The Meaning of Romans 7:9 Explained

Romans 7:9

KJV: For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

YLT: And I was alive apart from law once, and the command having come, the sin revived, and I died;

Darby: But I was alive without law once; but the commandment having come, sin revived, but I died.

ASV: And I was alive apart from the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died;

What does Romans 7:9 Mean?

Study Notes

when the commandment
The passage ( Romans 7:7-25 ) is autobiographical. Paul's religious experience was in three strongly marked phases:
(1) He was a godly Jew under the law. That the passage does not refer to that period is clear from his own explicit statements elsewhere. At that time he held himself to be "blameless" as concerned the law Philippians 3:6 . He had "lived in all good conscience" Acts 23:1 .
(2) With his conversion came new light upon the law itself. He now perceived it to be "spiritual" ( Romans 7:14 ). He now saw that, so far from having kept it, he was condemned by it. He had supposed himself to be "alive," but now the commandment really "came" ( Romans 7:9 ) and he "died." Just when the apostle passed through the experience of Romans 7:7-25 we are not told. Perhaps during the days of physical blindness at Damascus Acts 9:9 , perhaps in Arabia Galatians 1:17 .
It is the experience of a renewed man, under the law, and still ignorant of the delivering power of the Holy Spirit Romans 8:2 .
(3) With the great revelations afterward embodied in Galatians and Romans, the apostle's experience entered it third phase. He now knew himself to be "dead to the law by the body of Christ," and, in the power of the indwelling Spirit, "free from the law of sin and death" Romans 8:2 while "the righteousness of the law" was wrought in him (not by him) while he walked after the Spirit Romans 8:4 , Romans 7. is the record of past conflicts and defeats experience as a renewed man under law.
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
"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

Paul was relatively alive apart from the Law. No one is ever completely unrelated to it. However in his past, Paul had lived unaware of the Law"s true demands and was therefore self-righteous (cf. Philippians 3:6). His pre-conversion struggles were mainly intellectual (e.g, Was Jesus the Messiah?) rather than moral.
"Saul of Tarsus could have headed the Spanish Inquisition, and have had no qualms of conscience!" [1]
When the commandment entered Paul"s consciousness, it aroused sin, and he died in the sense that he became aware of his spiritual deadness. This is true of everyone. Paul was not speaking of His union with Christ in death here.

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 7:9

I was alive [εζων]
Imperfect active. Apparently, “the lost paradise in the infancy of men” (Denney), before the conscience awoke and moral responsibility came, “a seeming life” (Shedd). [source]
Sin revived [η αμαρτια ανεζησεν]
Sin came back to life, waked up, the blissful innocent stage was over, “the commandment having come” But I died (εγω δε απετανον — egō de apethanon). My seeming life was over for I was conscious of sin, of violation of law. I was dead before, but I did not know. Now I found out that I was spiritually dead. [source]
But I died [εγω δε απετανον]
My seeming life was over for I was conscious of sin, of violation of law. I was dead before, but I did not know. Now I found out that I was spiritually dead. [source]
I was alive - once [ἔζων ποτέ]
Referring to the time of childlike innocence previous to the stimulus imparted to the inactive principle of sin by the coming of the law; when the moral self-determination with respect to the law had not taken place, and the sin-principle was therefore practically dead. [source]
The commandment [ἐντολῆς]
The specific injunction “thou shalt not covet.” See on James 2:8; see John 13:34. [source]
Revived [ἀνέζησεν]
Not came to life, but lived again. See Luke 15:24, Luke 15:32. The power of sin is originally and in its nature living; but before the coming of the commandment its life is not expressed. When the commandment comes, it becomes alive again. It lies dormant, like the beast at the door (Genesis 4:7), until the law stirs it up. The tendency of prohibitory law to provoke the will to resistance is frequently recognized in the classics. Thus, Horace: “The human race, presumptuous to endure all things, rushes on through forbidden wickedness” (Ode, i., 3,25). Ovid: “The permitted is unpleasing; the forbidden consumes us fiercely” (“Amores,” i., 19,3). “We strive against the forbidden and ever desire what is denied” (Id., i., 4,17). Seneca: “Parricides began with the law, and the punishment showed them the crime” (“De Clementia,” i., 23). Cato, in his speech on the Oppian law; says: “It is safer that a wicked man should even never be accused than that he should be acquitted; and luxury, if it had never been meddled with, would he more tolerable than it will be now, like a wild beast, irritated by having been chained and then let loose” (Livy, xxxiv., 4). [source]
I found to be unto death []
The A.V. omits the significant αὕτη thisThis very commandment, the aim of which was life, I found unto death. Meyer remarks: “It has tragic emphasis.” So Rev., this I found. The surprise at such an unexpected result is expressed by I found, literally, was found ( ἑυρέθη ) [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Romans 7:9

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]
2 Corinthians 3:6 Killeth []
See on Romans 5:12, Romans 5:13; see on Romans 7:9; see on Romans 8:2. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:56. “The living testimony borne to his authority in the Corinthian Church suggests strongly the contrast of the dreary, death-like atmosphere which surrounded the old, graven characters on which his opponents rested their claims” (Stanley). [source]

What do the individual words in Romans 7:9 mean?

I however was alive apart from law once having come the commandment the sin revived then died
Ἐγὼ δὲ ἔζων χωρὶς νόμου ποτέ ἐλθούσης τῆς ἐντολῆς ἁμαρτία ἀνέζησεν δὲ ἀπέθανον

δὲ  however 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: δέ  
Sense: but, moreover, and, etc.
ἔζων  was  alive 
Parse: Verb, Imperfect Indicative Active, 1st Person Singular
Root: ζάω  
Sense: to live, breathe, be among the living (not lifeless, not dead).
χωρὶς  apart  from 
Parse: Preposition
Root: χωρίς  
Sense: separate, apart.
νόμου  law 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root: νόμος  
Sense: anything established, anything received by usage, a custom, a law, a command.
ποτέ  once 
Parse: Particle
Root: ποτέ  
Sense: once i.
ἐλθούσης  having  come 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Participle Active, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root: ἔρχομαι  
Sense: to come.
ἐντολῆς  commandment 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root: ἐντολή  
Sense: an order, command, charge, precept, injunction.
ἁμαρτία  sin 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: ἁμαρτία  
Sense: equivalent to 264.
ἀνέζησεν  revived 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: ἀναζάω  
Sense: live again, recover life.
ἀπέθανον  died 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 1st Person Singular
Root: ἀποθνῄσκω  
Sense: to die.