I was just explaining online that Romans 7 refers to life BEFORE the Son, and pointed out that one of my professors at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Bruce Ware, taught this to us in class. I thought I’d see if I could find him discussing this online, and found this.
My still uninformed thoughts on Romans 7
[By Ryan Wolfe]
..there are many controversial passages in Romans that have ultra-conservative commentators in the exact same theological streams forming drastically different opinions.
One such case is the passage in Romans 7. …
Are verses 15-25 talking about the Christian life or the Non-Christian life. Even the camp that says 7:7-25 refers to Paul are split between those who think it is referring to him BEFORE his conversion and those who believe it is referring to him AFTER conversion. This is a touchy subject for some people. Bruce Ware thinks the right interpretation of this passage is a really big deal. Holding the position that this passage is referring to Israel in an unregenerate condition, he believes that many Christians are wrongly using this passage to justify defeat in their lives. …
The arguments that it is referring to Non-Christians are compelling:
(1) Paul, in Romans 6 and 8 says that we are NOT slaves to sin. (“The law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”) So, how could he say here, in 7:14 that we are “sold under sin” and in 7:23 that we are “captive to the law of sin”? As Bruce Ware points out: Paul is not talking about an internal struggle – he’s talking about abject captivity and submission. “Not the ability to carry it out” (7:18b)
(2) The structure of Romans 7-8ff indicates this. 7:5 is about the non-Christian and is parallel to 7:7-25. 7:6 is about the Christian and is parallel to Romans 8:1 and following. Thus, 7:7-25 is referring to non-Christians.
Romans 7:5 & 6:
Before being born-again, under the law: “about the non-Christian and is parallel to 7:7-25”:
Romans 7:5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were through the law worked in our members to bring out fruit to death.
“About the Christian and is parallel to Romans 8:1 and following”:
Romans 7:6 But now we have been discharged from the law, having died to that in which we were held; so that we serve in newness of the spirit, and not in oldness of the letter.