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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible
Romans 6

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

ROMANS CHAPTER 6

Romans 6:1-13 Though justified by grace, we may not live in sin;

since the very figure of baptism requireth us to die

with Christ unto sin, that we may lead a new life of

holiness unto God.

Romans 6:14-20 The dispensation of grace freeth us from the dominion

of sin; but we are still the servants of sin, if we

obey it; therefore being freed from sin, we are bound

unto holiness.

Romans 6:21-23 The end and wages of sin is death; but the fruit of

holiness through God’s grace is eternal life.

Another anticipation; this Epistle abounds therewith. The apostle here prevents an objection, which might be occasioned, either by the foregoing doctrine in general, concerning justification by the free grace of God, and by a righteousness imputed to us; or by what he said more particularly in the close of the foregoing chapter, that where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. Some might hence infer, that there was no need then of inherent righteousness, that persons might abide and abound in sin, that so grace might be the more exalted in the forgiveness thereof. The apostle Jude speaks, Jude 1:4, of some that made this ill improvement of the grace of God. Those that draw such inferences from the premises, they put a false construction upon the apostle’s doctrine, and a paralogism or fallacy upon themselves. They make the apostle’s words more general than he meant or intended them: for the abounding of sin is not the occasion of the abounding of grace in all, but only in some, even in those who confess and forsake their sins. And they apply that to the time to come which the apostle only uttered of the time past. The abounding of sin in men before their conversion and calling, doth commend and exalt the abundant grace of God, in the forgiveness thereof; but not so if sin abound in them after they are converted and called. He propounds this objection by way of interrogation, partly to show his dislike that his doctrine should be so perverted, and partly to show the peace of his own conscience, that he was far from such a thought.


Verse 2

God forbid; be it not, or far be it; he rejects any such inference or consequence, as unworthy of an answer: q.d. Away with all such doctrines, as, under pretence of advancing grace, do promote sin, or obstruct a godly life. This phrase is frequent with the apostle, when he is speaking of any absurdity: see Romans 3:4,6,31.

How: by this particle he shows the impossibility, or the incongruity, of the thing: see Matthew 6:28 Galatians 4:9. The following argument is very convincing, and may be thus formed: They whose property it is to be dead to sin, cannot any longer live therein; but the justified by faith are

dead to sin. They are said to be dead to sin, who do not live under the power and dominion of it; who mortify sin, and suffer it (so far as they can) to have no life or power in it. Fall into it they may, but live and lie in it they cannot. It is not falling into the water that drowns a man, but it is his lying in it; so it is not falling into sin that damns a man, but it is his living in it.


Verse 3

Know ye not? q.d. This is a truth which you ought not to be ignorant of and which confirms what I say.

Baptized into Jesus Christ: to be baptized into Christ, is either to be baptized in the name of Christ; see Acts 10:48, and Acts 19:5; or else it is, incorporated, ingrafted, or planted into Christ, and so to be made members of his mystical body by baptism.

Baptized into his death: to be baptized into the death of Christ, is to have fellowship with him in his death, or to have the efficacy of his death sealed up to us; and that is the blessed privilege of as many as are baptized or planted into Christ; they are not only partakers of the merit of his death for justification, but of the efficacy of his death for mortification. See a parallel place, Galatians 3:27.


Verse 4

Therefore: q.d. Because we are thus dead with Christ, therefore, & c.

We are buried with him; i.e. we have communion with him in his burial also, which represents a farther degree of the destruction of sin, by putting it, as it were, out of our sight, Genesis 23:4, and having no more to do with it.

By baptism into death: he seems here to allude to the manner of baptizing in those warm Eastern countries, which was to dip or plunge the party baptized, and as it were to bury him for a while under water. See the like phrase, Colossians 2:12. Baptism doth not only represent our mortification and death to sin, but our progress and perseverance therein. Burial implies a continuing under death; so is mortification a continual dying unto sin.

That like as Christ was raised up from the dead; look as, after the death and burial of Christ, there followed his resurrection, so it must be with us; we must have communion with, and conformity to, the Lord Jesus Christ in his resurrection as well as in his death; both these are represented and sealed to us by the sacrament of baptism.

By the glory of the Father; i.e. by the power of the Father, which is called, Colossians 1:11, his glorious power. God is said elsewhere to have raised him by his power, 1 Corinthians 6:14; and in 2 Corinthians 13:4, he is said to live by the power of God. Some read it thus, he was raised from the dead, to the glory of the Father.

The preposition dia is sometimes rendered to: see 1 Peter 1:3.

Walk in newness of life; i.e. live a new life, being actuated by new principles, aiming at new ends, and bringing forth new fruits of holiness: see Romans 7:6.


Verse 5

He prosecutes what he had before propounded, and illustrates it by an apt similitude, which is taken from grafting or planting. He takes it for granted, that believers are

planted together in the likeness of Christ’s

death, i.e. are made conformable to him in his death: see Philippians 3:10. Christ died, and believers die; the one a natural, the other a spiritual death: the one by way of expiation, suffering, and satisfying for the sins of others; the other by way of mortification, killing and crucifying their own sins.

We shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: in the original the sentence is elliptical and imperfect, the words running thus, we shall be of his resurrection; our translation therefore fills up the sense with a word borrowed from the preceding clause. See the like, John 5:36, I have a greater witness than of John, i.e. than that witness of John. The sense of the whole is this, That believers are not only dead, but risen with Christ, Colossians 3:1. They partake of such a resurection as resembles his; as Christ arose from the dead to a new life, so we rise from dead works to walk in newness of life, Romans 6:4. Moreover, they are raised and quickened by a power and virtue that flows from Christ and his resurrection: this is that virtue which the apostle Paul so earnestly desired to be made a partaker of, Philippians 3:10. The graft revives with the stock in the spring, and that by a virtue which it receives from the stock; so as a believer is raised to newness of life, by virtue flowing from Christ, into whom he is ingrafted.

Question. Why doth he say believers

shall be planted, &c.? Are they not so already, upon their believing in Christ?

Answer. The apostle rather chooseth to speak in the future, than in the present tense; rather we shall be, than we are, or have been; because the work is only begun; it daily increaseth more and more, until it comes to a full perfection in heaven.


Verse 6

By the old man is meant, that corrupt and polluted nature which we derive from Adam, the first man: see Ephesians 4:22 Colossians 3:9,10. The old and new man are opposites; as then the new man is the image of God repaired in us; so the old man is a depravation of that image of God, and a universal pollution of the whole man.

Is crucified with him; by virtue of our union with him, and by means of his death and crucifixion: see Galatians 2:20.

The body of sin is the very same that he called before the old man. The corrupt nature is sometimes called the body, Romans 8:13, sometimes a body of death, Romans 7:24, and here the body of sin. It is indeed a mere mass and lump of sin; it is not one sin, but all sin seminally. It is with respect to this body of sin, that particular lusts and corruptions are called members, Colossians 3:5.

Might be destroyed; weakened more and more, till at last it be destroyed.

That henceforth we should not serve sin; as we did before regeneration, and as they still do who voluntarily commit it, John 8:34. They do not only act sin, but are acted by it, having as many lords as lusts, Titus 3:3. See more of this, Romans 6:16.


Verse 7

He that is dead, i.e. to sin, is freed from it; not only in respect of the guilt thereof, which sense the marginal reading of the word seems to respect, but also in regard of the service of it. This agrees best with the context; look, as he that is dead is freed and discharged from the authority of, those who had dominion over him in his lifetime, so it is with those that are dead to sin. There is a parallel place, 1 Peter 4:1.


Verse 8

i.e. If we have fellowship with Christ in his death, we have reason to believe we shall have fellowship with him also in his resurrection and life: see Romans 6:5. Though everlasting be not excluded, yet a spiritual life is principally intended; we shall so live with Christ, as no more to return to dead works. The next words show this to be the sense.


Verse 9

q.d. Of this you know you have an example or copy in Christ himself; he so rose again, as never more to come under the power of death.


Verse 10

For when he died unto sin, i.e. to take away sin, he died but once; see Hebrews 9:28, and Romans 10:10,14; but when he rose again from the dead, he lived with God for ever an immortal, endless life. By this phrase is expressed that eternal and indissoluble union which the Son hath with the Father.


Verse 11

So we in like manner must make account, that by virtue of his death we are dead to sin, and by virtue of his resurrection are alive to God, and so alive as never to resume our former courses, or return again to our former sins.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord; or, in Jesus Christ our Lord; i.e. after the similitude of Jesus Christ, who so lives as to die no more. Or else this phrase imports that Jesus Christ is the root of our spiritual life; even as the scion lives in the stock. so believers are alive unto God in Jesus Christ, receiving from him that virtue whereby their spiritual life is begun, maintained, and perfected.


Verse 12

Let not sin therefore: q.d. Seeing this is the case, that you are dead to sin, baptized into Christ, are planted together into the likeness of his death, &c., therefore the rather hearken to and obey the following exhortation. By sin he means the sin or corruption of our nature, the same that before he called the old man, and the body of sin. There are remainders thereof in the regenerate; in them it is mortified, but not eradicated; therefore to them this exhortation is not unnecessary.

Reign; he doth not say, let it not be or reside, but let it not reign or preside; let it not bear sway or have dominion in you; let it not have the upper hand of the motions of the Spirit of God.

In your mortal body; the body (called here a mortal or frail body) is put by a synecdoche for the whole man; and he the rather makes mention of the body, because the parts and members thereof are the usual instruments of sin. Therefore it follows in the next verse, Neither yield your members as instruments of unrighteousness.

That ye should obey it in the lusts thereof; i.e. that you should obey sin in the lust of the body. The gender of the relative article of the Greek, requires it should be so read and understood. The meaning is not as if lusts were in the body alone, for Christ teacheth the contrary, Matthew 15:19,20; but because all sinful lusts do mostly show and manifest themselves in and through the body, Galatians 5:19.


Verse 13

He fitly compares our bodily members to tools that artificers work, or weapons that soldiers fight withal; for as those, so these, may be used well or ill: e.g. With the hand one man giveth an alms, another stealeth; with the tongue one man blesseth, another curseth. By members here we are not only to understand the parts of the body, as the hands, eyes, ears, &c.; but also the faculties of the soul, as the understanding, will, affections, &c. These bear some proportion to the bodily members, as the understanding to the eye, &c. All of them must be employed by us as weapons to fight, not under the command of Satan for sin, but under the command of God for righteousness.

As those that are alive from the dead: these words contain a reason why we should not serve sin and Satan, but bequeath and dedicate ourselves to the service of God, because we are endued with a spiritual life, after a spiritual death; or because we have received so great a benefit as to be raised in Christ from the death and power of sin.


Verse 14

In the Romans 6:12 it was an exhortation, but in this it is a promise, that sin shall not reign in and over us. Rebel it may, but reign it shall not in the regenerate. It hath lost its absolule and uncontrolled power. It fares with sin in such as with those beasts in Daniel 7:12, who, though their lives were prolonged for a season, had their dominion taken away. It is an encouragement to fight, when we are sure of victory.

For ye are not under the law, but under grace: he adds this as a reason of that he had asserted and promised: you are not under a legal, but gospel dispensation; so some expound the words; grace is often put for the gospel: or, you are not under the old but the new covenant.

The law and grace thus differ; the one condemns the sinner, the other absolves him; the one requires perfect, the other accepts sincere, obedience; the one prescribes what we must do, the other assists us in the doing of our duty. This last seems to be the genuine sense: q.d. You may be sure sin shall have no dominion over you; for you are not under the law, which forbids sin, but gives no power against it, or which requires obedience, and gives no strength to perform it (like the Egyptian taskmasters, who required bricks but gave no straw); but under the gospel or covenant of grace, where sin is not only forbidden, but the sinner is enabled to resist and overcome it.

Question. But what shall be said of the godly in the times of the law; were not they under grace?

Answer. They were, Acts 15:11 Hebrews 4:2; but not in the same degree. The godly had help and assistance under the law, but they had it not by the law. How believers are said not to be under the law: see Romans 7:4.


Verse 15

What then? doth it follow from hence that we are lawless, and may live as we list?

God forbid: q.d. No, by no means, the premises afford no such conclusion; though we are not under the curse and rigour of the law, yet we are under its directions and discipline: the gospel allows of sin no more than the law. The apostle is careful, both here and elsewhere, to prevent licentiousness, or the abuse of Christian liberty: see Galatians 5:13 1 Peter 2:16: see Romans 6:1, and See Poole on "Romans 6:1".


Verse 16

He refutes the aforementioned cavil by a common axiom, that every one knows and apprehends.

Of obedience unto righteousness; which will be rewarded with eternal life. But why doth he not say of obedience unto life? Then the antithesis had been more plain and full. Because though sin be the cause of death, yet obedience is not the cause of life, {as Romans 6:23} but only the way to it.


Verse 17

But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin: q.d. But as for you, God be thanked, that though once you were the servants of sin, viz. when you were ignorant and unregenerate, yet now you are freed from that bondage, and set at liberty from the power and dominion of sin.

But ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you: this phrase expresses the efficacy of Divine doctrine in the hearts of believers; it changeth and fashioneth their hearts according to its likeness, 2 Corinthians 3:18. Hence in James 1:21, it is called an ingrafted word; it turns the heart and life of the hearer into its own nature, as the stock doth the scion that is ingrafted into it. The doctrine of the gospel is the mould, and the hearer is the metal, which, when it is melted and cast into the mould, receives its form and figure.


Verse 18

Made free from sin; i.e. the servitude of sin; having received a manumission from that hard and evil master, you have given tap yourselves to a better and more ingenuous service.


Verse 19

I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: q.d. I accommodate myself to your capacity, because of the weakness of your understanding in spiritual things; therefore I use this familiar similitude of service and freedom, that by these secular and civil things you might the better understand such as are spiritual: see John 3:12.

For as ye have yielded, &c.: q.d. The great thing that I desire of you (and it is most reasonable) is this, that you would be as sedulous and careful now to obey God, as you have formerly been to obey and serve sin; to do good, as you have been to do evil.

To uncleaness; to fleshly lusts, which defile you.

To iniquity unto iniquity; i.e. adding one sin to another; or else by the former you may understand original, by the latter actual sin. He useth three words about the service of sin, and but two about the service of God; wicked men take great pains for hell; oh that we would take the same for heaven.


Verse 20

q.d. When you served sin, you knew that God and righteousness had no whit of your service; why then should sin have any of your service now, when ye have delivered up yourselves to righteousness, or godliness, to be the observant followers thereof? Why should not ye now abstain as strictly from all sin, as then ye did from all good?


Verse 21

q.d. And this will be much more equal and reasonable, if you consider these three things:

1. How little fruit and satisfaction your former sins have afforded you in the very time of committing them.

2. How nothing but shame and sorrow doth follow upon the remembrance of them.

3. How death, yea, eternal death and damnation, (unless pardoning grace and mercy prevent it), will be the certain conclusion of them. And whether these things are true or not, I appeal to yourselves.


Verse 22

q.d. But now, on the contrary, being set at liberty from the service of sin, and admitted to be the servants of God, you plainly perceive a difference: for:

1. In your lifetime you increase in grace and holiness, and that is no small fruit or advantage; and then,

2. At your death you shall have everlasting life.


Verse 23

q.d. Now therefore compare the office of both these services together, and you shall easily see which master is best to serve and obey; the wages that sin will pay you, in the end is death; but the reward that God will freely bestow upon you (if you be his servants)

is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Wages; the word properly signifies victuals. The Romans of old paid their soldiers with provision and victuals in recompence of their service; afterward they gave them money, but still the old term was retained, and now it is used to signify any reward or stipend whatsoever.

Is death: by death here we must understand not only temporal, but also and more especially eternal death, as appears by the opposition it hath to eternal life: this is the just and true hire of sin.

The gift of God is eternal life; he doth not say that eternal life is the wages of righteousness, but that it is the gracious or free gift of God. He varies the phrase on purpose, to show that we attain not eternal life by our own merits, our own works or worthiness, but by the gift or grace of God; for which cause he also addeth,

through Jesus Christ our Lord. See Aug. lib. de Gratia et Libero Arbitrio, c. 9. Let the papists (if they can) reconcile this text to their distinction of mortal and venial sins, and to their doctrine of the meritoriousness of good works.

 


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Bibliography Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Romans 6:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/romans-6.html. 1685.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 11th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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