Dying and Living with Christ.
SUMMARY.--Death by Sin. Burial with Christ. Rising to a New Life. Those Dead not under the Dominion of Sin. Hence, Consecrated to a New Life. Once the Servants of Sin, but after Baptism the Servants of Jesus Christ. The Wages of Sin. The Gift of God.
1, 2. Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? In the last chapter the apostle has shown that the existence of sin called out the grace of God in forgiveness. Now the objection is raised. If that is so, why not continue in sin so that God's grace would more abound? 2. God forbid. The answer is emphatic. The thought is abhorrent, and the thing impossible from the very nature of the Christian life. The Christian life begins with a death to sin. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? The Revision says, Who died to sin. That is correct. The Greek verb is in the past tense. A fact is referred to that occurred in the past. Death is a separation. When we severed our relation with sin, we died to it. If we have cut loose from it, how can we continue in it?
3-5. So many of us as were baptized into Christ, etc. The fact that every follower of Christ has died to sin is shown by his baptism. All its symbolism points to death. To be baptized into Christ means to enter into a vital union with him, so as to be found in him ( Gal. 3:27 ). But this baptism into Christ implies death, for it is a baptism into the death of Christ. That the subjects of baptism are partakers of his death is shown by the form of baptism. It is a burial. 4. We are buried (Revision) through baptism into death. The argument is that a burial implies death. Baptism is a burial, therefore its subject has died. As Christ died through sin, we die to sin; as the Crucified Christ was buried, we who have died to sin through the gospel are buried with him. As death and burial separate from the natural life, so death to sin and burial into Christ should completely sever our relation to sin. That like as Christ was raised up from the dead. The glorious power of the Father lifted up Christ from the tomb. So we, too, rise from the watery burial, with death and burial between us and the old life of sin, in order to walk in newness of life. "This passage cannot be understood unless it is borne in mind that the primitive baptism was by immersion."--Conybeare and Howson. "That the custom of baptism by immersion is alluded to is generally admitted, but the emersion is as significant as the immersion."--Dr. Philip Schaff. "It seems to us very probable that the apostle alludes to the external form of the baptismal rite in the primitive church."--Godet. "The apostle alludes to the ancient manner of baptizing by immersion."--John Wesley. 5. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death. As the seed, planted, buried out of sight, rises again in a new life, so we are planted in the likeness of Christ's death when we are buried in baptism, and rise in the likeness of his resurrection, when we are lifted out of the water, and are found henceforth to have a new life. Compare Col. 2:12 : "Buried by baptism, wherein ye are also risen with him."
6-14. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him. The cross of Christ slew our old sinful nature. The gospel was the power that moved us to trample it down, separate from it, and cling to Christ. When this old nature was crucified, we died to sin. Compare Eph. 4:22 Col. 3:9 . That the body of sin. Sin is conceived of as a living power, with an organism, reigning over us through out bodily members. Our death to sin destroys this dominion. 7. For he that is dead is freed from sin. When a slave died he was freed from his master's service; so when one has died to sin, he is no longer the slave of sin, and is freed from his service. His power over the bodily members should be destroyed. 8. Now if we be dead with Christ, etc. This fact has been established. We have been baptized into his death, and are partakers of it. Then, having died with him, we who have risen with him from the symbolical burial to a new life, shall also live with him. 9. This is certain because, Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more. He now lives eternally, and we who are in him, having shared his death, must share his eternal life. 10. He died unto sin once. Once for all. It laid hands on him and slew him, but henceforth it has nought to do with him. He liveth unto God. Here on earth his godly life was troubled by the contradiction of sinners, but now he lives in holy union with God. 11. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead, etc. So the Christian, buried and risen with Christ, must be like Christ in life, dead to sin, but living a godly life through Christ. 12. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body. This must not be, and cannot be, if we are really dead to sin. The body must be mortal, and subject to death, but it must not be subject to sin. 13. Neither yield ye your members. The organs and appetites of the body must not be turned over to sin to use as instruments of unrighteousness. These have all been consecrated to God, by our rising to a new life, and we, as alive with the divine life, living to God, should use them all as instruments of righteousness unto God; i. e., as means of glorifying him and doing his will. 14. For sin shall not have dominion over you. Hence, has no right to the use of our bodily members. We are dead to sin. Are not under the law, but under grace. Paul has shown that law revealed sin. Where law exists, and the sinful nature remains, sin will continually manifest itself. But we are under grace. Our sins were forgiven on the ground that we have died to sin, been buried and risen with Christ. Hence, unless we trample all this under foot, there is no room for the dominion of sin.
15-23. Shall we sin, because we are not under law, but under grace? This is the old question referred to in verse 1 . The caviller in Paul's time, as well as in our time, objected that grace, forgiveness of sin, was an encouragement to sin. Paul shows, with much emphasis, that this is a false charge, since grace, forgiveness, implied that the sinner had died to sin. It is those who have been freed from the dominion of sin who are delivered from its penalties. 16. Know ye not? This is utterly impossible, as they will see if they will remember one principle. His servants ye are to whom ye obey. If we obey sin, we are sin's servants, under his reign, and will receive, not grace, but sin's wages, which is death; or, on the other hand, if we obey Christ, we are his servants, and enjoy his righteousness. None enjoy this blessedness but those who turn from sin and obey Christ. 17. But God be thanked. Not that they have been sinners, but that, having been sinners, they had become obedient to Christ. Obeyed from the heart. No outward obedience is of the slightest value unless the heart turns to God. The form of doctrine. Macknight paraphrases this: "I thank God, that although you were formerly the slaves of sin, ye have willingly obeyed the mould of doctrine into which ye were cast at baptism." Others, Chrysostom for example, says it refers "to Christian teaching as a type of holy living." The nature of Paul's argument, and the fact that it is founded on the significance of baptism, makes Macknight's explanation probable. 18. Being made free from sin. When we died to sin, and were buried into Christ ( verse 3 ). Hence, being no longer sin's servants, we become servants of righteousness. 19. I speak after the manner of men. Use figures taken from human relations, those of master and slave. At that time slavery existed everywhere. Because of the infirmity of your flesh. Because of infirmity of understanding due to the flesh. For as. As they had been servants of sin in its various forms, uncleanness, and iniquity unto iniquity (working out iniquity), so now being freed from that service, let them serve righteousness unto holiness, with the result of showing forth holy lives. 20. Were free from righteousness. While servants of sin they did not serve righteousness at all. 21. What fruit had ye then? Men ought to seriously ask this question. What fruit do the shameful practices of sin bring us? Only shame and death. The end is death. That is, the inevitable outcome, eternal death. 22. But now being made free from sin. Now being freed from the bondage of sin, sin should not be served at all, because they have become servants of God. He has the right to their full service. The fruit borne should be holiness, holy lives. The end everlasting life. The result of the service of sin is death ( verse 21 ); but that of the service of God is everlasting life. 23. The wages of sin. Sin is a master of his servants and pays wages. The wages is death, one of the saddest, but profoundest truths of the world. But the gift of God. God gives to those who turn from sin, life eternal. It is his gracious gift, conditioned on refusing to be the servant of sin longer, and is through Christ.