Romans 6:1
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
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(1-5) These considerations might seem to lead to an Antinomian conclusion. If the increase of sin has only led to a larger measure of forgiveness it might be thought well to continue in sin, and so to enhance the measure and glory of forgiving grace. But to the Christian this is impossible. In regard to sin he is, in theory and principle, dead. When he was converted from heathenism and received Christian baptism he gave himself up unreservedly to Christ; he professed adhesion to Christ, and especially to His death; he pledged himself to adopt that death as his own; he entered into fellowship with it in order that he might also enjoy the fellowship of the resurrection of Christ. This fellowship or participation is both physical and ethical.

(1) Shall we continue in sin?—Again the Apostle is drawn into one of those subtle casuistical questions that had such a great attraction for him. But he soon returns to the root-ideas of his own system. In previous chapters he had dealt with one of the two great root-ideas, justification by faith; he now passes to the second, union with Christ. The one might be described as the juridical, the other as the mystical, theory of salvation. The connecting-link which unites them is faith. Faith in Christ, and especially in the death of Christ, is the instrument of justification. Carried a degree further. it involves an actual identification with the Redeemer Himself. This, no doubt, is mystical language. When strictly compared with the facts of the religious consciousness, it must be admitted that all such terms as union, oneness, fellowship, identification, pass into the domain of metaphor. They are taken to express the highest conceivable degree of attachment and devotion. In this sense they are now consecrated by the use of centuries, and any other phrases substituted for them, though gaining perhaps somewhat in precision, would only seem poor and cold. (See Excursus G: On the Doctrine of Union with Christ.)

Romans 6:1-2. What shall we say then — What shall we think of this doctrine? namely, taught in the latter part of the preceding chapter, that where sin abounded grace did much more abound? Does it not follow from thence that we may continue in sin, that grace may abound still more, and may appear more glorious in pardoning and saving us? The apostle here sets himself more fully to vindicate his doctrine from this consequence, suggested Romans 3:7-8. He had then only, in strong terms, denied and renounced it. Here he removes the very foundation thereof; proceeding to speak of some further benefits (besides those mentioned Romans 5:1, &c.) of justification by faith in Christ, namely, the promoting of holiness, and not of sin, as some might imagine: to which subject his transition is at once easy and elegant. God forbid — That such an unworthy thought as that of continuing in sin should ever arise in our hearts! We have disclaimed such a consequence above, and we most solemnly disclaim it again, and caution all that hear us, against imagining that our doctrine allows any such cursed inferences. For though it is true, that where sin abounds grace does frequently still more abound, yet this is not owing to sin in any degree; which of itself brings death, Romans 6:23; James 1:15; and the more sin, the more punishment; but wholly to the superabounding mercy and love of God in Christ. For how shall we that are dead to sin — By profession, obligation, and communion with Christ our head in his death; or who are freed both from the guilt and the power of it; live any longer therein — In the love and practice of it? Surely it would be the grossest contradiction to our profession, and the obligations we are under to do so: on the contrary, it is apparent that nothing has so great a tendency to animate us to avoid sin, as this doctrine of gospel grace.

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.What shall we say then? - This is a mode of presenting an objection. The objection refers to what the apostle had said in Romans 5:20. What shall we say to such a sentiment as that where sin abounded grace did much more abound?

Shall we continue in sin? ... - If sin has been the occasion of grace and favor, ought we not to continue in it, and commit as much as possible, in order that grace might abound? This objection the apostle proceeds to answer. He shows that the consequence does not follow; and proves that the doctrine of justification does not lead to it.


Ro 6:1-11. The Bearing of Justification by Grace upon a Holy Life.

1. What, &c.—The subject of this third division of our Epistle announces itself at once in the opening question, "Shall we (or, as the true reading is, "May we," "Are we to") continue in sin, that grace may abound?" Had the apostle's doctrine been that salvation depends in any degree upon our good works, no such objection to it could have been made. Against the doctrine of a purely gratuitous justification, the objection is plausible; nor has there ever been an age in which it has not been urged. That it was brought against the apostles, we know from Ro 3:8; and we gather from Ga 5:13; 1Pe 2:16; Jude 4, that some did give occasion to the charge; but that it was a total perversion of the doctrine of Grace the apostle here proceeds to show.Romans 6:1-13 Though justified by grace, we may not live in sin;

since the very figure of baptism requireth us to die

with Christ unto sin, that we may lead a new life of

holiness unto God.

Romans 6:14-20 The dispensation of grace freeth us from the dominion

of sin; but we are still the servants of sin, if we

obey it; therefore being freed from sin, we are bound

unto holiness.

Romans 6:21-23 The end and wages of sin is death; but the fruit of

holiness through God’s grace is eternal life.

Another anticipation; this Epistle abounds therewith. The apostle here prevents an objection, which might be occasioned, either by the foregoing doctrine in general, concerning justification by the free grace of God, and by a righteousness imputed to us; or by what he said more particularly in the close of the foregoing chapter, that where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. Some might hence infer, that there was no need then of inherent righteousness, that persons might abide and abound in sin, that so grace might be the more exalted in the forgiveness thereof. The apostle Jude speaks, Judges 1:4, of some that made this ill improvement of the grace of God. Those that draw such inferences from the premises, they put a false construction upon the apostle’s doctrine, and a paralogism or fallacy upon themselves. They make the apostle’s words more general than he meant or intended them: for the abounding of sin is not the occasion of the abounding of grace in all, but only in some, even in those who confess and forsake their sins. And they apply that to the time to come which the apostle only uttered of the time past. The abounding of sin in men before their conversion and calling, doth commend and exalt the abundant grace of God, in the forgiveness thereof; but not so if sin abound in them after they are converted and called. He propounds this objection by way of interrogation, partly to show his dislike that his doctrine should be so perverted, and partly to show the peace of his own conscience, that he was far from such a thought.

What shall we say then?.... The apostle here obviates an objection he saw would be made against the doctrine he had advanced, concerning the aboundings of the grace of God in such persons and places, where sin had abounded; which if true, might some persons say, then it will be most fit and proper to continue in a sinful course of life, to give up ourselves to all manner of iniquity, since this is the way to make the grace of God abound yet more and more: now says the apostle, what shall we say to this? how shall we answer such an objection? shall we join with the objectors, and say as they do? and

shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? that is, shall we persist in a vicious way of living with this view, that the grace of God may be magnified hereby? is it right to commit sin on such an account? or is this a fair inference, a just consequence, drawn from the doctrine of grace? To be sure it was not, the objection is without any ground and foundation; sin is not "per se", the cause of the glorifying God's grace, but "per accidens": sin of itself is the cause of wrath, and not of grace; but God has been pleased to take an occasion of magnifying his grace, in the forgiveness of sin: for it is not by the commission of sin, but by the pardon of it, that the grace of God is glorified, or made to abound. Moreover, grace in conversion is glorified by putting a stop to the reign of sin, and not by increasing its power, which would be done by continuing in it; grace teaches men not to live in sin, but to abstain from it; add to this, that it is owing to the want of grace, and not to the aboundings of it, that men at any time abuse, or make an ill use of the doctrines of grace; wherefore the apostle's answer is,

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

(1) He passes now to another benefit of Christ, which is called sanctification or regeneration.

(a) In that corruption, for though the guiltiness of sin, is not imputed to us, yet the corruption still remains in us: and this is killed little by little by the sanctification that follows justification.

Romans 6:1. Οὖν] In consequence of what is contained in Romans 5:20-21.

With ἐπιμένωμεν κ.τ.λ[1377] Paul proposes to himself, as a possible inference from what he had just said “de pleonasmo gratiae” (Bengel), the problem, whose solution in the negative was now to be his further theme—a theme in itself of so decisive an importance, that it does not require the assumption of a Jewish-Christian church (Mangold) to make it intelligible. On the introduction in interrogative form by τί οὖν ἐροῦμεν, comp Dissen, a[1379] Dem. de cor. p. 346 (ΤΊ ΟὖΝ ΦΗΜῚ ΔΕῖΝ;). As however the “what shall we say then?” inquires after a maxim in some sort of way to be inferred, the deliberative “shall we continue, etc?.” could at once follow directly, without any need for supplying before it a repeated ἐροῦμεν, or ΜῊ ἘΡΟῦΜΕΝ ὍΤΙ, and for taking ἘΠΙΜΈΝΩΜΕΝ in a hortatory sense (van Hengel, Hofmann).

ἐπιμένειν τῇ ἁμαρτ., to continue in sin, not to cease from it. Comp Romans 11:22 f.; Colossians 1:23; 1 Timothy 4:16; Acts 13:43; Xen. Hell. iii. 4, 6; Oec. 14, 7 : ἐπιμένειν τῷ μὴ ἀδικεῖν.

[1377] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[1379] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

Romans 6:1-14. In the fifth chapter, Paul has concluded his exposition of the “righteousness of God” which is revealed in the Gospel. But the exposition leaves something to be desired—something hinted at in Romans 3:8 (“Let us do evil that good may come”) and recalled in Romans 5:20 f. (“Where sin abounded, grace did superabound”). It seems, after all, as if the gospel did “make void the law” (Romans 3:31) in a bad sense; and Paul has now to demonstrate that it does not. It is giving an unreal precision to his words to say with Lipsius that he has now to justify his gospel to the moral consciousness of the Jewish Christian; it is not Jewish Christians, obviously, who are addressed in Romans 6:19 ff., and it is not the Jewish-Christian moral consciousness, but the moral consciousness of all men, which raises the questions to which he here addresses himself. He has to show that those who have “received the reconciliation” (Romans 5:11), who “receive the abundance of the grace and of the gift of righteousness” (Romans 5:17), are the very persons in whom “the righteous requirement of the law” is fulfilled (Romans 8:4). The libertine argument is rather Gentile than Jewish, though when Paul speaks of the new religion as establishing Law, it is naturally the Mosaic law of which he thinks. It was the one definite embodiment of the concept. The justification, to the moral consciousness, of the Gospel in which a Divine righteousness is freely held out in Jesus Christ to the sinner’s faith, fills the next three chapters. In chap. 6 it is shown that the Christian, in baptism, dies to sin; in chap. 7, that by death he is freed from the law, which in point of fact, owing to the corruption of his nature, perpetually stimulates sin; in chap. 8, that the Spirit imparted to believers breaks the power of the flesh, and enables them to live to God.

Ch. Romans 6:1-14. Justification organically connected with sanctification: grace the supreme motive to obedience

1. What shall we say then?] Here begins the direct treatment of a great topic already suggested, (Romans 3:5-8,) the relation of gratuitous Pardon to Sanctity. This discussion occupies ch. 6 and Romans 7:1-6; and is closely connected with the rest of ch. 7.

Let us distinctly note that up to this point it has not been explicitly in the argument at all. The strongest statements of the evil and the doom of sin were made e. g. in cch. 1 and 2; but the argument thus far has been wholly occupied with acceptance; with Justification. No part of the passage from Romans 3:9 to this point, has purification of heart for its proper subject.

continue, &c.] Lit. remain upon sin. The phrase is frequent in other connexions, and tends to mean not mere continuance, but perseverance in will and act. See e.g. 1 Timothy 4:16.—The objection anticipated in this verse is abundantly illustrated in Church history. It may be prompted either by the craving for sinful licence, or by a prejudice against the doctrine of purely gratuitous pardon under the belief that it does logically favour security in sin. It is all the more noteworthy that St Paul meets it not by modifying in the least the gratuitous aspect of pardon; not by presenting any merit of the pardoned person as even the minutest element in the cause of pardon. He takes sanctity as entirely the effect of Justification, not at all its cause.

Romans 6:1. Ἐπιμενοῦμεν; shall we continue?) Hitherto he treated of the past and the present: now he proceeds to treat of the future; and the forms of expression are suited to those, which immediately precede, whilst he speaks respecting the ‘abounding’ of grace. In this passage the continuing in sin is set before us; in the 15th verse, the going back to sin, which had been overcome. The man, who has obtained grace, may turn himself hither or thither. Paul in this discussion turns his back on sin.

Verse 1-8:39. - (7) Moral results to true believers of the revelation to them of the righteousness of God. The righteousness of God having been announced as revealed in the gospel (Romans 1:17), set forth as available for all mankind (Romans 3:21-31), shown to be in accordance with the teaching of the Old Testament (Romans 4:1-25), viewed with regard to the feelings and hopes of believers fell Romans 5:1-11) and to the position of the human race before God (Romans 5:12-21), the necessary moral results of a true apprehension of the doctrine are treated in this section of the Epistle. And first is shown from various points of view - Verse 1-7:6. - (a) The obligation believers of holiness of life. The subject is led up to by meeting certain supposed erroneous conclusions from what has been said in the preceding chapter. It might be said that, if where sin abounded grace did much more abound - if in the obedience of the one Christ all believers are justified - human sin must be a matter of indifference; it cannot nullify the free gift; nay, grace will be even the more enhanced, in that it abounds the more. The apostle rebuts such antinomian conclusions by showing that they imply a total misunderstanding of the doctrine which was supposed to justify them; for that our partaking in the righteousness of God in Christ means our actually partaking in it - our being influenced by it, loving it and following it, not merely our having it imputed to us while we remain aloof from it; that justifying faith in Christ means spiritual union with Christ, a dying with him to sin and a rising with him to a new life, in which sin shall no longer have dominion over us. He refers to our baptism as having this only meaning, and he enforces his argument by three illustrations: firstly, as aforesaid, that of dying and rising again, which is signified in baptism (vers. 1-14); secondly, that of service to a master (vers. 15-23); thirdly, that of the relation of a wife to a husband (Romans 7:1-16). It will be seen, when we come to it, that the third of these illustrations is a carrying out of the same idea, though it is there law, and not sin, that we are said to be emancipated from. Verse 1. - What shall we say then? So St. Paul introduces a difficulty or objection arising out of the preceding argument (cf. Romans 3:5). Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? Referring to the whole preceding argument, and especially to the concluding verses (Romans 5:20, 21). Romans 6:1What shall we say then?

"A transition-expression and a debater's phrase" (Morison). The use of this phrase points to Paul's training in the Rabbinical schools, where questions were propounded and the students encouraged to debate, objections being suddenly interposed and answered.

Shall we continue (ἐπιμένωμεν)

The verb means primarily to remain or abide at or with, as 1 Corinthians 16:8; Philippians 1:24; and secondarily, to persevere, as Romans 11:23; Colossians 1:23. So better here, persist.

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