Body of Death
deth (soma tou thanatou): These words are found in Paul's impassioned argument on the reign of the law, which dooms man to continuous disappointment and convinces him of the terrible power of indwelling sin. "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Ro 7:24 the King James Version). It is the "picture of the still unredeemed man in his relation to the law" (Meyer). The translation, "this body of death," though grammatically possible, is logically impermissible. The picture here before the mind of the apostle is not physical but ethical. Death points to the dominion of sin, to the reign of the law, as revealed in his physical life, from which he is delivered only through regeneration, by faith in Christ. It points to the "I must" and to the "I cannot." It is therefore the bondage under the law of sin, the body as the seat of this conscious and bitter struggle, that the figure points at. And yet the ethical may have a physical background. There may be a distant reference here to the dreadful punishment of the ancients of chaining the living body to a corpse, that the constant corruption of death might extinguish the life of the victim of this exquisite torture.
Henry E. Dosker