Romans 7:1-2 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? 2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.

The first verse says:

"The law has dominion/lordship over man as long as he lives."

By this I feel Paul is trying to say that the law has no dominion over man once he dies. Is that right?

If that is so in the second verse the person who dies is the husband. So the one who is loosed from the laws should be the husband. But the second verse says one who is loosed from the law is the wife. What is that logic? Could some one please help me understand?

3 Answers 3


In the beginning, God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him ; male and female created he them. Genesis 1:27 KJV.

God expressed himself in his creation. There is something to be seen of God and his purposes in all that he made, for without the Word was not anything made that was made. Nothing was haphazard ; all was according to design and purpose.

Thus male and female and the marriage union express something far greater than mere carnal flesh and blood and the means of procreation. There is something to be seen - ultimately of Christ and the Church, the Head and the Body, the Bridegroom and the Bride.

For the woman who hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of he husband. Romans 7:2

Wherefore, my brethren, saith Paul (Romans 7:4) ye also . . .

They are the bride which is to be married to another. But they cannot be married to Christ in their old condition, their first creation, their natural state. For the book of Ruth clearly shows us that there is another kinsman nearer to us - by nature, by our natural generation - than Boaz.

Howbeit, there is a kinsman nearer than I. Ruth 3:12 KJV.

Boaz had to deal with the nearer kinsman, first. Before redemption could occur. But the nearer kinsman - the more natural state, the closer relative, by generation - could not redeem. He cast off the shoe. He admitted he could progress no further. He yielded to Boaz.

Humanity, in Adam, is bound by law. For that is what Adam chose, as head of the race. Now, all who are born of Adam, are under the law, so long as they live.

But if they be dead, they are free.

But if they die in their sins, they must be judged in their sins. They shall perish.

Wherefore, Christ is come to redeem and to release and to unite with his own.

So, the old nature, our first condition by birth, is crucified with Christ. The old 'husband', that to which we are intricately and lawfully bound by our natural generation, is taken away in the death of Christ.

For [God] hath made him sin for us . . . II Corinthians 5:21 KJV.

He took upon him the likeness of sinful flesh. And then, at Golgotha, was 'made' sin. He was 'effectively caused' to be sin (the word poieo covers both 'make' and 'do' in English and we need another way to express poieo in this particular place).

Thus, in the likeness of sinful flesh - and then, also, he 'caused' to be sin - then in death he took all of what we are (by nature) down into death.

Our 'husband' - that to which we were intimately and intricately bound, lawfully, by our natural birth - is dead : in him.

We are released from the old nature, for it is done away in Christ, righteously. We are no longer under the law, for the law does not speak to the dead, only to the living upon earth. We are released from the culpability of sin for sin is destroyed, lawfully, in the body of Christ in his death.

Thence we are free to be married to another, that is to say to Christ now risen.

Now risen from the dead, he dieth no more. He is now ascended into the heavens. Now, he is the Head over the body. He us united, judgment passed in righteousness, with his bride.

  • Please can you identity the Old husband in your answer? May 20, 2020 at 13:29
  • 1
    @FaithMendel It should be already clear in my answer in para 13 : So, the old nature, our first condition by birth, is crucified with Christ. The old 'husband', that to which we are intricately and lawfully bound by our natural generation, is taken away in the death of Christ.
    – Nigel J
    May 20, 2020 at 14:16
  • Then it doesn't answer the question. The contrast is between, the law and Christ.. Not our old nature or its condition as your answer says May 27, 2020 at 17:22
  • 2
    @FaithMendel, perhaps another way to phrase what Nigel has brilliantly placed before us is that we are in bondage to the law though our old humanity (the husband). Once our old humanity is crucified with Christ (Rom 6:3-8) then our connection to the law is severed and we are free to be bound to Christ, the new humanity (new husband).
    – Austin
    Jun 11, 2022 at 17:39
  • 1
    @Austin Yes, indeed. That is my meaning, as that is exactly what I see in Paul's words (and elsewhere in scripture).
    – Nigel J
    Jun 12, 2022 at 11:41

Understanding the Relationship between Man and Woman in the Marriage Covenant

When a man marries a woman, the man becomes the woman’s owner, or “lord.”1 Likewise, the woman becomes the man’s possession since he owns her. Accordingly, in Rom. 7:3, when the apostle discusses the woman hypothetically (“if”) marrying another man, he writes, «ἐὰν γένηται ἀνδρὶ ἑτέρῳ», literally, “...if she become another man’s.”2

In Greek, the husband becomes the wife’s κύριος, or in Hebrew, her בַּעַל (baʿal) or אָדון (adon). The literal translation of these words in English is “owner.” Hence, we have the ὁ κύριος τοῦ ἀμπελῶνος—“the lord (owner) of the vineyard,”3 the lord (owner) of the slave,4 and so forth. For this reason, the apostle Paul describes the married woman as «ἡ ὕπανδρος γυνὴ»—literally, “the woman under a man” (or even more literally, “the under-man woman”). He does so because the husband is κύριος over the woman just as a servant’s master is κύριος over the servant.

This relationship exists within the marriage covenant. As long as the man lives, the woman he is married to is his, and he has dominion over her as her κύριος. In fact, if we were to express this in Koine, we would say, «ὁ ἀνήρ κυριεύει τῆς γῠναικός»—“The husband is lord (owner/master) of/over the wife.” The Greek verb κυριεύω means “to be a κύριος (of/over someone/something).”6

If she “become another man’s,” she becomes an adulteress, because no man can sever what God has joined. (It is impossible.) The two are married unto death. Only when one of the parties of the covenant dies does the marriage covenant then become abolished. Hence, if the man dies and the woman becomes another man’s, she is not an adulteress. (Ergo, death is identified as the means by which a covenant is abolished.) Rather, “if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.”7

Understanding the Relationship between Man (who knows the Law) and the Law in the Old Covenant

Having discussed the relationship between the man and woman in marriage, and the means by which a covenant is abolished (i.e., death), the apostle Paul transfers that analogy to the relationship between the the Israelite8 and the Law.

Just as the woman is under her husband (ὕπανδρος) in marriage as long as her husband lives, and the husband is thus over his wife as her κύριος, the apostle Paul describes how the Law is κύριος of/over a man as long as a man lives. Consequently, the man is “under the Law” as long as the Law lives, so to speak. By analogy, then, the wife is equated to the man under the Law, and the husband is equated to the Law. For, the husband is lord/master/owner (κύριος) of the wife just as the Law is lord/master/owner (κύριος) of the man (who knows the Law, i.e., the Israelite).

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However, rather than the Law dying — since the husband of the wife had died in the apostle Paul’s previous analogy in vv. 2–3, and he equated the wife to the man under the Law — the apostle Paul proceeds in v. 4 to describe how the man under the Law (his own brethren) “become dead to the law by the body of Christ.” In other words, it is the man under the Law, not the Law itself, that dies. How so? “By the body of Christ.” What does the apostle Paul mean by that?

When a Christian receives the Holy Spirit, they become spiritually united with the Lord Jesus Christ, for the apostle Paul elsewhere wrote, “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.”9 By virtue of their spiritual union with the Lord Jesus Christ, all Christians, those who are “in Christ,” are accounted as participating in the events of the life of Christ himself. They:

  • are crucified with Christ10
  • suffer with Christ11
  • die with Christ12
  • are buried with Christ13
  • are resurrected with Christ14
  • are vivified with Christ15
  • live with Christ16
  • are glorified with Christ17
  • are seated with Christ18
  • reign with Christ19
  • inherit with Christ20

Before believing in Christ and receiving the Holy Spirit, the Israelite was under the Law, i.e. married to the Law. The Law was the Israelite’s master (owner) or κύριος as long as both parties live. However, once the Israelite believes in the Lord Jesus Christ and receives his Spirit, the Israelite dies with Christ. At that time, the Old Covenant is abolished with respect to that individual Israelite, and the Israelite is no longer under the Law. The Israelite becomes (marries) “another’s, he who is raised from the dead,”21 the Lord Jesus Christ himself.

For the Israelite under the Law (bound by covenant), death is necessary to be free from the Law, as the Psalmist wrote, “Free among the dead,”22 and Job wrote that “the servant is free from his master” in death.23 Regarding Psa. 88:5, the rabbis wrote,24

“Free among the dead” — as soon as a man dies, he is made free from the commandments.

במתים חפשי כיון שמת אדם נעשה חפשי מן המצות

Therefore, the Israelite must die. But, if the Israelite dies in his sins, he perishes forever, never having received salvation from his sins. However, God has provided a means for the Israelite to live eternally by believing in Christ and to never bear the eternal punishment for his own sins, for it is written,25

Amen, amen, I say to you, “He who hears my word and believes on Him who sent me, has eternal life and shall not come into condemnation, but he is passed from death unto life.”


1 For this reason, Sarah called Abraham “my lord (owner).” cf. Gen. 18:12; 1 Pet. 3:6
2 The dative «ἀνδρὶ ἑτέρῳ» here indicates possession.
3 see Thayer (translating Wilke), p. 365, κύριος, a.
4 Matt. 10:28
5 Matt. 10:24
6 That which the subject of the verb is κύριος of/over is identified as its object in the genitive case.
7 1 Cor. 7:9
8 Rom. 7:1: “For I speak to those who know the Law...”
9 1 Cor. 6:17
10 Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20
11 Rom. 8:17
12 2 Tim. 2:11
13 Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12
14 Eph. 2:6; Col. 2:12, 3:1
15 Eph. 2:5; Col. 2:13
16 Rom. 6:8; 2 Tim. 2:11
17 Rom. 8:17
18 Eph. 2:6
19 2 Tim. 2:12
20 Rom. 8:17
21 Rom. 7:4
22 Psa. 88:5
23 Job 3:19 cf. 3:13
24 Babylonian Talmud, Seder Toharot, Tractate Nidda, Chapter 9, Folio 61b, Gemara
25 John 5:24


Wilke, Christian Gottlob. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Being Grimm Wilke’s Clavis Novi Testamenti. Trans. Thayer, Joseph Henry. Ed. Grimm, Carl Ludwig Wilibald. Rev. ed. New York: American Book, 1889.

  • Very beautifully put. “The Israelite is under the Law” you write, what then of the gentile, considering the book of Romans is not written exclusively to Israeli Jews? Jun 6, 2019 at 11:48
  • @Autodidact—It is not only written to Israelites, but the apostle Paul at that moment was speaking to his brothers in the flesh, i.e. fellow Israelites. He wrote, “Don’t you know, brothers (for I speak to those who know the law)...” Elsewhere (2:12), the apostle Paul describes why both Gentile and Israelite both require the same salvation. “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law, and as many as have sinned with law shall be judged by the law.” The Gentiles are ἀνόμως, “without law,” and the Israelites are ἐν νόμῳ, “with law.” Yet, both shall perish without Christ. Jun 6, 2019 at 16:35
  • See also Rom. 3:9. Jun 6, 2019 at 16:37
  • Would you agree therefore that from verse 14 onwards it includes all people including gentiles because all people have a carnal nature, flesh? I don’t want to come across as argumentative. I’m sure I agree with you, I want to clarify for myself how you account for the gentiles in the New Covenant. It’s already evident that we both agree the first part of the chapter is directed toward the Jews who were still Torah observant (I don’t include all of Israel, only the Jews, those from Judah and Benjamin plus the Levitical families, all the southern kingdom as the northern kingdom was cut off). Jun 6, 2019 at 17:43
  • See also Ephesians 2:11-16 May 20, 2020 at 14:36

This part of Romans is specifically dealing with the issue that the (Christian) Jews had with allowing gentiles into the Church.

The Ten Tribes of Israel were divorced from God

“Thus says the Lord: "Where is your mother's certificate of divorce, with which I sent her away? Or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities you were sold, and for your transgressions your mother was sent away.” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭50:1‬ ‭


“And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also.” ‭‭JEREMIAH‬ ‭3:8‬ ‭

Judah did not get a certificate of divorce. But first it’s important to note that he married Israel all twelve tribes

““Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold, you were at the time for love; so I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine,” declares the Lord GOD.” ‭‭EZEKIEL‬ ‭16:8‬ ‭

Judah and Benjamin and any Levites in their tribes which made up the southern kingdom were not given a certificate of divorce.

The law states clearly that if a certificate of divorce is issued the wife may not return to her first husband.

“then her former husband who sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife, since she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.” ‭‭DEUTERONOMY‬ ‭24:4‬ ‭

This was the issue the Jews (Judah and Benjamin) were having, namely, if they accepted the gentiles into the church then God would be forced to accept the divorced Tribes of Israel and break His own Law, which God cannot do.

Apostle Paul is pointing out that the Law of the first husband is only valid so long as the first husband is alive. Once he dies, the woman is released from the law of her husband. AND if by chance that first husband were to resurrect days later he could marry her again because death annulled the Law of the first husband.

What Apostle Paul is saying is that Jesus the Angel in Mt Sinai is the first husband that went into covenant with the twelve tribes and divorced ten of the twelve.

“This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel (Jesus) who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you.” ‭‭ACTS‬ ‭7:38‬ ‭

But the first husband died, Jesus was crucified and released the ten tribes from under the Law of the first husband. So now the gentiles which inevitably had bloodlines from the Ten Tribes of Israel could come into Covenant because that Law of the first husband is nullified with the crucifixion of Jesus.

But not only that Jesus resurrected and said, pick me as your bridegroom. Let’s enter into a New Covenant but not by bloodlines

“who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” ‭‭JOHN‬ ‭1:13‬ ‭


“So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.” ‭‭ROMANS‬ ‭7:3

On this argument Paul continues the picture and draws further parallels saying that not only did Jesus die the first husband but we the bride have died because we are IN HIM. And therefore we are no longer under the Law, just as Jesus the first husband is no longer bound by the Law preventing Him from entering into covenant with the divorced Israel.

This is a very rich text.

  • Mmmm.. I still need further explanations on this please May 20, 2020 at 13:28
  • @FaithMendel here is an answer and in the comment section below it there is a link to a paper the OP found which I though was very good hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/41256/… and the paper jasonstaples.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/… as for who is the old husband from my stand point, it is the Angel of the Lord that entered into covenant with Israel on Mt Sinai who happens to be Jesus that incarnated and died on the cross, rose again as the new husband May 20, 2020 at 14:32
  • Thanks So much. On it now May 20, 2020 at 14:45

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