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Romans 7:22-23,25 NASB

[22]For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, [23]but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. [25]Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

Emphasis added

Is the inner man being referred to as the mind in the above texts

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See my related answer here on Romans 7 as a whole, for some context. The whole chapter is about concupiscence. Or the disordered desires and 'will of its own' that the fallen flesh has—the insubordination to the spirit, and thus will, of the body.

In my understanding, the "inward man" refers to the "spirit"ual component which is "willing..." ("For I am delighted with the law of God, according to the inward man") ("another law in my members [i.e. fleshly component]") "...but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41; cf. Wisdom 9:15-16).

He does equate the two terms "inward man" and "mind".

Romans 7:22,25

"For I am delighted with the law of God, according to the inward man ... ...Therefore, I myself, with the mind serve the law of God"

As well as "the law of sin" or "the law in my members" (concupiscence) with simply "the flesh":

Romans 7:23,25

But I see another law in my members, fighting against the law of my mind, and captivating me in the law of sin, that is in my members. ... ...Therefore, I myself, with the mind serve the law of God; but with the flesh, the law of sin.

St. Paul throughout uses the word 'law' to mean the established order of something; it is rarely used in a strictly legal sense. The fallen flesh has a 'law' it will fight to live by, and the spirit another, etc.

That is, the mind and the spirit are on the same 'side' of man, the flesh another. (Rom 7:14). I take St. Paul to be referring to that 'part' of man in general—the non-physical—the will. The will, the mind and the spirit are not separable. The body and these are. Thus he puts 'the flesh' at odds with the spiritual in general. Here he simply uses 'mind' because it conveys the notion quite adequately: law of members (flesh), law of mind (spiritual component).

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  • You seem to be saying that Paul's referent is both the mind and the spirit which is confusing mind and spirit. Please clarify.
    – Ruminator
    Sep 26 '17 at 23:02
  • The mind and the spirit are on the same 'side' of man, the flesh another. Rom 7:14. I take St. Paul to be referring to that 'part' of man in general—the non-physical—the will. The will, the mind and the spirit are not separable. The body and these are. Thus he puts 'the flesh' at odds with the spiritual in general. Here he simply uses 'mind' because it conveys the notion quite adequately: law of members (flesh), law of mind (spiritual component). Sep 26 '17 at 23:41
  • Thanks. Please add your explanation to the answer itself as comments tend to disappear. I still don't agree, as Paul equates the inner man with the mind in several places, including this one.
    – Ruminator
    Sep 26 '17 at 23:45
  • "I still don't agree, as Paul equates the inner man with the mind in several places, including this one" Disagree? I specifically take this position in my answer. Sep 27 '17 at 10:23
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Barnes comments that the “inner man” is used sometimes to denote the rational part of man as opposed to the sensual; sometimes the mind as opposed to the body (cf 2 Cor.4:16; 1 Pt.3:4), and is used frequently like this by the Greek classic writers.

Gill, Beza, Poole, & Haldane, for example, write that it refers to the new man; however Vincent says that it is, “The rational and moral I, the essence of the man which is conscious of itself as an ethical personality. Not to be confounded with the new man (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10). It is substantially the same with the mind (Romans 7:23)”

In his battle, the apostle Paul (in experiencing being under the law) thus found a principle (or law) in himself: That when he wanted [Rom.7:15-16,18-20] to do the good [Rom.7:18],the evil that he did not want to do [Rom.7:19] was present with him. (v.21)

For he says that he delighted in the Law of God according to his inner man [cf. Eph.4:24; Col.3:10; or, inner being], that, as we learn from II Cor.4:16 & Eph.3:14,16, was being renewed day-by-day and also being strengthened with power through the Holy Spirit. The inner man does appear to refer to more than just the mind. I think "inner being" is a good translation, though yet somewhat vague, perhaps referring to the essence of who we are.

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The phrase that the NASB translates as "inner man" is ἔσω ἄνθρωπος (esō anthrōpos). Paul uses the same expression in Ephesians 3:16:

That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man

ἵνα δῷ ὑμῖν κατὰ τὸ πλοῦτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ δυνάμει κραταιωθῆναι διὰ τοῦ πνεύματος αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸν ἔσω ἄνθρωπον

(The phrase is also understood in 2 Corinthians 4:16 - see below.)

The word the NASB translates as "mind" is νοῦς (nous). The word appears 24 times in the New Testament, and the NASB uses the word "mind" on all but 3 occasions ("comprehension", Phil 4:7; "composure", 2 Thess 2:2; "understanding", Rev 13:18).

Another Greek word for "mind" is διάνοια (dianoia), which has νοῦς as its root. It is the word that appears, for example, in You shall love the lord with all your ... mind (Matt 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27).


The inner man is not the same thing as the mind. By law of my mind, Paul is referring to the conscience, which struggles against the law of flesh (law in my members).

John of Damascus (676-749) contrasted the two laws in Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith (IV.22):

Therefore the law of my mind, that is, the conscience, sympathises with the law of God, that is, the precept, and makes that its will. But the law of sin, that is to say, the assault made through the law that is in our members, or through the lust and inclination and movement of the body and of the irrational part of the soul, is in opposition to the law of my mind, that is to conscience, and takes me captive (even though I make the law of God my will and set my love on it, and make not sin my will), by reason of commixture: and through the softness of pleasure and the lust of the body and of the irrational part of the soul, as I said, it leads me astray and induces me to become the servant of sin.

The mind, in the context of Romans 7:22ff - is not itself the inner man, but is rather a part of the inner man. The law of the mind - the conscience - is a function of the mind. The inner man, as the Ephesians passage implies, is something deeper - wherein the Holy Spirit may dwell. The distinction is further drawn in 2 Corinthians 4:16:

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.

Thus, the inner man is the rational side of man, seen in opposition to the outer man - his mortal body.

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In Romans 6 thru 8 (and elsewhere) Paul personifies "sin" as an evil opportunistic alien being living in the members of a Jew (and all men, but his focus is on the Jew) to enslave their body to obey his commands. I like to describe this as "Mr. Sin" for clarity. In my understanding, this is identical to what he refers to elsewhere as "the carnal mind" or the "the mind of the flesh":

BLB Romans 8: 5For those being according to flesh mind the things of the flesh; but those according to Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit, life and peace,

The "inner man" is the rational mind or the mind as distinguished from the flesh. We know that brain is a member of the body and is the mind but for Paul they were considered separately.

Despite his personifying language I believe he's not describing two literal minds (or two literal beings) but two different "mindsets". The "carnal mind" is a mind focused on the concerns of the body. This focus does not regard the things of God. The "inner man" of the unregenerate Jew is thwarted in his devotion to God's law because the laws of Mr. Sin use the commands as an opportunity to undermine serving the person's desire to please God by obeying the Torah.

BLB Romans 7: 8But sin, having taken an occasion by the commandment, produced in me all covetousness; for apart from the Law, sin is dead. 9And I once was alive apart from Law; but the commandment having come, sin revived, and I died; 10and this commandment that was unto life proved to be death to me. 11For sin, having taken an occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it put me to death.

Since the impulses of the body are largely involuntary, urgent and difficult to contain it is very compelling to speak of them as having another "mind". James also speaks of a "double-minded man".

Now, the placement of Paul's thanksgiving is a little confusing as it seems a little early but what he is saying is that the Spirit/"breath of life" comes to the rescue of the Jew and gives Mr. Sin aka "the mind[set] of the flesh" a death sentence and imparts the power of God into the equation:

BLB Romans 7: 24O wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of this body of death? 25Thanks be then to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself indeed with my mind serve God’s Law; but with the flesh, the Law of sin. 8:1Therefore there is now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus.a 2For the Law of the Spirit of life has set you freeb in Christ Jesus from the Law of sin and death. 3For of the Law being powerless in that it was weak through the flesh, God, having sent His Son in likeness of sin of flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, 4so that the righteousness of the Law should be fulfilled in us not walking according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 5For those being according to flesh mind the things of the flesh; but those according to Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit, life and peace, 7because the mind of the flesh is hostility toward God; for it is not subject to the Law of God, for not even can it be. 8And those being in the flesh are not able to please God.

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The contrast Paul makes is between melos, the members, and eso anthropos, the inward humanity.

Melo is worldly care, the anxiety about natural circumstances; melote is sheepskin, an item that - as a primary matter of existence - is shed, in toto. Paul contrasts something of humanity that is inward with a humanity that is of natural circumstance and that, soon, will be discarded.

The inward humanity agrees with the absolute demands of Law, but the nature does not perform it. Thus the conflict. He does not say "the good that I would I cannot do" he says "the good that I would, I do not". Nature fails. It will always fail.

He needs a deliverance that will resolve the issue of the natural, outer humanity. The humanity that does nothing but fail. And he finds it - in the death of Christ. There, he sees the old nature, the old humanity, die. And there he sees the Law satisfied in death.

The inward man still lives. But it is no longer Paul doing the living. Christ is the Life.

In conclusion, therefore, I do not believe the 'inner man' can be confined to just the mind. I understand it to be more than that. It is everything that will pass through death; and everything that will be joined to a resurrection body for all eternity.

Nigel.

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  • Romans 7 is describing the plight of the unregenerated Jew, not the believers.
    – Ruminator
    Sep 26 '17 at 23:05
  • Sorry to have to disagree but the victory is given in Chapter 8. The victory is "the principle of the breath of life" that give the flesh (Mr. Sin) a death sentence and imparts life and peace.
    – Ruminator
    Sep 26 '17 at 23:38
  • Do a search for "inner man" in your Bible software search box.
    – Ruminator
    Sep 27 '17 at 0:13

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