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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Romans 6

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-23


The New Righteousness in Union with Christ

St. Paul's begins by repeating an objection he must often have heard from Jewish adversaries (cp: Romans 3:8), and suggested here by Romans 5:20 -'Does not this teaching of pardon by God's free favour practically encourage sin?' The objection is stated in two forms (Romans 6:1, Romans 6:15). The Apostle not only answers his opponents: he is still more concerned to build up his readers in a holy life. He opposes to the objection the fact of the believer's union with Christ. Faith in Christ means devotion to Christ's Person. The Christian is so vitally joined to Christ that he is dead with Him to sin, and risen with Him to a new state in which sin has no place (Romans 6:1-14). The Apostle then presents the same truth in a form more easily grasped. In coming to Christ, the Christian has experienced a change of service; he is freed from Sin and bound to serve Righteousness (Romans 6:15-23).

1-14. The Christian life should be like Christ's risen life, i.e. it should be lived in God's loving Presence. Sin belonged to the old state, to which the Christian died in baptism.

Paraphrase. '(1) It is objected that by “Justification by Faith” men are encouraged to continue in sin, since the greater the sin, the greater the opportunity that is afforded for the manifestation of God's pardoning love to sinners. (2) But our baptism implied such a breaking-away from the old sinful life as may be compared to death. Therefore, to say that a Christian may live in sin is a contradiction. (3) For our baptism signified an identification of our hearts and wills with Christ which amounted to a real union with Him, so that, while we look to His death as the ground of our acceptance, we also identify ourselves with that alienation from the sin of the world which crucified Him, of which His death was the final stage. (4) Therefore, our immersion beneath the waters of baptism signified death and burial with Christ from the sinful life of the world. But it is not only His death that is ours. We came up out of the water, as He rose from the dead, that we might begin to live in a new condition animated by His risen life. (5) This necessarily follows. For if we are united with Him in dying, we must be united with Him in new life, morally and spiritually now, and physically hereafter. (6) Make no mistake: by His death, Christ finally sealed His life-long refusal of sin, and showed that His followers must do the same. We, therefore, being like-minded with Him through our faith in Him, also repudiated sin at our baptism, slaying our old sinful selves. Therefore, we should realise that the rule of sin over our earthly natures is ended; (7) just as a master's rule over a dead slave is ended. (8) If so, then life with Christ follows, (9) because we are one with Him, and He lives a life in which death cannot touch Him any more. (10) This is certain, for His death ended that earthly state in which He had contact with sin, and His life is now one of unbroken communion with God. (11) Do you, then, look upon yourselves also as dead in regard to sin, but alive to God's presence and love and claims by your union with Christ. (12) Therefore, treat even your bodies as redeemed from sin, and do not yield to the lusts (13) which would use the parts and powers of your body to conquer you again for sin. Rather devote yourselves to God once for all, as if you had risen from the dead, and let all the powers of your bodies be weapons for the good fight in God's service. (14) Do not fear failure. The power which sin has over those who are under law cannot exist in the life-giving atmosphere of the redeeming love of God in which you live.'

2. Are dead] rather, 'died,' i.e. in baptism. Those addressed had been adult converts. Their baptism had been a definite act of attachment to Christ and of detachment from the sinful world. Although to crucify sinful and selfish desires is painful, it is done even joyfully by those who are inspired to the imitation of Christ by the perfect beauty and goodness of His sacrifice, for they have 'that mind' in them 'which was also in Christ Jesus.' This, which is part of the inner meaning of baptism, is the spirit in which the true Christian will live his life.

3. Cp. Galatians 3:27. So many of us as] RV 'all we who.'

4. Are buried] rather, 'were buried': cp. Colossians 2:12. Into death] i.e. into a state of death as regards sin. Glory] i.e. manifestation of love and power: cp. John 11:40.

Newness of life] i.e. a newness consisting in life: cp. John 3:36; John 10:10; John 17:3; Romans 8:2; Colossians 3:3.

5. Been planted, etc.] RM 'become united with the likeness.. with the likeness,' as a slip is united with the tree to which it is grafted.

6. Is crucified] rather, 'was crucified,' i.e. potentially, when Christ was crucified; actually, in faith and baptism: cp. Matthew 18:8.; Galatians 2:20. Body of sin] i.e. the body as the servant of sin: cp. Colossians 2:11. Destroyed] i.e. as regards sin.

7. Is freed from sin] As a dead slave has completely escaped from his master's power, so one who has so believed in Christ as to be joined with Him in His death to the sin of the world, should remember that sin has no more, legitimately, to-do with him. So far as its appeal to him is concerned, he should be dead.

8. Be dead] rather, 'died.'

10. In that he died, etc.] RV 'the death that he died.. the life that he liveth.' Once] RM 'once for all.'

11. Through Jesus Christ our Lord] RV 'in Christ Jesus,' a phrase by which St. Paul often expresses our union with the glorified Christ.

12. Obey.. lusts] RV 'obey the lusts.'

13. Yield] RV 'present.'

Instruments] RM 'weapons.'

14. Under the law] RV 'under law.' A code of precepts gives no power of fulfilment. It only (1) shows what is right, (2) reveals man's sinfulness, (3) stimulates him to opposition: cp. Romans 7. 1 Corinthians 15:56; Galatians 4:5. 'To be “under the law,” in St. Paul's language, means to avoid sin from fear of penalties attached to sin by the law. This principle of fear is not strong enough to keep men in the path of duty. Union with Christ can alone give man the mastery over sin' (Conybeare and Howson).

15-23. The Christian is to regard sin as a master from whom death has freed him. He is now the bondservant of righteousness.

Paraphrase. '(15) Some assert that if they are no longer under law they may indulge in sin. (16) Impossible! You belong either to sin or to God; you cannot belong to both. (17) And although you were the servants of sin once, you have now taken the Christian teaching as your rule of life, (18) thus exchanging the service of Sin for the service of Righteousness. (19) The illustration is inadequate, for you are better than slaves, you are God's children. But I want you to see that you must now devote your bodies to righteousness and sanctification as unreservedly as once you devoted them to impurity and licence. (20) Formerly, you served sin only, (21) and the only reward you had to look for was eternal death. (22) Now you serve God only, a service leading to sanctification, with everlasting life in prospect. (23) Make no mistake. Those who serve sin receive the death they have deserved. But God gives to His servants what they could never earn, even everlasting life in union with Christ.'

15. The law] RV 'law': cp. Galatians 5:13.

16. Cp. Matthew 6:24. Unto] i.e. resulting in. Obedience] personified; the mark of the lives both of the Redeemer and of the redeemed: cp. Philippians 2:8; Hebrews 5:8.; Hebrews 10:7.

17. That form, etc.] RV 'that form of teaching whereunto ye were delivered,' i.e. simple instruction in Christian truth and morality: cp. Acts 2:42.

19. After the manner of men] i.e. I use an illustration drawn from human affairs, because you have not had that deep spiritual experience to which I might appeal differently: cp. Romans 3:5. Flesh] i.e. unspiritual human nature. Have yielded] RV 'presented.' Iniquity] lit. 'lawlessness.' Unto iniquity] i.e. iniquity leading to iniquity with the result of a lawless life. Yield] RV 'present.' Holiness] RV 'sanctification,' i.e. growth in holiness.

20. From] RV 'in regard of.'

22. Holiness] RV 'sanctification.'

Everlasting life] i.e. future bliss.

23. Gift] RV 'free gift.' Through] RV 'in': cp. Romans 6:11, 1 John 5:11.


Verses 1-39

St. Paul has finished his exposition of Justification (Romans 3:19 to Romans 5:21), and now passes to Sanctification. In other words, having shown how the believer is delivered from the guilt of sin, he goes on to show how he is delivered from its power.

Romans 6 shows the Christian abiding in living union with the risen Christ by the power of faith. Romans 7 describes the failure of the most earnest life apart from Christ. Romans 8 shows Christ abiding in the Christian by the power of the spirit: cp. John 15:4.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Romans 6:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/romans-6.html. 1909.

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