Bird on the Wretched Man

Michael Bird, who teaches New Testament at Highland Theological College in Scotland, offers four reasons why the “wretched man” in Romans 7 is not a Christian describing the struggles of the Christian life. I agree with Bird – I believe this person is likely a pre-convert-to-Christ Jew. I essentially switched to this less common view after I audited Romans with Tom Schreiner at TBS a couple of years ago. Check out Bird’s reasons here.



Filed under michael bird, romans

6 responses to “Bird on the Wretched Man

  1. Ian,

    While it is true that being “sold under sin” would seem to be in conflict with Romans 6…it would seem to me that there is just as serious of a conflict when if we see the man being discussed as unregenerate. For surely delighting in the law of God in their inward being is just as Scripturally uncharacteristic of the unregenerate as “sold under sin” is uncharacteristic of the regenerate. Also, I wonder where else the unregenerate state is described in such a divided and conflicted way.

    I’m not saying this tilts it necessarily in the other direction, but just it leaves me generally skeptical about the sufficiency of the evidence he has provided.

    I guess some of my knee jerk on this topic could be attributable to formerly sitting under various strains of the “believers don’t sin, or at least not serious sins” sort of theology.

    Not long ago I heard a Douglas Wilson sermon where he in a sort of nuanced way said it applies to both. Maybe that is another approach to this?

    I’d be interested in your thoughts.

  2. The point about delighting in the law has to do with the fact that Paul is speaking as a Jew who did delight in the Law. It was a means of salvation for him. So I don’t think it’s so divided or conflicted.
    This isn’t to say that believers don’t struggle with sin, but that this text isn’t about the struggle of sanctification.

  3. Thanks Ian. Some parts of this text confuse me.

    Do you know of a good sermon that somewhat simply go through this and would interpret the text in this way?

  4. thomasgoodwin

    This is where Arminius started changing his theology; he lectured through Romans and took the view you hold to; by the time he got to Rom. 9 the damage had been done … Bird’s view is in vogue, but there are some incredibly powerful arguments for the traditional Augustinian view, namely, Dunn’s and Cranfield’s.

    I’d say Dennis Johnson’s article in the Gaffin Festschrift is the most detailed argument for your view.

    Anyway, my dear friend, Jacob, maybe you’ll return to orthodoxy one day ;)

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