Guide to the understanding of Romans 6

Koot van Wyk

Romans 6 verse 1 to 3 jpg.jpg

(From J. P. Louw, Semantiese Strukturalisme van Romeine Vol. I [Department of Greek, University of Pretoria, 1978], page 13)

Remaining in sin

Paul says definitely not. “Should we remain in sin [singular]”? This is a very pointed question involving all of us, Christians included, one can say all humanity potentially if they also believe. But notice that it is not sins plural. Why is that. How do all of us remain in a single sin? Ellen White explains that very well in a statement from Testimonies volume 1:

“A profession of Christianity without corresponding faith and works will avail nothing. No man can serve two masters. The children of the wicked one are their own master’s servants; to whom they yield themselves servants to obey, his servants they are, and they cannot be the servants of God until they renounce the devil and all his works. It cannot be harmless for servants of the heavenly King to engage in the pleasures and amusements which Satan’s servants engage in, even though they often repeat that such amusements are harmless. God has revealed sacred and holy truths to separate His people from the ungodly and purify them unto Himself. Seventh-day Adventists should live out their faith.” - Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 404.

The singular sin is the personified sin and points to Satan as navigator of destruction in humanity. Once you become faithful, Paul is saying, should we remain with Satan as navigator in our lives? Should we entertain Satan and his cronies so that we can receive greater grace than others to forgive “great sins”? It is a weird mathematics but there are people saying that they need lots of grace for their sins are many.

Paul uses the optative mood here saying defiantly and absolutely: “No definitely not”.

“How can we still live in it?” How can we continue living in this sphere or domain of Satan’s navigation? “We, the ones who died in sin?” Many translators, for example the great Benjamin Weiss (1906) translated “died to sin” but that is not what Paul is saying for he did not use that preposition here. It is clearly “in”. It is “in” because it is a domain or locality run by an Evil navigator.

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(From J. P. Louw, Semantiese Strukturalisme van Romeine Vol. I [Department of Greek, University of Pretoria, 1978], page 13)

Paul uses the conditional particle “or” connecting what he just said that one should not remain in Satan’s control any longer with what he is going to spell out next.

The baptism that we as Christians received (past tense and Paul is also using the past tense), is “unto His death”. Did you not know that meaning of baptism lies in its connection to the death of Christ? It is not that Paul is bringing a new meaning to Baptism that John the Baptist never had. The endresult of this action is that ownership took place. From Satan to Christ: “we all were baptized unto Christ Jesus”.

We should not remain in sin. Some theologians are trying to retrieve the doctrine of original sin in the Book of Romans and they bring it in many forms: original sin or peccatum originale [Augustine] or sinful nature, sinful passions, sinful habits, sinful self. Luther was trying to explain that the principle is simul iustus et peccator meaning: at the same time just but also sinner. He said that absolute perfection is impossible so perfection is impossible since your best works will still be imperfect and furthermore, you still have the consciousness of sin in you, thus perfect obedience is not possible. Wesley disagreed and said that the Bible teaches clearly perfection as possible and that Paul said that his friends are perfect. He also said that absolute perfection is not possible but perfection definitely. Sin as a deed is no longer there but there may be unaccountable imperfections like faulty memory, problematic pronunciation, and similar human defects. Moral imperfection, namely, breaking the law of God will no longer be an issue, says Wesley. Tongue in the cheek Luther also admitted that there is no cheap grace license and obedience is necessary. Both men, Luther and Wesley made their emphasis but had tongue in the cheek statements pointing to basically the presence of Satan hanging around, whether in rooms of the memory trying to tempt and lure the person down memory lane to follow again passions as guide to illusional happiness.

In verse 4 Paul is saying that just as we were buried with Him. Through the baptism unto death the burial took place. Why? Why is it necessary for Christians to get baptized? Paul says “sothat” “just as Christ was raised from the death through the glory of God in the same manner we [emphasized by the superfluous pronoun repetition] we can walk in a new life”.

There are benefits to this and Paul wants to elaborate on it. “Because, if we became grown together [S. Kubo 1979] in the likeness of His death, but also shall we be of resurrection”. Weiss [1906] wanted to repeat the likeness as implied absent force in the second part: “in the likeness of His death, we shall be also [in the likeness of his] resurrection”. It is creating too many extra words not in the text. This is the dangerous part in the translation. He may be totally correct but the methodology is dangerous. To be minimally ignorant is better than to be maximally wrong.

Wisdom is needed and Paul is going to supply this. There is a perspective that the elite Latin and Greek scholars and Pharisee-transformed-Christians may not know: “Know this: that our old man is crucified together, in order that the body of sin may be done away with/inoperative/powerless”. The classical Greek meaning of the word is “to leave unemployed or idle” as it was done with Euripides, “to make of none effect/to be abolished/to cease/to be set free”. Did anything remain? Luther says yes, Wesley says no. Luther says original sin remains and Wesley said that original sin is done away with. Adventists believe that mortal bodies remain. Is sinful nature in Adventism the capacity to die or the capacity to sin or the driving force of sinning? Does the sinful nature remain after conversion? Is a sinful nature sin if Christ was born with a sinful nature yet without sin? D. Priebe indicates that sinful nature is not sin. Sinful actions are sins. Alfred in his old commentary says that the Greek word here does not mean absolute annihilation. Very similar to the result of Luther.

Paul says “we no longer serve sin”. Are we serving sin from time to time? “No longer”. Is Christian life a pop-up situation of in and out, now there and now not? Sin is the personalized sin here, thus Satan. We do not serve Satan any longer.

In verse 7 Paul says: “For he who has died is deemed righteous from the sin”. This is the meaning Herodotus gives to the Greek word. He who has been baptized and died with Christ is deemed righteous away from Satan (the personified sin with a definite article and in the singular). Another way is to use the meaning of Aeschylus: “For he who has died is proved/tested from the sin”. It is a proof that the person is no longer with Satan.


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(From J. P. Louw, Semantiese Strukturalisme van Romeine Vol. I [Department of Greek, University of Pretoria, 1978], page 13)

Paul continues in verse 8 that if we have died with Christ we believe that also we shall live together with Him.

“Knowing that Christ no longer dies, being raised from the dead. Death no longer reign Him.” (verse 9). Paul then uses data that one can also find in a few places in the Book of Hebrews. He wrote Hebrews so one will find similarities. One can almost say, whereas Paul focused in Hebrews on an appeal to Judaism to be converted, in Romans he focused on the legal elite of Jews in a Latin and Greek context in Rome.

“Because the death that He died for the sin [singular, thus the personified sin, the definite article also helps to allocate Satan: thus He died to solve the Great Controversy in Heaven] once [word from Hebrews], but the life that He lives, [is] unto God”.

Now the completion of the comparison: “Even so you [emphasized] you should reckon yourselves dead, on the one side to sin, but living to God in Christ Jesus.” Dead to Satan but living to God in Christ. They should consider this.

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(From J. P. Louw, Semantiese Strukturalisme van Romeine Vol. I [Department of Greek, University of Pretoria, 1978], page 13)

Paul is canceling Satan’s effect in our mortal bodies. Mortal they are. But he says that no longer shall Satan reign in it. There is the matter of choice. As Christians they can permit Satan to reign in their bodies, or not. Paul said they should not. “Unto the obedience to its desires [plural]”. Now the situation is personalized to each person. This potential problem is desires in us. Passions, some Reformers called it. Satan uses our passions to appeal to our memories and in memory lane we permit Satan as navigator to lead and guide us further to easy and shortlived happiness and ultimately sorrow. “Neither present your members as instruments of iniquity to sin”. Satan as sin here in the personalized and singular cannot be missed. The sin-navigator is eager to accept the offer to take our members as tools for his tricks and devices (verse 13).

Paul asked them to present themselves to God “as if alive from the dead”. Also their members as instruments of righteousness to God. “For not shall sin Lord you.” Satan will not be their Lord. Christ is their Lord and master. It is the war of two masters as Ellen White in Testimonies vol. 1 so clearly pointed out supra.

“For you are not under the law” [thus deemed guilty and packed with sin and guilt].

“but under grace” [thus deemed righteous and free from Satan].


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(From J. P. Louw, Semantiese Strukturalisme van Romeine Vol. I [Department of Greek, University of Pretoria, 1978], page 13)

“What then, shall we sin that are not under the law but under grace?” No definitely not (verse 15). We are in the law not under it. In the keeping of the law not under the condemnation of the law. There is a difference of location of the sinner and or saint in connection with the law.

In verse 16 Paul want to speak about service and consecration either to the one master of destruction or the Master of righteousness. What is interesting is that it is “obedience unto righteousness”. “To Him/him you present yourselves as servants unto obedience, to Him/him you are obedient.” It is the Great Controversy conflict in us between Satan and Christ. Paul is appealing to our choice in this matter.

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(From J. P. Louw, Semantiese Strukturalisme van Romeine Vol. I [Department of Greek, University of Pretoria, 1978], page 13)

“However, grace unto God that when you were servants of the sin [Satan] on the other hand, you were obedient of the heart unto the type of teaching which you were given.” (verse 17). Heart-rendering to truth coming from doctrines that was given them by some preachers and teachers.

“But, being made free from sin [Satan] you serviced to Righteousness” [Christ] (verse 18).

In verse 19 Paul says he speaks after the manner of men, “through the weakness of your flesh”. In general speaking the weakness of the flesh is emphasized by sinners to excuse their regular sinful habits that they do not want to surrender to God.

“For just as you presented your members serviceable to uncleanliness and to lawlessness unto the lawless one” [the last mentioned is Satan].

“Similarly now you must present your members serviceable to righteousness unto sanctification.” The Holy Spirit is the sanctifier in our lives. To present ourselves to Him is to present ourselves to Sanctification.

In verse 20 Paul says when they were slaves to Satan they were free ones to Christ our Righteousness.

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 (From J. P. Louw, Semantiese Strukturalisme van Romeine Vol. I [Department of Greek, University of Pretoria, 1978], page 13)

Paul asked them what fruits they had when they were sinners? All those fruits were unto death (verse 21).

Now, however, these converted Christians of Rome have their fruits of sanctification “but now you have your fruit unto sanctification”. Now in this current better set-up they are free from the sin [Satan] but to serve unto God. But, the end is eternal life. That is the bonus (verse 22).

“For the wages of sin is death”. Satan’s payments is death. He is the father of death (verse 23).

“For the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus to our Lord” (verse 23).