2 For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.
Verses two and three illustrate the wife’s responsibility to societal law of the Old Testament. The principle is that a woman should stay married to her husband as long as he lives. She is bound to her husband by law as long as he lives.
For the woman who has a husband is bound [has been bound] by the law to her husband as long as he lives.
From God’s viewpoint, a woman stands bound (perfect tense) or married by law as long as her husband lives. The dynamic of law is the important point here. The law is not synonymous with the first husband in this verse, for the law has the tendency to rule man only till death. The woman is bound by the law to the husband, not to the law as a husband. The law of the husband does not bind her if he dies. The law governs the relationship between husband and wife. The law rules over both husband and wife; the husband is likewise bound to the wife until her death.
But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband.
A woman stands “released” or discharged from her husband when he dies. Death frees the woman from her marriage. The word “released” is a strong term meaning to render completely null and void. Freedom from the authority of the law is the idea. The wife’s status as a wife is completely abolished. She is no longer a wife. Marriage does not extend beyond death. The law is not the first husband; the first husband by analogy is the corrupt nature of being in Adam. Christians died to their whole position in Adam and to our commitments in him.
It is important to keep in mind that this chapter does not deal with the subject of divorce. It is an analogy dealing with legalism and grace.
So then if,
Verse three is a conclusion from verse two.
while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress;
A woman who remarries while her husband is still alive is categorized as an adulteress. Physical intimacy with a man not her husband is adultery. A believer in the finished work of Christ should not be therefore intimate with any other way of salvation or sanctification. Any relationship based on something other than grace is illegitimate. Grace is the only legitimate basis for living the Christian life.
but if her husband dies [status of being in Adam], she is free from that law,
A woman who remarries if her husband dies is not an adulteress. She is free from the law. In the analogy, the wife represents the Christian. Nowhere did Paul say that the law died. It is the person who dies so that the law no longer has jurisdiction over the Christian.
so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another [another of a different kind] man.
A widow who marries again is not an adulteress. The husband is dead but the woman remains. Physical death of a husband breaks the law of the marriage bond. Christ broke the legal bond to the law by His death on the cross. Jesus’ death paid our indebtedness to the law fully.
Death must terminate the old relationship in Adam so that we might enter the new relationship to Christ.
Our relationship to the law ends when our death with Christ occurred. The law can bully believers by demands they cannot meet. That is why law and grace are mutually exclusive. We cannot grow in grace as long as we have a law-dominated life. Law-orientation will blunt dynamic spiritual living.