Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage (Paul: Romans 7)

Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?” (Romans 7:1).

Paul wrote to people who knew about law (the definite article, “the,” is not present in the original language before the first occurrence of “law”).  He was speaking about law in general.  How long does a law (any law) have dominion over a man?  The answer is: only so long as that law is “on the books” and only so long as the person is alive.

The law (the definite article, “the,” is present before the second occurrence of “law”), the law of Moses was binding on a man only as long as he (or it) lived.  Roy Deaver commented, “‘He liveth’ is the translation of the Greek dze, present, active, indicative, third person singular, of dzao.  Note especially, third singular.  ‘Third person singular’ with reference to the Greek verb may be translated ‘he, she or it’ as the context demands.  If, in this present situation, we translate ‘it liveth’ instead of ‘he liveth,’ everything falls in place… Paul is talking about the fact the Law of Moses died” (Deaver, Romans: God’s Plan for Man’s Righteousness, p. 218).

For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives, but if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband.  So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man”  Romans 7:2-3.

Paul used marriage as an illustration.  How long is a woman bound by the law of her husband?  The answer is so long as he lives.

The general rule is this: If she marries another while her husband lives she will be called an adulteress (Romans 7:3 cf. Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18).  The exception for fornication is not mentioned (Matthew 19:9).

However, she is free to remarry if her husband dies (Romans 7:3).  “A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39).

Therefore, my brethren, you have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another – to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God” (Romans 7:4).

Jesus’ death on the cross “abolished… the law of commandments” (Ephesians 2:15 cf. Colossians 2:14).  Roy Deaver commented, “The point made is clear: when the husband dies, the wife dies to the law of her husband (her responsibilities to her husband); when the Law of Moses ‘died,’ the Jews died to their responsibilities to that law.” (ibid, p. 219).

This section is not primarily about marriage, divorce, and remarriage.  However, it does provide us with another look at God’s plan for marriage.

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
This entry was posted in Ethics, Marriage, Old Testament/New Testament, Textual study, Word Study and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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