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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Romans 6

 

 

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Verse 1

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

In the opening remarks on the foregoing chapter it was stated that the second great Head of the apostle's subject, the Fruits of Justification in Privilege and in Life, extended over three chapters-the sixth, seventh, and eighth. In the first eleven verses of the preceding chapter the Privileges of the Justified are handled, the remaining verses being a digression. The new Life of the believer falls now to be opened up. To this fruitful topic the apostle devotes two whole chapters; in the present chapter treating of the Union of believers to Christ as the source of the new life, and in the following one continuing this subject, but following it up with some profound considerations on the great principles of sin and holiness in fallen men, both under law and under grace.

The General Bearing of Gratuitous Justification on a Holy Life (Romans 6:1-2)

What shall we say then? This, it will be observed, is a marked characteristic of our apostle's style in this Epistle-to mark sudden transitions to a new branch of his subject, as a mode of putting and answering questions, or a way of calling attention to some important statement (cf. Romans 3:5; Romans 4:1; Romans 7:7; Romans 8:31; Romans 9:14; Romans 9:30).

Shall we continue in sin , [ epimenoumen (Greek #1961)]. But this reading, in the future tense, has hardly any support [and has been occasioned, no doubt, as Fritzsche and Meyer suggest, by the immediately preceding future, eroumen (Greek #2046) ... epimenoumen (Greek #1961)]. The only well-supported reading is in the subjunctive mood [ epimenoomen (Greek #1961)] - 'May we,' or, more idiomatically, 'Are we to continue in sin?' (On this deliberative subjunctive, as grammarians call it, see Kuhner, 259, 1. b.)

That grace may abound? - acting on the detestable principle, 'The more sin, the more scope for grace to pardon it.' This objection, with the very phraseology in which it is couched, was plainly suggested by the closing verses of the foregoing chapter, about 'grace superabounding over the abundance of sin.' It is thus indisputable that the doctrine which the apostle has been all along teaching and elaborately proving in this Epistle is that of a purely gratuitous justification. For had his doctrine been that salvation depends in any degree upon our good works, no such objection to it could have been raised; whereas against the doctrine of a purely gratuitous justification the objection is plausible, nor has there ever been an age in which it has not been urged. That it was brought against the apostles, we know from Romans 3:8; and we gather from Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 2:16, and Jude 1:4, that some did give occasion to the charge; but that it was a total perversion of the doctrine of Grace the apostle here proceeds to show.


Verse 2

God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

God forbid , [ mee (Greek #3361) genoito (Greek #1096)] - 'That be far from us;' the instincts of the new creature revolting at the thought.

How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? - literally, and more forcibly, 'We who died to How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? - literally, and more forcibly, 'We who died to sin (in the way presently to be explained), How shall we live any longer therein' [ hoitines (Greek #3748) apethanomen (Greek #599), 'such who have,' quippe qui-more expressive than hoi (Greek #3588) apethanomen (Greek #599). So Rom. ,25,32; 2:15 . See Jelf, 816. 5]. 'It is not (says Grotius, very well here) the entire impossibility, but rather the shamefulness of it which is thus expressed, as in Matthew 6:28, and Galatians 4:9. For shameful, sure it is, after we have been washed, to roll again into the mire.'

How Union to Christ Effects the Believer's Death to Sin and Resurrection to New Life (Romans 6:3-11)


Verse 3

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ - `Christ Jesus' it should be; for that is the reading not only of all the manuscripts, but even of the Received Text, and yet our version (as printed, at least) has "Jesus Christ." The meaning is, "baptized," not into the acknowledgment of Christ only, but 'into the participation of all that He is for sinners' (cf. Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 10:2; Galatians 3:27), sealed with the seal of heaven, formally entered and articled (so to speak) as to all the benefits, so also to all the obligations of Christian discipleship in general; but more particularly,

Were baptized into his death? - as the hinge of His whole work. That it is so, must be manifest on the surface of the New Testament to every impartial reader. But the growing tendency to regard the death of Christ as but the completion of a life of self-devotion-which men have simply to copy-may render it fit that we should here set down a few of the more emphatic expressions of its sacrificial and life-giving virtue: Matthew 1:22; Matthew 20:28; Luke 22:19-20; John 1:29; John 3:14-16; John 6:51; John 6:53-56; John 10:15; John 10:17-18; John 12:32; Acts 20:28; (and passing over our own Epistle) 1 Corinthians 1:23-24; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:14; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 2:20; Galatians 3:13; Galatians 4:4-5; Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 2:13; Ephesians 2:16; Ephesians 5:25; Colossians 1:20-22; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:10; Hebrews 10:12; Hebrews 10:14; Hebrews 10:19; Hebrews 13:12; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 1:18-19; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 1:7; 1 John 2:2; Revelation 1:5; Revelation 5:9; Revelation 7:14.

Since, then, He was "made sin," yea "a curse for us," "bearing our sins in His own body on the tree," and "rising again for our justification," our whole sinful case and condition, thus taken up into His person, has been brought to an end in His death. Whoso, then, has been baptized into Christ's death has formally surrendered the whole state and life of sin, as in Christ a dead thing. He has sealed himself to be not only "the righteousness of God in Him," but "a new creature;" and as he cannot be in Christ to the one effect and not to the other-for they are one and inseparable-he has bidden farewell, by baptism into Christ's death, to his entire connection with sin. "How," then, "can he live any longer therein?" The two things are as contradictory in the fact as they are in the terms. Of all this the apostle says, 'Know ye it not?'-as if it were among the household truths of the Christian Faith, lying as it does at the foundation of our standing as believers before God. Not that as put in this Epistle they had ever been brought before these Roman Christians, probably, until they read them here; nor is it likely, indeed, that any of the churches except those who were favoured with Pauline teaching were much better off. But they were of that nature that they only needed to be presented to intelligent and teachable believers to be recognized and acquiesced in as the very truths in which they had been rudimentally instructed from the first. Compare the similar saying of our Lord to His disciples at the Supper-table, John 14:5 (on which see Commentary, p. 434).


Verse 4

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Therefore we are buried with him , [ sunetafeemen (Greek #4916)] - rather, 'we were buried with Him;' for the thing is viewed as a past act, done and completed at once on their reception of the Gospel, and baptismally sealed on their profession of it,

By baptism into death. It is thus that this and the preceding clauses must be separated, to make the sense clear. It is not, 'by baptism we are buried with Him into death,' which makes no sense at all; but 'by baptism with Him into death we are buried with Him;' in other words, 'by the same baptism which publicly enters us into His death, we are made partakers of His burial also.' To leave a dead body unburied is represented, alike in pagan authors as in Scripture, as the greatest indignity (Revelation 11:8-9). It was fitting, therefore, that Christ, after "dying for our sins according to the Scriptures," should "descend into the lower parts of the earth" (Ephesians 4:9). As this was the last and lowest step of His humiliation, so it was the honourable dissolution of His last link of connection with that life which He laid down for us; and we, in being 'buried with Him by our baptism into his death,' have by this public act severed our last link of connection with that whole sinful condition and life which Christ brought to an end in His death.

That like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father - or, by such a forth-putting of the Father's power as made that act to be the effulgence of the Father's whole glory. Compare 1 Corinthians 6:14; 2 Corinthians 13:4; Ephesians 1:19, etc. So nearly all good critics. (Beza erroneously renders dia (Greek #1223) tees (Greek #3588) doxees (Greek #1391), 'into, the glory of the Father'. See Grotius, Fritzsche, and Meyer, on this use of the word.) The resurrection of Christ is here, as generally in the New Testament, ascribed to the Father, who therein proclaimed His judicial satisfaction with and acceptance of His whole work in the flesh.

Even so we also should walk in newness of life. The parallel here is not (as the apostle's language might seem to say) between Christ's resurrection and our walking in newness of life, but between Christ's resurrection and our resurrection to newness of life-henceforth to walk in it. Believers, immediately on their union to the risen Saviour, rise to a new resurrection-life-the life, in fact, of their risen Lord-as is once and again emphatically expressed in the sequel. Here, taking this for granted, the apostle advances to the practical development of this new life, saying, in effect, 'That like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also, risen with Him, should, as new creatures, walk conformably.' But what is that "newness?" Surely if our old life, now dead, and buried with Christ, was wholly sinful, the new, to which we rise with the risen Saviour, must be altogether a holy life; so that every time we go back to "those things whereof we are now ashamed" (Romans 6:21), we belie our resurrection with Christ to newness of life, and "forget, that we have been purged from our old sins" (2 Peter 1:9). Whether the mode of baptism by immersion be alluded to in this verse, as a kind of symbolical burial and resurrection, does not seem to us of much consequence. Many interpreters think it is; and it may be so. But since it is not clear that baptism in apostolic times was exclusively by immersion (see Acts 2:41), so sprinkling and washing are indifferently used in the New Testament to express the cleansing efficacy of the blood of Jesus. And just as the woman with the issue of blood got virtue out of Christ by simply touching Him, so the essence of baptism seems to lie in the simple contact of the element with the body, symbolizing living contact with Christ crucified; the mode and extent of suffusion being indifferent and variable with climate and circumstances.


Verse 5

For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death (i:e., with Him in the likeness of His death, [ sumfutoi (Greek #4854) gegonamen (Greek #1096) too (Greek #3588) homoioomati (Greek #3667)] - 'if we have become born' or 'formed together.' The word here rendered 'planted together' (used here only) is not derived from the word which signifies to 'plant' [ futeuoo (Greek #5452)], as our version takes it (following the Vulgate and Syriac versions, with Chrysostom, Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, and Beza, but from the word [ fuoo (Greek #5453)], which signifies, in the passive, to 'be begotten,' 'be formed,' or 'be by nature' (such and such). See Fritzsche on this word. Nevertheless, the intended idea comes out the same on either etymology-namely, oneness with Christ in the true import and intent of His death.

We shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection - q.d., 'Since Christ's death and resurrection are inseparable in their efficacy, union with Him in the one carries with it participation in the other, for privilege and for duty alike.' The future tense is used of participation in His resurrection, not as if the principal reference were to the future glory-for the resurrection of believers with Christ is expressly said (in Romans 6:11) to be a present reality-but because this is but partially realized in the present state. (See the note at Romans 5:19.)


Verse 6-7

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

Knowing this ... The apostle now grows more definite and vivid in expressing the sin-destroying efficacy of our union with the crucified Saviour.

That our old man is ('was') crucified with him. The important phrase, "our old man," is not (as Grotius, and such as he, conceive of it) 'our old manner of living' (vivendi ratio); that is rather the practical outcome of the thing intended: it is just 'our old selves' (morally and spiritually), that is to say, all that we were in our old unregenerate condition, before union with Christ (cf. Colossians 3:9-10; Ephesians 1:22-23; Galatians 2:20; Galatians 5:24; Galatians 6:14 ; also John 3:3; Titus 3:5; and see Beza and Meyer).

That ('in order that') the body of sin might be destroyed (in Christ's death) [ katargeethee (Greek #2673)] - or 'annulled,' or 'abolished;' that is, reduced virtually to the condition of death by crucifixion. This is a favourite word with our apostle, used only once by any other of the New Testament writers, and that his own companion Luke (Luke 13:7), but 25 times in the confessedly Pauline Epistles, besides once in Hebrews (Hebrews 2:14). [To the end]

That henceforth we should not serve sin , [ tou (Greek #3588) meeketi (Greek #3371) douleuein (Greek #1398)] - or 'be in bondage to sin.' It is of no small importance to fix the precise sense of "the body of sin" here [ to (Greek #3588) sooma (Greek #4983) tees (Greek #3588) hamartias (Greek #266)]. A great many, critics take it figuratively, for 'the mass of sin.' (So Chrysostom and other fathers, Greek and Latin; Erasmus, Calvin, Grotius, Philippi, Hodge, etc.) But the marked allusions to the actual body which we find in nearly all the corresponding passages forbid our expounding it in this loose way.

Thus, a few verses below, "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body," etc. (Romans 6:12); "Nether yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness," etc. (Romans 6:13); "As ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness," etc. In Romans 7:23 "the law of sin" is said to be "in the members": and in Romans 8:13, "living after the flesh" is spoken of as doing "the deeds of the body." These passages put it, we think, beyond doubt that by "the body of sin," some connection of sin with our corporeal nature is intended. But neither must we go to the opposite extreme, of concluding that the body is here spoken of as the proper seat or principle of sin. Since DeWette correctly says, and Alford after him, this is not true, for the seat of sin, as such, does not lie in the body but in the will. Vaughan goes the length of explaining it of 'the material body, with its proneness to sensual and other evil;' and, much akin, Webster and Wilkinson, of 'the corrupt nature regarded in its physical acts and affections.' When all the passages in which such phraseology is used are weighed together, we think it will appear clearly that whatever may be the reason for the body being so expressly named, the whole principle of sin in our fallen nature is here meant-its most intellectual and spiritual, equally with its lower and more corporeal, features.

It only remains to inquire why this is called the body of sin. The more immediate occasion of it was undoubtedly (as Beza says) the mention of Christ's crucifixion and burial; and as the crucifixion and burial of our old man with him (the nailing of us, so to say, as the doomed children of Adam, to the accursed tree, and thereafter laying us in His grave) was to be emphatically put before the reader, nothing could be more natural than to represent this as bringing to an end "the body of sin." Taking it in this sense, the expression denotes (to use the words of Beza) 'man as he is born, in whom sin itself dwell;' or more comprehensively, 'sin as it dwells in us in our present embodied condition, under the law of the fall.' This sense will be seen to come out clearly in Romans 6:12, and in Romans 12:1.

Verse 7. For he that is dead is freed from sin , [ ho (Greek #3739) gar (Greek #1063) apothanoon (Greek #599) de (Greek #1161) dikaiootai (Greek #1344) apo (Greek #575) tees (Greek #3588) hamartias] - 'For he that hath died hath been set free from sin;' literally, 'hath been justified,' 'absolved,' 'acquitted,' 'got his discharge from sin.' As death dissolves all claims, so the whole claim of sin, not only to "reign unto death," but to keep its victims in sinful bondage, has been discharged once for all, by the believer's penal death in the death of Christ; so that he is no longer a "debtor to the flesh, to live after the flesh" (Romans 8:12).


Verse 8

Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

Now if we be dead ('if we died') with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him - `the future (to use the words of Hodge) referring not to what is to happen hereafter, but to what is the certain consequence of our union with Christ.' The apostle here recalls the sentiment of Romans 6:5, in order to continue that train of thought (see the note at Romans 6:5).


Verse 9

Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. Though Christ's death was in the most absolute sense a voluntary act (John 10:17-18; Acts 2:24), that voluntary surrender gave death a rightful "dominion over Him." But this once past, "death hath," even in that sense, "dominion over Him no more."


Verse 10

For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

For in that he died , [ ho (Greek #3739) gar (Greek #1063) apethanen (Greek #599)]. The strict rendering (as Fritzsche shows) is, 'The death which He died.'

He died unto (that is, in obedience to the claims of) sin once [ ef' (Greek #1909) hapax (Greek #530)] - 'once for all;' as Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 10:10 :

But in that he liveth, he liveth unto (in obedience to the claims of) God. There never, indeed, was a time when Christ did not 'live unto God.' But in the days of His flesh He did so, under the continual burden of sin "laid on Him" (Isaiah 53:6; 2 Corinthians 5:21); whereas, now that He has "put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself," He "liveth unto God," the acquitted and accepted Surety, unchallenged and unclouded by the claims of sin.


Verse 11

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves (even as your Lord) to be dead indeed , [ men (Greek #3303)] - not 'dead in very deed,' or 'truly' [ aleethoos (Greek #230)], as the English reader is apt to suppose, but 'dead on the one hand;' though the particle scarcely admits of being weakly enough rendered in English.

Unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. The true reading appears to be, 'in Christ Jesus,' omitting the words "our Lord." [So A B D E F G, some cursives, and a majority of the versions, including the Vulgate; and so Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Tregelles The Received Text is supported by C K L ('Aleph (') has too (Greek #3588) kurioo (Greek #2962) heemoon (Greek #2257) alone), and by some cursives and L ('Aleph (') has too (Greek #3588) kurioo (Greek #2962) heemoon (Greek #2257) alone), and by some cursives and versions. The fathers vary.]

Believers Reminded of the Incentives to Holiness which Arise out of this Death to Sin and Life to God through Union to the Crucified and Risen Saviour (Romans 6:12-21)

Not content with showing that his doctrine has no tendency to relax the obligations to a holy life, the apostle now calls upon believers to manifest the sanctifying tendency of their new standing in the dead and Risen Christ.

NOTE:-As in this and the following verses the words "Sin," "God," "Obedience," "Righteousness," "Uncleanness," and "Iniquity," are figuratively used to represent a MASTER, we shall print them in capitals, to make this manifest to the eye, and so save explanations.


Verse 12

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

Let not SIN therefore (as though it were still your Master) reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it (sin) in the lusts thereof - i:e., the lusts of the body, as the Greek makes evident [ eis (Greek #1519) to (Greek #3588) hupakouein (Greek #5219) autee (Greek #846) en (Greek #1722) tais (Greek #3588) epithumiais (Greek #1939) autou (Greek #846)]. But another reading has rather the better support, and is probably the correct one-`that ye should obey the lusts therefore,' [omitting autu. It is found in 'Aleph (') A B C *, and some few cursives, in the Vulgate, the Peshito Syriac, the two Egyptian, and some other versions, will several fathers, adopted by Lachman, Tischendorf, and Tregelles, and approved by DeWette, Meyer, etc. The received reading is supported by C *** (a corrector of about the 9th century), K L, several cursives, the Philoxenian Syriac, and one or two later versions, and most of the Greek fathers. There is some, though inferior authority, for omitting tais (Greek #3588) epithumiais (Greek #1939), and some, though less still, for stopping at hupakouein (Greek #5219) - omitting autou (Greek #846).] The sense, however, is the same. The "body" is here viewed as the instrument by which all the sins of the heart become facts of the outward life, and as itself the seat of the lower appetites; and it is called "our mortal body" - not so much to cheer us with the thought of how soon we shall have done with it (as some), still less to warn us how short-lived are the pleasures of sin (as others), but-probably to remind us how unsuitable is the reign of sin in those who are "alive from the dead." But the reign here meant is the unchecked dominion of sin within us. Its outward acts are next referred to.


Verse 13

Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

Neither yield, [ paristanete (G3936), or 'present'] ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto SIN: but yield ('present') yourselves. Observe how grandly the thought rises here. Not only does it rise from a negative exhortation in the first clause to a positive in the second, but it rises from the members in the one clause to our whole renewed selves in the other. Being alive now unto God from the dead, he bids us, instead of yielding the members of such to the obedience of their old Master, first yield our whole new selves

Unto GOD (as our new and rightful Master), as [those that are] alive from the dead - Do this in the capacity of men risen with Christ,

And (as the natural fruit of this) your members (until now prostituted to sin) [as] instruments (for the practice) of righteousness unto God. A significant transition also has been noticed here from one tense to another. In the first clause - "Neither yield ye your members instruments of unrighteousness" - the present tense is used [ paristanete (Greek #3936)], denoting the habitual practice of men in their old unregenerate state; in the next clause, "but yield yourselves unto God," it is the aorist [ parasteesate (Greek #3936)] - suggesting the one act for all, of self-surrender, which the renewed believer performs immediately on his passing from death to life, and to which he only sets his continuous seal in all his after-life.

But what if indwelling sin should prove too strong for us? The reply of the next verse is, But it will not.


Verse 14

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

For SIN shall not have dominion over you (as the slaves of a tyrant lord):

For ye are not under the law, but under grace - [ hupo (Greek #5259) nomon (Greek #3551) ... hupo (Greek #5259) charin (Greek #5485). Hupo (Greek #5259) with the accusitive denotes 'motion to underneath'-figuratively, 'moral subjection.'] The sense and force of this profound and precious assurance all depends on what is meant by being "under the law" and being "under grace." Mere philological criticism will do nothing to help us here. We must go to the heart of all Pauline teaching to discover this. To be "UNDER THE LAW," then, is first, to be 'under its claim to entire obedience on pain of death;' and so, secondly, to underlie the curse of the law as having violated its righteous demands (Galatians 3:10). And since any power to fulfill the law can reach the sinner only through Grace-of which the law knows nothing-it follows, lastly, that to be "under the law" is to be shut up under an inability to keep it, and consequently to be the helpless slave of sin. On the other hand, to be "UNDER GRACE," is to be under the glorious canopy and saving effects of that "Grace which bringeth salvation" and reigns 'through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord' (see the notes at Romans 5:20-21). The curse of the law has been completely lifted from off them; they are made "the righteousness of God in Him," and they are "alive unto God through Jesus Christ." So that, as when they were "under the law," Sin could not but have dominion over them, so now that they are "under grace," Sin cannot but be subdued under them. If before, Sin resistlessly triumphed, Grace will now be more than conqueror. (See the excellent remarks of Calvin here.)


Verse 15

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

What then? shall we sin , [ hamarteesomen (Greek #264)]. But this future tense, as in Romans 6:1, has hardly a vestige of support. The only authorized form here is the subjunctive [ - hamarteesoomen (Greek #264)] - 'May we sin,' or (more idiomatically), 'Are we to sin' (see the note at Romans 6:1),

Because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. The apostle here resumes the statement of Romans 6:1 under a somewhat new form, with the view of pressing home on believers the inconsistency and ingratitude of so acting, and in fact the certainty that they will not.


Verse 16

Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

Know ye not - Does not everyone know that dictate of common sense (John 8:34),

That to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey ('unto obedience'), his servants ye are to whom ye obey - to whom ye yield that obedience,

Whether of SIN unto death - that is, 'issuing in death' (in the awful sense explained on Romans 5:12-21, Remark 3, at the close of that section),

Or of OBEDIENCE unto righteousness - that is, resulting in a righteous character as the enduring and eternal condition of the servant of new Obedience (see 1 John 2:27; John 8:34; 2 Peter 2:19; Matthew 6:24).


Verse 17

But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of SIN, but - a special, though intelligible enough and not quite unexampled, mode of expression. The emphasis lies on the word "were." It is equivalent to 'God be thanked that though ye were, yet,' etc.-`Praised be God, that is a state of things now past and gone!' (See Fritzsche, and cf. 1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 5:8. Winer's objection-section 66: 7-has no force.

Ye have obeyed , [ hupeekousate (Greek #5219)] - rather, 'ye obeyed;' meaning, in their reception of the Gospel, That form of doctrine which was delivered you , [ hupeekousate (Greek #5219) eis (Greek #1519) hon (Greek #3739) paredotheete (Greek #3860) tupon (Greek #5179) didachees (Greek #1322) by attr. for hupeekousate (Greek #5219) too (Greek #3588) tupoo (Greek #5179) eis (Greek #1519) hon (Greek #3739) ... ]. The marginal rendering is the only right one, 'that form ('mould' or 'pattern') into which ye were delivered;' as melted wax or metal is poured into the mould. (Nearly all good critics agree in this.) The idea is, that the teaching to which they had heartily yielded themselves had stamped its own impress upon them.


Verse 18

Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

Being then - it should be, 'And being;' for we have here but the continuation and conclusion of the preceding sentence-not a new one:

Made free from SIN, ye became the servants of ('servants to') RIGHTEOUSNESS , [ edoulootheete (Greek #1402) ti (Greek #5100) dikaioosunee (Greek #1343)] - literally, 'ye became enslaved to Righteousness;' but in the sense explained on Romans 1:1, where the apostle styles himself 'a bond-servant of Jesus Christ.' The case is one of emancipation from entire servitude to one Master, only to entire servitude to another, whose property we are (see the note at Romans 1:1). There is no middle state of personal independence: for that we were never made, and to that we have no claim. When we would not that God should reign over us, we were in righteous judgment "sold under sin:" now, being through grace "made free from sin," it is only to become "servants to Righteousness" - which is our true freedom.


Verse 19

I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

I speak after the manner of men - descending, for illustration, to the level of common affairs,

Because of the infirmity of your flesh - the weakness of your spiritual apprehension:

For as ye have yielded - `as ye yielded,' the thing being viewed as now past,

Your members servants to UNCLEANNESS and to INIQUITY unto (the practice of) iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to RIGHTEOUSNESS unto holiness , [ eis (Greek #1519) hagiasmon (Greek #38)] - rather, 'unto (the attainment of) sanctification;' as the word in this form is rendered in 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 1 Peter 1:2. The sense is this: 'Looking back upon the heartiness with which ye served Sin, and the lengths ye went to, be stimulated now to like zeal and like exuberance in the service of a better Master.'


Verse 20

For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.

For when ye were the servants ('were servants') of SIN, ye were free from (rather, 'in respect of') RIGHTEOUSNESS - [ eleutheroi (Greek #1658) eete (Greek #2258) tee (Greek #3588) dikaiosunee (Greek #1343)] - the 'dative of reference to;' 'free with reference to.'] Difficulties have been made about this clause where none exist. The import of it appears clearly to be this: 'Since no servant can serve two masters, much less where their interests come into deadly collision, and each demands the whole man, so, while ye were in the service of Sin, ye were in no proper sense the servants of Righteousness, and never did it one act of real service; whatever might be your conviction of the claims of Righteousness, your real services were all and always given to Sin: Thus had ye full proof of the nature and advantages of Sin's service.' The searching question with which this is followed up shows that this is the meaning.


Verse 21

What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.

What, fruit had ye then [ tote (G5119), or 'at that time,'] [in those things] whereof ye are now ashamed? The Syriac version gives a different punctuation of this verse, which gives a different turn to the sense, as follows: 'What fruit had ye then? [things] whereof ye are now ashamed,' etc. In that case the "fruit" does not mean the profit of sin, but the actings of sin. This punctuation has been followed by Clement of Alexandria, and one or two other Greek fathers; by Erasmus, Luther, and Melancthon; by Tholuck, DeWette, Olshausen, Philippi, Alford, Webster and Wilkinson, and Green; with Lachmann and Tischendorf, but not Tregelles. With Beza, we think this is forced. It is, indeed, contended (by, Reiche, Olshausen, DeWette, and Alford) that "fruit" in the New Testament is used, not of 'advantage' or 'benefit,' but of 'actings.' But it has been well replied that it is not the word "fruit" alone which we have here, but the phrase "having fruit," which may well express something different; and in Romans 1:13 the same phrase of "having fruit" is certainly not used of acts done, but of benefit expected. Taking this view of the sense, the punctuation of our own version has the support of at least as many and as good critics as the other (such as Chrysostom, Calvin, Beza, Grotius, Estius, Wetstein, Bengel, Fritzsche, Meyer, Hodge). The whole verse down to "ashamed" seems clearly to be (as Meyer says) one connected question: 'What fruit had ye in those things whereof ye are now ashamed?'

For the end of those things is death. In the light of their own dreadful experience in the past of Sin's service, what permanent advantage, and what abiding satisfaction, have those things yielded? The apostle answers his own question: 'Abiding satisfaction, did I ask? They have left only a sense of "shame." Permanent advantage? "The end of them is death.'" By saying they were "now ashamed," he makes it plain that he is not referring to that disgust at themselves and remorse of conscience by which those who are the most helplessly "sold under sin" are often stung to the quick; but that ingenuous feeling of self-reproach which pierces and weighs down the children of God as they think of the dishonour which their past life did to His name, the ingratitude it displayed, the violence it did to their own conscience, its deadening and degrading effects, and the death - "the second death" - to which it was dragging them down, when mere Grace arrested them. On the sense of "death" here, see the notes at Romans 5:12-21, note 3, and at Romans 6:16 of this chapter: see also Revelation 21:8.


Verse 22

But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

But now - as if to get away from such a subject were unspeakable relief,

Being made free from SIN, and become servants to GOD - in the absolute sense intended throughout all this passage,

Ye have - not 'ought to have,' but do 'have,' in point of fact,

Your fruit unto holiness , [ eis (Greek #1519) agiasmon (Greek #39)] - 'unto sanctification,' as in Romans 6:19; meaning that permanently holy state and character which is built up out of the whole "fruits of righteousness" which believers successively bring forth. They "have their fruit" unto this - i:e., all going toward this blessed result.

And the end everlasting life - as the final state of the justified believer; the beatific experience not only of complete exemption from the fall with all its effects, but of the perfect life of acceptance with God and conformity to His likeness, of unveiled access to Him, and ineffable fellowship with Him through all duration.


Verse 23

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

For the wages , [ opsoonia (Greek #3800)]. The word signifies military supplies, 'pay' in kind rather than money [the plural usage is late]

Of sin is death; but the gift of GOD is eternal life through ('in') Jesus Christ our Lord. This concluding verse-as pointed as it is brief-contains the marrow, the most fine gold, of the Gospel. As the labourer is worthy of his hire, and feels it to be his due-his own of right-so is death the due of sin, the wages the sinner has well worked for-his own. But "eternal life" is in no sense or degree the wages of our righteousness; we do nothing whatever to earn or become entitled to it, and never can: it is therefore, in the most absolute sense, "THE GIFT OF GOD." Grace reigns in the bestowal of it in every case, and that "in Jesus Christ our Lord," as the righteous Channel of it. In view of this, who that hath tasted that the Lord is gracious can refrain from saying, "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever" (Revelation 1:5-6).

Remarks:

(1) Antinomianism (as Hodge says) is not only an error, it is a falsehood and a slander, when represented as the natural tendency of the Gospel doctrine of Gratuitous Justification. That "we should continue in sin, that grace may abound," not only is never the deliberate sentiment of any real believer in the doctrine of Grace, but is abhorrent to every Christian mind, as a monstrous abuse of the most glorious of all truths.

(2) As the death of Christ is not only the expiation of guilt, but the death of sin itself in all who are vitally united to Him, so the resurrection of Christ is the resurrection of believers, not only to acceptance with God, but to newness of life; and by these principles should all who name the name of Christ examine themselves whether they be in the faith.

(3) As the most effectual refutation of the oft-repeated calumny, that the doctrine of Salvation by grace encourages to continue in sin, is the holy life of those who profess it, let such ever feel that the highest service they can render to that Grace which is all their hope, is to "yield themselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and their members instruments of righteousness unto God" (Romans 6:12-13). By so doing they will "put to silence the ignorance of foolish men," secure their own peace, carry out the end of their calling, and give substantial glory to Him that loved them.

(4) The fundamental principle of Gospel-obedience is as original as it is divinely rational: that 'we are set free from the law in order to keep it, and are brought graciously under servitude to the law in order to be free.' So long as we know no principle of obedience but the terrors of the law, which condemns all the breakers of it, and knows nothing whatever of grace either to pardon the guilty or to purify the stained, we are shut up under a moral impossibility of genuine and acceptable obedience; whereas when Grace lifts us out of this state, and through union to a righteous Surety, brings us into a state of conscious reconciliation and loving surrender of heart to a God of salvation, we immediately feel the glorious liberty to be holy; and the assurance that "Sin shall not have dominion over us" is as sweet to our renewed tastes and aspirations as the ground of it is felt to be firm, "because we are not under the Law, but under Grace."

(5) As this most momentous of all transitions in the history of a man is wholly of God's free grace, the change should never be thought, spoken, or written of, but with lively thanksgiving to Him who so loved us, as in Romans 6:17.

(6) Christians in the service of God should emulate their former selves in the zeal and steadiness with which they served Sin, and the length to which they went in it. To stimulate this holy rivalry, let us often "look back to the rock whence we were hewn, the hole of the pit whence we were digged," in search of the enduring advantages and permanent satisfactions which the service of Sin yielded; and when we find to our "shame" only gall and wormwood, let us follow a godless life to its proper "end," until, finding ourselves in the territories of "death," we are fain to hasten back to survey the service of Righteousness-that new Master of all believers-and find Him leading us sweetly into abiding "holiness," and landing us at length in "everlasting life."

(7) Death and life are before all men who hear the Gospel: the one, the natural issue and proper reward of sin; the other, the absolutely free "GIFT OF GOD" to sinners, "in Jesus Christ our Lord." And as the one is the conscious sense of the hopeless loss of all blissful existence, so the other is the conscious possession and enjoyment of all that constitutes a rational creature's highest "life" forevermore (Romans 6:23). Ye that read or hear these words, "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live!" (Deuteronomy 30:19.)

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Romans 6:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/romans-6.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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