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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies
Romans 6



Other Authors
Verse 1

What shall we say then?

“A transition-expression and a debater's phrase” (Morison). The use of this phrase points to Paul's training in the Rabbinical schools, where questions were propounded and the students encouraged to debate, objections being suddenly interposed and answered.

Shall we continue ( ἐπιμένωμεν )

The verb means primarily to remain or abide at or with, as 1 Corinthians 16:8; Philemon 1:24; and secondarily, to persevere, as Romans 11:23; Colossians 1:23. So better here, persist.

Verse 3

Know ye not ( ἀγνοεῖτε )

The expression is stronger: are ye ignorant. So Rev. The indicative mood presupposes an acquaintance with the moral nature of baptism, and a consequent absurdity in the idea of persisting in sin.

So many as ( ὅσοι )

Rev., all we who. Put differently from we that ( οἵτινες , Romans 6:2) as not characterizing but designating all collectively.

Baptized into ( εἶς )

See on Matthew 28:19. The preposition. denotes inward union, participation; not in order to bring about the union, for that has been effected. Compare 1 Corinthians 12:12, 1 Corinthians 12:13, 1 Corinthians 12:27.

Into His death

As He died to sin, so we die to sin, just as if we were literally members of His body. Godet gives an anecdote related by a missionary who was questioning a converted Bechuana on Colossians 3:3. The convert said: “Soon I shall be dead, and they will bury me in my field. My flocks will come to pasture above me. But I shall no longer hear them, and I shall not come forth from my tomb to take them and carry them with me to the sepulchre. They will be strange to me, as I to them. Such is the image of my life in the midst of the world since I believed in Christ.”

Verse 4

We are buried with ( συνετάφημεν )

Rev., more accurately, were buried. Therefore, as a natural consequence of death. There is probably an allusion to the immersion of baptism. Compare Colossians 3:3.

Into death

Through the baptism into death referred to in Romans 6:3. Both A.V. and Rev. omit the article, which is important for the avoidance of the error buried into death.

Glory ( δόξης )

The glorious collective perfection of God. See on Romans 3:23. Here the element of power is emphasized, which is closely related to the idea of divine glory. See Colossians 1:11. All the perfections of God contribute to the resurrection of Christ - righteousness, mercy, wisdom, holiness.

We might walk ( περιπατήσωμεν )

Lit., walk about, implying habitual conduct. See on John 11:9; see on 1 John 1:6; see on 3 John 1:4; see on Luke 11:44.

In newness of life ( ἐν καινότητι ζωῆς )

A stronger expression than new life. It gives more prominence to the main idea, newness, than would be given by the adjective. Thus 1 Timothy 6:17, uncertainty of riches; not uncertain riches, as A.V.

Verse 5

We have been planted together ( σύμφυτοι γεγόναμεν )

Rev. gives more accurately the meaning of both words. Σύμφυτοι is not planted, which would be formed from φυτεύω toplant, while this word is compounded with σύν togetherand φύω togrow. Γεγόναμαν is have become, denoting process, instead of the simple εἶναι tobe. Hence Rev., have become united, have grown together; an intimate and progressive union; coalescence. Note the mixture of metaphors, walking and growing.

We shall be also ( ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐσόμεθα )

It is impossible to reproduce this graphic and condensed phrase accurately in English. It contains an adversative particle ἀλλά ; but. Morison paraphrases: “If we were united with Him in the likeness of His death (that will not be the full extent of the union), but we shall be also united,” etc. For similar instances see 1 Corinthians 4:15; Colossians 2:5.

Verse 6

Old man ( ὁ παλαιὸς ἄνθρωπος )

Only in Paul, and only three times; here, Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9. Compare John 3:3; Titus 3:5. The old, unrenewed self. Paul views the Christian before his union with Christ, as, figuratively, another person. Somewhat in the same way he regards himself in ch. 7.

The body of sin ( τὸ σῶμα τῆς ἁμαρτίας )

Σῶμα in earlier classical usage signifies a corpse. So always in Homer and often in later Greek. So in the New Testament, Matthew 6:25; Mark 5:29; Mark 14:8; Mark 15:43. It is used of men as slaves, Revelation 18:13. Also in classical Greek of the sum-total. So Plato: τὸ τοῦ κόσμου σῶμα thesum-total of the world (“Timaeus,” 31).

The meaning is tinged in some cases by the fact of the vital union of the body with the immaterial nature, as being animated by the ψυξή soulthe principle of individual life. Thus Matthew 6:25, where the two are conceived as forming one organism, so that the material ministries which are predicated of the one are predicated of the other, and the meanings of the two merge into one another.

In Paul it can scarcely be said to be used of a dead body, except in a figurative sense, as Romans 8:10, or by inference, 2 Corinthians 5:8. Commonly of a living body. It occurs with ψυχή soulonly 1 Thessalonians 5:23, and there its distinction from ψυχή rather than its union with it is implied. So in Matthew 10:28, though even there the distinction includes the two as one personality. It is used by Paul:

1. Of the living human body, Romans 4:19; 1 Corinthians 6:13; 1 Corinthians 9:27; 1 Corinthians 12:12-26.

2. Of the Church as the body of Christ, Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 1:23; Colossians 1:18, etc. Σάρξ fleshnever in this sense.

3. Of plants and heavenly bodies, 1 Corinthians 15:37, 1 Corinthians 15:40.

4. Of the glorified body of Christ, Philemon 3:21.

5. Of the spiritual body of risen believers, 1 Corinthians 15:44.

It is distinguished from σάρξ fleshas not being limited to the organism of an earthly, living body, 1 Corinthians 15:37, 1 Corinthians 15:38. It is the material organism apart from any definite matter. It is however sometimes used as practically synonymous with σάρξ , 1 Corinthians 7:16, 1 Corinthians 7:17; Ephesians 5:28, Ephesians 5:31; 2 Corinthians 4:10, 2 Corinthians 4:11. Compare 1 Corinthians 5:3with Colossians 2:5. An ethical conception attaches to it. It is alternated with μέλη membersand the two are associated with sin (Romans 1:24; Romans 6:6; Romans 7:5, Romans 7:24; Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5), and with sanctification (Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 6:19sq.; compare 1 Thessalonians 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:23). It is represented as mortal, Romans 8:11; 2 Corinthians 10:10; and as capable of life, 1 Corinthians 13:3; 2 Corinthians 4:10.

In common with μέλη membersit is the instrument of feeling and willing rather than σάρξ , because the object in such cases is to designate the body not definitely as earthly, but generally as organic, Romans 6:12, Romans 6:13, Romans 6:19; 2 Corinthians 5:10. Hence, wherever it is viewed with reference to sin or sanctification, it is the outward organ for the execution of the good or bad resolves of the will.

The phrase body of sin denotes the body belonging to, or ruled by, the power of sin, in which the members are instruments of unrighteousness (Romans 6:13). Not the body as containing the principle of evil in our humanity, since Paul does not regard sin as inherent in, and inseparable from, the body (see Romans 6:13; 2 Corinthians 4:10-12; 2 Corinthians 7:1. Compare Matthew 15:19), nor as precisely identical with the old man, an organism or system of evil dispositions, which does not harmonize with Romans 6:12, Romans 6:13, where Paul uses body in the strict sense. “Sin is conceived as the master, to whom the body as slave belongs and is obedient to execute its will. As the slave must perform his definite functions, not because he in himself can perform no others, but because of His actually subsistent relationship of service he may perform no others, while of himself he might belong as well to another master and render other services; so the earthly σῶμα bodybelongs not of itself to the ἁμαρτία sinbut may just as well belong to the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:13), and doubtless it is de facto enslaved to sin, so long as a redemption from this state has not set in by virtue of the divine Spirit” (Romans 7:24: Dickson).


See on Romans 3:3.

He that is dead ( ὁ ἀποθανὼν )

Rev., literally, he that hath died. In a physical sense. Death and its consequences are used as the general illustration of the spiritual truth. It is a habit of Paul to throw in such general illustrations. See Romans 7:2.

Verse 7

Is freed ( δεδικαίωται )

Lit., as Rev., is justified; i.e., acquitted, absolved; just as the dead person sins no more, being released from sin as from a legal claim. “As a man that is dead is acquitted and released from bondage among men, so a man that has died to sin is acquitted from the guilt of sin and released from its bondage” (Alford).

Verse 8

We be dead ( ἀπεθάνομεν )

The aorist. Rev., correctly, we died. The death is viewed as an event, not as a state.

We believe ( πιστεύομεν )

Dogmatic belief rather than trust, though the latter is not excluded.

Shall live with ( συνζήσομεν )

Participation of the believer's sanctified life with the life of Christ rather than participation in future glory, which is not the point emphasized. Compare Romans 6:11.

Verse 10

In that He died ( ὃ γὰρ ἀπέθανεν )

Lit.. what he died; the death which he died. Compare sin a sin, 1 John 5:16; the life which I live, literally, what I live, Galatians 2:20.

Once ( ἐφάπαξ )

More literally, as Rev., in margin, once for all. Compare Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 10:10.

Verse 12

Reign ( βασιλευέτω )

The antithesis implied is not between reigning and existing, but between reigning and being deposed.


Literal, thus according with members, Romans 6:13.

Verse 13

Yield ( παριστάνετε )

Put at the service of; render. Rev., present. Compare Luke 2:22; Acts 9:41; Romans 12:1. See on Acts 1:3.

Members ( μέλη )

Physical; though some include mental faculties. Compare Colossians 3:5, where members is expounded by fornication, uncleanness, etc., the physical being a symbol of the moral, of which it is the instrument.

Instruments ( ὅπλα )

The word is used from the earliest times of tools or instruments generally. In Homer of a ship's tackle, smith's tools, implements of war, and in the last sense more especially in later Greek. In the New Testament distinctly of instruments of war (John 18:3; 2 Corinthians 6:7; 2 Corinthians 10:4). Here probably with the same meaning, the conception being that of sin and righteousness as respectively rulers of opposing sovereignties (compare reign, Romans 6:12, and have dominion, Romans 6:14), and enlisting men in their armies. Hence the exhortation is, do not offer your members as weapons with which the rule of unrighteousness may be maintained, but offer them to God in the service of righteousness.

Of unrighteousness ( ἀδικίας )

See on 2 Peter 2:13.

Yield ( παραστήσατε )

Rev., present. The same word as before, but in a different tense. The present tense, be presenting, denotes the daily habit, the giving of the hand, the tongue, etc., to the service of sin as temptation appeals to each. Here the aorist, as in Romans 12:1, denotes an act of self-devotion once for all.

As those that are alive ( ὡς ζῶντας )

The best texts read ὡσεί asif alive. This brings out more clearly the figurative character of the exhortation.

From the dead ( ἐκ νεκρῶν )

Note the preposition out of. See on Luke 16:31.

Verse 16

Servants ( δούλους )

Every man must choose between two ethical principles. Whichever one he chooses is master, and he is its bond-servant. Compare Matthew 6:24; Matthew 7:18.

Sin unto death - obedience unto righteousness

The antithesis is not direct - sin unto death, obedience unto life; but obedience is the true antithesis of sin, since sin is disobedience, and righteousness is life.

Verse 17

That ye were

The peculiar form of expression is explained in two ways; either making the thanksgiving bear only on the second proposition, ye obeyed, etc., and regarding the first as inserted by way of contrast or background to the salutary moral change: or, emphasizing were; ye were the servants of sin, but are so no more. Rev. adopts the former, and inserts whereas.

From the heart

See on Romans 1:21.

Form of doctrine ( τύπον διδαχῆς )

Rev., form of teaching. For τύπον , see on 1 Peter 5:3. The Pauline type of teaching as contrasted with the Judaistic forms of Christianity. Compare my gospel, Romans 2:16; Romans 16:25. Others explain as the ideal or pattern presented by the gospel. Form of teaching, however, seems to point to a special and precisely defined type of christian instruction.

Was delivered unto you ( εἱς δν παρεδόθητε )

But this rendering is impossible. Render, as Rev., whereunto ye were delivered. For the verb, see on Romans 4:25. They had been handed over to the educative power of this form of teaching.

Verse 19

After the manner of men ( ἀνθρώπινον )

Lit., what is human, popularly. He seems to have felt that the figures of service, bondage, etc., were unworthy of the subject, and apologizes for his use of the image of the slave mart to enforce such a high spiritual truth, on the ground of their imperfect spiritual comprehension. Compare 2 Corinthians 2:6; 1 Corinthians 3:1, 1 Corinthians 3:2.

To iniquity unto iniquity ( τῇ ἀνομίᾳ εἰς τὴν ἀνομίαν )

Iniquity issuing in an abiding iniquitous state. Lit., lawlessness. It is used by John as the definition of sin, 1 John 3:4.

Holiness ( ἁγιασμόν )

Rev., sanctification. For the kindred adjective ἅγιος holysee on saints, Acts 26:10. Ἁγιασμός is used in the New Testament both of a process - the inauguration and maintenance of the life of fellowship with God, and of the resultant state of sanctification. See 1 Thessalonians 4:3, 1 Thessalonians 4:7; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Timothy 2:15; 1 Peter 1:2; Hebrews 12:14. It is difficult to determine which is meant here. The passages in Thessalonians, Timothy, and Hebrews, are cited by interpreters on both sides. As in Romans 6:22it appears that sanctification contemplates a further result (everlasting life), it is perhaps better to understand it as the process. Yield your members to righteousness in order to carry on the progressive work of sanctification, perfecting holiness (1 Corinthians 7:1).

Verse 20

Free from righteousness ( ἐλεύθεροι τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ )

An ambiguous translation. Better, Rev., free in regard of righteousness. Disengaged (Morison), practically independent of its demands, having offered their service to the opposing power. They could not serve two masters.

Verse 21


See on Romans 1:13.

Had ye ( εἴχετε )

Imperfect tense, denoting continuance. What fruit were ye having during your service of sin?

In the things whereof ( ἐφ ' οἷς )

Some change the punctuation, and read “What fruit had ye at that time? Things whereof ye are now ashamed.” But the majority of the best texts reject this, and besides, the question is of having fruit, not of the quality of the fruit.

Verse 23

Wages ( ὀψώνια )

From ὄψον cookedmeat, and later, generally, provisions. At Athens especially fish. Hence ὀψώνιον is primarily provision-money, and is used of supplies for an army, see 1 Corinthians 9:7. The figure of Romans 6:13is carried out: Sin, as a Lord to whom they tender weapons and who pays wages.


“Sin pays its serfs by punishing them. Its wages is death, and the death for which its counters are available is the destruction of the weal of the soul” (Morison).

Gift ( χάρισμα )

Rev., rightly, free gift (compare Romans 5:15). In sharp contrast with wages.


Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Romans 6:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

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Monday, October 19th, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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