Pentecostal Perspective on Romans

Pentecostal Perspective on Romans

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Anyone ever tackle Romans 7:14-25? Who is this describing? I’ve been told that it’s the most contested section of Scripture ever.

Romans 7 has presented a challenge for mankind for centuries. Understanding this, as well as the unregenerate/regenerate man view, William M. Greathouse and George Lyons ask the question in their book, Romans 1-8: A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition, “Does ch 7 refer to one’s preconversion or postconversion experience?” (223). This is an interesting question that I do not know that I am prepared to answer confidently, but after much consideration, drawing from remembrance what we’ve read in Romans so far, I’ll give it a shot. I believe that Romans 7 isn’t a new argument, rather, a continuation of what Paul has been saying all along. What is undergirding, throughout Romans, is our common humanity and the fact that we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. The story of Adam surfaces in Romans 5:12-21 and plays throughout Romans 6 and 7. I don’t think we read this document rhetorically as we should, because that’s how it’s developed. Impersonation, or speech in character is taking place here, I believe. I argue that Paul is assuming the persona of someone else here, speaking in the first person as that person in Romans 7:7-13. The “I” in Romans 7:7-13, with present tense verbs, is not Paul, I believe this is Adam, a character the audience would have just heard about. This “I” person says, “I existed before there was ever a Law in 5:13-14. Who existed before there was ever a Law? I don’t think it could be Abram (Abraham) because of Paul’s use of Abraham being justified by faith before the Law, and his inclusion in the great cloud of witnesses in Hebrews. Any Jew would tell you it was Adam. Paul talks about when the commandment was given, “Thou shall not covet”, and he violated the covenant, Paul says, “Sin awoke, and I died.” So there’s the connection between sin, and the wages of sin, which is death. The first person to experience this would be Adam. I believe 7:7-13 is a retelling of the story of Adam and how the fall happened in the first place. I don’t think this is Paul struggling, because in Philippians Paul talks about being a Jew among Jews, a Pharisee among Pharisees, Hebrew among Hebrews, and then he states that in regard to righteousness that can be obtained from Law keeping, I was blameless. He also stated that he was advancing in Judaism far beyond any of his peers. This is a person who knows some of the truth, but cannot do the truth. Caught between knowing and doing, there is some kind of spiritual impediment in his life that prevents him from doing this. Is this Paul? No, and it is certainly not Christians in general either. I argue that it is all those who are in Adam, and outside of Christ. This is a description of a fallen person, maybe at the point of conversion, struggling with sin. Look at the context right before this whole Adamic passage in Romans 7:7-25, you have Romans 7:5-6 which says, we used to be that way, we were but now we have been set free from the bondage to sin. That is the message of Romans 8:1-2. When Paul wants to talk about Christians he says, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” The Spirit has set us free from the bondage of sin. What we have here is a “before and after” if you will. To conclude, Greathouse and Lyons offer this insight: “Romans 7:14-25 may apply most directly to the experience of enlightened Jews under the Law, but its allusions to Gen 2-3 suggest a more universal application to all sinners” (222). Greathouse and Lyons also suggest that it may apply equally to those who try to live the Christian life in their own strength.

Troy Day [02/11/2016 12:07 PM]
Is your question on Rom. 7 about preconversion or postconversion experience?

David M. Hinsen [02/11/2016 12:10 PM]
The great argument has always been whether the person in description here in Romans 7:14-25 is a Christian or sinner, so my suggestion is that the person being described is in Adam and outside of Christ.

Troy Day [02/11/2016 12:11 PM]
you’ve mentioned this before

Ricky Grimsley [02/11/2016 12:32 PM]
Personally i feel that Paul is explaining a point in his life where he knew what sin was and didnt want to do it because he knew it was wrong but his flesh wanted to do it so sometimes he just reacted sinfully. When he had a chance to think about it,he would do right but his first response was to sin (probably in his dealings with people). He wanted his nature to be completely changed where even first response was christlike. Imo.

Troy Day [02/11/2016 12:34 PM]

Ed Brewer [02/11/2016 1:23 PM]
It’s a diatribe – a philosophical rhetorical construct (probably strategically employed with the Greek/Roman part of his Roman audience in mind) that begins in chapter 6 and continues into chapter 8 — Paul is contrasting the tension between the old and new natures, and their incompatibility – Paul is temporally contextualizing the dialogue (the technique employed in a classical diatribe) by speaking to the struggle as present tense even though referencing a point in the past — it’s definitely NOT an excuse to give in to sinfulness just because it’s hard not to – on the contrary, it’s developing the groundwork for the soaring promises of grace in chapter 8 concerning the new man

John Kissinger [02/12/2016 6:41 AM]
Good answer! David M. Hinsen clear now?

David M. Hinsen [02/12/2016 8:14 AM]
I’ve been told if you have 20 commentaries on this section, you’ll have 20 different answers. However, Ed BrewerBrewer is very close to our textbook that we’re using in my Romans and Galatians class.

John Kissinger [02/12/2016 8:16 AM]
Ed Brewer has a photographic memory 🙂

David M. Hinsen [02/12/2016 8:16 AM]
The question we as students are supposed to answer, and I’ve already answered so I’m not cheating here, is whether Paul is describing a regenerate person/people or unregenerate.

John Kissinger [02/12/2016 8:17 AM]
David M. Hinsen you were going to post your pre-finals papers last year. What happened? We’re all waiting on you and Volk great research to be posted for discussion in this Pentecostal group…

David M. Hinsen [02/12/2016 8:19 AM]
Do you remember which one? It’s most likely 10 pages…how would I post that?

John Kissinger [02/12/2016 8:20 AM]
You had 3 or 4 or something. Post them all as .doc or .pdf

David M. Hinsen [02/12/2016 8:29 AM]
I’ve submitted my application to PTS for their MDiv program. I’m sure that the papers I write for them will be better for submission and debate.

John Kissinger [02/12/2016 8:55 AM]
David M. Hinsen there you go procrastinating another year or so 🙂

David M. Hinsen [02/12/2016 9:01 AM]
I’m a procrastinator who’s very tough on himself.

John Kissinger [02/12/2016 9:02 AM]
yeah, we’re still waiting for your summer email 😉 Alan

Ed Brewer [02/12/2016 9:52 AM]

Troy Day [02/15/2016 5:08 AM]
figured it out yet?


  • Mike Partyka
    Reply October 29, 2019

    Mike Partyka

    Believe this is Paul talking about his current status. I believe he was assuring readers that their own struggles did not exclude them from salvation. The “Therefore” in Romans 8:1 concludes his statements. Even as regenerate believers we must war against the deeds of the body and put them to death.

  • Robert Erwine
    Reply October 29, 2019

    Robert Erwine

    about Jews in that day and time

  • Louise Cummings
    Reply October 29, 2019

    Louise Cummings

    I’m reading and searching But I’m slow. I got examples but want to see if they corresponds with the Bible.

  • Reply October 29, 2019

    Varnel Watson

    how could he talk about himself being entirely sanctified

    • Mike Partyka
      Reply October 30, 2019

      Mike Partyka

      He is talking about “THE” struggle, his own personal struggle. The same spiritual and flesh war is discussed in Galatians 5:17. It is when we look outside ourselves and our depravity do we find hope Romans 7:24-25. Wesley’s teaching is denied here.

    • Reply October 30, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      Mike Partyka not really – no where in the whole chapter says it was his own struggle

    • Mike Partyka
      Reply October 30, 2019

      Mike Partyka

      Troy Day “I” doesn’t mean “I” anymore ? To say Paul is speaking in another persona is a sloppy reach. Paul is talking about himself being saved, proof stating that he “joyfully concur with the law of god” then in Romans 8:7-8 states it is impossible for someone who is not saved to do so.

      Did Paul not struggle with pride and need a thorn from God ? Peter deny the lord 3 times ? Does he not continue is Romans 8 and say they do not pray correctly? Do we groan as we wait for our glorified bodies ? We must war against the deeds of the body and put them to death. Romans 8:11

    • Reply October 30, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      Mike Partyka I dont know about that – and I mean I dont know

    • Mike Partyka
      Reply October 30, 2019

      Mike Partyka

      Troy Day ok all I will rest on it looking at Romans 8:1 the beginning is “Therefore” meaning he is summing up a point. “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” that could not possibly be Israel or Jew

  • RichardAnna Boyce
    Reply October 31, 2019

    RichardAnna Boyce

    Romans 7:14-25
    Having clarified in v 13 that sin, not the Law, is the real problem, Paul further strengthens his argument. He states, For we know that the law is spiritual. Many passages affirm the spiritual origin of the Law (Matt 22:43; Mark 12:36; Acts 1:16; 4:25; 28:25; 2 Peter 1:21).
    Conversely, Paul said of himself (representative of all believers), but I am carnal, sold under sin. That is, though the Law is spiritual, man is “unspiritual” (NIV; lit., “fleshly”) because of the fallen human nature (disposition, cf. 6:6) inherited from Adam. All unregenerate are under sin (cf. 3:9), but being regenerate does not mean sin loses its appeal for believers. Though Christians need not be enslaved to sin’s dominion, Christians can still have a strong attraction to sin (6), and again become enslaved to it. This is not what should happen to the Christian, but is what will happen to a struggling Christian who tries to control sin by inappropriately using the Law.
    7:15-17. Knowing full well that at regeneration the believer acquires a new disposition to help him grow, Paul says: what I am doing, I do not understand. Paul described a past event since he shares the component to overcoming this problem in chap. 8. However, Paul uses the present tense from 7:14-25 to vividly portray his, or by extension every Christian’s struggle, in using the Law for sanctification. For what I (the new) will to do, that I (the old) do not practice; but what I (the new) hate, that I (the old) do. In response to using the Law for sanctification the old capacity to sin revives. Through the influence of the new capacity he desires to do the right thing, but due to familiarity with the old capacity, he does what he hates. The personal pronoun “I” should be viewed as the whole person. Yet within the person there are two competing dispositions (i.e., the flesh against the Spirit; Gal 5:16-17; cf. v 14) warring to gain mastery over the Christian. Therefore, if Paul does what he wishes not to do, then he knows the law must be good. Paul does not conclude that the Law is not a good moral guide because he cannot keep it. Rather, he knows that the problem is sin that dwells in him, that is, his fallen human nature.
    7:18-20. Possibly Paul struggled for years to live Christianity through fulfilling the Law by his own power, but at some point became cognizant of the real problem. He states, I know that in me (that is, in my flesh, [sarx]) nothing good dwells. The expression in me clarified as in my flesh refers to the fallen Adamic nature (cf. vv 14-16) within Paul that all men continue to possess. Flesh (sarx) does not refer to man’s body as opposed to his new spirit, but to the whole being functioning under the aspect of the flesh as seen elsewhere in Scripture (cf. Rom 3:20; 1 Cor 1:29; Gal 1:16; 2:16; Eph 5:28, et al).
    Paul explains, as in v 15, that even a desire to do what is good (i.e., obey the Law) is not enough to carry it out. Rather, when one sets out to do the good he desires, it results in the evil he had no intention to practice. Thus, one’s Christian experience of trying to live by the Law results in a constant battle (vv 16-17). Paul summarizes these paradoxical attributes waging war within by writing, Now if I (the fallen nature) do what I (the resurrection nature) will not to do, it is no longer I (the person’s desire) who do it, but sin (i.e., sin principle dominant in the fallen nature) that dwells in me (i.e., in me refers to the whole person; cf. v 18; 6:6).
    7:21-23. Paul experientially discovered (I find) that a specific law (lit., “the law,” cf. v 22) was deeply rooted in his very being. It was present with him, thus exposing his corrupt nature and the reason why the Law’s mandates could not be carried out.
    Having said this Paul explains (v 21) his inner desire for God’s Law. Even if he cannot carry it out, there is delight in the law of God according to the inward man. The phrase of God modifying the law refers to God’s Law as opposed to the law of sin within Paul (as vv 21,23). The phrase inward man also appears in two other places in the Greek NT (2 Cor 4:16 and Eph 3:16). In both places the inward man is something within believers that can be “renewed” daily and “strengthened” by the Holy Spirit. In v 23, Paul clarifies this phrase as being practically synonymous with the law of the mind, which in 12:2 he commands believers to transform. The phrase another law in Paul’s members is also a virtual synonym of the phrase law of sin which is in my members (the fallen nature; cf. v 5). This law waged war against the law of his mind (i.e., the inward man) and won, since at the time, it was stronger.
    7:24. Experiencing this fruitless battle, Paul cried out in frustration, O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death (i.e., body of sin, cf. 6:6)? Paul recognized that an inner desire could not overcome his natural bent to do evil.
    7:25. Verses 7-24 recorded Paul’s past Christian experience, climaxing in the outcry of v 24. Now, Paul concludes by introducing the discovery he made about how to experience victory over sin. He thanks God for supplying through Jesus Christ our Lord the means to “deliver” him (and all believers) from this struggle (cf. 5:9-10; 6:1-10).
    In summary, with the mind (a synecdoche of the new disposition; cf. 6:6; 7:5,7) Paul served God’s law, but with the flesh (old disposition) the law of sin (vv 22-23). Paul does not disclaim responsibility or make excuses. He simply acknowledges the strong inward pull towards sin within him. The solution to this dilemma is revealed in chap. 8.

    • Reply October 31, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      this clarifies nothing

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