Romans 7:10
And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.
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(10) Which was ordained to.—“The very commandment which was for life I found to be for death” (Ellicott). The Law was instituted in order that it might give life to those who were under it and who kept it. They did not keep it, and therefore it brought them not life but death.

7:7-13 There is no way of coming to that knowledge of sin, which is necessary to repentance, and therefore to peace and pardon, but by trying our hearts and lives by the law. In his own case the apostle would not have known the sinfulness of his thoughts, motives, and actions, but by the law. That perfect standard showed how wrong his heart and life were, proving his sins to be more numerous than he had before thought, but it did not contain any provision of mercy or grace for his relief. He is ignorant of human nature and the perverseness of his own heart, who does not perceive in himself a readiness to fancy there is something desirable in what is out of reach. We may perceive this in our children, though self-love makes us blind to it in ourselves. The more humble and spiritual any Christian is, the more clearly will he perceive that the apostle describes the true believer, from his first convictions of sin to his greatest progress in grace, during this present imperfect state. St. Paul was once a Pharisee, ignorant of the spirituality of the law, having some correctness of character, without knowing his inward depravity. When the commandment came to his conscience by the convictions of the Holy Spirit, and he saw what it demanded, he found his sinful mind rise against it. He felt at the same time the evil of sin, his own sinful state, that he was unable to fulfil the law, and was like a criminal when condemned. But though the evil principle in the human heart produces sinful motions, and the more by taking occasion of the commandment; yet the law is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good. It is not favourable to sin, which it pursues into the heart, and discovers and reproves in the inward motions thereof. Nothing is so good but a corrupt and vicious nature will pervert it. The same heat that softens wax, hardens clay. Food or medicine when taken wrong, may cause death, though its nature is to nourish or to heal. The law may cause death through man's depravity, but sin is the poison that brings death. Not the law, but sin discovered by the law, was made death to the apostle. The ruinous nature of sin, and the sinfulness of the human heart, are here clearly shown.And the commandment - The Law to which he had referred before.

Which was ordained to life - Which was intended to produce life, or happiness. Life here stands opposed to death, and means felicity, peace, eternal bliss; Note, John 3:36. When the apostle says that it was ordained to life, he probably has reference to the numerous passages in the Old Testament which speak of the Law in this manner, Leviticus 18:5, "Ye shall keep my statutes and my judgments; which if a man do, he shall live in them," Ezekiel 20:11, Ezekiel 20:13, Ezekiel 20:21; Ezekiel 18:9, Ezekiel 18:21. The meaning of these passages, in connection with this declaration of Paul, may be thus expressed:

(1) The Law is good; it has no evil, and is itself suited to produce no evil.

(2) if man was pure, and it was obeyed perfectly, it would produce life and happiness only. On those who have obeyed it in heaven, it has produced only happiness.

(3) for this it was ordained; it is adapted to it; and when perfectly obeyed, it produces no other effect. But,

(4) Man is a sinner; he has not obeyed it; and in such a case the Law threatens woe.

It crosses the inclination of man, and instead of producing peace and life, as it would on a being perfectly holy, it produces only woe and crime. The law of a parent may be good, and may be appointed to promote the happiness of his children; it may be admirably suited to it if all were obedient; yet in the family there may be one obstinate, self-willed, and stubborn child, resolved to indulge his evil passions, and the results to him would be woe and despair. The commandment, which was ordained for the good of the family, and which would be adapted to promote their welfare, he alone, of all the number, would find to be unto death.

I found - It was to me. It produced this effect.

Unto death - Producing aggravated guilt and condemnation, Romans 7:9.

10, 11. And—thus.

the commandment, which was, &c.—designed


life—through the keeping of it.

I found to be unto death—through breaking it.

For sin—my sinful nature.

taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me—or "seduced me"—drew me aside into the very thing which the commandment forbade.

and by it slew me—"discovered me to myself to be a condemned and gone man" (compare Ro 7:9, "I died").

q.d. So it came to pass, that the commandment, which was ordained to be a rule of life, and, if I could have kept it, a means of life also, Romans 10:5 Galatians 3:12, I found it to be to me (through my corruption and transgression) an occasion of death; it bound me over to punishment; and so, by accident, it tendeth to death. Some by life and death, here, understand peace and perturbation of spirit.

And the commandment which was ordained to life,.... The law which promised a continuance of an immortal life to Adam, in case of perfect obedience to it; and which was appointed to the Israelites, that by the observation of it they might live in the land of Canaan, and in the quiet and full possession of their privileges and enjoyments; but was never ordained to eternal life, or that men should obtain that by their obedience to it; since eternal life is the free gift of God, without respect to any works of men; see Galatians 3:21; This same law, the apostle says,

I found to be unto death; as it was an occasion, through the vitiosity of nature, of stirring up sin in him, which brought forth fruit unto death; as it convinced him that he was a dead man and worthy of death; as it threatened him with it, and struck all his hopes of eternal life dead, and left him in this condition without giving him the least direction or assistance whereby to obtain life.

And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.
Romans 7:10. Ἀπέθανον] correlative of ἀνέζησεν, antithesis of ἔζων. It is neither to be understood, however, of physical nor of spiritual death (Semler, Böhme, Rückert; comp. Hofmann and others), but, as the contrast εἰς ζωήν requires, of eternal death. This was given with the actual sin brought about through the sin-principle that had become alive; the sinner had incurred it. Paul, full of the painful recollection, expresses this by the abrupt, deeply tragic ἀπέθανον.

ἡ εἰς ζωήν] sc. οὖσα, aiming at life. For the promise of life (in the Messianic theocratic sense, Leviticus 18:5; Deuteronomy 5:33; Galatians 3:12), which was attached to the obedience of the Mosaic law generally, applied also to the ἐντολή.

εὑρέθη] was found, proved and showed itself in the actual experimental result; comp. Galatians 2:17; 1 Peter 1:7. Chrysostom has well said: οὐκ εἶπε· γέγονε θάνατος, οὐδὲ ἔτεκε θάνατον, ἀλλʼ εὑρέθη, τὸ καινὸν καὶ παράδοξον τῆς ἀτοπίας οὕτως ἑρμηνεύων, καὶ τὸ πᾶν εἰς τῶν ἐκείνων (of men) περιτρέπων κεφαλήν.

αὕτη] haec. To be written thus, and not αὐτή, ipsa (Bengel and Hofmann), after the analogy of Romans 7:15 f., Romans 7:19 f. It has tragic emphasis. Comp. on Php 1:22.

Romans 7:10. The result is that the commandment defeats its Own intention; it has life in View, but it ends in death. Here also analysis only misleads. Life and death are indivisible wholes.

10. ordained to life] In the Gr. simply to life. Such was its natural tendency. “This do and thou shall live” is the statement of a deep and holy sequence. The failure lies not in the commandment but in the fallen will. And meantime no modification in the commandment is conceivable; for that would be to bend an eternal principle, the basis of all peace and hope, namely, Holiness.

Romans 7:10. Απέθανον, I died) I lost that life, which I [fancied that I] had.—εὑρέθη, was found) So εὑρίσκω, I find, Romans 7:21.—εἰς ζωὴν, to life) on the ground of the original intention of God, and in another point of view, on the ground of my own opinion, which I held, when I was living without the law. Life pointedly indicates both joy and activity; while death implies the opposite.—αὐτὴ, itself) the same [the very same commandment]. It is commonly written αὓτη, but Baumgarten has αὐτὴ, which is correct.[70] Comp. Acts 8:26, note.

[70] Lachmann and Tischendorf, the two ablest exponents of modern textual criticism, prefer αὕτη.—ED.

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