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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
Romans 6



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Verse 1

1. τί οὖν ἐροῦμεν; as always, introduces a question putting a case which might occur to the reader.

ἐπιμένωμεν. So far the emphasis has been chiefly upon the free grace of GOD as justifying; this might suggest that human effort is not required: and S. Paul meets this by pointing out that as GOD justifies in Christ alone, communion with Christ is necessary for the individual actualisation of justification, and this involves a characteristic life.

ἡ χάρις that the generosity and marvel of GOD’s free favour may be multiplied by increasing the demand upon it.

Verses 1-23

Romans 6:1 to Romans 7:6. The ethical bearing and standard of the new life in Christ.

[1] Are we to conclude that the state of sin is to continue, as a provocative, so to speak, of the graciousness of GOD the more sin the greater grace? [2] It is a monstrous thought; the fundamental characteristic of our Christian position is that when we became Christians we died to sin and our sinful life, [3] it is elementary that in baptism into Christ we shared His death, [4] His burial, and His resurrection by the manifest act of the Father; now we are in a new life and our conduct must be correspondingly new. [5] For baptism involved union of our nature to Christ’s both in His death and His resurrection; [6] His death implies the destruction of the old nature, the abolition of the rule of sin; His resurrection, shared by us—a freeing from death and sin, a living to GOD—implies that we are dead to sin and in Him living to GOD (so that sin is in the highest degree unnatural to this new creature). [12] Therefore both the use and the obedience of even your mortal body must be rendered no longer to sin for unrighteous work, but to GOD for righteousness; the authority of sin being broken because you are not under law but under grace. [15] Not under law, but not therefore free to sin, for that were a return to the old slavery; but under grace, you are under a new slavery (to use human language), willingly adopted; [19] your very members must be turned from the old slavery to the new. [20] For that was a state of slavery and freedom—freedom as against the claims of righteousness, slavery to the claims of sin and its result in death: [21] from that slavery you are freed and brought into a new slavery to GOD with its proper result, sanctification, leading to its end, eternal life. [23] For all that is earned from sin is death: but GOD gives, of His free grace, eternal life by communion with Christ Jesus our Lord.

The section deals with the response natural in those who are under GOD’s grace. It is, incidentally, a repudiation of the charge made against S. Paul that, by denying the obligation of law, he was destroying the support and the obligation of a holy life. It gives consequently the true basis for a Christian ethics: and the fundamental point is the new life in union with and dependence on Christ.

Verse 2

2. οἵτινες, the appeal is to the character of the Christian—‘seeing we are men who …’.

ἀπεθάνομεν definitely refers to baptism as explained Romans 6:3 f. τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ = our sin, the state of sin in which we were; cf. Galatians 2:19.

Verse 3

3. ἤ ἀγνοεῖτε, Romans 7:1 only; cf. οὐ θέλω ὑ. ἀγνοεῖν, Romans 1:13, Romans 11:25; 1 Corinthians 10:1; 1 Corinthians 12:1 alibi; as always, appealing to an admitted principle of Christian instruction.

It has been suggested that here and in 1 Corinthians 15:4 we have a reference to a primitive Baptismal Confession of the Death, Burial and Resurrection. See Clemen Erklärung, p. 172.

ἐβαπτίσθημεν, only Evv., Acts and Paul. With εἰς Χρ. only here and Galatians 3:27 : = were brought by baptism into union with Christ: this community of life is the fundamental thought of the passage, as determining the natural and necessary character of the Christian life.

εἰς Χρ. Ἰης. The union is with the full life of the Son as seen both in His Humanity and in His ascended state.

εἰς τὸν θάνατον αὐ.: the first stage of the Christian life is death, a death, in its kind, of the same quality as the death of Jesus (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:10), i.e. a death to sin, cf. Romans 6:10.

Verse 4

4. συνετάφημεν. Colossians 2:12 only; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:4; Acts 13:29. It is remarkable that S. Paul, alone in N.T. outside the Gospels, lays stress on the Burial: he alone was not an eyewitness of the circumstances of the Death, and therefore for him the burial was of high significance, in its evidential value.

εἰς τ. θ. Closely with τοῦ β.—through that baptism into His Death.

ἵνα. The purpose of this sharing the death and burial is negative as regards the old life of sin, but positive also, that we might enter into the atmosphere of the new life and walk in it.

δοὰ τῆς δόξης τοῦ πατρός, here δόξα is used of the manifest action of the Father in the raising of Christ; διὰ, instrum.; cf. John 11:40, Colossians 1:11. The resurrection of Christ is a revelation of the Father.

τοῦ πατρός. Cf. John 5:21; Acts 1:4; Acts 1:7; Acts 2:33 (only in A); Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:14; Colossians 1:12 (?); 1 Peter 1:17; 1 John 1:2-3; 1 John 2:1; 1 John 2:15 alibi [7]; 2 Joh. [3]; Rev. [4].

The use of ὁ πατήρ absolutely is dominantly characteristic of S. John (but cf. also Matthew 11:25 f. |[144], Luke 24:36 |[145]; Matthew 28:19). It occurs in S. Paul and Acts only as above (but n. Galatians 4:6). This is the only place where it is used alone in connexion with the resurrection; and consequently it calls marked attention to the character of the resurrection as an act not of power only but of the love of the Father to His Son, and through the Son to those that are His. This thought emphasises the obligations of the new life which has its ultimate source in that love.

οὕτως therefore covers the whole thought of the ὥσπερ clause: as in rising Christ left all that was dead behind, as that rising was due to the Father’s love and power, as we share that rising, so we must leave our dead selves behind and walk etc.

ζωή is the principle of life, not the manner of life (cf. Gifford and see Lft, Igna. Romans 7); the fresh vigour of a new principle of life (cf. Romans 8:2) is the motive power of Christian conduct (περιπατήσωμεν). This is the answer to Romans 6:1.

Verse 5

5. γὰρ expresses what was implied in καὶ ἡμεῖς, we are risen as Christ rose: this argument is continued to Romans 6:11.

σύμφυτοι, here only N.T. Cf. ἔμφυτος, James 1:21. = if we have been born (γεγόναμεν) with a (new) nature characterised by or wearing the likeness of His death. The new nature is stamped with the likeness to Christ’s death, as a death to sin; the idea is expanded in Romans 6:6. συμφ. = ‘of one growth or nature with.’ γεγόναμεν, cf. Romans 16:7, Romans 1:3; James 3:9. ὁμοίωμα, cf. Romans 8:3, Philippians 2:7, implies true assimilation, but of things different. There is that in the Death of Christ which transcends the capacity of men, yet the life of the redeemed man is truly assimilated, in its degree, to that Death. R.V. supplies αὐτῷ and takes τῷ ὁμ. as instrumental; possible but not quite natural.

ἀλλὰ καὶ κ.τ.λ. =ἀλλὰ καὶ σύμφυτοι τῷ ὁμ. τῆς ἀν. ἐσόμεθα: explained by συνζήσομεν, Romans 6:8 and ζῶντας, Romans 6:11. The stamp of the risen Life of the Lord will also be shown in this new life—as a ‘life to GOD,’ and therefore not under sin. ἐσόμεθα is a logical future: it follows that our lives will show etc.

Verse 6

6. τ. γιν ὅτι, almost = schooling ourselves to remember—the idea is one which grows with experience of the new life—contrast εἰδότες, Romans 6:9, cf. Moulton, p. 113. The point of the sentence lies in the ἵνα clause—the object of our crucifixion with Christ was to deliver us etc.

ὁ παλ. . ἄνθρωπος: ἄνθρ. as often = human character, humanity: two uses are to be distinguished, (a) ὁ ἔξω and ὁ ἔσω ἄνθρ. marking the twofold character of human nature—mind and body; Romans 7:22; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Ephesians 3:16; cf. 1 Peter 3:4. This use goes back to Plato. (b) ὁ παλαιὸς and ὁ καινὸς ἄνθρ. marking human nature as unregenerate or regenerate; so here; Ephesians 4:22 f.; Colossians 3:9. This use seems to be peculiar to S. Paul, and is a notable link between Rom., Eph. and Col.; cf. S.H. For the idea cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15. It involves the thought of a new act of creation; and is perhaps connected with the idea of 1 Corinthians 15:45 and so with c. 5. above. A further development of the thought is found in Ephesians 2:15.

συνεσταυρώθη, a more concrete expression of the idea of Romans 6:5; cf. Galatians 2:20 (only, in this sense); also Galatians 5:24; Galatians 6:14.

τὸ σῶμα τῆς ἁμαρτίας = the body as the instrument of sin; the body which sin had made its own—explained by the next clause and Romans 6:12. S.H. cf. Romans 7:24; Philippians 3:21; Colossians 2:11. The body is the organism of the human spirit; the spirit is the source of all moral action, both positive and negative; but the use of the body in sinful ways has a cumulative effect upon the bodily activities, and by influencing impulses and habits makes it a ready instrument of the sinning spirit, and of sin regarded metaphorically as an external tyrannical force: all these acquired habits and impulses need to be annihilated. Without metaphor = the body in which and by which we sin. The result of this ‘crucifixion’ is to make the body an instrument of righteousness, cf. Romans 12:1.

τοῦ μηκέτι δ. τοῦ with infin. is normally telic in N.T. = ‘so as to …,’ ‘so that we are …’; cf. Philippians 3:10; Moulton, p. 216 f. The purpose is expressed by ἵνα, the result by τοῦ κ.τ.λ. So δουλεύειν pres.: so that we are no longer in slavery to sin.

Verse 7

7. ὁ γὰρ ἀποθανὼν then enforces the completeness of this result:= he that dies (cf. Moulton, p. 114) is acquitted of his sin for which he is put to death—he has paid the penalty and is free from further effects. This is not a merely general statement. As Romans 6:8 shows, the death here is a sharing of Christ’s death: it is the voluntary self-surrender of man to the penalty of his sin, and involves penitential faith. Consequently it receives from GOD forgiveness, or acquittal from his sin; and sin has no more dominion over him. cf. Moberly, Atonement and Personality, pp. 39 f.

Verse 8

8. εἰ δὲ ἀπεθάνομεν. The death spoken of is not an absolute death, but relative only. The force of these verses is to bring out the positive effects of this death: it is not only death to the old life but entry upon the new. S. Paul thinks of death not as an end but as a transition from one life to another.

πιστεύομεν ὅτι is of the nature of a parenthesis = as we believe; it is even possible that there is a reference to a Christian commonplace such as 2 Timothy 2:12.

καὶ συνζήσομεν. This is the real apodosis. The future does not necessitate a reference to the future life, and in the context such a reference is very unnatural; it is rather the logical future marking the new life as fulfilling a promise or natural consequence. So probably 2 Corinthians 13:4; cf. Romans 6:2. Cf. ἐσόμεθα, Romans 6:5.

Verse 9

9. εἰδότες ὅτι, ‘appeal to an elementary Christian belief,’ Hort, 1 Peter 1:18; cf. Romans 6:3; 2 Corinthians 4:14; 2 Corinthians 5:6. A stronger form is οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι, Romans 6:16, 1 Corinthians 3:16 alibi

Χριστὸς κ.τ.λ. The antithetic and rhythmical balance of these clauses suggests a well-known and well-used formula. Cf. above Romans 6:8. It is possible that we have here, too, a fragment of a hymn or confession; cf. 2 Timothy 2:8. N. the rhythmical character stops at θεῷ.

οὐκέτι ἀποθνήσκει = never again dies: iterative, cf. Moulton, p. 114.

θάνατος α. κ.τ.λ. His resurrection was a triumph over the sovereignty of death (cf. Romans 5:14; 1 Corinthians 15:57) and has changed the meaning of death.

Verse 10

10. ὃ γὰρ ἀπέθανεν, ‘a kind of cognate accus. after the second ἀπέθανεν,’ S.H. His death that He died was a death once for all to sin.

τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ. Cf. Romans 6:21, the sin that reigned by death: for the dative cf. Romans 6:2.

ὃ δὲ ζῇ, ‘the life that He lives is a life to GOD.’ It is clear that ‘the Death’ is not limited to the Death on the Cross. The whole life of Jesus was a death to sin, culminating in the final act of the Cross. So ‘the life’ here is not limited to the post-resurrection life: it is the life which He lived on earth, and still lives. Cf. the very remarkable phrase, 2 Corinthians 4:10, τὴν νέκρωσιν τοῦ Ἰησοῦ followed by ἡ ζωὴ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ. This meaning is well indicated by the strong ‘perfectivised’ ἀπέθανεν; cf. Moulton, p. 112.

Verse 11

11. οὕτως κ.τ.λ. sums up the argument in answer to the question in Romans 6:1.

ἐν Χρ. Ἰησοῦ, first time in this Ep. (Romans 3:24 is different). The relation hitherto has been described by διὰ (Romans 5:1; Romans 5:11; Romans 5:17; Romans 5:21). The idea then becomes explicit that the new life is life in Christ Jesus, as the ascended Lord, agent and source of the Christian life. As so often, it is the anticipatory mention of an idea which is developed later. See 23, Romans 7:4, Romans 8:2.

Verse 12

12 ff. The suggestion of Romans 6:1 is reversed: the slave is free, the tyrant deposed, the service changed, the instruments of service refurbished, the power of service quickened.

μὴ βασιλευέτω, pres. of the continued reign, under these altered conditions.

ἡ ἁμαρτία, the sin which hitherto reigned.

ἐν τῷ θνητῷ ὑ. ς. Cf. 2 Corinthians 4:11 = even in your mortal body; the body, which yet must die, must not be allowed to minister to the deeper death.

ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις α. Cf. Romans 1:24. ἐπιθυμία (sing.) is used in a good sense only thrice in N.T. (Luke 22:15; Philippians 1:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:17); otherwise always in a bad sense, of the natural desire when not under the direction of νοῦς or πνεῦμα; cf. Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 4:22; 1 Peter 1:14; John 2:16.

Verse 13

13. μηδὲ παριστάνετε, do not continue to lend. παραστήσατε make a surrender once for all; cf. Moulton, p. 125. Cf. Romans 12:1.

τῷ θεῷ, for GOD’s use.

ἐκ νεκρῶν ζ., as men that are alive after being dead.

τὰ μέλη, the component parts of the body. ὅπλα, instruments, tools (not merely for war); cf. Romans 13:12; 2 Corinthians 6:7.

Verse 14

14. οὐ κυριεύσει, a promise, not a command.

οὐ γὰρ κ.τ.λ. Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:56 : a verse which shows that this line of argument had been already developed by S. Paul in his oral teaching.

ὑπὸ νόμονχάριν. The contrast is the keynote of this section: from the point of view of ethics, the Christian state is a state of grace, that is, a state in which man is the object of GOD’s free favour and recipient of a new power of moral action, not a state of law, that is, a state in which man receives a revelation of GOD’s will, but not the power to fulfil it. The statement of the contrast leads to the question of what freedom from law means, and that to a fuller account of what subjection to law means (c. 7).

Verses 15-23

15–23. These verses, starting from the contrast just stated, describe the same conditions as in Romans 6:1-14 but from a slightly different point of view; there the two states of man have been described; here the two activities of the human will. What demand is made upon us as self-determining agents by this new condition of things? The answer is—a twofold demand; first to apprehend our true position, secondly to act upon, it with, the full purpose of will. The release from law is not a licence to sin but an obligation to free service.

τί οὖν; as τί οὖν ἐροῦμεν; Romans 6:1.

ἁμαρτήσωμεν, are we to commit sin, i.e. by definite acts? As sin may not be used to multiply grace, so it cannot be even used because grace has taken the place of positive law. The question is really raised whether the Christian has any law to which his life must conform, and, if he Has, what kind of law?

Verse 16

16. οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι, appeal to recognised principle.

, neut.: the case is stated as generally as possible.

εἰς ὑπακοήν = with a view to obeying, for obedience—the proper attitude of the δοῦλος.

ἤ ὑπακοῆς εἰς δικαιοσύνην, the antithesis fails: we expect ἤ δικαιοσύνης εἰς ζωήν. The reason for the change appears to be that the latter phrase could not yet be used without risk of misunderstanding: δοῦλοι δικαιοσύνης εἰς ζωήν could be fully accepted by a Jew as describing his state under law: consequently it is necessary to bring out the meaning both of ὑπακοή and of δικαιοσύνη; and this is done first by substituting these words, in spite of the inexact antithesis; and then by explaining their meaning in 17–18.

ὑπακοῆς. Consequently the gen. here is not objective after δοῦλοι but descriptive = slaves who obey.

εἰς δικαιοσύνην, with a view to righteousness—to secure and maintain righteousness. Righteousness here as generally = GOD’s righteousness as revealed in Christ and made known in the gospel. Hence it can be used alternatively with τῷ θεῷ, Romans 6:18; Romans 6:22.

Verses 16-23

16–23. These verses answer the question put in Romans 6:15. The complexity of the passage is due to the fact that S. Paul wishes to explain that the Christian life is subject to law, but that the subjection differs from that of the Jew both in the character of the law and the nature of the subjection. [1] This new law is not a code of precepts but GOD’s righteousness revealed in the life of Christ: the life of Christ is the model to which the Christian life must conform. And that, not merely because it is an external standard, but because the living Christ is the source, and naturally therefore determines the character, of the Christian life. This thought gets full and fearless expression in Romans 8:2, ὁ νομος τοῦ πνεύματος τῆς ζωῆς ἐν Χρ. .: but by that time the true place and character of preceptual law have been expounded, and there is no longer danger of confusion. [2] The nature of the subjection corresponds to the nature of the law: it is a whole-hearted self-surrender to GOD and to the life which embodies and reproduces, in those who so offer themselves, His righteousness. ὑπακοή here is very closely allied to πίστις, and might almost be described as ‘faith in action’; cf. πίστις δι' ἀγάπης ἐνεργουμένη, Galatians 5:6.

It is this complexity of the subject which occasions the inaccurate antithesis in Romans 6:16; the parenthetic explanation of Romans 6:19-21, and the multiplication of phrase (ὑπακοῆς, δικαιοσύνηςτύπονθεῷ [22]).

Verse 17

17. χάρις δὲ τῷ θεῷ. The outburst of feeling is occasioned by the thought of the magnitude of the change which has been worked in them and in himself by GOD.

ἦτε δοῦλοι, really a μὲν clause, and to be translated ‘while you were’ or ‘though you were.’

ὑπηκούσατε δὲ ἐκ καρδίας, the expansion of ὑπακοή, Romans 6:16, as the effect of a deep heartwhole effort of self-surrender in response to the revelation of GOD: cf. exactly Romans 10:9-10, whence is seen the closeness of ὑπακοή as here used to πίστις. The aor. refers to the definite act of self-surrender made when they became Christians (contrast ἦτε).

εἰς ὃν παρεδόθητε τύπον διδαχῆς = τῷ τύπῳ τῆς διδαχῆς εἰς ὃν παρεδόθητε.

τύπον διδαχῆς, [1] not ‘a type of doctrine’ as some comm., e.g. the Pauline form of the Gospel as contrasted with the Judaistic: this is quite alien from S. Paul’s manner of thought and expression (2 Timothy 1:13 has quite a different meaning from that usually given), and also to the whole drift of the context: but [2] the model of conduct which they have been taught in the Gospel: cf. Ephesians 4:20, οὐχ οὕτως ἐμάθετε τὸν χριστόν.… The gen. διδαχῆς = ὃν ἐδιδάχθητε. The ‘model’ in question is ὁ χριστός: the new righteousness being GOD’s righteousness revealed in the character of the Christ: as Jesus ascended, He is here regarded not so much as the Master who claims, but as the personal Pattern who guides, the obedience of the surrendered life. This description of the object of obedience is therefore in line with the others (δικαιοσύνῃ, 18, 19, θεῷ, 22). For τύπος as a personal model for imitation cf. Philippians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:9; 1 Timothy 4:12; Titus 2:7; 1 Peter 5:3.

παρεδόθητε. The correct interpretation of τύπος makes the use of this verb natural—they had been handed over, in their Baptism (aor.), to a new kind of life; |[147] in thought to ἐβαπτίσθημεν εἰς Χριστόν, Romans 6:3. Cf. 2 Corinthians 4:11.

Verse 18

18. ἐδουλώθητε τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ. The correct antithesis which was avoided in Romans 6:16 is now given, because the sense in which ἡ δικ. is to be taken has been made clear in the preceding sentence; Art. = the righteousness of GOD revealed in Christ.

Verse 19

19. ἀνθρώπινον λέλω. An apology for the harsh word ἐδουλώθηστε:he calls it slavery, because the weakness of the flesh needs just such a masterful control as that word implies, and as it had lent itself to under its former master. The mastery of Christ is even more exacting and exclusive than the mastery of sin: Cf. Matthew 5:20. He developes this thought in Romans 6:19-21.

διὰ τὴν ἀσθ. gives the reason why he thinks the word δουλεία appropriate even to their new life.

ὥσπερ γὰρ κ.τ.λ. A summary of the state described in Romans 1:18 f. Cf. Romans 2:14 f.

εἰς ἁγιασμόν = for hallowing, to be hallowed; the translation into character of the call expressed in the name ἅγιοι: submitting their lives to the influence of the revealed δικαιοσύνη: here, as generally, marks the process; cf. 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:7. The hallowing is the work of the Spirit (cf. Romans 8:2) upon their surrendered lives.

Verse 20

20. γὰρ. Make this effort, for your former freedom or slavery brought you such gain as now shames you.

Verse 21

21. εἴχετε used you to enjoy. ἐφ' οἷς = ἐκείνων ἐφ' οἷς, from those things at which.…

καρπὸν here = the results of their slavery—so ὀψώνιαχάρισμα: in the one case earned and paid, in the other not earned but given.

Verse 22

22. δουλωθέντες δὲ τῷ θεῷ. The fullest expression of the service into which they have been brought.

ἔχετε. You bear your proper fruit; or perhaps imper.; cf. Romans 6:19. N. the present of continued action.

Verse 23

23. τὸ χάρισμα. The concrete instance of GOD’s χάρις.

ἐν Χρ. With ζ. αἰ. as Romans 6:11 : for the full name cf. n. on Romans 5:21. N. refrain again.


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Romans 6:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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Wednesday, November 25th, 2020
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