Romans 6, Part 3 (Romans 6:1-11)

by Bryant Evans on June 16, 2010

This section of Romans 6 contains 3 very powerful analogies to help us understand our walk with Christ. Remember from chapter 5 that Paul is arguing that although grace exceeds sin (Romans 5:20) we must avoid sin if we intend to claim that we belong to Christ (Romans 6:1-2).

Now Paul offers three key comparisons to help us understand what he means. The Christian has become one with Christ or “united” with him. We will examine each of these comparisons and see just how important each on really is. Remember, Paul’s goal is to teach us about being with Christ and joining with him in death.

Here are the analogies:

Death

Now let’s consider the first one – death. Paul’s purpose is stated in Romans 6:2, “How can we who died to sin live any longer therein?” The Christian is dead as far as sin is concerned. Just as a King or Ruler cannot rule over a dead man and cannot compel him to do anything, sin no longer has power over the Christian. He makes this very plain in Romans 6:7 when he writes “For one who has died has been set free from sin.” Consider also, Colossians 3:3 and Peter’s thoughts at 1 Peter 2:24. Dying is essential to the Christian life.

In modern parlance we speak of a person who repents or turns from a life of sin. We will note in passing that repentance is far more than merely being sorry we sinned. Paul says it involves “godly sorrow” which  then “produces a repentance” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Now we must quickly add that this does not mean the Christian never sins. While writing to Christians John said “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8) and again, “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:10). But – and this is big – for the faithful Christian trying to walk with Christ, his blood is removing those sins constantly (1 John 1:7). Sin just does not remain, it is not charged against the faithful Christian.

Burial

We touched on the idea of being buried with Christ in a previous article but we will expand on it here. Paul says that the disciple has been “baptized into his death” (Romans 6:3). Then in the very next verse he continues by saying that “we were buried therefore with him by baptism into death…” It would seem that this is an important comparison for Paul. Just as Jesus was buried in a tomb we are buried with him in baptism.(1)

To give greater emphasis here Paul writes that we are “buried therefore with him by baptism into death , in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4, underlining mine – jbe). Please observe that we are baptized in order that we might be raised!

Burial is the normal, natural event that follows death. In the case of the flesh, we bury those who have passed this life. In the case of the Christian, we are buried once we die to sin. As we have reasoned before, baptism is not a work but simply an act of obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 10:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-8, esp. 8b; 1 Peter 4:17).

Resurrection

There are two ways in which the Christian is resurrected. Immediately the Christian is raised from the water of baptism to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we are declared a “new creation.” The Galatians were told that the Christian was no longer living in his old ways but now Christ was living in them (Galatians 2:20). Paul, later in Romans, calls on believers to be a “transformed” people (Romans 12:2). In fact, the very example of Paul is of a man totally and completely changed after his conversion in Acts 9. So when Paul here speaks of being raised his immediate thought is of one who arises from baptism to a different way of life.

But there is a second, grander, sense in which Paul speaks. Those who have joined with Christ in his death will be raised like Christ for an eternity! Look at Romans 6:5 carefully.

“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his”

This idea of a resurrection to eternity is scattered throughout the New Testament, but 1 Corinthians 15 is probably the key chapter on the subject. The resurrection of Jesus and its meaning for us cannot be overstated. Paul says it this way:

“And if Christ has not been raised, four faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17).

1 Corinthians 15 is one of the greatest chapters of the Bible. I wholly commend it to your study. The gist of the chapter is that Christ has been raised from the dead and, as a result, we too can expect a resurrection and eternal life. It’s a thrilling thought to consider that there is far more ahead for the Christian than this brief troublesome stay in the flesh.

The Complete Package

These verses make clear that there are a number of things that go into our salvation. We must die, be buried and then look for the return of our Lord. Many try to to single out one thing that saves. But the truth is there are many things that go into our salvation. Things like grace, faith, love, the blood of Jesus, the word of God, baptism, repentance, confession, etc. Instead of trying to limit salvation to one or two things let us see the whole picture and thank God for his marvelous love and grace.

Your thoughts are always appreciated. Please leave your comments here on the blog in the space below. Many would enjoy hearing your thinking even if it conflicts we mine.

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  1. The word “baptism” here is actually best translated as immersed.(&#8617)
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{ 1 comment }

Dom Fuccillo April 6, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Thank you for this explanation! I have recently been asked to read this passage at a community sunrise service and wasn’t clear as to its meaning or context. It seems that Paul was addressing an ethical question as to whether grace would wipe out sins even when the person continued in the sins after reconciliation. I still have questions about this matter, but feel confident to read the scripture in public, hoping that many of those attending will understand it better than I do. Like your statement about many interpretations!

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