The Meaning of Romans 7:8 Explained

Romans 7:8

KJV: But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.

YLT: Thou shalt not covet;' and the sin having received an opportunity, through the command, did work in me all covetousness -- for apart from law sin is dead.

Darby: but sin, getting a point of attack by the commandment, wrought in me every lust; for without law sin was dead.

ASV: but sin, finding occasion, wrought in me through the commandment all manner of coveting: for apart from the law sin is dead.

What does Romans 7:8 Mean?

Study Notes

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 (in salvation). ( Romans 5:2 ); ( Romans 5:15-21 ); ( Romans 11:5-6 ); ( Romans 3:24 ).
( See Scofield John 1:17 ).

Verse Meaning

One illustration of what Paul had in mind here is the story of the temptation and Fall in Genesis 3. Whenever someone establishes a law prohibiting something, the natural tendency of people is to resist it. If you tell a small child, "Don"t do such-and-such," you may create a desire within him or her to do it, a desire that was not there before.
"Suppose a man determined to drive his automobile to the very limit of its speed. If ... signs along the road would say, No Speed Limit, the man"s only thought would be to press his machine forward. But now suddenly he encounters a road with frequent signs limiting speed to thirty miles an hour. The man"s will rebels, and his rebellion is aroused still further by threats: Speed Limit Strictly Enforced. Now the man drives on fiercely, conscious both of his desire to "speed," and his rebellion against restraint. The speed limit signs did not create the wild desire to rush forward: that was there before. But the notices brought the man into conscious conflict with authority." [1]
"Coveting" or "desire" covers a wide range of appetites, not just sexual desires, which the AV translation "lust" (and "concupiscence," Romans 7:8) implies. "Dead" here means dormant or inactive, but not completely impotent, as is clear from Romans 7:9 where this "dead" sin springs to life. The absence of the verb before "dead" in the Greek text indicates that what Paul was saying was a generalization rather than a specific historical allusion.

Context Summary

Romans 7:1-13 - The Law Makes Sin Known
To make his meaning clear the Apostle now enters upon a parable drawn from domestic life. He says that we are married to the Law as our first husband, and seek, through union with it, to bring forth fruit unto God. Every convert earnestly endeavors, in the first impulse of the new life, to be good and to form, by incessant effort, a life that is pleasing to God. Like Cain we bring the fruit of the ground, extorted from the soil by the sweat of the brow.
But we are soon disappointed in the result. Our laborious care ends in failure. Sinful desires are too masterful. As Luther said, "The old Adam is too strong for the young Melanchthon." Then we see that the Cross has put death between us and our painful effort. We learn that the marriage contract which bound us to our first husband, the Law, has been dissolved. We are set free to enter into marriage union with the blessed Lord, and He, by His indwelling Spirit, effects in us what our own energies have failed to produce. We are joined to Him that was raised up from the dead, and bring forth fruit unto 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 7:8

Finding occasion [απορμην λαβουσα]
See note on 2 Corinthians 5:12; 2 Corinthians 11:12; Galatians 5:13 for απορμην — aphormēn a starting place from which to rush into acts of sin, excuses for doing what they want to do. Just so drinking men use the prohibition laws as “occasions” for violating them. [source]
Wrought in me [κατειργασατο εν εμοι]
First aorist active middle indicative of the intensive verb κατεργαζομαι — katergazomai to work out (to the finish), effective aorist. The command not to lust made me lust more. Dead (νεκρα — nekra). Inactive, not non-existent. Sin in reality was there in a dormant state. [source]
Dead [νεκρα]
Inactive, not non-existent. Sin in reality was there in a dormant state. [source]
Sin []
Personified. [source]
Occasion [ἀφορμὴν]
Emphatic, expressing the relation of the law to sin. The law is not sin, but sin found occasion in the law. Used only by Paul. See 2 Corinthians 5:12; Galatians 5:13; 1 Timothy 5:14. The verb ἀφορμάω means to make a start from a place. Ἁφορμή is therefore primarily a starting-point, a base of operations. The Lacedaemonians agreed that Peloponnesus would be ἀφορμὴν ἱκανὴν agood base of operations (Thucydides, i., 90). Thus, the origin, cause, occasion, or pretext of a thing; the means with which one begins. Generally, resources, as means of war, capital in business. Here the law is represented as furnishing sin with the material or ground of assault, “the fulcrum for the energy of the evil principle.” Sin took the law as a base of operations. [source]
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]
Dead []
Not active. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Romans 7:8

John 8:44 Murderer [ἀνθρωποκτόνος]
Only here and 1 John 3:15. Literally, a manslayer; from ἄνθρωπος , man, and κτείνω , to kill. The epithet is applied to Satan, not with reference to the murder of Abel, but to the fact of his being the author of death to the race. Compare Romans 7:8, Romans 7:11; Hebrews 2:14. [source]
Romans 7:15 I do [κατεργάζομαι]
See on Romans 7:8. Accomplish, achieve. Here appropriately used of carrying out another's will. I do not perceive the outcome of my sinful life. [source]
Romans 5:20 Might abound [πλεονάσῃ]
Not primarily of the greater consciousness and acknowledgment of sin, but of the increase of actual transgression. The other thought, however, may be included. See Romans 7:7, Romans 7:8, Romans 7:9, Romans 7:11. [source]
Galatians 5:13 Occasion [ἀφορμὴν]
See on Romans 7:8. Almost exclusively in Paul. [source]
Philippians 2:12 Work out your own salvation [τὴν ἑαυτῶν σωτηρίαν κατεργάζασθε]
Carry out “to the goal” (Bengel). Complete. See on Romans 7:8. Your own salvation. There is a saving work which God only can do for you; but there is also a work which you must do for yourselves. The work of your salvation is not completed in God's work in you. God's work must be carried out by yourselves. “Whatever rest is provided by Christianity for the children of God, it is certainly never contemplated that it should supersede personal effort. And any rest which ministers to indifference is immoral and unreal - it makes parasites and not men. Just because God worketh in him, as the evidence and triumph of it, the true child of God works out his own salvation - works it out having really received it - not as a light thing, a superfluous labor, but with fear and trembling as a reasonable and indispensable service” (Drummond, “Natural Law in the Spiritual World,” p. 335). Human agency is included in God's completed work. In the saving work of grace God imparts a new moral power to work. Compare Romans 6:8-13; 2 Corinthians 6:1. Believe as if you had no power. Work as if you had no God. [source]
1 Timothy 5:14 Occasion [ἀφορμὴν]
See on Romans 7:8. [source]
2 Timothy 1:5 Having been reminded [υπομνησιν λαβων]
“Having received (second aorist active participle of λαμβανω — lambanō) a reminder” (old word from υπομιμνησκω — hupomimnēskō to remind, in N.T. only here and 1 Peter 1:13). For the idiom see note on Romans 7:8, Romans 7:11. A reminder by another while αναμνησις — anamnēsis remembrance (1 Corinthians 11:24.) is rather a recalling by oneself (Vincent). [source]
Hebrews 6:1 Wherefore [διο]
Because of the argument already made about the difficulty of the subject and the dulness of the readers. Let us cease to speak Second aorist active participle of απιημι — aphiēmi to leave off or behind. Of the first principles of Christ Objective genitive Χριστου — Christou (about Christ). “Leaving behind the discussion of the beginning about Christ,” another way of saying again τα στοιχεια της αρχης των λογιων του τεου — ta stoicheia tēs archēs tōn logiōn tou theou of Hebrews 5:12. And press on Volitive present subjunctive passive, “Let us be borne on” (both the writer and the readers). The Pythagorean Schools use περωμετα — pherōmetha in precisely this sense of being borne on to a higher stage of instruction. Bleek quotes several instances of Greek writers using together as here of απεντες περωμετα — aphentes pherōmetha (Eurip., Androm. 393, for instance). Unto perfection Old word from τελειος — teleios mature, adults as in Hebrews 5:14. Only twice in N.T. (here and Colossians 3:14). Let us go on to the stage of adults, not babes, able to masticate solid spiritual food. The writer will assume that the readers are adults in his discussion of the topic. Not laying again the foundation The regular idiom for laying down the foundation of a building The metaphor is common (1 Corinthians 3:11) and the foundation is important, but one cannot be laying the foundation always if he is to build the house. There are six items mentioned here as part of the “foundation,” though the accusative διδαχην — didachēn in apposition with τεμελιον — themelion may mean that there are only four included in the τεμελιον — themelion Two are qualitative genitives after τεμελιον — themelion What is meant by “dead works” There are frequent allusions to the deadening power of sin (James 2:17, James 2:26; John 7:25; Romans 6:1, Romans 6:11; Romans 7:8; Colossians 2:13; Ephesians 2:1, Ephesians 2:5). The use of repentance and faith together occurs also elsewhere (Mark 1:15; Acts 20:21; 1 Thessalonians 1:9). [source]

What do the individual words in Romans 7:8 mean?

An occasion however having taken - sin by the commandment it produced in me all covetousness apart from for [the] Law [is] dead
ἀφορμὴν δὲ λαβοῦσα ἁμαρτία διὰ τῆς ἐντολῆς κατειργάσατο ἐν ἐμοὶ πᾶσαν ἐπιθυμίαν χωρὶς γὰρ νόμου νεκρά

ἀφορμὴν  An  occasion 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Feminine Singular
Root: ἀφορμή  
Sense: a place from which a movement or attack is made, a base of operations.
δὲ  however 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: δέ  
Sense: but, moreover, and, etc.
λαβοῦσα  having  taken 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Participle Active, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: λαμβάνω  
Sense: to take.
Parse: Article, Nominative Feminine Singular
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
ἁμαρτία  sin 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: ἁμαρτία  
Sense: equivalent to 264.
ἐντολῆς  commandment 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root: ἐντολή  
Sense: an order, command, charge, precept, injunction.
κατειργάσατο  it  produced 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Middle, 3rd Person Singular
Root: κατεργάζομαι  
Sense: to perform, accomplish, achieve.
ἐμοὶ  me 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Dative 1st Person Singular
Root: ἐγώ  
Sense: I, me, my.
ἐπιθυμίαν  covetousness 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Feminine Singular
Root: ἐπιθυμία  
Sense: desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust.
χωρὶς  apart  from 
Parse: Preposition
Root: χωρίς  
Sense: separate, apart.
νόμου  [the]  Law 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root: νόμος  
Sense: anything established, anything received by usage, a custom, a law, a command.
νεκρά  [is]  dead 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: νεκρός  
Sense: properly.