The Meaning of Romans 7:19 Explained

Romans 7:19

KJV: For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

YLT: for the good that I will, I do not; but the evil that I do not will, this I practise.

Darby: For I do not practise the good that I will; but the evil I do not will, that I do.

ASV: For the good which I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I practise.

What does Romans 7:19 Mean?

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 7:19

But the evil which I would not [αλλα ο ου τελω κακον]
Incorporation of the antecedent into the relative clause, “what evil I do not wish.” An extreme case of this practise of evil is seen in the drunkard or the dope-fiend. [source]
Do not - do. [ποιῶ - πράσσω]
See on Romans 7:15. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Romans 7:19

John 3:21 Doeth the truth [ποιῶν τὴν ἀλήθειαν]
The phrase occurs only here and in 1 John 1:6. Note the contrasted phrase, doeth evil (John 3:20). There the plural is used: doeth evil things; evil being represented by a number of bad works. Here the singular, the truth, or truth; truth being regarded as one, and “including in a supreme unity all right deeds.” There is also to be noted the different words for doing in these two verses: doeth evil ( πράσσων ); doeth truth ( ποιῶν ). The latter verb contemplates the object and end of action; the former the means, with the idea of continuity and repetition. Πράσσων is the practice, while ποιῶν may be the doing once for all. Thus ποιεῖν is to conclude a peace: πράσσειν , to negotiate a peace. So Demosthenes: “He will do ( πράξει ) these things, and will accomplish them ( ποιήσει ).” In the New Testament a tendency is observable to use ποιεῖν in a good sense, and πράσσωιν in an evil sense. Compare the kindred word πρᾶξις , deed or work, which occurs six times, and in four out of the six of evil doing (Matthew 16:27; Luke 23:51; Acts 19:18; Romans 8:13; Romans 12:14; Colossians 3:9). With this passage compare especially John 5:29, where the two verbs are used with the two nouns as here. Also, Romans 7:15, Romans 7:19. Bengel says: “Evil is restless: it is busier than truth.” In Romans 1:32; Romans 2:3, both verbs are used of doing evil, but still with a distinction in that πράσσω is the more comprehensive term, designating the pursuit of evil as the aim of the activity. [source]
John 3:21 Doeth the truth [ποιῶν τὴν ἀλήθειαν]
The phrase occurs only here and in 1 John 1:6. Note the contrasted phrase, doeth evil (John 3:20). There the plural is used: doeth evil things; evil being represented by a number of bad works. Here the singular, the truth, or truth; truth being regarded as one, and “including in a supreme unity all right deeds.” There is also to be noted the different words for doing in these two verses: doeth evil ( πράσσων ); doeth truth ( ποιῶν ). The latter verb contemplates the object and end of action; the former the means, with the idea of continuity and repetition. Πράσσων is the practice, while ποιῶν may be the doing once for all. Thus ποιεῖν is to conclude a peace: πράσσειν , to negotiate a peace. So Demosthenes: “He will do ( πράξει ) these things, and will accomplish them ( ποιήσει ).” In the New Testament a tendency is observable to use ποιεῖν in a good sense, and πράσσωιν in an evil sense. Compare the kindred word πρᾶξις , deed or work, which occurs six times, and in four out of the six of evil doing (Matthew 16:27; Luke 23:51; Acts 19:18; Romans 8:13; Romans 12:14; Colossians 3:9). With this passage compare especially John 5:29, where the two verbs are used with the two nouns as here. Also, Romans 7:15, Romans 7:19. Bengel says: “Evil is restless: it is busier than truth.” In Romans 1:32; Romans 2:3, both verbs are used of doing evil, but still with a distinction in that πράσσω is the more comprehensive term, designating the pursuit of evil as the aim of the activity. [source]
Romans 7:21 The law [τον νομον]
The principle already set forth (αρα — ara accordingly) in Romans 7:18, Romans 7:19. This is the way it works, but there is no surcease for the stings of conscience. [source]
1 Thessalonians 1:10 The wrath to come [τῆς ὀργῆς τῆς ἐρχομένης]
Lit. the wrath which is coming. The wrath, absolutely, of the wrath of God, as Romans 5:9Romans 7:19; 1 Thessalonians 2:16. Sometimes for the punishment which wrath inflicts, as Romans 12:4; Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:6. See on John 3:36. The phrase wrath to come is found in Matthew 3:7; Luke 3:7. Coming does not necessarily imply the thought of speedy or imminent approach, but the general tone of the Epistle points in that direction. [source]

What do the individual words in Romans 7:19 mean?

Not for that I desire I do good but I do want evil this I practice
οὐ γὰρ θέλω ποιῶ ἀγαθόν ἀλλὰ θέλω κακὸν τοῦτο πράσσω

  that 
Parse: Personal / Relative Pronoun, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root: ὅς 
Sense: who, which, what, that.
θέλω  I  desire 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Active, 1st Person Singular
Root: θέλω  
Sense: to will, have in mind, intend.
ποιῶ  I  do 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Active, 1st Person Singular
Root: ποιέω  
Sense: to make.
ἀγαθόν  good 
Parse: Adjective, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root: ἀγαθός 
Sense: of good constitution or nature.
θέλω  I  do  want 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Active, 1st Person Singular
Root: θέλω  
Sense: to will, have in mind, intend.
κακὸν  evil 
Parse: Adjective, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root: κακός  
Sense: of a bad nature.
τοῦτο  this 
Parse: Demonstrative Pronoun, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root: οὗτος  
Sense: this.
πράσσω  I  practice 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Active, 1st Person Singular
Root: ἀναπράσσω 
Sense: to exercise, practise, to be busy with, carry on.

What are the major concepts related to Romans 7:19?

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