Difficult Texts

"Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God."


Paul is here illustrating the changed status of one who is freed from the bondage of sin to be married to Christ. Three principal figures are used in his illustration: a woman, her husband, and the law of marriage (verses 1-3). Which one of these parties dies? Not the law, as some interpret. If so, the whole argument over adultery would be pointless. There could be no adultery without the law containing the prohibition.

No, it was the husband who died, and he symbolised the "old man of sin" who dies at conversion (Romans 6:6). This death to the law of sin (husband--unconverted nature) was brought about through the "body of Christ," by His death. The condemnation of the law (sentence of death) was nullified by the deliverance wrought through Christ. But please notice that Christ's death cancels only the penalty--not the law itself. Peter says He "bare our sins in His own body." I Peter 2:24. Paul says Christ tasted "death for every man." Hebrews 2:9.

Now that the binding power of the law of sin is broken, the individual is free to marry another, even Christ. The law of marriage has not been cancelled. We are "crucified with Christ" as Paul says in Galatians 2:20, but the law remains. With the death of the carnal nature, we no longer "bring forth fruit unto death." Verse 5. The death sentence of the law has been satisfied through the sacrifice of Jesus, and the new marriage to Christ brings forth obedience through love. Finally, in verse 7 Paul emphasises again the fact that the Ten Commandment law remains to point out sin: "For I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet."