inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Rom. 7:6)

Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). The inclusive “we” specifically includes the addressee (“you and I and possibly others”), while the exclusive “we” specifically excludes the addressee (“he/she/they and I, but not you”). This grammatical distinction is called “clusivity.” While Semitic languages such as Hebrew or most Indo-European languages such as Greek or English do not make that distinction, translators of languages with that distinction have to make a choice every time they encounter “we” or a form thereof (in English: “we,” “our,” or “us”).

For this verse, translators typically select the inclusive form (including the writer of the letter and the readers).

Source: Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff.

complete verse (Romans 7:6)

Following are a number of back-translations of Romans 7:6:

  • Uma: “But now, we are released from the Lord’s Law that bound us formerly, because we died together with Kristus. So we no longer follow the old way: we no longer follow written laws. Now we follow a new way: we follow God’s will from the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “But now the law has no authority over us (incl.) because it is as if we (incl.) have now died and we (incl.) have been freed from sin. Our (incl.) following God is different now. It is not like in past times that we (incl.) ought to/must only follow/obey everything written in the law. But now God’s Spirit makes our (incl.) livers new already and he helps us (incl.) to obey/follow God.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And when we came to believe in Jesus Christ, God set us free. And it’s no longer necessary that we obey the Law, for when Jesus died, it’s as if we also died and we have been set free from our slavery to sin and today there’s a new way for us to do what God wants because it’s by means of the help of the Holy Spirit and no longer by means of the old way which is obedience to the written Law.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “But now, because of our being included in Cristo’s death, we have been set-free from the law that enslaved us. Thus our serving God now is not based on our following the written law like what we did previously but rather it is based on the new way-of-life that comes from the Holy Spirit.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “But now is released the word of the law which rules us. Because now we make the judgment that we have died. Now anew we live in order that we do the work of God. The Holy Spirit gives us the desire to do the work of God; it is not that we do the work of God because we fear what the old law says.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)


The Greek that is translated in English as “Law” or “law” is translated in Mairasi as oro nasinggiei or “prohibited things.” (Source: Enggavoter 2004)

In Yucateco the phrase that is used for “law” is “ordered-word” (for “commandment,” it is “spoken-word”) (source: Nida 1947, p. 198) and in Central Tarahumara it is “writing-command.” (wsource: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.)