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6. Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ

1What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2God forbid. We who died to sin, how shall we any longer live therein? 3Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried therefore with him through baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; 6knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin; 7for he that hath died is justified from sin. 8But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him; 9knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death no more hath dominion over him. 10For the death that he died, he died unto sin once: but the life that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11Even so reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus. 12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey the lusts thereof: 13neither present your members unto sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves unto God, as alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under law, but under grace. 15What then? shall we sin, because we are not under law, but under grace? God forbid. 16Know ye not, that to whom ye present yourselves as servants unto obedience, his servants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17But thanks be to God, that, whereas ye were servants of sin, ye became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching whereunto ye were delivered; 18and being made free from sin, ye became servants of righteousness. 19I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye presented your members as servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity, even so now present your members as servants to righteousness unto sanctification. 20For when ye were servants of sin, ye were free in regard of righteousness. 21What fruit then had ye at that time in the things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22But now being made free from sin and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto sanctification, and the end eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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15. What then? As the wisdom of the flesh is ever clamorous against the mysteries of God, it was necessary for the Apostle to subjoin what might anticipate an objection: for since the law is the rule of life, and has been given to guide men, we think that when it is removed all discipline immediately falls to the ground, that restraints are taken away, in a word, that there remains no distinction or difference between good and evil. But we are much deceived if we think, that the righteousness which God approves of in his law is abolished, when the law is abrogated; for the abrogation is by no means to be applied to the precepts which teach the right way of living, as Christ confirms and sanctions these and does not abrogate them; but the right view is, that nothing is taken away but the curse, to which all men without grace are subject. But though Paul does not distinctly express this, yet he indirectly intimates it.

16. By no means: know ye not? This is not a bare denial as some think, as though he preferred to express his abhorrence of such a question rather than to disprove it: for a confutation immediately follows, derived from a contrary supposition, and to this purpose, “Between the yoke of Christ and that of sin there is so much contrariety, that no one can bear them both; if we sin, we give ourselves up to the service of sin; but the faithful, on the contrary have been redeemed from the tyranny of sin, that they may serve Christ: it is therefore impossible for them to remain bound to sin.” But it will be better to examine more closely the course of reasoning, as pursued by Paul.

To whom we obey, etc. This relative may be taken in a causative sense, as it often is; as when one says, — there is no kind of crime which a parricide will not do, who has not hesitated to commit the greatest crime of all, and so barbarous as to be almost abhorred even by wild beasts. And Paul adduces his reason partly from the effects, and partly from the nature of correlatives. For first, if they obey, he concludes that they are servants, for obedience proves that he, who thus brings one into subjection to himself, has the power of commanding. This reason as to service is from the effect, and from this the other arises. “If you be servants, then of course sin has the dominion.”

Or of obedience, etc. The language is not strictly correct; for if he wished to have the clauses correspondent, he would have said, “or of righteousness unto life” 195195     Beza’s remark on this is, — that obedience is not the cause of life, as sin is of death, but is the way to life: and hence the want of correspondence in the two clauses. But others, such as Venema, Turrettin, and Stuart, consider that the clauses really correspond. They take εἰς θάνατον — “unto death,” as signifying, unto condemnation; and εἰς δικαιοσύνην, they render “unto justification;” and ὑπακόη, “obedience,” is in their view the obedience of faith. This construction might be admitted, were it not for the last clause of Romans 6:18, where we have, “Ye became the servants of righteousness,” the same word, δικαιοσύνη; except we consider that also, as Venema does, as signifying the righteousness of faith, by a sort of personification: and if so, we must attach the same meaning to “righteousness” δικαιοσύνη, in Romans 6:19, which issues in, or leads to holiness; and also to “righteousness,” δικαιοσύνη, in verse 20. As the Apostle personifies sin, he may also be supposed to personify righteousness, that is, the righteousness of faith. In this case, we might as well retain the word “righteousness” in this verse, and not justification, which it never strictly means; for the correspondence in the terms would be still essentially preserved, as with the righteousness of faith eternal life is inseparably connected. — Ed. But as the change in the words does not prevent the understanding of the subject, he preferred to express what righteousness is by the word obedience; in which however there is a metonymy, for it is to be taken for the very commandments of God; and by mentioning this without addition, he intimated that it is God alone, to whose authority consciences ought to be subject. Obedience then, though the name of God is suppressed, is yet to be referred to him, for it cannot be a divided obedience.

17. But thanks be to God, etc. This is an application of the similitude of the present subject. Though they were only to be reminded that they were not now the servants of sin, he yet adds a thanksgiving; first, that he might teach them, that this was not through their own merit, but through the special mercy of God; and secondly, that by this thanksgiving, they might learn how great was the kindness of God, and that they might thereby be more stimulated to hate sin. And he gives thanks, not as to that time during which they were the servants of sin, but for the liberation which followed, when they ceased to be what they were before. But this implied comparison between their former and present state is very emphatical; for the Apostle touches the calumniators of the grace of Christ, when he shows, that without grace the whole race of man is held captive under the dominion of sin; but that the kingdom of sin comes to an end, as soon as grace puts forth its power. 196196     Our version of this verse conveys the idea, that the Apostle gave thanks that they had been the servants of sin; but ὅτι is often rendered for, as in Matthew 5:3, 4; Luke 10:13; and in Matthew 6: 5, followed by δὲ as here, in Romans 6:6. The rendering may be this, —
   But thanks be to God; for ye have been the servants of sin, but have obeyed the form of doctrine, in which ye have been taught. — Ed.

We may hence learn, that we are not freed from the bondage of the law that we may sin; for the law does not lose its dominion, until the grace of God restores us to him, in order to renew us in righteousness: and it is hence impossible that we should be subject to sin, when the grace of God reigns in us: for we have before stated, that under this term grace, is included the spirit of regeneration.

You have obeyed from the heart, etc. Paul compares here the hidden power of the Spirit with the external letter of the law, as though he had said, “Christ inwardly forms our souls in a better way, than when the law constrains them by threatening and terrifying us.” Thus is dissipated the following calumny, “If Christ frees us from subjection to the law, he brings liberty to sin.” He does not indeed allow his people unbridled freedom, that they might frisk about without any restraint, like horses let loose in the fields; but he brings them to a regular course of life. — Though Erasmus, following the old version, has chosen to translate it the “form” (formam) of doctrine, I have felt constrained to retain type, the word which Paul uses: some may perhaps prefer the word pattern. 197197     The version of Calvin is, “Obedistis vero et animo typo doctrinæ in quem traducti estis.”
   The word τύπος, is rendered in John 20:25, print, that is, of the nails, — in Acts 7:43, in the plural, fiqures, that is, images, — in Acts 7:44, fashion, that is, pattern or model, — in Hebrews 8:5, pattern, — in Acts 23:25, manner, that is, form, — in Romans 5:14, figure, that is, representative, — in Titus 2:7, pattern; and in all other instances in which it occurs, except in this place, it is rendered example, and in the plural, examp1es, as afforded by the conduct of others, or by events; see 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11; Philippians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:9; 1 Timothy 4:12; 1 Peter 5:3. The idea of mould, which some give to it, is without an example in the New Testament.

   Our version is that of Castellio, in the meaning of which most critics agree. Grotius gives this paraphrase, “Obedistis ad eum modum quem doctrina evangelii præscribit — Ye became obedient to that rule which the doctrine of the gospel prescribes.” Wolfius quotes from Iamblichus, in his life of Pythagoras, passages in which τύπος is used for form, model, or manner, —”τὢς παιδεύσεως ὁ τύπος — the form of instruction;” and “τύπος διδασκαλίας — the form or manner of teaching.”

   The grammatical difficulty is best removed by Stuart, who considers τύπον to be for τυπω, the case being changed by the preceding pronoun, no uncommon thing in Greek: the literal rendering would then be, —”Ye have obeyed the form of doctrine, respecting which (or, in which, see Mark 5:34) ye have been instructed.” — Ed.
It seems indeed to me to denote the formed image or impress of that righteousness which Christ engraves on our hearts: and this corresponds with the prescribed rule of the law, according to which all our actions ought to be framed, so that they deviate not either to the right or to the left hand.

18. And having been made free from sin, etc. The meaning is, “It is unreasonable that any one, after having been made free, should continue in a state of bondage; for he ought to maintain the freedom which he has received: it is not then befitting, that you should be brought again under the dominion of sin, from which you have been set at liberty by Christ.” It is an argument derived from the efficient cause; another also follows, taken from the final cause, Ye have been liberated from the bondage of sin, that ye might pass into the kingdom of righteousness; it is hence right that you should wholly turn away from sin, and turn your minds wholly to righteousness, into the service of which you have been transferred.”

It must be observed, that no one can be a servant to righteousness except he is first liberated by the power and kindness of God from the tyranny of sin. So Christ himself testifies,

“If the Son shall free you, you shall be free indeed.”
(John 8:36.)

What are then our preparations by the power of free will, since the commencement of what is good proceeds from this manumission, which the grace of God alone effects?




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