Romans 6:2 MEANING

Romans 6:2
(2) That are dead.--Rather, that died. It is well to bear in mind Dr. Lightfoot's remarks on the importance of keeping the strict aorist sense as opposed to that of the perfect (i.e., the single past action as opposed to the prolonged or continued action) in passages such as this. "St. Paul regards this change--from sin to righteousness, from bondage to freedom, from death to life--as summed up in one definite act of the past; potentially to all men in our Lord's passion and resurrection, actually to each individual man when he accepts Christ, is baptised into Christ. Then he is made righteous by being incorporated into Christ's righteousness, he dies once for all to sin, he lives henceforth for ever to God. This is his ideal. Practically, we know that the death to sin and the life to righteousness are inchoate, imperfect, gradual, meagerly realised even by the most saintly men in this life; but St. Paul sets the matter in this ideal light to force upon the consciences of his hearers the fact that an entire change came over them when they became Christians--that the knowledge and the grace then vouchsafed to them did not leave them where they were--that they are not, and cannot be, their former selves--and that it is a contradiction of their very being to sin any more. It is the definiteness, the absoluteness of this change, considered as an historical crisis, which forms the central idea of St. Paul's teaching, and which the aorist marks. We cannot, therefore, afford to obscure this idea by disregarding the distinctions of grammar; yet in our English version it is a mere chance whether in such cases the aorist is translated as an aorist" (On Revision, p. 85). These remarks will form the best possible commentary upon the passage before us. It may be only well to add that the change between the position of the first Christians and our own involves a certain change in the application of what was originally said with reference to them. Baptism is not now the tremendous crisis that it was then. The ideal of Christian life then assumed is more distinctly an ideal. It has a much less definite hold upon the imagination and the will. But it ought not therefore to be any the less binding upon the Christian. He should work towards it, if he cannot work from it, in the spirit of Philippians 3:12-14.

It would be well for the reader to note at once the corrections suggested in the rendering of this verse by Dr. Lightfoot's criticism:--In Romans 6:4, "we were buried" for "we are buried;" in Romans 6:6, "the old man was crucified" for "is crucified;" in Romans 6:8, "if we died" for "if we be dead."

Verse 2. - God forbid! (Μὴ γένοιτο: St. Paul's usual way of rejecting an idea indignantly). We who (οἵτινες, with its proper meaning of being such as) died (not, as in the Authorized Version, "are dead." The reference is to the time of baptism, as appears from what follows) to sin, how shall we live any longer therein! The idea of dying to sin in the sense of having done with it, is found also in Macrob., 'Somn. Scip.,' 1:13 (quoted by Meyer), "Mori etiam dicitur, cum anima adhuc in corpora constituta corporeas illecebras philosophia docente contemnit et cupiditatum dulces insidias reliquasque omnes exuit passiones."

6:1,2 The apostle is very full in pressing the necessity of holiness. He does not explain away the free grace of the gospel, but he shows that connexion between justification and holiness are inseparable. Let the thought be abhorred, of continuing in sin that grace may abound. True believers are dead to sin, therefore they ought not to follow it. No man can at the same time be both dead and alive. He is a fool who, desiring to be dead unto sin, thinks he may live in it.God forbid,.... By which he expresses his abhorrence of such a practice, and that this was a consequence which did not follow from the premises, and was far enough from his thoughts, and which he had in the greatest detestation: and he further argues against it by asking,

how shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? There is a death for sin, a death in sin, and a death to sin; the latter is here mentioned, and persons may be said to be "dead to sin", both as justified and sanctified: justified persons are dead to sin, inasmuch as that is not imputed to them to condemnation and death; they are discharged from it; it cannot hurt them, or exert its damning power over them; it is crucified, abolished, and made an end of by Christ: sanctified persons are dead to sin; sin is not made their business, it is not their course of life; it is no longer a pleasure to them, but is loathsome and abominable; it is looked upon, not as a friend, but an enemy; it does not reign, it has not the dominion over them; it is subdued in them, and its power weakened; and as to the members of the flesh, and deeds of the body, it is mortified: to live in sin, is to live after the dictates of corrupt nature; and persons may be said to live in it, when they give up themselves to it, are bent upon it; when sin is their life, they delight in it, make it their work and business, and the whole course of their life is sinful: now those who are dead to sin, cannot thus live in it, though sin may live in them; they may fall into sin, and lie in it some time, yet they cannot live in it: living in sin, is not only unbecoming the grace of God revealed in the Gospel, but is contrary to it; it is detestable to gracious minds, yea, it seems impossible they should live in it; which is suggested by this question, "how shall we?" &c. The thing is impracticable: for, for a gracious soul to live in sin, would be to die again, to become dead in sin, which cannot be; he that lives and believes in Christ shall never die, spiritually or eternally.

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