Romans 7:5

New Testament

4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you could be joined to another, to the one who was raised from the dead, to bear fruit to God. 5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful desires, aroused by the law, were active in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we have been released from the law, because we have died to what controlled us, so that we may serve in the new life of the Spirit and not under the old written code. 7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Absolutely not! Certainly, I would not have known sin except through the law. For indeed I would not have known what it means to desire something belonging to someone else if the law had not said, “Do not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of wrong desires. For apart from the law, sin is dead.

Ruth Rabbah 3


This is what the scripture says: 'Small and great alike are there, and the slave is free of his master'. Rabbi Simon said: 'this is one of four verses which are like to one another. 'Small and great alike are there': this is the world, who is small is able to be made great and who is great is able to be made small, but in the one that is going to come, who is small will not be able to be made great and who is great will not be able to be made small. 'And the slave is free of his master': this is the one who does the will of his creator (yotzer) but displeases his yetzer (inclination); death becomes his freedom, as it is said 'And the slave is free of his master'. Rabbi Meyasha son of Bereh of Rabbi Joshua was insensate for three days because he was sick, and after the three days his sense revived itself, and his father said to him 'where were you?'. He said to him: 'I was in a confused world'. And his father said to him: 'And what did you see there?' And R. Meyasha said to him: 'I saw the multitude of the sons of man now in glory and then in disgrace'. And when Rabbi Yochanan and Reish Lakish heard they came to visit him. He said to them 'Did you really hear what this youth said?'. And they said to him: 'What did he say?'. He told them of the matter. Reish Lakish said: 'And is that not a whole verse: 'thus said the Lord God: Remove the turban and lift off the crown! This shall not remain as it is; exalt the low and abase the high?'. Rabbi Yochanan said: 'Were I not to have come up except to his the matter, this would be enough'. Rabbi Huna, the Exilarch, asked Rabbi Chisdai: 'What is this that is written 'Remove the turban and lift off the crown!'? And he said to him 'Remove the turban' from our rabbis, and 'lift off the crown' from the kingdoms of the world. He said to him 'you are named chesed (i.e. Chisdai) and what you have is chased.

 Notes and References

"... The apostle desires obedience to God and a dedication to righteousness. Piety characterizes Paul's own life. The Holy Spirit enables the apostle to live a life of service to God. In Romans 7:1-6, he employs an analogy based upon Jewish law. It stands to reason that Jewish sources can throw additional light upon Paul's message and the conclusion he desires to draw from the evidence he cites. The rabbis also discussed the problem of fleshly desires, which they commonly referred to as the evil inclination." They were aware that the power of the evil inclination can place a person into bondage. Each person, however, should seek to serve the true Master who created him or her rather than the inclination to disobey God. In his teachings, the sage Rabbi Simeon ben Pazzi uses many of the same images as are found in Paul's writings. Here Rabbi Simeon ben Pazzi teaches about being "a slave to sin or God" ..."

Young, Brad Paul, the Jewish Theologian (pp. 88-93) Baker Academic, 2012

"... There is, it is true, no exact equivalent in Romans 7 to the rabbinical idea of the yêtzer hâra but it would not be going too far to claim that Paul is here directly contesting the Rabbinic view that the Law gives deliverance from the tyranny of the evil impulse. It may be argued that when the Rabbis speak of the Torah as the remedy for the evil impulse, they mean the study of or the occupation with the revelation, whereas Paul in Romans 7 is thinking of the actual commands of the Torah which, he claims, bring about a consciousness of sin, and that therefore the Torah as a remedy for the evil impulse and the Torah in Paul’s mind in Romans 7 refer to different things. This, however, does not appear convincing to us. Surely Paul too, when he referred to the commandment as inciting to sin, was thinking of the occupation with the commandment or concentration upon it rather than of the commandment in vacuo as it were. The juxtaposition of the yêtzer hâra and the divine remedy the Torah is, we feel, reproduced in Paul’s antithesis ..."

Davies, W. D. Paul and Rabbinic Judaism: Some Rabbinic Elements in Pauline Theology (p. 26) Fortress Press, 1980

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