Setting

The truth that where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, could leave the false impression that God’s free gift of justification encourages sinning. Through the voice of the interlocutor, Paul immediately states this possible objection to the gospel and answers it by showing how the life of a believer is decidedly cut off from sin and completely dedicated to righteousness.

Key Verse

(6:4 NKJV)

Did You Know...?

  1. In this passage, Paul uses a few Greek compound words with the meaning of “together” when speaking of the believer’s union with Christ: “buried together” (v. 4); “united together” (v. 5); “crucified together” (v. 6); and “live together” (v. 8).
  2. Likeness (6:5): In the New Testament, this word means the copy of an object and often denotes a physical representation (e.g. Rom 1:23; 5:14; 8:3; Php 2:7; Rev 9:7).

 

Outline

  • Union with Christ in His His Death and Resurrection
    (6:1-11)
  • Being Slaves of Righteousness
    (6:12-23)

General Analysis

  • 1.

    Note that the recurring theme of death and life runs through the entire passage. What is Paul’s message behind this theme?

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    1. We who have been baptized into Christ were baptized into His death (6:3, 4, 5, 8). Our old self has been crucified with Christ (6:6). Like Him, we have also died to sin and been set free from sin (6:7, 10, 11). For us to continue to live in sin is out of the question (6:1). Similarly, just as Christ was raised from the dead and lives to God, we are to walk in newness of life and consider ourselves alive to God in Christ Jesus (6:4, 10, 11). We ought to present ourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life (6:13).

    2. Obedience to sin leads to death (6:16, 21), and the wages of sin is death (6:23). But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (6:23). Now that we are under grace, we must not let sin reign in our mortal body (6:12, 15). As slaves of God, we are to be obedient to God, leading to sanctification and eternal life (6:16, 18, 22).

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  • 2.

    Likewise, what important point does Paul make through the repeated use of the analogy of lordship and slavery?

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    Our baptism into Christ marked the change of our ownership. We were once slaves of sin (6:6, 17, 20), presenting our members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness (6:19). Through baptism into Christ’s death, we have been set free from sin (6:6–7). Just as Christ died to sin and death no longer has dominion over Him (6:9), we are not to let sin reign in our mortal body, to make us obey its passions (6:12). Sin will have no dominion over us (6:14). Whereas we used to be slaves of sin, we have become slaves of righteousness and slaves of God (6:18, 22). Therefore, we are to present our members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification and eternal life (6:19, 22).

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Segment Analysis

  • 6:1–11

    1.

    How is union with Christ central to this segment?

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    In response to the rhetorical question about whether Christians are free to live in sin because they have been justified freely, Paul cites our union with Christ to give a definitive answer. In baptism we have been buried with Christ, united with Christ, and crucified with Christ (6:3–6). We have died with Christ (6:8). Therefore, we no longer have any part with sin, and sin can longer claim its power over us. Not only have we united with Christ in His death, we will be united with Him in His resurrection and live with Him (6:5, 8). Christ was raised from the dead and will never die again, sin no longer has dominion over Him (6:4, 9). The life He lives He lives to God (6:10). In like manner, we who have been joined to the resurrection and life of Christ are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (6:11). We are to walk in newness of life (6:4).

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  • 2.

    What do we learn from this segment about: a. The necessity of baptism? b. The effect of baptism? c. The form of baptism? d. Christian life after baptism?

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    a. The necessity of baptism:
    We may infer from this passage that every believer is baptized into Christ Jesus. If baptism were optional and merely symbolic, then Paul would not have used it as the basis of his appeal that the baptized believer is no longer subject to sin’s dominion. His words “all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death” (6:2) imply that his readers in Rome had all been baptized.

    b. The effect of baptism?
    We are buried with Christ by baptism into death (6:4). Baptism is a spiritual burial (Col 2:12) through which we are united with Christ in a death like His and our old self is crucified with Him (Rom 6:5–6). Through baptism, Christ washes and cleanses us of our sins (Acts 22:16, 2:38; Col 2:13; cf. Eph 5:26). In baptism we are also raised with Christ through faith (Col 2:12; Rom 6:4).

    c. The form of baptism?
    While the Bible speaks in highly figurative language here, let us bear in mind that baptism has its physical dimensions and therefore must involve a certain form that symbolizes the spiritual reality behind it. Rom 6:5 tells us that we have been united with Christ in the likeness of His death. As can be seen in the rest of the New Testament, the word “likeness” often refers to some physical representation. On the one hand, our death to sin through baptism is like the death of Christ to sin. This is a likeness in the spiritual sense. On the other hand, since baptism is a physical representation of our union with Christ, the form of baptism should also be in the likeness of Jesus’ death. The only description of Jesus’ physical form of death in the Bible is found in John 19:30, where we learn that Jesus deliberately bowed His head on the cross before giving up His spirit. Therefore, in the True Jesus Church, recipients of baptism are baptized with their heads bowed in the likeness of Jesus’ death.

    d. Christian life after baptism?
    We have received a new life through baptism. Therefore we are not under the dominion of sin anymore. Instead, we must consider ourselves dead to sin and imitate Christ by living a new life to God (6:4, 6–11).

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  • 3.

    Why is the command word “consider” so important (v. 11)? How does it help make a difference in how we live our lives as Christians?

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    The Greek word for “consider” in verse 11 means “count” or “reckon.” The same word is used where the Bible says that it was counted to Abraham as righteousness (Rom 4:3, 5). To consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God is to fully accept and acknowledge the fact that sin no longer has dominion over us. Having a clear perspective and conviction about our new identity is the first step to a holy living and commitment to serving God.

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  • 6:12–23

    4.

    How is the previous segment related to this segment?

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    The previous segment serves as the basis upon which the exhortations in the present segment are built. In the previous segment, the Bible teaches us about how we are to view ourselves as dead to sin but alive to God, since we have been united with Christ in His death through baptism. In this segment, Paul goes a step further and commands us regarding how we are to live out that understanding of our identity.

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  • 5.

    What do these commands mean to you in practical terms? a. “Do not let (sin) reign” (v. 12); b. “Do not present your members” and “present your members” (v. 13):

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    a. “Do not let (sin) reign” (v. 12)

    b. “Do not present your members” and “present your members” (v. 13)

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  • 6.

    Why does a believer not have any excuse to keep sinning?

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    As people who have been set free from sin, we cannot use the excuse that sin is too powerful for us and that we have no choice. The commands in this passage imply that we as believers have the ability to carry them out. Saying no to sin is not without its struggles, but in Christ we have been enabled to overcome it.

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  • 7.

    How are we not under law but under grace (v. 14)?

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    To be under law means to be subject to the law and its power (Gal 3:23; Rom 7:5–6). As Paul stated in the preceding passages, the law is not meant to be the means of justification. Instead, it makes us aware of sin and accountable to God (Rom 3:19–20; 5:13) Not only so, sin seizes an opportunity afforded by the law to obey sinful desires (Rom 7:7–11). In the present context, to be under the law also means to stand condemned before God (cf. Rom 4:15).

    As believers, we are not under law but under grace because we have been justified freely through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Rom 3:23–25). Through union with Christ we have also been set free from sin so that we may live to God (Rom 6:3–11).

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  • 8.

    What is “the standard of teaching” to which we have been committed (v. 17)?

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    The word “committed” in verse 17 is also translated “delivered” elsewhere, and it connotes authority in handing over someone or something. The apostles faithfully delivered to the believers the teachings they had received from Christ, and every believer was expected to follow them (cf. 1 Cor 15:1–3; 2 Jn 9–10; Acts 2:42; Jude 3). These teachings include our faith in the incarnation, death, resurrection, and salvation of Jesus Christ. They also encompass guidelines for godly living which Paul sometimes calls “sound doctrines” (cf. 1Thess 4:1–8; 1 Tim 6:3–21; Tit 2:1–15).

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  • 9a.

    Is obedience contrary to freedom?

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    The freedom that the Bible alludes to is not the freedom to do as we wish, but the freedom from sin (Rom 6:7, 22). A person who continues to sin is a slave to sin (Jn 8:34). Sin dominates his thoughts and actions. He may seem to be free to indulge in his desires, but he is in fact enslaved to sin. On the contrary, we who have been united with Christ in His death are no longer bound by sin. That does not mean, however, that we are free to do as we wish. According to the current passage, a person may only be enslaved to sin or enslaved to God. After we have been set free from sin, we are to obey God in holy and righteous living. While to the world this may not seem like freedom, it is actually true freedom, resulting in eternal life.

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  • 9b.

    Why is obedience so important for a Christian?

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    Obedience to God is the mark of our faith in Jesus Christ (cf. Lk 6:46). Hence Paul mentions at the beginning and end of his epistle “the obedience of faith” as the goal of the gospel (Rom 1:5; 16:26). To be justified freely by faith is to become a slave of God. Having been bought with a price, we are no longer our own. Instead, we must live in obedience to God and glorify Him in our body (1 Cor 6:19–20).

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  • 6:12–23

    10.

    How do you consider yourself a slave of righteousness in your daily life?

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  • 11.

    What are the respective consequences of being a slave to sin and being a slave to righteousness (vv. 21, 22)?

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    Death versus eternal life.

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  • 12.

    How is this segment a source of encouragement?

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    By the grace of God we have died to sin and are set free from its grips. Out of His great love for us the Lord Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself to deliver us from our sins. We are not left to our own struggles. We have been given the ability to live righteous lives, which leads to eternal life. Although we will have moments of weakness, this passage gives us the hope and confidence that we can declare victory over sin.

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  • 13.

    The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (v. 23). Based on what we have learned in Romans so far, how do we receive this gift of God?

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    God’s free gift of justification is given to those who believe (Rom 3:23, 26). Like Abraham, we need to believe God who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead (Rom 4:16, 24). We must accept the atoning sacrifice of Christ, who justifies us by His blood and saves us from God’s wrath (Rom 5:6–11). Our faith in God and in Jesus Christ is not merely a mental consent but is translated into a life of obedience to God. We who have been united with Christ in His death through baptism have died to sin. To continue to live in sin is no longer an option for us (Rom 6:1–14). Instead, as a living expression of our faith in Christ and union with Him, we should live holy and righteous lives (Rom 6:15–22).

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