Romans 6:7
For he that is dead is freed from sin.
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(7) Is freed.—“Absolved,” the same word that is used elsewhere for “justified.” The dead man is no longer liable to have the charge of sin brought against him. This is the general proposition, the major premise, adduced in proof of what had gone before, viz., the particular proposition that he who is ethically dead is no longer the slave of sin.

6:3-10 Baptism teaches the necessity of dying to sin, and being as it were buried from all ungodly and unholy pursuits, and of rising to walk with God in newness of life. Unholy professors may have had the outward sign of a death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness, but they never passed from the family of Satan to that of God. The corrupt nature, called the old man, because derived from our first father Adam, is crucified with Christ, in every true believer, by the grace derived from the cross. It is weakened and in a dying state, though it yet struggles for life, and even for victory. But the whole body of sin, whatever is not according to the holy law of God, must be done away, so that the believer may no more be the slave of sin, but live to God, and find happiness in his service.For he that is dead - This is evidently an expression having a proverbial aspect, designed to illustrate the sentiment just expressed. The Rabbis had an expression similar to this, "When one is dead he is free from commands." (Grotius.) So says Paul, when a man dies he is exempt from the power and dominion of his master, of him who reigned over him. The Christian had been subject to sin before his conversion. But he has now become dead to it. And as when a servant dies, he ceases to be subject to the control of his master, so the Christian being now dead to sin, on the same principle, is released from the control of his former master, sin. The idea is connected with Romans 6:6, where it is said that we should not be the slaves of sin any more. The reason of this is assigned here, where it is said that we are freed from it as a slave is freed when he dies. Of course, the apostle here is saying nothing of the future world. His whole argument has respect to the state of the Christian here; to his being freed from the bondage of sin. It is evident that he who is not freed from this bondage here, will not be in the future world. But the argument of the apostle has no bearing on that point.

Is freed - Greek, Is justified. The word here is used clearly in the sense of setting at liberty, or destroying the power or dominion. The word is often used in this sense; compare Acts 13:38-39; compare a similar expression in 1 Peter 4:1, "He that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin." The design of the apostle is not to say that the Christian is perfect, but that sin has ceased to have dominion over him, as a master ceases to have power over a slave when he is dead. That dominion may be broken, so that the Christian may not be a slave to sin, and yet he may be conscious of many failings and of much imperfection; see Romans 7.

7. For he that is dead—rather, "hath died."

is freed—"hath been set free."

from sin—literally, "justified," "acquitted," "got his discharge from sin." As death dissolves all claims, so the whole claim of sin, not only to "reign unto death," but to keep its victims in sinful bondage, has been discharged once for all, by the believer's penal death in the death of Christ; so that he is no longer a "debtor to the flesh to live after the flesh" (Ro 8:12).

He that is dead, i.e. to sin, is freed from it; not only in respect of the guilt thereof, which sense the marginal reading of the word seems to respect, but also in regard of the service of it. This agrees best with the context; look, as he that is dead is freed and discharged from the authority of, those who had dominion over him in his lifetime, so it is with those that are dead to sin. There is a parallel place, 1 Peter 4:1. For he that is dead, is freed from sin. This is not to be understood of a natural or a corporeal death; for this is the effect of sin, and is inflicted by way of punishment for it, on Christless persons; so far is it from being an atonement for sin, as the Jews (t) fancy; besides, there are many persons, who as they die in their sins, they will rise in them; though a natural death is alluded to, when persons are free from those laws and obligations to service and duty they are under whilst living: but here it is to be understood of a spiritual or mystical death, and of persons who are dead to the law, by the body of Christ; dead to sin by the sacrifice and grace of Christ; who are baptized into the death of Christ, and in imitation of him: such are "freed from sin"; not from the being of it; nor from the burden of it; nor from a continual war with it; nor from slips and falls into it; no, not even freed from it, in the most solemn services and acts of religion; but they are freed from the dominion of it, from servitude to it, and also from the guilt of it, and from obligation to punishment on account of it: they are, as it is in the Greek text, and as the Vulgate Latin and Arabic versions read, "justified from sin".

(t); see Gill on Romans 5:11.

{5} For he that is dead is freed from sin.

(5) He proves it by the effects of death, comparing Christ the head with his members.

Romans 6:7. Establishment of the τοῦ μηκέτι δουλ. ἡμ. τῇ. ἁμ. by the general proposition: whosoever is dead, is acquitted from sin.

ὁ ἀποθαν.] is explained by many of ethical death. So Erasmus, Calovius, Homberg, Bengel and others, including Koppe, Flatt, Glöckler, Olshausen, Tholuck (who regards sin as creditor), de Wette (“whosoever has died to sin, he—alone—is acquitted from sin”), Rothe, Krehl, Philippi (whosoever is ethically dead, over him has sin lost its right to impeach and to control, just as Bengel explains it), also van Hengel, Jatho, and Märcker. But neither the nature of the general proposition, which forms in fact the major premiss in the argument, and of which only the application is to be made (in the minor proposition) to ethical dying; nor the tautological relation, which would result between subject and predicate, can permit this explanation. The conception of ethical dying recurs only in the sequel, and hence σὺν Χριστῳ is added to ἀπεθάνομεν in Romans 6:8, so that Paul in this development of his views draws a sharp distinction between the being dead in the spiritual (Romans 6:6; Romans 6:8) and in the ordinary sense. We must therefore explain Romans 6:7 as a general proposition regarding death in the ordinary sense, and consequently regarding physical death (so rightly Hofmann), but not specially of the death by execution, through which sin is expiated (Alethaeus, Wolf and others; with this view they compare δεδικ., the juristic expression: he is justified; see Michaelis’ note); for any such peculiar reference of the still wholly unrestricted ἀποθανών is forbidden by the very generality of the proposition, although for δεδικαίωται passages might be cited like Plat. Legg. II. p. 934 B; Aristot. Eth. v. 9.

δεδικ. ἀπὸ τ. ἁμ.] “The dead person is made just from sin,” i.e. he is in point of fact justified and acquitted from sin, he is placed by death in the position of a δίκαιος, who is such thenceforth; not as if he were now absolved from and rid of the guilt of his sins committed in life, but in so far as the dead person sins no more, no longer δουλεύει τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ, from whose power, as from a legal claim urged against him during his life in the body, he has been actually released by death as through a decree of acquittal. Comp Köstlin in the Jahrb. f. Deutsche Theol. 1856, p. 98 f.; Th. Schott, p. 260, and Hofmann; also Baur, neut. Theol. p. 161 f.; Delitzsch, Illustrations to his Hebrew version, p. 84. Just for this reason has Paul added ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίας (comp Acts 13:38; Sir 26:29; Test. XII. patr. p. 541), which would have been quite superfluous, had he taken δεδικαίωται, justus constitutus est, in the dogmatic sense of his doctrine of justification. The proposition itself, moreover, is an axiom of the popular traditional mode of view, which Paul uses for his purpose as admitted. This axiom has also its relative truth, and that partly in so far as the dead person has put off the σῶμα τῆς σαρκός with which he committed his sins (Colossians 2:11), partly in so far as with death the dominion of law over the man ceases (Romans 7:1), and partly in so far as in death all the relations are dissolved which supplied in life the objects of sinning.[1419] For the discussion of the question as to the absolute truth of the proposition, in its connection with Biblical anthropology and eschatology, there was no occasion at all here,[1420] where it is only used as an auxiliary clause, and ex concesso. Comp 1 Peter 4:1. Usteri mistakenly explains it: by death man has suffered the punishment, and thus expiated his guilt. For that Paul does not here express the Jewish dogma: “death as the punishment for sin expiates the guilt of sin” (see Eisenmenger, entdeckt. Judenth. II. p. 283 f.) is proved partly by the irrelevancy of such a sense to the context (γάρ); and partly by its inconsistency with the doctrines of the Apostle as to justification by faith and as to the judgment, according to which death cannot set free from the guilt-obligation of sin. Ewald makes a new idea be brought in at Romans 6:7 : “Even in common life, in the case of one who is dead, the sins of his previous life cannot be further prosecuted and punished, he passes for justified and acquitted of sin.…; if in addition sin as a power has been broken by Christ (Romans 6:9 f.), then we may assuredly believe,” etc., Romans 6:8. But γάρ in Romans 6:7 indicates its connection with what goes before, so that it is only with the δέ in Romans 6:8 that a new thought is introduced. Besides, we should expect, in the case of the assumed course of thought, an οὖν instead of the δέ in Romans 6:8. Finally, it is not clear how that rule of common law was to serve as a joint ground for the faith of becoming alive with Christ.

[1419] The Greek expositors—who already give substantially our explanation—have confined themselves to this point. Chrysostom: ἀπήλλακται τὸ λοιπὸν τοῦ ἁμαρτάνειν νεκρὸς κείμενος. Theodoret: τίς γὰρ ἐθεάσατο πώποτε νεκρὸν ἢ γάμον ἀλλότριον διορύττοντα, ἢ μιαιφονίᾳ τὰς χεῖρας φοινίττοντα κ.τ.λ. Melancthon compares the proverb: νεκρὸς οὐ δάκνει, Beza the saying of Anacreon: ὁ νεκρὸς οὐκ ἐπιθυμεῖ, Grotius that of Aeschylus: οὐδὲν ἄγλος ἄπτεται νεκρῶν. Comp. Soph. O. C. 955.

[1420] Compare Melancthon: “Ceterum hoc sciamus, diabolos et omnes damnatos in omni aeternitate horribilia peccata facere, quia sine fine irascuntur Deo,” etc.Romans 6:7. ὁ γὰρ ἀποθανὼν κ.τ.λ. Here we have the general principle on which the foregoing argument rests: death annuls all obligations, breaks all ties, cancels all old scores. The difficulty is that by the words ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίας Paul introduces one particular application of the principle—the one he is concerned with here—as if it were identical with the principle itself. “Death clears men of all claims, especially (to come to the case before us) it clears us, who have died with Christ, of the claim of sin, our old master, to rule over us still.” Weiss would reject the introduction into this clause of the idea of dying with Christ, on the ground that the words σὺν Χριστῷ bring it in as a new idea in the following verse. But it is no new idea; it is the idea of the whole passage; and unless we bring it in here, the quittance from sin (and not from any obligation in general) remains inexplicable. Weiss, in fact, gives it up.7. For he that is dead, &c.] Better, with a slight paraphrase, for he who has once died to sin now stands free from its claim. The legal claim of sin is meant here, not its moral dominion, for the Gr. word rendered “freed” in E. V., is lit. (see margin of E. V.) justified. The argument is that, since death is the penalty of sin, then if death has been suffered and passed, the penalty is exhausted and the claim cancelled: now such is the position of the justified in Christ; His death was endured, and is now past, for them and as theirs; therefore they live as those who have exhausted penalty and are free from its claim—in fact, “justified from sin.”Romans 6:7. Ἀποθανὼν, dead) to sin, Romans 6:2.—δεδιχαίωται, [is freed from sin] is justified) Sin has now no longer any claim against him in law; with which comp. Romans 6:6; Romans 6:9, so that he is no longer a debtor, ch. Romans 8:12. In respect of the past, he is justified [just] from the guilt of sin; in respect of the future, from its dominion, Romans 6:14.Is freed (δεδικαίωται)

Lit., as Rev., is justified; i.e., acquitted, absolved; just as the dead person sins no more, being released from sin as from a legal claim. "As a man that is dead is acquitted and released from bondage among men, so a man that has died to sin is acquitted from the guilt of sin and released from its bondage" (Alford).

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