1. Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?
1. Num ignoratis fratres (scientibus enim Legem loquor) quod Lex dominatur homini quamdiu vivit?
2. For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
2. Nam viro subjecta mulier, viventi viro alligata est per Legem; quod si mortuus fuerit vir, soluta est a Lege viri.
3. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
3. Proinde vivente marito, si alteri viro conjuncta fuerit, adultera vocabitur: quod si mortuus fuerit vir, liberata est a Lege ne amplius sit adultera si alteri nupserit.
4. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
4. Itaque fratres mei, vos quoque mortui estis Legi per corpus Christi, ut posthac alterius sitis, ejus qui ex mortuis suscitatus est, ut fructificemus Deo. 1
Though he had, in a brief manner, sufficiently explained the question respecting the abrogation of the law; yet as it was a difficult one, and might have given rise to many other questions, he now shows more at large how the law, with regard to us, is become abrogated; and then he sets forth what good is thereby done to us: for while it holds us separated from Christ and bound to itself, it can do nothing but condemn us. And lest any one should on this account blame the law itself, he takes up and confutes the objections of the flesh, and handles, in a striking manner, the great question respecting the use of the law. 2
Then follows the application, --
The law was, as it were our husband,
under whose yoke we were kept until it became dead to us:
After the death of the law Christ received us, that is, he joined us,
when loosed from the law, to himself:
Then being united to Christ risen from the dead,
we ought to cleave to him alone:
And as the life of Christ after the resurrection is eternal,
so hereafter there shall be no divorce.
But further, the word law is not mentioned here in every part in the same sense: for in one place it means the bond of marriage; in another, the authority of a husband over his wife; and in another, the law of Moses: but we must remember, that Paul refers here only to that office of the law which was peculiar to the dispensation of Moses; for as far as God has in the ten commandments taught what is just and right, and given directions for guiding our life, no abrogation of the law is to be dreamt of; for the will of God must stand the same forever. We ought carefully to remember that this is not a release from the righteousness which is taught in the law, but from its rigid requirements, and from the curse which thence follows. The law, then, as a rule of life, is not abrogated; but what belongs to it as opposed to the liberty obtained through Christ, that is, as it requires absolute perfection: for as we render not this perfection, it binds to under the sentence of eternal death. But as it was not his purpose to decide here the character of the bond of marriage, he was not anxious to mention the causes which releases a woman from her husband. It is therefore unreasonable that anything decisive on this point should be sought here.
1 That is, the law by which she was bound to her husband, or, the law by which he became her husband. It is an instance of the latitude in which the genitive case is used. -- Ed.
2 The connection of the beginning of this chapter with Romans 6:14 deserves to be noticed. He says there, that sin shall not rule over us, because we are not under law, but under grace. Then he asks, in Romans 6:15,
"Shall we sin, because we are not under law, but under grace?"
This last subject, according to his usual mode, he takes up first, and discusses it till the end of the chapter: and then in this chapter he reassumes the first subject -- freedom from the law. This is a striking instance of the Apostle's manner of writing, quite different from what is usual with us in the present day. He mentions two things; he proceeds with the last, and then goes back to the first. -- Ed.
3 This is a plausible reason, derived from Theodoret and Chrysostom; but hardly necessary. Commentators have felt much embarrassed in applying the illustration given here. The woman is freed by the death of the husband; but the believer is represented as freed by dying himself. This does not Correspond: and if we attend to what the Apostle says, we shall see that he did not contemplate such a Correspondence. Let us notice how he introduces the illustration; "the law," he says in the first verse, "rules, or exercises authority, over a man while he lives;" and then let us observe the application in Romans 7:4, where he speaks of our dying to the law The main design of the illustration then was, to show that there is no freedom from a law but by death; so that there is no necessity of a Correspondence in the other parts, As in the case of man and wife, death destroys the bond of marriage; so in the case of man and the law, that is, the law as the condition of life, there must be a death; else there is no freedom. But there is one thing more in the illustration, which the Apostle adopts, the liberty to marry another, when death has given a release: The bond of connection being broken, a union with another is legitimate. So far only is the example adduced to be applied -- death puts an end to the right and authority of law; and then the party released may justly form another connection. It is the attempt to make all parts of the comparison to Correspond that has occasioned all the difficulty. -- Ed.
4 "Obæratos" -- debtors bound to serve their creditors until payment is made. -- Ed.
5 That his crucified body is intended, is clear from what follows; for he is spoken of as having "been raised from the dead." -- Ed.