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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Romans 6

 

 

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Verse 1

1. What… say—This question simply introduces the argument like the opening questions of chapters 3 and 4.

Continue in sin—Sin as either an internal mental state, or an external habit or course of action.


Verse 2

2. God forbid—See note on Romans 3:4.

Dead to sin—As a corpse is perfectly unsusceptible both in regard to outward things and internal sensations, so should the Christian be insensible both to the external excitements and the internal impulses to sin. Thence the thought of his living in sin that divine grace may be honoured is excluded as a heinous contradiction.


Verse 3

3. Baptized into Jesus Christ—Of this self-consecrating act of faith baptism is the external manifestation and profession. The apostle, therefore, holds that our act of baptism consecrates us into Christ, as if our persons mystically became particles and parts incorporated into the holy person of the blessed Jesus, so that we are figured as identified with his body.

Baptized into his death—This same faith, symbolized by baptism, incorporates the points of our history into the most eminent points of Christ’s history. We are made in a manner to die in his death.


Verse 4

4. Therefore—Since we die, a cognate burial must follow. The faith which precedes baptism produces a death; the holiness which should follow is a newness of life, a resurrection.

Buried… by baptism—Where our regenerating faith is a death, and our sanctified new life is a resurrection, what should be the fitting burial between the two? Obviously, as said in Romans 6:2, our baptism consecrating us into Christ, embodying us into his mystical body the Church, is the burial. Faith insures our mystical death, baptism our mystical burial, sanctification our mystical resurrection.

This mystical burial would be accomplished with equal completeness whether the rite of baptism were performed by affusion or immersion. For, 1. Christ was not buried at all, but temporarily deposited in a new tomb preparatory to burial. 2. A burial is as well symbolized by affusion, picturing the covering over of the body, as by immersion. The amount of water poured upon the body can make no difference; for in Rome, whither this epistle was sent, a handful of dust thrice flung upon a corpse was held to be a legal ritual burial. So in the parallel passage, Colossians 2:11-12, so minute a rite as circumcision is the figure of an entire “putting off the body of the sins of the flesh.” 3. Immersion, even if it represented burial, does not symbolize the outpoured baptism of the Spirit. Affusion represents both.


Verse 5

5. Planted together—Rather, grown or germinating together, like two fellow slips from the same root.


Verse 6

6. Old man is crucified—Our old man is our unregenerate nature renounced by faith in Christ. The cessation of this unregeneracy finds its image in the crucifixion.


Verse 8

8. Dead with Christ—Dead to a world of sin, as Christ was dead to the world of external things.

Also live with him—Live in conformity with his character.


Verse 10

10. Died unto sin—The death of Christ was the very highest point of the antagonism of holiness against sin. The very highest image, therefore, of the contrariety of Christianity to sin is instanced in the identification of the Christian with the death of Christ. With Christ, in a lower sense, he dies unto sin; with Christ he liveth unto God.


Verse 12

12. Therefore—Inasmuch as death to sin is freedom from sin, be ye free from sin. The apostle now in the paragraph 12-23 develops a train of imageries drawn from servitude, namely, to sin or to holiness; contrasting the service of sin and the deathly results with the service of God, which is freedom emerging into the glorified life.

Sin… reign—Sin assumes to be a king; our mortal body (mortal, as sin has made it so) is his claimed realm; that body’s lusts are the mandates which the false sovereign would have us obey.


Verse 13

13. Members as instruments—Our limbs, all the parts and organs of our body, the false king, Sin, would devote as instruments to execute the behests of the lusts.

Unto God—The true king. Instruments of righteousness—Instead of lusts. Augustine well says: “Does anger rise? Refuse to give for it your tongue to cursing or your hand to striking. That irrational rage would cease to rise did not sin exist in the members. Abolish its power; let it not have weapons with which it can war against you. It will learn not to rise when it ceases to be allowed arms.”


Verse 14

14. Not under the law—Under the dispensation of Christless law the dominion of sin could never be broken. It would rule and ruin. But under grace emancipation is offered and freedom may be secured. Yet the new freedom consists not in an abolishment of the law, but in the spirit by which the Christian fulfils the law, namely, not under compulsion of the law, but freely and with full purpose of heart. Thus the most perfect obedience to law is a most delightful freedom.


Verse 15

15. Shall we sin—Shall we make the very grace that redeems us from sin the occasion for sin?


Verse 16

16. His servants ye are—There is no compromise. Serving sin, even under pretext of grace, makes us the genuine slaves of sin even unto death. Serving sin professedly under grace brings us under the terrible penalty of law. So that, then, we are truly not under grace.


Verse 17

17. Thanked… ye were—God be thanked that your service of sin is in the past tense, and is now forever over.

Form of doctrine—The true doctrine of grace; the opposite of and emancipation from your old service of sin and instalment under the rule of Christ.


Verse 19

19. After the manner of men—I illustrate deep spiritual truth by ordinary images drawn from secular life.

Infirmity… flesh—Which needs spiritual truth in material shapes. The Roman Christians knew the significance of slavery as a source of illustration, being not only familiar with it, but even being, perhaps, some of themselves slaves. He momentarily apologizes for this sort of illustration, and then pushes it to its final and awful result.


Verse 20

20. Free from righteousness—They felt themselves released from the divine requirements, being under the opposite master, Sin.


Verse 21

21. What fruit—He now appeals to their own experience. What avails could they boast from their freedom from right? The answer is, death.


Verse 23

23. Wages of sin—The hire which the master Sin pays to his servants is death. And this death, the antithesis of eternal life, and measured in duration by it, is eternal death, death that knows no resurrection. The reverse, eternal life, the result of the service of Jesus Christ our Lord, is not a wages, but a free and bounteous gift. Sin well earns its reward, and so its reward is wages; but our service does not earn heaven so that heaven is a gratuity.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Romans 6:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/romans-6.html. 1874-1909.

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