psalm 14:1-3 (EV). The quoted verses of the psalm sound universal, but the psalm as a whole contrasts “evildoers” with the righteous, and some of its language might be understood to have Gentiles particularly in mind. Look at Psalm 14. I am attracted to Dunn’s suggestion (with which Jewett agrees) that the opening departure from the language of the psalm (dikaioj in place of poiwn crhstothta) is not simply Paul’s own editorial adaptation (so, Moo), but is based on Ecclesiastes 7:20. If so, this provides a basis for Paul’s universalising of several later citations. Paul’s omission of the reference to “the fool” (avfrwn) in Psalm 14:1, as a contrast with the later “one who has understanding” (suniwn), also aids universalising.


Textual Variant: The weight of manuscript evidence favours the inclusion of ouvk evstin. On the other hand, omission goes against the LXX, which makes it the more difficult reading, and addition easier to explain than removal. But it could possibly have been left out as superfluous. Hence the C rating and square brackets, Fortunately, the meaning is not affected.

Rom 3:13-14  Three citations from the Psalms, all concerning sinful speech, and all originally concerning the wicked, vs. the righteous or the like. Consider, for example, Psalm 140:1-3,12-13 (with Ps 140:3 providing the quoted portion). There are versions of Ps 14 (Ps 13) in the LXX which include Rom 3:13-18, but it is generally accepted that this is the result of interpolation by Christian scribes – see Sanday & Headlam, 77f.

Rom 3:15-17  Selected phrases from Isaiah 59:7-8. This time the original is broad condemnation directed at Israel, which thus provides support for Paul’s seeing the surrounding material as applicable to all people, Jews as well as Gentiles. Look at Isaiah 59:1-2,4,7-8,11.


Rom 3:18  The final citation, from Ps 36:1 (EV), returns to the ouvk evstin formula of the opening one. Moo plausibly suggests (p.204) that it functions as “a kind of concluding frame for the series”. And he adds that this conclusion serves to emphasise “the root error that gives rise to the manifold sins of humanity: lack of ‘fear of God’.

Rom 3:19  Paul follows his series of citations by making explicit what has been implicit throughout: these Scriptures are rightly to be understood as universally inclusive, and specifically as applying to Jews as well as Gentiles. This view, which would have surprised many Jews, was supported in advance by his condemnation of Jewish sinfulness in Rom 2:17-25, but he now adds additional support. The nomoj (meaning the Scriptures) must speak first to those who are evn tw| nomw|. But what does the second use of nomoj convey? This verse might itself suggest something like “those who have the Scriptures”, but the expression has already occurred in Rom 2:12, which might suggest something broader, such as “those who are people of the Covenant, living under the commandments found in Scripture”. Whatever we decide about this, Paul is certainly affirming here concerning the Scriptures which he has cited that, rather than distinguishing the Jews from the rest of humanity, they place them firmly with all the rest, thus upholding the universality of human sinfulness.

Rom 3:20  Paul here draws on Psalm 143:2 but adds the interpretive evx evrgwn nomou (NRSV: “by deeds prescribed by the law”). This combination suggests that Paul is saying that no servant of God can stand before him as righteous in himself/herself (following the Psalm), even  by being a possessor of the Law who claims to do the works required by the Law.  He briefly explains this (as he will more fully later) by saying that the Law does not bring its possessors consciousness of being righteous in God’s sight, but, as demonstrated in Rom 3:10-18, consciousness of sin. The NRSV’s “knowledge” translates the strengthened form evpignwsij, which conveys something like clear knowledge, or awareness.


Now we come to the “good news” proper.  This division seems an appropriate one to me, and is seen as such by several others, e.g.:

·           Bruce:  “The Way of Righteousness: the Universal Need Met”

·           Morris:  “Justification”

·           Dunn:  “God’s Saving Righteousness to Faith”

But, as you are aware, there is debate over whether Chapter 5 connects more strongly with Chapter 4 or Chapter 6, so obviously not all scholars favour the above division [for different and perfectly defensible analyses see Moo, Cranfield, Fitzmyer, Jewett]


This is the foundational statement of this section, the focus of which is caught well by Dunn’s heading:  “The Decisive Demonstration of God’s Righteousness in the Death of  Jesus”.  The focus is not yet on human faith, but this theme is nonetheless clearly present, preparing for the way in which Paul will build on this foundation.

The basic assertion is clear but the precise meaning of some expressions is difficult to determine. This is possibly because Paul is making use of expressions well known in the preaching and teaching of the early church (it has been remarked that this passage contains an unusual concentration of words rare in Paul, including several a]pax legomena - words that only occur once in Paul).  [See Dunn, I, 163f. or Moo, 220f.]

Rom 3:21  Nuni de cwrij nomou (“but now apart from law”) clearly introduces this section by both contrasting and connecting it with what precedes, probably especially Rom 3:19-20, hence both:

·           this is good news for all, not just Jews  and

·           this is good news of justification through faith, not works of law.

But the element of contrast is balanced by the closing phrase: marturoumenh u`po tou nomou kai twn profhtwn - this good news is not contrary to the Scriptures but supported by their testimony.  In between is the key assertion that this good news upholds God’s justice - this dikaiosunh has-been-disclosed (pefanerwtai, perfect tense) by the event about to be declared, i.e. Jesus’ atoning death.

Rom 3:22  This justice of God is now said to be dia pistewj  vIhsou Cristou eivj pantaj touj pisteuontaj  (literally, “through faith/faithfulness of Jesus Christ to/for all the believing-ones”).  The great debate is over the expression dia pistewj vIhsou Cristou:  is it human faith in Jesus or the faith/faithfulness of Jesus or both?  The NRSV has chosen the former, which better fits the broad direction of the argument but which is an unusual way for Paul to express this concept.  The latter would accord well with the focus of the immediate context upon God’s action in the person of Jesus.  I am attracted to the possibility that Paul may intend us to perceive both. This would bridge well between the elements of the statement (looking back to God’s justice and forward to human faith), and it accords with Paul’s understanding of the faith expressed in baptism in chapter 6 as identification with Jesus. The word pantaj also deserves to be noted, as clearly maintaining Paul’s emphasis on universality in regard to sin as he moves into a consideration of salvation. Jewett (275-276) is one who gives particular attention to this word, seeing it as expressing God’s “impartial righteousness”, a concept which “differed substantially from the partisan tendencies of contemporary culture”.

Textual Variant: The manuscript evidence for eivj pantaj is much stronger than for evpi pantaj, hence the B rating of UBS4. The combination of the two has significant support, but it seems much more likely that this is a conflation of variant readings than that such a double formulation was original, and copyists dropped one or the other phrase. Metzger describes the combined form as “essentially redundant and tautological”, but it might be possible to defend it as a way of underlining pantaj.

Rom 3:22-24  The implications of pantaj in Rom 3:22 are now made explicit and underlined. The opening ouv gar evstin diastolh declares the absence of distinction, while the sentence as a whole brings together the universality of sin and the inclusiveness of pantaj touj pisteuontaj (all the ones who have faith):  all are in need and all who believe receive what they need through God’s action in Christ.  It is worth noting the Greek tenses, partially obscured in the NRSV translation. Initially h`marton ( NRSV, “have sinned”) is aorist, suggesting a specific act (presumably Adam’s sin) or possibly all past human sin viewed together. But u`sterountai (NRSV, “fall short”) is present and dikaioumenoi (NRSV, “are  now justified”) is a present passive participle, suggesting the present universal consequence of sin and God’s overcoming of it.   Further on these verses see  Jewett, 279-283 or Dunn I,166-170.

Rom 3:25-26  Paul now stresses that it is indeed the justice of God which is evident in Christ’s death - as I understand it, both God’s character and God’s justifying action, and the compatibility of the two.  There are several details worthy of discussion, but only brief comment is possible:

·           NRSV’s “by his blood, effective through faith” renders interpretively dia pistewj evn tw| auvtou ai`mati, which is open to several interpretations - I lean a little toward a reference to God’s faithfulness, given the context, but human faith as the means by which Christ’s act of propitiation/expiation becomes effective is also quite likely, as more obviously fitting the use  of dia, so I find it difficult to decide

·           there is much debate over whether paresij is better rendered “passing over” (as NRSV) or “forgiveness” and over the point being made - I think the NRSV is right, and that the context favours the interpretation that the death of Christ justifies God’s having previously failed to carry out immediate sentence of death on all sinners 

Further on these two verses see Jewett, 283-293 and/or Moo, 230-243 and/or Dunn I,170-176.

Textual Variant: The C rating expresses the uncertainty of the UBS4 editors. There is considerable manuscript support for both inclusion and omission of the article (but not for omission of the phrase). It is possible to argue for either reading: the article could have been added to make clear a supposed connection with dia pistewj  vIsou Cristou in Rom 3:22,  but the presence of the article twice in dia thj pistewj in Rom 3:30-31 favours its being original, and possibly omitted inadvertently. The only exegetical significance is that the presence of the article might favour an interpretation of pistij here in line with Rom 3:22, but this is by no means required by its presence.


Paul now returns, in the light of what he has just said, to his debate with an imagined Jewish spokesperson. He reinforces his emphasis on pistij, and on inclusion of the Gentiles, and defends his attitude to the law.

Rom 3:27  The reference to kauchsij recalls Rom 2:17,23, so Jewish self-confidence must be primarily in mind, but Jewett is probably right to point to the relevance of a broader culture of acceptance of self-promotion (295f.). Paul sharply rejects exclusivist self-confidence in regard to standing with God by means of the single word evxekleisqh, literally “it was excluded” (aorist), which suggests a reference to the atoning death of Christ (Rom 3:25). He supports this by placing pistij over against evrga. Less clear is the use of nomoj as the common term. Does either instance refer to Scripture, or commandments within Scripture? For contrasting views, compare Dunn,I,185-187 with Moo,247-250. Fortunately, our decision about this doesn’t affect the thrust of Paul’s contrast.

Rom 3:28  Paul now reinforces his opposing of pistij to evrga in a brief, forceful statement which reiterates the content of Rom 3:21-25. The use of the first person plural logizomeqa probably implies that Paul does not stand alone, but speaks in accordance with general Christian teaching.

Textual Variant: The B rating for gar reflects both slightly superior manuscript support and its better fit for the relation between Rom 3:27-28 – Rom 3:28 gives a reason for Rom 3:27, rather than a conclusion from it. Metzger suggests that ouvn arose when copyists took logizomeqa to mean “we infer” rather than “we consider”.

Rom 3:29-30  Paul now stresses the inclusivist implications of his insistence on pistij. In so doing, he makes use of the fundamental Jewish affirmation that “God is one”, implying that since this makes God the God of Gentiles as well as of Jews it is necessary that God justifies in a way that is for both.

Rom 3:31  Paul refutes the possible accusation that his teaching on pistij annuls or overthrows the law. Rather, he claims to uphold it. What is not clear is how the word nomoj functions here. Does he uphold the commandments of God? This is certainly possible, in more than one sense, perhaps most obviously that Paul’s gospel allows God’s commandments to be taken with full seriousness and fulfilled in God’s way. Or is it a reference to the Scriptures? This is also possible, given the content of Chapter 4.

The above is a necessarily brief treatment, so I suggest further reading in one or more of: pp.245-255 of Moo; 183-194 of Dunn; 294-303 0f Jewett.


Paul proceeds in this passage to demonstrate the truth of his assertion in Rom 3:31.  And his test case is strategically chosen: Abraham is the generally acknowledged founding father of Judaism, frequently used in Judaism as a great exemplar of the good life and often specifically with references to his pistij.  But such use is always distinguishable from Paul’s and sometimes even contrary to it - consider Philo, I Maccabees 2:50-53 [191AP], Ecclesiasticus 44:19-20 [149AP]. If Paul can establish that Abraham exemplifies his understanding of justification through faith he will have established something of fundamental importance. It is also significant for Paul’s purpose that Abraham comes before Moses and the statutes of the Law (a point made explicitly in Galatians 3:17-18 but relevant here also), and that his right standing with God comes before his circumcision. 

Rom 4:1  Paul introduces his case study, but in significant terms. This is not affected, incidentally, by the textual variants. UBS4 accords propatora preference over the more conventional patera (as part of its B reading), but both readings have essentially the same significance. And the placement, or even absence, of eu`rhkenai has no effect. His designation of Abraham as ton propatora h`mwn kata sarka (“our ancestor/forefather according to the flesh”) at once makes it clear that Paul is addressing himself to Jews, and anticipates (by implied contrast) his later point, that it is those who have faith who are the true children of Abraham (Rom 4:16, 23-24).

Rom 4:2-3  Paul briefly raises the perspective on Abraham held by many Jews (that Abraham, as having been justified by works – evx evrgwn – is meritorious, “has a boast”), a perspective he will proceed to refute.  There is debate concerning how the next phrase – avllV ouv proj qeon – is connected with what precedes. Some, including the NRSV, take it to be a qualification of the immediately preceding phrase, i.e. Abraham does have reason to boast before people, but not before God. But I agree with those (including Barrett, Cranfield, Moo, Jewett) who connect it with the whole of Rom 4:2. It then begins the rejection of this view, hence Barrett’s rendering: “But in fact before God he has no such ground of boasting.”  This makes the expression an integral part of the argument rather than an awkward aside, which introduces a distinction Paul never deals with.  Paul initially supports his rejection by simply quoting Genesis 15:6, but he will proceed to expound its significance at length.

Rom 4:4-5  As a whole, Rom 4:4 has a commercial sound, which is captured effectively by the NRSV’s “Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due”. Paul is setting up a deserved-reward understanding of Abraham’s standing with God in order to reject it. However, kata carin not only contrasts with kata ovfeilhma within this verse but prepares for the contrast in Rom 4:5 – this is justification kata carin/”according to grace”. Within the understanding of justification which is “according to grace”, Abraham’s pistij is seen as simply trusting God for what he can do (a view supported by the context found in Genesis 15:5-6)  Paul underlines the unearned character of God’s reckoning by his insertion of mh evrgazomenw| (“not working”) and avsebh (“the ungodly”). The latter expression would have surprised many Jews as a description, by implication, of Abraham. Presumably this is deliberate, driving home Paul’s earlier assertion that all human beings are sinful.

Rom 4:6-8  Paul uses another passage of Scripture where the key word logizomai (“reckon”) occurs to interpret its sense in Genesis 15:6, i.e. Psalm 32:1-2. (EV).  This is a standard method in rabbinic exegesis, and it is also common to support a primary reference to the Pentateuch with a secondary one to the Prophets and Writings.  Paul thus supports the view that God’s reckoning-righteous is not earned but involves forgiveness of sin.  And he reinforces the effect of attributing ungodliness to Abraham by drawing attention to the fact that this psalm is attributed to David. The introductory formula in Rom 4:6 is unusually long, and probably serves to draw attention to Davidic authority, to the makarismoj form and to Paul’s contrasting of pistij and evrga. Jewett (315f.) argues that the emphasis on blessing indicates that more than forgiveness id in mind, that the honour of right standing with God is also significant.

Rom 4:9-11  Paul reverses the procedure, now using Genesis 15:6 to determine the extent of the blessing pronounced in the Psalm.  But the real focus is the Genesis passage. The introductory question in Rom 4:9 is open in form, but is generally seen as expressing Jewish particularism, in order that Paul might answer it. It is often pointed out that Psalm 32 was used in the Day of Atonement ritual, which would have reinforced this particularism, since it was seen as a day of atonement for Israel. A number of scholars (e.g. Cranfield,I,234,n.4) cite the Talmud as explicitly stating this, including exclusion of other nations. Paul begins his response to the question by simply citing Genesis 15:6 again (Rom 4:9), before going on to use the fact that this pronouncement precedes Abraham’s circumcision (recorded in Chapter 17) to demonstrate that God’s accounting of Abraham as righteous rested purely on his faith, not on his circumcision. The primary emphasis on timing is supported by the double wording shmeion (sign) and sfragij (seal), the former derived from Genesis 17:11, that is, circumcision follows after the right standing with God based on faith as its sign and seal.

See further on Rom 4:6-11 Dunn I,205-210 or Jewett, 315-319.

Rom 4:11-12  As Moo points out (p.269), “in Rom 4:11-12 we have one long purpose clause, with a result clause (eivj to logisqhnai kai auvtoij thn dikaiosunhn) stuck inside it. The NRSV reflects this in good English by beginning a new sentence with “The purpose was”.  Paul is bringing home in provocative terms the implications of the preceding argument: contrary to restriction of Abraham’s fatherhood to the Jews as circumcised, he stands as father to all who have faith (pantwn twn pisteuontwn), without any need for circumcision.  Rom 4:12 applies this to Jews: they too can truly claim Abraham as father, but not on the basis of their circumcision, rather he is this to them only as toij stoicousin toij icnesin thj evn avkrobustia| pistewj tou patroj h`mwn  vAbraam (literally, “the ones keeping in step with the steps of the faith while in uncircumcision of our father Abraham.”

Rom 4:13  Paul now focuses on the concept of evpaggelia (promise), seeing it as closely allied with that of pistij (rather than nomoj, or by implication in context, evrga nomou).  There is debate over what promise is in mind, since the terms used do not precisely correspond with any particular OT text.  Barrett sees the allusion as being primarily to Genesis 22:17-18, but others understandably think the reference is a broad one, to a group of texts in Genesis [so, for example, Fitzmyer, who provides a list, p. 384, as does Moo, p.274]. For my part, I think it makes best sense to see the primary reference as to Genesis 15:4-5  (Paul’s focus passage up to now), since this creates an immediate connection with the verse (Gen 15:6) already cited, and hence makes Paul’s logic easier to understand.  Dunn may well be right in seeing Paul as entering into dialogue with an existing Jewish tradition. This tradition does take a large view of the scope of the promise, as not restricted to the inheritance of the Promised Land, but in some way embracing the whole earth. But it also attaches the promise to Law and law-keeping – see Ecclesiasticus 44:19-21 (149AP).  [Dunn, I, 212f. provides other supporting references].   The promise of Genesis 15 (and its later amplification) is precisely to faith-righteousness without any condition of law-keeping.

Rom 4:14  The principle is reinforced by negative restatement. Paul again takes issue with Jewish particularism, but at this point in a form giving key importance to the concept of being oi` evk nomou klhronomoi, literally “the heirs out of law”. In context the NRSV’s interpretive “adherents of the law” is justified, since in this chapter Paul has begun by asserting that Abraham was not justified evx evrgwn (Rom 4:1-5), and has gone on to exclude Abraham’s circumcision as the basis of his justification (Rom 4:9-12).

Rom 4:15  Paul briefly alludes to an idea he will develop later (and we will examine later) here introduced merely to contrast with faith and promise, i.e. the Law does not bring the fulfilment of promised blessings but their opposite [on Rom 4:14-15, see further Dunn I, 213-215 or Moo, 274-277] .

Rom 4:16  is very compressed: dia touto evk pistewj  `ina kata carin (literally “therefore of faith, so that according to grace”), thus making the emphasis on the two key words plain. Paul clearly sees a close, positive relationship between pistij and carij. This reflects the fact that he doesn’t see pistij as a meritorious virtue, nor does he apparently perceive the tension between emphasis on pistij and emphasis on carij that some systematic theologians have in more recent times. 16b clearly stresses the inclusiveness of this grace. Note the recurrence of paj. But there is some debate over the reference of tw| evk tou nomou (literally, “to the one [i.e. seed] of the law”; NRSV, “the adherents of the law”). To Christian or non-Christian Jews? The context favours the first, since the verse seems to speak of those who actually receive the promise to Abraham through faith, and are at one in having Abraham as father.

Rom 4:17-21  The character of Abraham’s pistij spelt out - it is not fundamentally faithfulness in holding to covenant but trust in God’s promise.  On these verses see Dunn I, 217-221 or Moo, 279-286 or Jewett,332-339.  But note:

·           the terms of Rom 4:17 deliberately bridge between the faith of Abraham and Christian faith – qeou tou zw|opoiountoj touj nekrouj clearly both refers to the birth of a child to parents who can be considered as dead and to the resurrection of Jesus (which becomes explicit in Rom 4:24), while kalountoj ta mh ovnta w`j ovnta is more difficult, but may link the promise of many nations yet to be with the fulfilment now begun through faith in Christ

·           the expression par v evlpida evp v evlpidi evpisteusen in Rom 4:18 is probably better rendered as “beyond hope (i.e. normal human expectation), in hope he believed”, rather than the NRSV’s colloquial “hoping against hope”, so stressing that faith trusts God’s promise. And in both this verse and Rom 4:17 evpisteusen is aorist, probably implying that the specific case of Genesis 15:4-6 is still in mind.

·           The strong connection between human faith and the divine promise is underlined in Rom 4:20, where pistij stands against avpistia and for God’s  evpaggelia, and evnedunamwqh picks up the mh avsqenhsaj of Rom 4:19 – it can be understood either as a strict passive (of God’s strengthening) or as simply meaning to grow strong

·           This emphasis on faith as trusting God’s promise is carried through into Rom 4:21, which, as Cranfield remarks (I,249), “underlines the fact that Abraham’s faith was faith in the God who had promised, not merely in what had been promised”.

Rom 4:22  Paul concludes his exposition of Genesis 15:6 by again quoting from it (as previously in Rom 4:3 and Rom 4:9). This is the only instance where a word of the pistij word group is not used, but this is probably not significant, since Paul immediately proceeds to apply this exposition to his readers precisely as toij pisteuousin (the ones who have faith).

Rom 4:23-25  This is the application, which explicitly places the faith exemplified by Abraham in Christian terms: we are called to trust the life-giving power of God as demonstrated in his raising Jesus from the dead, and to trust the promise made to faith in the death and resurrection of Christ.

Rom 4:24 reinforces the shift to explicitly Christian content with a shift to second person plural form. The words of Genesis 15:6 are not di v auvton monon (for Abraham’s sake only) but kai di v h`maj (for our sake also). And Jesus who carries out God’s saving work for those who have pistij is o` kurioj h`mwn.  

Rom 4:25 should be treated as a triumphant conclusion, not a precise theological analysis. But it is probably fair to see the first clause (which echoes the LXX of Isaiah 53:12) as a traditional formula, to which Paul has added a parallel phrase stressing the relevance of the Resurrection. The result is that the resurrection of Jesus is seen as an integral part of God’s life-giving work, perhaps particularly in its declaring the effectiveness of Jesus’ sacrifice, or perhaps in the newness of life to be found in coming into a right standing with God.  [See further,  Moo, 286-290 and/or Jewett,340-343]


Paul begins to explore what it means for us to be children of Abraham, to be reckoned righteous through our faith in the crucified and risen Jesus Christ.

Rom 5:1  Paul begins, in Rom 5:1, with a brief restatement of his base.  The first word dikaiwqentej “having beeb justified” is an aorist participle, I think because the reference is to what Christ has done, in Rom 4:24-25  Dunn [I, 246] points out that Paul uses the present and future tenses of dikaiow more frequently, unlike Protestant theological convention.  In this context the phrase evk pistewj probably refers to our Abraham-like trust in God, although a reference to the faithfulness of God and/or Christ, shown in the latter’s death and resurrection, is possible. There is textual doubt over the indicative evcomen vs the subjunctive evcwmen, but the context strongly favours the former, despite weighty textual evidence to the contrary [UBS3, C reading, but UBS4, A] and very early mis-hearing [w for o] seems likely.  Eivrhnh should be understood in the light of what follows [Rom 5:2, 10-12] of our reconciled standing with God.  Fitzmyer’s suggestion of Isaiah 32:17 as a relevant background is appealing – read Is 32:16-18.

Rom 5:2  This peace with God is immediately amplified as thn prosagwghn … eivj thn carin tauthn evn h`| evsthkamen.  The combination of the terms prosagwgh and carij suggests an image of entry into royal presence, with royal favour, or into divine presence with divine favour, or possibly both. It is remarkable, or would have been in the original context, that persons without merit have such access on the basis of pistij. The perfect tense of both evschkamen (“we have had”) and evsthkamen (“we have stood”) conveys that this is a continuing status based on a past action (God’s gracious action in Christ, I believe).   

Rom 5:2  Paul introduces the future element, in terms which deliberately reverse such earlier statements as Rom 3:27 and Rom 2:23, i.e. there is now possible a right kauchsij (boasting/rejoicing) in what God has done, which looks forward to a time when we shall no longer fall short of his doxa but, as the note of kauchsij suggests, share in it. Moo (p.301, n.40) approvingly quotes the TEV’s interpretive translation: “the hope we have of sharing God’s glory”.

Rom 5:3-4  But Paul now returns to the present, only to bring us back to hope again.  The expression evn taij qliyesin (in the/our afflictions/tribulations) may refer either to the situation or the ground of believers’ boasting, with the latter being slightly favoured by the eschatological setting – in the afflictions which mark the overlap of the two ages we find confidence in our sharing in the afflictions of Christ – and the possible parallel with Paul’s usage in II Corinthians 12:9. The word dokimh literally means “provenness” or “approvedness” (better than NRSV’s “character”). Edwards suggests (p.137) that this word should be set over against avdokimon in Rom 1:28. The sequence of thought seems to be:  We rejoice already, since the afflictions of the present are signs of the End (and hence of our living in the “last days” of inaugurated fulfilment). And approaching these afflictions in this way, we meet them with an endurance which confirms our standing with God, and which confirms the very hope which makes this positive approach to affliction possible.

Rom 5:5  And now Paul asserts the firmness, the reliability of this hope, of which we have assurance because of God’s love made present to us in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. That is to say, the idea of the Spirit as earnest (avrrabwn) and firstfruits (avparch) is implicit here, as it is explicit in chapter 8 and elsewhere in Paul.  [Further on Rom 5:3-5, see  Moo, 302-305 or Dunn, I, 249-254 or Jewett,352-357]

Rom 5:6  Paul moves back behind the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to the event which made that outpouring possible.  The genitive absolute ovntwn h`mwn avsqenwn evti is in the present tense, but it is probably correctly interpreted as sharing the time of the main verb avpeqanen (as in the NRSV’s “while we were still weak”) but it is also possible that continuing moral weakness is in mind, i.e. our right standing with God continues to be on the basis of Christ’s death for us.

Rom 5:7  The surprising, unmerited character of Christ’s action is underlined.  The main debate is over whether dikaioj and avgaqoj here are functioning as synonyms or whether some distinction is intended.  It doesn’t make a great difference, but probably the latter term is an intensification.

Rom 5:8  Christ’s death is now itself viewed as demonstration of God’s love for us, even being sinners. Once again we have a present participle construction in evti a`martwlwn ovntwn, and two possible interpretations – being sinners then, or being sinners generally. The principal verb sunisthsin is also present tense, concerning which Dunn comments that “the present tense complements the perfect tense of Rom 5:5 and probably reflects the perspective of the preacher who referred back to the death of Christ as a timeless proof of God’s love”.

Romans 5:1-5


Commentators differ over where ch.5 belongs in the structure of Romans.  There are three main options:

(i)                 Linking ch.5 closely with ch.1-4, and viewing ch.6-8 as a new section (eg. Bruce, Morris, Dunn)  This structure was popularly associated with the idea that ch.1-5 was about ‘justification’ and ch.6-8 about ‘sanctification’.  (cf. Schweitzer’s division of Rom 1-8 into two ‘craters’, a subsidiary crater focusing on justification in ch.1-5, and the main crater in ch.6-8, focusing on the ‘mystical’ doctrine of union with Christ.)

(ii)               Breaking ch.5 in half, and linking Rom 5:1-11 with ch.1-4, and Rom 5:12-21 with ch.6-8 (eg. Leenhardt, Talbert, Witherington).  Thus, each section begins with sin (Rom 1:18-3:20 / Rom 5:12-21) and concludes with hope (Rom 5:1-11 / Rom 8:18-39).   

(iii)             Linking ch.5 most closely with ch.6-8, with the major break at the end of ch.4 (eg. Cranfield, Käsemann, Moo, Schreiner, Wright).  Moo offers four arguments for this structure: 

1.                  The opening phrase, which summarises Rom 1:18-4:25 and prepares the way for a new topic building on it;   

2.                  A shift from the polemical tone of Rom 1:18-4:25, in which Paul argues for the doctrine of justification by faith, to a more celebratory and pastoral tone in ch.5-8, in which he applies the doctrine to his readers (note the “we…” language in these chapters); 

3.                  A change in vocabulary from the ‘faith’ and ‘believe’ words that dominate Rom 1:18-4:25, to the language of ‘life’ and ‘live’ in ch.5-8;  

4.                  A cluster of themes shared between Rom 5:1-11 and Rom 8:18-39 (eg. God’s love, God’s glory, hope, tribulation, endurance, the Spirit) bracketing ch.5-8 and suggesting that its overarching theme is ‘assurance of glory’.   

This opening paragraph (Rom 5:1-5) begins with a brief summary of Rom 1:18-4:25 (‘Therefore, since we are justified by faith…’), and introduces the two great consequences of that justification, which are ‘peace with God’ (Rom 5:1-2) and ‘our hope of sharing the glory of God’ (Rom 5:2-5).  Of these two, it is the latter (hope) that is placed in the climactic position and dominates the paragraph as its major theme. 


Rom 5:1 Dikaiwqe,ntej ou=n evk pi,stewj eivrh,nhn e;comen pro.j to.n qeo.n dia. tou/ kuri,ou h`mw/n VIhsou/ Cristou/

Rom 5:1 provides a summary of Rom 1:18-4:25, but note the shift from the third person language of ‘all’ (Jew and Gentile) in Rom 3:21-31 to the first person language of ‘we’ (anticipated in Rom 4:23-25). 

evk pi,stewj here (as in Rom 3:26, 30 and Rom 4:16, and probably also Rom 1:17) almost certainly refers to our faith in God/Christ, although some of those who argue in Rom 1:17 that the reference is to the faithfulness of God/Christ attempt to make the same argument here. 

‘we have’ (e;comen) though not as well attested, makes better sense in the context than ‘let us have’ (e;cwmen) the reading in many early MSS.


‘peace with God’ (against the backdrop of the OT shalom) suggests more than the absence of wrath, and describes the totality of the blessings of the eschatological salvation foretold by the prophets (eg. Ezek 37:26;  Is 52:7, 54:10). 

The assertion that these blessings come ‘through/in our Lord Jesus Christ’ is a chorus-line of ch.5-8 (Rom 5:11, 21, Rom 6:23, Rom 7:25, Rom 8:39) concluding each section of this part of the letter.

Rom 5:2 diV ou- kai. th.n prosagwgh.n evsch,kamen Îth/| pi,steiÐ eivj th.n ca,rin tau,thn evn h-| e`sth,kamen

The idea of grace as the new covenant realm or position in which we now stand recurs in Rom 5:21 and Rom 6:14-15, where Paul speaks of grace ‘reigning’ (instead of sin) and affirms that we are now ‘under grace’ (not law).  The language of ‘standing’ in grace carries a strong sense of security, though note also the overtones of warning carried by the similar phrases in Rom 11:20, 22.

The evidence of the early MSS is evenly divided over whether th/| pi,stei should be included or omitted, and it is equally plausible that it could have been added by a scribe (to maintain the emphasis of Rom 5:1) or deleted by a scribe (because it seems redundant after Rom 5:1);  either way, the meaning of Rom 5:1-2 is the same. 

kai. kaucw,meqa evpV evlpi,di th/j do,xhj tou/ qeou/Å

NRSV rightly translates kaucw,meqa as ‘boast’, rather than the more innocuous ‘rejoice’ of the NIV and RSV, picking up the echo of the ‘boasting’ language in Rom 1:18-4:25 (Rom 2:17, 23, Rom 3:27, Rom 4:2).  (nb. If the subjunctive e;cwmen is read in Rom 5:1, then kaucw,meqa should probably be translated as ‘let us boast’ – the indicative and subjunctive forms are both spelt kaucw,meqa).   Here, in contrast with the earlier uses of the verb, the ‘boasting’ (ie. joyful confidence) is legitimate and well-founded, and stands in contrast with the boasting of those who seek to be justified through works of the law.

‘hope’ introduces a major theme of the paragraph (which Paul returns to in ch.8).  The close connection between faith and hope has already been anticipated in Rom 4:18.

evpV evlpi,di th/j do,xhj tou/ qeou  recalls the references to the glory of God forsaken and fallen short of in Rom 1:23 and Rom 3:23;  here it is described as the heart of Christian hope (cf. Rom 8:17, 18, 21, 30).  The ch.8 parallels suggest that ‘the hope of the glory of God’ includes the prospect not only of witnessing God’s glory but also of sharing in it and reflecting it.   

Rom 5:3  ouv mo,non de,( avlla. kai. kaucw,meqa evn tai/j qli,yesin( eivdo,tej o[ti h` qli/yij u`pomonh.n katerga,zetai( Rom 5:4  h` de. u`pomonh. dokimh,n( h` de. dokimh. evlpi,daÅ

‘we also boast in our sufferings’ means not merely that the sufferings are the circumstance despite which we boast, but that they are the object of our boasting (the normal meaning of ‘boast in…’ in Paul’s letters).  That this is the meaning is confirmed by the explanation that follows in Rom 5:3-5.  The ‘sufferings’ (qli,yeij) probably refer generally to the various afflictions of life that we still undergo in this age, with an echo of the standard eschatological contrast between present sufferings and future glory (cf. Rom 8:18) and of the sufferings and glory of Christ (cf. Rom 8:17).

‘knowing that’ may refer to the knowledge that comes from experience, or to a standard theme of Christian teaching that Paul expects his readers to be familiar with. 

The causal chain (‘sufferings… endurance… character… hope’) adds up to the conclusion that sufferings are to be rejoiced in because they produce hope.   The idea that sufferings could produce endurance and character was a familiar one within Gk (particularly Stoic) thought, but the next link in the chain (hope) goes a step beyond that. 

‘endurance’ was a characteristic highly prized within both Gk and Jewish thought, implying both patience over time and fortitude under suffering – qualities that cannot be developed instantly or painlessly;  ‘character’ (dokimh,) is not attested anywhere in Gk literature before this, and may be a word Paul himself coined (Dunn).  It derives from the word for testing (dokimazw), and implies ‘testedness’ (cf. 1 Pet 1:6-7).  Schreiner suggests that ‘character produces hope’ through the encouragement that comes from seeing the transformative work of the Spirit in our lives. 

Rom 5:5  h` de. evlpi.j ouv kataiscu,nei( o[ti h` avga,ph tou/ qeou/ evkke,cutai evn tai/j kardi,aij h`mw/n dia. pneu,matoj a`gi,ou tou/ doqe,ntoj h`mi/nÅ

‘hope does not disappoint us’ (or ‘will not put us to shame’ – an echo of Is 28:16 – cf. Rom 9:33, Rom 10:11) ie. our hope in the present will not prove to be illusory at the last day. 

‘because God's love (h` avga,ph tou/ qeou/) has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us’ may refer to ‘love for God’ (objective genitive) being poured into our hearts by the Spirit (eg. Pelagius, Wright), but more likely refers to God’s love for us (subjective genitive), given what Paul goes on to say in Rom 5:6-8.  The pouring out of God’s love into our hearts by the Spirit may mean the reality of God’s love that we are embraced by when the Spirit regenerates us, or the awareness of God’s love that we are given by the Spirit (cf. Rom 8:15-16)  cf. Moo: ‘this internal, subjective – yes, even emotional – sensation within the believer that God does indeed love us’.

Romans 5:6-11



Having spoken in Rom 5:5 of the love of God as the grounds for the certainty of our hope, Paul goes on in Rom 5:6-8 to describe how God ‘proves’ that love through the death of Christ for us.  Rom 5:9-10 return to the theme of hope, arguing from the way that God acted toward us when we were his enemies (Rom 5:6-8) to rebut any lingering fears we may have that he will turn on us in wrath at the last day.  Rom 5:11 is climactic, suggesting that our supreme joy and boasting is not merely in the good things to come to us, but in God himself (cf. 1 Cor 1:31).  


Rom 5:6  e;ti ga.r Cristo.j o;ntwn h`mw/n avsqenw/n e;ti kata. kairo.n u`pe.r avsebw/n avpe,qanenÅ

‘while we were still weak’ probably implies our powerlessness to save ourselves, and may also evoke the contrast between the ‘weakness’ of the present age and the ‘power’ of the age to come (1 Cor 15:43), and the way in which the law was ‘weakened’ by the flesh (Rom 8:3). 

In the Gk, the word ‘still’ (e;ti) is repeated, making the syntax rather awkward.  This awkwardness seems to be the explanation for the wide range of variants, including some MSS that omit the second e;ti (eg. D2, Y), some that replace the first e;ti ga.r with ei; ge (eg. B, vgmss), some that replace the first e;ti ga.r with eivj ti, ga.r (eg. F, G) and some that some that replace the first e;ti ga.r with eivj ti, ga.r and omit the second e;ti (eg. D1).  Most commentators therefore suggest that e;ti ga.r… e;ti (eg.a, A, D*) is the original.  The purpose of Paul’s awkward syntax seems to be to emphasise that it was ‘at that time, when we were still sinners  that Christ died for us.  (ie. he did not wait till we had somehow saved ourselves by law-keeping or self-improvement, but came to us in the midst of the present evil age, while we were living under the reign of sin.)  Barrett suggests that ‘at the right time’ (kata. kairo.n) means ‘at the eschatological moment’, but this is almost the opposite of the point being made here - Christ’s death did not wait till the age of salvation (when it would not have been needed!) but inaugurated the age of salvation, by occuring in the midst of the present, evil age.  Cranfield may be correct in suggesting that the phrase implies ‘at the time when God had purposed and foretold’, though this is not really a theme that Paul is emphasising in these verses.

‘Christ died for’ (Cristo.j… u`pe.r… avpe,qanen) is standard, creedal language inherited by Paul from the earliest Christian tradition (1 Cor 15:3).  In Second Temple Jewish literature this was the language of martyrdom (eg. 2 Macc 7:9, 37ff;  4 Macc 17:20-22), but here it is used to describe a death that was not for the family or the nation or the Law but for ‘the ungodly’, indeed ‘enemies’ (Rom 5:10). 

‘the ungodly’ echoes the language of Rom 1:18, as does the reference to ‘the wrath of God’ in Rom 5:9.

Rom 5:7  mo,lij ga.r u`pe.r dikai,ou tij avpoqanei/tai\ u`pe.r ga.r tou/ avgaqou/ ta,ca tij kai. tolma/| avpoqanei/n\

Rom 5:7 is possibly a reference to the martyr tradition within Judaism, in which the pious sufferer dies at the hands of the ungodly, for the sake of the Law and the community of the righteous.  Paul may possibly intend a distinction between the ‘righteous’ and ‘the good’ (ie. ‘hardly ever will someone die for the righteous, though a little more frequently someone will die for the good’ – Cranfield, Dunn, Morris, Moo, Schreiner, who vary in their reasons as to what makes ‘the good’ better than ‘the righteous).  Alternatively, the two halves of Rom 5:7 could be intended roughly synonymously, with the change from  di,kaioj to avgaqo,j merely a matter of stylistic variation (Murray, Wilckens;  Barrett and Käsemann argue somewhat similarly). 

Rom 5:8  suni,sthsin de. th.n e`autou/ avga,phn eivj h`ma/j o` qeo,j( o[ti e;ti a`martwlw/n o;ntwn h`mw/n Cristo.j u`pe.r h`mw/n avpe,qanenÅ.

‘But God’ (note the way that o` qeo,j is placed in emphatic position at the end of the clause) contrasts the most of human self-sacrifices with the love of God for us while were still sinners;  notice also the Trinitarian understanding of the cross implied in the way that Paul sees the death of Christ as proof of God’s love (cf. Rom 3:25)

‘proves’ (suni,sthsin - present tense) suggests that God’s continuing, present work in our hearts to assure us of his love is accomplished through the message of the cross. 

Rom 5:9  pollw/| ou=n ma/llon dikaiwqe,ntej nu/n evn tw/| ai[mati auvtou/ swqhso,meqa diV auvtou/ avpo. th/j ovrgh/jÅ  Rom 5:10  eiv ga.r evcqroi. o;ntej kathlla,ghmen tw/| qew/| dia. tou/ qana,tou tou/ ui`ou/ auvtou/( pollw/| ma/llon katallage,ntej swqhso,meqa evn th/| zwh/| auvtou/\

Rom 5:9-10 return to the theme of hope, arguing in two parallel sentences from the love of God for us in the present (Rom 5:6-8) to the confidence that we can have in the face of the coming judgement.  If God displayed such costly love for his enemies, how much more confident can we be that he will carry us – his own, reconciled people – through the final judgement.

‘much more surely’ (pollw/|… ma/llon) is generally regarded as an example of the Rabbinic qal wahomer (‘from the lighter to the heavier’) argument, though there is disagreement over whether this is an argument ‘from the greater to the lesser’ (eg. Schreiner, Moo) or ‘from the lesser to the greater’ (eg. Garlington).  The essence of a qal wahomer comparison, however is really a comparison between the less obvious (that God would give his Son for his enemies) and the more obvious (that God would save his people), rather than an argument ‘from lesser to greater’.

‘then’ (ou=n) makes it clear that Rom 5:9-10 involve an inference drawn from what has been said in Rom 5:6-8.

‘justified by his blood’ ties our justification to the sacrificial death of Jesus, recalling Rom 3:24-26.

‘will we be saved through him from the wrath [of God]’ (swqhso,meqa diV auvtou/ avpo. th/j ovrgh/j) clearly refers to future salvation, from the ‘wrath’ of the last day (Rom 2:5) that is foreshadowed in the present (Rom 1:18).  Note that for Paul, salvation is not only from sin, death and the devil but also (and ultimately) from God’s own wrath, reinforcing the idea that Christ’s ‘blood’ is a propitiatory sacrifice. 

‘enemies’ (evcqroi – Rom 5:10) probably assumes a mutual hostility between us and God (so Moo, Dunn, Cranfield, Schreiner, Wright – cf. Rom 1:18, Rom 8:7)

‘reconciled’ (kathlla,ghmen) functions here as the rough equivalent of ‘justified’ in the previous verse (Rom 5:9) with overtones of the ‘peace’ spoken of in Rom 5:1 as the consequence of justification. 

‘saved by his life’ echoes the saving significance of Christ’s resurrection spoken of in Rom 4:25, and may also hint at his intercession for us in the face of the accuser (cf. Rom 8:33-34)

Rom 5:11  ouv mo,non de,( avlla. kai. kaucw,menoi evn tw/| qew/| dia. tou/ kuri,ou h`mw/n VIhsou/ Cristou/ diV ou- nu/n th.n katallagh.n evla,bomenÅ

‘But more than that’ (ouv mo,non de,) probably links Rom 5:11 with the whole discussion of our ‘boasting’ in the preceeding paragraph, and marks out this final ‘boast’ as the climax - our supreme joy and boasting is not merely in the salvation that we look forward to receiving from God, but in God himself (cf. 1 Cor 1:31).

‘through whom we have now received reconciliation’ – note the ‘now’ (nu/n) that maintains the realised dimension of Paul’s ‘now but not yet’ eschatology, particularly evident in ch.5-8.  

Romans 5:12-14



Romans 5:12-21 sees a shift in language from the first person language of Rom 5:1-11 (‘we’) to the third person language of ‘all’, ‘many’, ‘those’, as Paul goes on to narrate the whole sweep of human history as the interplay between two contrasting stories, that of Adam’s disobedience and that of Christ’s obedience.  The tone of the section is triumphant, like the previous one, with the two ‘much more surely’ statements in Rom 5:15 and Rom 5:17 echoing the similar expressions in Rom 5:9-10, and the concluding ‘through Jesus Christ our Lord’ echoing Rom 5:11. 

The place of Rom 5:12-21 within the letter is variously described as:

(i)                 The conclusion to Paul’s argument in ch.1-5 (eg. Dunn)

(ii)               The introduction to a section from Rom 5:12-8:39 (eg. Witherington)

(iii)             An expansion on what has been said in Rom 5:1-11 about Christian hope and the work of Christ (eg. Moo)

The link with Rom 5:1-11 (option iii) is probably the closest and strongest, given:

·           the arguments above (on Rom 5:1-6) for a major transition at the end of ch.4, between Rom 1:18-4:25 and Rom 5:1-8:39; and

·           the close connection between the main themes of Rom 5:1-11 (Christian hope in the midst of suffering) and Rom 5:12-21 (the victory of life and grace over death and sin)

Nevertheless, Rom 5:12-21 obviously has important connections in language and themes with ch.1-4 (eg. ‘justification’, ‘righteousness’, ‘all’) and ch.6-8 (‘grace’, ‘death’, ‘sin’ and ‘the law’ as reigning powers). 


Rom 5:12  Dia. tou/to w[sper diV e`no.j avnqrw,pou h` a`marti,a eivj to.n ko,smon eivsh/lqen kai. dia. th/j a`marti,aj o` qa,natoj( kai. ou[twj eivj pa,ntaj avnqrw,pouj o` qa,natoj dih/lqen( evfV w-| pa,ntej h[marton

‘Therefore’ (Dia. tou/to) signals some sort of connection between Rom 5:1-11 and Rom 5:12-21.  Moo suggests that Rom 5:12-21 makes more sense logically as the basis for the confidence expressed in Rom 5:1-11, rather than as a conclusion drawn from Rom 5:1-11, but acknowledges that the ‘therefore’ at the start of the verse usually signals a logical inference drawn from what comes before to what comes after.  He gets around the problem by suggesting that the ‘therefore’ here expresses a relationship in which Rom 5:1-11 is the ‘final cause’ – ie. the purpose - of Rom 5:12-21 (ie. in order to accomplish the certainty of hope expressed in Rom 5:1-11, God triumphed over sin and death through the obedience of Christ, as described in Rom 5:12-21).  However this would still be a much less common way of using ‘therefore’ than the more normal, causal meaning.  The simplest reading of the ‘therefore’ is to see Rom 5:12-21 as a conclusion based on Rom 5:1-11: if Rom 5:1-11 is true for the individual believer, then Rom 5:12-21 is the implication for the wider story of humanity.

‘just as’ (w[sper) introduces a comparison that Paul never formally completes, because the thought in Rom 5:12 is interrupted by the clarifications in Rom 5:13-14.  However Rom 5:15-19 make it clear enough what the second half of the comparison would have been had Paul got around to writing it! 

‘sin came into the world’ – note the personification of sin here and throughout ch.6-7 as a power that ‘exercises dominion’, can be ‘obeyed’ , ‘pays wages’, ‘seizes opportunity’, ‘deceives’ and ‘kills’.  For Paul, ‘sin’ means much more than an individual act of transgression. 

‘through one man’, ie. Adam, contrasted in Rom 5:15-19 with the ‘one man’ Christ.  Whatever conclusions we draw about the meaning of the second half of the verse, and the relationship between Adam’s sin and the sin of his descendants, this opening statement certainly views Adam’s sin as having consequences for ‘the world’ not just himself. 

‘and death came through sin’ – an obvious reference to the connection between sin and death in Gen 2-3.  Since ‘death’ is paralleled in these verses with ‘condemnation’ (kata,krima - Rom 5:16, 18) and contrasted with ‘eternal life’ (Rom 5:21) it is probably ‘spiritual death’ as much as ‘physical death’ that he has in mind here, with the accent on death’s spiritual dimensions and consequences. 

‘and so death spread to all’. The ‘and so’ (ou[twj) may mean ‘in this manner’ (eg. Moo) [ie. death came through sin] or ‘with the result that’ (eg. Cranfield) [ie. sin and death entered the world through one man, with the result that death spread to all].  Cranfield’s reading is to be preferred, as it better reflects the movement of the verse from ‘one’ to ‘all’.

‘because all have sinned’.  Augustine famously translated the ‘because’ (evfV w-|) as ‘in whom’ (ie. in the one man Adam) finding in this verse an explicit reference to original sin – ie. to the idea that Adam’s descendants sinned when Adam sinned.  This is a rather forced way of translating the evfV w-|, which is much more likely to be functioning as a kind of conjunction, meaning ‘because’ (most translations and commentators) or perhaps ‘with the result that’ (eg. Fitzmyer, Schreiner).  To reject Augustine’s translation of the evfV w-| is not necessarily to side with Pelagius and say that our sin simply imitates Adam’s, independently;  Rom 5:18-19 still make it clear that in Paul’s view Adam’s sin was the cause of both our sin and our condemnation. 

Rom 5:13  a;cri ga.r no,mou a`marti,a h=n evn ko,smw|( a`marti,a de. ouvk evllogei/tai mh. o;ntoj no,mou( Rom 5:14  avlla. evbasi,leusen o` qa,natoj avpo. VAda.m me,cri Mwu?se,wj kai. evpi. tou.j mh. a`marth,santaj evpi. tw/| o`moiw,mati th/j paraba,sewj VAda.m o[j evstin tu,poj tou/ me,llontojÅ

Given that the ‘all’ (pa,ntej) of Rom 5:12 implies Gentiles as well as Jews, Paul is quick to stress that the solution offered in the gospel is the solution to a plight that is universal, not merely Jewish – so the story of Christ is not only the resolution to the (Jewish) story of Moses but also to the (universal) story of Adam.  So the main point of his parenthesis in Rom 5:13-14 is the point made in Rom 5:13 and Rom 5:14, which is true even despite Rom 5:13. (cf. Cranfield, Moo, Wright)

‘but sin is not reckoned when there is no law’ (a`marti,a de. ouvk evllogei/tai mh. o;ntoj no,mou)  – a similar statement to the one in Rom 4:15.  Given what he says in Rom 5:12,14 (and in Rom 2:12) Paul can hardly mean that sin doesn’t exist, or is not worthy of punishment, where there is no law.  Rather, in saying that sin is not ‘reckoned’ (ouvk evllogei/tai) where there is no law, he seems to be saying that sin is not ‘written up’ as a series of precisely defined transgressions.  The entry of law does not create sin where there was no sin;  rather, it ‘multiplies the trespass’ (Rom 5:20) where sin already existed. 

‘Yet death exercised dominion (evbasi,leusen) from Adam to Moses’ – death, like sin, is personified;  as in Rom 5:12, Paul probably has in mind something more than the mere fact of physical death between Adam and Moses, and is picturing death as a spiritual power of alienation from God, ruling over the human race.

‘even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam’ (kai. evpi. tou.j mh. a`marth,santaj evpi. tw/| o`moiw,mati th/j paraba,sewj VAda.m) – given the purpose of Paul’s argument here, this is probably another way of describing the people between Adam and Moses.  Adam, like Israel under the law, sinned by breaking an explicit, verbal command from God.

‘who is a type of the one who was to come’ (o[j evstin tu,poj tou/ me,llontoj) – describes Adam as a prefigurement of Christ (a claim that will be unpacked in Rom 5:15-19).

Romans 5:15-21



The incomplete comparison commenced in Rom 5:12 is substantively (though not grammatically) completed in Rom 5:15-19.  The typological relationship between Adam and Christ, expressed in Rom 5:14, is fleshed out in these verses, which stress not only the similarity between Adam and Christ (Rom 5:18, 19), but also the dissimilarity between the two (Rom 5:15-17).  Rom 5:20-21 are not only a triumphant conclusion to Rom 5:12-21, but also an additional statement about the place that the law played in this drama, increasing sin as a preparation for the even greater increase and victory of grace. 


Rom 5:15  VAllV ouvc w`j to. para,ptwma( ou[twj kai. to. ca,risma\ eiv ga.r tw/| tou/ e`no.j paraptw,mati oi` polloi. avpe,qanon( pollw/| ma/llon h` ca,rij tou/ qeou/ kai. h` dwrea. evn ca,riti th/| tou/ e`no.j avnqrw,pou VIhsou/ Cristou/ eivj tou.j pollou.j evperi,sseusenÅ Rom 5:16  kai. ouvc w`j diV e`no.j a`marth,santoj to. dw,rhma\ to. me.n ga.r kri,ma evx e`no.j eivj kata,krima( to. de. ca,risma evk pollw/n paraptwma,twn eivj dikai,wmaÅ Rom 5:17  eiv ga.r tw/| tou/ e`no.j paraptw,mati o` qa,natoj evbasi,leusen dia. tou/ e`no,j( pollw/| ma/llon oi` th.n perissei,an th/j ca,ritoj kai. th/j dwrea/j th/j dikaiosu,nhj lamba,nontej evn zwh/| basileu,sousin dia. tou/ e`no.j VIhsou/ Cristou/Å

Rom 5:15 clarifies the typological comparison of Rom 5:14 between Adam and Christ, by emphasising that there is dissimilarity (ouvc w`j) as well as similarity.  The similarity is obvious:  ‘one man’ acts in such a way as to bring consequences for ‘many’.  The dissimilarities are multiple:

(i)                 between the deserved, evil consequences of sin (avpe,qanon, para,ptwma) and the undeserved good consequences of grace (ca,rij … dwrea … evn ca,riti)

(ii)               between the weighty consequences of Adam’s sin and the even weightier consequences of the grace of Christ (pollw/| ma/llon, evperi,sseusen) – ‘the act of grace does not balance the act of sin;  it over-balances it’ (Barrett)

‘the many’ (oi` polloi) may echo the LXX of Is 53:11-12, and here is roughly equivalent to ‘all’, in contrast to ‘the one man’

‘the many died through the one man's trespass’ again suggests that for Paul, we die not only because of our own sin but also, ultimately, because of Adam’s (cf. the discussion of Rom 5:12-14). 

‘much more surely’ (pollw/| ma/llon) here and in Rom 5:17 echoes the double ‘much more surely’ of Rom 5:9, 10.  This parallel suggests the primary meaning is a logical contrast (ie. ‘much more surely’) but the language of ‘abounded’ in Rom 5:15 and ‘abundance’ in Rom 5:17 may suggest a further, quantitative contrast (ie. ‘much more’). 

‘the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ’ – here, as in Rom 3:24, Paul repeats the language of ‘grace’,‘free’ and ‘gift’ to emphasise a point, presumably the contrast between the logic of judgment that connects trespass and death, and the logic of grace that connects Christ’s obedience and the blessing of the many. 

Rom 5:16 further develops the contrast set up in Rom 5:15.  Here, the contrast is between ‘judgment’ and ‘free gift’, between ‘condemnation’ and ‘justification’, and between ‘one trespass’ and ‘many trespasses’. 

Rom 5:17 concludes the series of contrasts in Rom 5:15-17 between Adam’s trespass and its consequences and the grace of Christ and its consequences.  It makes a similar point to the ones made in Rom 5:15-16, but also echoes the note of the ‘dominion’ (NRSV;  Gk evbasi,leusen… basileu,sousin) introduced in Rom 5:14 (and re-echoed at the conclusion of the chapter in Rom 5:21).  Here, it is the recipients of grace who will ‘exercise dominion in life’, perhaps echoing Dan 7:27.  ‘Will… exercise dominion’ (basileu,sousin) is the first of a series of future tense verbs in Rom 5:17-21, in keeping with the eschatological nature of these verses.  The ‘righteousness’ that is a ‘free gift’ is clearly the status of righteousness created by the verdict of justification.

Rom 5:18  :Ara ou=n w`j diV e`no.j paraptw,matoj eivj pa,ntaj avnqrw,pouj eivj kata,krima( ou[twj kai. diV e`no.j dikaiw,matoj eivj pa,ntaj avnqrw,pouj eivj dikai,wsin zwh/j\ Rom 5:19  w[sper ga.r dia. th/j parakoh/j tou/ e`no.j avnqrw,pou a`martwloi. katesta,qhsan oi` polloi,( ou[twj kai. dia. th/j u`pakoh/j tou/ e`no.j di,kaioi katastaqh,sontai oi` polloi,Å

Here (and in Rom 5:21) Paul reverts from the contrasts of Rom 5:15-17 to the comparisons that were set up at the start of the section, in Rom 5:12 (w`j … ou[twj… w[sper… ou[twj…). 

dikai,wma (Rom 5:18) is translated as ‘act of righteousness’ in the NRSV, reflecting the parallel with ‘obedience’ (dia. th/j parakoh/j) in Rom 5:19 (so most commentators).  However the same word is translated as ‘justification’ in Rom 5:16, and it may be that Paul has in mind the vindication of Christ (in the resurrection? – cf. Rom 4:25) that forms the basis of our justification (so Morris, S-H).

‘for all’ (eivj pa,ntaj avnqrw,pouj) implies ‘for people from all nations’ – Gentiles as well as Jews. ‘Justification and life for all’ (eivj pa,ntaj avnqrw,pouj eivj dikai,wsin zwh/j) sounds on the face of it like universalism (ie. every single person will be saved), but most commentators reject this possibility, pointing to Rom 5:17 (oi`… lamba,nontej) and the many places in Paul’s letters where he refers to people who end up lost.  Still, it is worth pointing out the significance of Christ’s role as Second Adam for the story of humanity - it is not that the tree is lost and some leaves are saved;  rather, the tree is saved and some leaves are lost (Kuyper). 

‘made sinners’ … ‘made righteous’ (Rom 5:19, NRSV) are probably forensic (eg. Moo, Wright) or relational (eg. Barrett) rather than ethical in their primary meaning here, given the parallels with ‘condemnation’ and ‘justification’ in Rom 5:18, and the forensic overtones of katesta,qhsan / katastaqh,sontai (NRSV ‘made’).  Paul is not saying:  “Just as the example of the one man’s disobedience led the many into bad conduct, so the example of the one man’s obedience led the many into good conduct.”  Rather, he is saying:  “Just as the one man’s disobedience had the consequence of the many becoming condemned enemies of God, so the one man’s obedience had the consequence of the many being justified members of God’s people.”  The mechanism through which this took place (eg. by imputation or imitation or inheritance or corporate solidarity) is simply not discussed in this verse;  nor can we assume that the mechanism through which Adam’s disobedience made many sinners was the same as the mechanism through which Christ’s obedience made many righteous. 

‘will be made righteous’ (di,kaioi katastaqh,sontai) – the future tense probably carries eschatological overtones (eg. Dunn – cf. 1 Cor 15:22) though it may also refer to the justification of individual believers one by one within history (eg. Cranfield, Moo). 

Rom 5:20  no,moj de. pareish/lqen( i[na pleona,sh| to. para,ptwma\ ou- de. evpleo,nasen h` a`marti,a( u`pereperi,sseusen h` ca,rij(Rom 5:21  i[na w[sper evbasi,leusen h` a`marti,a evn tw/| qana,tw|( ou[twj kai. h` ca,rij basileu,sh| dia. dikaiosu,nhj eivj zwh.n aivw,nion dia. VIhsou/ Cristou/ tou/ kuri,ou h`mw/nÅ

‘But’ (NRSV) is probably an over-translation of the connective de. ‘law came in’ translates a verb (pareish/lqen) that is often used with negative connotations (eg. Gal 2:4), suggesting that the law was in a sense a negative intrusion (Dunn). 

‘with the result that the trespass multiplied’ (cf. Rom 4:15, Rom 5:14) NRSV translates i[na as ‘with the result that’, rather than the more usual ‘in order to’ (reflecting the purpose not only of the law but of God himself – cf. Wright, Moo, Jewett).  ‘God’s purpose for the law was not to distinguish Jewish righteous from Gentile sinners… but to make Israel more conscious of its solidarity in sin with the rest of Adam’s offspring.’ (Dunn) ‘but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more’ (ou- de. evpleo,nasen h` a`marti,a( u`pereperi,sseusen h` ca,rij) echoes the ‘much more surely’ (pollw/| ma/llon) contrasts of Rom 5:15, 17 – grace more than balances sin.  ‘so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification leading to eternal life’ suggests that the ultimate purpose (i[na…) is the victory of (God’s) grace over (human) sin.  As in the gospels, ‘eternal life’ (zwh.n aivw,nion) is not merely endless existence but participation in the reign of God (here, the ‘dominion’ exercised by grace).

dia. VIhsou/ Cristou/ tou/ kuri,ou h`mw/nÅ (cf. Rom 5:11, Rom 6:23, Rom 7:25, Rom 8:39)

Romans 6:1-5



Between the two great affirmations of Christian hope in Rom 5 and 8, chapters 6 and 7 deal with the ‘powers’ of sin (ch.6) and the law (ch.7) that Paul spoke of in Rom 5:12-21 (and particularly in Rom 5:20-21) as the dominating forces of our existence in the old age of death.  Along the way, Paul repeatedly addresses himself to questions that arise out of what he has argued so far (Rom 6:1, 15; Rom 7:7, 13), though Moo rightly argues that these chapters are not merely ‘excursuses’ but part of the main line of Paul’s argument.  Throughout these chapters, Paul draws out the implications for our present existence of the transfer that we have undergone from the ‘old’ age of sin, death and law to the ‘new’ age of righteousness, life and grace.  The overlap of these two ages in our present experience means that these chapters contain not only the indicatives of realised eschatology (eg. Rom 6:13-14; Rom 8:9) but also the imperatives of ethical responsibility (eg. Rom 6:12-13, Rom 8:12).  The opening paragraph of ch.6 starts with a question (‘Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound?’) generated by Rom 5:20, and begins to answer it, focusing on the believer’s union with Christ in his death and resurrection, and the ‘newness of life’ into which we have been brought.


Rom 6:1 Ti, ou=n evrou/menÈ evpime,nwmen th/| a`marti,a|( i[na h` ca,rij pleona,sh|È

‘What then are we to say?’ cf. Rom 6:15, Rom 7:7, 13.  Paul resumes a kind of diatribe style, but (in contrast with ch.2-3) the conversation here is not so much with an imaginary Jewish opponent as with his real (mainly Gentile Christian) readers in Rome (Dunn, Moo).  Note the transition from the third person language of Rom 5:12-21 to the first person (eg. Rom 6:1-2) and second person (eg. Rom 6:3) language of exhortation in ch.6.    

‘Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound?’ is a similar question to the one asked in Rom 3:8, but here (judging by how Paul responds to it) it is asked not by a Jewish opponent of Paul’s gospel (eg. Sanday and Headlam, Byrne) but by a Christian who wants to make the gospel of grace a license for continuing in sin.  The language of the question (‘sin’, ‘grace’, ‘abound’) is a deliberate echo of Rom 5:20, the statement that generates it.

Rom 6:2  mh. ge,noitoÅ oi[tinej avpeqa,nomen th/| a`marti,a|( pw/j e;ti zh,somen evn auvth/|È

Paul answers the question with an emphatic negative (mh. ge,noito) , and the rhetorical counter-question: ‘How can we who died to sin go on living in it?’  Depending on what Paul means by ‘go on living in [sin]’ (and ‘continue in sin’, Rom 6:1) the force of the question could either be

(i)                 an assertion that continuing in sin is something that is impossible for someone who has died to sin, or

(ii)                a reminder that continuing in sin is something that is possible but utterly incongruous and reprehensible.

The latter is probably what Paul has in mind, given the exhortations in the remainder of the chapter.  Paul is not writing to convince an anti-Christian moralist that Christians, emboldened by grace, will not continue to live as slaves of sin;  he is writing to convince Christians that they must not continue to live as if they were slaves of sin.     

‘died to sin’ (avpeqa,nomen th/| a`marti,a) is perhaps the key phrase of the chapter.  ‘Sin’ (used in the singular, throughout ch.6-7) is to be understood as a as a state of existence in alienation from God ('in sin' Rom 6:1-2) and a ruling power (eg. ‘enslaved to sin’ Rom 6:6).  ‘Died to sin’ speaks of the end of a life that was defined by that state of existence and enslaved by that ruling power (eg. Schreiner, Moo);  it is unlikely in this context to refer to the ‘forensic’ death in which the death-penalty we deserve was served for us by Christ on the cross (eg. Cranfield, Stott).  In Paul’s mind, our ‘death’ to sin took place at the point of our (conversion-)baptism, which united us with Christ in his death (Rom 6:3). 

The overwhelming majority of the early MSS (incl. a, A, B, C, D) read suneta,fhmen ou=n;  one Gk MS and several versions read suneta,fhmen gar, whilst a few other versions simply read suneta,fhmen.  

Rom 6:3  h' avgnoei/te o[ti( o[soi evbapti,sqhmen eivj Cristo.n VIhsou/n( eivj to.n qa,naton auvtou/ evbapti,sqhmenÈ Rom 6:4  suneta,fhmen ou=n auvtw/| dia. tou/ bapti,smatoj eivj to.n qa,naton( i[na w[sper hvge,rqh Cristo.j evk nekrw/n dia. th/j do,xhj tou/ patro,j( ou[twj kai. h`mei/j evn kaino,thti zwh/j peripath,swmenÅ v5  eiv ga.r su,mfutoi gego,namen tw/| o`moiw,mati tou/ qana,tou auvtou/( avlla. kai. th/j avnasta,sewj evso,meqa\

‘do you not know that…?’ (h' avgnoei/te o[ti) suggests that Paul is appealing to basic Christian tradition that would have been familiar to his readers, and drawing out implications that they might not have fully worked out.  Dunn suggests that Paul is starting with an already familiar form of speech (‘baptised into Christ’) and drawing out its logical implication (‘baptised into his death’).  See Dunn for a brief discussions of the arguments for an against the idea that Paul’s concept of baptism is influenced by the initiation-rituals of the mystery religions.

The ‘baptism’ that Paul refers to here is unlikely to mean merely a metaphorical ‘immersion’ into Christ (Dunn);  much more likely is a direct reference to the water baptism that Paul assumes to have accompanied his readers’ conversion, in keeping with Paul’s use of the word elsewhere in his letters (though note in 1 Cor 12:13 that Paul can also speak of conversion as baptism ‘in/by the Spirit’).  Baptism for Paul is probably  baptism ‘into Christ Jesus’, signifying entry into a relationship of union with Christ (cf. Rom 6:11, Gal 3:27;  Dunn, Moo, Tannehill, Wright) rather than simply an abbreviated way of saying ‘baptism in the name of Christ’ (eg. Beasley-Murray, Cranfield). 

‘Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death’.  The language of burial echoes the traditional kerygmatic language of 1 Cor 15:3-4.  There is debate about whether immersion baptism is understood by Paul as a visual representation of burial, given that most first-century burials were in above-ground tombs and caves (though catacomb burials were already practised in first century Rome).  There is still a strong association between baptism/immersion and death, however (eg. Mark 10:38, Jonah 2:1-6), and a sense in which water baptism is an obvious symbol for more than just cleansing – it has direct connotations at least of death, if not also burial.  

‘Buried with him by baptism’ (suneta,fhmen ou=n auvtw/| dia. tou/ bapti,smatoj) speaks of baptism as the means by which we enter into union with Christ and participate in his death, but it would be a mistake to conclude that Paul views baptism as a magical-sacramental event, independent of faith (cf. 1 Cor 10:1-5).  Dunn helpfully suggests that baptism here stands for the whole ‘conversion-initiation’ experience, which included faith, the gift of the Spirit and water baptism.

‘so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father’ – the reference to Christ being raised by the ‘glory’ of the Father reflects the close association between ‘power’ and ‘glory’ in Paul’s resurrection language (eg. Phil 3:21, 1 Cor 15:43, Col 1:11), and the agency of the Father in the resurrection of the Son (cf. 1 Cor 15:27:28).

In Rom 6:4, the parallel is between Christ’s resurrection and the present ‘newness of life’ (evn kaino,thti zwh/j) in which we ‘walk’ (peripath,swmen) as Christians.  (‘Newness of life’ is an eschatological category – cf. ‘new covenant’, new creation’, and the ‘newness of the Spirit’ in Rom 7:6. ‘Walk’ is an OT metaphor for daily conduct – eg. Ex 18:20.)   In Rom 6:5, however, the parallel is between Christ’s resurrection and our future resurrection (‘we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his’).  The fact that Rom 6:5 is expressed as the grounds or the reason for Rom 6:4 (ga.r) suggests that Paul views the certainty of our future resurrection as the basis for the newness of our present life.

The ‘likeness’ language of Rom 6:5 (tw/| o`moiw,mati tou/ qana,tou auvtou/… kai. th/j avnasta,sewj) suggests that both our baptism/conversion and our ultimate bodily resurrection are to be viewed as events that ‘conform’ our subsequent existence to the shape and content of Christ’s own death and resurrection (cf. Phil 3:10, Rom 8:17).  

Romans 6:15-23



The question in Rom 6:15 restates in slightly different terms the question in Rom 6:1, though this time the immediate trigger for the question is not Rom 5:20 but Rom 6:14.  Paul answers similarly, with an emphatic negative (mh. ge,noito - cf. Rom 6:2) and a rhetorical question (ouvk oi;date - cf. Rom 6:3).  The rhetorical question of Rom 6:16 introduces the key contrast between two slaveries (to sin and to ‘obedience’) and their outcomes, which dominates the argument of the remainder of the chapter. As with the first half of the chapter, Rom 6:15-23 includes both indicatives (mostly reminders of the decisive transfer from one master to another, experienced at conversion) and imperatives (in this case, one key imperative at the centre of the passage, in Rom 6:19)


Rom 6:15  Ti, ou=nÈ a`marth,swmen( o[ti ouvk evsme.n u`po. no,mon avlla. u`po. ca,rinÈ mh. ge,noitoÅ

The form and content of the question in Rom 6:15 clearly echoes Rom 6:1, though here it is a question that arises not out of Rom 5:20 but out of Rom 6:14.  ‘you are not under law but under grace.’  The statement in Rom 6:14 that was used by Paul as a reason for not sinning (‘For sin will have no dominion over you, since…’) is turned back on him by the questioner as a reason for sinning.  Paul answers with an emphatic negative: “By no means!”.

‘not under law’ – see the discussion under Rom 6:12.  With most commentators, it is probably best to read ‘law’ as primarily a reference to the law of Moses (though with strong parallels with the pre-Christ predicament of Paul’s gentile readers – cf. Gal 4:1-11).  Moo offers a strong argument for the view that Paul views Christians as under neither the penalties and curse of the law nor the commandments of the Law (a slightly different view from traditional Reformed exegesis, which views Christians as still being directly under the parts of the law of Moses that make up the ‘moral’ law, eg. the Ten Commandments.)  Of course, Paul goes on immediately to say that this does not mean Christians are free from moral obligation. 

Rom 6:16  ouvk oi;date o[ti w-| parista,nete e`autou.j dou,louj eivj u`pakoh,n( dou/loi, evste w-| u`pakou,ete( h;toi a`marti,aj eivj qa,naton h' u`pakoh/j eivj dikaiosu,nhnÈ

As in Rom 6:2-3, the emphatic negative is followed by a rhetorical question – here, just the one question, echoing the form of the question in Rom 6:3 (ouvk oi;date).  Here, the point of the question (which Paul suggests the person who asks the question in Rom 6:15 cannot have realised) is that there is no such thing as spiritual neutrality or independence – a person is either a slave to sin or a slave to obedience.  This contrast, between slavery to sin and slavery to obedience/righteousness/God, dominates the remainder of Rom 6:16-23.  ‘If you present yourselves…’ (Gk:  w-| parista,nete e`autou.j – ‘to whom you present yourselves’: present tense, implying a habitual decision) echoes the language of Rom 6:13, and suggests the circular relationship between the human decision to ‘present yourself’ to sin or to God in obedience, and the slavery to sin or to God that this decision both creates and reflects.  (You are a slave to sin because you keep choosing to sin;  and you keep choosing to sin because you are a slave to sin.)

The contrast between two masters (sin & obedience) leads to a contrast between two outcomes (death & righteousness).  ‘Righteousness’ (here, as in Rom 6:13 and Rom 6:18-20) is probably ethical righteousness (with Moo - see comments on Rom 6:13).  

Rom 6:17  ca,rij de. tw/| qew/| o[ti h=te dou/loi th/j a`marti,aj u`phkou,sate de. evk kardi,aj eivj o]n paredo,qhte tu,pon didach/j( Rom 6:18  evleuqerwqe,ntej de. avpo. th/j a`marti,aj evdoulw,qhte th/| dikaiosu,nh|Å

Lest his readers may have thought that in Rom 6:16 Paul is unsure about where they stand, Paul expresses in Rom 6:17-18 his confidence that they are in fact slaves to righteousness, not slaves to sin.  ‘Thanks be to God’ (ca,rij de. tw/| qew) reflects Paul’s conviction that the change of heart involved in their choice to obey the gospel was a work of God’s grace.

‘Having once been slaves of sin’ (h=te dou/loi th/j a`marti,aj – translated in a concessive sense – ‘though you were’) reflects Paul’s consistent view throughout this chapter and elsewhere, that whilst Christians still sin, they are no longer in the same relationship of slavery to sin that they were in before their conversion.  ‘Have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted’ describes their conversion and subsequent Christian life in terms reminiscent of Rom 1:5 (‘to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles’) and Rom 16:26.  The language of ‘being entrusted’ (paredo,qhte) to the form of teaching is the same terminology that Paul uses elsewhere (eg. 1 Cor 15:3) to describe the gospel being ‘handed on’ to those who believe it, but here the image is reversed, and the converts are ‘handed over’ to the care and keeping of the gospel. 

‘having been set free from sin’ reflects Paul’s view that our salvation is not only from the punishment our sins deserve (ch.1-5) but also from our sin itself (ch.6). 

Rom 6:19  avnqrw,pinon le,gw dia. th.n avsqe,neian th/j sarko.j u`mw/nÅ

Rom 6:19 is parenthetical, and probably reflects Paul’s uncomfortableness with the ‘slavery’ metaphor as a description of a Christian’s relationship with God/righteousness.  ‘Your natural limitations’ (NRSV) is literally ‘the weakness of your flesh’ (th.n avsqe,neian th/j sarko.j u`mw/n) – a reference to the confused and limited understanding of things that we have because of our (fallen) humanity.  The slavery metaphor is inadequate, because all human slavery involves elements of exploitation and injustice – yet Paul struggles to find any human analogy that better describes a relationship of total belonging and obedience.

w[sper ga.r paresth,sate ta. me,lh u`mw/n dou/la th/| avkaqarsi,a| kai. th/| avnomi,a| eivj th.n avnomi,an( ou[twj nu/n parasth,sate ta. me,lh u`mw/n dou/la th/| dikaiosu,nh| eivj a`giasmo,nÅ

Rom 6:19 is the one imperative in Rom 6:15-23, and is very similar in content to Rom 6:13.  ‘sanctification’ as the goal of slavery to righteousness is probably progressive sanctification not positional sanctification (note the parallel with ‘greater and greater iniquity’) (Moo, Cranfield, Schreiner, contra Murray;  Jewett concurs with the progressive/ethical reading, but stresses its corporate application - ‘a new form of social life as the primary embodiment of holiness’).  The language of ‘impurity’ (Rom 6:19) and ‘shame’ (Rom 6:21) echoes the description of the pagan way of life in Rom 1:18-32

Rom 6:20  o[te ga.r dou/loi h=te th/j a`marti,aj( evleu,qeroi h=te th/| dikaiosu,nh|Å Rom 6:21  ti,na ou=n karpo.n ei;cete to,teÈ evfV oi-j nu/n evpaiscu,nesqe( to. ga.r te,loj evkei,nwn qa,natojÅ Rom 6:22  nuni. de. evleuqerwqe,ntej avpo. th/j a`marti,aj doulwqe,ntej de. tw/| qew/| e;cete to.n karpo.n u`mw/n eivj a`giasmo,n( to. de. te,loj zwh.n aivw,nionÅ

The focus in Rom 6:20-22 is on the contrast between the ‘advantage’ (NRSV:  Gk  karpo.n) and ‘end’ associated with the two forms of slavery.  Paul’s aim is to convince his readers not only that slavery to God is the right choice, but also that it is the more ‘advantageous’ choice.  Thus, the opening sentence (‘When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness’) grants that there was a certain ‘freedom’ associated with their pre-Christian life, but the remainder of the paragraph contrasts the deadly ‘advantage’ of that freedom with the good consequences of slavery to God.

Rom 6:23  ta. ga.r ovyw,nia th/j a`marti,aj qa,natoj( to. de. ca,risma tou/ qeou/ zwh. aivw,nioj evn Cristw/| VIhsou/ tw/| kuri,w| h`mw/n.

The chapter concludes with a summary statement reminiscent of Rom 5:21, with its contrasts between sin/death and grace (or free gift’)/eternal life.  Here, though, there is an extra contrast between death as a merited ‘wage’ and eternal life as a free gift.  evn Cristw/| VIhsou/ tw/| kuri,w| h`mw/n cf. Rom 5:11, 21, Rom 7:25, Rom 8:39.

Romans 7:1-6



The main theme of Rom 7:1-6 is the way in which our union with Christ in his death releases us from the Law, so that we now serve God ‘in the newness of the Spirit and not the oldness of the letter’.

Thematically, the focus on the law in Rom 7:1-6 links it in with the remainder of the chapter;  at the same time, there are strong connections in themes and vocabulary with both ch.6 and ch.8, making this a key ‘hinge’ passage.

Dunn points out the way that Rom 7:4 contains multiple echoes of chapter 6, saying the same things about our relationship with the law that ch.6 has said about our relationship with sin:

·           evqanatw,qhte tw/| no,mw   cf. Rom 6:2

·           dia. tou/ sw,matoj tou/ Cristou   cf. Rom 6:3-6

·           eivj to. gene,sqai u`ma/j e`te,rw|  cf. Rom 6:17-18

·           tw/| evk nekrw/n evgerqe,nti  cf. Rom 6:8-10

·           i[na karpoforh,swmen tw/| qew/|Å cf. Rom 6:22

Similarly, Rom 7:6 anticipates key ideas of ch.8:

·           nuni. de. kathrgh,qhmen avpo. tou/ no,mou avpoqano,ntej evn w-| kateico,meqa  cf. 8:1-3

·           w[ste douleu,ein h`ma/j evn kaino,thti pneu,matoj kai. ouv palaio,thti gra,mmatoj  cf. 8:4-11


Rom 7:1 "H avgnoei/te( avdelfoi,( ginw,skousin ga.r no,mon lalw/( o[ti o` no,moj kurieu,ei tou/ avnqrw,pou evfV o[son cro,non zh/|È

The ‘or’ that introduces the verse ("H avgnoei/te( avdelfoi) suggests that this is a continuation of the argument in ch.6, but approaching it through an alternative line or reasoning (via our relationship with the law, rather than our relationship with sin – but note the anticipation of the ‘law’ theme in Rom 6:14-15)

no,moj is almost certainly a reference to the Jewish law, not Roman law (given that the Law of Moses is the theme of this whole section, and the principle in Rom 7:2 applies under Jewish law but not under Roman law, in which wives could divorce their husbands as easily as husbands could divorce their wives). 

Paul’s confidence that his readers ‘know the law’ (ginw,skousin ga.r no,mon lalw) has led some to suggest that he is addressing this next paragraph particularly to the Jewish-Christians among his readers (eg. Minear, The Obedience of Faith, 62-64) or that the bulk of the church in Rome were Jewish Christians (Zahn), but most (eg. Moo, Dunn, Witherington, Byrne, Fitzmyer, Schreiner, Wright) argue in response that many or even most of the Gentile Christians in Rome would probably have been God-fearers before their conversion, and that the others would have been taught the OT after their conversion.  Certainly, avdelfoi does not function in Romans as a technical term for Jewish Christians, but is a way of addressing the whole community (eg. Rom 1:13, Rom 12:1).

o` no,moj kurieu,ei tou/ avnqrw,pou evfV o[son cro,non zh – note the same verb (kurieu,ei) that has been used in Rom 6:9, 14 to speak of the rule of death and sin, now used to speak of the rule of the law (cf. the triad of sin, death and the law and the ‘rule’ of sin in Rom 5:20-21).  The principle Paul quotes is similar to a basic (and obvious!) principle of the rabbis, that ‘if a person is dead, he is free from the Torah and the fulfilling of the commandments’. (b.Shabb.30a , b.Shabb.151b).

Rom 7:2  h` ga.r u[pandroj gunh. tw/| zw/nti avndri. de,detai no,mw|\ eva.n de. avpoqa,nh| o` avnh,r( kath,rghtai avpo. tou/ no,mou tou/ avndro,jÅ Rom 7:3  a;ra ou=n zw/ntoj tou/ avndro.j moicali.j crhmati,sei eva.n ge,nhtai avndri. e`te,rw|\ eva.n de. avpoqa,nh| o` avnh,r( evleuqe,ra evsti.n avpo. tou/ no,mou( tou/ mh. ei=nai auvth.n moicali,da genome,nhn avndri. e`te,rw|Å

Paul takes the general principle and illustrates it by referring to the marriage law in which a married woman (literally u[pandroj gunh. – cf. the ‘under’ language of Rom 6:14-15, Rom 7:6) has no right of divorce during the lifetime of her husband;  but if her husband dies, she is free to marry another.  Presumably, there is a loosely allegorical function served by the illustration – the first husband is the law, the woman is the believer and the second husband is Christ.  However, the illustration does not seem to be intended in a strictly allegorical fashion – otherwise, in Rom 7:4, it would be the law that dies, rather than the believer.  Most commentators conclude that Rom 7:2-3 simply illustrate the one point made in Rom 7:1 – that ‘death ends the dominion of law’ (Fitzmyer – cf. Käsemann, Cranfield, Moo, Dunn) – and introduce the ‘second marriage’ metaphor that is loosely echoed in Rom 7:4.

Rom 7:4  w[ste( avdelfoi, mou( kai. u`mei/j evqanatw,qhte tw/| no,mw| dia. tou/ sw,matoj tou/ Cristou/( eivj to. gene,sqai u`ma/j e`te,rw|( tw/| evk nekrw/n evgerqe,nti( i[na karpoforh,swmen tw/| qew/|Å

Rom 7:4 is the key verse of the paragraph, taking the main point made in Rom 7:1 and illustrated in Rom 7:2-3, and applying it to the believer’s relationship with the law.  The fact that the death is described with a passive verb (evqanatw,qhte tw/| no,mw) emphasizes the involvement of God.  The death to the law of which Paul speaks is not merely a death that satisfies the law’s penalty (eg. Calvin) but a death that brings to an end the Law of Moses’s ruling authority (eg. Moo).

Rom 7:5  o[te ga.r h=men evn th/| sarki,( ta. paqh,mata tw/n a`martiw/n ta. dia. tou/ no,mou evnhrgei/to evn toi/j me,lesin h`mw/n( eivj to. karpoforh/sai tw/| qana,tw|\

The o[te that introduces Rom 7:5 is the first half of a o[te/nuni. contrast between pre-Christian and Christian life. Pre-Christian life is described as life ‘in the flesh’. sarx  can have a variety of nuances in Paul, sometimes negative and sometimes neutral, but the core meaning is something like ‘human existence in as much as it participates in the old age of sin and death’ – cf. Fee, GEP 818-822.  The primary meaning is salvation-historical not anthropological – ie. it refers primarily to an era in which we participate, rather than a part of our nature – though Schreiner argues persuasively that this salvation-historical concept still has anthropological implications.  Note that sarx is more a sphere than a power in Paul’s mind – pre-Christian life is lived evn th/| sarki not u`po. sa,rka;  the NIV translation of ‘controlled by the sinful nature’ is doubly unhelpful.  There is a sense in which Paul can say that believers still live ‘in the flesh’, experiencing its weakness and mortality (cf. Gal 2:20, Phil 1:22) but they no longer live merely in the flesh, and they certainly no longer live kata. sa,rka (ie. with their direction and destiny determined by the powers of the old age). 

ta paqh,mata tw/n a`martiw/n means ‘the sinful passions’ (reading tw/n a`martiw/n as a qualitative genitive.  Paul elsewhere refers to them as ‘the passions and desires of the flesh’ (Gal 5:24 - oi` de. tou/ Cristou/ ÎVIhsou/Ð th.n sa,rka evstau,rwsan su.n toi/j paqh,masin kai. tai/j evpiqumi,aij). 

The shocking thing that Paul says here is that these passions were not curbed by the law but produced by it (reading ta. dia. tou/ no,mou as a verbless phrase qualifying ta paqh,mata tw/n a`martiw/n – ie. ‘the sinful passions [brought about] through the law’).  This seems to go beyond merely saying that the law revealed sin (Rom 3:20) or turned it into transgression (Rom 5:20).  These sinful passions were at work (evnhrgei/to) in our members (evn toi/j me,lesin h`mw/n - see comments on Rom 6:13) so as to bear fruit for death (eivj to. karpoforh/sai tw/| qana,tw).  Dunn argues that eivj to  expresses purpose (God’s purpose, in ensuring that sin is judged and limited by the death that is its fruit) but most (eg. Cranfield, Moo, Jewett) suggest that the eivj to expresses result, not purpose. 

Rom 7:6  nuni. de. kathrgh,qhmen avpo. tou/ no,mou avpoqano,ntej evn w-| kateico,meqa( w[ste douleu,ein h`ma/j evn kaino,thti pneu,matoj kai. ouv palaio,thti gra,mmatojÅ

nuni. de completes the o[te/nuni contrast commenced in Rom 7:5.  The ‘now’ refers to the new eschatological age into which we have entered through our union with Christ in his death and resurrection. 

kathrgh,qhmen avpo echoes the language of Rom 7:2, and has a similar meaning of ‘released froim’ or ‘discharged from’.

avpoqano,ntej evn w-| kateico,meqa is elliptic, and something like evkei,nw| needs to be supplied:  ‘having died [to that] in which we were held captive’. 

w[ste douleu,ein - notice the paradox:  ‘we are released… in order  to serve’ (kathrgh,qhmen… w[ste douleu,ein). w[ste has the sense of intended result. 

evn kaino,thti pneu,matoj kai. ouv palaio,thti gra,mmatojÅ  Notice the salvation-historical contrast between the ‘newness’ of the Spirit and the ‘oldness’ of the letter, evoking the new covenant promises of Jer 31 and Ezek 36.  (cf. 2 Cor 3:5, Jer 31:31-33,  Ezek 36:26)

Romans 7:7-12



The remainder of ch.7 (Rom 7:7-25) addresses a question that has been raised in Rom 6:14 and intensified in Rom 7:1-6:  If Paul can speak in the same way about our release from the law (Rom 7:1-6) as he does about our release from sin (Rom 6:1-23), and if he can speak in Rom 7:5 of the sinful passions within us being produced ‘through the law’ is he simply equating ‘law’ with ‘sin’?  The remainder of the chapter is an ‘apology for the law’, but one which nevertheless contends that the law is powerless to give the life that it promises. 

Rom 7:7-12 begins to answer the question by means of a narrative told in the first person, describing how the law was hijacked by sin so as to bring about death.  There has been much discussion about who the “I” in the story is.  Moo summarises the  main theories:

(i)                 Paul, at the time of his bar mitzvah, or perhaps at puberty (Deissmann, W.D. Davies, Gundry, Jewett)

(ii)               Paul, coming under conviction of sin on the way to his conversion (Augustine, Calvin, Hodge, Murray)

(iii)             Adam, as the prototype of every other human since (Dunn, Longenecker, Käsemann, Stuhlmacher)

(iv)             Israel personified, receiving the law at Sinai (Chrysostom, Wright, Ridderbos)   

(v)               a rhetorical “I”, referring to everybody in general and nobody in particular (Kümmel, Fitzmyer)

Option (v) is probably the strongest, and has the capacity to incorporate echoes of all the other stories (Adam’s encounter with the commandment in the garden, Israel’s encounter with the law received at Sinai, and Paul’s own experience of the law) that Paul would naturally find himself evoking as he describes the encounter between humanity evn th/| sarki. and the law of God.


Rom 7:7  Ti, ou=n evrou/menÈ o` no,moj a`marti,aÈ mh. ge,noito\

The question (as in Rom 3:5 and Rom 6:1) anticipates a false conclusion that could be drawn from what Paul has just argued – one which Paul will emphatically deny.  The view that Paul is keen to distance himself from (that the law is itself inherently evil) is possibly one that he is falsely accused of holding (Stuhlmacher particularly emphasises this likelihood). 

avlla. th.n a`marti,an ouvk e;gnwn eiv mh. dia. no,mou\ th,n te ga.r evpiqumi,an ouvk h;|dein eiv mh. o` no,moj e;legen\ ouvk evpiqumh,seijÅ

Rather than draw the conclusion that ‘the law is sin’, Paul says here that the law is what produces ‘knowledge’ of sin (th.n a`marti,an ouvk e;gnwn eiv mh. dia. no,mou).  It is difficult to say whether the avlla. is adversative (‘quite the contrary – the law is what exposes sin’) or concessive (‘the law itself is not sin; nevertheless, if it were not for the law I would not have known sin’).  Most (eg. Moo, Schreiner, Dunn) go with the second option, given that Rom 7:8-12 seems to imply that the ‘knowledge’ of sin being spoken of here is not merely cognitive knowledge (law reveals and defines sin) but experiential knowledge (law incites sin, and draws us into a fuller and more intense experience of sin).  Some commentators (eg. S&H, Dunn) draw a distinction between ginw,skw in the first clause and oi;da in the second, suggesting that ginw,skw refers to experiential knowledge and oi;da to intellectual knowledge, but Schreiner argues that this (questionable) distinction between the shades of meaning of the two words is unlikely to be significant in this verse, given that the specific instance in the second clause is an illustration of the general principle in the first clause. 

The reason why Paul chooses the commandment against coveting as his example has been debated.  Gundry suggests that it reflects his own adolescent struggles with sexual desire, but this is speculative.  Moo points out the precedents in Jewish writings (eg. Philo, Decalogue 142-3) for using the commandment against coveting as a summary of the law.  If Paul intends an echo of the ‘Adam’ story, then it could be argued that the command to Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit (which was ‘delightful to the eyes, and to be desired for making one wise’) was essentially the same as the Law’s commandment against coveting, even though Adam and Eve did not themselves possess the Law of Moses.  (See further in Dunn, who cites examples from the Jewish literature that speak of Adam and Eve breaking the ‘statutes’ of God; Wright also grants that the Israel story – which he sees as the primary reference – is being told here so as to echo the Adam story).

Rom 7:8  avformh.n de. labou/sa h` a`marti,a dia. th/j evntolh/j kateirga,sato evn evmoi. pa/san evpiqumi,an\ cwri.j ga.r no,mou a`marti,a nekra,Å

avformh.n (NRSV ‘opportunity’) is a word frequently used in military contexts for a ‘base of operations’ or a ‘bridgehead’, though it does not always have military connotations.   The fact that sin produced ‘all kinds of coveting’ suggests that Paul has in mind a broad meaning for evpiqumi,a, and not merely sexual lust (contra Gundry).  It may reflect the variety of prohibited objects of covetousness explicitly listed within the decalogue itself.

cwri.j ga.r no,mou a`marti,a nekra - Paul’s language is deliberately vivid and shocking, and probably hyperbolic. He has already made it clear  that sin is not absent apart from the law (Rom 5:13), but he is saying here that apart from the law sin is (relatively!) dead or dormant, and that the law has the effect of fanning it into flame.

Rom 7:9  evgw. de. e;zwn cwri.j no,mou pote,( evlqou,shj de. th/j evntolh/j h` a`marti,a avne,zhsen(

Rom 7:9 is the strongest evidence for the ‘Adam’ theory about the identity of the “I”, given what Paul has already said about the entry of death into the world thruogh Adam’s sin (Rom 5:12-14), and death’s presence in the world between Adam and Moses – “I  was once alive…” sounds more like Adam before the fall than Israel before Sinai, and those who follow the ‘Israel’ theory need to give a “milder meaning”  (Moo) to ‘alive’.   avne,zhsen (‘revived’) can sometimes mean simply ‘sprang to life’ (Käsemann, Cranfield), or may retain the ‘again’ sense that is implied by the prefix avna.  (Those like Moo and Wright who give primacy to the ‘Israel’ story tend to emphasise the ‘again’ nuance of  avne,zhsen.)

Rom 7:10  evgw. de. avpe,qanon kai. eu`re,qh moi h` evntolh. h` eivj zwh,n( au[th eivj qa,naton\

evgw. de. avpe,qanon – note the ironic contrast with h` a`marti,a avne,zhsen.

eu`re,qh – ‘was found’, ie. ‘proved to be…’

h` evntolh. h` eivj zwh,n probably echoes the fact that the commandments of the Law of Moses promised life (eg. Lev 18:5) to those who kept them;  ironically, the same law that promised life turned out to be eivj qa,naton.

Rom 7:11  h` ga.r a`marti,a avformh.n labou/sa dia. th/j evntolh/j evxhpa,thse,n me kai. diV auvth/j avpe,kteinenÅ

h` ga.r a`marti,a avformh.n labou/sa dia. th/j evntolh/j cf. Rom 7:8. 

evxhpa,thse,n (‘deceived’) is probably another echo of the story of Adam and Eve (cf. Gen 3:13, LXX).

Rom 7:12  w[ste o` me.n no,moj a[gioj kai. h` evntolh. a`gi,a kai. dikai,a kai. avgaqh,Å

Having told the story of how the law (which promised life) was hijacked by sin so as to bring death, Paul can draw out from the story (the w[ste is inferential) the answer to the question that was asked in Rom 7:7.  It is unlikely that Paul is attaching fine distinctions of meaning to a[gioj/a`gi,a, dikai,a and avgaqh – rather, what he intends is a rhetorical accumulation of positives. 

Romans 7:13-25


Paul continues his ‘apology for the law’ (whilst simultaneously continuing to assert its powerlessness to bring about life) by means of a further description of the interaction between the evgw and the law, this time in present tense (rather than past tense) verbs. 

As with Rom 7:7-12, there is much debate about the identity of the “I” – whether the experience Paul describes is pre-Christian or post-Christian experience.  (This debate intersects with, but is not the same as, the debate about whether the “I” is autobiographical or rhetorical.)  As Moo summarises them, the main arguments for an unregenerate “I” are:

·           the strong associations between the “I” and “the flesh” (Rom 7:14, 18, 25) suggesting that this is a description of someone “in the flesh” interacting with the law (cf. Rom 7:5)

·           the complete absence of any reference to the Spirit

·           the fact that the “I” is ‘sold under sin’ (Rom 7:14), a slavery from which the believer is released, according to ch.6, and ‘a prisoner of the law of sin’ (Rom 7:23) – again, a state from which believers have been set free (Rom 8:2)

·           the fact that the interaction described in Rom 7:14-25 appears to be not just a struggle with sin (as described in Rom 6:12-13, Rom 13:12-14, Gal 5:17) but a defeat by sin

·           the fact that the “I” relates to God via the law, whereas Rom 7:1-6 has just said that the believer has died to the law

To this list we might also add the role played by Rom 7:13 as a bridge between Rom 7:7-12 and Rom 7:14-25, implying that Rom 7:14-25 are describing the same interaction as Rom 7:7-12.

The main arguments for a regenerate “I” are:

·           the shift from past tense verbs to present tense verbs (on the assumption that the “I” is Paul and the tenses carry a time-reference)

·           the fact that the “I” ‘delights in God’s law’ (Rom 7:22) seeks to obey it (Rom 7:15-20) and ‘serves’ it (Rom 7:25) – in apparent contrast with what Paul says elsewhere (eg. Rom 8:7, Rom 3:11) about the unregenerate

·           the fact that the ‘mind’ of the “I” (Rom 7:22, 25) is so positively oriented toward God, in contrast with what Paul says elsewhere about the mind of the unregenerate

·           the language of the ‘inner person’ which elsewhere seems to be used by Paul with reference to Christians (2 Cor 4:16, Eph 3:16)

·           the fact that the passage concludes with Rom 7:25, not Rom 7:25.

On balance, the arguments for an unregenerate “I” are probably stronger.  Nevertheless:

(i)                 Whatever conclusion we come to about the identity of the “I”, the basic point of the passage is still the same – that the law is good, but unable to bring about the obedience that it commands or the life that it promises.  Whether we are regenerate or unregenerate, we need to know that salvation is not to be found in the law

(ii)               If the “I” is as much rhetorical as it is autobiographical, then it may be that Paul is not intending a ‘realistic’ description of the conscious experience of the unregenerate person (eg. himself as a Pharisee – note the way he describes his self-perception pre-conversion in Phil 3:4-6) – there may be an almost hypothetical element in the strivings of the “I” to obey the law (I, in myself, without the Spirit – even if I delighted in the law and wanted to fulfil it – would find that I could not)

(iii)             Given the ‘overlap of the ages’ that characterises Paul’s eschatology, there is still a sense in which a description of the experience of a person ‘in the flesh’ will resonate strongly with aspects of our experience post-conversion.


Rom 7:13  To. ou=n avgaqo.n evmoi. evge,neto qa,natojÈ mh. ge,noito\ avlla. h` a`marti,a( i[na fanh/| a`marti,a( dia. tou/ avgaqou/ moi katergazome,nh qa,naton( i[na ge,nhtai kaqV u`perbolh.n a`martwlo.j h` a`marti,a dia. th/j evntolh/jÅ

Rom 7:13 plays a key role in the chapter, as a bridge between the (mainly aorist tense) narrative of Rom 7:7-12 and the (mainly present tense) description in Rom 7:14-25.  The ou=n at the start of Rom 7:13 and the ga.r at the start of Rom 7:14 make it clear syntactically that the question in Rom 7:13 is a response to Rom 7:7-12 (in particular Rom 7:12) and that Rom 7:14-25 is an explanation of Rom 7:13.

To. ou=n avgaqo.n evmoi. evge,neto qa,natojÈ mh. ge,noito\ The terminology of the question (avgaqo.n… qa,natoj) echoes the language of Rom 7:12 (avgaqo.n) and Rom 7:10 (qa,natoj).  The question seems to be an obvious inference from what Paul has said in Rom 7:9-12.  Nevertheless, Paul rejects the inference, pinning the ultimate blame not on the law but on sin. 

avlla. h` a`marti,a( i[na fanh/| a`marti,a( dia. tou/ avgaqou/ moi katergazome,nh qa,naton(As in Rom 7:7, is followed by avlla., which introduces Paul’s counter-proposition.  (Whilst the avlla. in Rom 7:7 may possibly be concessive, the meaning here in Rom 7:13 seems clearly to be adversative – not law but sin was what worked death in me).  Law was clearly involved in the process (as Paul has said in Rom 7:9-12);  but the clarification Paul wants to make here is that law’s involvement was as instrument (dia. tou/ avgaqou… dia. th/j evntolh/j) rather than as agent.   The two i[na clauses express the ultimate purpose of God behind sin’s deadly use of the law – to reveal sin (i[na fanh/| a`marti,a) for what it is by exacerbating it, making it a matter of deliberate rebellion against a known commandment of God (i[na ge,nhtai kaqV u`perbolh.n a`martwlo.j h` a`marti,a dia. th/j evntolh//j).

Rom 7:14  Oi;damen ga.r o[ti o` no,moj pneumatiko,j evstin( evgw. de. sa,rkino,j eivmi peprame,noj u`po. th.n a`marti,anÅ

Rom 7:14 introduces an extended explanation (ga.r) or justification of what Paul has said in Rom 7:13.  He commences with a contrast between the law, which is pneumatiko,j, and the “I”, which is sa,rkino,j.  Significantly this is the only instance of pneuma language in Rom 7:7-25, and it is the law, not the “I”, that is described as pneumatiko,j.  What Paul means by describing the law as ‘spiritual’ is debated;  most agree that the primary reference is the the law’s origin, that it was given by God.  Dunn goes further, and suggests that there is a further reference to the way in which the law is meant to be received and obeyed under the new covenant, foreshadowing the “liberated and liberating tie-up of the law and Spirit” that Paul returns to in Rom 8:2-4.  In contrast to the law, which is ‘spiritual’, the “I” is described as being sa,rkino,j… peprame,noj u`po. th.n a`marti,anÅ  The first term, sa,rkino,j, echoes Paul’s description in 7:5 of our pre-conversion condition as being evn th/| sarki (though, as advocates for a regenerate “I” would argue, it could still be a way of describing the believer who remains weak and human in himself/herself);  the second phrase (peprame,noj u`po. th.n a`marti,an) is even stronger, echoing the slavery language used in ch.6 for pre-Christian existence.  (peprame,noj is derived from pipra,skw, the verb to sell – which is frequently used in the LXX for the selling of slaves). 

Rom 7:15  o] ga.r katerga,zomai ouv ginw,skw\ ouv ga.r o] qe,lw tou/to pra,ssw( avllV o] misw/ tou/to poiw/Å

As Moo points out, Rom 7:15 introduces a section (Rom 7:15-20) dominated by the contrast between “willing” (qe,lw) and “doing” (katerga,zomai, pra,ssw, poiw).  The point Paul is making about the fleshly “I” in this passage is not so much that it is evil or hostile to God (though he will say that elsewhere – eg. Rom 8:7) but that it is weak – even when it wants to do the good, it cannot.  The slavery Paul describes is clearly a miserable predicament:  o] misw/ tou/to poiw.

The meaning of ouv ginw,skw is probably cognitive (“I cannot understand what I do”), expressing the baffling, paradoxical nature of the situation described in the rest of the verse.  The alternative translation (Augustine’s non approbo, “I do not approve of what I do” followed by Barrett, Cranfield and Moo) stretches the normal meaning of ginw,skw and makes the verse somewhat repetitious – Rom 7:15 becomes merely a weaker version of Rom 7:15 (o] misw/ tou/to poiw).

Rom 7:16  eiv de. o] ouv qe,lw tou/to poiw/( su,mfhmi tw/| no,mw| o[ti kalo,jÅ

Building on what he has said in Rom 7:15 (eiv de. o] ouv qe,lw tou/to poiw) Paul draws the conclusion that the experience of the “I” is (paradoxically) an affirmation of the law’s goodness.  To the extent that the “I” feels itself torn between the good that it desires and the evil that it does, it is testifying to the goodness of what the law says.  (kalo,jÅ is roughly synonymous with avgaqo.j, but may have an additional connotation of ‘beautiful’ – and therefore to be desired).     

Rom 7:17  nuni. de. ouvke,ti evgw. katerga,zomai auvto. avlla. h` oivkou/sa evn evmoi. a`marti,aÅ

Intriguingly, Paul goes on in Rom 7:17 to vindicate not only the law but (at some level) the “I” as well.  If the “I” is in agreement with the law (Rom 7:16) then it is not so much “I” that produces the evil as it is ‘sin dwelling in me’.  The ‘now’ (nuni. de) and the ‘no longer’ (ouvke,ti) are almost certainly logical, introducing the next point in Paul’s argument (though Dunn argues – improbably - that their meaning is also eschatological, speaking of the new “I” brought about by the dawn of the new age of grace).  The fact that the real perpetrator Paul blames is ‘sin dwelling in me’ suggests that he is not shifting the blame to somewhere outside the person of the sinner – rather, he is describing the complex situation in which a person can will something but be overruled by a power within their very selves.  Moo describes Rom 7:17 as the centre of the paragraph – ‘Rom 7:15-16 have led up to it; Rom 7:18-19 expand on it’.  

Rom 7:18  Oi=da ga.r o[ti ouvk oivkei/ evn evmoi,( tou/tV e;stin evn th/| sarki, mou( avgaqo,n\ to. ga.r qe,lein para,keitai, moi( to. de. katerga,zesqai to. kalo.n ou;\

Rom 7:18 explains (ga.r)  the point made in Rom 7:17 about the indwelling presence of sin in me.  He does so first by broadening the assertion  (not only is it true that sin dwells in me;  it is also true that good does not dwell in me)  then by qualifying it, making it clear that by evn evmoi he means evn th/| sarki, mou.  It is difficult to say whether ‘in my flesh’  here means ‘in me, as a whole person living in the fleshly existence of the old age, untouched by the regenerating work of the Spirit’ (eg. Käsemann, Wilckens – cf. Rom 7:14) or ‘in that part of me which is my flesh’ (Moo – cf. the contrast between ‘my flesh’ and ‘my mind’ in Rom 7:25).  If the latter interpretation is followed, it is still unlikely that Paul has in mind a purely physical understanding of ‘my flesh’, or that he thinks that the non-physical part of me is utterly innocent – note the way that he uses the very non-physical sin of coveting as his paradigm sin in Rom 7:7-12.  A further way of expressing the qualification is offered in Rom 7:18 – whilst the will to do good may well dwell within me, the ability to bring it about does not. 

Rom 7:19  ouv ga.r o] qe,lw poiw/ avgaqo,n( avlla. o] ouv qe,lw kako.n tou/to pra,sswÅ Rom 7:20  eiv de. o] ouv qe,lw Îevgw.Ð tou/to poiw/( ouvke,ti evgw. katerga,zomai auvto. avlla. h` oivkou/sa evn evmoi. a`marti,aÅ

Rom 7:19-20 repeat the points made in Rom 7:15 (Rom 7:19) and Rom 7:16-17 (Rom 7:20).

Rom 7:21  eu`ri,skw a;ra to.n no,mon( tw/| qe,lonti evmoi. poiei/n to. kalo,n( o[ti evmoi. to. kako.n para,keitai\

Rom 7:21 draws together the implications (a;ra - therefore) of the previous verses.  eu`ri,skw here suggests something discovered by personal experience.  Some (eg. Dunn, Wright, Schreiner) argue on the basis of consistency of usage that no,mon refers to the law of Moses – which is after all the theme of the chapter (‘I find, with respect to the law, that…’ reading the accusative as an accusative of respect.  Most, however (eg. Cranfield, Käsemann, Moo, Fitzmyer) argue that here it refers to the ‘principle’ that the “I” has discovered (the more natural sense of the accusative;  note the similar usage in Rom 3:27 and possibly Rom 7:23;  note also the way that Paul distinguishes the law of Moses from this no,moj in Rom 7:22 by describing it as ‘the law of God’.  The word order is a little difficult:  probably, it is best to read the o[ti as introducing the main clause (ie. describing the thing that I find) and tw/| qe,lonti evmoi poiei/n to. kalo,n as  a temporal clause subordinate to the clause that follows.  ‘Therefore I find this law:  that, when I want to do good, evil is close at hand’. (Alternatively, tw/| qe,lonti evmoi. poiei/n to. kalo,n could be descriptive of the evmoi in the main clause – eg. NASB ‘I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good.’; Jewett offers a third alternative, reading to.n no,mon as the object of  tw/| qe,lonti: ‘Thus I discover that while my will is directed to the law in order to do what is excellent, the bad lies within my reach.’)  

Rom 7:22  sunh,domai ga.r tw/| no,mw| tou/ qeou/ kata. to.n e;sw a;nqrwpon

sunh,domai normally means ‘rejoice with…’ but here appears to mean ‘rejoice in…’. 

kata. to.n e;sw a;nqrwpon is generally used by Paul to refer to the eschatological ‘inner person’ of the Christian (eg. 2 Cor 4:16, Eph 3:16), and if we read the “I” as a regenerate person that meaning may be intended here as well.  Alternatively (assuming an unregenerate “I”) the term here may be roughly synonymous with the ‘mind’ (nou/j) Paul speaks of in Rom 7:23, 25.

Rom 7:23  ble,pw de. e[teron no,mon evn toi/j me,lesi,n mou avntistrateuo,menon tw/| no,mw| tou/ noo,j mou kai. aivcmalwti,zonta, me evn tw/| no,mw| th/j a`marti,aj tw/| o;nti evn toi/j me,lesi,n mouÅ

no,moj here (ie. the e[teron no,mon that I see in my members) probably means ‘principle’ or ‘pattern’, as in Rom 7:21.  As above (eg. in ch.6) ‘members’ (evn toi/j me,lesi,n mou) probably has a broader reference than merely the physical parts of the body, though note the contrast with ‘my mind’.  nou/j refers to the reasoning capacity of a person – here, in its capacity to see the goodness and desirability of the law.  ‘The law of my mind’ is almost certainly a reference to the law of God, in which my mind delights.

avntistrateuo,menon tw/| no,mw| tou/ noo,j mou returns to the military metaphor of Rom 6:13, 23 and Rom 7:8, 11, to emphasise the painful struggle within the divided self.  The struggle is not an evenly matched battle, however – the picture is of the ‘other law’ continually defeating and ‘making me a captive’ (aivcmalwti,zonta, me) to the law of sin.     

Rom 7:24  Talai,pwroj evgw. a;nqrwpoj\ ti,j me r`u,setai evk tou/ sw,matoj tou/ qana,tou tou,touÈ

Having concluded his description of the predicament of the “I” confronted by the law of God, Paul follows it with a brief and passionate lament, in which the ‘wretched’ (Talai,pwroj) speaker cries out for deliverance from ‘this body of death’ (or ‘the body of this death’, depending on whether tou,tou is attached to tou/ sw,matoj or tou/ qana,tou). 

Dunn reads Talai,pwroj as meaning ‘distressed’ or ‘stretched’, referring to the predicament of a person ‘caught between the two epochs of Adam and Christ’ and pulled in opposite directions.  More likely, however, it carries the sense of the miserable predicament of a person under the judgement of God (as is the sense in most of the NT and LXX instances of the word and its cognates – eg. Rev 3:17, Is 47:11, Jer 6:7, 15:8) a sense which fits with the context of lament. 

Those who view the “I” as regenerate (eg. Murray, Dunn) read this as the lament of the Christian, longingly awaiting the resurrection of the body (cf. Rom 8:23);  if the “I” is unregenerate, it can be read as the lament of the non-Christian crying out to God for salvation (a prayer that is answered in part by conversion and the gift of the Spirit (Rom 8:1-4, 10) and ultimately and fully by the resurrection of the body (Rom 8:23). 

Rom 7:25  ca,rij de. tw/| qew/| dia. VIhsou/ Cristou/ tou/ kuri,ou h`mw/nÅ :Ara ou=n auvto.j evgw. tw/| me.n noi> douleu,w no,mw| qeou/ th/| de. sarki. no,mw| a`marti,aj.

Rom 7:25 supplies the answer to the cry in Rom 7:24, anticipating ch.8.  But before launching into that chapter, Paul gives one last summary statement (:Ara ou=n…) of the predicament described in Rom 7:13-25.  The fact that this summary comes after the cry of deliverance in Rom 7:25 does not mean that the predicament described in Rom 7:25 is that of a person who has experienced the deliverance described in Rom 7:25 (or who confidently expects it in the future) – it is entirely consistent with Paul’s style to insert an interjection of thanksgiving before the description of the lamenting person’s predicament is complete. 

The summary sentence in Rom 7:25 falls into two balanced halves (me.n… de.).  Some argue that auvto.j evgw means ‘I, by myself [without the help of the Spirit]’ , but a more natural reading is simply to take auvto.j as an intensification of  evgw - ‘I myself’.  “The emphatic pronoun is used to stress that, when all allowance has been made for the different ‘parts’ and ‘directions’ of this ego, as they have been delineated in Rom 7:15-23, there remains one person, who is caught in the conflict between mental assent to God’s word and practical failure to do it”. (Moo)

Romans 8:1-4


Romans 8 completes the great section of the letter from ch.5-8, returning to the powerful notes of hope and assurance that were sounded in ch.5.  In Rom 5:12-21, Paul asserted strongly that the kata,krima that came with sin has been overcome by the grace of God in Christ (esp. Rom 5:16, 18);  now, in Rom 8:1 he returns to that theme, declaring again that ‘there is now no kata,krima for those in Christ Jesus’. In between, in ch.6-7, he has elaborated on the ways in which our salvation in Christ sets us free from sin (ch.6) and the law, hikjacked by sin (ch.7);  now, he draws the threads together and paints a picture of life for those who have been thus set free from ‘the law of sin and death’ (Rom 8:2).  The two liberating realities that have achieved this freedom are

(i)                 the saving work of Christ (‘now… in Christ Jesus… in Christ Jesus’)

(ii)               (ii) the consequent outpouring of the Spirit (‘for the law of the Spirit of life…’).

The remainder of the chapter develops these themes, concentrating on

·           the assurance of hope that we have because of the work of Christ for us (Rom 8:1, 11, 17, 18-39) and

·           the work of the Spirit within us in the mean time, as we live in the overlap of the ages (Rom 8:2-27)

Here in the opening paragraph, after introducing the main themes of the chapter in Rom 8:1-2, Paul goes on in Rom 8:3-4 to encapsulate the points made in ch.7 about the law:

·           its inability to save, because of the weakness of our flesh (cf. Rom 7:7-25),

·           the fact that God has acted in Christ to deliver us from this miserable predicament (cf. Rom 7:24-25a, 4-6) and

·           the fact that we now live by the Spirit (and so the law is fulfilled in us) (cf. Rom 7:6)


Rom 8:1 Ouvde.n a;ra nu/n kata,krima toi/j evn Cristw/| VIhsou

Ouvde.n is emphatic (literally ‘not one’)

a;ra (‘therefore’) can hardly refer back to Rom 7:25;  its immediate reference is probably to Rom 7:24-25 (cf. Schreiner), but there may also be a resumption of the argument from the point Paul reached  in Rom 7:6 (Cranfield, Barrett, Jewett) and an additional summarising sweep cast right back across the whole argument of ch.5-7, particularly the big picture painted in Rom 5:12-21 about the victory of God’s grace in Christ over the kata,krima (Rom 5:16, 18) that came through the sin of Adam (cf. Fitzmyer, Moo).   

The nu/n that follows is clearly salvation-historical, referring to the new era initiated by Christ’s death and resurrection. 

toi/j evn Cristw/| Vihsou is participationist language (cf. ch.6), which for Paul sits in harmony with the forensic image of kata,krima.

Rom 8:2  o` ga.r no,moj tou/ pneu,matoj th/j zwh/j evn Cristw/| VIhsou/ hvleuqe,rwse,n se avpo. tou/ no,mou th/j a`marti,aj kai. tou/ qana,touÅ

o` ga.r no,moj tou/ pneu,matoj th/j zwh/j is probably another instance in which no,moj means something like ‘power’ or ‘authority’, rather than a direct reference to the Law of Moses (though Dunn, among others, sees this as a direct reference to the Mosaic Law, ‘rightly understood and responded to evn pneu,mati’).  Dunn’s view (that Rom 8:2 is a contrast between two different ways of responding to the Law of Moses) is unlikely, given that is simply ‘the Law’ that is spoken of in Rom 8:3 as powerless to do what God did in Christ.  There is a stronger case to be argued for the ‘law of sin and death’ in the second half of the verse being a reference to the Mosaic law (cf. what Paul has said in Rom 7:1-6 about release from the Law), but the closer parallel is probably with the ‘law of sin’ spoken of in Rom 7:23.  Thus, the point here is not so much that the Spirit liberates us from the law (though that is the point made in Rom 7:1-6) but that the Spirit liberates us from the power of sin and death (something that the law of Moses could not do – Rom 8:3). 

evn Cristw/| VIhsou could either qualify ‘life’ (ie. ‘the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus…’) or ‘set you free’ (ie. ‘the law of the Spirit of life set you free in Christ Jesus…’).  It is difficult to decide between the two alternatives. 

Rom 8:3  To. ga.r avdu,naton tou/ no,mou evn w-| hvsqe,nei dia. th/j sarko,j( o` qeo.j to.n e`autou/ ui`o.n pe,myaj evn o`moiw,mati sarko.j a`marti,aj kai. peri. a`marti,aj kate,krinen th.n a`marti,an evn th/| sarki,(

The opening phrase (To. ga.r avdu,naton tou/ no,mou evn w-| hvsqe,nei dia. th/j sarko,j) is a summary of Rom 7:7-25, with its focus on the inability of the law to bring about the good that it speaks of or the life that it promises. To. avdu,naton… tou/ no,mou (‘the impossible thing of the law’) effectively means ‘the thing that was impossible for the law to do’.

evn w-| in this verse is probably to be read causally, as roughly equivalent to ‘because’    

The first half of the verse is elliptic, lacking a principle verb – most commentators and EVV suggest supplying something like evpoi,hsen, so that To. avdu,naton tou/ no,mou… becomes the object of o` qeo.j evpoi,hsen, and the sentence thus reads: ‘What was impossible for the law to do, because it was weakened by the flesh, God [did]: by sending his own Son…’

It is difficult to say whether Paul, in saying that God sent his Son evn o`moiw,mati sarko.j a`marti,aj, is using o`moi,wma to refer merely to a similarity of outward appearance (cf. Rom 1:23) or to refer to a full participation in form and reality (cf. Phil 2:7).  If the former is the case, Paul’s motivation may be to avoid the implication that Christ himself was sinful; if the latter, his emphasis is a little more strongly on the full participation of Christ in the condition of sinful humanity. 

Paul’s use of pe,myaj may imply the pre-existence of Jesus as the Son (as is often claimed), though it would be unwise to hang too much weight on this one word, given that the language of ‘sending’ can frequently be used for God’s commissioning of prophets (who are not pre-existent!). 

kai. peri. a`marti,aj is the phrase that the LXX commonly uses to translate ‘as a sin offering’, which is probably the meaning here, though some (eg. Cranfield, Barrett) argue the phrase here simply means that Christ’s mission was ‘to deal with sin’.

kate,krinen th.n a`marti,an evn th/| sarki – given the judicial overtones of kate,krinen (cf. kata,krima in Rom 8:1) the most likely meaning is that Christ’s death involved the vicarious punishment of our sins in his body:  there is no condemnation for us because our sins suffered their condemnation in him.  (Others - eg. Murray, Cranfield – suggest that the reference is to Christ ‘breaking the power of sin’, but that stretches the natural meaning of kate,krinen, and loses the strong connection with kata,krima in Rom 8:1).

Rom 8:4  i[na to. dikai,wma tou/ no,mou plhrwqh/| evn h`mi/n toi/j mh. kata. sa,rka peripatou/sin avlla. kata. pneu/maÅ

Some (eg. Benoit) argue that to. dikai,wma tou/ no,mou means ‘the righteous judgement demanded by the law’, but most agree that the more likely meaning is ‘the righteous behaviour required by the law’.  (Note, however, that dikai,wma is singular not plural – what Paul is describing is not so much the keeping of commandments like old covenant Jews, but rather the life of love toward which the law pointed forward – cf. Rom 13:8-10).  There remains a debate about how it comes to be ‘fulfilled in us’ – whether by Christ’s active righteousness being imputed to our account (eg. Moo) or by the Spirit enabling us to live a life of love (eg. Schreiner, Wright, Dunn). The latter fits better with the fact that the fulfilment of the law’s dikai,wma is said to take place evn h`mi/n;  it also makes sense of the fact that Paul goes on immediately to describe ‘us’ as toi/j mh. kata. sa,rka peripatou/sin avlla. kata. pneu/maÅ 

peripatou/sin is a favourite word of Paul’s to describe Christian behaviour – here, he uses it to describe Christians as people whose daily lives are determined not by the flesh (ie. by the mind of fallen humanity and the values of the old age of sin and death) but by the Spirit.

Romans 8:5-13


The main themes of Rom 8:5-13 emerge out of Paul’s affirmation in Rom 8:2 that ‘the law of the Spirit of life set you free from the law of sin and death’, and his characterisation of Christians in Rom 8:4 as ‘those who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit’.

Rom 8:5-8 stress the flesh’s hostility to God, in contrast with the existence and mind determined by the Spirit, and contrast the ‘death’ that goes with the one and the ‘life and peace’ that go with the other.  Rom 8:9-11 address the readers directly (‘but you…’) as people who are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, and emphasise the life and hope that are the consequence of that.  Rom 8:12-13 exhort the readers on the basis of this to put to death the deeds that go with life in the flesh


Rom 8:5  oi` ga.r kata. sa,rka o;ntej ta. th/j sarko.j fronou/sin( oi` de. kata. pneu/ma ta. tou/ pneu,matojÅ

Rom 8:5 commences an explanation (ga.r) of  why it is that the eschatological life (Rom 8:2) and freedom from condemnation (Rom 8:1) and fulfilment of the law’s righteous requirement (Rom 8:4) spoken of in the opening paragraph take place only among those who walk according to the Spirit.  By way of explanation, in Rom 8:5-8, Paul points to the radical difference between life according to the flesh and life according to the Spirit.  Here in Rom 8:5, he draws the first contrast – those whose existence is according to the flesh (oi` ga.r kata. sa,rka o;ntej) set their minds on the things of the flesh (ta. th/j sarko.j fronou/sin);  similar, existence according to the Spirit goes with a mind set on the things of the Spirit. fronei/n in Gk is a word with a broad reach, covering not only the intellect but also the emotions, the desires and the will (cf. Phil 2:5, Phil 3:19). 

Rom 8:6  to. ga.r fro,nhma th/j sarko.j qa,natoj( to. de. fro,nhma tou/ pneu,matoj zwh. kai. eivrh,nh\

Moo suggests that the ga.r is not so much explanatory but ‘continuative’, and reads Rom 8:6 as building on Rom 8:5 and spelling out the consequences of these contrasting mindsets.  Alternatively, an explanatory sense of ga.r could be retained if the stark antithesis of Rom 8:6 is being asserted as a basis or reinforcement for the antithesis of Rom 8:5.

fro,nhma is the noun formed from the verb fronei/n used in the previous verse.  In saying that ‘the mind of the flesh is death’ most commentators suggest that Paul is saying that the consequence of a life lived according to that mindset is death (so Moo, Dunn, Fitzmyer, Schreiner).  An alternative may be to read Paul as saying that the mind of the flesh is set on (the things that lead to) death, in contast with the mind of the Spirit, which is set on (the things that lead to) life and peace.  Here, as in Rom 6:21-22, Paul may have in mind both the ultimate, eschatological death and life that issue from the two minds, and also the fruits that they bear in the present (eg. the ‘peace’ of Rom 5:1 and Rom 12:16-21).

Rom 8:7  dio,ti to. fro,nhma th/j sarko.j e;cqra eivj qeo,n( tw/| ga.r no,mw| tou/ qeou/ ouvc u`pota,ssetai( ouvde. ga.r du,natai\  Rom 8:8  oi` de. evn sarki. o;ntej qew/| avre,sai ouv du,nantaiÅ

Rom 8:7 offers the reason (dio,ti - ‘because’) for the assertion in Rom 8:6.  The mindset of the flesh leads (deservedly and inevitably) to death because it is a mindset that amounts to ‘hostility’ (e;cqra) to God.  In asserting that the mind of the flesh ‘does not submit to God’s law’ (tw/| ga.r no,mw| tou/ qeou/ ouvc u`pota,ssetai) Paul is probably referring primarily to the law of Moses, given the extended discussion in ch.7 about the interaction between the flesh and the Mosaic Law;  however, it is also likely that there is an indirect point being made about all of humanity’s interaction with the demands of God, given the way that Paul views the experience of Israel and the Law as paradigmatic for the experience of all human beings (cf. Rom 2:12). Here, the tone of how Paul describes life kata. sa,rka is somewhat darker than what was asserted in ch.7 in two important ways:

(i)                 the fro,nhma of the flesh is implicated (in contrast with the more positive things said about the nou//j in ch.7)

(ii)               (ii) the inability (ouvde. ga.r du,natai) spoken of here is rooted in hostility toward God (e;cqra eivj qeo,n).

The last clause of the sentence (ouvde. ga.r du,natai) is both an additional point (ouvde – ie. ‘nor can it…’) and a reason for the previous assertion (ga.r - ie. ‘because it cannot’). So Dunn translates ‘for it cannot either’. 

Rom 8:8 repeats the point made in Rom 8:7 for emphasis, but without the no,moj language of the previous verse, implicitly confirming that the inability of Israel kata. sa,rka to submit to God’s law is a symptom of the more general inability of all people evn sarki to please God.

Rom 8:9  u`mei/j de. ouvk evste. evn sarki. avlla. evn pneu,mati( ei;per pneu/ma qeou/ oivkei/ evn u`mi/nÅ eiv de, tij pneu/ma Cristou/ ouvk e;cei( ou-toj ouvk e;stin auvtou/Å

The u`mei/j de at the start of Rom 8:9 signals a shift to second person pronouns, addressing the readers directly in Rom 8:9-11 as people evn pneu,mati and preparing the way for the ethical exhortations of Rom 8:12-13. Paul’s assertion that believers are now evn pneu,mati not evn sarki is fundamentally positional or salvation historical – it is about where we belong:  not in the old age of the flesh but in the new age of the Spirit (see comments on Rom 7:5).  Of course our experience is one in which the two ages overlap (so there is a sense in which Christian existence this side of death is still existence evn sarki., and we are still frail, imperfect, mortal people – eg. Gal 2:20, Phil 1:22-24, 2 Cor 4:11) but that experiential overlap does not mean that we belong equally to the two realms:  a decisive transfer has taken place, and our real identity, our real place of belonging is evn pneu,mati.

ei;per may either mean “if indeed…” or “since indeed…” – either is grammatically possible, and context determines which sense is intended.  Here, Dunn argues for “if” (suggesting that Paul may be ‘conscious that many of those hearing his letter read out would be at the inquiry stage’); most (eg. Cranfield, Moo, Jewett) argue for “since”, on the basis that Paul’s general approach throughout the letter is to assume the Christian identity of his readers (eg. Rom 1:8, Rom 15:14).  Either way, Paul makes it clear in the second half of the verse that all who belong to Christ are ‘in the Spirit’, and the Spirit dwells (oivkei/) in them.

Significantly, Paul speaks of the Spirit here as both ‘the Spirit of Christ’ (pneu/ma Cristou) and ‘the Spirit of God’, and seems to regard the two descriptions as roughly interchangeable.  Furthermore, he seems to regard ‘the Spirit of God dwell[ing] in you’ (Rom 8:9) and ‘Christ in you’ (Rom 8:10) as descriptions of the same reality.

Rom 8:10  eiv de. Cristo.j evn u`mi/n( to. me.n sw/ma nekro.n dia. a`marti,an to. de. pneu/ma zwh. dia. dikaiosu,nhnÅ

The me.n… de construction in the second half of the verse spells out two balanced and contrasting realities for those in whom Christ dwells.  The meaning of both clauses is debated. 

The first clause (to. sw/ma nekro.n dia. a`marti,an) could be meant as a positive statement along the lines of Romans 6, that the person (to. sw/ma) is dead to sin (eg. Käsemann, Jewett).  However a more natural way of reading nekro.n dia. a`marti,an would be as a negative statement about the mortality and bodily weakness still experienced by the believer in this life (cf. ta. qnhta. sw,mata u`mw/n, Rom 8:11), whilst waiting for ‘the redemption of our bodies’ (cf. Rom 8:23).

The second clause (to. pneu/ma zwh. dia. dikaiosu,nhn) is understood by many commentators (eg. Wilckens, Fitzmyer, Wright, Stott) and translations (eg. RSV, NIV) in an anthropological sense:  ‘your spirit is alive because of righteousness’.  It is more likely, however, that to. pneu/ma retains the meaning it has everywhere else in Rom 8 (including Rom 8:11, which is an expansion on what is said in Rom 8:10) and refers to the Holy Spirit (so Dunn, Moo, Cranfield, Schreiner).   

Thus, the second half of the verse should be translated as something like:  ‘the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness’.  The ‘righteousness’ that is the basis for the Spirit’s life-giving presence in the believer is probably the saving righteousness of God spoken of in Rom 1:17, Rom 3:21 etc. 

Rom 8:11  eiv de. to. pneu/ma tou/ evgei,rantoj to.n VIhsou/n evk nekrw/n oivkei/ evn u`mi/n( o` evgei,raj Cristo.n evk nekrw/n zw|opoih,sei kai. ta. qnhta. sw,mata u`mw/n dia. tou/ evnoikou/ntoj auvtou/ pneu,matoj evn u`mi/nÅ

The “if…” clause that begins the verse makes a strong link between the Spirit and the resurrection – the Spirit is ‘the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead’.  Once again (as in Rom 8:10), the eiv does not imply any uncertainty about whether it is in fact the case that the Spirit dwells in the readers of the letter.  Given the parallel with Christ’s resurrection and the fact that it is ‘your mortal bodies’ that are the object of the verb, zw|opoih,sei kai. ta. qnhta. sw,mata u`mw/n is almost certainly a reference to our future resurrection (cf.1 Cor 15:22), not to the ‘newness of life’ that we experience by the Spirit’s power in the present (cf. Rom 6:4), though note Jewett’s arguments for the latter interpretation.  Note the role that Paul sees the Spirit having in our future resurrection (dia. tou/ evnoikou/ntoj auvtou/ pneu,matoj evn u`mi/nÅ). 

Rom 8:12  :Ara ou=n( avdelfoi,( ovfeile,tai evsme.n ouv th/| sarki. tou/ kata. sa,rka zh/n( Rom 8:13  eiv ga.r kata. sa,rka zh/te( me,llete avpoqnh,|skein\ eiv de. pneu,mati ta.j pra,xeij tou/ sw,matoj qanatou/te( zh,sesqeÅ

Rom 8:12-13 draw out the consequences (:Ara ou=n) of Rom 8:5-11 for Christian living.  (With Fitzmyer & Moo we take Rom 8:12-13 as the conclusion of Rom 8:1-13, not the start of a new section).  Rom 8:12-13 speak of an obligation or debt (ovfeile,tai evsme.n) that is not to the flesh.  The expected conclusion to the sentence (‘…but to the Spirit’) never comes; instead, Paul reiterates the reason why we have no obligation to the flesh - because the flesh gives its devotees nothing but death.  Instead of living kata. sa,rka, believers are urged (by the Spirit’s enabling) to ‘put to death the deeds of the body’ in order to live.  The present tense of qanatou/te suggests an ongoing process of mortification of sin, not a decisive, one-off victory.

The negative connotation of pra,xeij tou/ sw,matoj comes from the context (particularly the influence of sa,rx earlier in the verse) - pra,xeij in itself means simply ‘deeds’, not ‘misdeeds’ and sw/ma is generally an ethically neutral word in Paul’s letters.

Romans 8:14-17


In Rom 8:14-17, Paul’s language shifts from the language of ‘life’ (in Rom 8:1-13) to the language of adoption (ui`oi… pneu/ma ui`oqesi,aj… abba o` path,r… te,kna… klhrono,moi).  Despite the shift in language, the two sections are closely connected in theme – the two implications of  our adoption that Paul focuses on in this paragraph are the assurance it provides in the present (Rom 8:15-16 – cf. Rom 8:1) and the inheritance that it promises in the future (Rom 8:17 – cf. the eschatological ‘life’ spoken of in Rom 8:6, 11, 13). 

Thus, the main function of this paragraph in the flow of the chapter seems to be to further explain and undergird the assurance and hope expressed in Rom 8:1-13 by grounding it in the experienced reality of our adoption as children of God.


Rom 8:14  o[soi ga.r pneu,mati qeou/ a;gontai( ou-toi ui`oi. qeou/ eivsinÅ

ga.r links Rom 8:14-17 to the preceding paragraph.  There are probably two links in Paul’s mind between Rom 8:14 and the previous verse: 

(i)                 the link between the promise of life (zh,sesqe) at the end of Rom 8:13 and the adoption spoken of in Rom 8:14, which provides the basis for that hope

(ii)               the link between the responsibility to ‘put to death the deeds of the body’ (Rom 8:13) and the description of believers in Rom 8:14 as those who are ‘led by the Spirit’ (o[soi… pneu,mati qeou/ a;gontai)

Being ‘led by the Spirit’ (pneu,mati qeou/ a;gontai) is probably a roughly equivalent expression to ‘walking according to the Spirit’ (cf. Rom 8:4: toi/j mh. kata. sa,rka peripatou/sin avlla. kata. pneu/maÅ);  the close connection with the promise in Rom 8:13 to  those who ‘put to death the deeds of the body’ also suggests that the meaning is a primarily ethical – there is no strong evidence in the context to support Dunn’s suggestion that the expression has connotations of ‘enthusiastic, even ecstatic behaviour’. 

Paul’s description of his readers (male and female alike) as ui`oi. Qeou may reflect the fact that our adoption is in Paul’s mind a participation in the Sonship of Jesus and an inheritance of the position of Israel in the OT as the ‘Son of God’ (eg. Ex 4:22 – cf. Deut 14:1 for the plural with reference to individual Israelites)

Rom 8:15  ouv ga.r evla,bete pneu/ma doulei,aj pa,lin eivj fo,bon avlla. evla,bete pneu/ma ui`oqesi,aj evn w-| kra,zomen\ abba o` path,rÅ

The key contrast in Rom 8:15 is between a pneu/ma doulei,aj (which you did not receive) and the pneu/ma ui`oqesi,aj (which you did receive).  The point is not a contrast between two different ‘spirits’ or dispositions;  rather it is that the Spirit we have received is a Spirit not of fearful slavery but of confident Sonship. 

ouv ga.r evla,bete pneu/ma doulei,aj pa,lin eivj fo,bon restates in different language the point made in Rom 8:1 - Ouvde.n a;ra nu/n kata,krima… The new relationship with God into which we have been brought by the Spirit is one in which we are never to return to the anxious dread of condemnation which characterised (or ought to have characterised!) our previous condition.  Paul argues in Galatians that this condition of fearful slavery was the same whether we were living under the law of Moses or under the ‘elemental spirits’ of paganism.  (cf. Gal 4:1-9)  This characterisation of life under the law as a life of ‘fear’ provides an important nuance to the self-righteous ‘boasting’ spoken of in ch.2 – when the grounds of your boasting is the Law, then your self-righteousness will always have an edge of insecurity to it.  (Of course, the fo,boj spoken of here is a different thing from the fo,boj qeou/ that Paul commends elsewhere (eg. Rom 3:18, 2 Cor 5:11)

avlla. evla,bete pneu/ma ui`oqesi,aj instead, Paul says, we have received the Spirit of adoption.  Most likely, given what Paul says in the immediate context, pneu/ma ui`oqesi,aj means ‘the Spirit that accomplishes our adoption’ (eg. Moo, Dunn), not  merely ‘the Spirit that confirms our adoption’ or ‘the Spirit that anticipates our adoption’ (Byrne, Barrett).  The fact that ui`oqesi,a can be spoken of in Rom 8:23 as a future blessing that we await is probably an instance of the ‘now/not yet’ tension within Rom 8.

ui`oqesi,a ‘adoption’ was a feature of Greco-Roman law and custom, not OT law, but the metaphor of ‘sonship’ for the status of God’s people is a concept profoundly rooted in the OT – cf. Rom 9:4 ‘theirs is the adoption…’.  The fact that Gentile believers have now become the recipients of this formerly Jewish privilege (along with a string of other privileges spoken of in ch.8) is part of the tension building up across this chapter that generates ch.9-11.

evn w-| kra,zomen\ abba o` path,rÅ Paul concludes the verse by speaking of our prayer to God as Father as the fundamental demonstration of the Sonship we have by the Spirit.  The fact that he retains the Aramaic abba alongside the Gk o` path,r is an indication of  the continuing influence of the prayer life and teaching of Jesus within the early Christian communities, and a reflection of the fact that our adoption is a participation in his Sonship.  The claim that abba means ‘daddy’, made famous by Jeremias’ influential work, has since been nuanced significantly (adult men and women, for example, still called their fathers abba).  Nevertheless, there is still something very significant about the colloquial, familial nature of the word. 

Rom 8:16  auvto. to. pneu/ma summarturei/ tw/| pneu,mati h`mw/n o[ti evsme.n te,kna qeou/Å

There is no conjunction to specify the nature of the connection between Rom 8:15 and Rom 8:16 (unusual in Gk);  the link is probably that Rom 8:16 is an elaboration on what is taking place when ‘by the Spirit we cry Abba, Father!’ (Rom 8:15). 

Summarturei with its prefix sun- generally carries its face value of ‘bears witness with…’, though the prefix can sometimes have a vaguer, intensive sense (‘bears witness to…’ – cf. Rom 2:15, Rom 9:1).  Some commentators prefer this latter sense (eg. Cranfield, Morris), but the parallel verse in Gal 4:6 where the Spirit is said to cry ‘Abba Father’ (presumably along with us, not to us!), and the OT idea of multiple witnesses, supports the former meaning.  Paul gives little direct indication here about the means by which the Spirit bears this testimony, but the clues we get from elsewhere in his letters would suggest that it is not so much about ecstatic religious experience as it is about a deep, internal appropriation of the truth of the gospel (eg. 1 Cor 14:15, Eph 5:18//Col 3:16, Rom 16:26//Eph 3:5).

Rom 8:17  eiv de. te,kna( kai. klhrono,moi\ klhrono,moi me.n qeou/( sugklhrono,moi de. Cristou/( ei;per sumpa,scomen i[na kai. sundoxasqw/menÅ

Rom 8:17 makes explicit the connection between adoption and eschatology:  a child is also an heir.  ‘Inheritance’, like sonship, is a concept with deep OT roots, referring to the inheritance of Israel as the descendants of Abraham (cf. Rom 4:13).

Paul goes out of  his way in this point to tie the promise of our eschatological inheritance to the present reality of our union with Christ and our participation in his sufferings.  The string of three sun- compounds at the end of the verse makes the point forcibly:  we are sugklhrono,moi with Christ ei;per sumpa,scomen i[na kai. sundoxasqw/menÅ Any account of our glorious privilege as sons and daughters of God that does not take this ei;per sumpa,scomen seriously is sub-Christian.   

Romans 8:18-25


Paul has just made the crucial point in Rom 8:14-17 that the promised eschatological life spoken of in Rom 8:11-13 is an outworking of our adoption into the Sonship of Christ, and that participating in his Sonship means being united with him in his sufferings  (sugklhrono,moi de. Cristou/( ei;per sumpa,scomen i[na kai. sundoxasqw/men). 

This cross-and-resurrection-shaped sequence at the end of Rom 8:17 generates an extended meditation on the theme of suffering and glory in Rom 8:18-30.  Whilst the work of the Spirit is prominent in this section, Paul is not setting out to present a systematic doctrine of the Holy Spirit – he is focusing very particularly on the Spirit’s work in relation to the sufferings of the present age.     


Rom 8:18  Logi,zomai ga.r o[ti ouvk a;xia ta. paqh,mata tou/ nu/n kairou/ pro.j th.n me,llousan do,xan avpokalufqh/nai eivj h`ma/jÅ

Rom 8:18 states the theme of the whole section from Rom 8:18-30. 

ga.r draws the obvious connection between this verse, with its contrast between present sufferings and future glory, and the sumpa,scomen… sundoxasqw/men sequence at the end of Rom 8:17. 

ta. paqh,mata tou/ nu/n kairou certainly includes the sufferings that we undergo because of our association with Christ.  However, the direction that Paul follows in the remainder of the paragraph (eg. by paralleling our ‘groaning’ with the groaning of the creation) may suggest that he also has in mind the sufferings that are part of the common human condition in a fallen world. 

avpokalufqh/nai eivj h`ma/j, should probably be translated as ‘to be revealed to us’, though there may well also be a sense of us being caught up in and transformed by that glory (cf. Rom 8:30)

Rom 8:19  h` ga.r avpokaradoki,a th/j kti,sewj th.n avpoka,luyin tw/n ui`w/n tou/ qeou/ avpekde,cetaiÅ

Rom 8:19-25 help to explain the magnificence of the disproportion spoken of in Rom 8:18 between the sufferings of the present and the glory of the future – the glory to come is so magnificent that the whole creation joins with us in longing for it. 

The syntax of Rom 8:18 in Gk gives a strange prominence to the ‘eager expectation’ by making it the grammatical subject of the sentence – literally:  ‘for the eager expectation of the creation is awaiting the revelation of the sons of God’.  The scope of what is included in h` kti,sij has been debated over the centuries - most modern commentators point to the language of Rom 8:23 (pa/sa h` kti,sij) and the contrast between the creation and ‘we ourselves’ with to argue that Paul has in view the entire (non-human) creation. 

The ‘revelation’ (th.n avpoka,luyin) of the sons of God is our arrival at the full consummation of our glorified humanity, when what we are in Christ (presently hidden within our mortal flesh) becomes what we are in manifest reality.  

Rom 8:20  th/| ga.r mataio,thti h` kti,sij u`peta,gh( ouvc e`kou/sa avlla. dia. to.n u`pota,xanta( evfV e`lpi,di Rom 8:21  o[ti kai. auvth. h` kti,sij evleuqerwqh,setai avpo. th/j doulei,aj th/j fqora/j eivj th.n evleuqeri,an th/j do,xhj tw/n te,knwn tou/ qeou/Å

Rom 8:20-21 explain (ga.r) the ‘eager expectation’ of  the creation spoken of in the previous verse – it waits so eagerly for the revelation of the sons of God because it too has been frustrated (as a consequence of humanity’s fall) and its restoration is tied to the restoration of the children of God.  

mataio,thj (‘futility’ NRSV, ‘frustration’ NIV) echoes the verb mataio,w used in Rom 1:21 to describe fallen humanity’s descent into futile thinking;  here the non-human creation is described as having been subjected to a similar futility.  The word may also echo the mataio,thj that is spoken of in the opening verses of Ecclesiastes and throughout that book.  The word describes the uselessness of something that does not achieve its goal or purpose. 

u`peta,gh is a divine passive (as is suggested strongly in the following phrase - dia. to.n u`pota,xanta( evfV e`lpi,di…) implying that the futility of creation is an expression of the judgment of God.  Most commentators suggest an allusion to Gen 3:17-18. 

dia. to.n u`pota,xanta could conceiveably be a reference to Adam (eg. Dunn) or Satan (eg. Godet) as the ones whose rebellion brought disaster upon the creation, but most (eg. Cranfield, Käsemann, Moo, Fitzmyer) read it as a further reference to God, elaborating on the the divine passive (u`peta,gh) earlier in the verse.  This reading requires dia + acc to be read as ‘by…’ rather than ‘because of…’, which is unusual but not unheard of. 

evfV e`lpi,di qualifies u`pota,xanta suggesting that the divine judgement on the creation was part of a larger, positive purpose of God, spelt out in the following verse

Rom 8:21 spells out the content of (God’s) hope referred to at the end of Rom 8:20:   o[ti kai. auvth. h` kti,sij evleuqerwqh,setai avpo. th/j doulei,aj th/j fqora/j eivj th.n evleuqeri,an th/j do,xhj tw/n te,knwn tou/ qeou/Å  The claim is that God has intentionally tied the destiny of the creation to the destiny of his children, and that only when the latter are liberated will the former experience a similar liberation. 

Fqora, means ‘corruption’ or ‘decay’ and is roughly equivalent to the ‘futility’ spoken of in the previous verse, with an emphasis on the impermanence and death and degeneration built into the fabric of the fallen creation.  The reappearance of do,xa as the description of the liberty of the children of God (which will be shared by the liberated creation) is a reminder that the overarching theme of Rom 8:18-30 is the path that the children of God travel through suffering to glory

Rom 8:22  oi;damen ga.r o[ti pa/sa h` kti,sij sustena,zei kai. sunwdi,nei a;cri tou/ nu/n\

oi;damen… may either represent an appeal to the common apocalyptic image of the world-sufferings as the birth-pangs of the coming age, on the assumption that it was a tradition with which the readers were familiar (Dunn) or an appeal to the common human experience of life as one of painful groaning (Moo) 

sustena,zei kai. sunwdi,nei strings together two sun- compounds (‘groans together and suffers childbirth together…’) to describe the concerted, universal groaning of the creation.  The sun- component of the two verbs  probably refers not to the creation groaning together with us (that idea is introduced as an emphatically new element in the description in Rom 8:23 - ouv mo,non de,( avlla. kai …).  Rather, it refers to the way the whole non-human creation unites in a harmony of painful longing. 

Rom 8:23  ouv mo,non de,( avlla. kai. auvtoi. th.n avparch.n tou/ pneu,matoj e;contej( h`mei/j kai. auvtoi. evn e`autoi/j stena,zomen ui`oqesi,an avpekdeco,menoi( th.n avpolu,trwsin tou/ sw,matoj h`mw/nÅ

Rom 8:23 builds on this description by adding to it the fact that we too (who have the firstfruit of the Spirit) also groan within ourselves.  The auvtoi is repeated for emphasis, to hammer home the point that we are not exempt from this groaning. 

The genitive construction (th.n avparch.n tou/ pneu,matoj) is probably epexegetical (ie. ‘the first fruit, which is the Spirit’) rather than partitive (ie. ‘the first fruit of the Spirit’). 

e;contej is probably causal, not concessive (ie. ‘because we have the first fruit of the Spirit, we groan’, rather than ‘although we have the first fruit of the Spirit, we groan’).  This makes better sense of the rest of the verse, which describes the groaning not merely as an expression of suffering but an expression of hope and longing. 

ui`oqesi,a here is used to speak of a future experience that we look forward to (whereas in Rom 8:14-17 it was described as an accomplished reality) – this is one of a number of features in ch.8 that express strongly the now/not yet tension within Paul’s eschatology.  What we wait for is the redemption of ‘our body’ – another indication (along with the hope that Paul expresses for the whole non-human creation) that Paul’s eschatology is not about liberation from createdness but a liberation of the creation. 

Rom 8:24  th/| ga.r evlpi,di evsw,qhmen\ evlpi.j de. blepome,nh ouvk e;stin evlpi,j\ o] ga.r ble,pei ti,j evlpi,zeiÈ Rom 8:25  eiv de. o] ouv ble,pomen evlpi,zomen( diV u`pomonh/j avpekdeco,meqaÅ

Rom 8:24-25 reinforce the point made in the previous verse by reminding the readers of the central role played by hope in our salvation – we were saved ‘in hope’, and if we already saw and experienced the things we hope for, then the hope would not be hope at all.  The combination of the aorist tense verb (evsw,qhmen - ‘we were saved’) with the phrase that precedes it (th/| evlpi,di – ‘in hope’) is another indication of Paul’s now/not yet eschatology.  Rom 8:24 is probably intended as a corrective against over-realised eschatology, that pretends to experience already all the consummation of the things promised by God (cf. 1 Cor 4).  In place of that sort of self-deception Paul advocates in Rom 8:25 an attitude of ‘eagerly awaiting’ (avpekdeco,meqa - cf. Rom 8:19, 23), coexisting with patient endurance (diV u`pomonh/j – cf. Rom 5:3-4) in the midst of the sufferings of the present age. 

Romans 8:26-30


Having spoken in Rom 8:25 of the u`pomonh, with which believers need to wait for the things they do not yet see, Paul goes on in Rom 8:26-30 to speak of the divine activity in the midst of our present sufferings that undergirds and enables this patient hope. 

·           In the first place (Rom 8:26-27) the Spirit helps us in our weakness, coming alongside us in our pain and interceding –even groaning – on our behalf. 

·           At the same time (Rom 8:28-30) the God who is immanently involved with us in the midst of our present groanings is also sovereignly at work in these very circumstances, to achieve the good that he has planned in advance for us (which is ultimately about our resemblance to and participation in the glory of his Son). 


Rom 8:26  ~Wsau,twj de. kai. to. pneu/ma sunantilamba,netai th/| avsqenei,a| h`mw/n\ to. ga.r ti, proseuxw,meqa kaqo. dei/ ouvk oi;damen( avlla. auvto. to. pneu/ma u`perentugca,nei stenagmoi/j avlalh,toij\

~Wsau,twj (‘in the same way…’) links the Spirit’s help spoken of in Rom 8:26 with something Paul has described in Rom 8:25.  Moo suggests that the connection is between the way our hope sustains us (Rom 8:24-25) and the way the Spirit helps us (Rom 8:26), but ‘hope’ in Rom 8:24-25 is spoken of as an attitude that we ourselves take, rather than as a resource that sustains us.  The connection is more likely between the groaning of the Christian (Rom 8:23) and the groaning intercessions by which the Spirit helps us (Rom 8:26) (eg. Dunn, Cranfield)

sunantilamba,netai has the connotation of ‘bearing a burden along with…’ (ie. the sun- prefix should be given its full force, as for example in Luke 10:40 and the LXX of Ex 18:22, Num 11:17).

The ‘weakness’ (avsqe,neia) spoken of is probably to be understood quite broadly, as a reference to ‘the totality of the human condition’ (Dunn) in which we still participate as long as we live in this mortal flesh, in the midst of this present age;  at the same time, there is a specific instance of this weakness that Paul particularly has in mind, as he goes on to explain – it is the times when, in the midst of the terrible confusion and sadness of the present age, we struggle to pray (to. ga.r ti, proseuxw,meqa kaqo. dei/ ouvk oi;damen) and have nothing in us except the inarticulate groans of our sadness. Cf. O’Brien, ‘Romans 8:26-7. A Revolutionary Approach to Prayer?’ RTR 46 (1987) 65-73.   

to.… signals that the whole phrase that follows (ti, proseuxw,meqa kaqo. dei) is the object of the verb (ouvk oi;damen)

The fact that Paul writes ti, proseuxw,meqa (not pw/j proseuxw,meqa) suggests that our struggle is more about what to pray than it is about what manner to pray in.

kaqo. dei (‘as we ought’) is read by most commentators as roughly equivalent to kata. qeo.n (‘according to God’) in Rom 8:27, and taken to mean, by extension ‘in accordance with God’s will’. 

avlla. auvto. to. pneu/ma u`perentugca,nei stenagmoi/j avlalh,toij\ This statement by Paul about the Spirit interceding for us ‘in unspoken groans’ is taken by some (eg. Dunn, Fee, Käsemann) as a reference to glossolalia, but most commentators (eg. Fitzmyer, Cranfield, Moo, Schreiner) point out that it is unlikely that Paul would see the experience he is speaking of here as one that is only for those who have the gift of tongues.  (Of course, for those who do have the gift, and who find themselves falling back on praying in tongues when they are in situations of confusion and grief and do not know how to pray in words, prayer in tongues may be one form that the ‘groaning’ of Rom 8:23 may take.)

Rom 8:27  o` de. evraunw/n ta.j kardi,aj oi=den ti, to. fro,nhma tou/ pneu,matoj( o[ti kata. qeo.n evntugca,nei u`pe.r a`gi,wnÅ

The fact that the Spirit who intercedes for us is God’s own Spirit means that when he prays for us, he prays in complete accord with God’s will – who better than God’s own Spirit knows how to pray kata. qeo.n!

o` de. evraunw/n ta.j kardi,aj is a description of God (cf. Ps 139) focusing on his complete knowledge of our hearts. 

Not only does he know us completely;  he also perfectly knows the mind of his own Spirit (oi=den ti, to. fro,nhma tou/ pneu,matoj), because (o[ti) the mind that informs the Spirit’s prayers is God’s own mind – the Spirit intercedes for the saints kata. qeo.n – in accordance with the character (and hence the will) of God himself. 

u`pe.r a`gi,wn echoes the language of the psalms to describe the people of God, once again implying that the privileges of OT Israel have been inherited by believers in Jesus. 

Rom 8:28  Oi;damen de. o[ti toi/j avgapw/sin to.n qeo.n pa,nta sunergei/ eivj avgaqo,n( toi/j kata. pro,qesin klhtoi/j ou=sinÅ

The de. probably means ‘and…’ not ‘but…’.  Given that the emphasis in Rom 8:26-27 was not on our weakness but on the Spirit’s help, the connection btw Rom 8:26-27 and Rom 8:28 is not ‘we do not know how to pray, but we do know that God is at work…’ but rather ‘the Spirit helps us in our weakness, and we also know that God is at work…’

pa,nta clearly includes the sufferings spoken of in the preceeding verses, but is not just referring to them

pa,nta sunergei/ eivj avgaqo,n could be translated in at least four different ways:

(i)                 ‘He (God) works all things together for good’ (eg. NASB) but sunergei/ does not normally take a direct object

(ii)               ‘He (God) works in all things for good for those who love him’ (eg. NIV) but it is not so clear why Paul writes sunergei/ (‘works with’, or ‘works together’) not simply evrgei/;  nor is ‘in all things’ the most natural reading of the accusative pa,nta

(iii)             ‘He (God) works in all things for good with those who love him’ (eg. Schlier) which solves the first problem with option (ii) but not the second problem, and adds the additional problem of leaving God in the position of merely ‘co-operating’ with his people in a common project, which is not the picture that Rom 8:29-30 go on to paint

(iv)             ‘All things work together for good for those who love God…’ (eg. KJV, NRSV), which is probably the best option, provided that we understand it not as an expression of the power of things in themselves to work harmoniously for good (but only for those who love God!) but as an expression of the sovereign activity of God, causing this to take place. 

toi/j kata. pro,qesin klhtoi/j ou=sin hints at what Paul is about to say in Rom 8:29-30 – that ‘those who love God’ are in fact those whom he himself has called kata. pro,qesin (‘according to [his] purposes’).  The fact that Paul assumes the two descriptions (‘those who love God’ and ‘those who were called according to his purposes’) refer to the same group of people is a clue that he uses kale,w here to refer to ‘effectual calling’ (ie. the call by which God brings people into relationship with him) and not ‘general calling’ (ie. the call by which he invites everyone into relationship with him), and certainly not some sort of post-conversion ‘calling’ into a particular vocation or state of life. 

Rom 8:29  o[ti ou]j proe,gnw( kai. prow,risen summo,rfouj th/j eivko,noj tou/ ui`ou/ auvtou/( eivj to. ei=nai auvto.n prwto,tokon evn polloi/j avdelfoi/j\ Rom 8:30  ou]j de. prow,risen( tou,touj kai. evka,lesen\ kai. ou]j evka,lesen( tou,touj kai. evdikai,wsen\ ou]j de. evdikai,wsen( tou,touj kai. evdo,xasenÅ

The reason (o[ti) for Paul’s confident assertion in v.28 lies in the invincible ‘purposes’ of God that he elaborates on now in Rom 8:29-30. 

ou]j proe,gnw( kai. prow,risen (‘those he foreknew he also predestined’) has long been a bone of contention between Augustinian/Calvinist and Pelagian/Arminian interpreters.  Pelagians and Arminians point to this sequence to argue that God’s predestination is contingent on his foreknowledge of people’s merit (eg. Pelagius) or their faith (eg. Arminius, Godet, Pinnock).  Calvinists (and some other non-Calvinist exegetes) counter that the ‘foreknowledge’ spoken of here is not merely an intellectual awareness before the event but ‘a relationship experienced and acknowledged’ (Dunn;  similarly Moo, Schreiner, Fitzmyer), in the tradition of the OT use of ody (yâda‘) in verses such as Gen 18:19, Jer 1:5, Amos 3:2) and NT verses such as Rom 11:2, 1 Pet 1:2, 20. 

prow,risen summo,rfouj th/j eivko,noj tou/ ui`ou/ auvtou/( eivj to. ei=nai auvto.n prwto,tokon evn polloi/j avdelfoi/j\ the expansion on prow,risen breaks the chain of verbs and clarifies the ‘destination’ to which God’s people are predestined, which is (ultimately) conformity to the image of his Son;  this helps to clarify both the ‘good’ spoken of in Rom 8:28 and the ‘glory’ in Rom 8:30, and the necessity for the sufferings undergone along the way (cf. Rom 8:17)

ou]j de. prow,risen( tou,touj kai. evka,lesen\ kai. ou]j evka,lesen( tou,touj kai. evdikai,wsen\  As in Rom 8:28, Paul is clearly using kale,w here to refer to effectual calling.  Note how in Rom 8:30 Paul adds demonstratives (tou,touj) in the second half of each clause, in addition to the relative pronouns (ou]j) in the first half, emphasising that there is no ‘spillage’ between each step of the process.  ou]j de. evdikai,wsen( tou,touj kai. evdo,xasen takes us all the way to evdo,xasen, recalling the theme of do,xa that was present in Rom 8:18 at the very start of this section.  The verb is aorist, like all the other verbs in the sequence, perhaps because the sequence of events is viewed from the vantage point of God, who has already decreed it. 

Romans 8:31-39


The opening words (Ti, ou=n evrou/men pro.j tau/taÈ) and the expansive, rhetorical tone of Rom 8:31-39 suggest that this is intended as a celebratory climax, either of ch.1-8 (eg. Cranfield, Stuhlmacher) or of ch.5-8 (eg. Käsemann, Moo, Schreiner) or of Rom 8:18-30 (eg. Murray).  The close similarity of language and concepts to ch.5 is an argument in favour of the second of these options. 


Rom 8:31  Ti, ou=n evrou/men pro.j tau/taÈ eiv o` qeo.j u`pe.r h`mw/n( ti,j kaqV h`mw/nÈ

The rhetorical question Ti, ou=n evrou/menÈ (here in the slightly longer form, Ti, ou=n evrou/men pro.j tau/taÈ) frequently introduces the next stage of Paul’s argument, or sums up what has come before (cf. Rom 4:1, Rom 6:1, Rom 7:7, Rom 9:14, 30).  tau/ta is probably best understood as a reference back to the whole section from ch.5-8, with its reassurances about the hope, peace and freedom from sin, death and the law that belong to those who are in Christ. 

eiv o` qeo.j u`pe.r h`mw/n is Paul’s summary of the implications of the gospel, as spelt out in ch.5-8, going right back to the death of Jesus u`pe.r h`mw/n spoken of in Rom 5:6-8 (and referred to again as the proof of God’s gracious intentions toward us in Rom 8:32), and perhaps referring back more immediately to the purposes of God eivj avgaqo,n that Paul has described in Rom 8:28 and expanded on in Rom 8:29-30. 

ti,j kaqV h`mw/nÈ poses a rhetorical question that can be answered in two possible ways, as Paul goes on to do in the following verses:  at one level, everyone can be against us (cf. Rom 8:36, 38-39);  but ultimately, none of these enemies can stand against God.  Dunn points out the deep roots of Jewish monotheism and OT faith (cf. Ps 23:4, Ps 56:9,11, Ps 118:6-7) that undergird this certainty.  It may also be, as Fitzmyer suggests, that Paul is already evoking the law-court setting that is explicitly present in Rom 8:33-34. 

Rom 8:32  o[j ge tou/ ivdi,ou ui`ou/ ouvk evfei,sato avlla. u`pe.r h`mw/n pa,ntwn pare,dwken auvto,n( pw/j ouvci. kai. su.n auvtw/| ta. pa,nta h`mi/n cari,setaiÈ

The ge is probably intensive, qualifying tou/ ivdi,ou ui`ou (‘he who did not spare even his own Son’) though some (eg. Schreiner) read it as causal, and roughly equivalent to gar. 

Most commentators detect in tou/ ivdi,ou ui`ou/ ouvk evfei,sato a possible echo of the story of the binding of Isaac (cf. Gen 22:12, 16);  if this the case, it is significant that Paul does not follow the rabbinic tradition (which probably post-dates him anyway!) and treat the binding of Isaac as a typological symbol of the faithful obedience that wins God’s approval – on the contrary, he treats it as a foreshadowing of the sacrificial love of God himself. 

avlla. u`pe.r h`mw/n pa,ntwn pare,dwken auvto,n echoes the description in Rom 5:8 of the death of Jesus u`pe.r h`mw/n and the fact that it is God’s love that is shown in Christ’s death – here, that is made even more explicit, with God as the subject of the main verb, pare,dwken.  (cf. Rom 3:25 – ‘whom he presented as a sin offering’)

pw/j ouvci. kai. su.n auvtw/| ta. pa,nta h`mi/n cari,setaiÈ The rhetorical question that ends the verse presses home the point of how unthinkable it is that God would give us the infinitely precious gift of tou/ ivdi,ou ui`ou/ and then hold back from us the mere trifle of ta. pa,nta! 

Rom 8:33  ti,j evgkale,sei kata. evklektw/n qeou/È qeo.j o` dikaiw/n\

Rom 8:33-34 rephrase the question in terms of a court-room scenario. evgkale,w is a legal technical term for laying charges against someone (cf. Acts 19:38, 40; Acts 23:29, 38; Acts 26:2, 7).  ‘God’s elect’ (oi` evklektoi. qeou) OT language (eg. Is 65:9, 15, 22) that continued to be used in post-Biblical Jewish writings as a description of either the nation of Israel or (eg. among the Qumran community) the chosen remnant within the nation.

qeo.j o` dikaiw/n\ could possibly be read as a rhetorical question, expecting the answer ‘no’; much more likely, however (especially if there is an allusion intended to Is 50:8) it is intended as a statement:  ‘It is God who justifies.’  The present tense of the participle o` dikaiw/n is unlikely to be an indication that Paul views  justification in medieval terms as a gradual process.  More likely it is to be understood as a gnomic present (ie. expressing a statement that is always, timelessly true:  God is the justifier) or perhaps a vivid picture of God in the court-room, in the very act of declaring on behalf of his elect (dikaio,w is another court-room word). 

Rom 8:34  ti,j o` katakrinw/nÈ Cristo.j ÎVIhsou/jÐ o` avpoqanw,n( ma/llon de. evgerqei,j( o]j kai, evstin evn dexia/| tou/ qeou/( o]j kai. evntugca,nei u`pe.r h`mw/nÅ

Rom 8:34 continues the hypothetical courtroom scene, beginning with a rhetorical question (ti,j o` katakrinw/nÈ) that clearly expects the answer ‘no-one’, in the light of the previous sentence (qeo.j o` dikaiw/n\).  katakri,nw is another legal term, describing the judge’s act of declaring the sentence of condemnation.  It echoes the opening assertion of the chapter (Ouvde.n a;ra nu/n kata,krima…) and along with the previous sentence in Rom 8:33, it probably echoes the sequence of ideas in Is 50:8. 

The remainder of the sentence can be punctuated in various ways, either as a simple statement (eg. NRSV:  ‘It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.’ Similarly NIV, NASB, KJV) or as a rhetorical question, expecting the answer ‘no’: (eg. RSV:  ‘Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us?’), or as a question with an answer (eg. JB:  ‘Could Christ Jesus?  No!  He not only died for us…’).  Of these options, the first one makes the most sense of the flow of Paul’s rhetoric, and has a plausible syntactical rationale as well, in treating as rhetorical questions only those clauses that begin with interrogative particles. 

The sequence of clauses describing the saving work of Jesus (avpoqanw,n… evgerqei,j… evstin evn dexia/| tou/ qeou/… evntugca,nei) climaxes on the final clause (o]j kai. evntugca,nei u`pe.r h`mw/n) which speaks of Christ’s intercession for us. evntugca,nw is another word that can have court-room connotations (eg. Acts 25:24) though it can also be used in prayer contexts (eg. Rom 11:2, Heb 7:25).  Whilst it is tempting to assimilate the image to the very similar one in Heb 7:25, the immediate context is one in which Paul is more likely depicting Christ as defence lawyer than as high priest (the latter is never developed as an element of Paul’s christology).

o` avpoqanw,n( ma/llon de. evgerqei,j ties Jesus’ death and resurrection closely together as part of his saving work (cf. Rom 4:25)

o]j kai, evstin evn dexia/| tou/ qeou is probably an allusion to Ps 110:1

Rom 8:35  ti,j h`ma/j cwri,sei avpo. th/j avga,phj tou/ Cristou/È qli/yij h' stenocwri,a h' diwgmo.j h' limo.j h' gumno,thj h' ki,ndunoj h' ma,cairaÈ

Paul again shifts the metaphor and commences a new line of thought with another rhetorical question: ti,j h`ma/j cwri,sei avpo. th/j avga,phj tou/ Cristou/È  Moo points out that the list of possible candidates is not merely a rhetorical construction – all but the last are also found in 2 Cor 11:26-7 and 2 Cor 12:10, where Paul lists the hardships of his own personal experience. 

Rom 8:36  kaqw.j ge,graptai o[ti e[neken sou/ qanatou,meqa o[lhn th.n h`me,ran( evlogi,sqhmen w`j pro,bata sfagh/jÅ

Paul interrupts the flow of his rhetoric to cite Ps 44:22, presumably with the aim of desmonstrating the continuity between the sufferings of the NT people of God and those of their OT predecessors.  Note how the love of God demonstrated in the sacrificial death of Jesus u`pe.r h`mw/n creates in response a people who ‘for your sake are being killed all day long… as sheep for slaughter’

Rom 8:37  avllV evn tou,toij pa/sin u`pernikw/men dia. tou/ avgaph,santoj h`ma/jÅ

u`pernika,w is an intensified form of nika,w. 

dia. tou/ avgaph,santoj h`ma/j – note the aorist participle, probably with reference to God’s decisive act of love for us in the death of Jesus

Rom 8:38 pe,peismai ga.r o[ti ou;te qa,natoj ou;te zwh. ou;te a;ggeloi ou;te avrcai. ou;te evnestw/ta ou;te me,llonta ou;te duna,meij Rom 8:39  ou;te u[ywma ou;te ba,qoj ou;te tij kti,sij e`te,ra dunh,setai h`ma/j cwri,sai avpo. th/j avga,phj tou/ qeou/ th/j evn Cristw/| VIhsou/ tw/| kuri,w| h`mw/nÅ

pe,peismai is a perfect passive – “I have been convinced and continue to be so”.  The list that follows is constructed mainly of balanced pairs (with the exception of the seventh item, ou;te duna,meij and the final item, ou;te tij kti,sij e`te,ra, which is clearly intended to signal the comprehensiveness of the list.    ou;te qa,natoj ou;te zwh Death heads the list, as the great hostile power that has loomed in the background ever since ch.5.   ou;te a;ggeloi ou;te avrcai. Presumably referring to (good) angels and (evil, supernatural) rulers – cf. 1 Cor 15:24, Eph 1:21, Eph 3:10, Eph 6:12, Col 1:16, Col 2:10, 15.      ou;te evnestw/ta ou;te me,llonta Wilckens reads this as another reference to spiritual beings but most read it as a reference to events and circumstances.     ou;te u[ywma ou;te ba,qoj ou;te Some (eg. Moo, Cranfield) see a reference to heaven and hell;  Schreiner suggests the language is poetic and general, preparing the way for the final phrase, ou;te tij kti,sij e`te,ra. 

dunh,setai h`ma/j cwri,sai avpo. th/j avga,phj tou/ qeou/ th/j evn Cristw/| VIhsou/ tw/| kuri,w| h`mw/nÅ the ‘love of God’ is not his general benevolence toward all humanity but his particular, unbreakable covenant love for ‘us’ his people – the love ‘which is in Christ Jesus our Lord’.

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