Vocabulary focus on:
- Spirit (πνεῦμα)
- Flesh (σάρξ)
- Body (σῶμα)
- Life/live/bring to life (ζωή/ζάω/ζῳοποιέω)
- Death/mortal/die/kill (θάνατος/θνητός/ἀποθνῄσκω/θανατόω)
- Dead, the dead (νεκρός)
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life [τοῦ πνεύματος τῆς ζωῆς] has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death [τοῦ θανάτου]. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh [ᾧ ἠσθένει διὰ τῆς σαρκός], could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh [σαρκὸς ἁμαρτίας] and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh [ἐν τῇ σαρκί], 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh [μὴ κατὰ σάρκα] but according to the Spirit [κατὰ πνεῦμα]. 5 For those who
live[“are,” ὄντες] according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh [τὰ τῆς σαρκὸς], but those who live[“are,” implied verb] according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit [τὰ τοῦ πνεύματος]. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death [θάνατος], but to set the mind on the Spirit is life [ζωὴ] and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the flesh [ἐν σαρκὶ] but in the Spirit [ἐν πνεύματι], if in fact the Spirit of God [πνεῦμα θεοῦ] dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ [τις πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ] does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body [σῶμα] is dead [νεκρὸν] because of sin, the Spirit is life [ζωὴ] because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead [ἐκ νεκρῶν] dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life [ζῳοποιήσει] to your mortal bodies [τὰ θνητὰ σώματα] through his Spirit [αὐτοῦ πνεύματος] who dwells in you.
12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh [οὐ τῇ σαρκὶ τοῦ κατὰ σάρκα ζῆν]. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die [ἀποθνῄσκειν], but if by the Spirit you put to death [θανατοῦτε] the deeds of the body [τὰς πράξεις τοῦ σώματος], you will live [ζήσεσθε]. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God [πνεύματι θεοῦ] are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery [πνεῦμα δουλείας] to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons [πνεῦμα υἱοθεσίας], by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself [αὐτὸ τὸ πνεῦμα] bears witness with our spirit [τῷ πνεύματι ἡμῶν] that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.*
Note 1. Paul is purposefully repetitive. Ambiguity arises.
Note 2. Most English translations, like the ESV above, capitalize spirit when the translators assume the word refers to God, even if it is obviously not used as a proper noun or a vocative. This occasional capitalization seems to be an attempt to sort out the ambiguous use of πνεῦμα. But if we adopt a hermeneutic stand that respects Paul’s authorial choices, then we must take the ambiguities as purposeful; there is no need to tidy them up with guesswork capitalization.
Note 3. It is not clear from this passage that there is a sharp difference between the θάνατος and νεκρός concepts. It could be argued that the latter is more concrete, and the former more abstract, more figurative, less bodily. Other NT texts do not give clues about a huge difference, except that Christ’s redemptive death is always referred to with the word θάνατος. Even if a sharp distinction were made, I’m not sure it would deeply affect the interpretation of this passage.
Note 4.a. I see why the NIV translates σάρξ as “sinful nature,” but that contains too much of an interpretive assumption. Furthermore, that rendering creates a redundancy in the σαρκὸς ἁμαρτίας of verse 3 above, and it generates some inconsistency when attempting to translate Romans 9.5—”To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh [τὸ κατὰ σάρκα], is the Christ.” There it is very obviously not talking about the “sinful nature.” Σάρξ is a more neutral word.
*English text quoted from the English Standard Version. Greek text taken from the Westcott-Hort Edition of 1881.