Romans 6

CHAPTER VI.

We must not abuse the boundless goodness of God by continuing

in sin, under the wicked persuasion that the more we sin the

more the grace of God will abound, 1.

For, having been baptized into Christ, we have professed thereby

to be dead to sin, 2-4.

And to be planted in the likeness of his resurrection, 5.

For we profess to be crucified with him, to die and rise again

from the dead, 6-11.

We should not, therefore, let sin reign in our bodies, but live

to the glory of God, 12-14.

The Gospel makes no provision for living in sin, any more than

the law did; and those who commit sin are the slaves of sin,

15-19.

The degrading and afflictive service of sin, and its wages

eternal death; the blessed effects of the grace of God in the

heart, of which eternal life is the fruit, 20-23.

NOTES ON CHAP. VI.

The apostle, having proved that salvation, both to Jew and

Gentile, must come through the Messiah, and be received by faith

only, proceeds in this chapter to show the obligations under which

both were laid to live a holy life, and the means and advantages

they enjoyed for that purpose. This he does, not only as a thing

highly and indispensably necessary in itself-for without holiness

none can see the Lord-but to confute a calumny which appears to

have been gaining considerable ground even at that time, viz. that

the doctrine of justification by faith alone, through the grace of

Christ Jesus, rendered obedience to the moral law useless; and

that the more evil a man did, the more the grace of God would

abound to him, in his redemption from that evil. That this

calumny was then propagated we learn from Ro 3:8; and the apostle

defends himself against it in the 31st verse of the same,

Ro 3:31 by asserting, that his doctrine, far from making void

the law, served to establish it. But in this and the two

following chapters he takes up the subject in a regular, formal

manner; and shows both Jews and Gentiles that the principles of

the Christian religion absolutely require a holy heart and a holy

life, and make the amplest provisions for both.

Verse 1. Shall we continue in sin] It is very likely that

these were the words of a believing Gentile, who-having as yet

received but little instruction, for he is but just brought out of

his heathen state to believe in Christ Jesus-might imagine, from

the manner in which God had magnified his mercy, in blotting out

his sin on his simply believing on Christ, that, supposing he even

gave way to the evil propensities of his own heart, his

transgressions could do him no hurt now that he was in the favour

of God. And we need not wonder that a Gentile, just emerging from

the deepest darkness, might entertain such thoughts as these; when

we find that eighteen centuries after this, persons have appeared

in the most Christian countries of Europe, not merely asking such

a question, but defending the doctrine with all their might; and

asserting in the most unqualified manner, "that believers were

under no obligation to keep the moral law of God; that Christ had

kept it for them; that his keeping it was imputed to them; and

that God, who had exacted it from Him, who was their surety and

representative, would not exact it from them, forasmuch as it

would be injustice to require two payments for one debt." These

are the Antinomians who once flourished in this land, and whose

race is not yet utterly extinct.

Verse 2. God forbid] μηγενοιτο, Let it not be; by no means;

far from it; let not such a thing be mentioned!-Any of these is

the meaning of the Greek phrase, which is a strong expression of

surprise and disapprobation: and is not properly rendered by our

God forbid! for, though this may express the same thing, yet it is

not proper to make the sacred NAME SO familiar on such occasions.

How shall we, that are dead to sin] The phraseology of this

verse is common among Hebrews, Greeks, and Latins. To DIE to a

thing or person, is to have nothing to do with it or him; to

be totally separated from them: and to live to a thing or person

is to be wholly given up to them; to have the most intimate

connection with them. So Plautus, Clitell. iii. 1, 16: Nihil

mecum tibi, MORTUUS TIBI SUM. I have nothing to do with thee; I

am DEAD to thee. Persa, i. 1, 20: Mihi quidem tu jam MORTUUS

ERAS, quia te non visitavi. Thou wast DEAD to me because I

visited thee not. So AElian, Var. Hist. iii. 13: οτι

φιλοινοτατονεθνοςτοτωνταπυρωντοσουτονωστεζηναυτουςεν

οινωκαιτοπλειστοντουβιουεντηπροςαυτονομιλια

καταναλισκειν. "The Tapyrians are such lovers of wine, that they

LIVE in wine; and the principal part of their LIFE is DEVOTED to

it." They live to wine; they are insatiable drunkards. See more

examples in Wetstein and Rosenmuller.

Verse 3. Know ye not, &c.] Every man who believes the

Christian religion, and receives baptism as the proof that he

believes it, and has taken up the profession of it, is bound

thereby to a life of righteousness. To be baptized into Christ,

is to receive the doctrine of Christ crucified, and to receive

baptism as a proof of the genuineness of that faith, and the

obligation to live according to its precepts.

Baptized into his death?] That, as Jesus Christ in his

crucifixion died completely, so that no spark of the natural or

animal life remained in his body, so those who profess his religion

should be so completely separated and saved from sin, that they

have no more connection with it, nor any more influence from it,

than a dead man has with or from his departed spirit.

Verse 4. We are buried with him by baptism into death] It is

probable that the apostle here alludes to the mode of

administering baptism by immersion, the whole body being put under

the water, which seemed to say, the man is drowned, is dead; and,

when he came up out of the water, he seemed to have a resurrection

to life; the man is risen again; he is alive! He was, therefore,

supposed to throw off his old Gentile state as he threw off his

clothes, and to assume a new character, as the baptized generally

put on new or fresh garments. I say it is probable that the

apostle alludes to this mode of immersion; but it is not

absolutely certain that he does so, as some do imagine; for, in

the next verse, our being incorporated into Christ by baptism is

also denoted by our being planted, or rather, grafted together in

the likeness of his death; and Noah's ark floating upon the water,

and sprinkled by the rain from heaven, is a figure corresponding

to baptism, 1Pe 3:20, 21; but neither of these gives us the same

idea of the outward form as burying. We must be careful,

therefore, not to lay too much stress on such circumstances.

Drowning among the ancients was considered the most noble kind of

death; some think that the apostle may allude to this. The grand

point is, that this baptism represents our death to sin, and our

obligation to walk in newness of life: without which, of what use

can it or any other rite be?

Raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father] From this

we learn, that as it required the glory of the Father, that is,

his glorious energy, to raise up from the grave tho dead body of

Christ, so it requires the same glorious energy to quicken the

dead soul of a sinner, and enable him to walk in newness of life.

Verse 5. For if we have been planted together] συμφυτοι

γεγοναμεν. Dr. Taylor observes, that our translation does not

completely express the apostle's meaning. τασυμφυτα are such

plants as grow, the one upon and in the other, deriving sap and

nourishment from it, as the mistletoe upon the oak, or the scion

upon the stock in which it is grafted. He would therefore

translate the words: For if we have been growers together with

Christ in the likeness of his death, (or in that which is like his

death,) we shall be also growers together with him in the likeness

of his resurrection; or in that which is like his resurrection.

He reckons it a beautiful metaphor, taken from grafting, or making

the scion grow together with a new stock.

But if we take the word planted in its usual sense, we shall

find it to be a metaphor as beautiful and as expressive as the

former. When the seed or plant is inserted in the ground, it

derives from that ground all its nourishment, and all those juices

by which it becomes developed; by which it increases in size,

grows firm, strong, and vigorous; and puts forth its leaves,

blossoms, and fruit. The death of Jesus Christ is represented as

the cause whence his fruitfulness, as the author of eternal

salvation to mankind is derived; and genuine believers in him are

represented as being planted in his death, and growing out of it;

deriving their growth, vigour, firmness, beauty, and fruitfulness

from it. In a word, it is by his death that Jesus Christ redeems

a lost world; and it is from that vicarious death that believers

derive that pardon and holiness which makes them so happy in

themselves, and so useful to others. This sacrificial death is

the soil in which they are planted; and from which they derive

their life, fruitfulness, and their final glory.

Verse 6. Our old man is crucified with him] This seems to be

a farther extension of the same metaphor. When a seed is planted

in the earth, it appears as if the whole body of it perished. All

seeds, as they are commonly termed, are composed of two parts; the

germ, which contains the rudiments of the future plant; and the

lobes, or body of the seed, which by their decomposition in the

ground, become the first nourishment to the extremely fine and

delicate roots of the embryo plant, and support it till it is

capable of deriving grosser nourishment from the common soil. The

body dies that the germ may live. Parables cannot go on all

fours; and in metaphors or figures, there is always some one (or

more) remarkable property by which the doctrine intended is

illustrated. To apply this to the purpose in hand: how is the

principle of life which Jesus Christ has implanted in us to be

brought into full effect, vigour, and usefulness? By the

destruction of the body of sin, our old man, our wicked, corrupt,

and fleshly self, is to be crucified; to be as truly slain as

Christ was crucified; that our souls may as truly be raised from a

death of sin to a life of righteousness, as the body of Christ was

raised from the grave, and afterwards ascended to the right hand

of God. But how does this part of the metaphor apply to Jesus

Christ? Plainly and forcibly. Jesus Christ took on him a body; a

body in the likeness of sinful flesh, Ro 8:3; and gave up that

body to death; through which death alone an atonement was made for

sin, and the way laid open for the vivifying Spirit, to have the

fullest access to, and the most powerful operation in, the human

heart. Here, the body of Christ dies that he may be a quickening

Spirit to mankind. Our body of sin is destroyed by this

quickening Spirit, that henceforth we should live unto Him who

died and rose again. Thus the metaphor, in all its leading

senses, is complete, and applies most forcibly to the subject in

question. We find that παλαιοςανθρωπος, the old man, used here,

and in Eph 4:22, and Col 3:9,

is the same as the flesh with its affections and lusts, Ga 5:24;

and the body of the sins of the flesh, Col 2:11; and the very

same which the Jewish writers term , Adam hakkadmoni,

the old Adam; and which they interpret by yetsar hara,

"evil concupiscence," the same which we mean by indwelling sin, or

the infection of our nature, in consequence of the fall. From all

which we may learn that the design of God is to counterwork and

destroy the very spirit and soul of sin, that we shall no longer

serve it, δουλευειν, no longer be its slaves. Nor shall it any

more be capable of performing its essential functions than a dead

body can perform the functions of natural life.

Verse 7. He that is dead is freed from sin.] δεδικαιωται,

literally, is justified from sin; or, is freed or delivered from

it. Does not this simply mean, that the man who has received

Christ Jesus by faith, and has been, through believing, made a

partaker of the Holy Spirit, has had his old man, all his evil

propensities destroyed; so that he is not only justified freely

from all sin, but wholly sanctified unto God? The context shows

that this is the meaning. Every instance of violence is done to

the whole scope and design of the apostle, by the opinion, that

"this text is a proof that believers are not fully saved from sin

in this life, because only he that is dead is freed from sin."

Then death is his justifier and deliverer! Base and abominable

insinuation, highly derogatory to the glory of Christ! Dr. Dodd,

in his note on the preceding verse, after some inefficient

criticism on the word καταργηθη, destroyed, which, he thinks,

should be rendered enervated, has the following most unevangelical

sentiment: "The body of sin in believers is, indeed, an enfeebled,

conquered, and deposed tyrant, and the stroke of death finishes

its destruction." So then, the death of Christ and the influences

of the Holy Spirit were only sufficient to depose and enfeeble the

tyrant sin; but OUR death must come in to effect his total

destruction! Thus our death is, at least partially, our Saviour;

and thus, that which was an effect of sin (for sin entered into

the world, and death by sin) becomes the means of finally

destroying it! That is, the effect of a cause can become so

powerful, as to react upon that cause and produce its

annihilation! The divinity and philosophy of this sentiment are

equally absurd. It is the blood of Christ alone that cleanses

from all unrighteousness; and the sanctification of a believer is

no more dependent on death than his justification. If it he said,

"that believers do not cease from sin till they die;" I have only

to say, they are such believers as do not make a proper use of

their faith; and what can be said more of the whole herd of

transgressors and infidels? They cease to sin, when they cease to

breathe. If the Christian religion bring no other privileges than

this to its upright followers, well may we ask, wherein doth the

wise man differ from the fool, for they have both one end? But

the whole Gospel teaches a contrary doctrine.

Verse 8. Now if we be dead with Christ] According to what is

stated in the preceding verses. See particularly on the 5th

verse. Ro 6:5

Verse 9. Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more] So

we, believing in Christ Jesus, and having a death unto sin, and a

life unto righteousness, should sin no more. If we be risen

indeed with Christ, we should seek the things above, and set our

affections on things above, and not on the earth. The man who

walks in humble, loving obedience, to an indwelling Christ, sin

has no more dominion over his soul than death has over the

immortal and glorified body of his Redeemer.

Verse 10. He died unto sin once] On this clause Rosenmuller

speaks thus: "τηαμαρτιααπεθανενεφαπαξ. propter peccatum mortuus

est semel, et quidem misera morte. τηαμαρτια, i.e. επερτης

αμαρτιας, ad expianda peccata; res ipsa docet aliter homines

αποθνησκειντηαμαρτια, aliter Christum: amat Paulus

parallelismum, in quo interpretando multa cautione opus est." "He

died unto sin once: i.e. he died on account of sin, and truly a

miserable death. τηαμαρτια, is the same as υπερτηςαμαρτιας,

for the expiation of sin. Common sense teaches us that men die to

sin in one sense; Christ in another: St. Paul loves

parallelisms, in the interpretation of which there is need of much

caution." From the whole scope of the apostle's discourse it is

plain that he considers the death of Christ as a death or

sacrifice for sin; a sin-offering: in this sense no man has ever

died for sin, or ever can die.

Verse 11. Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead] Die as truly

unto sin, as he died for sin. Live as truly unto God, as he

lives with God. This seems to be the spirit of the apostle's

meaning.

Verse 12. Let not sin therefore reign] This is a

prosopopoeia, or personification. Sin is represented as a king,

ruler, or tyrant, who has the desires of the mind and the

members of the body under his control so that by influencing the

passions he governs the body. Do not let sin reign, do not let

him work; that is, let him have no place, no being in your souls;

because, wherever he is he governs, less or more: and indeed sin

is not sin without this. How is sin known? By evil influences in

the mind, and evil acts in the life. But do not these influences

and these acts prove his dominion? Certainly, the very existence

of an evil thought to which passion or appetite attaches itself,

is a proof that there sin has dominion; for without dominion such

passions could not be excited. Wherever sin is felt, there sin

has dominion; for sin is sin only as it works in action or

passion against God. Sin cannot be a quiescent thing: if it do

not work it does not exist.

That ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.] αυτηενταις

επιθυμιαιςαυτου. This clause is wanting in the most ancient and

reputable MSS. and in the principal versions. Griesbach has left

it out of his text; and Professor White says, Certissime delenda:

"These words should certainly he expunged" they are not necessary

to the apostle's argument; it was enough to say, Let not sin reign

in your mortal bodies, that ye should obey it. If it be there it

will reign there; and its reign supposes, necessarily, the

subjection of that in which it reigns. A king reigns when his

laws are enforced, and the people obey them. When there is no

executive government there is no reign. There may be a royal

shadow there, but there is no king.

Verse 13. Neither yield ye your members] Do not yield to

temptation. It is no sin to be tempted, the sin lies in yielding.

While the sin exists only in Satan's solicitation, it is the

devil's sin, not ours: when we yield, we make the devil's sin our

own: then we ENTER INTO temptation. Resist the devil, and he

will flee from you. Satan himself cannot force you to sin: till

he wins over your will, he cannot bring you into subjection. You

may be tempted; but yield not to the temptation.

Yield yourselves unto God] Let God have your wills; keep them

ever on his side; there they are safe, and there they will be

active. Satan cannot force the will, and God will not. Indeed it

would cease to be will were it forced by either: it is essential

to its being that it be free.

And your members as instruments, &c.] Let soul and body be

employed in the service of your Maker; let him have your hearts;

and with them, your heads, your hands, your feet. Think and

devise what is pure; speak what is true, and to the use of

edifying; work that which is just and good; and walk steadily in

the way that leads to everlasting felicity. Be holy within and

holy without.

Verse 14. Sin shall not have dominion over you] God delivers

you from it; and if you again become subject to it, it will be the

effect of your own choice or negligence.

Ye are not under the law] That law which exacts obedience,

without giving power to obey; that condemns every transgression

and every unholy thought without providing for the extirpation of

evil or the pardon of sin.

But under grace.] Ye are under the merciful and beneficent

dispensation of the Gospel, that, although it requires the

strictest conformity to the will of God, affords sufficient power

to be thus conformed; and, in the death of Christ, has provided

pardon for all that is past, and grace to help in every time of

need.

Verse 15. Shall we sin because we are not under the law]

Shall we abuse our high and holy calling because we are not under

that law which makes no provision for pardon, but are under that

Gospel which has opened the fountain to wash away all sin and

defilement? Shall we sin because grace abounds? Shall we do evil

that good may come of it? This be far from us!

Verse 16. To whom ye yield yourselves] Can you suppose that

you should continue to be the servants of Christ if ye give way to

sin? Is he not the master who exacts the service, and to whom

the service is performed? Sin is the service of Satan;

righteousness the service of Christ. If ye sin ye are the

servants of Satan, and not the servants of God.

The word δουλος, which we translate servant, properly signifies

slave; and a slave among the Greeks and Romans was considered as

his master's property, and he might dispose of him as he pleased.

Under a bad master, the lot of the slave was most oppressive and

dreadful; his ease and comfort were never consulted; he was

treated worse than a beast; and, in many cases, his life hung on

the mere caprice of the master. This state is the state of every

poor, miserable sinner; he is the slave of Satan, and his own evil

lusts and appetites are his most cruel task-masters. The same

word is applied to the servants of Christ, the more forcibly to

show that they are their Master's property; and that, as he is

infinitely good and benevolent, therefore his service must be

perfect freedom. Indeed, he exacts no obedience from them which

he does not turn to their eternal advantage; for this master has

no self-interest to secure. See Clarke on Ro 1:1.

Verse 17. But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of

sin] This verse should be read thus: But thanks be to God that,

although ye were the servants of sin, nevertheless ye have obeyed

from the heart that form of doctrine that was delivered unto you;

or, that mould of teaching into which ye were cast. The apostle

does not thank God that they were sinners; but that, although they

were such, they had now received and obeyed the Gospel. The

Hebrew phrase, Isa 12:1, is exactly the same as that of the

apostle here: In that day thou shalt say, I will praise thee, for

thou wast angry with me: that is, although thou wast angry with

me, thou hast turned away thy wrath, &c.

That form of doctrine] τυπονδιδαχης; here Christianity is

represented under the notion of a mould, or die, into which they

were cast, and from which they took the impression of its

excellence. The figure upon this die is the image of God,

righteousness and true holiness, which was stamped on their souls

in believing the Gospel and receiving the Holy Ghost. The words

ειςονπαρεδοθητετυπον refer to the melting of metal; which,

when it is liquified, is cast into the mould, that it may receive

the impression that is sunk or cut in the mould; and therefore the

words may be literally translated, into which mould of doctrine ye

have been cast. They were melted down under the preaching of the

word, and then were capable of receiving the stamp of its purity.

Verse 18. Being then made free from sin] ελευθερωθεντες is a

term that refers to the manumission of a slave. They were

redeemed from the slavery of sin, and became the servants of

righteousness. Here is another prosopopoeia: both sin and

righteousness are personified: sin can enjoin no good and

profitable work; righteousness can require none that is unjust or

injurious.

Verse 19. I speak after the manner of men] This phrase is

often used by the Greek writers to signify what was easy to be

comprehended; what was ad captum vulgi, level with common

understandings, delivered in a popular style; what was different

from the high flights of the poets, and the studied sublime

obscurity of the philosophers.

Because of the infirmity of your flesh] As if he had said: I

make use of metaphors and figures connected with well-known

natural things; with your trades and situation in life; because of

your inexperience in heavenly things, of which ye are only just

beginning to know the nature and the names.

Servants to uncleanness, &c.] These different expressions show

how deeply immersed in and enslaved by sin these Gentiles were

before their conversion to Christianity. Several of the

particulars are given in the first chapter of this epistle.

Verse 20. Ye were free from righteousness.] These two

servitudes are incompatible; if we cannot serve God and Mammon,

surely we cannot serve Christ and Satan. We must be either

sinners or saints; God's servants or the devil's slaves. It

cannot be as a good mistaken man has endeavoured to sing:-

"To good and evil equal bent,

I'm both a devil and a saint."

I know not whether it be possible to paint the utter prevalence

of sin in stronger colours than the apostle does here, by saying

they were FREE from righteousness. It seems tantamount to that

expression in Genesis, Ge 6:5, where, speaking of the total

degeneracy of the human race, the writer says, Every imagination

of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. They were

all corrupt; they were altogether abominable: there was none that

did good; no, not one.

Verse 21. What fruit had ye then in those things] God designs

that every man shall reap benefit by his service. What benefit

have ye derived from the service of sin?

Whereof ye are now ashamed?] Ye blush to remember your former

life. It was scandalous to yourselves, injurious to others, and

highly provoking to God.

The end of those things is death.] Whatever sin may promise of

pleasure or advantage, the end to which it necessarily tends is

the destruction of body and soul.

Verse 22. But now being made free from sin] As being free

from righteousness is the finished character of a sinner, so

being made free from sin is the finished character of a genuine

Christian.

And become servants to God] They were transferred from the

service of one master to that of another: they were freed from the

slavery of sin, and engaged in the service of God.

Fruit unto holiness] Holiness of heart was the principle; and

righteousness of life the fruit.

Verse 23. For the wages of sin is death] The second death,

everlasting perdition. Every sinner earns this by long, sore, and

painful service. O! what pains do men take to get to hell! Early

and late they toil at sin; and would not Divine justice be in

their debt, if it did not pay them their due wages?

But the gift of God is eternal life] A man may MERIT hell, but

he cannot MERIT heaven. The apostle does not say that the wages

of righteousness is eternal life: no, but that this eternal life,

even to the righteous, is τοχαρισματουθεου, THE gracious GIFT

of GOD. And even this gracious gift comes through Jesus Christ

our Lord. He alone has procured it; and it is given to all those

who find redemption in his blood. A sinner goes to hell because

he deserves it; a righteous man goes to heaven because Christ has

died for him, and communicated that grace by which his sin is

pardoned and his soul made holy. The word οψωνια, which we here

render wages, signified the daily pay of a Roman soldier. So

every sinner has a daily pay, and this pay is death; he has misery

because he sins. Sin constitutes hell; the sinner has a hell in

his own bosom; all is confusion and disorder where God does not

reign: every indulgence of sinful passions increases the disorder,

and consequently the misery of a sinner. If men were as much in

earnest to get their souls saved as they are to prepare them for

perdition, heaven would be highly peopled, and devils would be

their own companions. And will not the living lay this to heart?

1. IN the preceding chapter we see the connection that subsists

between the doctrines of the Gospel and the practice of

Christianity. A doctrine is a teaching, instruction, or

information concerning some truth that is to be believed, as

essential to our salvation. But all teaching that comes from God,

necessarily leads to him. That Christ died for our sins and rose

again for our justification, is a glorious doctrine of the Gospel.

But this is of no use to him who does not die to sin, rise in the

likeness of his resurrection, and walk in newness of life: this is

the use that should be made of the doctrine. Every doctrine has

its use, and the use of it consists in the practice founded on it.

We hear there is a free pardon-we go to God and receive it; we

hear that we may be made holy-we apply for the sanctifying Spirit;

we hear there is a heaven of glory, into which the righteous alone

shall enter-we watch and pray, believe, love, and obey, in order

that, when he doth appear, we may be found of him in peace,

without spot and blameless. Those are the doctrines; these are

the uses or practice founded on those doctrines.

2. It is strange that there should be found a person believing

the whole Gospel system, and yet living in sin! SALVATION FROM

SIN is the long-continued sound, as it is the spirit and design,

of the Gospel. Our Christian name, our baptismal covenant, our

profession of faith in Christ, and avowed belief in his word, all

call us to this: can it be said that we have any louder calls than

these? Our self-interest, as it respects the happiness of a godly

life, and the glories of eternal blessedness; the pains and

wretchedness of a life of sin, leading to the worm that never dies

and the fire that is not quenched; second most powerfully the

above calls. Reader, lay these things to heart, and: answer this

question to God; How shall I escape, if I neglect so great

salvation? And then, as thy conscience shall answer, let thy mind

and thy hands begin to act.

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