Death and Law

Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter” (Romans 7:1-6).

The word “law” (nomos) is used 23 times in Romans 7. Clearly each use is not in refer­ence to exactly the same thing: “law of her husband” (v. 2); “the Law” (v. 4); “a law” (v. 21); “the law of God” (v. 22); “another law” (v. 23); “law of sin” (v. 23); “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (8:2); and “law of sin and death” (8:2). This keeps the diligent Bible student on his toes as he strives to rightly divide, and thus accurately understand, God’s word.

God’s law of marriage was declared in the Garden of Eden. It was stated in these words: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). In simple terms, this immutable (i.e., unchanging and un­changeable) law of marriage is: one man and one woman for life.

It is this law Paul uses in Romans 7:1-2 to illustrate how and why a descendant of Abra­ham, Isaac, and Jacob could legally and legitimately leave the Law of Moses and embrace the gospel of Christ.

Just as the law of marriage requires two living spouses and a widow is free to marry another man, once the Law of Moses died every Jew could legally become part of the bride of Christ. A Jew who had become a Christian, like Paul had, is not guilty of spiritual adultery because the Law died at Calvary.

The Son of God is not a spiritual playboy who seeks to seduce another man’s wife into an illicit relationship with Himself. The Law of Moses died at Calvary (Ephesians 2:14-15; Colos­sians 2:13-15). Fifty days later, when the Day of Pentecost had fully come (Acts 2:1), Jesus’ offer of betrothal was made to the Jews for the first time. Therefore, a “widowed” Jew can now “be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead” without being unfaithful to the Law of Moses.

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Author: jchowning

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