Early Church Fathers
3 Chrys. rightly apprehends the Incongruous logical form of the argument in vii. 1-6. The Apostle starts out with a general principle: "The law rules a man as long as he lives." It is a question of the man's living or dying not of the law's. Now (v. 2.) he introduces in confirmation of this a specific example. He takes the case of a woman who is "under the law of her husband." Here the "law of the husband must correspond to o nomoj of the general principle; the gunh to o anqrwpoj (v. 1). That is, the "husband" of the illustration corresponds to the "law" of the general principle and the "woman" of the illustration to the "man" of the principle. But in v. 1, it is a question of the man's (not of the law's) living or dying, while in the illustration this order is reversed. Here it is a question of the husband's living or dying (who corresponds to the "law") and not of the wife's, (who corresponds to the "man" of v. 1). How can this incongruity be explained? We answer that if Paul will use the illustration from the dissolution of the marriage relation at all, he can use it only as he has done. In order to make the illustration harmonize in form with the principle (v. 1) and with the application (v. 4.) it would be necessary to suppose the wife as dying and then marrying again after death-which is impossible;-so that in order in any way to carry out the idea of the wife's marrying another (as illustrating the Christian's becoming free, as it were, from one husband-the law-and joining himself to another-Christ). he must suppose the husband as dying and not the wife. Nor can the thought which the apostle wishes to bring out (the freedom to espouse another master) be brought out by adhering to the form of verse 1. There it is the man who dies and so gets free from the law, but with this figure it is impossible to take the next step (which is necessary to the argument) and say: He being dead to his former master, is free to take up allegiance to another. In order to carry out the idea the thought of verse 1 must change form and represent as dying, not the person under authority, but the person exercising it. The essential point of the argument is, that the relation of the Christian to the Mosaic law is as fully terminated as the marriage bond is by the death of one of the parties. There is in each case a termination by death, this term being used of the relation of the Christian to the law as a strong figure. (Cf. Rom. vi. 6, where the "death" is predicated of the man, and Gal. vi. 14 where it is applied to both terms in the relation of the Christian to the world: "By whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world.") The key to the whole passage is the idea of death figuratively applied to the termination of the Christian's relation to the law, and its central thought is, that having died to the law, we must live unto Christ.-G. B. S.
4 The Manichees, who said the Law was given by an evil being.
5 Deut. xxiv. and Deut. xxv. It is applied by Is. 1. 1; and Jer. iii. 8, to the then existing Church.
6 Cf. Origen in Rom. v. 8, p. 537.
7 Perhaps alluding to Menander (J. Mart. Ap. i. 26; Iren. i. 21; Eus. iii. 26), who pretended that those who received his baptism became immortal.
8 Alluding to Plato's Phaedrus again as in the word wing too.
9 So St. Aug. interprets "shall be least in the kingdom." See Cat. Aur. ad loc.
10 See St. Athan. de. Incarn. c. 27 t. i. p. 70.
11 See the Analogy, 1. v. §4, p. 132.
12 This expression seems strange with respect to the acts of God, but it may be referred to what man could have imagined beforehand; as indeed one use of the Law was to make men sensible of their real state. It may also be taken in the sense suggested by Is. v. 4; Matt. xxi. 19; Luke xiii. 6.
13 Gen. vi. 3; and Psalm xciv. 10. do not contradict this, since St. C. is using the word in its limited sense, as in St. John vii. 39.
14 See Herbert's Poems, 2d. on Sin. "Oh that I could a sin once see!" etc. Also Möhler Symb. 1. i. c. 8. also St. Aug. Conf. vii. §12 (18) p. 122, O. T. and De Civ. Dei. xi. §9, xii. §2.
15 Such is apparently the sense, though Field with most mss. reads iliggoij not iligci.
16 See St. Chrys. on Eph. i. 14, Hom. ii. Mor. (p. 119 O. T.) also Hom. x. on the Statutes, p. 186 O. T. and index and St. Gr. Naz. Iamb. xx. (Ben. xxiv.) The practice of swearing seems to have prevailed to such an extent, as to call for the utmost exertions to put it down. St. Jerome on Jer. iv. 2; Ez. xvii. 19, seems however to allow oaths. St. Athanasius speaks strongly against swearing generally, de Pass. et Cruc. §4, 5, 6, t. 2, p. 82-4, and seems to allow it on Ps. lxii. 12 (Eng. lxiii. 11.) t. 1, 1107, b. In Apol. ad Imp. Const. Hist. Tracts, p. 161 O. T. he wishes some one present, "that he might question him by the very Truth" (ep authj thj alhqeiaj) "for what we say as in the presence of God, we Christians hold for an oath."
17 "There is some little sensuality in being tempted." Bp. Taylor on Repentance, c. 5. sect. 6. §4. t. 8, p. 494.
18 An instance of the rhetorical arrangement he admires in the Apostle. His object is of course to make men patient under reproaches even when partly deserved, and he thus takes them by surprise.
19 See on Rom. xii. 20, Hom 22, which illustrates the subsidiary use of inferior motives.
1 Chrys. gives no hint of any controversy as to the interpretation of the passage vii. 14-25. In modern times the question has been greatly disputed: Whom does the apostle represent by the "I" who is waging such an unsuccessful combat with sin? Passing by the views that he refers to himself personally (Hofmann) and that he refers to the Jewish people under the old dispensation (Grotius, Reiche), two opinions have prevailed among interpreters (1) that he is representing the regenerate man. (For the arguments by which this view is supported see Hodge on Romans in loco). (2) That he is here personating the unregenerate man who, however, has become awakened under the law to a sense of his sinful condition. This view is preferred on the following grounds. (1) The connection of 14-25 with the argument of 7-13 which shows the power of the law to awaken the consciousness of sin and can therefore apply only to the Jew aroused by the law. (2) The relation of the passage to chap. viii. In vii. 25 the apostle mounts to the Christian plane and in ch. viii. exults in the liberation from the conflict just described which Christ brings to the soul. (3) Much of the language of vii. 14-25 is inconsistent with the consciousness of a regenerate man and especially with Paul's joyous and triumphant view of the Christian life. (4) The language throughout is appropriate, not, indeed, to the morally indifferent man, but to the unconverted Jew whom the law has awakened to a knowledge of his sin and need, and this is precisely the subject under consideration in the earlier verses of the Chap. So Tholuck, De Wette, Alford, Olshausen, Lange, Meyer, Weiss, Godet). Chrys, rather takes for granted, than states the same view, in saying that it is "a sketch of man as comporting himself in the law and before the law."-G. B. S.
2 The words of the Fathers on this subject become more definite after the Pelagian Controversy. St. Aug. contr. Julianum, i. 2, §32. (Ben. t. 10), speak thus of concupiscence, (not in act, but as an inherited habit). "It is not however called sin in the sense of making one guilty, but in that it is caused by the guilt of the first man, and in that it rebels, and strives to draw us into guilt except grace aid us."
3 So Field from most mss. Sav. lawful marriage.
4 empodismoj taij boulhsesi. Arist. Rhet. ii.
5 This seems to have been Plato's view of free-will. See Tenneman, Plat. Philos. iv. p. 34, oudeij ekwn ponhroj, etc.
6 So the mss. Sav. has thj texnhj, which seems to have been put in to show that it was not the maker, but the user of the instrument, that was meant.
7 Ver. and Sav. Marg. entiqhsi, which makes much the same sense; his conj. and 2 mss. antitiqhsi, "sets in opposition."
8 It is peculiarly interesting to see how vigorously Chrys. combats the idea that the flesh is essentially evil, as if it were a current notion of his time. This view-derived from heathen sources-exerted a powerful influence in the Church from early times and became the fruitful source of ascetic rigors.-G. B. S.
9 paqhton, which may also mean liable to passions.
10 He is speaking of the actual precepts. Men under the Law were encouraged to higher aims, but it was in looking beyond the letter.
11 The typical fitness of this permission is illustrated by the case of Sarah and Hagar; the coincidence of typical with moral fitness is in many cases above our understanding.
12 So Field from 1 Ms.: others "past sins:" Vulg. "our doings."
13 It may be right to consider thj zwhj as forming part of the attribute of nomoj in conformity with the Hebr. idiom; see Lee's Gram. Art. 224, 8.
14 "Thee" most mss., and Edd. before Field.
15 th triadi panta ta par hmwn logizomenoj, or "imputing all things (done) by us to the Trinity."
16 The Fathers lay great stress upon this phrase of the Apostles. August. contr. Faust. xiv. 5, argues, that this likeness consisted in our Lord's flesh being mortal; death being the penalty of sin: vid. also de Nuptiis et Concupisc. 1. 12. vid. also Basil, Ep. 261, where writing against the Apollinarians, he interprets this text to mean, that whereas Christ had all affections of human nature, which implied the reality of His assumption of it, He had not those which infringe our nature, i. e. which arise from sin. Athanasius, writing against the same heretics, observes, that Christ's sinlessness was like Adam's before the fall (In Apoll. ii. 6): or as St. Cyril observes, greater than before the fall because He has a physical inability to sin, arising from His personality being Divine, vid. Cyr. Alex. in Esai. l. i. Orat. 4, fin. At the same time He took the flesh, not of Adam unfallen, but fallen, such as ours. Vid. Leont. contra Nest. et Eutych. lib. 2 apud Canis. vol. i. p. 568. Gall. xii. 681. Fulgent. Ep. ad. Regin. Tertull. de Carn. Christi. xvi.
17 Aristotle defines dikaiwma to be to dikaion otan praxqh: but rather in the sense of correcting wrong than in the more general meaning: Eth. b. v. c. 7, §7. It may mean here what the Law claims of right.
18 St. Chr. evidently used a text which read in v. 1 mh kata sarka perip., but omitted alla kata IIneuma. Most mss. of the N. T. and all recent critical editions, omit both clauses there: here there is no doubt of either.