When Paul says “without the law,” the absoluteness of this negation must not be toned down. He means this without any reservation or equivocation in reference to the justifying righteousness which is the theme of this part of the epistle. This implies that, in justification, there is no contribution – preparatory, accessory, or subsidiary – that is given by works of the law. This fact is set forth here both by the expression itself and by its emphatic position in the sentence. And it is borne out by the sustained polemic of the epistle as a whole. To overlook this accent is to miss the central message of the epistle. To equivocate here is to distort what could not be more plainly and consistently stated.
From: The Epistle to the Romans: The English Text with Introduction, Exposition, and Notes: Volume 1: Chapters 1 to 8 by John Murray; The New International Commentary on the New Testament series (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1959), p. 109.
John Murray (1898-1975) taught systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania from 1930 to 1966.