Romans: ch. vi.

January 3, 2011


In this chapter the Apostle passes, in his usual way, from dogma to the morals conforming to the dogma, and exhorts the faithful to preserve and increase the justice they have received from Christ.  Therefore 1) he teaches that in baptism we are buried, planted with Christ, and dead to sin, so that we are now to walk in a new life: so that, just as Christ died once and rose again to new life, we too may one day rise with him to glory; 2) v. 12 he teaches that sin ought not to reign in Christians, since those who are freed from sin by the grace of Christ are made servants of justice; thus it is fitting that they yield those members in obedience to justice, unto life, which they first had yielded to uncleanness unto death.  For as he says v. 23: The wages of sin is death: but the grace of God, life everlasting.

1-2. Answers objection: If it is true that where sin abounded, grace did more abound, then sins should be added to sins, so that the grace of God may more abound.  Paul replies: God forbid: we are dead to sin, and proceeds to show how.

3-4. in his death – we are baptized into the likeness and representation of Christ’s death: those who are immersed in the waters of baptism represent allegorically Christ’s death and burial, in order to represent tropologically (i.e. in their moral lives) Christ’s temporal death by their own death to sin (v. 2).  Just as Christ died literally and was buried, we too are dead to sin and buried in baptism: thus the rite of baptism, with its triple immersion, allegorically represents the three days of Christ’s burial, and tropologically represents the burial and death of sin.  For this reason the Church celebrates solemn baptism on the day of Christ’s burial, Holy Saturday.

4. by the glory of the Father – i.e. Christ rose to live a glorious and divine life, as befits the son of God; thus we too should rise from baptism to lead a new life worthy of the sons of God, and walk in it, that is, progress in it.

5. i.e. Like a branch inserted in a tree dies with it in winter, and in the spring comes back to life with it, so we, who are inserted into Christ, die to sin in the winter of this life, and will rise with him to glory in the universal resurrection.  Extension of the baptism/death metaphor: as we are conformed to Christ’s death and burial in the immersion of baptism, so by our emergence from baptism we are conformed to the risen Christ, and are to lead a new life.

6.  crucified with him – first, by representation, in baptism, which crucifies our vices; second, by efficiency, that is by the power of Christ’s death on the cross, which is applied to us in baptism, our sins are destroyed: for the cross is the death and destruction of our sins.

7. Gives the reason why we ought not to serve sin any longer (v. 6): he that is conformed to Christ crucified and dead to sin is justified, that is, completely absolved, from sin, so that he ought to have nothing more to do with it: just as a dead man is completely released from the cares of this life.  By extension, following Chrysostom: as a dead servant is “justified” by death, that is, completely freed from the command of his master, from servitude, such that the master no longer has any rule over him – thus we are justified from the servitude of sin by our death in baptism.

8. live together – in the life of beatitude to come.

10. died to sin – died because of sin, died to abolish sin (Hebraism); unto God – lives with God, and like God lives a heavenly, divine, blessed and immortal life, and also unto the glory of God.

12. Sin cannot reign in the justified except by their own choice; sin is also taken metonymically for the fomes of sin, i.e. don’t yield to temptation.

13. as those that are alive from the dead – serve God as befits those who have died once to sin in baptism, and now live for God in the Christian life.

14. i.e. Sin cannot have dominion over you, as it did in the times of Adam and Moses, because you are not under the law, but under grace, by which you are able to conquer sin.

15-16. New objection: If we are under grace, and so sin cannot have dominion over us, then we may freely break the law and sin, because we are free, and whatever we do, sin cannot have dominion over us.  Paul replies again: God forbid; for although we are indeed under grace and not the law, it is nevertheless not permissible to shun or break the law, but rather to fulfill it by grace.  Further, although by its own power sin cannot have dominion over us, it nevertheless can and will if we allow it to.

19. i.e. I ask a human thing of you, Roman Christians; that is, a moderate and easy thing: namely, only try to grow in sanctification as much as you once tried to grow in iniquity.

20. free men to justice – that is, free from justice, lacking justice.  Compare v. 18.

23. He does not say, The grace of God is life everlasting, because eternal life is freely given, unlike sin, whose consequence (death) is not freely given but is strictly speaking a “reward,” wages.  I.e. – as sin leads a man to death, as to its end and reward: so grace leads us to eternal life, as to its end and crown.  Grace therefore is eternal life, not in itself and formally, but with regard to its end, because it has eternal life for its end and reward (metonymy).


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