Romans 6:1-14

Mar 22, 2009


This is another very well planned unit of thought.  Please study the outline above to assist in orienting one’s self to Paul’s strategy.  By way of interesting observations, one should note the way Paul bases his “moral imperative” (MI) ethical teaching upon a doctrinal foundation “theological indicative” (TI).  He moves back and forth between these basic themes throughout the passage.  The concepts of joint or co “burial,” “crucifixion,” “death,” “resurrection,” and “life” all appear in the passage. Paul carefully chose his vocabulary to emphasize our union with Christ (using words with a prefix of sun or a variant).  At a few points Paul chose to emphasize the joint nature of our death/resurrection with Christ in turn.  For instance, in 6:5, he is explicit with his reference to our being united in the likeness of Chris’s death, but the corresponding resurrection statement is left to ellipsis and so is implicit.  However, when he proceeds to his next point in 6:8, the emphasis is reversed. Although he does say we “died with Christ,” he reserves the special vocabulary for “live with him.” The reader should note that Paul’s emphasis is not equally balanced between death and resurrection in this passage.  It “tilts” in the direction of “death.” This is because Paul chooses to limit the theological “playing field” to our present status in redemptive history.  In Col 3 it is explicit that we have been raised with Christ. The the assumption is that this means “raised (spiritually)” since the resurrection has not yet happened.  Although Christ has died and been raised, and we have died with him, we have not been raised bodily as Christ has.  Our future in the Lord still awaits final consummation.  Thus, in him, we can be free from sin’s rule, although we are still in our earthly body associated with sin. It is not “sinful body” as if it were intrinsic, yet the body, as it is, is dead because of sin (Rom 8:10).  Note also that a case could be made to include “Adamic” before the word “man” in 6:6, but such a translation would be overly interpretive.  One might make a better case of translating “man” as “self,” but again, it seemed best to stay with a more wooden literal translation and leave the interpretation to the student.  I think the idea is “our old Adamic self” though.  We are to assume this connection based on Paul’s intro to this whole big section in 5:12-21.  This Adamic condemnation, carried out judicially at the crucifixion, has it’s counterpart in Christ.  Note in 6:7 where there is probably a direct reference to the death of Christ.  This idea is not normally raised by most translations, but the more literal translation in combination with my preferred meaning of dedikaiwtai (dikaiow) makes this likely.  I find the evidence for “free” as translation choice for the verb wanting.  It literally reads “has been justified from sin.”  Romans 4:25 should inform the reader at this point.  That passage implies that our justification (or acquittal) is based on Christ’s justification (maybe best thought of in the sense of a “vindication” for our sinless savior - although, if it is a reference to Christ, Paul saw no problem with this word choice in 6:7).  In the contexts of both 4:25 and 5:1, the apostle can speak in almost one breath of our justification in terms of both future and past tense. Paul explicitly teaches that we are justified by Christ’s death (Rom 3:21-26, Rom 5:9-10 “justified by his blood”, and probably also in 6:7).  Romans 4:25 informs our understanding of these passages in that we get to look “under the hood” as it were of the redemption which is “in Christ Jesus.”  We find ourselves united to the risen Lord.  The penalty for sin has been paid by Christ’s death. One aspect of the resurrection is that we are vindicated by God from any association with sin and death because Christ was vindicated (and we are “in Christ”).  The moral imperative of 6:6 (for us) is based on the fact that the one who died (Christ) has been vindicated/acquitted from sin.  It is therefore implicitly taught that we need not serve as slaves to sin while still in the body because we are in him who has been vindicated/acquitted from sin.  In 6:4 he has already established that the entire moral imperative is based upon the death and resurrection of Christ.  The reference to being raised from the dead “by the glory of the Father” is probably a reference to the presence and power of God through the Holy Spirit.  This reference to the Spirit’s work is veiled since the main teaching on the Spirit is reserved for chapter 8.  By Paul’s own logical argument, the Christian, because of his union with Christ, can expect the Spirit to be instrumental in his/her own resurrection some day.  This is made explicit in Rom 8:11.  However, what is true now for us is that we are “alive to God” and thus raised spiritually.  This first fruits of the resurrection is no less the work of God through his Spirit, again based on Paul’s Gospel oriented theology.