1.What then shall we say? Throughout this chapter the Apostle proves, that they who imagine that gratuitous righteousness is given us by him, apart from newness of life, shamefully rend Christ asunder: nay, he goes further, and refers to this objection, — that there seems in this case to be an opportunity for the display of grace, if men continued fixed in sin. We indeed know that nothing is more natural than that the flesh should indulge itself under any excuse, and also that Satan should invent all kinds of slander, in order to discredit the doctrine of grace; which to him is by no means difficult. For since everything that is announced concerning Christ seems very paradoxical to human judgment, it ought not to be deemed a new thing, that the flesh, hearing of justification by faith, should so often strike, as it were, against so many stumbling-stones. Let us, however, go on in our course; nor let Christ be suppressed, because he is to many a stone of offense, and a rock of stumbling; for as he is for ruin to the ungodly, so he is to the godly for a resurrection. We ought, at the same time, ever to obviate unreasonable questions, lest the Christian faith should appear to contain anything absurd.
The Apostle now takes notice of that most common objection against the preaching of divine grace, which is this, — “That if it be true, that the more bountifully and abundantly will the grace of God aid us, the more completely we are overwhelmed with the mass of sin; then nothing is better for us than to be sunk into the depth of sin, and often to provoke God’s wrath with new offenses; for then at length we shall find more abounding grace; than which nothing better can be desired.” The refutation of this we shall here after meet with.
What shall we say then? What inference is to be drawn from the doctrine of the gratuitous acceptance of sinners, or justification without works, by faith in the righteousness of Christ?
Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? i.e., be more conspicuously displayed. The form in which the objection to the apostle’s doctrine is here presented, is evidently borrowed from the close of the preceding chapter. Paul had there spoken of the grace of the gospel being the more conspicuous and abundant, in proportion to the evils which it removes. It is no fair inference from the fact that God has brought so much good out of the fall and sinfulness of men, that they may continue in sin. Neither can it be inferred from the fact that he accepts of sinners on the ground of the merit of Christ, instead of their own, (which is one way in which grace abounds,) that they may sin without restraint.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
What, etc. — The subject of this third division of our Epistle announces itself at once in the opening question, “Shall we (or, as the true reading is, “May we,” “Are we to”) continue in sin, that grace may abound?” Had the apostle’s doctrine been that salvation depends in any degree upon our good works, no such objection to it could have been made. Against the doctrine of a purely gratuitous justification, the objection is plausible; nor has there ever been an age in which it has not been urged. That it was brought against the apostles, we know from Rom_3:8; and we gather from Gal_5:13; 1Pe_2:16; Jud_1:4, that some did give occasion to the charge; but that it was a total perversion of the doctrine of Grace the apostle here proceeds to show.
What shall we say then? (ti oun eroumeṅ). “A debater’s phrase” (Morison). Yes, and an echo of the rabbinical method of question and answer, but also an expression of exultant victory of grace versus sin. But Paul sees the possible perversion of this glorious grace.
Shall we continue in sin? (epimenōmen tēi hamartiāi̇). Present active deliberative subjunctive of epimenō, old verb to tarry as in Ephesus (1Co_16:8) with locative case. The practice of sin as a habit (present tense) is here raised.
That grace may abound (hina hē charis pteonasēi). Final clause with ingressive aorist subjunctive, to set free the superfluity of grace alluded to like putting money in circulation. Horrible thought (mē genoito) and yet Paul faced it. There are occasionally so-called pietists who actually think that God’s pardon gives them liberty to sin without penalty (cf. the sale of indulgences that stirred Martin Luther).
2.By no means. To some the Apostle seems to have only intended indignantly to reprove a madness so outrageous; but it appears from other places that he commonly used an answer of this kind, even while carrying on a long argument; as indeed he does here, for he proceeds carefully to disprove the propounded slander. He, however, first rejects it by an indignant negative, in order to impress it on the minds of his readers, that nothing can be more inconsistent than that the grace of Christ, the repairer of our righteousness, should nourish our vices.
Who have died to sin, etc. An argument derived from what is of an opposite character. “He who sins certainly lives to sin; we have died to sin through the grace of Christ; then it is false, that what abolishes sin gives vigor to it.” The state of the case is really this, — that the faithful are never reconciled to God without the gift of regeneration; nay, we are for this end justified, — that we may afterwards serve God in holiness of life. Christ indeed does not cleanse us by his blood, nor render God propitious to us by his expiation, in any other way than by making us partakers of his Spirit, who renews us to a holy life. It would then be a most strange inversion of the work of God were sin to gather strength on account of the grace which is offered to us in Christ; for medicine is not a feeder of the disease, which it destroys. We must further bear in mind, what I have already referred to — that Paul does not state here what God finds us to be, when he calls us to an union with his Son, but what it behoves us to be, after he has had mercy on us, and has freely adopted us; for by an adverb, denoting a future time, he shows what kind of change ought to follow righteousness.
God forbid – Μη γενοιτο, Let it not be; by no means; far from it; let not such a thing be mentioned! – Any of these is the meaning of the Greek phrase, which is a strong expression of surprise and disapprobation: and is not properly rendered by our God forbid! for, though this may express the same thing, yet it is not proper to make the sacred Name So familiar on such occasions.
How shall we, that are dead to sin – The phraseology of this verse is common among Hebrews, Greeks, and Latins. To Die to a thing or person, is to have nothing to do with it or him; to be totally separated from them: and to live to a thing or person is to be wholly given up to them; to have the most intimate connection with them. So Plautus, Clitell. iii. 1, 16: Nihil mecum tibi, Mortuus Tibi Sum. I have nothing to do with thee; I am Dead to thee. Persa, i. 1, 20: Mihi quidem tu jam Mortuus Eras, quia te non visitavi. Thou wast Dead to me because I visited thee not. So Aelian, Var. Hist. iii. 13: Ὁτι φιλοινοτατον εθνος το των Ταπυρων, τοσουτον, ὡστε ζῃν αυτους εν οινῳ, και το πλειστον του βιου εν τῃ προς αυτον ὁμιλιᾳ καταναλισκειν· “The Tapyrians are such lovers of wine, that they Live in wine; and the principal part of their Life is Devoted to it.” They live to wine; they are insatiable drunkards. See more examples in Wetstein and Rosenmuller.
God forbid, μὴ γένοιτο, let it not be. Paul’s usual mode of expressing denial and abhorrence. Such an inference is not to be thought of. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? The relative οἵτινες as usual causative, and it stands first, for the sake of emphasis; ἀπεθάνομεν does not mean are dead, nor have died, but died. It refers to a specific act in our past history: ‘Since we died to sin, how can we still live in it?’ The act which in its nature was a dying to sin, was our accepting of Christ as our Savior. That act involves in it not only a separation from sin, but a deadness to it. No man can apply to Christ to be delivered from sin, in order that he may live in it. Deliverance from sin, as offered by Christ, and as accepted by the believer, is not mere deliverance from its penalty, but from its power. We turn from sin to God when we receive Christ as a Savior. It is, therefore, as the apostle argues, a contradiction in terms, to say that gratuitous justification is a license to sin, as much as to say that death is life, or that dying to a thing is living in it. Instead of giving τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ the usual force of the dative, to, or as it respects, sin, Storr, Flatt, and many other commentators, say it should be understood as in Rom_5:15; Rom_11:20, on account of. ‘How shall we, who in Christ, died on account of sin, i.e., who suffered vicariously its penalty, inasmuch as we were crucified in him, live any longer therein?’
In favor of this interpretation, it is urged,
1. That this phrase must express the same idea with the subsequent clauses, buried with him, Rom_6:4; associated in his death, Rom_6:5; dead with Christ, Rom_6:8.
2. That it must have this meaning in Rom_6:10, where it is said of Christ, he died unto sin, i.e., on account of sin.
3. The other interpretation, ‘How shall we, who have renounced sin, live any longer therein?’ it is said, is not suited to the apostle’s object; because it does not give any adequate answer to the objection presented in Rom_6:1. In order to answer that objection, it was necessary to show not merely that the believer had renounced sin, but that the doctrine of gratuitous justification effectually secures this renunciation.
According to the second interpretation, this answer is plain and conclusive: ‘How shall we, who have died on account of sin, live any longer therein? If we are regarded and treated by God, in virtue of our union with Christ, and if we regard ourselves, as having suffered and died with him on account of sin, we cannot but look upon it as hateful, and deserving of punishment.’
The objections to this interpretation, however, are serious.
1. It is not consistent with the common and familiar import of the expression, to be dead to anything, which occurs frequently in the New Testament; as Gal_2:19, “dead to the law;” 1Pe_2:24, “dead to sins;” Rom_7:4; Col_2:20; Gal_6:14, etc. In all cases the meaning is, to be free from. Sin has lost its power over the believer, as sensible objects are not able to affect the dead.
2. The opposite phrase, to live therein, requires this interpretation.
3. The object of the apostle does not require that a formal, argumentative answer should be supposed to commence in this verse. He simply denies the justice of the inference from his doctrine, stated in Rom_6:1, and asks how it is possible it should be correct. How can a Christian, which is but another name for a holy man, live any longer in sin?
Romans 6:2 Dead to sin, &c. We are then dead to sin when we neither live in sin by serving it, nor sin lives in us by reigning; in this case, how can we still live in it by yielding to its desires? St. Augustine (chap. vi. de spiritu et litera) thus explains the passage: when grace has caused us to die to sin; if we live again in it, we must be exceedingly ungrateful to grace. (Estius)
God forbid – By no means. Greek, It may not be; Note, Rom_3:4. The expression is a strong denial of what is implied in the objection in Rom_6:1.
How shall we? … – This contains a reason of the implied statement of the apostle, that we should not continue in sin. The reason is drawn from the fact that we are dead in fact to sin. It is impossible for these who are dead to act as if they were alive. It is just as absurd to suppose that a Christian should desire to live in sin as that a dead man should put forth the actions of life.
That are dead to sin – That is, all Christians. To be dead to a thing is a strong expression denoting that it has no influence over us. A man that is dead is uninfluenced and unaffected by the affairs of this life. He is insensible to sounds, and tastes, and pleasures; to the hum of business, to the voice of friendship, and to all the scenes of commerce, gaiety, and ambition. When it is said, therefore, that a Christian is dead to sin, the sense is, that it has lost its influence ever him; he is not subject to it; he is in regard to that, as the man in the grave is to the busy scenes and cares of this life. The expression is not infrequent in the New Testament; Gal_2:19, “For I …am dead to the law;” Col_3:3, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God;” 1Pe_2:24, “Who …bare our sins …that we, being dead to sin,” etc. The apostle does not here attempt to prove that Christians are thus dead, nor to state in what way they become so. He assumes the fact without argument. All Christians are thus in fact dead to sin. They do not live to sin; nor has sin dominion over them. The expression used here by the apostle is common in all languages. We familiarly speak of a man’s being dead to sensual pleasures, to ambition, etc., to denote that they have lost their influence over him.
Live any longer therein – How shall we, who have become sensible of the evil of sin, and who have renounced it by solemn profession, continue to practice it? It is therefore abhorrent to the very nature of the Christian profession. It is remarkable that the apostle did not attempt to argue the question on metaphysical principles. He did not attempt to show by abstruse argument that this consequence did not follow; but he appeals at once to Christian feeling, and shows that the supposition is abhorrent to that. To convince the great mass of people, such an appeal is far better than labored metaphysical argumentation. All Christians can understand that; but few would comprehend an abstruse speculation. The best way to silence objections is, sometimes, to show that they violate the feelings of all Christians, and that therefore the objection must be wrong.
(Considerable difficulty exists in regard to the meaning of the expression “dead to sin? Certainly the most obvious interpretation is that given above in the Commentary, namely, that Christians are insensible to sin, as dead persons to the charms and pleasures of life. It has, however, been objected to this view, that it is inconsistent with fact, since Christians, so far from being insensible to sin, are represented in the next chapter as carrying on a perpetual struggle with it. The corrupt nature, though weakened, is not eradicated, and too frequently occasions such mournful falls, as leave little doubt concerning its existence and power. Mr. Scott seems to have felt this difficulty, for, having explained the phrase of “separation from iniquity, as a dead man ceases from the actions of life,” he immediately adds, “not only ought this to be the believer’s character, but in a measure it actually is so.” It is not probable. however, that the apostle meant by the strong expression under discussion, that believers were not altogether “dead to sin,” but only in a measure.
Perhaps we shall arrive at a more satisfactory meaning of the words by looking at the analogous expression in the context, used in reference to Christ himself. He also, in the 10th verse, is said to have “died unto sin,” and the believer, in virtue of union with Christ, is regarded as” dead with him,” Rom_6:8; and, in consequence of this death with Christ, is moreover freed, or rather justified, δεδίκαιωται dedikaiōtai from sin, Rom_6:7. Now it cannot be said of Christ that he died unto sin, in the sense of becoming dead to its charms. for it was never otherwise with him. The believer, therefore, cannot be dead with Christ in this way; nor on this ground, can he be justified from sin, since justification proceeds upon something very different from our insensibility to sinful pleasures. What then is the meaning of the language when applied to Christ? Sin is here supposed to be possessed of certain power. That power or strength the apostle tells us elsewhere is derived from the Law. “The strength of sin is the law,” which demands satisfaction to its injured honor, and insists on the infliction of its penalty. Though then Jesus had no sin of his own, yet when he voluntarily stood in the room of sinners, sin, or its strength, namely, the Law, had power over him, until he died, and thus paid the penalty. His death cancelled every obligation. Henceforth, sin had no more power to exact anything at his hands.
Now Christians are one with Christ. When he died unto sin, they are regarded as having died unto it also, and are therefore, equally with their covenant head, justified from it. Sin, or its strength, the Law, has from the moment of the saint’s union with Christ, no more power to condemn him, than human laws have to condemn one over again who had already died to answer the demands of justice. “The law has dominion over a man so long only as he liveth.” On the whole, then, the expression “dead to sin,” is to be regarded as entirely parallel with that other expression in the seventh chapter, “dead to the law,” that is, completely delivered from its authority as a covenant of works, and more especially from its power to condemn.
This view exercises a decided influence an the believer’s sanctification. “How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” The two things are incompatible. If in virtue of union with Christ, we are dead with him, and freed from the penalty of sin, shall not the same union secure our deliverance from its dominion? “If we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.”
The whole argument, from the 1st to the 11th verse, proceeds upon the fact of the saint’s union with Christ.)
3.Know ye not, etc. What he intimated in the last verse — that Christ destroys sin in his people, he proves here by mentioning the effect of baptism, by which we are initiated into his faith; for it is beyond any question, that we put on Christ in baptism, and that we are baptized
for this end — that we may be one with him. But Paul takes up another principle — that we are then really united to the body of Christ, when his death brings forth in us its fruit; yea, he teaches us, that this fellowship as to death is what is to be mainly regarded in baptism; for not washing alone is set forth in it, but also the putting to death and the dying of the old man. It is hence evident, that when we become partakers of the grace of Christ, immediately the efficacy of his death appears. But the benefit of this fellowship as to the death of Christ is described in what follows.
Know ye not, etc. – Every man who believes the Christian religion, and receives baptism as the proof that he believes it, and has taken up the profession of it, is bound thereby to a life of righteousness. To be baptized into Christ, is to receive the doctrine of Christ crucified, and to receive baptism as a proof of the genuineness of that faith, and the obligation to live according to its precepts.
Baptized into his death? – That, as Jesus Christ in his crucifixion died completely, so that no spark of the natural or animal life remained in his body, so those who profess his religion should be so completely separated and saved from sin, that they have no more connection with it, nor any more influence from it, than a dead man has with or from his departed spirit.
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? In this and the following verse, we have something more in the form of argument in answer to the objection in question. The apostle reminds his readers, that the very design of Christianity was to deliver men from sin; that every one who embraced it, embraced it for that object; and, therefore, it was a contradiction in terms to suppose that any should come to Christ to be delivered from sin, in order that they might live in it. And, besides this, it is clearly intimated that such is not only the design of the gospel, and the object for which it is embraced by all who cordially receive it, but also that the result or necessary effect of union with Christ is a participation in the benefits of his death.
Or know ye not, ἢ ἀγνοεῖτε, or are you ignorant? If any doubt what is said in Rom_6:2, he must be ignorant of the nature and design of baptism, and of the relation to Christ which it involves. Βαπτίζειν εἰς always means to baptize in reference to. When it is said that the Hebrews were baptized unto Moses, 1Co_10:2; or when the apostle asks the Corinthians, ‘Were ye baptized unto the name of Paul?’ 1Co_1:13; or when we are said to be baptized unto Christ, the meaning is, they were baptized in reference to Moses, Paul, or Christ; i.e., to be brought into union with them, as their disciples, or worshippers, as the case may be. In like manner, in the expression baptized into his death, the preposition expresses the design and the result. The meaning therefore is, ‘we were baptized in order that we should die with him,’ i.e., that we should be united to him in his death, and be partakers of its benefits. Thus, “baptism unto repentance,” Mat_3:11, is baptism in order to repentance; “baptism unto the remission of sins,” Mar_1:4, that remission of sins may be obtained; “baptized unto one body,” 1Co_12:13, i.e., that we might become one body, etc. Paul does not design to teach that the sacrament of baptism, from any inherent virtue in the rite, or from any supernatural power in him who administers it, or from any uniformly attending Divine influence, always secures the regeneration of the soul. This is contrary both to Scripture and experience. No fact is more obvious than that thousands of the baptized are unregenerate. It cannot be, therefore, that the apostle intends to say, that all who are baptized are thereby savingly united to Christ. It is not of the efficacy of baptism as an external rite, that he assumes his readers are well informed: it is of the import and design of that sacrament, and the nature of the union with Christ, of which baptism is the sign and the seal. It is the constant usage of Scripture to address professors as believers, to predicate of them as professors what is true of them only as believes. This is also the usage of common life. We address a company of professing Christians as true Christians; we call them brethren in Christ; we speak of them as beloved of the Lord, partakers of the heavenly calling, and heirs of eternal life. Baptism was the appointed mode of professing faith in Christ, of avowing allegiance to him as the Son of God, and acquiescence in his gospel. Those, therefore, who were baptized, are assumed to believe what they professed, and to be what they declared themselves to be. They are consequently addressed as believers, as having embraced the gospel, as having put on Christ, and as being, in virtue of their baptism as an act of faith, the children of God. When a man was baptized unto Christ, he was baptized unto his death; he professed to regard himself as being united to Christ, as dying when he died, as bearing in him the penalty of sin, in order that he might be reconciled to God, and live unto holiness. How could a man who was sincere in receiving baptism, such being its design and import, live in sin? The thing is impossible. The act of faith implied and expressed in baptism, is receiving Christ as our sanctification as well as our righteousness. “Extra controversiam est,” says Calvin, “induere nos Christum in baptismo; et hac lege nos baptizari, ut unum cum ipso simus.” Baptism, therefore, as an act of faith, as the formal reception of Christ as our Savior, brings us into intimate union with him: “For as many as have been baptized unto Christ, have put on Christ.” Gal_3:27. And this baptism has special reference to the death of Christ; we are baptized unto his death. That is, we are united to him in death. His death becomes ours; ours as an expiation for sin, as the means of reconciliation with God, and consequently as the means of our sanctification. Although justification is the primary object of the death of Christ, yet justification is in order to sanctification. He died that he might purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. If such is the intimate connection between justification and sanctification in the purpose of God in giving his Son to die for us, there must be a like intimate connection between them in the experience of the believer. The very act of faith by which we receive Christ as the propitiation for sin, is spiritually a death to sin. It is in its very nature a renunciation of every thing which it was the design of Christ’s death to destroy. Every believer, therefore, is a saint. He renounces sin in accepting Christ.
Know ye not – This is a further appeal to the Christian profession, and the principles involved in it, in answer to the objection. The simple argument in this verse and the two following is, that by our very profession made in baptism, we have renounced sin, and have pledged ourselves to live to God.
So many of us … – All who were baptized; that is, all professed Christians. As this renunciation of sin had been thus made by all who professed religion, so the objection could not have reference to Christianity in any manner.
Were baptized – The act of baptism denotes dedication to the service of him in whose name we are baptized. One of its designs is to dedicate or consecrate us to the service of Christ: Thus 1Co_10:2, the Israelites are said to have been “baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;” that is, they became consecrated, or dedicated, or bound to him as their leader and lawgiver. In the place before us, the argument of the apostle is evidently drawn from the supposition that we have been solemnly consecrated by baptism to the service of Christ; and that to sin is therefore a violation of the very nature of our Christian profession.
Into – εἰς eis. This is the word which is used in Mat_28:19, “Teach all nations, baptizing them into εἰς eis the name of the Father,” etc. It means, being baptized unto his service; receiving him as the Saviour and guide, devoting all unto him and his cause.
Were baptized unto his death – We were baptized with special reference to his death. Our baptism had a strong resemblance to his death. By that he became insensible to the things of the world; by baptism we in like manner become dead to sin. Further, we are baptized with particular reference to the design of his death, the great leading feature and purpose of his work. That was, to expiate sin; to free people from its power; to make them pure. We have professed our devotion to the same cause; and have solemnly consecrated ourselves to the same design – to put a period to the dominion of iniquity.
4.We have then been buried with him, etc. He now begins to indicate the object of our having been baptized into the death of Christ, though he does not yet completely unfold it; and the object is — that we, being dead to ourselves, may become new creatures. He rightly makes a transition from a fellowship in death to a fellowship in life; for these two things are connected together by an indissoluble knot — that the old man is destroyed by the death of Christ, and that his resurrection brings righteousness, and renders us new creatures. And surely, since Christ has been given to us for life, to what purpose is it that we die with him except that we may rise to a better life? And hence for no other reason does he slay what is mortal in us, but that he may give us life again.
Let us know, that the Apostle does not simply exhort us to imitate Christ, as though he had said that the death of Christ is a pattern which all Christians are to follow; for no doubt he ascends higher, as he announces a doctrine, with which he connects, as it is evident, an exhortation; and his doctrine is this — that the death of Christ is efficacious to destroy and demolish the depravity of our flesh, and his resurrection, to effect the renovation of a better nature, and that by baptism we are admitted into a participation of this grace. This foundation being laid, Christians may very suitably be exhorted to strive to respond to their calling. Farther, it is not to the point to say, that this power is not apparent in all the baptized; for Paul, according to his usual manner, where he speaks of the faithful, connects the reality and the effect with the outward sign; for we know that whatever the Lord offers by the visible symbol is confirmed and ratified by their faith. In short, he teaches what is the real character of baptism when rightly received. So he testifies to the Galatians, that all who have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. (Gal_3:27.) Thus indeed must we speak, as long as the institution of the Lord and the faith of the godly unite together; for we never have naked and empty symbols, except when our ingratitude and wickedness hinder the working of divine beneficence.
By the glory of the Father, that is, by that illustrious power by which he exhibited himself as really glorious, and as it were manifested the greatness of his glory. Thus often is the power of God, which was exercised in the resurrection of Christ, set forth in Scripture in sublime terms, and not without reason; for it is of great importance, that by so explicit a record of the ineffable power of God, not only faith in the last resurrection, which far exceeds the perception of the flesh, but also as to other benefits which we receive from the resurrection of Christ, should be highly commended to us.
We are buried with him by baptism into death – It is probable that the apostle here alludes to the mode of administering baptism by immersion, the whole body being put under the water, which seemed to say, the man is drowned, is dead; and, when he came up out of the water, he seemed to have a resurrection to life; the man is risen again; he is alive! He was, therefore, supposed to throw off his old Gentile state as he threw off his clothes, and to assume a new character, as the baptized generally put on new or fresh garments. I say it is probable that the apostle alludes to this mode of immersion; but it is not absolutely certain that he does so, as some do imagine; for, in the next verse, our being incorporated into Christ by baptism is also denoted by our being planted, or rather, grafted together in the likeness of his death; and Noah’s ark floating upon the water, and sprinkled by the rain from heaven, is a figure corresponding to baptism, 1Pe_3:20, 1Pe_3:21; but neither of these gives us the same idea of the outward form as burying. We must be careful, therefore, not to lay too much stress on such circumstances. Drowning among the ancients was considered the most noble kind of death; some think that the apostle may allude to this. The grand point is, that this baptism represents our death to sin, and our obligation to walk in newness of life: without which, of what use can it or any other rite be?
Raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father – From this we learn, that as it required the glory of the Father, that is, his glorious energy, to raise up from the grave the dead body of Christ, so it requires the same glorious energy to quicken the dead soul of a sinner, and enable him to walk in newness of life.
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death. This is an inference from Rom_6:3, to confirm the proposition in ver 2, viz. that those dead in sin cannot live therein. Therefore, says the apostle, such being the nature of our union with Christ, expressed in baptism, it follows, that those who are baptized are buried with Christ; they are as effectually shut out from the kingdom of Satan, as those who are in the grave are shut out from the world. The words διὰ τοῦ βαπτίσμαπος εἰς τὸν θάνατον go together; by baptism unto death, i.e. by a baptism which has reference to Christ’s death, and by which we are associated with him therein. We are buried with him, i.e. we are cut off from the world in and with him. If the words unto death are connected with we were buried, the sense would be, we were buried unto death, i.e. we were buried so as to come into the power of death. But this is an incongruous idea, and an unexampled form of expression.
As in Rom_6:3 the apostle had said εἰς τὸν θάνατον αὐτοῦ ἐβαπτισθημεν, there is no reason to doubt that he here designs to speak of baptism unto death. Compare Col_2:12, “buried with him in baptism.” The same idea is expressed in Rom_6:8, by saying, “we are dead with him,” and in Rom_6:5, “we are planted with him in the likeness of his death.” It is not necessary to assume that there is any reference here to the immersion of the body in baptism, as though it were a burial. No such allusion can be supposed in the next verse, where we are said to be planted with him. The reference is not to the mode of baptism, but to its effect. Our baptism unites us to Christ, so that we died with him, and rose with him. As he died to sin, so do we; as he rose to righteousness and glory, so do we. The same doctrine concerning baptism, and of the nature of union with Christ, therein expressed, is taught in Gal_3:27, and Col_2:12.
That like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. We die with Christ, in order that we should live with him. We share in his death, that we may be partakers of his life. Justification is in order to sanctification. The two are inseparable. There can be no participation in Christ’s life without a participation in his death, and we cannot enjoy the benefits of his death unless we are partakers of the power of his life. We must be reconciled to God in order to be holy, and we cannot be reconciled without thereby becoming holy. Antinomianism, or the doctrine that the benefits of the atonement can be enjoyed without experiencing the renewing of the Holy Ghost, is therefore contrary to the very nature and design of redemption. As Christ died and rose again literally, so his people die and rise spiritually. As Christ’s resurrection was the certain consequence of his death, so is a holy life the certain consequence of our dying with Christ. There is not only an analogy between Christ’s literal death and resurrection, and the spiritual death and resurrection of the believer, but there is a causal relation between the two. The death and resurrection of Christ render certain the justification and sanctification of his people.
Paul says Christ rose, διὰ τῆς δὸξης τοῦ Πατρός, by the glory of the Father. Δόξα, glory, is the excellence of God, the sum of all his perfections, or any one perfection specially manifested. The exhibition, therefore, of God’s holiness, or of his mercy, or of his power, is equally an exhibition of his glory. Here the reference is to his omnipotence, which was gloriously displayed in the resurrection of Christ. In 1Co_6:14, and 2Co_13:4, it is said Christ was raised ἐκ δυνάμεως Θεου~, by the power of God. In Col_1:11, the apostle refers the sanctification of believers to the κράτος τῆς δόξης Θεου~, to the power of his glory. It is according to the analogy of Scripture, that the same event is attributed at one time to the efficiency of the Father, and at another to that of the Son. Christ rose from the dead by his own power. He had power to lay down his life, and he had power to take it again. This is perfectly consistent with the apostle’s declaration, that he was raised by the power of God. The three persons of the Trinity are one God. The efficiency of the Father is also the efficiency of the Son. What the Father does, the Son also does. That we should walk in newness of life, ἐν καινότητι ζωῆς. The idea of purity is associated with that of newness in the word of God — a new heart, a new creature, the new man. Newness of life is a life that is new, compared with what is natural and original; and it is a holy life, springing from a new source. It is not we that live, but Christ that liveth in us; and therefore our life is, in its manifestations, analogous to his. His people are like him.
Therefore we are buried … – It is altogether probable that the apostle in this place had allusion to the custom of baptizing by immersion. This cannot, indeed, be proved, so as to be liable to no objection; but I presume that this is the idea which would strike the great mass of unprejudiced readers. But while this is admitted, it is also certain that his main scope and intention was not to describe the mode of baptism; nor to affirm that that mode was to be universal. The design was very different. It was to show that by the solemn profession made at our baptism, we had become dead to sin, as Christ was dead to the living world around him when he was buried; and that as he was raised up to life, so we should also rise to a new life. A similar expression occurs in Col_2:12, “Buried with him in baptism,” etc. See the Editors’ Notes at Mat_3:6, Mat_3:16.
Into death – εἰς eis. Unto death; that is, with a solemn purpose to be dead to sin and to the world. Grotius and Doddridge, however, understand this as referring to the death of Christ – in order to represent the death of Christ – or to bring us into a kind of fellowship with his death.
That like as – In a similar manner. Christ rose from death in the sepulchre; and so we are bound by our vows at baptism to rise to a holy life.
By the glory of the Father – Perhaps this means, amidst the glory, the majesty and wonders evinced by the Father when he raised him up; Mat_28:2-3. Or possibly the word “glory” is used here to denote simply his power, as the resurrection was a signal and glorious display of his omnipotence.
Even so – As he rose to new life, so should we. As he rose from death, so we, being made dead to sin and the world by that religion whose profession is expressed by baptism, should rise to a new life, a life of holiness.
Should walk – Should live, or conduct. The word “walk” is often used to express the course of a man’s life, or the tenor of his conduct; Rom_4:12; Rom_8:1 notes; 1Co_5:7; 1Co_10:3 notes; Eph_2:10; Eph_4:1 notes, etc.
In newness of life – This is a Hebraism to denote new life. We should rise with Christ to a new life; and having been made dead to sin, as he was dead in the grave, so should we rise to a holy life, as he rose from the grave. The argument in this verse is, therefore, drawn from the nature of the Christian profession. By our very baptism, by our very profession, we have become dead to sin, as Christ became dead; and being devoted to him by that baptism, we are bound to rise, as he did, to a new life.
While it is admitted that the allusion here was probably to the custom of immersion in baptism, yet the passage cannot be adduced as an argument that that is the only mode, or that it is binding on all Christians in all places and ages, for the following reasons:
(1) The scope or design of the apostle is not to discuss the mode of baptism, Or to state any doctrine on the subject. It is an incidental allusion in the course of an argument, without stating or implying that this was the universal mode even then, still less that it was the only possible mode. His main design was to state the obligation of Christians to be holy, from the nature of their profession at baptism – an obligation just as impressive, and as forcible, from the application of water in any other mode as by immersion. It arises from the fact of baptism, not from the mode. It is just as true that they who are baptized by affusion, or by sprinkling, are baptised into his death; become professedly dead to sin and the world, and under obligations to live to God, as those who are immersed. It results from the nature of the ordinance, not from the mode.
(2) if this was the mode commonly, it does not follow that it was the only mode, nor that it was to be universally observed; There is no command that this should be the only mode. And the simple fact that it was usually practiced in a warm climate, where ablutions were common, does not prove that it is to be observed amidst polar snows and ice, and in infancy, and age, and feebleness, and sickness; see the note at Act_8:38-39.
(3) if this is to be pressed literally as a matter of obligation, why should not also the following expression, “If we have been planted together,” etc., be pressed literally, and it be demanded that Christians should somehow be “planted” as well as “buried?” Such an interpretation only shows the absurdity of insisting on a literal interpretation of the Scriptures in cases of simple allusion, or where the main scope is illustration by figurative language.
5.For if we have been ingrafted, etc. He strengthens in plainer words the argument he has already stated; for the similitude which he mentions leaves now nothing doubtful, inasmuch as grafting designates not only a conformity of example, but a secret union, by which we are joined to him; so that he, reviving us by his Spirit, transfers his own virtue to us. Hence as the graft has the same life or death in common with the tree into which it is ingrafted, so it is reasonable that we should be partakers of the life no less than of the death of Christ; for if we are ingrafted according to the likeness of Christ’s death, which was not without a resurrection, then our death shall not be without a resurrection. But the words admit of a twofold explanation, — either that we are ingrafted in Christ into the likeness of his death, or, that we are simply ingrafted in its likeness. The first reading would require the Greek dative ὁμοιώματι, to be understood as pointing out the manner; nor do I deny but that it has a fuller meaning: but as the other harmonizes more with simplicity of expression, I have preferred it; though it signifies but little, as both come to the same meaning. [Chrysostom ] thought that Paul used the expression, “likeness of death,” for death, as he says in another place, “being made in the likeness of men.” But it seems to me that there is something more significant in the expression; for it not only serves to intimate a resurrection, but it seems also to indicate this — that we die not like Christ a natural death, but that there is a similarity between our and his death; for as he by death died in the flesh, which he had assumed from us, so we also die in ourselves, that we may live in him. It is not then the same, but a similar death; for we are to notice the connection between the death of our present life and spiritual renovation.
Ingrafted, etc. There is great force in this word, and it clearly shows, that the Apostle does not exhort, but rather teach us what benefit we derive from Christ; for he requires nothing from us, which is to be done by our attention and diligence, but speaks of the grafting made by the hand of God. But there is no reason why you should seek to apply the metaphor or comparison in every particular; for between the grafting of trees, and this which is spiritual, a disparity will soon meet us: in the former the graft draws its aliment from the root, but retains its own nature in the fruit; but in the latter not only we derive the vigor and nourishment of life from Christ, but we also pass from our own to his nature. The Apostle, however, meant to express nothing else but the efficacy of the death of Christ, which manifests itself in putting to death our flesh, and also the efficacy of his resurrection, in renewing within us a spiritual nature.
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. This is a confirmation of what precedes. We shall walk in newness of life, if we are partakers of Christ’s death, for community of death involves community of life. The general meaning of the verse is plain, although there is doubt as to the force of some of the words, and as to the construction.
First, as to the words. Calvin and many others render σύμφυτος insitus, inserted, engrafted, as though it were derived from φυτεύω. It is, however, from φύω, which means both to bear and to grow. Hence σύμφυτος sometimes means born with, in the sense of innate; sometimes it expresses community of origin, or nature, in the sense of cognate, congenial; and sometimes it is used in reference to things born or produced at the same time. From the other meaning of the word φύω, come the senses growing with, overgrown with, etc. In all cases there is the idea of intimate union, and that is the idea which the word is here intended to express. As to the construction, so far as the first clause of the verse is concerned, we may connect σύμφυτοι with ὁμοιώματι, we have grown together in death, i.e. been united in a like death; or we may supply the words τῷ Χριστῷ, we have been united with Christ, as to, or by, similarity of death. The former as it requires nothing to be supplied, is to be preferred. In the second clause, the word ὁομιώτατι may be supplied, as in our version: we shall be (united) in the likeness of his resurrection. But as σύμφυτος; may be construed with the genitive as well as the dative, many commentators unite σύμφυτοι τῆς ἀναστάσεως ἐσὸμεθα, we shall partake of the resurrection. The sense is the same; if united in death, we shall be united in life; if we die with him, we shall live with him. The future ἐσόμεθα does not here express obligation, nor futurity. The reference is not to what is to happen hereafter, but to the certainty of sequence, or causal connection. If the one thing happens, the other shall certainly follow. The doctrine of this passage is not simple that the believer dies and rises, as Christ died and rose; that there is an analogy between his death and theirs; but, as before remarked, the main idea is, the necessary connection between the death and resurrection of Christ and the death and resurrection of his people. Such is the union between them and him, that his death and resurrection render theirs a matter of necessity. The life or death of a tree necessitates the life or death of the branches. Says Calvin, “Insitio, non tantum exempli conformitatem designat, sed arcanam conjunctionem per quam cum ipso coaluimus, ita ut nos Spiritu suo vegetans ejus virtutem in nos transfundat. Ergo ut surculus communem habet vitae et mortis conditionem cum arbore in quam insertus est; ita vitae Christi non minus quam et mortis participes nos esse consentaneum est.” That the resurrection here spoken of is a spiritual rising from the dead, seems plain, both from what precedes and from what follows. The whole discussion relates to sanctification, to the necessary connection between the death of Christ as an atonement for sin, and the holiness of his people. Those who are cleansed from the guilt of sin, are cleansed also from its pollution. Although this is obvious, yet all reference to the future resurrection of the body is not to be excluded. In Rom_8:11, the apostle represents the quickening of our mortal bodies as a necessary consequence of our union with Christ, and the indwelling of his Spirit. If, therefore, we are baptized unto the death of Christ, united and conformed to him in his death, the sure result will be, that we shall be conformed to him in a holy life here, and in a life of glorious immortality of the soul and body hereafter. All this is included in the life which flows to us from Christ.
Romans 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. So the Authorized Version. But the English word “planted” (though the idea expressed by it has the support of Origen, Chrysostom, and other ancient Fathers; also of the Vulgate, and, among moderns, Beza, Luther, and others; while some, including Erasmus, Calvin, Estius, Cornelius a Lapide, understand “engrafted”) probably suggests what was not intended. Sumfutov is from sumfuw (not sumfuteuw), and need only express being made to grow together in close association. In classic authors it commonly means innate. It seems here used, not to introduce a new figure, whether of planting or grafting, but only to express the close union with Christ, already intimated, into which we entered in baptism. The Revised Version has “have become united with him,” which may perhaps sufficiently express what is meant, though hardly a satisfactory rendering of sumfutoi , Tyndale and Cranmer translate “graft in deeth lyke unto him;” and perhaps “graft into” may be as good a rendering as any other. Meyer, Tholuck, Alford, and others take the dative tw omoiwmati as governed by sumfutoi , equivalent to omoiwv apeyanomen wsper autov (Tholuck). But it may be better to understand Cristw : “Graft into Christ, in the likeness of his death,” tw omoiwmati being added because Christ”s death and ours, in the senses intended, are not the same kind of death literally, ours only corresponding to, and in a certain sense like his. The main purpose of this verse, as of ver. 4, is to press resurrection with Christ as following death with him. But why here the future esomeya ? Did we not rise with Christ to a new life when we emerged from our baptismal burial? Future verbs are used also with a similar reference in ver. 8 and ver. 14.
Now, there are three senses in which our resurrection with Christ may be understood.
(1) As above. (cf. Col_2:12, etc., where the expression is sunhgeryhte)
(2) Our realization of our position of power and obligation in subsequent life actually in practice “dying from sin and rising again unto righteousness” (cf. below, vers. 12-14).
(3) The resurrection of the dead hereafter. Some (including Tertullian, Chrysostom, (Ecumenins) have taken sense to be here intended; but, though the words themselves, esomeya and suzhsomen in ver. 8, suggest this sense, it can hardly be intended here, at any rate exclusively or prominently, since the drift of the whole passage is to insist on the necessity of an ethical resurrection now; and it is evident that the clause before us corresponds with outw kai hmeiv , etc., in the previous verse, and to ver. 11, et seq. The future esomeya is understood by some as only expressing consequence a necessary conclusion from a premiss, thus: If such a thing is the case, such other thing will follow.
If so, sense (1) might still be understood; so that the idea would be the same as in Col_2:12, etc., viz. that of our rising in baptism itself to a new life with Christ, in which sin need not, and ought not to, have dominion. But still the repeated use of the future tense (especially amartia umwn ou kurieusei in ver. 14), together with the whole drift of what follows, seems rather to imply sense (2); that is, our realization of our position in our actual lives subsequent to baptism. If it be objected that in this case we should expect “we ought to be” rather than “we shall be” it may be replied that it is what God will do for us, rather than what we shall do for ourselves, that the apostle has in view. If he has made us partakers in the atoning death of Christ, having forgiven us all trespasses, etc. , (Col_2:13, seq. ) he will also make us partakers, as our life goes on, in the power of his resurrection too, delivering us from sin”s dominion. Further, if this be so, the thought may also include sense (3) For elsewhere the future resurrection seems to be regarded as only the consummation of a spiritual resurrection which is begun in the present life, Christians being already partakers in the eternal life of God, of which the issue is immortality; of. Eph_1:5, 6 Col_3:3, 4 Gal_2:20; also our Lord”s own words, which are peculiarly significant in this regard, “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you. The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live”. (Joh_5:24, Joh_5:25) Again, “I am the Resurrection, and the Life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. (Joh_11:25, Joh_11:26)
We have been planted together (σύμφυτοι γεγόναμεν)
Rev. gives more accurately the meaning of both words. Σύμφυτοι is not planted, which would be formed from φυτεύω to plant, while this word is compounded with σύν together, and φύω to grow. Γεγόναμαν is have become, denoting process, instead of the simple εἶναι to be. Hence Rev., have become united, have grown together; an intimate and progressive union; coalescence. Note the mixture of metaphors, walking and growing.
We shall be also (ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐσόμεθα)
It is impossible to reproduce this graphic and condensed phrase accurately in English. It contains an adversative particle ἀλλά; but. Morison paraphrases: “If we were united with Him in the likeness of His death (that will not be the full extent of the union), but we shall be also united,” etc. For similar instances see 1Co_4:15; Col_2:5.
For if we have been planted together – The word used here σύμφυτος sumphutos, does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. It properly means sown or planted at the same time; what sprouts or springs up together; and is applied to plants and trees that are planted at the same time, and that sprout and grow together. Thus, the name would be given to a field of grain that was sown at the same time, and where the grain sprung up and grew simultaneously. Hence, it means intimately connected, or joined together. And here it denotes that Christians and the Saviour have been united intimately in regard to death; as he died and was laid in the grave, so have they by profession died to sin. And it is therefore natural to expect, that, like grain sown at the same time, they should grow up in a similar manner, and resemble each other.
We shall be also – We shall be also fellow-plants; that is, we shall resemble him in regard to the resurrection. As he rose from the grave, so shall we rise from sin. As he lived a new life, being raised up, so shall we live a new life. The propriety of this figure is drawn from the doctrine often referred to in the New Testament, of a union between Christ and his people. See this explained in the notes at Joh_15:1-10. The sentiment here inferred is but an illustration of what was said by the Saviour Joh_14:19, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” There is perhaps not to be found a more beautiful illustration than that employed here by the apostle of seed sown together in the earth, sprouting together, growing together, and ripening together for the harvest. Thus, the Saviour and his people are united together in his death, start up to life together in his resurrection, and are preparing together for the same harvest of glory in the heavens.
In the likeness of his resurrection – This does not mean that we shall resemble him when we are raised up at the last day – which may be, however, true – but that our rising from sin will resemble his resurrection from the grave. As he rose from the tomb and lived, so shall we rise from sin and live a new life.
6.That our old man, etc. The old man, as the Old Testament is so called with reference to the New; for he begins to be old, when he is by degrees destroyed by a commencing regeneration. But what he means is the whole nature which we bring from the womb, and which is so incapable of the kingdom of God, that it must so far die as we are renewed to real life. This old man, he says, is fastened to the cross of Christ, for by its power he is slain: and he expressly referred to the cross, that he might more distinctly show, that we cannot be otherwise put to death than by partaking of his death. For I do not agree with those who think that he used the word crucified, rather than dead, because he still lives, and is in some respects vigorous. It is indeed a correct sentiment, but not suitable to this passage. The body of sin, which he afterwards mentions, does not mean flesh and bones, but the corrupted mass; for man, left to his own nature, is a mass made up of sin.
He points out the end for which this destruction is effected, when he says, so that we may no longer serve sin. It hence follows, that as long as we are children of Adam, and nothing more than men, we are in bondage to sin, that we can do nothing else but sin; but that being grafted in Christ, we are delivered from this miserable thraldom; not that we immediately cease entirely to sin, but that we become at last victorious in the contest.
Our old man is crucified with him – This seems to be a farther extension of the same metaphor. When a seed is planted in the earth, it appears as if the whole body of it perished. All seeds, as they are commonly termed, are composed of two parts; the germ, which contains the rudiments of the future plant; and the lobes, or body of the seed, which by their decomposition in the ground, become the first nourishment to the extremely fine and delicate roots of the embryo plant, and support it till it is capable of deriving grosser nourishment from the common soil. The body dies that the germ may live. Parables cannot go on all fours; and in metaphors or figures, there is always some one (or more) remarkable property by which the doctrine intended is illustrated. To apply this to the purpose in hand: how is the principle of life which Jesus Christ has implanted in us to be brought into full effect, vigor, and usefulness? By the destruction of the body of sin, our old man, our wicked, corrupt, and fleshly self, is to be crucified; to be as truly slain as Christ was crucified; that our souls may as truly be raised from a death of sin to a life of righteousness, as the body of Christ was raised from the grave, and afterwards ascended to the right hand of God.
But how does this part of the metaphor apply to Jesus Christ? Plainly and forcibly. Jesus Christ took on him a body; a body in the likeness of sinful flesh, Rom_8:3; and gave up that body to death; through which death alone an atonement was made for sin, and the way laid open for the vivifying Spirit, to have the fullest access to, and the most powerful operation in, the human heart. Here, the body of Christ dies that he may be a quickening Spirit to mankind. Our body of sin is destroyed by this quickening Spirit, that henceforth we should live unto Him who died and rose again. Thus the metaphor, in all its leading senses, is complete, and applies most forcibly to the subject in question. We find that παλαιος ανθρωπος, the old man, used here, and in Eph_4:22, and Col_3:9, is the same as the flesh with its affections and lusts, Gal_5:24; and the body of the sins of the flesh, Col_2:11; and the very same which the Jewish writers term אדם הקדמוני, Adam hakkadmoni, the old Adam; and which they interpret by יצר הרע yetsar hara, “evil concupiscence,” the same which we mean by indwelling sin, or the infection of our nature, in consequence of the fall. From all which we may learn that the design of God is to counterwork and destroy the very spirit and soul of sin, that we shall no longer serve it, δουλευειν, no longer be its slaves. Nor shall it any more be capable of performing its essential functions than a dead body can perform the functions of natural life.
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, etc. What in the preceding verses is represented as the consequence of our union with Christ as a matter of doctrine, is here presented as a matter of experience. We are united to Christ as our head and representative, so as to be partakers of his death and resurrection, as a matter of law or of right. What is thus done, as it were, out of ourselves, is attended by an analogous spiritual experience. This knowing, i.e. experiencing this. Our inward experience agrees with this doctrinal statement. Our old man, that is, our corrupt nature as opposed to the new man, or holy nature, which is the product of regeneration, and the effect of our union with Christ. In Eph_4:22, Eph_4:24, we are exhorted to put off the old man, and to put on the new man. Col_3:8, Col_3:9. The Scriptures everywhere assert or assume the fall and native depravity of man. We are born the children of wrath. We are aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, without God, and without hope. This is the inward state and outward condition in which every man comes into the world. Through the redemption that is in Christ, a radical change is effected; old things pass away, all things become new. The old man, the nature which is prior in the order of time, as well as corrupt, is crucified, and a nature new and holy is induced. The word man is used, because it is no one disposition, tendency, or faculty that is changed, but the man himself; the radical principle of his being, the self. Hence Paul uses the pronoun I — “I am sold under sin;” “I cannot do the things that I would.” It is plain from this whole representation, that regeneration is not merely a change of acts, or of the affections in distinction from the understanding, but a change of the whole man. Another thing is also plain, viz. that such a radical change of nature cannot fail to manifest itself in a holy walk and conversation. This is what Paul here insists upon. To the believer who knows that the old man is crucified with Christ, the objection that gratuitous justification leads to licentiousness, is contradictory and absurd. The old man is said to be crucified, not because the destruction of the principle of sin is a slow and painful process, but because Christ’s death was by crucifixion, in which death we were associated, and because it is from him, as crucified, the death of sin in us proceeds. “Hunc veterem hominem dicit esse affixum cruci Christi, quia ejus virtute conficitur. Ac nominatim allusit ad crucem, quo expressiùs indicaret non aliunde nos mortificari, quam ex ejus mortis participatione.”
That the body of sin might be destroyed. “The body of sin” is only another name for “the old man,” or rather for its concrete form. The design of our crucifixion with Christ is the destruction of the old man, or the body of sin; and the design of the destruction of the inward power or principle of evil, is our spiritual freedom. This latter idea the apostle expresses by saying, that henceforth we should not serve sin, i.e. be in bondage to it. The service of sin is a δουλεία, a slavery, a state from which we cannot free ourselves; a power which coerces obedience in despite of the resistance of reason, conscience, and as the apostle teaches, even of the will. It is a bondage from which we can be delivered in no other way than by the death of the inward principle of evil which possesses our nature, and lies back of the will, beyond the reach of our power, and which can be destroyed only by union with Christ in his death, who died for this very purpose, that he might deliver us from the bondage of corruption, and introduce us into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. Compare Joh_8:34; Heb_2:14-16. Although the general sense of this verse is thus plain, there is great diversity of opinion as to the precise meaning of the words σῶμα τῆς ἁμαρτίας, body of sin.
1. Some say it means the sinful body, that is, the body which is the seat and source of sin. But it is not the doctrine of the Bible, that sin has its source in matter; it is spiritual in its nature and origin. The body is not its source, but its instrument and slave. Moreover, the design of Christ’s death is never said to be to destroy the body.
2. Others say that σῶμα means the physical body, not as the source, but as the appurtenance of sin, as belonging to it, and ruled by it. But this is subject in part to the same objection.
3. Others say that σῶμα means mass, “the mass of sin.” “Corpus peccati,” says Calvin, “non carnem et ossa, sed massam designat; homo enim naturae propriae relictus massa est ex peccato conflata.”
4. Others assume that σῶμα has the same sense as σάρξ, corrupt nature; so that “body of sin” means our “sinful, carnal nature.” This no doubt is the idea, but it is not expressed by the word σῶμα, which is not equivalent to σάρξ.
5. Others take sw~ma, in accordance with the Rabbinical use of the corresponding Hebrew word, to mean essence or substance, for which, however, there is no authority from the usus loquendi of the Scriptures.
6. Perhaps the most satisfactory view is that of those who understand the phrase as figurative. Sin is personified. It is something that has life, is obeyed; that can be put to death. It is represented as a body, or organism; as having its members. Compare Col_3:5. In Col_2:11, the apostle speaks of putting off “the body of the sins of the flesh,” by which he means the totality of our corrupt nature. So here, “the body of sin,” is sin considered as a body, as something which can be crucified.
Romans 6:6 Knowing this (cf. h agnoeite , ver. 3), that our old man was (not is, as in the Authorized Version) crucified with him that the body of sin might be destroyed (or abolished, or done away, katarghyh), that henceforth we should not serve (douleuein , expressing bondage, or slavery; and so throughout the chapter in the word douloi , translated “servants”) sin. For he that hath died is freed from sin. The word “crucified” has, of course, reference to the mode of Christ”s death into which we were baptized. It does not imply anything further (as some have supposed) as to the manner of our own spiritual dying, such as painfulness or lingering; it merely means that in his death our old man died Col_2:14, profhlwsav auto tw staurw). The term “old man” (palai) occurs also Eph_4:22Co Eph_3:9. It denotes man”s unregenerate self, when under sin and condemnation; the kainov or neov anyrwpov being his regenerate self. It is, of course, a different conception from that of o exw and o eswyen anywppov of 2Co_4:16. In Ephesians and Colossians the old man is said to be put away, or put off, and the new one put on, as though they were two clothings, or investments, of his personality, determining its character. Here, by a bolder figure, they are viewed as an old self that had died and a new one that had come to life in its place. (cf. 2Co_5:17, Ei tiv en Cristw kainh ktisiv ta arcaia parhlyen) The idea of a new man being born into a new life in baptism was already familiar to the Jews in their baptism of proselytes; (see Lightfoot, on Joh 3) and our Lord, discoursing to Nicodemus of the new birth, supposes him to understand the figure; but he teaches him that the change thus expressed should be no mere change of profession and habits of life, but a radical inward change, which could only be wrought by the regenerating Spirit. Such a change St. Paul teaches to be signified by Christian baptism; not only deliverance from condemnation through participation in the benefits of the death of Christ, but also the birth or creation of a new self corresponding to his risen body, which will not be, like the old self, under the thraldom of sin. “The body of sin” may be taken as meaning much the same as “our old man;” sin being conceived as embodied in our former selves, and so possessing them and keeping them in bondage. It certainly does not mean simply our bodies as distinct from our souls, so as to imply the idea that the former must be macerated that the latter may live. The asceticism inculcated elsewhere in the New Testament is in no contradiction to the ideal of mens sana in corpore sano. Our former sin-possessed and sin-dominated personality being now crucified with Christ, dead, and done away with, we are no longer, in our new personality, in slavery to sin, and are both bound and able to renounce it; “for he that hath died is freed dedikaiwtaia , literally, “is justified from sin.” In Scotland, one who is executed is said to be justified, the idea apparently being that he has satisfied the claims of law. So here dedikaiwtai . The word douleuein , be it observed, in ver. 6 introduces by the way the second figure under which, as above said, the apostle regards his subject, though it is not taken up till ver. 16.
Old man (ὁ παλαιὸς ἄνθρωπος)
Only in Paul, and only three times; here, Eph_4:22; Col_3:9. Compare Joh_3:3; Tit_3:5. The old, unrenewed self. Paul views the Christian before his union with Christ, as, figuratively, another person. Somewhat in the same way he regards himself in ch. 7.
The body of sin (τὸ σῶμα τῆς ἁμαρτίας)
Σῶμα in earlier classical usage signifies a corpse. So always in Homer and often in later Greek. So in the New Testament, Mat_6:25; Mar_5:29; Mar_14:8; Mar_15:43. It is used of men as slaves, Rev_18:13. Also in classical Greek of the sum-total. So Plato: τὸ τοῦ κόσμου σῶμα the sum-total of the world (“Timaeus,” 31).
The meaning is tinged in some cases by the fact of the vital union of the body with the immaterial nature, as being animated by the ψυξή soul, the principle of individual life. Thus Mat_6:25, where the two are conceived as forming one organism, so that the material ministries which are predicated of the one are predicated of the other, and the meanings of the two merge into one another.
In Paul it can scarcely be said to be used of a dead body, except in a figurative sense, as Rom_8:10, or by inference, 2Co_5:8. Commonly of a living body. It occurs with ψυχή soul, only 1Th_5:23, and there its distinction from ψυχή rather than its union with it is implied. So in Mat_10:28, though even there the distinction includes the two as one personality. It is used by Paul:
1. Of the living human body, Rom_4:19; 1Co_6:13; 1Co_9:27; 1Co_12:12-26.
2. Of the Church as the body of Christ, Rom_12:5; 1Co_12:27; Eph_1:23; Col_1:18, etc. Σάρξ flesh, never in this sense.
3. Of plants and heavenly bodies, 1Co_15:37, 1Co_15:40.
4. Of the glorified body of Christ, Phi_3:21.
5. Of the spiritual body of risen believers, 1Co_15:44.
It is distinguished from σάρξ flesh, as not being limited to the organism of an earthly, living body, 1Co_15:37, 1Co_15:38. It is the material organism apart from any definite matter. It is however sometimes used as practically synonymous with σάρξ, 1Co_7:16, 1Co_7:17; Eph_5:28, Eph_5:31; 2Co_4:10, 2Co_4:11. Compare 1Co_5:3 with Col_2:5. An ethical conception attaches to it. It is alternated with μέλη members, and the two are associated with sin (Rom_1:24; Rom_6:6; Rom_7:5, Rom_7:24; Rom_8:13; Col_3:5), and with sanctification (Rom_12:1; 1Co_6:19 sq.; compare 1Th_4:4; 1Th_5:23). It is represented as mortal, Rom_8:11; 2Co_10:10; and as capable of life, 1Co_13:3; 2Co_4:10.
In common with μέλη members, it is the instrument of feeling and willing rather than σάρξ, because the object in such cases is to designate the body not definitely as earthly, but generally as organic, Rom_6:12, Rom_6:13, Rom_6:19; 2Co_5:10. Hence, wherever it is viewed with reference to sin or sanctification, it is the outward organ for the execution of the good or bad resolves of the will.
The phrase body of sin denotes the body belonging to, or ruled by, the power of sin, in which the members are instruments of unrighteousness (Rom_6:13). Not the body as containing the principle of evil in our humanity, since Paul does not regard sin as inherent in, and inseparable from, the body (see Rom_6:13; 2Co_4:10-12; 2Co_7:1. Compare Mat_15:19), nor as precisely identical with the old man, an organism or system of evil dispositions, which does not harmonize with Rom_6:12, Rom_6:13, where Paul uses body in the strict sense. “Sin is conceived as the master, to whom the body as slave belongs and is obedient to execute its will. As the slave must perform his definite functions, not because he in himself can perform no others, but because of His actually subsistent relationship of service he may perform no others, while of himself he might belong as well to another master and render other services; so the earthly σῶμα body belongs not of itself to the ἁμαρτία sin, but may just as well belong to the Lord (1Co_6:13), and doubtless it is de facto enslaved to sin, so long as a redemption from this state has not set in by virtue of the divine Spirit” (Rom_7:24 : Dickson).
See on Rom_3:3.
He that is dead (ὁ ἀποθανὼν)
Rev., literally, he that hath died. In a physical sense. Death and its consequences are used as the general illustration of the spiritual truth. It is a habit of Paul to throw in such general illustrations. See Rom_7:2.
Knowing this – We all knowing this. All Christians are supposed to know this. This is a new illustration drawn from the fact that by his crucifixion our corrupt nature has been crucified also, or put to death; and that thus we should be free from the servitude of sin.
Our old man – This expression occurs also in Eph_4:22, “That ye put off …the old man which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.” Col_3:9, “lie not to one another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds.” From these passages it is evident that Paul uses the expression to denote our sinful and corrupt nature; the passions and evil propensities that exist before the heart is renewed. It refers to the love of sin, the indulgence of sinful propensities, in opposition to the new disposition which exists after the soul is converted, and which is called “the new man.”
Is crucified – Is put to death, as if on a cross. In this expression there is a personification of the corrupt propensities of our nature represented as “our old man,” our native disposition, etc. The figure is here carried out, and this old man, this corrupt nature, is represented as having been put to death in an agonizing and torturing manner. The pains of crucifixion were perhaps the most torturing of any that the human frame could bear. Death in this manner was most lingering and distressing. And the apostle here by the expression “is crucified” doubtless refers to the painful and protracted struggle which everyone goes through when his evil propensities are subdued; when his corrupt nature is slain; and when, a converted sinner, he gives himself up to God. Sin dies within him, and he becomes dead to the world, and to sin; “for as by the cross death is most lingering and severe, so that corrupt nature is not subdued but by anguish.” (Grotius.) All who have been born again can enter into this description. They remember “the wormwood and the gall.” They remember the anguish of conviction; the struggle of corrupt passion for the ascendency; the dying convulsions of sin in the heart; the long and lingering conflict before it was subdued, and the soul became submissive to God. Nothing will better express this than the lingering agony of crucifixion: and the argument of the apostle is, that as sin has produced such an effect, and as the Christian is now free from its embrace and its power, he will live to God.
With him – The word “with” σύν sun here is joined to the verb “is crucified” and means “is crucified as he was.”
That the body of sin – This expression doubtless means the same as that which he had just used, “our old man,” But why the term “body” is used, has been a subject in which interpreters have not been agreed. Some say that it is a Hebraism, denoting mere intensity or emphasis. Some that it means the same as flesh, that is, denoting our sinful propensities and lusts. Grotius thinks that the term “body” is elegantly attributed to sin, because the body of man is made up of many members joined together compactly, and sin also consists of numerous vices and evil propensities joined compactly, as it were, in one body. But the expression is evidently merely another form of conveying the idea contained in the phrase “our old man” – a personification of sin as if it had a living form, and as if it had been put to death on a cross. It refers to the moral destruction of the power of sin in the heart by the gospel, and not to any physical change in the nature or faculties of the soul; compare Col_2:11.
Might be destroyed – Might be put to death; might become inoperative and powerless. Sin becomes enervated, weakened, and finally annihilated, by the work of the Cross.
We should not serve – Should not be the slave of sin δουλεύειν douleuein. That we should not be subject to its control. The sense is, that before this we were slaves of sin (compare Rom_6:17,) but that now we are made free from this bondage, because the moral death of sin has freed us from it.
Sin – Sin is here personified as a master that had dominion over us, but is now dead.
7.For he who has died, etc. This is an argument derived from what belongs to death or from its effect. For if death destroys all the actions of life, we who have died to sin ought to cease from those actions which it exercised during its life. Take justified for freed or reclaimed from bondage; for as he is freed from the bond of a charge, who is absolved by the sentence of a judge; so death, by freeing us from this life, sets us free from all its functions.
But though among men there is found no such example, there is yet no reason why you should think, that what is said here is a vain speculation, or despond in your minds, because you find not yourselves to be of the number of those who have wholly crucified the flesh; for this work of God is not completed in the day in which it is begun in us; but it gradually goes on, and by daily advances is brought by degrees to its end. So then take this as the sum of the whole, — “If thou art a Christian, there must appear in thee an evidence of a fellowship as to the death of Christ; the fruit of which is, that thy flesh is crucified together with all its lusts; but this fellowship is not to be considered as not existing, because thou findest that the relics of the flesh still live in thee; but its increase ought to be diligently labored for, until thou arrivest at the goal.” It is indeed well with us, if our flesh is continually mortified; nor is it a small attainment, when the reigning power, being taken away from it, is wielded by the Holy Spirit. There is another fellowship as to the death of Christ, of which the Apostle often speaks, as he does in 2Co_4:0, that is, the bearing of the cross, which is followed by a joint-participation also of eternal life.
For he that is dead is free from sin. The Greek here is, ὁ γὰρ ἀποθανὼν δεδικαιωται ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίας, for he who has died is justified from sin. The particle γάρ, for, shows that this verse is a confirmation of what precedes: ‘The believer (he who is by faith united to Christ in his death) cannot any longer serve sin, for he who has died is justified from sin.’ The word ἀποθανών may be taken in a physical, a moral, or a mystical sense. If in a physical sense, then the meaning is, that death frees from sin. This may be understood in two ways: first, on the theory that the body is the source of sin, death, or freedom from the body, involves freedom from sin; or, secondly, death considered as a penalty, is the expiation of sin; so that he who dies, is judicially free from sin. Some who adopt this interpretation, suppose that the apostle sanctions the unscriptural Jewish doctrine (see Eisenmenger’s Entdeckt. Judenthum, 2., p. 283), that death is the full penalty of sin, and therefore its expiation. Others say he is to be understood as speaking only of sin or guilt in relation to human law: ‘He who has died for his crime is free from guilt or further liability.’ In either way, the only relation which this verse, when understood of physical death, can have to the apostle’s argument, is that of an illustration: ‘As the man who has suffered for his crime is freed from it, so he who is crucified with Christ is free from sin. In either case the power of sin is destroyed.’ If the moral sense of the word be adopted, then the meaning is either, ‘he who is spiritually dead is free from sin,’ (which amounts to saying, ‘he that is holy is holy;’) or, ‘he who is spiritually dead is justified from sin.’ But this last sense is utterly unsuited to the context, and implies that spiritual death, or holiness, is the ground of justification; which is contrary to all Scripture, and especially to Paul’s doctrine. The mystical sense of the word is the only one consistent with the context. The apostle has not been speaking of natural death, but of death with Christ; of the believer being crucified with him. It is of that he is now speaking. He had just said that the believer cannot continue to serve sin. He here gives the reason: for he who has died (with Christ) is justified, and therefore free from sin, free from its dominion. This is the great evangelical truth which underlies the apostle’s whole doctrine of sanctification. The natural reason assumes that acceptance with a holy and just God must be founded on character, that men must be holy in order to be justified. The gospel reverses this, and teaches that God accepts the ungodly; that we must be justified in order to become holy. This is what Paul here assumes as known to his readers. As justification is the necessary means, and antecedent to holiness, he that is justified becomes holy; he cannot live in sin. And he who is dead, i.e. with Christ, (for it is only his death that secures justification,) is justified from sin. To be justified from sin means to be delivered from sin by justification. And that deliverance is twofold; judicial deliverance from its penalty, and subjective deliverance from its power. Both are secured by justification; the former directly, the other consequentially, as a necessary sequence. Compare Gal_2:19, Gal_2:20; Gal_6:14; Col_2:13; Col_3:3; 1Pe_4:1, and other passages in which the sanctification of believers is represented as secured by the death of Christ.
7.] The difficulty of this verse arises from the Apostle having in a short and pregnant sentence expressed a whole similitude, joining, as he elsewhere does in such cases, the subject of the first limb of the comparison with the predicate of the second. Fully expressed, it would stand thus: ‘For, as a man that is dead is acquitted and released from guilt and bondage (among men: no reference to God’s judgment of him): so a man that has died to sin is acquitted from the guilt of sin and released from its bondage.’ I express δεδικ. by this periphrasis in both cases, because I believe that all this is implied in it: ‘is acquitted,’ ‘has his quittance,’ from sin, so that Sin (personified) has no more claims on him, either as a creditor or as a master: cannot detain him for debt, nor sue him for service. A larger reference is thus given to δεδικ. than the purposes of the present argument, which is treating of the power, not the guilt of sin, required: but that it is so, lies in the nature of ἁμαρτία, the service of which is guilt, and the deliverance from whose service necessarily brings with it acquittal.
For he that is dead – This is evidently an expression having a proverbial aspect, designed to illustrate the sentiment just expressed. The Rabbis had an expression similar to this, “When one is dead he is free from commands.” (Grotius.) So says Paul, when a man dies he is exempt from the power and dominion of his master, of him who reigned over him. The Christian had been subject to sin before his conversion. But he has now become dead to it. And as when a servant dies, he ceases to be subject to the control of his master, so the Christian being now dead to sin, on the same principle, is released from the control of his former master, sin. The idea is connected with Rom_6:6, where it is said that we should not be the slaves of sin any more. The reason of this is assigned here, where it is said that we are freed from it as a slave is freed when he dies. Of course, the apostle here is saying nothing of the future world. His whole argument has respect to the state of the Christian here; to his being freed from the bondage of sin. It is evident that he who is not freed from this bondage here, will not be in the future world. But the argument of the apostle has no bearing on that point.
Is freed – Greek, Is justified. The word here is used clearly in the sense of setting at liberty, or destroying the power or dominion. The word is often used in this sense; compare Act_13:38-39; compare a similar expression in 1Pe_4:1, “He that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin.” The design of the apostle is not to say that the Christian is perfect, but that sin has ceased to have dominion over him, as a master ceases to have power over a slave when he is dead. That dominion may be broken, so that the Christian may not be a slave to sin, and yet he may be conscious of many failings and of much imperfection; see Rom. 7.
8.But if we have died, etc. He repeats this for no other end but that he might subjoin the explanation which follows, that Christ, having once risen, dies no more. And hereby he teaches us that newness of life is to be pursued by Christians as long as they live; for since they ought to represent in themselves an image of Christ, both by crucifying the flesh and by a spiritual life, it is necessary that the former should be done once for all, and that the latter should be carried on continually: not that the flesh, as we have already said, dies in us in a moment, but that we ought not to retrograde in the work of crucifying it. For if we roll again in our own filth, we deny Christ; of whom we cannot be the participators except through newness of life, inasmuch as he lives an incorruptible life.
Now, if we be dead with Christ, etc. If the truth stated in the preceding verses be admitted, viz. that our union with Christ is such that his death secures our deliverance from the penalty and power of sin, we believe we shall also live with him. That is, we are sure that the consequences of his death are not merely negative, i.e., not simply deliverance from evil, moral and physical, but also a participation in his life. We believe, i.e., we have a confidence, founded on the promise and revealed purpose of God. It is not a conclusion of reason; it is not simply a hope, a peradventure; it is a faith, an assured conviction that God, after having justified us through the blood of Christ, will not leave us spiritually defiled. We shall live, συζήσομεν, the future, referring not to what is to happen hereafter, but to what is the certain consequence of our union with Christ. If we are united mystically with Christ in his death, we shall certainly live with him, i.e., we shall certainly partake of his life. As, however, this life is a permanent and eternal life, as it pertains to the body as well as to the soul, a participation of his life now involves a participation of it, with all its glorious consequences, for ever. To live with Christ, therefore, includes two ideas; association with him, and similarity to him. We partake of his life, and consequently our life is like his. In like manner, since we die with him, we die as he died. So, too, when we are said to reign with him, to be glorified together, both these ideas are included; see Rom_8:17, and many similar passages. The life here spoken of is that “eternal life” which believers are said to possess even in this world; see Joh_3:36, Joh_5:24; and which is manifested here by devotion to God, and hereafter in the purity and blessedness of heaven. It includes, therefore, all the consequences of redemption. We are not to consider the apostle as merely running a parallel between the natural death and resurrection of Christ, and the spiritual death and resurrection of his people, as has already been remarked, but as showing that, in consequence of union to him in his death, we must die as he died, and live as he lives. That is, that the effect of his death is to destroy the power of sin; and the result of his living is the communication and preservation of Divine life to all who are connected with him. This being the case, the objection stated in Rom_6:1 of this chapter, is seen to be entirely unfounded. This life of Christ, to which we are conformed, is described in the following verses, first as perpetual, and secondly, as devoted unto God.
Now if we be dead with Christ – If we be dead in a manner similar to what he was; if we are made dead to sin by his work, as he was dead in the grave; see the note at Rom_6:4.
We believe – All Christians. It is an article of our faith. This does not refer to the future world so much as to the present. It becomes an article of our belief that we are to live with Christ.
That we shall also live with him – This does not refer primarily to the resurrection, and to the future state, but to the present. “We hold it as an article of our faith, that we shall be alive with Christ.” As he was raised up from death, so we shall be raised from the death of sin. As he lives, so we shall live in holiness. We are in fact raised up here, and, as it were, made alive to him. This is not confined, however, to the present life, but as Christ lives forever, so the apostle goes on to show that we shall.
9.Death no more rules over him, etc. He seems to imply that death once ruled over Christ; and indeed when he gave himself up to death for us, he in a manner surrendered and subjected himself to its power; it was however in such a way that it was impossible that he should be kept bound by its pangs, so as to succumb to or to be swallowed up by them. He, therefore, by submitting to its dominion, as it were, for a moment, destroyed it for ever. Yet, to speak more simply, the dominion of death is to be referred to the state of death voluntarily undergone, which the resurrection terminated. The meaning is, that Christ, who now vivifies the faithful by his Spirit, or breathes his own life into them by his secret power from heaven, was freed from the dominion of death when he arose, that by virtue of the same dominion he might render free all his people.
Knowing that Christ, being raised from the dead, dieth no more. Knowing εἰδότες is either equal to καὶ οἴδαμεν, and we know, thus introducing a new idea, or it is causal, because we know. The latter is to be preferred. We are sure we shall be partakers of the life of Christ, because we know that he lives. Were he not a living Savior, if his life were not perpetual, he could not be the source of life to his people in all ages. The perpetuity of Christ’s life, therefore, is presented,
1. As the ground of assurance of the perpetuity of the life of believes. We shall partake of the life of Christ, i.e. of the spiritual and eternal blessings of redemption, because he ever lives to make intercession for us, and to grant us those supplies of grace which we need; see Rom_5:10; Joh_14:19; 1Co_15:22, etc. As death has no more dominion over him, there is no ground of apprehension that our supplies of life will be cut off. This verse, therefore, is introduced as the ground of the declaration, “we shall live with him,” at the close of Rom_6:8.
2. The perpetuity of the life of Christ is one of the points in which our life is to be conformed to his. Christ dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over him. This repetition is for the sake of emphasis. Christ’s subjection to death was voluntary. It was not from a necessity of nature, nor from any obligation to justice. He laid down his life of himself. He voluntarily submitted to death for our sakes, and was the master of death even in dying; and therefore he is, so to speak, in no danger of ever being subject to its power. The object of his voluntary submission to death having been accomplished, he lives for evermore. This is more fully expressed in the following verse.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him — Though Christ’s death was in the most absolute sense a voluntary act (Joh_10:17, Joh_10:18; Act_2:24), that voluntary surrender gave death such rightful “dominion over Him” as dissolved its dominion over us. But this once past, “death hath,” even in that sense, “dominion over Him no more.”
9.] This and the following verse explain what sort of a life with Christ is meant, by what we know of the Resurrection-life of Christ himself. The only difficulty here is in οὐκ ἔτι κυριεύει, as implying that Death had dominion over Christ, which we know it had not: see Joh_10:17, Joh_10:18; Joh_2:19; Act_2:24. But this vanishes, when we remember that our Lord, by submitting to Death, virtually, and in the act of death, surrendered Himself into the power of Death. Death could not hold Him, and had no power over Him further than by his own sufferance: but power over Him it had, inasmuch as He died.
Knowing – As we all know. This is assumed as an undoubted article of belief.
Dieth no more – Will never die again. He will have occasion to make no other atonement for sin; for what he has made is sufficient for all. He is beyond the dominion of death, and will live forever, Rev_1:18, “I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore.” This is not only a consolation to the Christian, but it is an argument why he should be holy.
No more dominion – No rule; no lordship; no power. He is free from its influence; and the king of terrors cannot reach his throne; compare Heb_9:25-28; Heb_10:12.
10.He died once to sin, etc. What he had said — that we, according to the example of Christ, are for ever freed from the yoke of death, he now applies to his present purpose, and that is this — that we are no more subject to the tyranny of sin, and this he proves from the designed object of Christ’s death; for he died that he might destroy sin.
But we must observe what is suitable to Christ in this form of expression; for he is not said to die to sin, so as to cease from it, as the words must be taken when applied to us, but that he underwent death on account of sin, that having made himself ἀντίλυτρον, a ransom, he might annihilate the power and dominion of sin. And he says that he died once, not only because he has by having obtained eternal redemption by one offering, and by having made an expiation for sin by his blood, sanctified the faithful for ever; but also in order that a mutual likeness may exist between us. For though spiritual death makes continual advances in us, we are yet said properly to die only once, that is, when Christ, reconciling us by his blood to the Father, regenerates us at the same time by the power of his Spirit.
But that he lives, etc. Whether you addwith or in God, it comes to the same meaning; for he shows that Christ lives a life subject to no mortality in the immortal and incorruptible kingdom of God; a type of which ought to appear in the regeneration of the godly. We must here remember the particle of likeness, so; for he says not that we shall now live in heaven, as Christ lives there; but he makes the new life, which after regeneration we live on earth, similar to his celestial life. When he says that we ought to die to sin, according to his example, we are not to suppose it to be the same kind of death; for we die to sin, when sin dies in us, but it was otherwise with Christ; by dying it was that he conquered sin. But he had just said before, that we believe that we shall have life in common with him, he fully shows by the word believing that he speaks of the grace of Christ: for if he only reminded us of a duty, his mode of speaking would have been this, “Since we die with Christ, we ought also to live with him.” But the word believing denotes that he treats here of doctrine which is based on the promises; as though he had said, that the faithful ought to feel assured that they are through the kindness of Christ dead as to the flesh, and that the same Christ will preserve them in newness of life to the end. But the future time of the verb live, refers not to the last resurrection, but simply denotes the continued course of a new life, as long as we peregrinate on the earth.
For in that he died, he died unto sin once, etc. He can never die again, for in dying he died once for all. By the one offering of himself, he has for ever perfected them that are sanctified. The apostle, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, while arguing to show the necessity of the death of Christ as a sacrifice for sin, argues also to show that such was the efficacy of that sacrifice, it need not, and cannot be repeated. Heb_7:27; Heb_9:12; Heb_10:10; 1Pe_3:18.
In that he died, ὁ ἀπέθανε; ὁ may be taken absolutely quod attinet ad id, quod, as to that he died, so far as concerns his dying; compare Gal_2:20; or the relative may be taken as the object, the death he died. See Winer, 3., §24. 4. 2. He died unto sin, τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ ἀπέθανεν, so far as the words are concerned, admits of different interpretations. It may mean, he died for the destruction of sin; or, he died for its expiation, i.e., on account of sin; or, in accordance with the force of the same words in Rom_6:2, and the analogous expression, νεκροὺς τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ, dead to sin, Rom_6:11, he died as to sin, was by death freed from sin. In this last sense, although the words are the same, the idea is very different in the two cases. The believer dies to sin in one sense, Christ in another. In both cases the idea of separation is expressed; but in the case of the believer, it is separation from personal, indwelling sin; in that of Christ, it is separation from the burden of his people’s sin, which he bore upon the cross. The context and the argument favor this last interpretation. Death has no more dominion over Christ, for he died to sin; by the one sacrifice of himself, he freed himself from the burden of sin which he had voluntarily assumed. The law is perfectly satisfied; it has no further penalty to inflict. Of course the same truth or doctrine is expressed, if the other expositions of the phrase be preferred. It is only a question as to the form in which the same general truth is presented. Christ’s death was for the destruction of sin, for its expiation; and it was a deliverance from it, i.e., from the burden of its imputed guilt. He came the first time with sin; he is to come the second time without sin (without that burden), unto salvation. In that he liveth, he liveth unto God. This is said in contrast to what precedes. He died unto sin, he lives unto God. So must the believer. Death must be followed by life; the one is in order to the other. It is of course not implied that our Lord’s life on earth was not a living unto God, i.e., a living having God for its end and object. The antithetical expression is used simply to indicate the analogy between Christ and his people. They must be freed from sin, and be devoted to God, because their Lord and Savior, in whose death and life they share, died unto sin, and lives unto God. Many of the Fathers, and some later interpreters, take τῷ Θεῷ as equivalent to τῇ δυνάμει τοῦ Θεοῦ, by the power of God. But this is unsuited to the connection. It is not the source of Christ’s life, but the nature of it, as perpetual and holy, that the apostle would bring into view. Olshausen says τῷ Θεῷ means for God, i.e., for righteousness, as opposed to sin, in the first clause: “He died for the destruction of sin, he lives for the promotion of righteousness.” But this is unnecessary, and inconsistent with the context.
τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ ἀπέθανεν. In what sense did Christ die to sin? The phrase seems to point back to ver. 7 above: Sin ceased to have any claim upon Him. But how could Sin have a claim upon Him ‘who had no acquaintance with sin’ (2Co_5:21)? The same verse which tells us this supplies the answer: τὸν μὴ γνόντα ἁμαρτίαν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἁμαρτίαν ἐποίησεν, ‘the Sinless One for our sake was treated as if He were sinful.’ The sin which hung about Him and wreaked its effects upon Him was not His but ours (cp. 1Pe_2:22, 1Pe_2:24). It was in His Death that this pressure of human sin culminated; but it was also in His Death that it came to an end, decisively and for ever.
ἐφάπαξ. The decisiveness of the Death of Christ is specially insisted upon in Ep. to Hebrews. This is the great point of contrast with the Levitical sacrifices: they did and it did not need to be repeated (cf. Heb_7:27; Heb_9:12, Heb_9:26, Heb_9:28; Heb_10:10; also 1Pe_3:18).
ζῇ τῷ Θεῷ. Christ died for (in relation to) Sin, and lives hence-forth for God. The old chain which by binding Him to sin made Him also liable to death, is broken. No other power κυριεύει αὐτοῦ but God. This phrase ζῇ τῷ Θεῷ naturally suggests ‘the moral’ application to the believer.
For in that he died – For in respect to the design of his death.
He died unto sin – His death had respect to sin. The design of his death was to destroy sin; to make an atonement for it, and thus to put it away. As his death was designed to effect this, so it follows that Christians being baptized into his death, and having it as their object to destroy sin, should not indulge in it. The whole force of the motive; therefore, drawn from the death of Christ, is to induce Christians to forsake sin; compare 2Co_5:15, “And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth, live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them and rose again.”
Once – ἐφάπαξ ephapax. Once only; once for all. This is an adverb denying a repetition (Schleusner), and implies that it will not be done again; compare Heb_7:27; Heb_9:12; Heb_10:10. The argument of the apostle rests much on this, that his death was once for all; that it would not be repeated.
In that he liveth – The object, the design of his living. He aims with his living power to promote the glory of God.
Unto God – He seeks to promote his glory. The argument of Paul is this: Christians by their profession are united to him. They are bound to imitate him. As he now lives only to advance the glory of God; as all his mighty power, now that he is raised from the dead, and elevated to his throne in heaven, is exerted to promote his glory; so should their powers, being raised from the death of sin, be exerted to promote the glory of God.
11.So count ye also yourselves, etc. Now is added a definition of that analogy to which I have referred. For having stated that Christ once died to sin and lives for ever to God, he now, applying both to us, reminds us how we now die while living, that is, when we renounce sin. But he omits not the other part, that is, how we are to live after having by faith received the grace of Christ: for though the mortifying of the flesh is only begun in us, yet the life of sin is destroyed, so that afterwards spiritual newness, which is divine, continues perpetually. For except Christ were to slay sin in us at once to the end, his grace would by no means be sure and durable.
The meaning, then, of the words may be thus expressed, “Take this view of your case, — that as Christ once died for the purpose of destroying sin, so you have once died, that in future you may cease from sin; yea, you must daily proceed with that work of mortifying, which is begun in you, till sin be wholly destroyed: as Christ is raised to an incorruptible life, so you are regenerated by the grace of God, that you may lead a life of holiness and righteousness, inasmuch as the power of the Holy Spirit, by which ye have been renewed, is eternal, and shall ever continue the same.” But I prefer to retain the words of Paul,in Christ Jesus, rather than to translate with [Erasmus ], through Christ Jesus; for thus the grafting, which makes us one with Christ, is better expressed.
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, etc. What is true in itself, should be true in their convictions and consciousness. If in point of fact believers are partakers of the death and life of Christ; if they die with him, and live with him, then they should so regard themselves. They should receive this truth, with all its consoling and sanctifying power, into their hearts, and manifest it in their lives. So also ye, ou#tw καὶ ὑμεῖς, a point may be placed after ὑμεῖς; so that the sense is, so also are ye, as is done by Griesbach and others. The simpler and more common method is to read the words continuously: so also regard ye yourselves as dead to sin, νεξροὺς τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ; not reckon yourselves to be dead, as the word εἶναι, although found in the common text, is omitted by almost all the critical editors, on the authority of the oldest manuscripts, and the sense is complete without it; λογίζεσθαι τινά τι, means to regard one as something. Believers are to look upon themselves in their true light, viz., as dead to sin, freed from its penalty and dominion. This is a freedom which belongs to them as believers, and therefore the apostle adds, ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, not through, but in Christ Jesus, that is, in virtue of union with him. These words belong equally to both clauses of this verse. It is in Christ that the believer is dead to sin, and alive to God. The old man is crucified; the new man, the soul as renewed, is imbued with a new life, of which God is the object; which consists in fellowship with him, and which is manifested by devotion to his service, and by obedience to his will. The words our Lord, τῷ Κυρίῳ ἡμῶν, are not found in the best manuscripts.
11. λογίζεσθε ἑαυτούς. The man and his ‘self’ are distinguished. The ‘self’ is not the ‘whole self,’ but only that part of the man which lay under the dominion of sin. [It will help us to bear this in mind in the interpretation of the next chapter.] This part of the man is dead, so that sin has lost its slave and is balked of its prey; but his true self is alive, and alive for God, through its union with the risen Christ, who also lives only for God.
λογίζεσθε: not indic. (as Beng. Lips.) but imper., preparing the way, after St. Paul’s manner, for the direct exhortation of the next paragraph.
ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. This phrase is the summary expression of the doctrine which underlies the whole of this section and forms, as we have seen, one of the main pillars of St. Paul’s theology. The chief points seem to be these. (1) The relation is conceived as a local relation. The Christian has his being ‘in’ Christ, as living creatures ‘in’ the air, as fish ‘in’ the water, as plants ‘in’ the earth (Deissmann, p. 84; see below). (2) The order of the words is invariably ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, not ἐν Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ (Deissmann, p. 88; cp. also Haussleiter, as referred to on p. 86 sup.). We find however ἐν τῷ Ἰησοῦ in Eph_4:21, but not in the same strict application. (3) In agreement with the regular usage of the words in this order ἐν Χρ. Ἰ. always relates to the glorified Christ regarded as πνεῦμα, not to the historical Christ. (4) The corresponding expression Χριστὸς ἔν τινι is best explained by the same analogy of ‘the air.’ Man lives and breathes ‘in the air,’ and the air is also ‘in the man’ (Deissmann, p. 92).
12.Let not sin then, etc. He now begins with exhortation, which naturally arises from the doctrine which he had delivered respecting our fellowship with Christ. Though sin dwells in us, it is inconsistent that it should be so vigorous as to exercise its reigning power; for the power of sanctification ought to be superior to it, so that our life may testify that we are really the members of Christ. I have already reminded you that the word body is not to be taken for flesh, and skin, and bones, but, so to speak, for the whole of what man is. This may undoubtedly be inferred from the passage; for the other clause, which he immediately subjoins respecting the members of the body, includes the soul also: and thus in a disparaging manner does Paul designate earthly man, for owing to the corruption of our nature we aspire to nothing worthy of our original. So also does God say in Gen_6:3; where he complains that man was become flesh like the brute animals, and thus allows him nothing but what is earthly. To the same purpose is the declaration of Christ, “What is born of the flesh is flesh.” (Joh_3:6.) But if any makes this objection — that the case with the soul is different; to this the ready answer is — that in our present degenerate state our souls are fixed to the earth, and so enslaved to our bodies, that they have fallen from their own superiority. In a word, the nature of man is said to be corporeal, because he is destitute of celestial grace, and is only a sort of empty shadow or image. We may add, that the body, by way of contempt, is said by Paul to be mortal, and this to teach us, that the whole nature of man tends to death and ruin. Still further, he gives the name of sin to the original depravity which dwells in our hearts, and which leads us to sin, and from which indeed all evil deeds and abominations stream forth. In the middle, between sin and us, he places lusts, as the former has the office of a king, while lusts are its edicts and commands.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, etc. This is a practical inference (ou]n) from what precedes. Since the believer is in fact united to Christ in his death and life, he should live accordingly. The exhortation contained in this and the following verse has a negative and positive form — yield not to sin, but give yourselves up to God — corresponding to the clauses, dead to sin, and alive unto God, in Rom_6:11. To reign signifies to exercise uncontrolled authority. Sin, although mortified in the believer, is not destroyed. Its power to injure remains after its dominion is overthrown. The exhortation is, that we should not yield to this dethroned adversary of Christ and the soul, but strenuously strive against its efforts to gain ascendancy over us, and to bring us again into bondage. Let not sin reign in your mortal body. This is a difficult clause.
1. Mortal body may be a periphrase for you: ‘Let not sin reign within you;’ as in the next verse, your members may stand for yourselves.
2. Others say that θνητός (mortal) is to be taken in the figurative sense in which νεκρός, dead, i.e., corrupt, is often used.
3. Others take σῶμα in the sense of σάρξ, corrupt nature, including everything in man as fallen, which is not due to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
So also Philippi, among the modern commentators says that here, as in Rom_8:10, Rom_8:13, (where θανατοῦν τὰς πράχεις τοῦ σώματος is opposed to κατὰ σάρκα ζῆν), σῶμα is the antithesis of πνεῦμα, the latter being the soul as pervaded by the Spirit of God, and the former our nature considered as corrupt. This, however, is so contrary to the general usage of Scripture, that the ordinary sense of the words is to be preferred. Paul does not teach that the body is the source of sin, nor its exclusive or principal seat; but it is the organ of its manifestation. It is that through which the dominion of sin is outwardly revealed. The body is under the power of sin, and that power the apostle would have us resist; and on the other hand, the sensual appetites of the body tend to enslave the soul. Body and soul are so united in a common life, that to say, ‘Let not sin reign in your mortal body,’ and to say, ‘Let not sin reign in you,’ amount to the same thing. When we speak of sin as dwelling in the soul, we do not deny its relation to the body; so neither does the apostle, when he speaks of sin dwelling in the body, mean to deny its relation to the soul.
That ye should obey it (αὐτῇ, i.e., sin,) in the lusts thereof, (αὐτοῦ, viz., of the body.) We should not obey sin by yielding to carnal appetites. The common text has here, εἰς τὸ ὑπακούειν αὐτῇ ἐν ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις αὐτοῦ. Knapp, Lachmann, and other editors, adopt the simpler and better authenticated reading, εἰς τὸ ὑπακούειν ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις αὐτοῦ, to obey its lusts, i.e., the lusts of the body. “A man,” says Olshausen, “must always serve. There is no middle ground between the service of sin and the service of God. We have justification completely, or we have it not at all. Sanctification, as springing from a living faith, and as the fruit of God’s love to us, admits of degrees, and may be more or less earnestly cultivated; but this determines, not our salvation, but only the measure of future blessedness. No wisdom or caution,” he adds, “can guard this doctrine from misunderstanding, whether such misunderstanding arise unintentionally from the understanding, or designedly from insincerity of heart. It nevertheless is the only way which leads to God, in which the sincere and humble cannot err.” “The key to the mystery,” he goes on to say, “that the doctrine of redemption, although not demanding good works, produces them, is to be found in the fact that love excites love and the desire for holiness. Hence obedience is no longer slavish. We strive to obey, not in order to be saved or to please God, but because God saves us without works or merit of our own, whom, because he is reconciled in the Beloved, we delight to serve.”
13.Nor present your members, etc. When once sin has obtained dominion in our soul, all our faculties are continually applied to its service. He therefore describes here the reign of sin by what follows it, that he might more clearly show what must be done by us, if we would shake off its yoke. But he borrows a similitude from the military office, when he calls our members weapons or arms (arma ); as though he said, “As the soldier has ever his arms ready, that he may use them whenever he is ordered by his general, and as he never uses them but at his command; so Christians ought to regard all their faculties to be the weapons of the spiritual warfare: if then they employ any of their members in the indulgence of depravity, they are in the service of sin. But they have made the oath of soldiers to God and to Christ, and by this they are held bound: it hence behoves them to be far away from any intercourse with the camps of sin.” — Those may also here see by what right they proudly lay claim to the Christian name, who have all their members, as though they were the prostitutes of Satan, prepared to commit every kind of abomination.
On the other hand, he now bids us to present ourselves wholly to God, so that restraining our minds and hearts from all wanderings into which the lusts of the flesh may draw us, we may regard the will of God alone, being ready to receive his commands, and prepared to execute his orders; and that our members also may be devoted and consecrated to his will, so that all the faculties both of our souls and of our bodies may aspire after nothing but his glory. The reason for this is also added — that the Lord, having destroyed our former life, has not in vain created us for another, which ought to be accompanied with suitable actions.
Neither yield ye your members, etc. Do not permit sin to reign in you, nor yield your powers as its instruments. Neither yield, μηδὲ παριστάνετε. The word means to place by, to present (as an offering), Luk_2:22; Rom_12:1; to give up to the power or service of, Rom_6:16, Rom_6:19, etc. Your members, either literally, members of the body, the eye, ear, hand, etc., or figuratively, your powers, whether of mind or body. The choice between the literal and figurative interpretation depends on the view taken of the preceding verse. If there σῶμα (body) be understood literally, then your members can only mean the members of the body; but if mortal body is there a periphrase for you, then your members must mean your faculties. The μέλη (members) are the parts of which the σῶμα consists; and therefore if the σῶμα stands for the whole person, the members must include all our powers, mental as well as corporeal. In Rom_7:5, Paul says that sin “did work in our members;” and in Rom_6:23, he speaks of “a law in his members.” In neither of those cases is the reference exclusively to the body. As instruments of unrighteousness. That is, instruments which unrighteousness uses, or which are employed to effect unrighteousness. The word ὅπλα is generic; it is used in the general sense of instruments, for the tackle of a ship, the tools of an artisan, though most frequently for weapons.
On account of this general usage, and of Paul’s own use of the word in Rom_13:12, “armor of light,” (2Co_6:7, “armor of righteousness,” and 2Co_10:4, “the weapons of our warfare,”) many prefer the restricted sense in this place. Our members are regarded as weapons which sin uses to regain its dominion, or the predominance of unrighteousness. The context, however, does not favor the assumption of this allusion to a strife; and therefore the general sense of instruments, or implements, is more in keeping with the rest of the passage. But yield yourselves unto God; ἀλλὰ παραστήσατε, but on the contrary, present yourselves, i.e., give yourselves up to God, not only your several powers, but your very selves, a dedication which of necessity involves that of each separate faculty. In the first clause of the verse the present tense, παριστάνετε is used; here it is the first aorist, present yourselves once for all. As alive from the dead, i.e., as those who having been dead, are now alive. Having been quickened by the power of God, raised from the death of sin and all its dreadful consequences, they were bound to live unto God. Who, having been restored to life, would desire to return to the loathsomeness of the grave? And, i.e., and especially, your members (i.e., παριστάνετε, present your members) as instruments of righteousness to God. Present all your powers to God, to be employed by him as implements of righteousness; that is, instruments by which righteousness may be effected.
13. Observe the change of tense: παριστάνετε, ‘go on yielding,’ by the weakness which succumbs to temptation whenever it presses; παραστήσατε, ‘dedicate by one decisive act, one resolute effort.’
ὅπλα: ‘weapons’ (cf. esp. Rom_13:12; 2Co_6:7; 2Co_10:4). ἀδικίας and δικαιοσύνης are gen. qualitatis. For a like military metaphor more fully worked out comp. Eph_6:11-17.
Romans 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. By our members seem to be meant, not merely the several parts of our bodily frame eye. tongue, hand, foot, etc. but generally all the parts or constituents of our present human nature, which sin may use as its instruments, but which ought to be devoted to God. (cf. Col_3:5) Many commentators would translate opla “weapons” rather than “instruments,” on the ground that St. Paul usually uses the word in this sense; (Rom_13:12 2Co_6:7 2Co_10:4 Eph_6:11, Eph_6:13) and also that oqwnia in ver. 22, taken in the sense of the pay of a soldier, (as in Luk_3:14 1Co_9:7) is supposed to imply that the apostle has had all along the idea of warfare in view. The second of these reasons really proves nothing. Whatever the meaning of oqawnia in ver. 23, it is too far removed from the passage before us to be taken in any connection with it. Neither is the first reason at all cogent. Opla bears the sense of instruments as well as of weapons, and may more suitably bear it here. When St. Paul elsewhere speaks of armour, it is the armour of light, or of righteousness, which we are told to take up, and to put on, in order to fight against our spiritual enemies. Such a conception is inapplicable to our own members, which we have already, which we may use either for good or evil, and which require the protection of heavenly armour rather than being themselves armour; and we certainly could not be told to take them up or put them on. We may, in the next place, observe that the two clauses of this verse are differently expressed in two respects.
(1) It is our members only that we are forbidden to yield to sin; but ourselves, with our members, we are bidden to yield to God. For few of the persons addressed, if even any, could be supposed, deliberately and of choice, to offer their whole being to the service of sin as such; they were only liable to succumb to sin, in this or that way, through soliciting lusts. But the regenerate Christian offers and presents his whole serf to God, and desires to be his entirely.
(2) In the first clause we find the present imperative, paristanete ; but in the second the aorist imperative, parasthsate . The distinction between the two tenses in the imperative is thus expressed in Matthiae”s “Greek Grammar:” “that the aorist designates an action passing by, and considered abstractedly in its completion, but the present a continued and frequently repeated action.” Our giving ourselves to God is something done once for all; our yielding our members as instruments of sin is a succession of acts of yielding.
Neither present (mēde paristanete). Present active imperative in prohibition of paristanō, late form of paristēmi, to place beside. Stop presenting your members or do not have the habit of doing so, “do not go on putting your members to sin as weapons of unrighteousness.”
Instruments (hopla). Old word for tools of any kind for shop or war (Joh_18:3; 2Co_6:7; 2Co_10:4; Rom_13:12). Possibly here figure of two armies arrayed against each other (Gal_5:16-24), and see hopla dikaiosunēs below. The two sets of hopla clash.
But present yourselves unto God (alla parastēsate heautous tōi theōi). First aorist active imperative of paristēmi, same verb, but different tense, do it now and completely. Our “members” (melē) should be at the call of God “as alive from the dead.”
13.] Nor render (see reff.;—as a soldier renders his service to his sovereign, or a servant to his master) your members (more particular than ‘your bodies;’ the individual members being instruments of different lusts and sins) as instruments (or, ‘weapons,’ as Vulg., most of the Greek expositors, and Luth., Calv., Beza, Tholuck, which latter defends this rendering by Paul’s fondness for military similitudes, and by the occurrence of ὀψώνια below, ver. 23;—but as De W. observes, the comparison here is to servitude rather than soldiership) of unrighteousness to sin; but render (the present imperat. above denotes habit,—the exhortation guards against the recurrence of a devotion of the members to sin: this aorist imperat., on the other hand, as in ch. 12:1, denotes an act of self-devotion to God once for all, not a mere recurrence of the habit) yourselves (not merely your members, but your whole selves, body, soul, and spirit) to God, as alive from having been dead (as in vv. 4 ff. and Eph_2:1-5), and your members as instruments (see above) of righteousness to God (dat. ‘commodi,’ as indeed is τῇ ἁμαρτ. above, the dat. after παριστ. being there left to be supplied, because of τῆ̣ ἁμ. following).
Put at the service of; render. Rev., present. Compare Luk_2:22; Act_9:41; Rom_12:1. See on Act_1:3.
Physical; though some include mental faculties. Compare Col_3:5, where members is expounded by fornication, uncleanness, etc., the physical being a symbol of the moral, of which it is the instrument.
The word is used from the earliest times of tools or instruments generally. In Homer of a ship’s tackle, smith’s tools, implements of war, and in the last sense more especially in later Greek. In the New Testament distinctly of instruments of war (Joh_18:3; 2Co_6:7; 2Co_10:4). Here probably with the same meaning, the conception being that of sin and righteousness as respectively rulers of opposing sovereignties (compare reign, Rom_6:12, and have dominion, Rom_6:14), and enlisting men in their armies. Hence the exhortation is, do not offer your members as weapons with which the rule of unrighteousness may be maintained, but offer them to God in the service of righteousness.
Of unrighteousness (ἀδικίας)
See on 2Pe_2:13.
Rev., present. The same word as before, but in a different tense. The present tense, be presenting, denotes the daily habit, the giving of the hand, the tongue, etc., to the service of sin as temptation appeals to each. Here the aorist, as in Rom_12:1, denotes an act of self-devotion once for all.
As those that are alive (ὡς ζῶντας)
The best texts read ὡσεί as if alive. This brings out more clearly the figurative character of the exhortation.
From the dead (ἐκ νεκρῶν)
Note the preposition out of. See on Luk_16:31.
Neither yield ye your members – Do not give up, or devote, or employ your members, etc. The word “members” here refers to the members of the body – the hands, feet, tongue, etc. It is a specification of what in Rom_6:12 is included under the general term “body;” see Rom_7:5, Rom_7:23; 1Co_6:15; 1Co_12:12, 1Co_12:18, 1Co_12:20.
As instruments – This word ὁπλα hopla properly signifies “arms;” or implements of war; but it also denotes an instrument of any kind which we use for defense or aid. Here it means that we should not devote our members – our hands, tongue, etc., as if under the direction of sinful passions and corrupt desires, to accomplish purposes of iniquity. We should not make the members of our bodies the slaves of sin reigning within us.
Unto sin – In the service of sin; to work iniquity.
But yield yourselves … – Give or devote yourselves to God.
That are alive – Rom_6:11.
And your members … – Christians should devote every member of the body to God and to his service. Their tongue should be consecrated to his praise, and to the office of truth, and kindness, and benevolence; their hands should be employed in useful labor for him and his cause; their feet should be swift in his service, and should not go in the paths of iniquity; their eyes should contemplate his works to excite thanksgiving and praise; their ears should not be employed to listen to words of deceit, or songs of dangerous and licentious tendency, or to persuasion that would lead astray, but should be open to catch the voice of God as he utters his will in the Book of truth, or as he speaks in the gale, the zephyr, the rolling thunder, the ocean, or in the great events of his providence. He speaks to us every day, and we should hear him; he spreads his glories before us, and we should survey them to praise him; he commands, and our hands, and heart, and feet should obey.
14.For sin shall not rule over you, etc. It is not necessary to continue long in repeating and confuting expositions, which have little or no appearance of truth. There is one which has more probability in its favor than the rest, and it is this — that bylaw we are to understand the letter of the law, which cannot renovate the soul, and by grace, the grace of the Spirit, by which we are freed from depraved lusts. But this I do not wholly approve of; for if we take this meaning, what is the object of the question which immediately follows, “Shall we sin because we are not under the law?” Certainly the Apostle would never have put this question, had he not understood, that we are freed from the strictness of the law, so that God no more deals with us according to the high demands of justice. There is then no doubt but that he meant here to indicate some freedom from the very law of God. But laying aside controversy, I will briefly explain my view.
It seems to me, that there is here especially a consolation offered, by which the faithful are to be strengthened, lest they should faint in their efforts after holiness, through a consciousness of their own weakness. He had exhorted them to devote all their faculties to the service of righteousness; but as they carry about them the relics of the flesh, they cannot do otherwise than walk somewhat lamely. Hence, lest being broken down by a consciousness of their infirmity they should despond, he seasonably comes to their aid, by interposing a consolation, derived from this circumstance — that their works are not now tested by the strict rule of the law, but that God, remitting their impurity, does kindly and mercifully accept them. The yoke of the law cannot do otherwise than tear and bruise those who carry it. It hence follows, that the faithful must flee to Christ, and implore him to be the defender of their freedom: and as such he exhibits himself; for he underwent the bondage of the law, to which he was himself no debtor, for this end — that he might, as the Apostle says, redeem those who were under the law.
Hence, not to be under the law means, not only that we are not under the letter which prescribes what involves us in guilt, as we are not able to perform it, but also that we are no longer subject to the law, as requiring perfect righteousness, and pronouncing death on all who deviate from it in any part. In like manner, by the word grace, we are to understand both parts of redemption — the remission of sins, by which God imputes righteousness to us, — and the sanctification of the Spirit, by whom he forms us anew unto good works. The adversative particle, [ἀλλὰ, but, ] I take in the sense of alleging a reason, which is not unfrequently the case; as though it was said — “We who are under grace, are not therefore under the law.”
The sense now is clear; for the Apostle intended to comfort us, lest we should be wearied in our minds, while striving to do what is right, because we still find in ourselves many imperfections. For how much soever we may be harassed by the stings of sin, it cannot yet overcome us, for we are enabled to conquer it by the Spirit of God; and then, being under grace, we are freed from the rigorous requirements of the law. We must further understand, that the Apostle assumes it as granted, that all who are without the grace of God, being bound under the yoke of the law, are under condemnation. And so we may on the other hand conclude, that as long as they are under the law, they are subject to the dominion of sin.
Romans 6:14 Rom. 6:14. “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law but under grace.” The law, or covenant of works, is not a proper means to bring the fallen creature to the service of God. It was a very proper means to be used with men in a state of innocence, but it has no tendency to answer this end in our present weak and sinful state; on the contrary, to have been kept under the law would have had a tendency to hinder it, and would have been a bar in the way of it, and that upon two accounts.
1. It would have tended to discourage persons from any attempts to serve God, because under such a constitution it must necessarily have been looked upon as impossible to please him and serve him to his acceptance; and one in despair of this would have been in no capacity to yield a cheerful service to God, but would rather have been far from any manner of endeavors to serve him at all. But to have abandoned himself to wickedness by such a despair, the dominion of sin would have been dreadfully established, and all yielded up to it, as in the damned in hell.
2. God must necessarily have been looked on as an enemy; which would have tended to drive from him and stir up enmity against him. A fallen creature held under the covenant of works cannot look on God as a father and friend, but must necessarily look on him as an enemy; for the least failure of obedience by that constitution, whether past or future, renders him so. But this would greatly establish the dominion of sin or enmity against God in the heart, and indeed it is the law only that makes wicked men hate God. They hate him no otherwise than as they look upon him as acting, either as the giver or judge of the law, and so by the law opposing their sins, and the law tending to establish the hatred of God. Hence it is necessary to be brought from under the dominion of it, in order to a willing serving of God.
Corol. Hence men, when they are convinced of the law, under awakenings, and have God represented to them as a strict lawgiver and judge, before they are convinced of the gospel, have sometimes such sensible exercises of enmity of heart stirred up against God.
But those that are redeemed from the bondage of the law, they have,
1. Great encouragement to serve God, in that their poor and imperfect obedience may be accepted.
2. They have a great deal to incline them to an ingenuous obedience; for God now represents himself as a merciful God, a God ready to pardon past transgressions and future infirmities, and he promises that if we will yield ourselves willingly to serve him as we are able, he will be our friend, and will treat us as a merciful and gracious father.
If a man does perform an external service while under the bondage of the law, it is no real service, it is merely forced by threats and terrors, it is not performed freely and heartily, but is a dead, lifeless obedience. But a being delivered from the law and brought under grace, tends to win men to serve God from love, and with the whole heart; Rom_7:6. “But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held, that we should serve in newness of the spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
For sin shall not have dominion over you, etc. The future here is not to be understood as expressing either a command or an exhortation, not only because the third, and not the second person is used, but also because of the connection, as indicated by for. We should yield ourselves to God, for sin shall not have dominion, etc. It is not a hopeless struggle in which the believer is engaged, but one in which victory is certain. It is a joyful confidence which the apostle here expresses, that the power of sin has been effectually broken, and the triumph of holiness effectually secured by the work of Christ. The ground of the confidence that sin shall not have dominion, is to be found in the next clause: For ye are not under the law, but under grace. By law here, is not to be understood the Mosaic law. The sense is not, ‘Sin shall not have dominion over you, because the Mosaic law is abrogated.’ The word is to be taken in its widest sense. It is the rule of duty, that which binds the conscience as an expression of the will of God. This is plain:
1. From the use of the word through this epistle and other parts of the New Testament.
2. From the whole doctrine of redemption, which teaches that the law from which we are delivered by the death of Christ, is not simply the Mosaic law; we are not merely delivered from Judaism, but from the obligation of fulfilling the law of God as the condition of salvation.
3. Deliverance from the Mosaic law does not secure holiness. A man may cease to be a Jew, and yet not be a new creature in Christ Jesus.
4. The antithesis between law and grace shows that more than the law of Moses is here intended. If free from the Mosaic law, they may still be under some other law, and as little under grace as the Pharisees.
To be under the law is to be under the obligation to fulfill the law of God as a rule of duty, as the condition of salvation. Whosoever is under the law in this sense, is under the curse; for the law says, “Cursed is every one who continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them.” As no man is free from sin, as no man can perfectly keep the commandments of God, every man who rests upon his personal conformity to the law, as the ground of his acceptance with God, must be condemned. We are not under the law in this sense, but under grace; that is, under a system of gratuitous justification. We are justified by grace, without works. We are not under a legal dispensation, requiring personal conformity to the law, and entire freedom from sin, past and present, as the condition of our acceptance; but we are under a gracious dispensation, according to which God dispenses pardon freely, and accepts the sinner as a sinner, for Christ’s sake, without works or merit of his own. Whoever is under the law in the sense just explained, is not only under condemnation, but he is of necessity under a legal or slavish spirit. What he does, he does as a slave, to escape punishment. But he who is under grace, who is gratuitously accepted of God, and restored to his favor, is under a filial spirit. The principle of obedience in him is love, and not fear.
Here, as everywhere else in the Bible, it is assumed that the favor of God is our life. We must be reconciled to him before we can be holy; we must feel that he loves us before we can love him. Paul says it was the love of Christ to him, that constrained him to live for Him who thus loved him, and gave Himself for him. The only hope therefore of sinners, is in freedom from the law, freedom from its condemnation, freedom from the obligation to fulfill it as the condition of acceptance, and freedom from its spirit. Those who are thus free, who renounce all dependence on their own merit or strength, who accept the offer of justification as a free gift of God, and who are assured that God for Christ’s sake is reconciled to them, are so united to Christ that they partake of his life, and their holiness here and salvation hereafter are rendered perfectly certain.
For sin … – The propensity or inclination to sin.
Shall not have dominion – Shall not reign, Rom_5:12; Rom_6:6. This implies that sin ought not to have this dominion; and it also expresses the conviction of the apostle that it would not have this rule over Christians.
For we are not under law – We who are Christians are not subject to that law where sin is excited, and where it rages unsubdued. But it may be asked here, What is meant by this declaration? Does it mean that Christians are absolved from all the obligations of the law? I answer,
(1) The apostle does not affirm that Christians are not bound to obey the moral law. The whole scope of his reasoning shows that he maintains that they are. The whole structure of Christianity supposes the same thing; compare Mat_5:17-19.
(2) the apostle means to say that Christians are not under the law as legalists, or as attempting to be justified by it. They seek a different plan of justification altogether: and they do not attempt to be justified by their own obedience. The Jews did; they do not.
(3) it is implied here that the effect of an attempt to be justified by the Law was not to subdue sins, but to excite them and to lead to indulgence in them.
Justification by works would destroy no sin, would check no evil propensity, but would leave a man to all the ravages and riotings of unsubdued passion. If, therefore, the apostle had maintained that people were justified by works, he could not have consistently exhorted them to abandon their sins. He would have had no powerful motives by which to urge it; for the scheme would not lead to it. But he here says that the Christian was seeking justification on a plan which contemplated and which accomplished the destruction of sin; and he therefore infers that sin should not have dominion over them.
But under grace – Under a scheme of mercy, the design and tendency of which is to subdue sin, and destroy it. In what way the system of grace removes and destroys sin, the apostle states in the following verses.
15.What then? As the wisdom of the flesh is ever clamorous against the mysteries of God, it was necessary for the Apostle to subjoin what might anticipate an objection: for since the law is the rule of life, and has been given to guide men, we think that when it is removed all discipline immediately falls to the ground, that restraints are taken away, in a word, that there remains no distinction or difference between good and evil. But we are much deceived if we think, that the righteousness which God approves of in his law is abolished, when the law is abrogated; for the abrogation is by no means to be applied to the precepts which teach the right way of living, as Christ confirms and sanctions these and does not abrogate them; but the right view is, that nothing is taken away but the curse, to which all men without grace are subject. But though Paul does not distinctly express this, yet he indirectly intimates it.
What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Because works are not the ground of our justification; because we are justified freely by his grace, are we at liberty to sin without fear and without restraint? Does the doctrine of gratuitous salvation give a license to the unrestrained indulgence of all evil? Such has been the objection to the doctrines of grace in all ages. And the fact that this objection was made to Paul’s teachings, proves that his doctrine is the same with that against which the same objection is still urged. As the further consideration of this difficulty is resumed in the following chapter, the apostle here contents himself with a simple negation, and a reference to the constraining influence under which the freely pardoned sinner is brought, which renders it as impossible for him to serve sin, as it is for the slave of one man to be obedient to another man. The slave must serve his own master.
16.By no means: know ye not? This is not a bare denial as some think, as though he preferred to express his abhorrence of such a question rather than to disprove it: for a confutation immediately follows, derived from a contrary supposition, and to this purpose, “Between the yoke of Christ and that of sin there is so much contrariety, that no one can bear them both; if we sin, we give ourselves up to the service of sin; but the faithful, on the contrary have been redeemed from the tyranny of sin, that they may serve Christ: it is therefore impossible for them to remain bound to sin.” But it will be better to examine more closely the course of reasoning, as pursued by Paul.
To whom we obey, etc. This relative may be taken in a causative sense, as it often is; as when one says, — there is no kind of crime which a parricide will not do, who has not hesitated to commit the greatest crime of all, and so barbarous as to be almost abhorred even by wild beasts. And Paul adduces his reason partly from the effects, and partly from the nature of correlatives. For first, if they obey, he concludes that they are servants, for obedience proves that he, who thus brings one into subjection to himself, has the power of commanding. This reason as to service is from the effect, and from this the other arises. “If you be servants, then of course sin has the dominion.”
Or of obedience, etc. The language is not strictly correct; for if he wished to have the clauses correspondent, he would have said, “or of righteousness unto life” But as the change in the words does not prevent the understanding of the subject, he preferred to express what righteousness is by the word obedience; in which however there is a metonymy, for it is to be taken for the very commandments of God; and by mentioning this without addition, he intimated that it is God alone, to whose authority consciences ought to be subject. Obedience then, though the name of God is suppressed, is yet to be referred to him, for it cannot be a divided obedience.
To whom ye yield yourselves – Can you suppose that you should continue to be the servants of Christ if ye give way to sin? Is he not the master who exacts the service, and to whom the service is performed? Sin is the service of Satan; righteousness the service of Christ. If ye sin ye are the servants of Satan, and not the servants of God.
The word δουλος, which we translate servant, properly signifies slave; and a slave among the Greeks and Romans was considered as his master’s property, and he might dispose of him as he pleased. Under a bad master, the lot of the slave was most oppressive and dreadful; his ease and comfort were never consulted; he was treated worse than a beast; and, in many cases, his life hung on the mere caprice of the master. This state is the state of every poor, miserable sinner; he is the slave of Satan, and his own evil lusts and appetites are his most cruel task-masters. The same word is applied to the servants of Christ, the more forcibly to show that they are their Master’s property; and that, as he is infinitely good and benevolent, therefore his service must be perfect freedom. Indeed, he exacts no obedience from them which he does not turn to their eternal advantage; for this master has no self-interest to secure. See on Rom_1:1 (note).
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey, etc. ‘Know ye not that those who obey sin are its slaves; hurried on from one degrading service to another, until it works their ruin; but those who serve holiness are constrained, though sweetly, to constancy and fidelity, until the glorious consummation of their course?’ As a servant or slave is under an influence which secures the continuance of his obedience, and he who serves holiness is under an influence which effectually secures the constancy of his service. This being the case, it is not possible for the Christian or servant of holiness to be found engaged in the service of sin. The language and the construction are here nearly the same as in Rom_6:13. Here, as there, we have παριστάνετε in the sense of giving up to the power and disposal of. Paul says, that those who give themselves up to another as δούλους εἰς ὑπακοὴν, slaves to obedience, are the δοῦλοι of him whom they thus obey. It enters into the idea of slavery, that the subjection is absolute and continued. The slave does not obey his own will, but his masterí. He is subject not for a time, but for life. He is under an influence which secures obedience. This is as true in spiritual as in external relations. He who serves sin is the slave of sin. He is under its power. He cannot free himself from its dominion. He may hate his bondage; his reason and conscience may protest against it; his will may resist it; but he is still constrained to obedience. This is the doctrine of our Lord, as taught in Joh_8:34 : “He that committeth sin is the slave of sin.” This remains true, although this service is unto death: “The wages of sin is death.” The death intended is spiritual and eternal. It is the absolute loss of the life of the soul, which consists in the favor and fellowship of God, and conformity to his image. What is true of sin is true of holiness. He who by virtue of union with Christ is made obedient to God, becomes, as Paul says, a δοῦλος ὑπακοῆς, a slave of obedience. Obedience (personified) is the master to whom he is now subject. He is not only bound to obey, but he is made to obey in despite of the resistance of his still imperfectly sanctified nature. He cannot but obey. The point of analogy to which reference is here made, is the certainty of the effect, and the constraining influence by which that effect is secured. In the case both of sin and of holiness, obedience is certain; and it is rendered certain by a power superior to the will of man. The great difference is, that in the one case this subjection is abnormal and destructive, in the other it is normal and beneficent. A wise man is free in being subject to his reason. The more absolute and constant the authority of reason, the more exalted and free is the soul. In like manner, the more completely God reigns in us, the more completely we are subject to his will, so much the more are we free; that is, so much the more do we act in accordance with the laws of our nature and the end of our being. Servants of obedience unto righteousness; δικαιοσύνη must here be taken in its subjective sense. It is inward righteousness, or holiness. And in this sense it is eternal life, and therefore antithetical to θάνατος, which is spiritual and eternal death. The service of sin results in death, the service of God results in righteousness; that is, in our being right, completely conformed to the image of God, in which the life of the soul consists.
His servants ye are whom ye obey (douloi este hōi hupakouete). Bondservants, slaves of the one whom ye obey, whatever one’s profession may be, traitors, spies sometimes they are called. As Paul used the figure to illustrate death to sin and resurrection to new life in Christ and not in sin, so now he uses slavery against the idea of occasional lapses into sin. Loyalty to Christ will not permit occasional crossing over to the other side to Satan’s line.
Know ye not … – The objection noticed in Rom_6:15, the apostle answers by a reference to the known laws of servitude or slavery, Rom_6:16-20, and by showing that Christians, who had been the slaves of sin, have now become the servants of righteousness, and were therefore bound by the proper laws of servitude to obey their new master: as if he had said, “I assume that you know: you are acquainted with the laws of servitude; you know what is required in such cases.” This would be known to all who had been either masters or slaves, or who had observed the usual laws and obligations of servitude.
To whom ye yield yourselves – To whom ye give up yourselves for servitude or obedience. The apostle here refers to voluntary servitude; but where this existed, the power of the master over the time and services of the servant was absolute. The argument of the apostle is, that Christians had become the voluntary servants of God, and were therefore bound to obey him entirely. Servitude among the ancients, whether voluntary or involuntary, was rigid, and gave the master an absolute right over his slave, Luk_17:9; Joh_8:34; Joh_15:15. To obey. To be obedient; or for the purpose of obeying his commands.
To whom ye obey – To whom ye come under subjection. That is, you are bound to obey his requirements.
Whether of sin – The general law of servitude the apostle now applies to the case before him. If people became the servants of sin, if they gave themselves to its indulgence, they would obey it, let the consequences be what they might. Even with death, and ruin, and condemnation before them; they would obey sin. They give indulgence to their evil passions and desires, and follow them as obedient servants even if they lead them down to hell. Whatever be the consequences of sin. yet he who yields to it must abide by them, even if it leads him down to death and eternal woe.
Or of obedience … – The same law exists in regard to holiness or obedience. The man who becomes the servant of holiness will feel himself bound by the law of servitude to obey, and to pursue it to its regular consequences.
Unto righteousness – Unto justification; that is, unto eternal life. The expression stands contrasted with “death,” and doubtless means that he who thus becomes the voluntary servant of holiness, will feel himself bound to obey it, unto complete and eternal justification and life; compare Rom_6:21-22. The argument is drawn from what the Christian would feel of the nature of obligation. He would obey him to Whom he had devoted himself.
(This would seem to imply that justification is the effect of obedience. Δικαιοσυνη Dikaiosunē, however, does not signify justification, but righteousness, that is, in this case, personal holiness. The sense is, that while the service of sin leads to death, that of obedience issues in holiness or righteousness. It is no objection to this view that it does not preserve the antithesis, since “justification” is not the opposite of “death,” any more than holiness. “There is no need,” says Mr. Haldane, “that there should be such an exact correspondence in the parts of the antithesis, as is supposed. And there is a most obvious reason why it could not be so. Death is the wages of sin, but life is not the wages of obedience.”)
22.Ye have your fruit unto holiness, etc. As he had before mentioned a twofold end of sin, so he does now as to righteousness. Sin in this life brings the torments of an accusing conscience, and in the next eternal death. We now gather the fruit of righteousness, even holiness; we hope in future to gain eternal life. These things, unless we are beyond measure stupid, ought to generate in our minds a hatred and horror of sin, and also a love and desire for righteousness. Some render τελος, “tribute” or reward, and not “end,” but not, as I think, according to the meaning of the Apostle; for though it is true that we bear the punishment of death on account of sin, yet this word is not suitable to the other clause, to which it is applied by Paul, inasmuch as life cannot be said to be the tribute or reward of righteousness.
But now – Under the Christian plan of justification.
Being made free from sin – Being delivered from its dominion, and from bondage; in the same manner as before conversion they were free from righteousness, Rom_6:20.
Ye have your fruit unto holiness – The fruit or result is holiness. This service produces holiness, as the other did sin. It is implied here, though not expressly affirmed, that in this service which leads to holiness, they received important benefits, as in the service of sin they had experienced many evils.
And the end – The final result – the ultimate consequence will be. At present this service produces holiness; hereafter it will terminate in everlasting life. By this consideration the apostle states the tendency of the plan of justification, and urges on them the duty of striving after holiness.
Everlasting life – Note, Joh_3:36. This stands in contrast with the word “death” in Rom_6:21, and shows its meaning. “One is just as long in duration as the other;” and if the one is limited, the other is. If those who obey shall be blessed with life forever, those who disobey will be cursed with death forever. Never was there an antithesis more manifest and more clear. And there could not be a stronger proof that the word “death” in Rom_6:21, refers not to temporal death, but to eternal punishment. For what force would there be in the argument on the supposition that temporal death only is meant? The argument would stand thus: “The end of those sins is to produce temporal death; the end of holiness is to produce eternal life!” Will not temporal death be inflicted, it would be immediately asked, at any rate? Are Christians exempt from it? And do not people suffer this, whether they become Christians or not? How then could this be an argument bearing on the tenor of the apostle’s reasoning? But admit the fair and obvious construction of the passage to be the true one, and it becomes plain. They were pursuing a course tending to everlasting ruin; they are now in a path that shall terminate in eternal life. By this weighty consideration, therefore, they are urged to be holy.
23.For the wages of sin, etc. There are those who think that, Paul, by comparing death to allowances of meat, (obsoniis ,) points out in a disparaging manner the kind of wretched reward that is allotted to sinners, as this word is taken by the Greeks sometimes for portions allowed to soldiers. But he seems rather indirectly to condemn the blind appetites of those who are ruinously allured by the enticements of sin, as the fish are by the hook. It will however be more simple to render the word “wages,” for surely death is a sufficiently ample reward to the wicked. This verse is a conclusion to the former, and as it were an epilogue to it. He does not, however, in vain repeat the same thing again; but by doubling the terror, he intended to render sin an object of still greater hatred.
But the gift of God. They are mistaken who thus render the sentence, “Eternal life is the gift of God,” as though eternal life were the subject, and the gift of God the predicate; for this does not preserve the contrast. But as he has already taught us, that sin produces nothing but death; so now he subjoins, that this gift of God, even our justification and sanctification, brings to us the happiness of eternal life. Or, if you prefer, it may be thus stated, — “As the cause of death is sin, so righteousness, which we obtain through Christ, restores to us eternal life.”
It may however be hence inferred with certainty, that our salvation is altogether through the grace and mere beneficence of God. He might indeed have used other words — that the wages of righteousness is eternal life; and then the two clauses would correspond: but he knew that it is through God’s gift we obtain it, and not through our own merits; and that it is not one or a single gift; for being clothed with the righteousness of the Son, we are reconciled to God, and we are by the power of the Spirit renewed unto holiness. And he adds, in Christ Jesus, and for this reason, that he might call us away from every conceit respecting our own worthiness.
For the wages of sin is death – The second death, everlasting perdition. Every sinner earns this by long, sore, and painful service. O! what pains do men take to get to hell! Early and late they toil at sin; and would not Divine justice be in their debt, if it did not pay them their due wages?
But the gift of God is eternal life – A man may Merit hell, but he cannot Merit heaven. The apostle does not say that the wages of righteousness is eternal life: no, but that this eternal life, even to the righteous, is το χαρισμα του Θεου, The gracious Gift of God. And even this gracious gift comes through Jesus Christ our Lord. He alone has procured it; and it is given to all those who find redemption in his blood. A sinner goes to hell because he deserves it; a righteous man goes to heaven because Christ has died for him, and communicated that grace by which his sin is pardoned and his soul made holy. The word οψωνια, which we here render wages, signified the daily pay of a Roman soldier. So every sinner has a daily pay, and this pay is death; he has misery because he sins. Sin constitutes hell; the sinner has a hell in his own bosom; all is confusion and disorder where God does not reign: every indulgence of sinful passions increases the disorder, and consequently the misery of a sinner. If men were as much in earnest to get their souls saved as they are to prepare them for perdition, heaven would be highly peopled, and devils would be their own companions. And will not the living lay this to heart?
1. In the preceding chapter we see the connection that subsists between the doctrines of the Gospel and the practice of Christianity. A doctrine is a teaching, instruction, or information concerning some truth that is to be believed, as essential to our salvation. But all teaching that comes from God, necessarily leads to him. That Christ died for our sins and rose again for our justification, is a glorious doctrine of the Gospel. But this is of no use to him who does not die to sin, rise in the likeness of his resurrection, and walk in newness of life: this is the use that should be made of the doctrine. Every doctrine has its use, and the use of it consists in the practice founded on it. We hear there is a free pardon – we go to God and receive it; we hear that we may be made holy – we apply for the sanctifying Spirit; we hear there is a heaven of glory, into which the righteous alone shall enter – we watch and pray, believe, love, and obey, in order that, when he doth appear, we may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless. Those are the doctrines; these are the uses or practice founded on those doctrines.
2. It is strange that there should be found a person believing the whole Gospel system, and yet living in sin! Salvation From Sin is the long-continued sound, as it is the spirit and design, of the Gospel. Our Christian name, our baptismal covenant, our profession of faith in Christ, and avowed belief in his word, all call us to this: can it be said that we have any louder calls than these? Our self-interest, as it respects the happiness of a godly life, and the glories of eternal blessedness; the pains and wretchedness of a life of sin, leading to the worm that never dies and the fire that is not quenched; second most powerfully the above calls. Reader, lay these things to heart, and: answer this question to God; How shall I escape, if I neglect so great salvation? And then, as thy conscience shall answer, let thy mind and thy hands begin to act.
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. The reason why death is the result of sin is, that sin deserves death. Death is due to it in justice. There is the same obligation in justice, that sin should be followed by death, as that the laborer should receive his wages. As it would be unjust, and therefore wrong, to defraud the laborer of his stipulated reward, so it would be unjust to allow sin to go unpunished. Those, therefore, who hope for pardon without an atonement, hope that God will in the end prove unjust. The word ὀψώνια is, strictly, the rations of soldiers; in a wider sense, the same as ἀντιμισθία or μισθός, anything which is due as a matter of debt. But the gift of God, τὸ δὲ χάρισμα τοῦ Θεοῦ, the free, unmerited gift of God, is eternal life. The connection between holiness and life is no less certain than that between sin and death, but on different grounds. Sin deserves death; holiness is itself the gift of God, and is freely crowned with eternal life. The idea of merit is everywhere and in every way excluded from the gospel method of salvation. It is a system of grace, from the beginning to the consummation. Through (rather in) Jesus Christ our Lord. It is in Christ, as united to him, that we are made partakers of eternal life. Jesus Christ and his gospel, then, instead of being the ministers of sin — as the Jews, and since them, the opponents of the doctrines of grace, confidently asserted — effectually secure what the law never could accomplish, an obedience resulting in holiness here, and in eternal life hereafter.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through — “in”
Jesus Christ our Lord — This concluding verse – as pointed as it is brief – contains the marrow, the most fine gold, of the Gospel. As the laborer is worthy of his hire, and feels it to be his due – his own of right – so is death the due of sin, the wages the sinner has well wrought for, his own. But “eternal life” is in no sense or degree the wages of our righteousness; we do nothing whatever to earn or become entitled to it, and never can: it is therefore, in the most absolute sense, “THE GIFT OF GOD.” Grace reigns in the bestowal of it in every case, and that “in Jesus Christ our Lord,” as the righteous Channel of it. In view of this, who that hath tasted that the Lord is gracious can refrain from saying, “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father, to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen!” (Rev_1:5, Rev_1:6).
(1) As the most effectual refutation of the oft-repeated calumny, that the doctrine of Salvation by grace encourages to continue in sin, is the holy life of those who profess it, let such ever feel that the highest service they can render to that Grace which is all their hope, is to “yield themselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and their members instruments of righteousness unto God” (Rom_6:12, Rom_6:13). By so doing they will “put to silence the ignorance of foolish men,” secure their own peace, carry out the end of their calling, and give substantial glory to Him that loved them.
(2) The fundamental principle of Gospel obedience is as original as it is divinely rational; that “we are set free from the law in order to keep it, and are brought graciously under servitude to the law in order to be free” (Rom_6:14, Rom_6:15, Rom_6:18). So long as we know no principle of obedience but the terrors of the law, which condemns all the breakers of it, and knows nothing whatever of grace, either to pardon the guilty or to purify the stained, we are shut up under a moral impossibility of genuine and acceptable obedience: whereas when Grace lifts us out of this state, and through union to a righteous Surety, brings us into a state of conscious reconciliation, and loving surrender of heart to a God of salvation, we immediately feel the glorious liberty to be holy, and the assurance that “Sin shall not have dominion over us” is as sweet to our renewed tastes and aspirations as the ground of it is felt to be firm, “because we are not under the Law, but under Grace.”
(3) As this most momentous of all transitions in the history of a man is wholly of God’s free grace, the change should never be thought, spoken, or written of but with lively thanksgiving to Him who so loved us (Rom_6:17).
(4) Christians, in the service of God, should emulate their former selves in the zeal and steadiness with which they served sin, and the length to which they went in it (Rom_6:19).
(5) To stimulate this holy rivalry, let us often “look back to the rock whence we were hewn, the hole of the pit whence we were digged,” in search of the enduring advantages and permanent satisfactions which the service of Sin yielded; and when we find to our “shame” only gall and wormwood, let us follow a godless life to its proper “end,” until, finding ourselves in the territories of “death,” we are fain to hasten back to survey the service of Righteousness, that new Master of all believers, and find Him leading us sweetly into abiding “holiness,” and landing us at length in “everlasting life” (Rom_6:20-22).
(6) Death and life are before all men who hear the Gospel: the one, the natural issue and proper reward of sin; the other, the absolutely free “GIFT OF GOD” to sinners, “in Jesus Christ our Lord.” And as the one is the conscious sense of the hopeless loss of all blissful existence, so the other is the conscious possession and enjoyment of all that constitutes a rational creature’s highest “life” for evermore (Rom_6:23). Ye that read or hear these words, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing, therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live!” (Deu_30:19).
For the wages of sin – The word translated here “wages” ὀψώνια opsōnia properly denotes what is purchased to be eaten with bread, as fish, flesh, vegetables, etc. (Schleusner); and thence, it means the pay of the Roman soldier, because formerly it was the custom to pay the soldier in these things. It means hence, what a man earns or deserves; what is his proper pay, or what he merits. As applied to sin, it means that death is what sin deserves; what will be its proper reward. Death is thus called the wages of sin, not because it is an arbitrary, undeserved appointment, but
(1) Because it is its proper desert. Not a pain will be inflicted on the sinner which he does not deserve. Not a sinner will die who ought not to die. Sinners even in hell will be treated just as they deserve to be treated; and there is not to man a more fearful and terrible consideration than this. No man can conceive a more dreadful doom than for himself to be treated forever just as he deserves to be. But,
(2) This is the wages of sin, because, like the pay of the soldier, it is just what was threatened, Eze_18:4, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” God will not inflict anything more than was threatened, and therefore it is just.
Is death – This stands opposed here to eternal life, and proves that one is just as enduring as the other.
But the gift of God – Not the wages of man; not what is due to him; but the mere gift and mercy of God. The apostle is careful to distinguish, and to specify thai this is not what man deserves, but what is gratuitously conferred on him; Note, Rom_6:15.
Eternal life – The same words which in Rom_6:22 are rendered “everlasting life.” The phrase is opposed to death; and proves incontestably that that means eternal death. We may remark, therefore,
(1) That the one will be as long as the other.
(2) as there is no doubt about the duration of life, so there can be none about the duration of death. The one will be rich, blessed, everlasting; the other sad, gloomy, lingering, awful, eternal.
(3) if the sinner is lost, he will deserve to die. He will have his reward. He will suffer only what shall be the just due of sin. He will not be a martyr in the cause of injured innocence. He will not have the compassion of the universe in his favor. He will have no one to take his part against God. He will suffer just as much, and just as long, as he ought to suffer. He will suffer as the culprit pines in the dungeon, or as the murderer dies on the gibbet, because this is the proper reward of sin.
(4) they who are saved will be raised to heaven, not because they merit it, but by the rich and sovereign grace of God. All their salvation will be ascribed to him; and they will celebrate his mercy and grace forever.
(5) it becomes us, therefore, to flee from the wrath to come. No man is so foolish and so wicked as he who is willing to reap the proper wages of sin. None so blessed as he who has part in the mercy of God, and who lays hold on eternal life.