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A Commentary On Romans Chapter 6

by Daniel Keeran, MSW


A Commentary On Romans Chapter 6
by Daniel Keeran, MSW
Canada

Some take the view that Romans 6 is describing baptism in the Holy Spirit. Although the
spiritual nature of baptism cannot be denied, the lack of mention of the Spirit, leads to the
necessary conclusion that baptism in the Holy Spirit is not the intended subject of this chapter
(see verse 13).
1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?

The writer raises a shocking question to imply that someone may think grace is a
license to commit sin and that God’s grace will increase to simply forgive sins.
2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

He then argues for the remainder of the chapter, that the Christian has chosen to put an
end to the practice of sin (defined by the law of which the teaching of and about Christ is
a fulfillment).
3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into
his death?

The phrase “don’t you know” means the following words were common knowledge in
the Christian community at Rome and central to the true gospel preached by Paul.
Baptism is both a personal choice and God’s power placing one into Christ and his
death where one’s own sins were transferred to Christ in his execution. In 1 Peter 2:24,
the identical thought of personal choice and God’s performance, is described. “He
himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for
righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”
4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as
Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new
life.

The author describes baptism as the time when one chooses and God performs our
burial with Christ (see identical language in Colossians 2:12) into the ending of life, the
old self ruled by sin, and the raising of one from old life to new life.

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5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united
with him in a resurrection like his.

The immersion is a death and resurrection like his in which God unites one to
Christ. The term “if” makes baptism a condition of being resurrected with him.
6 Forwe know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might
be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—

The sinful self was crucified with Christ in baptism, but one must choose this path while
God performs our crucifixion. Our obligation is to choose not to sin.
7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

God has set one free from sin in baptism (see also Acts 2:38 and 22:16), and one has
also chosen not to sin, thereby putting an end to sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

This putting to death of sin, as a choice and as a performance of God, gives rise to the
hope of eternal life with God.
9 Forwe know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no
longer has mastery over him.

The death of Christ is the path to eternal life.


10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

The atonement, the death of Christ for our sins, was a single event in which all benefit,
and his life is forever devoted to God.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

This death to sin is the commitment made by the one who is baptized, and it is also
performed by God who gives life.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.

Because of one’s commitment made in baptism, one must continually reject the choice
to sin.

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13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer
yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every
part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.

This is the subject of chapter 6 and the command of Paul to the readers, in view of their
new life from death in sin, occurring in baptism (see also Colossians 2:12-13). The
readers must choose to give up every sin.
14 Forsin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under
grace.

Because the choice to sin as defined by the Law, is no longer chosen, sin is no longer
directing one’s life, and undeserved divine favour has come to forgive sins.
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no
means!

The author raises the same question again that he raised in verses one and two. But his
emphasis is to refuse the choice to sin, because one has made a commitment to
holiness in baptism.
16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you
are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or
to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

Whether or not to choose sin, is the challenge directed to the reader.


17 Butthanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to
obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance.

Baptism as a personal pledge to give up sin, is the pattern of teaching: a choice to obey.
18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

The author defines reality as one’s being set free from sin, by choice and by the
performance of God (also see Acts 2:38 and 22:16).
19 I
am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as
you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness,
so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.

The idea of sin and doing what is right as a choice, is underscored.

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20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.

The author continues the slave metaphor to underscore sin or righteousness as a


choice.
21 Whatbenefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?
Those things result in death!

The choice to commit sin results in death.


22 Butnow that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the
benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.

The author reiterates “you have been” that one is set free from sin by the performance
of God in baptism (see Acts 2:38 and 22:16) and the choice to be a slave of God results
in holiness and eternal life.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our
Lord.

If one chooses sin, the result is death; eternal life in Christ is the performance of God.
Baptism is “into Christ” in verse 3 (see also Romans 6:3 above and Galatians 3:26-27),
where eternal life is found.

After exhorting the reader to choose holiness, the author tells us in chapter 7, the choice
to do right is doomed to failure, then he begins chapter 8 by reassuring the reader, yet it
remains a choice to walk according to the Spirit: “There is therefore now no
condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh,
but according to the Spirit.”

This rocking between “doing right is impossible” and the encouragement to “live by the
Spirit,” may be intended to motivate the reader to choose the latter, much as one would
rock a car to move forward from being stuck in a rut.

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