Bible Commentaries
Romans 6

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

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Verses 1-23

Romans 6:1 . Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? The apostle having said, that as sin had abounded by the entrance of the law, so grace had much more abounded by the proclamation of the gospel, proceeds now to rebut the malicious slander of the jews, who had said, as in chap. Romans 3:8, that the christian doctrine encouraged men to do evil that good might come, presuming that God conferred righteousness without renovation of heart. He refutes this calumny, by pressing on believers the most luminous doctrines of purity and holiness, and describes the reign of grace in the full triumph of argument.

Romans 6:4 . We are buried with him by baptism into death. The allusion here is to the ancient mode of baptism in warm climates, by dipping the body under water. See Matthew 3:17. We are also said to be risen with Christ to newness of life, by the same glory which raised him from the dead. The principle then of regeneration in our hearts is no other than the divine nature, producing a death to sin, and a life to righteousness. The grand object and design of baptism is to engage us to a life of unspotted purity.

Romans 6:6 . Our old man, coëval with the fall, is crucified. See on Colossians 3:9, where the subject is more fully stated.

Romans 6:7 . He that is dead is freed from sin. From all its obligations, and from its condemning power. He in whose heart Christ lives, and grace reigns, is dead to his old habits of sin, as a dead man is to the duties of life. Though this may not be the case with weak believers; yet St. Paul gives the perfect enjoyment of one, who like himself, could say, “I live not, but Christ liveth in me.”

Romans 6:12 . Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, for grace has abounded more than sin. The old man is put off with his deeds, the divinity dwells in your hearts, and keeps you in all the grace in which you stand. Therefore while you retain this inward glory of sanctification, you cannot yield your members to be instruments of unrighteousness. The Comforter will abide in your heart, and you will be kept unspotted from the world.

Romans 6:17 . God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin. Οτι ητε , that you are no longer, or that you who were the servants of sin, have obeyed from the heart that form, that τυπον , type, mould, or form of doctrine which was delivered to you. The mould into which a goldsmith pours his liquid metal, is a beautiful figure to designate the change produced on the heart by the word of truth. Bishop Lowth reads, that whereas ye were the servants of sin, ye have now obeyed.

Romans 6:20 . When ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. The sense is, ye were aliens to righteousness: by consequence, you are now as free from unrighteousness, as you then were from righteousness.

Romans 6:22 . But now being made free from sin. While in the flesh we are said to be the servants of sin, and under the law of sin; but now, by a regenerate state, we are made the servants of righteousness. We are married to another, we are quickened with Christ, and alive to God. through him. By consequence, we are no longer debtors to the flesh, to live according to its dictates. There is no occasion to yield to any solicitations of evil concupiscence. This state is called the glorious liberty of the children of God, Romans 8:21, in which the Spirit that dwells in us is the life of the soul, as the soul is the life of the body. The old man is put off with his deeds, and the new man put on; the old man is crucified with his affections and lusts, and the inward man is renewed day by day, with growth and strength, till the believer be altogether like the Saviour. The stony heart is then removed, the law of love is written in the inward parts, and the whole deity dwells in the living temple which his hands have reared. But let all men who have attained to this state of pure and perfect love, watch against a reëntrance of all their former evils.

Romans 6:23 . The wages of sin is death. Some crimes only are capital by the civil law; but all sin, in reference to the divine lawgiver, is death, not only as alienating the soul from the life of God, but in reference also to its infinite demerit. Sin is a hard servitude, the wages more so.


The holy apostle having guarded the doctrine of justification against pharisaical objections, now presses the church to confirm the refutation by the purity of their lives. The whole chapter is a defence of the life, the holiness, and glory of the christian, both in doctrine and practice, against the accusations of the jews. The christian cannot continue in sin, because he is openly buried with Christ by baptism into death. His body being washed with pure water, how shall he pollute it again with drunkenness, and the lusts of the flesh?

The christian cannot continue in sin, because his old man is crucified with Christ; and the old man, the flesh, the carnal mind, the law in the members, and the body of sin and death, signify the entire depravity of human nature by the fall, and generated from Adam to his children. Hence original sin is our birth fault, whereby man is of himself inclined to evil. The gospel says to all that hear it, mortify therefore your members which are on the earth. The believer treats every rising of pride, self-love, and unbelief, as the jews treated the Saviour when they nailed him to the tree. May the Lord help us all so to do.

The christian cannot continue in sin, because he is risen with Christ, or renovated in mind, into all the likeness of his resurrection. He is alive unto God, and sin has no longer the dominion over him. The infirmities of his mortal body, where known, and where wilful sin is not allowed, do not deprive him of enjoying a life hid with Christ in God. The mediator being changed, there is of necessity a change also in the law. The law of the spirit of life which is in Christ Jesus, has made us free from the law of sin and death, while we walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.

The christian cannot continue in sin, because on obeying the gospel he becomes a servant of righteousness, and a servant of God, having his fruit unto holiness, and the end eternal life. The tree being made good, and planted in the earth, like the body of Christ, it yields the fruits of righteousness, which are quietness and assurance for ever. The sanctity of his creed is avowed; he that committeth sin is the servant of sin; and we are his servants to whom we obey. Thanks be to Him then who hath washed us, and made us free from our past sins, that henceforth we might serve him in newness of life.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Romans 6". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.