Does Romans 7 Teach that Christians Will Continue Sinning?

Some point to Romans 7 as the proof-text for the saint-sinner paradox, suggesting that if even the apostle Paul struggled with his unrelenting flesh, Christians must face defeat in certain areas of their Christian life as well.

On the contrary, Ben Witherington reveals that the ancient context illuminates the text in a way that eliminates Paul as the subject of this passage and paints a more optimistic picture of God’s sanctifying grace.

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Dr. Witherington joined the Asbury Seminary faculty in 1995. A prolific author, Dr. Witherington has written more than 40 books and six commentaries. He is a John Wesley Fellow for Life, a research fellow at Cambridge University and a member of numerous professional organizations, including the Society of Biblical Literature, Society for the Study of the New Testament and the Institute for Biblical Research. In his leisure time, Dr. Witherington appreciates both music and sports. It is hard to say which sound he prefers: the sophisticated sonance of jazz sensation Pat Metheny or the incessant tomahawk chant of the Atlanta Braves faithful. A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, he is a dedicated Tar Heels basketball and football fan. He and his wife, Ann, have two children.

4 COMMENTS

  1. In my view it is Paul talking about himself before he became of age. Before he was made a man at Bar mitzvah. Paul is talking about his innocence as a child and his experience entering into responsibility as a man into the law.

  2. This is incorrect. Paul says in Philippians that during his whole life up to his conversion including his years as a Pharisee ‘in regard to a righteousness that comes from the Law, I was blameless’ (Phil. 3.5-6). It is not even clear that there was a bar mitzvah rite regularly practiced before the Temple fell in A.D. 70. BW3

  3. Thank you Dr. for your response,

    Interesting, Nevertheless the age of accountability still applied if there was bar mitzvah or not. I can see how Paul in romans 7 can be talking from the perspective of the Law corrupting him after that point in life (and how before that he admired the law) The Law is Holy, yet Jesus set him free from the cycle of sin which is the main point. Then the transition to in Christ at 7:24-25.

    I would think one can only be blameless in Christ or before the age of accountability, and I interpret Paul talking about his experience in the cycle of sin in Romans 7. I am not saying your wrong or I am right I am definitely a Wesleyan that believes in victory over sin. This is a tough portion of Scripture to interpret as you stated. I think your video and interpretation is inlighting and I never seen it that way. If we interpret it differently yet we arrive at the same main point what do we do?

    In the Love of Christ,

  4. Dr.
    I was thinking about the Scripture you shared (Philippian 3:6)… Blameless in the law does not mean sinless. He was the one whom said all have sinned. In Romans 6 he said sin reined. He still made sacrifices which made him blameless or faultless and in fact would still be in the cycle of sin. Only Jesus can rescue him from that not the law.

    In the Love of Christ,

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