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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Romans 6

Verse 1

What shall we say then? (τ ουν ερουμεν?). "A debater's phrase" (Morison). Yes, and an echo of the rabbinical method of question and answer, but also an expression of exultant victory of grace versus sin. But Paul sees the possible perversion of this glorious grace.

Shall we continue in sin? (επιμενωμεν τη αμαρτιαι?). Present active deliberative subjunctive of επιμενω, old verb to tarry as in Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:8) with locative case. The practice of sin as a habit (present tense) is here raised.

That grace may abound (ινα η χαρις πτεοναση). Final clause with ingressive aorist subjunctive, to set free the superfluity of grace alluded to like putting money in circulation. Horrible thought (μη γενοιτο) and yet Paul faced it. There are occasionally so-called pietists who actually think that God's pardon gives them liberty to sin without penalty (cf. the sale of indulgences that stirred Martin Luther).

Verse 2

Died to sin (απεθανομεν τη αμαρτια). Second aorist active of αποθνησκω and the dative case. When we surrendered to Christ and took him as Lord and Saviour. Qualitative relative (οιτινες, we the very ones who).

How (πως). Rhetorical question.

Verse 3

Were baptized into Christ (εβαπτισθημεν εις Χριστον). First aorist passive indicative of βαπτιζω. Better, "were baptized unto Christ or in Christ." The translation "into" makes Paul say that the union with Christ was brought to pass by means of baptism, which is not his idea, for Paul was not a sacramentarian. Εις is at bottom the same word as εν. Baptism is the public proclamation of one's inward spiritual relation to Christ attained before the baptism. See on Galatians 3:27 where it is like putting on an outward garment or uniform.

Into his death (εις τον θανατον αυτου). So here "unto his death," "in relation to his death," which relation Paul proceeds to explain by the symbolism of the ordinance.

Verse 4

We were buried therefore with him by means of baptism unto death (συνεταφημεν ουν αυτω δια του βαπτισματος εις τον θανατον). Second aorist passive indicative of συνθαπτω, old verb to bury together with, in N.T. only here and Colossians 2:12. With associative instrumental case (αυτω) and "by means of baptism unto death" as in verse Romans 6:3.

In newness of life (εν καινοτητ ζωης). The picture in baptism points two ways, backwards to Christ's death and burial and to our death to sin (verse Romans 6:1), forwards to Christ's resurrection from the dead and to our new life pledged by the coming out of the watery grave to walk on the other side of the baptismal grave (F. B. Meyer). There is the further picture of our own resurrection from the grave. It is a tragedy that Paul's majestic picture here has been so blurred by controversy that some refuse to see it. It should be said also that a symbol is not the reality, but the picture of the reality.

Verse 5

For if we have become united with him by the likeness of his death (ε γαρ συμφυτο γεγοναμεν τω ομοιωματ του θανατου αυτου). Condition of the first class, assumed to be true. Συμφυτο is old verbal adjective from συμφυω, to grow together. Baptism as a picture of death and burial symbolizes our likeness to Christ in his death.

We shall be also united in the likeness of his resurrection (αλλα κα της αναστασεως εσομεθα). The conclusion to the previous condition introduced by αλλα κα as often and το ομοιωματ (in the likeness) must be understood before της αναστασεως (of his resurrection). Baptism is a picture of the past and of the present and a prophecy of the future, the matchless preacher of the new life in Christ.

Verse 6

Our old man (ο παλαιος ημων ανθρωπος). Only in Paul (here, Colossians 3:9; Ephesians 4:22).

Was crucified with him (συνεσταυρωθη). See on Galatians 2:19 for this boldly picturesque word. This took place not at baptism, but only pictured there. It took place when "we died to sin" (verse Romans 6:1).

The body of sin (το σωμα της αμαρτιας). "The body of which sin has taken possession" (Sanday and Headlam), the body marked by sin.

That so we should no longer be in bondage to sin (του μηκετ δουλευειν ημας τη αμαρτια). Purpose clause with του and the present active infinitive of δουλευω, continue serving sin (as slaves). Adds "slavery" to living in sin (verse Romans 6:2).

Verse 7

Is justified (δεδικαιωτα). Perfect passive indicative of δικαιοω, stands justified, set free from, adding this great word to death and life of verses Romans 6:1; Romans 6:2.

Verse 8

With Christ (συν Χριστω). As pictured by baptism, the crucifixion with Christ of verse Romans 6:6.

Verse 9

Dieth no more (ουκετ αποθνησκε). "Christ's particular death occurs but once" (Shedd). See Hebrews 10:10. A complete refutation of the "sacrificial" character of the "mass."

Verse 10

The death that he died (ο απεθανεν). Neuter relative, cognative accusative with απεθανεν.

Once (εφαπαξ). Once and once only (Hebrews 9:26), not ποτε (once upon a time).

The life that he liveth (ο ζη). Cognate accusative of the relative.

Verse 11

Reckon ye also yourselves (κα υμεις λογιζεσθε). Direct middle imperative of λογιζομα and complete proof that Paul does not mean that baptism makes one dead to sin and alive to God. That is a spiritual operation "in Christ Jesus" and only pictured by baptism. This is a plea to live up to the ideal of the baptized life.

Verse 12

Reign (βασιλευετω). Present active imperative, "let not sin continue to reign" as it did once (Romans 5:12).

Mortal (θνητο). Verbal adjective from θνησκω, subject to death. The reign of sin is over with you. Self-indulgence is inconsistent with trust in the vicarious atonement.

That ye should obey (εις το υπακουειν). With a view to obeying.

Verse 13

Neither present (μηδε παριστανετε). Present active imperative in prohibition of παριστανω, late form of παριστημ, to place beside. Stop presenting your members or do not have the habit of doing so, "do not go on putting your members to sin as weapons of unrighteousness."

Instruments (οπλα). Old word for tools of any kind for shop or war (John 18:3; 2 Corinthians 6:7; 2 Corinthians 10:4; Romans 13:12). Possibly here figure of two armies arrayed against each other (Galatians 5:16-24), and see οπλα δικαιοσυνης below. The two sets of οπλα clash.

But present yourselves unto God (αλλα παραστησατε εαυτους τω θεω). First aorist active imperative of παριστημ, same verb, but different tense, do it now and completely. Our "members" (μελη) should be at the call of God "as alive from the dead."

Verse 14

Shall not have dominion (ου κυριευσε). Future active indicative of κυριευω, old verb from κυριος, "shall not lord it over you," even if not yet wholly dead. Cf. 2 Corinthians 1:24.

Verse 15

What then? (τ ουν?). Another turn in the argument about the excess of grace.

Shall we sin? (αμαρτεσωμεν?). First aorist active deliberative subjunctive of αμαρτανω. "Shall we commit sin" (occasional acts of sin as opposed to the life of sin as raised by επιμενωμεν τη αμαρτια in verse Romans 6:1)?

Because (οτ). The same reason as in verse Romans 6:1 and taken up from the very words in verse Romans 6:14. Surely, the objector says, we may take a night off now and then and sin a little bit "since we are under grace."

Verse 16

His servants ye are whom ye obey (δουλο εστε ω υπακουετε). Bondservants, slaves of the one whom ye obey, whatever one's profession may be, traitors, spies sometimes they are called. As Paul used the figure to illustrate death to sin and resurrection to new life in Christ and not in sin, so now he uses slavery against the idea of occasional lapses into sin. Loyalty to Christ will not permit occasional crossing over to the other side to Satan's line.

Verse 17

Whereas ye were (ητε). Imperfect but no "whereas" in the Greek. Paul is not grateful that they were once slaves of sin, but only that, though they once were, they turned from that state.

To that form of doctrine whereunto ye were delivered (εις ον παρεδοθητε τυπον διδαχης). Incorporation of the antecedent (τυπον διδαχης) into the relative clause: "to which form of doctrine ye were delivered." See on Romans 5:14 for τυπον. It is hardly proper to take "form" here to refer to Paul's gospel (Romans 2:16), possibly an allusion to the symbolism of baptism which was the outward sign of the separation.

Verse 18

Ye became servants of righteousness (εδουλωθητε τη δικαιοσυνη). First aorist passive indicative of δουλοω, to enslave. "Ye were made slaves to righteousness." You have simply changed masters, no longer slaves of sin (set free from that tyrant), but ye are slaves of righteousness. There is no middle ground, no "no man's land" in this war.

Verse 19

I speak after the manner of men (ανθρωπινον λεγω). "I speak a human word." He begs pardon for using "slaving" in connection with righteousness. But it is a good word, especially for our times when self-assertiveness and personal liberty bulk so large in modern speech. See Romans 3:5; Galatians 3:15 where he uses κατα ανθρωπον.

Because of the infirmity of your flesh (δια την ασθενειαν της σαρκος υμων). Because of defective spiritual insight largely due to moral defects also.

Servants to uncleanness (δουλα τη ακαθαρσια). Neuter plural form of δουλος to agree with μελη (members). Patently true in sexual sins, in drunkenness, and all fleshly sins, absolutely slaves like narcotic fiends.

So now (ουτως νυν). Now that you are born again in Christ. Paul uses twice again the same verb παριστημ, to present (παρεστησατε, παραστησατε).

Servants to righteousness (δουλα τη δικαιοσυνη). Repeats the idea of verse Romans 6:18.

Unto sanctification (εις αγιασμον). This the goal, the blessed consummation that demands and deserves the new slavery without occasional lapses or sprees (verse Romans 6:15). This late word appears only in LXX, N.T., and ecclesiastical writers so far. See on 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 1 Corinthians 1:30. Paul includes sanctification in his conception of the God-kind (Romans 1:17) of righteousness (both justification, Romans 1:18-5 and sanctification, chapters Romans 6:6-8). It is a life process of consecration, not an instantaneous act. Paul shows that we ought to be sanctified (Romans 6:1-7) and illustrates the obligation by death (Romans 6:1-14), by slavery (Romans 6:15-23), and by marriage (Romans 7:1-6).

Verse 20

Free in regard of righteousness (ελευθερο τη δικαιοσυνη). Ye wore no collar of righteousness, but freely did as ye pleased. They were "free." Note dative case, personal relation, of δικαιοσυνη.

Verse 21

What fruit then had ye at that time? (τινα ουν καρπον ειχετε τοτε?). Imperfect active, used to have. A pertinent question. Ashes in their hands now. They are ashamed now of the memory of them. The end of them is death.

Verse 22

Ye have your fruit unto sanctification (εχετε τον καρπον υμων εις αγιασμον). Freedom from sin and slavery to God bring permanent fruit that leads to sanctification.

And the end eternal life (το δε τελος ζωην αιωνιον). Note accusative case ζωην αιωνιον, object of εχετε (ye have), though θανατος in contrast above is nominative.

Verse 23

Wages (οψωνια). Late Greek for wages of soldier, here of sin. See on Luke 3:14; 1 Corinthians 9:7; 2 Corinthians 11:8. Sin pays its wages in full with no cut. But eternal life is God's gift (χαρισμα), not wages. Both θανατος and ζωην are

eternal (αιωνιον).

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Romans 6". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/romans-6.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.