by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 1 Study # 1 May 15, 2007 Lincolnton, N.C.
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
1901 ASV Translation:
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death.
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4 that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
I. The Text.
A. The AV contains the "qualifier" phrase, "who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
B. The ASV omits that phrase.
C. The textual support for the shorter reading (that of the ASV) is strong enough that the textual scholars who put out A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament gave it their highest rating of "certainty".
D. On the face of it, the AV's reading makes little sense.
1. If, as the AV reading says, "there is no condemnation to them that walk not after the flesh", what could that mean? Those who walk not after the flesh would have no reason to be condemned, so what would be the point of telling us that they would not be condemned? This statement would be like saying, "When a guiltless person goes into the court, he will not be condemned for committing a crime." This would be a significant promise if the courts were known to be subject to corruption and sometimes condemned the innocent, but that is not the case in Romans 8. Here the issue is divine condemnation and to promise the guiltless that God will not condemn them does only one thing: it declares God to be Just. But that has not been Paul's point since late in chapter three of Romans. Since then it has been his point that God is merciful and gracious to those who have sinned. Telling those who are not perfect that God will not condemn the perfect is of little use.
2. The "therefore" of 8:1 must have a basis in the text. It calls for a conclusion, and the material that has preceded it has not been about a person who has been "walking by the Spirit" but about a person who has been seriously defeated by Sin. Therefore, the "therefore" must mean that God's provision for those who have not been successful in walking by the Spirit is adequate to their need. Indeed, it was Paul's major point in Romans 7 that he had significantly "failed" to walk by the Spirit because indwelling Sin had overcome him. For him to claim that there is no condemnation for those who have not similarly failed is a rather fruitless point.
II. The Point.
A. Paul, in the last paragraph of chapter seven, made a distinction between the sources of sin in his body. It was his claim that those who had been married to the resurrected Christ, were, by that union, made free from the impact of the Law (condemnation). Thus, at the beginning of chapter eight, it would be natural for him to summarize his point: those in union with Christ are free from condemnation.
B. This declaration is of the utmost significance for those of us who have found ourselves defeated in the desire to live in victory over Sin in the flesh just as Paul described himself in defeat through the last portion of chapter seven. To tell the defeated that there is no penalty for the undefeated is a mockery, but to tell the defeated that their defeat does not lead to condemnation is a sterling promise of hope.