Who Is the Man in Romans 7? | Part 1

The man in Romans 7 says, "I was alive apart from the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died" (verse 9). Picture credit: Monk Contemplating a Skull, Thomas Couture, Oil on Canvas, c. 1875
Who was once alive apart from the law, died when the commandment came, and was delivered by Jesus Christ?

Peter Ditzel

Who is the man in Romans 7? This is a continuing controversy among Christians and a question I am often asked. Usually, I’m asked whether I think the man is Paul before or after his conversion. I find it impossible to directly or quickly answer because it is the wrong question. But who is this man whom Paul refers to as “I,” and who seems to believe the Gospel while, at the same time, he struggles with the law and sin?

The only way to properly understand the answer to this question is to understand Paul’s purpose in writing Romans, the historical context of Paul’s letter to the Romans, and the textual context of Romans 7. I hope you’ll find this study as interesting as I do. I also hope you’ll see how relevant the lesson we will learn is to our spiritual lives today. For, while the man of Romans 7 is quite historical, his “ghost” still haunts us.