WHAT SHALL WE SAY, THEN: "What shall we conclude?" (cp
usages, in Rom 3:5; 4:1; 6:1; 7:7; 8:31; 9:14,30).
SHALL WE GO ON SINNING SO THAT GRACE MAY INCREASE?:
This question is effectively answered in vv 2-14, and may be summarized: "No!
because 'dead men' don't sin!" The significance of baptism (a death and a
burial, as well as a resurrection) shows that continuing in sin is precluded.
The man of SIN died in the waters of baptism!
Augustine said that the doctrine of justification led to the
maxim, "Love God and do whatever you please." Because we have misunderstood one
of the gospel's most basic themes, Augustine's statement looks to many like a
license to indulge one's sinful nature, but in reality it touches upon the
motivation the Christian has for his actions. The person who has been justified
by God's grace has a new, higher, and nobler motivation for holiness than the
shallow, hypocritical self-righteousness or fear that seems to motivate so many
religious people today. The person who has truly been justified is truly PLEASED
to do the Father's will!
GO ON SINNING: "Continue" (AV), or "abide" in THE
sin... The Gr "epimeno" sig to abide in something, as in a house (cp Acts 10:48;
Phi 1:24) -- thus alluding to the "domain" or "kingdom" of the personified Power
of Sin (Rom 5:21...).
THAT GRACE MAY INCREASE: The philosophy of some in the
first century (sometimes called the "Antinomians", or those who were against
law) was that sins are automatically discharged by the operation of divine
grace. Today, the theory of "substitution" perpetuates the same fallacious idea.
But sins are in no way automatically forgiven; there must be a change in the
mind and life of the believer, a change which will render the whole idea of sin
BY NO MEANS: The AV has "God forbid!" -- although the
name of God does not appear. A very powerful exclamation: "Let it not be!" Paul
has already repudiated a similar suggestion in a somewhat different context (Rom
3:8). It is probable that in the past, as he taught justification, objections of
this sort were raised from time to time by those who feared that his teaching
opened the door to libertinism by encouraging indifference to the ethical
demands of the law. If so, his answer is not something recently developed, but
rather forged out in years of reflection under divine guidance.
WE DIED TO SIN: He does not say that sin is dead to the
believer (but that the believer is dead to sin). Rom 7 is a sufficient
refutation of the notion that the believer will never sin again! What Paul
presents here is not the impossibility of committing a single sin, but the
impossibility of continuing in a life dominated by sin.
LIVE IN IT ANY LONGER: Again, as in v 1, emphasizing
the point: "Sin" is not just a single act, or even several acts -- rather, it is
a dominion where a man or woman might choose to live! The believer can never
reach a place where he or she is free from even a single sinful act (and the
blessing is in knowing that such acts can be forgiven, if sincerely repented
of), but he or she must never choose to dwell or settle in a place where "King
Sin" rules, and where sinning makes no difference!
Under normal conditions, we all live in the place (sinful
nature) where sin is committed (see Rom 8:3), but in Christ we can make that
same place a "beachhead" of an invading force, and the sphere of righteousness
(see Rom 2:14,15; 8:13; 1Pe 2:24). In the normal state, we are dead in
trespasses and sins (Eph 2:15; Col 2:13; 1Ti 5:6), but in Christ we are called
to be conformable unto his death (Phi 3:10), by (a) crucifying the lusts of the
flesh that war against the demands of the Truth (Gal 5:24; Rom 8:13; Col 3:5;
Gal 2:19-21), and (b) living unto Christ (Col 3:3; 2:20; 2Ti 2:11). In like
manner, we may be spoken of as "citizens of heaven" (Phi 3:20), even whilst
living in this world!
BAPTIZED: The Greek sig to be dipped, as a garment
which is to be dyed, or a vessel to be submerged in water (Vine). Very clearly
this points to total immersion or submersion of an object in a liquid.
INTO HIS DEATH: The metaphor of baptism is clearly used
in a relational sense elsewhere, as in the case of the Israelites baptized into
Moses by reason of the crossing of the Red Sea (1Co 10:2). They became united to
him as never before, recognizing his leadership and their dependence on him.
Union with Christ means union with him in his death. It is significant that
although Jesus emphasized discipleship throughout his ministry, he did not speak
of union with himself till he was on the verge of going to the cross (John
Thus those who are baptized "into his death" become partakers
of that death, both as to its general purpose (the denial of sin's power) and
its specific intent (the basis for the forgiveness of sins). The death of Christ
was the final "sealing" of the life of self-sacrifice and repudiation of the
flesh that he had lived out for 33 years. His literal death upon the cross was
the final victory ("It is finished"). Our "death" in baptism is our physical
demonstration of what we intend to do, in the same principle, for the rest of
our lives, until the final victory is won in us as well (1Co 15:55). We must
figuratively "crucify the lusts and passions of the flesh" (Gal 5:24; Heb 9:22),
showing that we have left them behind in the "grave" of baptism.
"Baptism being the institution that affords scope for the
obedience of faith, and obedience to the faith, can only be Scripturally and
rightly observed by a true believer -- a believer of 'the truth as it is in
Jesus.' The religious use of water is of no efficacy to any other kind of
subject. No invention can supply the lack of an intelligent belief of the gospel
of the kingdom in the person to be baptized. He must be 'dead to sin,' that he
may be 'baptized into Christ's death,' who 'died for sin once;' for it is only
the dead, in this sense, who are released or freed from sin (Rom 6:1,3,10,7).
"The quantity of water is not sufficient if the subject cannot
be buried therein. In whatever place there are persons 'ordained for eternal
life,' sufficient water will always be found. The quantity required is indicated
by the word immersion, which is the English synonym for the Greek word
'baptisma'. 'We are buried with Christ,' says Paul, 'through the baptism into
the death' of Christ. The action of baptism is, therefore, a burial in water as
a sign of burial with Christ; which signified burial no one can be the subject
of who does not believe 'the things of the name of Jesus Christ.' The phrase
used by Christ in his conversation with Nicodemus, indicates the quantity of
water, and the action inseparable from baptism -- 'Except a man be born of water
and spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God.' To be born of anything is to
emerge from that thing in which the subject of birth had been previously
concealed. Hence, no one can be 'born of water' unless he had been covered with,
or put out of sight, in water. The action of baptism is, therefore, clearly a
burying in water, or immersion, and an emergence from it. This is a sign based
upon the burial of Christ crucified for our offences, and his resurrection for
our justification (Rom 4:25); and signifies that the subject, having Christ in
him by faith (Eph 3:17), is crucified, dead, buried and risen together with him,
to walk in newness of life" (Eur vol 3).
BURIED WITH HIM: Lit "together with him". Burial is the
"seal" of death; there can be no burial unless there is a death! The importance
of burial is that it attests the reality of death (1Co 15:3,4). It expresses
with finality the end of the old life governed by relationship with Adam. It
also expresses the impossibility of a new life apart from divine action.
Since, in the absolute sense, Christ's death was the only
perfect "death" to sin, we MUST die and be buried "together with him" to have
any part in what he has won! We cannot win it for ourselves! It may be truly
said that God will save only ONE man -- but that man will be a multitudinous
man! Our baptism, then, saves us -- but only by our identification with the
"baptism" of Christ (Mar 10:38) -- in which is comprehended his life, death to
sin, burial, and resurrection to a new life. Our real life, therefore, is
buried, or "hidden", with Christ (Col 3:3).
JUST AS CHRIST WAS RAISED UP FROM THE DEAD: "But God
raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was
impossible for death to keep its hold on him. David said about him: 'I saw the
Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in
hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy
One see decay" (Acts 2:24-27; cp Psa 16:8-11). Christ was cursed by the Law (Gal
3:13) and he thus became dead to that Law, putting to death also the lusts and
affections of the flesh within himself (Gal 5:24). The Law therefore had no hold
over him, having been discharged, and Yahweh was therefore just and righteous in
"raising" His Holy One from the dust, through His omnipotent creational power,
to become His firstborn from among the dead, the beginning of His new creation
(cp Col 1:15-18).
BY THE GLORY OF THE FATHER: Why should the resurrection
of Christ be described as accomplished "through the glory of the Father?" It is
because "glory" here has the meaning of power, as in the resurrection of Lazarus
The righteousness, or the glory of the Father, which was the
power of salvation (Rom 1:16,17), was manifested (Rom 3:25) in His Son, and esp
in his death to sin and his resurrection to glorified immortal life. Thus all
initiative and prerogative rested with the Father, and by HIS power was Jesus
brought forth to become the "firstborn" (cp 1Co 6:14; 2Co 13:4; Eph 1:20; Col
2:12). Yahweh is glorified when victory over sin and death is achieved (1Co
WE TOO MAY LIVE A NEW LIFE: The expression "to live a
new life" is literally (as the KJV) "to WALK in newness of life", the walk being
the evidence of the new type of life granted to the child of God.
Our newness of life is therefore paralleled with Christ's
resurrection, as our baptism is with his death. We commence with Christ the life
of a new creation (2Co 5:17), starting off as "new-born babes" (1Pe 2:2).
"Newness of life supposes newness of heart. Walking in
Scripture stands for the course and character of one's life, which must be new.
Walk by new rules, towards new ends, from new principles. Make new choices of
direction. Choose new paths to walk in, new leaders to walk after, new
companions to walk with. 'Old things should pass away, and all things become
new.' Such a person is something he formerly was not, does things he did not.
And this newness is to be alive to God through Christ. To converse with God, to
have a regard for Him, a delight in Him, a concern for Him: This is to be alive
to God. The love of God reigning in the heart is the life of the soul towards
God. Christ is our spiritual life; there is no living to God but through him --
through Christ as the Author and Maintainer of this life; through Christ as the
Head from whom we receive vital influence; through Christ as the Root by which
we derive sap and nourishment, and so live. In living to God, Christ is all in
UNITED: Gr "symphuto" = lit, "fused together", the idea
being of growing together, as perhaps two plants, or two trees, planted
together, and intertwining with one another as they grow. (For a like example,
but with a very different kind of result, see the parable of the wheat and the
tares: Mat 13:24-30,36-43.) The word may also suggest the grafting of one branch
into a different kind of tree -- as in Rom 11:17, etc: the believer has been
"grafted into" Christ.
LIKE THIS IN HIS DEATH: Or, "in the likeness of his
death". "Likeness" = Gr "homoioma": see Lesson, "Homoioma" (likeness).
"For if we have been united with him in a death like his [tou
homoiomati tou thanatou autou], we shall certainly be united in a resurrection
like his" (RSV). The question is: how does the believer "die" with Christ in
being baptized? Obviously, not literally. So, is it a moral and spiritual
"death" -- a death to an old way of life (Eph 4:22-24)? Yes, of course. Is it --
ALSO -- some kind of "legal" death... a crossing over from a "state" of death to
a "state" of life? This is what JT in Elpis Israel called the two
"constitutions": one of "sin" and the other of "righteousness" -- a change of
status in the sight of God. And yes, I think there is a sense in which this is
WE WILL CERTAINLY ALSO BE UNITED WITH HIM IN HIS
RESURRECTION: This could be true in two aspects: (1) rising up now, from the
waters of baptism, to walk in a new life (as in v 4; cp Eph 2:6; Col 2:12; 3:1),
and a new relationship with God; and (2) the future, literal resurrection to be
made into his "likeness", when he returns to this earth (as in 1Co 15). Although
the context in Rom 6 seems to be stressing the first, the one phase ought not to
be separated from the other: they naturally flow from the present to the future
reality: if we walk in a "new life" now, then we will walk in a "new (eternal)
FOR WE KNOW...: And if they all did know, then why did
Paul need to remind them? Because academic knowledge, tucked into the back of
our minds, may fail to find any practical application n our lives.
OUR OLD SELF WAS CRUCIFIED WITH HIM: There is a great
difference between realizing that "Christ was crucified for me", and realizing
that "I am crucified with Christ." The one aspect brings us deliverance from
sin's condemnation, the other from sin's power. Recognizing that we "have been
crucified with Christ" (Gal 2:20), we should, as Paul admonished in Rom 6:11,
consider ourselves "to be dead indeed to sin." We still have sinful tendencies
within, but having died to them, sin no longer has dominion over us. We die to
our selfish desires and pursuits. But believers must also think of themselves as
"alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom 6:11). We should do those things
that please Him.
In some sense, then, the old man has been crucified; in
another sense he may still claim attention. Since "man" has been used of Adam
(Rom 5:12,17,19), it is possible that what has been crucified with Christ is our
place in Adam, our position in the old creation, which is under the sway of sin
and death. For the Christian, the old is gone; he belongs to the new creation
order (2Co 5:17). Yet the old order seeks to dominate the believer, as Eph 4:22
implies and experience confirms. Though the seeming inconsistency between that
passage and this is not easy to resolve, it may be that in his letter to the
Ephesians Paul, while presupposing the supplanting of the old Adam, is desirous
of exhorting his readers to refuse to live in terms of the old man and instead
to live deliberately and consciously in the reality of the new creation. It is
necessary to distinguish between the old creation -- namely, our inheritance
from Adam -- and our old nature, or the flesh. The latter still persists in the
life of the redeemed and can become a prey to the operation of sin unless
countered by the powerful influence of the new life in Christ.
THE BODY OF SIN: The physical body, which is prone to
sin -- as was that of Jesus Christ himself (Rom 8:3; 2Co 5:21). Or, more esp,
the word "soma" may sig a "slave" -- in the sense that a slave was considered to
have no rights of its own, but to be a mere "body" to be bought and sold. In
Christ, the believer has been freed from his "slavery" to King Sin -- he is no
longer a "body" or a "slave" at all!
DONE AWAY WITH: Or "rendered powerless" (NIV mg). Gr
"katargeo" = to make inactive. We are not called upon literally to destroy this
body, but to render its ungodly lusts inoperative.
THAT WE SHOULD NO LONGER BE SLAVES TO SIN: That we
should no longer be in servitude to "King Sin". How can one serve habitually a
DEAD "master" -- that is, IF he is really dead?
Years ago when slavery was officially abolished in Jamaica,
some of the slaves in the remote areas did not know of their freedom. Years
after their release had been announced they still continued to serve their
masters, oblivious to the fact that they were legally free. Their owners kept
the news from the slaves as long as possible, hoping to extract every ounce of
work from their captives. The slaves would not have had to put up with their
drudgery -- except for their ignorance of the facts.
Two things are happening here: the sinner is now DEAD to his
sin, AND the "sin" ("King Sin", the old master) has been put to death also! And
the redeemed sinner has been raised up from the dead to live a new life, but
"King Sin" has been buried with no hope of a new life.
In Christ, Law, sin and death have no longer any claims over
the individual; he is no longer their "debtor" (Rom 8:12).
IF WE DIED WITH CHRIST: Lit, "dead together with
Christ". Ref the old man of the flesh (Col 3:3; Rom 6:11).
WE WILL ALSO LIVE WITH HIM: "Eternal life" must be
lived, NOW, in "newness of life" (v 4), of it is to be lived in the future, in a
new and glorified body: "When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also
will appear with him in glory" (Col 3:4).
A cardinal principal of the atonement: Christ was justified
from all power of sin and death, and therefore "Death" has no more claim upon
him. It was important for Paul to emphasize this truth, for the believer must
have full confidence that the captain of his salvation will never again come
under the power of sin and death. If he lacks that assurance, the teaching about
union with Christ will be of little help to him.
HE CANNOT DIE AGAIN: "I am the Living One; I was dead,
and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades"
HE DIED TO SIN: Though bearing a sinful nature (Rom
8:3), he never committed sin, and thus he condemned "sin" "in the flesh" -- that
is, in his own flesh.
ONCE FOR ALL: The AV has, simply, "once", but the Gr
(ephapax) means, literally and emphatically, "once for all"! Once, being all
that is required, and having perpetual validity. Unlike the High Priest who on
the Day of Atonement offered up every year two sacrifices -- one for himself and
one for the people he represented -- Christ made ONE sacrifice when he offered
up himself ONCE (Heb 7:27). That offering was both for himself AND for all
mankind, of whom he was the representative. "And by that will, we have been made
holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Heb 10:10;
cp Heb 9:12,26).
HE LIVES TO GOD: This contrasts with "died to sin".
Having gained the victory over the power of King Sin in his resurrection, 'by
the glory of the Father", Christ now lives eternally in the service of his
Father "as a priest FOREVER after the order of Melchizedek" (Heb 7:21-24).
COUNT: "Reckon" or "consider": the sw used often in Rom
DEAD TO SIN BUT ALIVE TO GOD: In the same way that
Christ "lives to God" (v 10) must we also live, being "brought from death to
life" (v 13). God assumes total sovereignty over the believer, who has been
"bought with a price" (1Co 6:20).
IN CHRIST JESUS: Christ, the "head" (Col 1:18), is the
medium by which we live to God: " I have been crucified with Christ and I no
longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by
faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal 2:20; cp Phi
DO NOT LET SIN REIGN IN YOUR MORTAL BODY: Paul
continues the allegory of Rom 5: the two federal heads. 'Do not let "Adam", or
"King Sin", exercise kingly power (Gr "basileuo") dominion in your natural
body.' "Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why,
as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules?" (Col
OBEY: The word has as its root idea "listening" or
"heeding." If the body is kept mortified, it will have no ear for the subtle
suggestions of evil.
ITS EVIL DESIRES: Cp Gal 5:24; Rom 7:5; Gal 5:16; Rom
8:13; 13:14; Eph 2:3; 4:22; 1Pe 1:14.
DO NOT OFFER: The word "yield" (AV) (Gr "paristemi")
means to place near for one's service (as a soldier), or to present oneself to
assist (as to a king). Sw Mat 26:53: "Do you think I cannot call on my Father,
and he will at once PUT AT MY DISPOSAL more than twelve legions of
THE PARTS OF YOUR BODY: Lit, "members" (Gr "melos"), or
"limbs", but by extension any part of the body, including its faculties, that is
capable of performing an action.
INSTRUMENTS: Gr "hoplon" sig arms or weapons --
continuing the allegory of the "soldier" (cf Rom 13:12; 2Co 6:7). 'Do not enlist
in King Sin's army!'
BUT RATHER OFFER YOURSELVES TO GOD: But it is of course
RIGHT AND PROPER to enlist in God's spiritual "army": Eph 6:13-17.
SIN SHALL NOT BE YOUR MASTER: Or "shall not lord it
over you." Cf v 12; 1Co 15:55-57.
YOU ARE NOT UNDER LAW, BUT UNDER GRACE: See Rom
5:20,21n; cp also Rom 6:15; 7:4; Gal 3:23. Divine grace, which is empowered by
mercy, gains the victory over condemnation -- which is energized by Law -- the
strength of King Sin.
Why should law be injected here? Surely because under law sin
increases (Rom 5:20; cf 1Co 15:56). The inference is that law lords it over its
subjects. It condemns and brings them into virtual slavery. It faces them with
their guilt and uses that guilt as a manacle to keep them in helpless
subjection. But under grace there is liberty to live in accord with a higher
principle -- the resurrection life of the Lord himself.
UNDER GRACE: "It is worthy of attention that Christians
are said to be UNDER grace. Usually grace indicates a principle of divine
operation, a moving out in kindness and love to lift the sinful and unworthy to
God. Occasionally it is used of the sphere of the believer's life of privilege
(Rom 5:2). But here in Rom 6:14 it appears as a disciplinary power, in line with
the apostle's effort to show that grace is not license (Rom 6:1...). Somewhat
parallel is the word of Jesus to the weary and burdened, promising rest, but
followed up with mention of his yoke (Mat 11:28-30). Related also is Paul's
reminder that God's grace has appeared for the salvation of all, TRAINING us to
live sober, upright, and godly lives (see Tit 2:11,12)" (EBC).
WHAT THEN?: That is, 'What do we now
SHALL WE SIN BECAUSE WE ARE NOT UNDER LAW BUT UNDER
GRACE?: The first question, in v 1, related to the general dominion and
constitution of "Sin" -- where the believer should NOT live or reside! This
question, in v 15, goes even further: no only should the believer not RESIDE
when "Sin" rules, but neither should he even contemplate the SINGLE ACT of sin!
This question is answered in vv 16-23, which may be
summarized: "No! because we have changed allegiances: we no longer serve the old
king 'Sin'; now we serve the new king -- Christ and righteousness!"
BY NO MEANS: "God forbid" (KJV) or "Let it not be!"
Examples of personification: riches (Mat 6:24); sin (Joh 8:34;
Rom 5:21; 6:16); spirit (Joh 16:13); wisdom (Pro 3:13-15; 9:1); Israel (Jer
31:4,18); people of Christ (Eph 4:4,13; 5:23; Rev 19:7; 1Co 12:27; 2Co 11:2; Col
DON'T YOU KNOW?: Of course they did. But Paul is
appealing to his readers to examine a deep ethical truth as a rule for life with
which they were not unfamiliar (cf expressions in Rom 6:3; 7:1; 1Co 3:16;
SLAVES: Gr "doulos" mean, literally, slaves (see Rom
1:1n). This kind of servitude gave the master an absolute right over his slave,
which was -- strictly speaking -- his property (cp Luk 17:9; Joh 8:34;
SLAVES TO SIN, WHICH LEADS TO DEATH: Anticipating v 23.
Cp also John 8:34: "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to
OR TO OBEDIENCE, WHICH LEADS TO RIGHTEOUSNESS: Whereas
"sin" will automatically lead to "death" (as above), "obedience" will not
automatically lead to "life" -- since no man, except Christ, can be or has been
perfectly obedient. But "obedience" WILL lead to an imputed righteousness, for
those who in faith follow Christ.
YOU USED TO BE SLAVES TO SIN: You were once
"bond-servants" under the dominion of "King Sin"...
YOU WHOLEHEARTEDLY OBEYED: "From the heart" (cp Rom
10:10) you have obeyed." The "heart" here indicates the inward understanding
(Rom 1:21; Mat 13:15), conscience (Acts 2:37), perception (Eph 4:18), reasoning
(Mar 2:6y), and faith (Mar 11:23; Heb 3:12).
THE FORM OF DOCTRINE: "Form" is "tupos", a pattern or
mold -- "a cast or frame into which molten material is poured so as to take its
shape" (Vine). Bible "doctrine" or "teaching" is not an intellectual exercise;
it is a means for the practical molding of character.
The "marketplace" or "agora" metaphor of Paul: "But thanks be
to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the
form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin
and have become slaves to righteousness" (Rom 6:17,18). Here "sin" is
personified: "Sin" becomes the great ruler to whom all the world gives
allegiance -- a slave-owner who owns all men. "I am unspiritual, sold as a slave
to sin" (Rom 7:14). In this metaphor Paul is recalling the words of Jesus:
"Everyone who sins is a slave to sin" (Joh 8:34).
The figure of speech may be heightened as we imagine an
eastern "agora" or bazaar -- this marketplace was the meeting place of the
ancient world; it was the center of commerce, entertainment, and social
intercourse; it was the source of news and opinions. And always there was the
slave-market, with its auction block. Approach that site in our minds, and the
brutality, the callousness, and the fear wash over us. We imagine the smells and
the sounds with revulsion -- and our memories are stirred in like manner as when
we see the old newsreels of Auschwitz... for our modern times have also seen
their own particularly ugly forms of slavery.
Here, at the auction block, we see women destined to be slaves
to the basest passions of men. And men, doomed to lifelong drudgery to satisfy
the greed of their fellow men. Here are wasted, broken lives, dashed hopes,
families soon to be torn apart forever.
The slave-market: parable of our world; fleshly, carnal,
unspiritual -- and sold as slaves to sin. Everyone who sins is a slave to sin. I
sin; therefore I am a slave!
Into this scene comes a man who is obviously apart from
others. Striding up to me, he speaks forcefully: "I have bought you; come,
follow me." There are no chains, no threats, no blows -- just a simple command.
And I follow him.
Right behind him, I walk through the milling and clamorous
crowds, and then through the winding streets of the city, until we come to a
beautiful house. "Here is where I live," my new master tells me. "And here is
your room." It is lovely and wonderfully furnished. Never have I seen such a
luxurious dwelling, and this will be my home!
The master excuses himself, but soon he is back. He has
brought water, and he kneels to wash MY feet! I should be washing his feet! And
he has brought me a new expensive garment. I can throw away my slave's rags; I
won't need them any more. With healing oil he soothes the cruel wounds inflicted
by my previous owner; and I know that they will never hurt again.
"Now you are as I am," he says; "you are no longer a slave.
This is my Father's house, and you are one of His sons!"
A lifetime of fear and hate is washed away, miraculously, and
in its place is the cry of a heart set free: "Because you are sons, God sent the
Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, 'Abba, Father.' So
you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you
also an heir" (Gal 4:6,7).
Redemption from the slave-market was a concept that would
particularly appeal to Paul's converts, so many of whom were themselves slaves
(Tit 2:9,10). They might not be able to hope for redemption from their mortal
bondage, but they could rejoice in being redeemed from sin: "He who was a slave
when he was called by the Lord is the Lord's freedman" (1Co 7:22). And they
could live accordingly. In their hearts and minds they were already free from
the worst slave-master. And soon their bodies would follow, and they would be
truly and absolutely free!
I PUT THIS IN HUMAN TERMS: Cp Rom 3:5; Gal 3:15. It
appears that Paul is restating his case in the simplest possible terms, and
departing from the analogy of the previous verses.
WEAK IN YOUR NATURAL SELVES: Cf Rom 15:1; 1Co 2:14;
IMPURITY AND EVER-INCREASING WICKEDNESS: There is a
development here: "impurity" is a general unclean moral condition; this leads to
the practice of sin... which in turns leads on, to more and more sinning. An
ever-descending spiral -- unless its power is broken.
RIGHTEOUSNESS LEADING TO HOLINESS: And, by contrast,
here is the ever-ascending spiral: "righteousness" is the state in which the
believer is placed through the redeeming work of the Lord Jesus Christ; this
leads to a desire on the part of the one redeemed to serve his new master -- so
that, step by step, he develops, with the help of Christ, an ever-increasing
THE THINGS YOU ARE NOW ASHAMED OF: The "unfruitful"
works of "darkness" (Eph 5:11). The pleasures of sin "for (only) a season" (Heb
11:25). "Such were some of you" (1Co 6:11). There is absolutely no "harvest"
from this direction -- in contrast to v 22: "the benefit you REAP"!
THOSE THINGS RESULT IN DEATH: Their "end" (Gr "telos":
the final issue, or the end of a process) is death.
V 23: In a fitting conclusion, Paul puts (a) God (and
His mastery) over against sin, (b) gift over against wages, and (c) eternal life
over against death. He crowns it all with the acknowledgment that the mediation
of Christ Jesus our Lord accounts for the shift from the one camp to the other.
WAGES: The Gr "opsonia" means provision for one's
living expenses. In this case "King Sin" turns out to be a wretched paymaster,
promising life but meting out death. Also, since in practice wages are paid not
in a lump sum but regularly and periodically, death is not to be regarded merely
as the final payment, but as that which already casts its dark shadow over life,
a portent of the deeper darkness to come. Finally "opsonia" being a legal term,
in contrast to "gift" (Gr "charisma"), there is here a further pitting of law
over against grace. Man has "rights" only in relation to sin, and that is the
"right" to die as a consequence. But when he throws himself on God without any
claim of "rights", he may receive salvation!
GIFT: A gift is contrasted with wages. Wages may be
"earned", but a gift cannot be earned, for it rests entirely on the unmerited
favor of the benefactor. Eternal life will be the great, unearned gift of the
King of Grace: "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased
to give you the kingdom" (Luk 12:32).
IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD: Christ is God's mercy seat
(Rom 3:25), the only meeting place between God and man. "I am the way and the
truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6; cp
2Co 5:19; 1Ti 2:4,5).
Sin is represented as a king, a mighty monarch, a tyrannical
prince; sinners are his subjects and vassals, his servants and soldiers, who
fight under him, and for him, and all the wages they must expect from him is
death. The word "wages" means "the hire of armies", or the wages of soldiers for
a whole year, so that it denotes wages that are due, and paid after a campaign
is ended, and the service is over; and suggests, that when men have been all
their days in the service of sin, and have fought under the banners of it, the
wages they will earn, and the just reward, and correct payment that will be
given them, will be death. King Sin has never been known to default on a payment
yet. On the other hand, the "free gift" of God is eternal life through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Both the wages and the gift are eternal -- but the "gift" of
God is just that -- it cannot be earned -- it can only be accepted by living
through the very one who by his righteous life overcame and did away with King