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ROMANS 6:1-6:23
Last updated 9/12/00

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.  For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.  Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.  I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Introduction

Paul continues his argument from chapter 5 by clarifying the behavioral responsibilities of those who now have faith in Yeshua (the "obedient one"). Over chapters 6-8, Paul teaches that with justification comes sanctification (being set apart), and that sanctification comes from obedience to God's commands -- something well understood by the Jewish believers in Yeshua, but alien to those gentiles who were coming to faith from the pagan world of the Roman Empire.

Paul’s concept of gentiles learning "obedience of faith," (first mentioned in Chapter 1:5), is found throughout the letter of Romans (5:2,19; 6:16,19; 10:16-18; 12:1,2; 15:18,19; 16:15-20,26) and is in line with the ruling of the Jerusalem Council concerning gentiles (as described in Acts chapter 15).

As mentioned in our Introduction, Paul's mission in teaching new gentile believers is not an easy one. (Teaching Jews would not be nearly as difficult, as his message would be to "trust in Yeshua and continue in the Torah you grew up with.") This is not the case with gentiles, who did not have the same background as the Jews did.

Firstly, for Paul to teach that gentiles must take on all of the Torah in order to be saved, would not only go against the Jerusalem council's instructions (Acts 15) but would be in violation of the teachings of the Shema. If gentiles have to become Jews first, in order to be saved, then God would be God of the Jews only. However, the basis of Paul's teachings is that the Shema says thatGod is One God of all - Jew and gentile - and through Yeshua gentiles can come directly to God.

On the other hand, this does not mean that gentiles are free from obedience to God, as they were now to "present their bodies as slaves for obedience" (Romans 6:16). God’s outline of what they were to obey (and what sin is) was found in one place at the time Paul wrote Romans – in the Tenakh, most specifically, the Torah.

Paul teaches that gentiles coming to faith now have a relationship to Torah, not because they are under some kind of "bondage to the law" (as is often incorrectly taught), but rather because they are under grace. The same Shema that says God is One God of Jew and gentile, calls both to obedience. Gentiles are now "slaves of righteousness," and to follow the obedience of the faith (see notes on "obedience of faith," in chapter 1).

This was a delicate balance for Paul to maintain (in all his letters) and a main reason that he is misunderstood by those trying to interpret his writings today. Beginning at verse 6:1 and going through 8:14, Paul (aka, Rav Sha'ul, the Pharisee), provides a teaching on Torah observance to the Roman congregation.

An outline would be as follows:

  • Romans 6:1-16 -- Now that we are following Yeshua, and "of the Spirit," we are not free to break Torah and sin.
  • Romans 6:17-23 -- As followers of Yeshua, we are now to follow the righteousness of God's Torah as it is learned.
  • Romans 7:1-6 -- We do not follow the Torah in the flesh, apart from trusting God (and thus face condemnation by its curse), but are to follow it in the Spirit.
  • Romans 7:7-21 -- Although the Torah; a) served the purpose of condemning us, b) stirs up sin in us, and, c) cannot be followed in the flesh, the Torah in itself is the holy, just, good, (Romans 7:13), and is the spiritual lamp that is to light the path of lives (i.e., Psalm 119:105).
  • Romans 7:22-8:14 -- The Torah is our delight and duty to follow in faith. A desire to follow the Torah is the real "blessed assurance" a believer has, that God's Spirit is within them (and that they are not "quenching" the Spirit.)

Unfortunately, due to centuries of anti-Torah bias found in the Church and its Bible commentaries, "Rabbi Paul's" important "midrash on Torah observance," is overlooked.


1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

Paul uses a Talmudic formula of raising an erroneous conclusion in order to immediately refute it (as he did in 3:3). This is a reiteration of what Paul taught in Romans 3:5-8, that also looks back to verse 5:20b (But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound), and the conclusion reached from previous verses on justification.

Note that what defines and points out sin is the Torah ("the Law"). Conversely true then, is that obeying Torah is God's desire for His people. The only meaning that "God’s commandments" conveyed in 1st century Jewish culture (as seen throughout the texts of the "New Testament") was the Torah.

Paul’s teaching on Torah is consistent with that of Yeshua, John and "James":

  • Matthew 5:17-19 -- Not one jot or tittle of the Torah is done away with (and anyone teaching otherwise is condemned)
  • John 14:15 -- To love the Lord (Yeshua) is to obey Torah
  • Matthew 19:17 – keep the Torah’s commandments
  • 1 John 2:1-7 -- to say you know God, but violate Torah, means you are a liar
  • 1 John 3:4 – sin is defined as a violation of Torah
  • James 1:22-25, 2:12-26 & 1 John 5:2-3, 2 John 4-6 – support the concept that the Torah is the measure of judgement and that obeying the Torah is an integral part of faith
  • James 1:19, 1 John 2:3 and John 14:15 – compare these verses regarding having only "faith," versus keeping the Torah in faith

2 God forbid

"Sin," in the Judaism of Yeshua and Paul, was a violation of God's Torah (i.e., 1 John 3:4). Paul makes it clear once more, that Torah is not done away with through faith in Yeshua (i.e., Romans 3:31). Also see notes on "sin" in Romans 5:20.

3  Know ye not

Or, "are you ignorant ..." Paul did not found this congregation. He knows they are aware of some teachings, but may not be sure of all they know.

baptized into Jesus Christ

The term baptized (baptizdo) conveys the meaning of being dip/soak into a liquid (to dye) so that what is being dipped takes on the qualities of the liquid. Being immersed (v.3) means being united (v.5) with Messiah. (re: Romans 13:14; Galatians 3:27)

4  we also should walk in newness of life ...
6  henceforth we should not serve sin ...
7  For he that is dead is freed from sin ...
11  to be dead indeed unto sin ...
12  Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body ...
13  Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin

Paul repeats the message again and again over these ten verses, describing the "walk in the newness of life" (verse 4) as "no longer following sin." Once more, the only place this "walk" was outlined for the Roman believers to learn and follow (so they would know what sin is and flee from it), was in the Tenakh (Torah, Prophets and Writings). Paul will make it very clear in chapter 8, that it is those still "of the flesh" (and under condemnation), that are not subject to God's Torah (i.e., "not under the law.")

This repetitive message would be redundant to a Jewish audience, having known of sin and its consequences though possession of the Torah (i.e., Romans 3). This message is thus geared toward new gentile believers who had minimal knowledge of what the Torah called "sin," and what they were to obey (i.e., "obedience of faith to the gentiles - Romans 1:5).

Concerning "death and resurrection" with Messiah, it can be said that:

  • In one sense we are already dead and raised by believing.
  • In another sense it is a matter of present obligation, (proper behavior and growth)
  • In a third sense it is futuristic as a promise of God at our time of death.

We "die to sin" in different ways:

  • Judicially - God decides to take our sin upon Himself through Yeshua (Re: Col 3:1-3)
  • Baptism - their ratification of God's decision on their behalf, and God's seal on them
  • Morally - we are called and have ability to die to sin, and live correctly, on a daily basis
  • Eschatological - At their death, we will "die to sin" in a final sense, and will be raised up to eternal life

5  For if we have been planted together ...

This verse supports verse 4. In "baptism" we are conformed to His death and His resurrection in our moral life. Paul's words may be rooted in Isaiah 53:5 ("by His stripes we are healed"), as the root word for "stripes" is chavar which also has as a root meaning "to be joined" (i.e., Hosea 4:17).

11  reckon ye also yourselves

The first step on the way of obedience is to recognize is to see yourself in light of what the perfect Torah says about you (re: James 1:25).

12  Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body

As seen throughout the rest of this chapter and the next two, Paul is concerned with halakha for Gentiles turning from idolatry to the God and faith of Israel. As mentioned, it is the behavior of these new gentile believers that will result in sanctification (Re: Romans 15:15-16).

As we will see later in this study, a key purpose for Paul writing Romans was his concern that the situation there was deteriorating at the suggestion of those who were challenging the (Torah-based) teaching that had been obeying.

14  for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

Here is another verse often stripped of its context to promote the erroneous doctrine of, "grace verse law." Paul tells the gentile believers that they are to follow God's ways as taught in the Torah, and not the way of the world (i.e., sin), because they are under grace.

The term "not under law" does not mean, "not having to follow God's Torah." This would be heresy to a Jewish rabbi such as Paul, and would contradict Scriptures such as: Romans 3:31, 7:12, 14a; 22, 25; 8:4,7; 13:8-10; Matthew 5:17-19, 19:17; John 14:15, James chapters 1 & 2, 1 John 2:1-7, 3:4, 5:2-3 and 2 John 4-6.

Paul could mean several things by his statement, including any and all of the following:

  • Gentiles and Jews who trust in Yeshua and obey God, are not under the condemnation of the Torah, as are those who try to earn their salvation through legalistic observance apart from faith/trust. The opposite of "under God's grace" (unmerited favor), would be under God's condemnation. This ties into 7:1-6 and is also confirmed by verse 8:1.
  • God's people are not under legalism. (Upo Nomon = "controlled by law/legalism", re: 3:20b). They are to live within the framework of Torah - as God's people have always been under grace and Torah, and never under "legalism."
  • When a believer frees himself from the punishment of Torah in baptism, in which he puts his evil inclination (Yetzer Hara) "to death," he is enabled to obey God’s commandments.

15  What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace?

Paul's "suggestion" of 3:5-8 and 6:1-2 is stated a third time. Grace is not a license to ignore God’s will (as expressed in His word -- the Torah), but the means to faithfully follow God’s will (Torah) freely out of a sincere heart.

16  Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey

Returning to the theme of obedience. There are two ways in life. One can obey God (through learning and doing of the Torah, including trusting in His Messiah), or one can "obey" the world by disregarding the Torah.

17  ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

Paul refers to a specific body of teaching they had learned in the past. The only doctrine ever taught by Yeshua, Paul and the other disciples was from the Tenakh (Torah, Prophets and Writings). This includes the halakha ("walk") for gentile believers, such as the initial Torah commandments given to gentiles by the Jerusalem council in Acts 15.

18  became the servants of righteousness ...
19  yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

Paul again emphasizes the call to servanthood, righteousness and holiness. The concept of "holiness" (sanctity) is important. This has to do with being "set apart" from the world and conformed to the image of God. How we are to "sanctify ourselves," is shown throughout the lessons and commandments of the Torah. The teachings of Yeshua and the other writers of the "New Testament" do not nullify any of the Torah, but point us to the Torah and bring out deeper meaning and greater revelation.

19  to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity

Paul includes spiritual "uncleanness" with all iniquity, thus showing he views Torah as a "whole," not separating ritual and ethical commands.

This is also found in Paul's other letters as well as in "James":

Galatians 5:19-21a - Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like:

2 Corinthians 12:21 - And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.

James 2:10 - For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.

Being "free in regard to righteousness," is not a desireable state:

Psalm 88:5 - Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand.

22  ye have your fruit unto holiness

"Fruit" here being what was mentioned earlier in this study, the acts of Torah, and those stemming from Torah, given long before by God:

Ephesians 2:10 - For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

"Slavery" to righteousness is true freedom. God's concept of freedom/liberty means free to follow His ways. Remember the message God had Moses tell Pharaoh:

"Let my people go, so they can serve me."


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