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What does Romans 2.7-10 teach as it cannot be that salvation is possible by "patient continuance in well doing"?

It is always a wise law to keep in mind when interpreting a passage like this to understand that no explanation should be given which contradicts what is plainly taught elsewhere in the New Testament Scriptures. In the first place, Paul in the immediate context is not dealing here with the sinner’s justification, but rather with God rewarding a man for the way he lives. From vv.7 and 10 it will be seen that Paul is not writing about eternal life given to those who have faith in Christ, but is simply dealing with the subject of rewards. This in no way clashes with the doctrine of salvation taught in the gospel. It is so clear from many New Testament statements that the gift of eternal life mentioned in v.7 is given on the condition of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Jn 3.16 and 36). But the initial act of faith in Christ must manifest itself in the life, and the person who has done this will enter upon a life that gives evidence of the reality of salvation.

Surely it is perfectly consistent with the truth of the gospel that after a soul has been saved by faith in Christ he or she will be characterised by patience in well doing and seeking for glory. If this is not manifested in the life then the genuineness of one’s profession of faith and receiving eternal life may well be seriously doubted. While the preceding remarks are true we cannot do better than cite W E Vine in his book on Romans: "When he says that God will render glory, honour and peace to every man that worketh good, whether Jew or Gentile, we cannot take this as an absolute statement apart from the truth of the gospel. It is consistent with the gospel in that, in the estimation of God, that alone is good which is wrought in and through His Son. The very first requirement by God of good works on the part of man is that he believes in the Son of God (Jn 6.29). Therefore, according to the divine estimate, a man must be in Christ in order to receive glory, honour and peace, and on no other condition can he obtain these benefits. It is, however, not to the apostle’s point to give these details in this passage. To do so would be an unnecessary digression".

John J Stubbs

Was the question of Paul in Romans 7.24 - "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" - his cry as a believer, or was he stating what was his cry before salvation?

The present writer does not hold what is the commonly accepted interpretation of Romans 7.7-25.

It is essential to bear in mind the context of this section of Romans 7. The issue which gives rise to this portion must not be ignored. The passage is given in response to the question, "Is the law sin?" (v.7), to which the answer is decidedly, "No!". Thus Paul states, "the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good" (v.12). The purpose of the apostle was to show the essential goodness of the law and the essential "badness" of the unregenerate Jew to whom the law had been given. The whole section is parenthetical.

Paul is not relating his own experience, as if it were unique to himself. He uses himself and the present tense for the sake of argument; he was in no way defining what was his present condition of soul. It is often said that a believer must go through the experience of Romans 7 before he can enter the good of what is presented in chapter 8, but hackneyed expressions are sometimes incorrect!

The Roman epistle addresses two very distinct classes of men, viz. Jews and Gentiles. The possession of the law (Rom 2.17) is presented as that which mainly distinguished Jew from Gentile; it is very important to note this.

Romans 7.7-25 has plainly to do with the hopeless struggles of a man trying his best to obey the law. What it describes is the experience of a conscientious yet unconverted Jew, fully instructed in the law and seeking to accomplish a righteousness of his own "by works of the law". It is very difficult for those of us who are Gentiles to realise the position and experience of the conscientious Jew, fully acquainted with the law of Moses but totally ignorant of the principle of justification on the ground of faith apart from works of the law.

In conclusion, the experience described in this chapter may well be that of an ill-instructed believer who, although born again, is seeking to do God’s will in a legal spirit by his own efforts. However, this would be an application of the passage and not its correct interpretation.

David E West


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