Romans 7:1-3 meaning

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Romans 7:1
  • Romans 7:2
  • Romans 7:3

Paul is telling his audience of believers in Rome that, like the widow who is no longer bound by the covenant of marriage to her dead husband, Christian believers are no longer bound to the covenant of the law.

The Apostle Paul has written this letter to the Roman believers (whose faith is famous throughout the world, v. 1:8), referring to them here as brethren. In this letter, he is dealing with slanderous statements made by competing Jewish “authorities” in Rome, who have misrepresented the gospel Paul preaches. In verse 3:8, Paul specifically quoted what the slanderous charges are, And why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some claim that we say), “Let us do evil that good may come”?

The slanderous charge is this—if Paul preaches that believers are no longer under the law because the grace of Jesus delivers us from all sin (past, present, and future), then Paul is preaching that we ought to sin, and good will come from it (it will show that God is even more graceful). Paul is speaking to those that know the law well. Therefore, the competing “authorities” claim, since Paul’s teaching is ridiculous, then we must still adhere to the law. But, Paul shows the law is no longer binding, because we are dead to the law in Christ.

In verses 2 and 3, Paul gives his audience the example of a married woman. When a married woman while her husband is living (who has promised herself to her husband until “death do us part,” she is bound by law to her husband while he is living) is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress, a cheater.

But, if her husband dies and she marries another man, then she is not a cheater or an adulteress, because she is no longer under the prior marriage vow. If her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. The promise under “Till death do us part” have been satisfied, because death separated her from the previous husband. She is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man. 

In the same way, we have been freed from the requirements of the law because we have been baptized into the death of Christ when we believe in Jesus.

Biblical Text

7 Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.

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