Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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ROMANS - Chapter 6

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Romans 6

Supplemental Commentary:

I.  DOCTRINAL:
THE GOSPEL THE POWER OF GOD FOR THE SALVATION OF ALL WHO BELIEVE  
1, 18 -- 11, 36 (continued)

4.  Justification and the Christian Life  6, 1 -- 8, 39

St. Paul now turns to the exercise of justice in the Christian life.  A man, though justified, must yet struggle against sin.  In this struggle the Law is of no service.  Success can be had only through grace.  He concludes with a description of the eminent effects of grace in the soul.

6, 1-11:  Christians Dead to Sin.    1.  An objection.  Cf. 3, 1-8.  Continue in sin: probably the inclination to evil remaining even after the remission of original sin.  Grace: God's generous goodness and mercy which lead Him to pardon sin.  Some Christians may have thought that since grace was abundant they need no longer worry about sinning.    2.  Its negative answer.  Dead to sin: as the soul is separated from the body in physical death.

3.  Here begins a more positive answer.  Baptized into Christ Jesus: incorporated in Christ, so intimately united to Him that we died mystically to sin as He died really on the cross to satisfy for sin.  Through Baptism this incorporation in Christ's Mystical Body is effected.  Cf. note to text.    4.  Through the glory of the Father: through His power.  So we may also walk: to be clothed with Christ (Gal. 3, 27); it is no longer we that live, but Christ lives in us (Gal. 2, 20).    5.  United with him: the term is used of things that grow together, as of plants.  The Latin can mean, "planted together with him."  The term united can be retained if understood of a very close union.  By Baptism we are made one with Christ in His death; we should be one with Him also in the new life we enjoy.  Many have understood we shall be as referring to the resurrection to glory.

6.  Our old self: man with his evil inclinations and unruly passions.  The body of sin: the body subject to sin, serving sin by yielding to evil inclinations.  Slaves to sin: personifies sin.    7.  As a slave by death is removed from the dominion of his master, so the body, through mystical death in Baptism is released from servitude to sin.    8.  Live together with Christ: in the present context this means more probably a virtuous Christian life in this world; though the future resurrection to glory, as the complement of the life of grace, is not excluded.    10.  He died to sin: He voluntarily undertook to pay the penalty of sin---death.  It would never again be necessary for Him to undergo death.  He lives unto God: for the praise and glory of God.

6, 12-14:  The Reign of Sin.  This is a warning against the false security that might result in the minds of some from the above references to the death of sin.    12.  Mortal body: the evil inclinations remain in the flesh until it puts on immortality.    13.  Weapons: a military metaphor.    14.  Not under the Law, etc.: unlike the Law, grace gives the strength needed to accomplish God's will.

6, 15-23:  Slavery to Sin.  A further precaution against a misunderstanding of his words, urged by means of a simile drawn from the familiar customs of slavery.

15.  The difficulty: freedom from the Law might be interpreted by some as freedom from all restraint.    16.  Cf. our Lord's words: "No man can serve two masters" (Matt. 6, 24).  The two masters here are sin and obedience to God.  This is the major premise of Paul's argument.    17 f.  The minor premise.  Form of doctrine: a norm of life to which Christians must conform.  You have been delivered: i.e., in which you have been instructed.  The passive implies they owe their conversion to God.  This is also implied in set free from sin.  The conclusion of the argument is too obvious to require expression.  As slaves of justice they must render faithful service.

19.  I speak in a human way: as imposing a precept; or, as apologizing for speaking of their service to God as slavery.  Slaves of uncleanness: the vices of impurity, so prevalent among the Roman pagans.  Iniquity: or rather "lawlessness," the absence of all moral laws.  Unto iniquity: service to these vices (personified) leads to their having complete mastery.    20.  Free as regards justice: not subject to, i.e., removed from justice.    21.  Some would punctuate this verse to read: What fruit had you then from those things?  You are now ashamed of them, for their end is death.    23.  The metaphor is somewhat altered.  Two pay-masters are paying their servants.  Note the difference between wage and gift.  Sin merits death; grace which leads to life everlasting, is due to God's gratuitous generosity.


Confraternity Bible:

Christians Dead to Sin  1 What then shall we say?  Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  2 By no means!  For how shall we who are dead to sin still live in it?  3* Do you not know that all we who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death?  4 For we were buried with him by means of Baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ has arisen from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in newness of life.  5 For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be so in the likeness of his resurrection also.  6* For we know that our old self has been crucified with him, in order that the body of sin may be destroyed, that we may no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who is dead is acquitted of sin.  8 But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live together with Christ; 9 for we know that Christ, having risen from the dead, dies now no more, death shall no longer have dominion over him.  10 For the death that he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life that he lives, he lives unto God.  11 Thus do you consider yourselves also as dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

The Reign of Sin  12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts.  13 And do not yield your members to sin as weapons of iniquity, but present yourselves to God as those who have come to life from the dead and your members as weapons of justice for God; 14 for sin shall not have dominion over you, since you are not under the Law but under grace.

Slavery to Sin  15 What then?  Are we to sin because we are not under the Law but under grace?  By no means!  16 Do you not know that to whom you offer yourselves as slaves for obedience, to him whom you obey you are the slaves, whether to sin unto death or to obedience unto justice?  17 But thanks be to God that you who were the slaves of sin have now been delivered, 18 and having been set free from sin, you have become the slaves of justice.  19 I speak in a human way because of the weakness of your flesh; for as you yielded your members as slaves of uncleanness and iniquity unto iniquity, so now yield your members as slaves of justice unto sanctification.  20 For when you were the slaves of sin, you were free as regards justice.  21 But what fruit had you then from those things of which you are now ashamed?  For the end of these things is death.  22 But now set free from sin and become slaves to God, you have your fruit unto sanctification, and as your end, life everlasting.  23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is life everlasting in Christ Jesus our Lord.
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*

3: St. Paul alludes to the manner in which Baptism was ordinarily conferred in the primitive Church, by immersion.  The descent into the water is suggestive of the descent of the body into the grave, and the ascent is suggestive of the resurrection to a new life.  St. Paul obviously sees more than a mere symbol in the rite of Baptism.  As a result of it we are incorporated into Christ's mystical body and live a new life.

6: The body of sin: some, with St. John Chrysostom, take this expression to indicate sin in general, and others understand it of the body inasmuch as it is subject to concupiscence and is the instrument of sin.  As such it is destroyed, i.e., reduced to impotence, so that we are no longer slaves to its evil inclinations.