I recall my shock when a veteran teacher told me that Romans 2 was possibly the most difficult chapter in the letter for him to interpret. Upon my own study, I soon understood: though Paul’s rhetoric seems clear at first, there is a flow-chart-like abundance of exegetical options available to the interpreter. Change one small interpretation and the whole passage takes on a fresh meaning. As if there weren’t enough already, another branch in the flow chart is growing in popularity among scholarship today. This view questions the long-held tradition/assumption that Romans 2:17ff describes the Jew. The authors of this present volume have written on this question elsewhere, but The So-Called Jew in Paul’s Letter to the Romans presents a unified re-reading of Paul’s letter if this hypothesis were true.
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This is the final post surveying Romans 7. This series has helped me in shaping my own view of the passage. I’m still working it out, but have a few thoughts that I’ll share on this post.
We have looked at the three views presented in Perspectives of Our Struggle with Sin but that book doesn’t exhaust all the options. I just picked up William Dumbrell’s hard-to-get Romans commentary (available only in Australia; thanks to my cousin for sending it over!) and thought I should share his view. Dumbrell argues that Paul’s focus is squarely on national Israel in the past and present.
Perhaps Romans 7 is not about believers or unbelievers after all; what if Paul is trying to say something entirely different? In Perspectives of Our Struggle with Sin, Mark Seifrid argues that Paul’s focus is on the human being confronted with the Law.
In Perspectives of Our Struggle with Sin, Stephen J. Chester argues for a “Retrospective View” of Romans 7. That is, Paul is reflecting on his experience as a Pharisaical Jew before he placed his faith in Christ.
Does Romans 7 describe the experience of the believer? This is a very popular reading of the passage and also what Grant Osborne argues for in Perspectives of Our Struggle with Sin.