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Dying and Rising with Christ


What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7For whoever has died is freed from sin. 8But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. 14For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Slaves of Righteousness

15 What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, 18and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.

20 When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. 22But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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?

19. I speak what is human, etc. He says that he speaks after the manner of men, not as to the substance but as to the manner. So Christ says, in John 3:12, that he announced earthly things, while yet he spoke of heavenly mysteries, though not so magnificently as the dignity of the things required, because he accommodated himself to the capacities of a people ignorant and simple. And thus the Apostle says, by way of preface, that he might more fully show how gross and wicked is the calumny, when it is imagined, that the freedom obtained by Christ gives liberty to sin. He reminds the faithful at the same time, that nothing is more unreasonable, nay, base and disgraceful, than that the spiritual grace of Christ should have less influence over them than earthly freedom; as though he had said, “I might, by comparing sin and righteousness, show how much more ardently ye ought to be led to render obedience to the latter, than to serve the former; but from regard to your infirmity I omit this comparison: nevertheless, though I treat you with great indulgence, I may yet surely make this just demand — that you should not at least obey righteousness more coldly or negligently than you served sin.” It is a sort of reticence or silence, a withholding of something when we wish more to be understood than what we express. He does yet exhort them to render obedience to righteousness with so much more diligence, as that which they served is more worthy than sin, though he seems not to require this in so many words. 198198     The phrase is taken differently: Ανθρώπινον λέγω “I speak what is human,” that is, what is proportionable to man’s strength, says Chrysostom — what is done and known in common life, as in Galatians 3:15, or, what is moderate, says Hammond — what is level to man’s understanding, says Vatablus The first proposed by Hammond is the meaning most suitable here; for the Apostle had previously used reasons and arguments, and sacred similitudes; but he comes now to what is known in common life among men, the connection between masters and servants, and he did this in condescension to their weakness, which he calls the weakness of the flesh, that is, the weakness of which flesh, the depravity of nature, was the cause; it was weakness arising from the flesh. — Ed.

As ye have presented, etc.; that is, “As ye were formerly ready with all your faculties to serve sin, it is hence sufficiently evident how wretchedly enslaved and bound did your depravity hold you to itself: now then ye ought to be equally prompt and ready to execute the commands of God; let not your activity in doing good be now less than it was formerly in doing evil.” He does not indeed observe the same order in the antithesis, by adapting different parts to each other, as he does in 1 Thessalonians 4:7, where he sets uncleanness in opposition to holiness; but the meaning is still evident.

He mentions first two kinds — uncleanness and iniquity; the former of which is opposed to chastity and holiness, the other refers to injuries hurtful to our neighbour. But he repeats iniquity twice, and in a different sense: by the first he means plunders, frauds, perjuries, and every kind of wrong; by the second, the universal corruption of life, as though he had said, “Ye have prostituted your members so as to perpetrate all wicked works, and thus the kingdom of iniquity became strong in you” 199199     The different clauses of this verse have been a knotty point to all commentators. Probably the Apostle did not intend to keep up a regular course of antithesis, the subject not admitting of this; because the progress of evil and the progress of its remedy may be different, and it seems to be so in the present case. Sin is innate and inward, and its character, as here represented, is vileness and iniquity, and it breaks out into acts of iniquity: he does not repeat the other character, vileness; but when he comes to the contrast he mentions holiness, and does not add what is antithetic to iniquity. This is a striking instance of the elliptical style of the Apostle. It is not neglect or carelessness, but no doubt an intentional omission; it being the character of his mode of writing, which he had in common with the ancient Prophets.
   Then comes the word “righteousness,” which I am disposed to think is that which all along has been spoken of, the righteousness of faith; this is not innate, not inward, but which comes from without, and is apprehended by faith, by which sins are forgiven, and God’s favor obtained; and they who become the servants of this are to cultivate holiness both inward and outward; they ought to present all their members, that is, all their faculties, to the service of this master, so that they may become holy in all manner of conversation.

   But if this idea of righteousness be disapproved of, we may still account for the apparent irregularity in the construction of the passage. It is an instance of an inverted order, many examples of which are found even in this Epistle. He begins with “uncleanness,” he ends with “holiness,” and then the intervening words which are in contrast correspond, “iniquity” and “righteousness.” Here is also an inversion in the meaning; “uncleanness” is the principle, and “holiness” is the action; while “iniquity” is the action, and “righteousness” is the principle. If this view is right, we have here a singular instance of the inverted parallelism, both as to words and meaning. — Ed.
By righteousness I understand the law or the rule of a holy life, the design of which is sanctification, as the case is when the faithful devote themselves to serve God in purity.

20. For when ye were, etc. He still repeats the difference, which he had before mentioned, between the yoke of righteousness and that of sin; for these two things, sin and righteousness, are so contrary, that he who devotes himself to the one, necessarily departs from the other. And he thus represents both, that by viewing them apart we may see more clearly what is to be expected from each; for to set things thus apart enables us to understand better their distinctive character. He then sets sin on one side, and righteousness on the other; and having stated this distinction, he afterwards shows what results from each of them.

Let us then remember that the Apostle still reasons on the principle of contraries, and in this manner, “While ye were the servants of sin, ye were freed from righteousness; but now a change having taken place, it behoves you to serve righteousness; for you have been liberated from the yoke of sin. He calls those free from righteousness who are held by no bridle to obey righteousness. This is the liberty of the flesh, which so frees us from obedience to God, that it makes us slaves to the devil. Wretched then and accursed is this liberty, which with unbridled or rather mad frenzy, leads us exultingly to our destruction.

21. What fruit, then, etc. He could not more strikingly express what he intended than by appealing to their conscience, and by confessing shame as it were in their person. Indeed the godly, as soon as they begin to be illuminated by the Spirit of Christ and the preaching of the gospel, do freely acknowledge their past life, which they have lived without Christ, to have been worthy of condemnation; and so far are they from endeavouring to excuse it, that, on the contrary, they feel ashamed of themselves. Yea, further, they call to mind the remembrance of their own disgrace, that being thus ashamed, they may more truly and more readily be humbled before God.

Nor is what he says insignificant, Of which ye are now ashamed; for he intimates that we are possessed with extreme blind love for ourselves, when we are involved in the darkness of our sins, and think not that there is so much filth in us. The light of the Lord alone can open our eyes to behold the filthiness which lies hid in our flesh. He only then is imbued with the principles of Christian philosophy, who has well learnt to be really displeased with himself, and to be confounded with shame for his own wretchedness. He shows at last still more plainly from what was to follow, how much they ought to have been ashamed, that is, when they came to understand that they had been standing on the very precipice of death, and had been nigh destruction; yea, that they would have already entered the gates of death, had they not been reclaimed by God’s mercy.

22. Ye have your fruit unto holiness, etc. As he had before mentioned a twofold end of sin, so he does now as to righteousness. Sin in this life brings the torments of an accusing conscience, and in the next eternal death. We now gather the fruit of righteousness, even holiness; we hope in future to gain eternal life. These things, unless we are beyond measure stupid, ought to generate in our minds a hatred and horror of sin, and also a love and desire for righteousness. Some render τελος, “tribute” or reward, and not “end,” but not, as I think, according to the meaning of the Apostle; for though it is true that we bear the punishment of death on account of sin, yet this word is not suitable to the other clause, to which it is applied by Paul, inasmuch as life cannot be said to be the tribute or reward of righteousness.

23. For the wages of sin, etc. There are those who think that, Paul, by comparing death to allowances of meat, (obsoniis,) points out in a disparaging manner the kind of wretched reward that is allotted to sinners, as this word is taken by the Greeks sometimes for portions allowed to soldiers. But he seems rather indirectly to condemn the blind appetites of those who are ruinously allured by the enticements of sin, as the fish are by the hook. It will however be more simple to render the word “wages,” for surely death is a sufficiently ample reward to the wicked. This verse is a conclusion to the former, and as it were an epilogue to it. He does not, however, in vain repeat the same thing again; but by doubling the terror, he intended to render sin an object of still greater hatred.

But the gift of God. They are mistaken who thus render the sentence, “Eternal life is the gift of God,” as though eternal life were the subject, and the gift of God the predicate; for this does not preserve the contrast. But as he has already taught us, that sin produces nothing but death; so now he subjoins, that this gift of God, even our justification and sanctification, brings to us the happiness of eternal life. Or, if you prefer, it may be thus stated, — “As the cause of death is sin, so righteousness, which we obtain through Christ, restores to us eternal life.”

It may however be hence inferred with certainty, that our salvation is altogether through the grace and mere beneficence of God. He might indeed have used other words — that the wages of righteousness is eternal life; and then the two clauses would correspond: but he knew that it is through God’s gift we obtain it, and not through our own merits; and that it is not one or a single gift; for being clothed with the righteousness of the Son, we are reconciled to God, and we are by the power of the Spirit renewed unto holiness. And he adds, in Christ Jesus, and for this reason, that he might call us away from every conceit respecting our own worthiness.

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