John Wesley On Romans 7

It is no surprise to students of theology to see John Wesley’s interpretation of Romans 7.  In Romans 7 he parts from the interpretation of Augustine, Luther and even Aquinas (see previous blog postings) in seeing the text as if Paul is speaking out of character about a man who is not a believer. 
Wesley states,
“What shall we say then - This is a kind of a digression, to the beginning of the next chapter, wherein the apostle, in order to show in the most lively manner the weakness and inefficacy of the law, changes the person and speaks as of himself, concerning the misery of one under the law. This St. Paul frequently does, when he is not speaking of his own person, but only assuming another character, Rom_3:5, 1Co_10:30, 1Co_4:6. The character here assumed is that of a man, first ignorant of the law, then under it and sincerely, but ineffectually, striving to serve God. To have spoken this of himself, or any true believer, would have been foreign to the whole scope of his discourse; nay, utterly contrary thereto, as well as to what is expressly asserted, Rom_8:2.”[1] 
Wesley’s lack of emphasis on concupiscence (i.e. ingrained inclination to sin) as well as his pre-conversion interpretation of Romans 7 is most likely due to Wesley’s strict emphasis on sanctification.  Frankly put, the idea of concupiscence, especially as Luther taught it, is and will be a nightmare for any Christian shooting for perfectionism in this life under the sun.

[1] John Wesley, John Wesley’s Notes on the Bible (e-Sword, Version 9.9.1), Romans 7:7.