Essay on The Seventh Chapter of Romans

Essay on The Seventh Chapter of Romans

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The seventh chapter of Romans remains one of the more controversial sections of Paul’s final letter. This paper will attempt to provide a unique interpretation and of vv14-25 . This section is rhetorically and stylistically challenging, and there is no consensus as to audience, or meaning. It might be seen as offering up a very low anthropology, and a pessimistic view of the human condition. Even the central question of who is thought to be speaking in the majority of the chapter remains a hotly contested question. Nevertheless, in the face of perceived ambiguity, the speaker of Romans Chapter 7 offers an insight into the deep schism of action and thought that is found in each human mind, which can only be escaped through the grace and power of God.
To understand Paul’s thinking in this passage, it is of primary importance that we understand to whom his statements may apply. Based on style and rhetoric, is widely agreed that in verses 7-25, Paul is not speaking as himself . Some argue that Paul is speaking with the voice of an unrepentant gentile, while others think that he is speaking as a gentile Christian. Theories include Paul speaking with the voice of Adam, of himself before coming to Christ, or as a not yet mature Christian. The statement from verse 14, “sold into slavery under sin,” would certainly apply to this person. I will make the claim, however, that the identity of the speaker in these verses doesn’t preclude their applicability to all of humanity. For the sake of argument, let’s move forward with the belief that Paul is referencing the life of a gentile, apart from the law and apart from Christ. This is a person who is in many ways the extreme opposite of a Jew who is obedient to the law. Nonetheless, the statemen...


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... thought as discovered by the speaker in Romans 7 is indicative of a larger and detrimental trend in humanity. Jesus proclaimed, “no city or house divided against itself will stand.” Paul would make the same claim of any person working towards righteousness without the grace and power of God. We end with a the hope of an escape, or perhaps to engage a different metaphor, Paul has given us a bridge. In Rom 7:25-8:1, we are offered the work of Jesus Christ as a response to the schism which had thus far been debilitating, and the promise that there is no longer any condemnation for those who embrace the power of God through Christ Jesus.



Works Cited

Cragg, Gerald R. The Epistle to the Romans. Vol. 9, in The Interpreter's Bible. Nashville: Abingdon, 1954.
Stowers, Stanley. A Rereading of Romans: Justice, Jews, and Gentiles. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994.

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