Israel’s History Personified: Romans 7:7-13 In Relation To Paul’s Teaching On The “Old Man” -- By: Mark W. Karlberg

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 07:1 (Spring 1986)
Article: Israel’s History Personified: Romans 7:7-13 In Relation To Paul’s Teaching On The “Old Man”
Author: Mark W. Karlberg


Israel’s History Personified: Romans 7:7-13
In Relation To Paul’s Teaching On The “Old Man”

Mark W. Karlberg

Chesapeake Theological Seminary, Columbia Md

If there is any consensus among interpreters of Paul, it is that Paul’s teaching on the law is highly complex. In recent years a vast amount of literature has been produced in an effort to unravel the various strands of thought in Paul’s writings concerning the nature and function of the law of God. How are we to understand the positive and negative statements about the law—statements that appear to be mutually exclusive and contradictory? There are still those who join with A. Schweitzer in speaking of the “peculiarly inconsistent attitude of the Apostle to the law.”1 Paul develops his thought regarding law and redemptive promise in terms of the great eschatological crisis associated with the coming of Jesus Christ into the world. Though correct in seeing the importance of eschatology in Paul, Schweitzer himself failed to discern the pervasively redemptive-historical orientation of the apostle concerning the end-times.

The arrival of the kingdom of God in conjunction with the earthly ministry of Jesus is the (semi-eschatological fulfillment of the Old Testament messianic hope.2 There is both continuity and discontinuity between the two covenantal transactions, the old covenant mediated through Moses and the new covenant mediated through Christ. Contrary to much classical Protestant interpretation the prominent theme of justification by faith in the Epistle to the Romans, and in Paul’s writings as a whole, is expounded primarily in terms of the history of redemption (historia salutis), rather than in terms of the application of redemption to the individual believer (ordo salutis). With respect to the exegesis of Rom 7, it is essential to give adequate attention to the redemptive-historical structure of Paul’s theology of the law. The doctrine of Christ’s reconciliation as set forth in Rom 5 through 7, as elsewhere in Paul, is inextricably bound up with the doctrine of justification by faith. But unmistakably, the emphasis of Paul is upon the former.3

Even a cursory reading of the pauline letters acquaints one with the wide scope of the author’s vision. The apostle does not view his own experiences in an exclusively individualistic fashion. Rather, he sees himself in solidarity with humanity, fallen and redeemed....

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