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.


  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