The Seventh Chapter of Romans

1139 WordsJun 17, 20185 Pages
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…show more content…
She is saying I do not understand my own actions. In a different sense, she is exclaiming that those actions are understood all too well. Even if she were able to appeal to the law, or to some basic morality , informing her as to what was right, it does not give her the power to consistently execute on it. This is the realization that cognitive exercises can be productive, but alone are not sufficient to bring about action. There is a schism, or divide that separates the two, over which the power of though alone is not able to travel. For her, this schism leads only to death. Through this voice, we are provided with the juxtaposition of doing good and sinning, of the law of God and the law of our members, and of the direction of the mind and the actions of the body. The acknowledgement of this schism gives rise to an infinite regression of self-reflexive thought seen in vv18-24. One look inward gives way to another, and then yet another. Each glance towards her self-betraying mind makes her more aware of the next layer of confusion that lies below. The desire to serve God leads directly to a war with “sin that dwells in [her] members” (v23). Looking beyond the fact that this self-reflexive exercise is completely unfulfilling, it is also unending. In an expression of exasperation, we find the lasting question, “who will rescue me from this body of death?” (v24). Some may see this critique as damning or dismissive towards the law in general. It is
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