The Meaning of Romans 7:17 Explained

Romans 7:17

KJV: Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

YLT: and now it is no longer I that work it, but the sin dwelling in me,

Darby: Now then it is no longer I that do it, but the sin that dwells in me.

ASV: So now it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me.

What does Romans 7:17 Mean?

Study Notes

sin
Sin.
grace
Grace (in salvation). ( Romans 5:2 ); ( Romans 5:15-21 ); ( Romans 11:5-6 ); ( Romans 3:24 ).
( See Scofield John 1:17 ).
"Sin" in Romans 6, 7 is the nature in distinction from "sins," which are manifestations of that nature.
Compare ( 1 John 1:8 ) with ( 1 John 1:10 ), where this distinction also appears.
grace
Grace (in salvation). ( Romans 5:2 ); ( Romans 5:15-21 ); ( Romans 11:5-6 ); ( Romans 3:24 ).
( See Scofield John 1:17 ).

Verse Meaning

Rather his problem was traceable to the sin that dwelt within him, namely, his sinful nature. Paul was not trying to escape responsibility but was identifying the source of his sin, his sinful nature. "I" describes the new man Paul had become at his conversion ( Galatians 2:20). Viewed as a whole person he was dead to sin. Nevertheless the source of sin within him was specifically his sinful human nature that was still very much alive.
It comes as a terrible discovery for a new believer, or an untaught believer, to realize that our problem with sin is complex. We are sinners not only because we commit acts of sin (ch3) and because, as descendants of Adam, we sin because he sinned (ch5). We are also sinners because we possess a nature that is thoroughly sinful (ch7). Jesus Christ paid the penalty for acts of sin, He removed the punishment of original sin, and He enables us to overcome the power of innate sin.

Context Summary

Romans 7:14-25 - The Conflict Within
The Apostle gives a further statement of his personal experience of the inability of the soul to realize the divine ideal which has been revealed to it as the norm and type of its attainment. Life does not run smoothly. There are effort, strain, failure, the consciousness of sin, the dazzling glory of sunlight on inaccessible peaks. Why is this? It is due to the lack of "power unto salvation." We are not strong enough to win any victory. We are weak through the flesh. There is a leakage through which our good desires vanish, as water through a cracked vessel.
Self is ever the difficulty. Before we find Christ, or are found of Him, we try to justify ourselves, and afterward to sanctify ourselves. Notice how full these verses are of I, and how little is said of the Holy Spirit. As the corpse of a criminal that was, in the old barbarous days, hung around the neck of a living man, so the flesh is to us, with all its evil promptings. But this background of dark experience, ending in vanity, vexation, disappointment, and misery leads to the following chapter, which is saturated with Pentecostal power. The distant anticipation of this revives us, like the scent of land to animals sick with a long voyage; and we thank our God. [source]

Chapter Summary: Romans 7

1  No law has power over a man longer than he lives
4  But we are dead to the law
7  Yet is not the law sin;
12  but holy, just and good;
16  as I acknowledge, who am grieved because I cannot keep it

Greek Commentary for Romans 7:17

So now [νυνι δε]
A logical contrast, “as the case really stands.” [source]
But sin that dwelleth in me [αλλ η ενοικουσα εν εμοι αμαρτια]
“But the dwelling in me sin.” Not my true self, my higher personality, but my lower self due to my slavery to indwelling sin. Paul does not mean to say that his whole self has no moral responsibility by using this paradox. “To be saved from sin, a man must at the same time own it and disown it” (Denney). [source]
Now - no more [νυνὶ - οὐκέτι]
Not temporal, pointing back to a time when it was otherwise, but logical, pointing to an inference. After this statement you can no more maintain that, etc. [source]
I [ἐγὼ]
My personality proper; my moral self-consciousness which has approved the law (Romans 7:16) and has developed vague desires for something better. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Romans 7:17

Romans 7:8 Wrought [κατειργάσατο]
The compound verb with κατά downthrough always signifies the bringing to pass or accomplishment. See 1 Timothy 2:9; 1 Corinthians 5:3; 2 Corinthians 7:10. It is used both of evil and good. See especially Romans 7:15, Romans 7:17, Romans 7:18, Romans 7:20. “To man everything forbidden appears as a desirable blessing; but yet, as it is forbidden, he feels that his freedom is limited, and now his lust rages more violently, like the waves against the dyke” (Tholuck). [source]
Romans 7:5 In the flesh [ἐν τῇ σαρκί]
Σάρξ fleshoccurs in the classics in the physical sense only. Homer commonly uses it in the plural as denoting all the flesh or muscles of the body. Later the singular occurs in the same sense. Paul's use of this and other psychological terms must be determined largely by the Old-Testament usage as it appears in the Septuagint. 1. In the physical sense. The literal flesh. In the Septuagint τὰ κρέα flesh(plural) is used where the reference is to the parts of animals slain, and αἱ σάρκες , flesh (plural) where the reference is to flesh as the covering of the living body. Hence Paul uses κρέα in Romans 14:21; 1 Corinthians 8:13, of the flesh of sacrificed animals. Compare also the adjective σάρκιμος fleshy 2 Corinthians 3:3; and Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26, Sept. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
2. Kindred. Denoting natural or physical relationship, Romans 1:3; Romans 9:3-8; Romans 11:14; Galatians 4:23, Galatians 4:29; 1 Corinthians 10:18; Philemon 1:16. This usage forms a transition to the following sense: the whole human body. Flesh is the medium in and through which the natural relationship of man manifests itself. Kindred is conceived as based on community of bodily substance. Therefore:-DIVIDER-
3. The body itself. The whole being designated by the part, as being its main substance and characteristic, 1 Corinthians 6:16; 1 Corinthians 7:28; 2 Corinthians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 10:3; 2 Corinthians 12:7. Romans 2:28; Galatians 6:13, etc. Paul follows the Septuagint in sometimes using σῶμα bodyand sometimes σάρξ fleshin this sense, so that the terms occasionally seem to be practically synonymous. Thus 1 Corinthians 6:16, 1 Corinthians 6:17, where the phrase one body is illustrated and confirmed by one flesh. See Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 5:28, Ephesians 5:31, where the two are apparently interchanged. Compare 2 Corinthians 4:10, 2 Corinthians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 5:3, and Colossians 2:5. Σάρξ , however, differs from σῶμα in that it can only signify the organism of an earthly, living being consisting of flesh and bones, and cannot denote “either an earthly organism that is not living, or a living organism that is not earthly” (Wendt, in Dickson). Σῶμα not thus limited. Thus it may denote the organism of the plant (1 Corinthians 15:37, 1 Corinthians 15:38) or the celestial bodies (1 Corinthians 15:40). Hence the two conceptions are related as general and special: σῶμα bodybeing the material organism apart from any definite matter (not from any sort of matter), σάρξ , flesh, the definite, earthly, animal organism. The two are synonymons when σῶμα is used, from the context, of an earthly, animal body. Compare Philemon 1:22; 2 Corinthians 5:1-8. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
Σῶμα bodyand not σάρξ fleshis used when the reference is to a metaphorical organism, as the church, Romans 12:4sqq.; 1 Corinthians 10:16; 12:12-27; Ephesians 1:23; Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 1:18, etc. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
The σάρξ is described as mortal (2 Corinthians 4:11); subject to infirmity (Galatians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 12:7); locally limited (Colossians 2:15); an object of fostering care (Ephesians 5:29). -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
4. Living beings generally, including their mental nature, and with a correlated notion of weakness and perishableness. Thus the phrase πᾶσα σάρξ allflesh (Genesis 6:12; Isaiah 49:26; Isaiah 49:23). This accessory notion of weakness stands in contrast with God. In Paul the phrase all flesh is cited from the Old Testament (Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16) and is used independently (1 Corinthians 1:29). In all these instances before God is added. So in Galatians 1:16, flesh and blood implies a contrast of human with divine wisdom. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:50; Ephesians 6:12. This leads up to-DIVIDER-
5. Man “either as a creature in his natural state apart from Christ, or the creaturely side or aspect of the man in Christ.” Hence it is correlated with ἄνθρωπος man 1 Corinthians 3:3; Romans 6:19; 2 Corinthians 5:17. Compare Romans 6:6; Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9; Galatians 5:24. Thus the flesh would seem to be interchangeable with the old man. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
It has affections and lusts (Galatians 5:24); willings (Ephesians 2:3; Romans 8:6, Romans 8:7); a mind (Colossians 2:18); a body (Colossians 2:11). -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
It is in sharp contrast with πνεῦμα spirit(Galatians 3:3, Galatians 3:19; Galatians 5:16, Galatians 5:17, Galatians 5:19-24; Galatians 6:8; Romans 8:4). The flesh and the spirit are thus antagonistic. Σάρξ fleshbefore or in contrast with his reception of the divine element whereby he becomes a new creature in Christ: the whole being of man as it exists and acts apart from the influence of the Spirit. It properly characterizes, therefore, not merely the lower forms of sensual gratification, but all - the highest developments of the life estranged from God, whether physical, intellectual, or aesthetic. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
It must be carefully noted:-DIVIDER-
1. That Paul does not identify flesh and sin. Compare, flesh of sin, Romans 8:3. See Romans 7:17, Romans 7:18; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Galatians 2:20. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
2. That Paul does not identify σάρξ withthe material body nor associate sin exclusively and predominantly with the body. The flesh is the flesh of the living man animated by the soul ( ψυχή ) as its principle of life, and is distinctly used as coordinate with ἄνθρωπος manAs in the Old Testament, “it embraces in an emphatic manner the nature of man, mental and corporeal, with its internal distinctions.” The spirit as well as the flesh is capable of defilement (2 Corinthians 7:1; compare 1 Corinthians 7:34). Christian life is to be transformed by the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2; compare Ephesians 4:23). -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
3. That Paul does not identify the material side of man with evil. The flesh is not the native seat and source of sin. It is only its organ, and the seat of sin's manifestation. Matter is not essentially evil. The logical consequence of this would be that no service of God is possible while the material organism remains. See Romans 12:1. The flesh is not necessarily sinful in itself; but as it has existed from the time of the introduction of sin through Adam, it is recognized by Paul as tainted with sin. Jesus appeared in the flesh, and yet was sinless (2 Corinthians 5:21).The motions of sins ( τὰ παθήματα τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν )Motions used in earlier English for emotions or impulses. Thus Bacon: “He that standeth at a stay where others rise, can hardly avoid motions of envy” (“Essay” xiv.). The word is nearly synonymous with πάθος passion(Romans 1:26, note). From πάθειν tosuffer; a feeling which the mind undergoes, a passion, desire. Rev., sinful passions: which led to sins.Did work ( ἐνηργεῖτο )Rev., wrought. See 2 Corinthians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 4:12; Ephesians 3:20; Galatians 5:6; Philemon 2:13; Colossians 1:29. Compare Mark 6:14, and see on power, John 1:12. [source]

Romans 7:20 It is no more I that do it [ουκετι εγω κατεργαζομαι αυτο]
Just as in Romans 7:17, “no longer do I do it” (the real Εγο — Ego my better self), and yet there is responsibility and guilt for the struggle goes on. [source]

What do the individual words in Romans 7:17 mean?

In that case now no longer I am doing it but the dwelling in me sin
νυνὶ δὲ οὐκέτι ἐγὼ κατεργάζομαι αὐτὸ ἀλλὰ οἰκοῦσα ἐν ἐμοὶ ἁμαρτία

νυνὶ  In  that  case 
Parse: Adverb
Root: νυνί  
Sense: now, at this very moment.
δὲ  now 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: δέ  
Sense: but, moreover, and, etc.
οὐκέτι  no  longer 
Parse: Adverb
Root: οὐκέτι  
Sense: no longer, no more, no further.
κατεργάζομαι  am  doing 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Middle or Passive, 1st Person Singular
Root: κατεργάζομαι  
Sense: to perform, accomplish, achieve.
οἰκοῦσα  dwelling 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Active, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: οἰκέω  
Sense: to dwell in.
ἐμοὶ  me 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Dative 1st Person Singular
Root: ἐγώ  
Sense: I, me, my.
ἁμαρτία  sin 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: ἁμαρτία  
Sense: equivalent to 264.