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Romans 6

Dunagan's Commentary on the BibleDunagan's Commentary

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I. Holiness is the logical outcome of the life of a Christian: 6:1-23

A. Since they died to sin to rise to new life: 6:1-14

B. Since they have a new Master who is opposed to sin: 6:6-14

C. Since service to a master logically means obedience to that master: 6:15-23

Verse 1

Rom_6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

'What shall we say then' -'Then what shall we conclude' (Gspd); 'A transition-expression and a debater's phrase.'(Vincent p. 65); 'What inference then shall we draw, i.e. from the relations of sin and grace expounded in 5:20?' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 632)

'Well', someone might say, 'if God's grace so abounded over sin, why should we not go on sinning so as to give His grace the opportunity of abounding all the more?' This is not a completely hypothetical objection..the Russian monk Rasputin..taught..that, as those who sin most require most forgiveness, a sinner who continues to sin with abandon enjoys, each time he repents, more of God's forgiving grace than any ordinary sinner.'

'That question would naturally arise in the minds of the uninformed. Besides, some people would like to have an excuse to indulge in sin .'

From the Scriptures it is clear that people have tried to justify sin on 'religious grounds' in the past. ( 2Pe_2:19 ; Jud_1:4 'who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness..')

'Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?' -

'Continue' -the verb means primarily to remain or abide at or with, and secondarily, to persevere. So better here, persist. (Vincent pp. 65-66); 'The practice of sin as a habit (present tense) is here raised.' (Robertson p. 361) 'Shall we sin to our heart's content and see how far we can exploit the grace of God' (Phi)

'Paul's opponent draws what he thinks is a logical conclusion from all this. He believes fervently that Paul is undermining holiness by undermining the law since he makes acquittal independent of flawless performance..what follows is argument showing such thinking is false. The opposite is true..'

Verse 2

Rom_6:2 God forbid. We who died to sin, how shall we any longer live therein?

'God forbid' -Horrible thought (Robertson p. 361); 'Perish the thought', is the reaction of a mind that is mentally, morally, and spiritually sound. (Lenski p. 389)

Modern Application: How would Paul react to the preaching of the doctrine that says, 'A Christian can never lose his salvation, no matter how he lives after his conversion, once saved, always saved'?

'We who died to sin' -'how can such a thought of going on in sin arise in the minds of us, "who are such as died to sin?" "How shall we still be living in it?" Logic? Sound deduction? The very thought of going on in sin for any reason is in itself a shallow contradiction. Only a fool confuses 'having died' and 'still being alive'.

'Died to sin' -aorist tense, speaks of a completed act in time past.

But what does it mean to "die" to sin? Does it mean that the Christian is no more attracted by sin? No-(6:12 'do not let sin reign'; 6:13,16; Jam_4:7-8 ; Jam_5:16 ; 1Jn_1:8-10 ). The Christian is no longer to sin habitually or 'live' in sin. ( 1Jn_3:6 ; 1Jn_3:9 'no one who is born of God practices sin ..')

'It speaks of the sinner's own renunciation of sin, his being immersed into union with Christ and it presupposes the rising into newness of life.'

Note: 'In reply to the question, shall we continue in sin? Paul doesn't reply: God forbid, that isn't spiritually possible! You have been rendered incapable of doing that.'

Verse 3

Rom_6:3 Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

'Or are ye ignorant' -'Now this is important--Paul is here stressing what some saints might not have fully grasped'

'Anyone who can argue like that', says Paul, 'shows that he has not begun to understand the gospel. Life in sin cannot coexist with death to sin.'

'All we' -indicating that all who were now Christians had been baptized. If baptism wasn't preached as a necessity (if it was an optional matter), then Paul's argument here doesn't make any sense.


'Who were baptized' -'When, it may be asked, did this all-important death (to sin) take place? The answer is: It is involved in baptism.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 632)

Note: Involved in this 'death to sin', repentance must also be remembered.

'From this and other references to baptism in Paul's writings, it is certain that he did not regard baptism as an "optional extra" in the Christian life, and that he would not have contemplated the phenomenon of an "un-baptized believer".'


1. The New Testament commands one set of conditions for salvation, for every one ( Mar_16:16 ; Act_2:38 ; Act_10:48 ; Act_15:9 )

2. The 'justification by faith' in the book of Romans INCLUDES-repentance 2:4-5; confession of Christ 10:9-10; and baptism-6:3-5.

3. If the 'faith' that justifies is 'faith-only', then why didn't Paul argue, 'Or do you not know that all of us who at the point that we believed on Jesus, died to sin'?

'Into Christ Jesus' - Gal_3:26-27 ; Eph_1:3 ; 1Co_12:13 . 'It would seem very clear that Paul understood a person to enter into Christ at the point of being trustingly immersed'.

'Were baptized into his death' -Paul now wishes that his hearers take a good look at the significance of baptism.

'His death' -i.e. the death of Christ. And what type of death was it? It was a death caused by the hand of sinners! It was a death intended to atone for sins! It was a ONCE-FOR-ALL DEATH FOR SINS. ( Heb_7:27 ; Heb_9:25-28 ) 'Did teaching like Paul's lead logically to a life of continuance in sin? Not at all. The logic of this would be a hatred of that which slew the Master..if a person enters into union with Christ he endorses all that Christ endorses and repudiates all that Christ rejects.'

In the background is the idea that in baptism one comes into contact with the benefits of the death of Christ, i.e. forgiveness of sins. ( Act_2:38 = Mat_26:28 )

Verse 4

Rom_6:4 We were buried therefore with him through baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.

'Buried therefore with him through baptism unto death' -a parallel is drawn between the burial and resurrection of Christ and the death and resurrection of the Christian ('that like as').

'Therefore' -as a natural consequence of death.

'Buried' -one more proof that the correct mode of baptism is immersion. ( Col_2:12 )

'Through the glory of the Father' -'by the Father's glorious power' (Wey) ( Eph_1:19 )

'So we also might walk in newness of life' -

'Walk' -'live an entirely new life' (Wey). ( 2Co_5:17 ); 'So we too might habitually live and behave in newness of life' (Amp). Lit., walk about, implying habitual conduct (Vincent p. 67)

'Newness' -2538. kainotes kahee-not'-ace; from 2537; renewal (figuratively): -newness. In life of a new quality (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 633) (7:6)

In baptism one comes into contact with the benefits of Christ's death (a death designed to atone for sins-hence how could those baptized ever logically argue that they had the right to keep on sinning?); the result being a spiritual resurrection of the believer from 'dead in sin', to 'alive in Christ'. ( Eph_2:1-9 ; Col_2:12-13 ). Hence baptism symbolizes the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. BAPTISM ISN'T THE outward sign of an inward grace, rather is the act that brings the believer into contact with benefits of Christ's death and resurrection.

Verse 5

Rom_6:5 For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection;

'United' -to grow together (Robertson p. 362); an intimate and progressive union (Vincent p. 67) 4854. sumphutos soom'-foo-tos; from 4862 and a derivative of 5453; grown along with (connate), i.e. (figuratively) closely united to: -planted together.

'Likeness of his death' -He died to atone for sins, we died to the practice of sin. Hence the illogic of saying that the gospel messages encourages sin.

'Likeness of his resurrection' -this verse proves the legitimacy of the reference to a new life in the preceding one. 'Union with Christ at one point (his death) is union with him altogether and therefore his resurrection.'

Clearly, baptism is essential. For one cannot enter 'newness' of life, without being first baptized! All those claiming that baptism is not necessary to salvation, find themselves in the ridiculous position of claiming that one can become spiritually alive before dying to sin.

Verse 6

Rom_6:6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin;

'Knowing this' -'this we know' (Wey); 'Since we realize' (Lenski p. 400). Paul further enlarges upon the idea of death to sin by reminding us that as Christians "our old man was crucified with Christ."

'Old man' -our old disposition, the old self, what we were before we became Christians. 'The man we once were' (NEB). ( Eph_4:22-24 ; Col_3:5-10 ). In these verses it is clear that the 'old man' is the disposition, frame of mind, that gave rise and allowed all our former evil practices.

'Crucified with him' -dying to sin, changing, repentance, killing the old self IS PAINFUL!

Modern Application: At times you will hear Christians talk about a 'good moral non-Christian friend' they are trying to convert. Often people will say about such a person, 'well all they have to do is get baptized'. That's all? They don't need to 'change' anything else? Brethren, 'killing the old man', means putting to death the frame of mind that 'lives for self'. Being crucified with Christ means, living my life for Him, not self. ( Gal_2:20 ; 2Co_5:14-15 )

'that the body of sin might be done away' -and why was the 'old man' put to death?

'body of sin' -is the 'house' that the old man lived in. The 'flesh' or 'body' is called the 'body of sin' or 'sinful flesh' (8:3), because it is often used as the instrument of sin, many offer their bodies as servants to sin. (6:13). When I was outside of Christ, my body was the tool and servant of sin. When I became a Christian my body became a tool for Christ (6:13; 1Co_6:19-20 ). To say that the 'flesh' is inherently sinful, would be to call Jesus a sinner. ( Joh_1:14 )

'should no longer be in bondage to sin' -Note: Paul isn't talking about only those who formerly wallowed in sin. Anyone that sinned was in bondage to sin. ( Joh_8:34 ) Sin has ceased to be my Master when it has lost control of my mind and body. And we make that choice! (6:12-13,16-17)

Verse 7

Rom_6:7 for he that hath died is justified from sin.

'died' -anyone that is united with Christ (6:2-5,8-11)

'Justified from sin' -'freed from sin' (NASV); side ref., 'acquitted'. 'As a dead slave is freed from his master so the believer who died with Christ is freed from all legal claim by his former master.'

Verse 8

Rom_6:8 But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him;

Verse 9

Rom_6:9 knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death no more hath dominion over him.

'Verses 9-10 give us the reason to believe verse 8.'

'dieth no more' -'Christ's particular death occurs but once' ( Heb_10:10 ). A complete refutation of the 'sacrificial' character of the 'mass'.' (Robertson p. 363)

'Death no more hath dominion over him' -Jesus was put to death, but death couldn't keep Him ( Act_2:24 ). Death had it's chance and lost. The point that Paul is stressing is the once for all nature of Christ's death in relation to sin.

Verse 10

Rom_6:10 For the death that he died, he died unto sin once: but the life that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

'the life that he liveth' -having died such a death Jesus now lives a CERTAIN KIND OF LIFE. It is a life which is continually ('liveth'-present indicative) unto God. And what then is the logical result of dying with Christ? Clearly, a life lived for God! A life free from the bondage of sin .

Verse 11

Rom_6:11 Even so reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus.

'Even so' -in this verse the application is made of all that precedes.

'Reckon' -'Consider yourselves' (NASV). The verb does not mean "to conclude" in a mere logical fashion but "to reckon" with certain facts as facts so as to act on them because they are facts. Paul says: 'Take it ever as a settled fact that you are dead to sin but living to God in connection with Christ Jesus.'

'So you must think of yourselves' (Gspd); 'So you too must consider yourselves' (Wms); 'So let it be with you' (TCNT).

'Dead to unto sin' -thus severed from the bondage and mastery of sin. Free from the life of sin, free from obeying sin's every invitation and temptation. The context demands that we take this as 'dead unto sin'-FOR GOOD, ONCE FOR ALL, this is how Christians must view their responsibility towards God! And the life I now live, must be one of unending living for God. ( Gal_2:20 )

'Alive unto God' -'the life of a Christian need not be on merely of ceaseless conflict; it should be a life of ever more continuous victory'.

In the context this means a 'life lived for God' (6:10).

'This verse doesn't simply say we "have life" in Christ. That is presupposed. This verse speaks of the human response to God which lines-up with the work of God on their behalf. They are "to live" unto God and not simply enjoy "life" in God through Jesus Christ. The life which Christ "lives" (active voice, not passive) is energy directed toward God and not something (simply) received.'

'In Christ Jesus' -the only realm of spiritual life ( Eph_1:3 ).

Verse 12

Rom_6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey the lusts thereof:

'Let not' -Here is the call to resist sin. Becoming a Christian doesn't remove the need for self-control. Free-will is written all over these verses.

'Reign' -936. basileuo bas-il-yoo'-o; from 935; to rule (literally or figuratively): -king, reign. 'Present active imperative, "let not sin continue to reign" as it did once.'

(Robertson p. 363)

'Paul addresses that part of man which has the control of the body..the body is a mere instrument to be used by the inner man, for good or bad. Our natural appetites and passions are not evil within themselves. They are God-given, and become evil only when they become the master, and thereby lead us into sinful thoughts and deeds.'

Here is great hope for the person ensnared by some sinful habit, a pleasure that seems impossible to give up. God believes that Christians have within ourselves the ability to resist sin! We can refuse to be the slave of our lusts. ( Jam_4:7 ; 1Pe_5:9 ; 2Ti_2:22 )

'Mortal bodies' -2349. thnetos thnay-tos'; from 2348; liable to die: -mortal(-ity). The body destined to die, must not be allowed to cause spiritual and eternal death!

Verse 13

Rom_6:13 neither present your members unto sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves unto God, as alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

NOTE: The body is a "neutral" instrument. The sin problem doesn't arise in the body, is comes from the 'heart/mind' ( Mar_7:20-23 ). 'Neither present', Paul is not taking to the body, he is talking to the person inside the body! These verses strongly contradict the view that seeks to convert 'sin' into a mere physical addiction or problem caused by genetics.

'Present' -'do not go on presenting' (NASV); 'Stop presenting your members or do not have the habit of doing so' (Robertson p. 363) 'Do not offer any part of your bodies to Sin' (TCNT)

'Members' -'any part of your body' (Mon) ( Pro_6:16-19 )

'Instruments' -3696. hoplon hop'-lon; probably from a primary hepo (to be busy about); an implement or utensil or tool (literally or figuratively, especially offensive for war): -armour, instrument, weapon.

Again, 'free-will' is stressed. Paul says, stop allowing your body to be used in the service of sin. Stop it and stop it now! Rather, allow your body to be used in the service of God. Let your mouth spread the gospel instead of gossip, let your hands help instead of hurt, let your feet run to assist instead of running away, let your eyes behold truth instead of trash. Away with the weak excuse of 'I'm just too weak and I can't help myself'.

Verse 14

Rom_6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under law, but under grace.

'Sin shall not have dominion over you' -'for sin shall not have the mastery over you' (Con)

'Are not under law, but under grace' -under a system that demands flawless law-keeping to maintain innocence, sin would rule us, for all sin (3:23). But under grace, for the person that seeks God's forgiveness and is always ready to repent, sin can never rule us, because forgiveness is always available. (4:7-8; 1Jn_1:8-10 ; 1Jn_2:1 )

'Under the reign of Christ sin does not have dominion over any one till he submits to its control and does not seek forgiveness.'

'Sin shall not be your lord' is not only assurance, it is a call to arms. These people have been delivered from sin and are called now to act in that fashion by refusing to let Sin lord it over them.'

Verse 15

Rom_6:15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under law, but under grace? God forbid.

'What then' -another turn in the argument about the gospel that Paul preaches.

'Shall we sin, because..' -'Surely, the objector says, we may take a night off now and then and sin a little bit, "since we are under grace."' (Robertson p. 364)

The mistake of thinking that being freed from a system of favor with God based on flawless law-keeping, means that I can do anything I please! Since the demand for flawlessness has been removed, does that mean that occasional sinning is quite acceptable? Paul quickly rejects such an idea, ' May it Never Be! ' Paul has already pointed out that 'favor with God based on grace/obedient faith and forgiveness', establishes law rather than making it irrelevant or relative (3:31). The person who sincerely seeks forgiveness is DEMONSTRATING GREAT RESPECT FOR GOD'S LAW.

Verse 16

Rom_6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye present yourselves as servants unto obedience, his servants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

Paul's point is that one cannot be the servant of one master and serve another. We cannot make the choice to serve sin (little or much), and still be a servant of God. ( Mat_6:24 )

'Present' -our master is not whom we 'claim' to serve, but whom we 'actually' do serve with our bodies. 'You are slaves of the master whom you obey' (NEB). Case closed!

'God does not force us to accept the freedom bought for us..we are not forced to be servants of sin, nor does God force us to be servants of righteousness..THE LIFE WE LIVE DETERMINES WHOSE SERVANTS WE ARE.'

'Sin unto death' -sin always leads to spiritual death, yes, even for the Christian.

'Obedience unto righteousness' -the 'faith' that finds favor and acquittal with God, then is an obedient faith. Compare with Rom_4:3 ; Rom_1:17 .

'Of course these are the ONLY ALTERNATIVES'

Verse 17

Rom_6:17 But thanks be to God, that, whereas ye were servants of sin, ye became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching whereunto ye were delivered;

'Thanks be to God' -'Thank God for that "were". It isn't an "are"

'Ye were servants of sin, ye became obedient..' -NOTE: To get out of sin, you must CHOOSE TO OBEY SOMETHING ELSE!

'Obedient from the heart' -'now yielded a hearty obedience' (Wey). When they had become Christians, they understood the message, it was a conscious decision, they wanted to do it. 'Obedient' demands something to obey, like the commands to 'repent' ( Act_2:38 ); 'confess Christ' ( Rom_10:9-10 ); and 'be baptized' ( Act_22:16 ).

'Form of teaching' -'form of doctrine' (KJV). 'Pattern of teaching' (NEB). The 'pattern' of teaching found in the context is the 'pattern' of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ found in baptism.

'Whereunto ye were delivered' -'to which you were committed' (NASV)

Verse 18

Rom_6:18 and being made free from sin, ye became servants of righteousness.

'and being' -'Being THEN made free from sin' (KJV). Indicating that one is freed from sin at the point that they obey from the heart the 'form of teaching', i.e. at the point of being baptized. ( Mar_16:16 ; 1Pe_3:21 )

'Made free' (aorist participle, passive), having been made free (NASV), at the point when they were molded into the likeness of Christ's death to sin and resurrection to newness of life..'

Verse 19

Rom_6:19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye presented your members as servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity, even so now present your members as servants to righteousness unto sanctification.

'I speak after the manner of men' -'I use an everyday illustration because human nature grasps truth more readily that way' (Phi).

'Infirmity of your flesh' -'weakness of your flesh' (NASV). Why does he keep on illustrating? Why is another illustration from the slave/master relationship given? 'Because some folks find it difficult to follow a discourse without clear illustration of the principles involved. This is an "infirmity" of the flesh. We need to keep this in mind in our teaching, don't we!'

'Iniquity unto iniquity' -'wickedness, which leads to further wickedness' (TCNT). YOU CANNOT SIN YOUR WAY OUT OF SIN! Some are under the mistaken impression, that if they can just get their 'fill' of sin, 'sow enough wild oats', that sin will no longer appeal to them. 'I'll serve God when I've had my fill, when I'm done having fun' is the excuse offered by some.

'Even so now' -as you freely entered into sin, by your own choice, so freely make the choice to serve God! MAN COMES OUT OF SIN, JUST LIKE HE ENTERED IT-I.E. BY A FREEWILL CHOICE!

Verse 20

Rom_6:20 For when ye were servants of sin, ye were free in regard of righteousness.

'free in regard of righteousness' -sin, not righteousness was your master then.

Verse 21

Rom_6:21 What fruit then had ye at that time in the things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.

'Fruit' -'Well, what did you gain by it all? Nothing but what you are now ashamed of!' (Mof)

'Ashamed' -sin always takes you farther than you thought you would go, it keeps you longer than you planned to stay, and costs you more than it's advertized price. 'Shame' is not found in the gospel message (1:16), but plenty of it is found in a life lived apart from God. (1:26-27)

'Sin promises to be a friend while it really is a foe; it promises life while it brings death; it promises freedom while it brings slavery; it promises laughter while it brings remorse and shame.'

Like the Israelites of old, when tend to only remember the 'good' in the old days. Former sinner, those 'old glory days' contained a lot of pain, shame, heartache, loneliness, depression, discouragement, etc..and don't you EVER FORGET WHAT IS WAS REALLY LIKE!

'end of those things is death' -always 'look ahead' to see where your life is headed. A life lived apart from God is a DEAD-END CAREER!

Verse 22

Rom_6:22 But now being made free from sin and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto sanctification, and the end eternal life.

'have your fruit' -'derive your benefit' (NASV)

'sanctification' -38. hagiasmos hag-ee-as-mos'; from 37; properly, purification, i.e. (the state) purity; concretely (by Hebraism) a purifier: -holiness, sanctification.

'The fruit that you reap is an ever-increasing holiness' (TCNT); 'your fruit is growth in holiness' (Con)

Sin results in a life to be ashamed of, serving God results in a life that rises above others, that glorifies God, that shows the potential for good that is found within man created in the image of God. ( 1Pe_1:14-16 ) Holiness in living isn't something that mystically happens to one, rather it must be worked at ( Heb_12:14 ; 1Ti_5:22 'Keep yourself free from sin').

Verse 23

Rom_6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

'Wages of sin' -Sin pays its wages in full with no cut. (Robertson p. 365); 'Sin pays its serfs by punishing them' (Vincent p. 73). Those who participate in sin EARN eternal destruction. The only thing they 'deserve' is eternal separation from God.

'Free gift of God' -after all the obedience of a lifetime, after a life of faithful service, after a life of seeking God's will, after a life of helping others, after a life of teaching others the truth, after a lifetime of worship, eternal life is STILL A FREE GIFT. We will never have earned this. ( Luk_17:10 )

'In Christ Jesus our Lord' -eternal life is only found in a relationship with Christ.

Bibliographical Information
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Romans 6". "Dunagan's Commentaries on the Bible". 1999-2014.