For I through the law am dead to the law - In consequence of properly considering the nature and requisitions of the law, I am dead to all hope and expectation of help or salvation from the law, and have been obliged to take refuge in the Gospel of Christ. Or, probably the word νομος, Law, is here put for a system of doctrine; as if he had said, I through the Gospel am dead to the law. The law itself is consigned to death, and another, the Gospel of Christ, is substituted in its stead. The law condemns to death, and I have embraced the Gospel that I might be saved from death, and live unto God.
For I through the law - On this passage the commentators are by no means agreed. It is agreed that in the phrase “am dead to the law,” the Law of Moses is referred to, and that the meaning is, that Paul had become dead to that as a ground or means of justification. He acted as though it were not; or it ceased to have influence over him. A dead man is insensible to all around him. He hears nothing; sees nothing; and nothing affects him. So when we are said to be dead to anything, the meaning is, that it does not have an influence over us. In this sense Paul was dead to the Law of Moses. He ceased to observe it as a ground of justification. It ceased to be the grand aim and purpose of his life, as it had been formerly, to obey it. He had higher purposes than that, and truly lived to God; see the note at Romans 6:2. But on the meaning of the phrase “through the law” ( διὰ νόμου dia nomou) there has been a great variety of opinion.
Bloomfield, Rosenmuller, and some others suppose that he means the Christian religion, and that the meaning is, “by one law, or doctrine, I am dead to another;” that is, the Christian doctrine has caused me to cast aside the Mosaic religion. Doddridge, Clarke, Chandler, and most others, however, suppose that he here refers to the Law of Moses, and that the meaning is, that by contemplating the true character of the Law of Moses itself; by considering its nature and design; by understanding the extent of its requisitions, he had become dead to it; that is, he had laid aside all expectations of being justified by it. This seems to me to be the correct interpretation. Paul had formerly expected to be justified by the Law. He had endeavored to obey it. It had been the object of his life to comply with all its requisitions in order to be saved by it; Philemon 3:4-6. But all this while he had not fully understood its nature; and when he was made fully to feel and comprehend its spiritual requirements, then all his hopes of justification by it died, and he became dead to it; see this sentiment more fully explained in the note at Romans 7:9.
That I might live unto God - That I might be truly alive, and might be found engaged in his service. He was dead to the Law, but not to every thing. He had not become literally inactive and insensible to all things, like a dead man, but he had become truly sensible to the commands and appeals of God, and had consecrated himself to his service; see the note at Romans 6:11.
One of the sins that constitute one of the signs of the last days, is that professed Christians are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. Deal truly with your own souls. Search carefully. How few, after a faithful examination, can look up to Heaven and say, “I am not one of those thus described. I am not a lover of pleasure more than a lover of God.” How few can say, “I am dead to the world; the life I now live is by faith of the Son of God. My life is hid with Christ in God, and when He who is my life shall appear, then shall I also appear with Him in glory.” MYP 84.1
The love and grace of God! Oh precious grace! more valuable than fine gold. It elevates and ennobles the spirit beyond all other principles. It sets the heart and affections upon Heaven. While those around us may be engaged in worldly vanity, pleasure-seeking, and folly, the conversation is in heaven, whence we look for the Saviour; the soul is reaching out after God for pardon and peace, for righteousness and true holiness. Converse with God and contemplation of things above transform the soul into the likeness of Christ.—The Review and Herald, May 11, 1886. MYP 84.2Read in context »