Romans 6:20
For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerNewellParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTeedTTBVWSWESTSK
6:16-20 Every man is the servant of the master to whose commands he yields himself; whether it be the sinful dispositions of his heart, in actions which lead to death, or the new and spiritual obedience implanted by regeneration. The apostle rejoiced now they obeyed from the heart the gospel, into which they were delivered as into a mould. As the same metal becomes a new vessel, when melted and recast in another mould, so the believer has become a new creature. And there is great difference in the liberty of mind and spirit, so opposite to the state of slavery, which the true Christian has in the service of his rightful Lord, whom he is enabled to consider as his Father, and himself as his son and heir, by the adoption of grace. The dominion of sin consists in being willingly slaves thereto, not in being harassed by it as a hated power, struggling for victory. Those who now are the servants of God, once were the slaves of sin.Ye were free from righteousness - That is, in your former state, you were not at all under the influence of righteousness. You were entirely devoted to sin; a strong expression of total depravity. It settles the question; and proves that they had no native goodness. The argument which is implied here rather than expressed is, that now they ought to be equally free from sin, since they had become released from their former bondage, and had become the servants of another master. 20. For when ye were the servants—"were servants"

of Sin, ye were free from—rather, "in respect of"

Righteousness—Difficulties have been made about this clause where none exist. The import of it seems clearly to be this:—"Since no servant can serve two masters, much less where their interests come into deadly collision, and each demands the whole man, so, while ye were in the service of Sin ye were in no proper sense the servants of Righteousness, and never did it one act of real service: whatever might be your conviction of the claims of Righteousness, your real services were all and always given to Sin: Thus had ye full proof of the nature and advantages of Sin's service." The searching question with which this is followed up, shows that this is the meaning.

q.d. When you served sin, you knew that God and righteousness had no whit of your service; why then should sin have any of your service now, when ye have delivered up yourselves to righteousness, or godliness, to be the observant followers thereof? Why should not ye now abstain as strictly from all sin, as then ye did from all good?

For when ye were the servants of sin,.... This is an argument used, or a reason given, why regenerate persons should be diligent in the service of righteousness; because when they were employed in the drudgery of sin, they

were free from righteousness; they had no righteousness, nor were they desirous of any; yea, averse to it, threw off the yoke of the law of righteousness, and lived in a very unrighteous manner: hence may be observed what is the free will of man in an unregenerate state; not free to, but "from" righteousness; free enough to evil, but from all that is good; and also what obligation lies upon believers, who are delivered from the bondage of corruption, and the servitude of sin, to a life and service of righteousness; inasmuch as they were before free from it, and unconcerned about it, but are now made by the grace of God free to it, they ought therefore cheerfully to pursue it, and neglect no opportunity of performing it.

For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were {t} free from righteousness.

(t) Righteousness had no rule over you.

Romans 6:20-22. With γάρ Paul does not introduce an illustration to Romans 6:19 (Fritzsche), but rather—seeing that Romans 6:20 through οὐν in Romans 6:21, as well as through the correlative antithesis in Romans 6:22, must necessarily form a connected whole in thought with what follows till the end of Romans 6:22—the motive for complying with what is enjoined in Romans 6:19; and that in such a way, that he first of all prepares the way for it by Romans 6:20, and then in Romans 6:21 f., leading on by οὐν, actually expresses it, equally impressively and touchingly, as respects its deterrent (Romans 6:21) and inviting (Romans 6:22) aspects. The fact that he first sets down Romans 6:20 for itself, makes the recollection which he thus calls up more forcible, more tragic. Observe also the emphasis and the symmetrical separation of the several words in Romans 6:20.

ἐλεύθ. ἦτε τῇ δικαιοσ.] Ye were free in relation to righteousness, in point of fact independent of its demands, since ye were serving the opposite ruler (the ἁμαρτία). Οὐδὲ γὰρ διενέμετε τῆς δουλείας τὸν τρόπον τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ καὶ τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ, ἀλλʼ ὅλως ἑαυτοὺς ἐξεδίδοτε τῇ πονηρίᾳ, Chrysostom. A sad truth based on experience! not a flight of irony (Koppe, Reiche, Philippi, and others), but full of deep moral pain.

Romans 6:21. οὖν] in consequence of this freedom.

τίνα.… ἐπαισχύνεσθε is with Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Castalio, Beza, Calvin, Grotius, Estius, Wetstein, Bengel, and others, including Winer, Reiche (but see below), Fritzsche, Jatho, and Hofmann (but see below)—in harmony with the punctuation of the text. rec[1488]—to be regarded as one connected question, so that the reason to be given for replying in the negative sense to this question is then contained in τὸ γὰρ τέλος ἐκείνων θάνατος; namely, thus: what fruit, now, had ye then (when ye were still in the service of sin, etc., Romans 6:20) of things, on account of which ye are now ashamed? i.e. ye had then no fruit, no moral gain, etc., and the proof thereof is: for the final result of them (those things) is death. What leads at last to death, could bring you no moral gain. For the grammatical explanation ἐκείνων is to be supplied before ἐφʼ οἷς (which in fact is perfectly regular, Winer, p. 149 [E. T. 203]), and to this the ἐκείνων in the probative clause refers. Regarding ἐπαισχ. ἐπί τινι, to be ashamed over anything (not merely of the being put to shame by the fact of something not proving to be what we thought it, as Th. Schott weakens the sense) comp Xen. Hell. v. 4, 33: ἐπὶ τῇ ἡμετέρᾳ φιλίᾳ αἰσχυνθῇς, Plat. Rep. p. 396 C: οὐκ αἰσχυνεῖσθαι ἐπὶ τῇ τοιαύτῃ μιμήσει, LXX., Isaiah 20:5, Romans 1:29; 1Ma 4:31; also Dem. 426, 10. Reiche makes the double mistake of very arbitrarily referring ἐφʼ οἷς to καρπόν, which is to be taken collectively; and of explaining καρπὸν ἔχειν as meaning to bring forth fruit (which would be κ. ποιεῖν, φέρειν), so that the sense would be: “what deeds, on account of which ye are now ashamed, proceeded from your service of sin?” Hofmann, resolving the expression into ἐπὶ τούτοις ἅ νῦν ἐπαισχύνεσθε, wishes to take ἐτί in the well-known sense of addition to, so that Paul asks: “what fruit had ye then over and above those things of which ye are now ashamed?” those things being the former disgraceful enjoyments, with which they now desired to have nothing further to do. But how could the reader think of such enjoyments without any hint being given by the text? And how arbitrary in this particular place is that interpretation of ἐπί, especially when the verb itself is compounded with ἐπί, and that in the sense: to be ashamed thereupon, and accordingly indicates how ἐφʼ οἷς is to be resolved and properly understood! See generally on ἐπί with the dative, as specifying the ground with verbs of emotion, Kühner, II. 1, p. 436, and with αἰσχύν. II. 2, p. 381, rem. 6. Many others (Syriac, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret, Theophylact, Erasmus, Luther, Melancthon, Erasmus Schmid, Heumann, Carpzov, Koppe, Tholuck undecidedly, Rückert, Köllner, de Wette, Olshausen, Baumgarten-Crusius, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Philippi, Reithmayr, Ewald, van Hengel, and Th. Schott) end the question with τότε, so that ἐφʼ οἷς νῦν ἐπαισχ. becomes the answer, of which again τὸ γὰρ τέλ. ἐκ θάν. is the proof: “what sort of fruit had ye then? Things (ye had as fruit) of which ye are now ashamed; for the end of them is death.” Καρπόν is likewise regarded as a figurative description either of gain or reward (“ignoble and pernicious joys and pleasures,” Ewald), or of actions, which are the penal consequence of reprobate sentiments. But fatal to all this explanation, which breaks up the passage, is the antithesis in Romans 6:22, where the having of fruit, not its quality, is opposed to the preceding; if Paul had inquired in Romans 6:21 regarding the quality of the fruit, he must have used in Romans 6:22 some such expression as νυνὶ δὲ.… τὸν ἁγιασμὸν ἔχετε τὸν καρπὸν ὑμῶν. Besides, we cannot well see why he should not have written either τίνας καρπούς or ἐφʼ ᾧ and ἐκείνου; he would by annexing the plurals, though these were in themselves admissible on account of the collective nature of καρπός, have only expressed himself in a fashion obscure and misleading. Finally, it is to be observed that he never attributes καρπόν or καρπούς to immorality; he attributes to it ἔργα (Galatians 5:19), but uses καρπός only of the good; he speaks of the καρπὸς του πνεύματος, Galatians 5:22; of the καρπὸς τοῦ φῶτος, Ephesians 5:9; of the καρπὸς δικαιοσύνης, Php 1:11; of the καρπ. ἔργου, Php 1:22; comp Romans 1:13; in fact he negatives the idea of καρπός in reference to evil, when he describes the ἔργα τοῦ σκότους as ἄκαρπα, Ephesians 5:11; comp Titus 3:14. With this type of conception our interpretation alone accords, by which in the question τίνα καρπὸν κ.τ.λ (comp 1 Corinthians 9:18) there is contained the negation of καρπὸς in the service of sin, the ἄκαρπον εἶναι. The most plausible objection to our explanation is this, that in accordance with it ἐφʼ οἷς νῦν ἐπαισχ. becomes merely an incidental observation. But an incidental observation may be of great weight in its bearing on the matter in hand. It is so here, where it contains a trenchant argumentative point in favour of replying in a negative sense to the question. Calvin aptly says: “non poterat gravius exprimere quod volebat, quam appellando eorum conscientiam et quasi in eorum persona pudorem confitendo.” Compare also Chrysostom.

ἐκείνων] neuter: those things, on account of which ye are now ashamed, the pre-Christian sins and vices. Bengel well remarks: “remote spectat praeterita.”

θάνατος] death, i.e. the eternal death, whose antithesis is the ζωὴ αἰώνιος, Romans 6:23; not the physical (Fritzsche), comp on Romans 6:16.

The μέν before γάρ (see the crit. remarks) does not correspond to the following δέ; on the contrary, we must translate: for the end indeed (which however excludes every fruit) is death. See Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 414, Winer, p. 534 f. [E T. 719 f.].

Romans 6:22. νυνὶ δέ κ.τ.λ[1494]] But now (ye are no longer without fruit, as formerly; no, now) ye possess your fruit unto holiness, so that its possession has as its consequence holiness for you (εἰς consecutive). The ἉΓΙΑΣΜΌς is consequently not the fruit (the moral gain) itself, which they already have (that would also be at variance with οὕτω νῦν παραστ.… εἰς ἁγιασμόν in Romans 6:19), but the state, which the ἔχειν of their fruit shall in future bring about. The fruit itself—and καρπός is to be taken, quite as in Romans 6:21, as ethical product—is consequently the new, Christian morality (comp the ΚΑΙΝΌΤΗς ΖΩῆς in Romans 6:4), the Christian virtuous nature which belongs to them (ὙΜῷΝ), and the possession of which leads by the way of progressive development to holiness.

τὸ δὲ τέλος ζωὴν αἰών.] as the final result however (of this your fruit) eternal life in the kingdom of Messiah. This possession is now as yet an ideal one (Romans 8:24). Hofmann erroneously takes τὸ δὲ τέλος adverbially (1 Peter 3:8; comp on 1 Corinthians 15:24), which is impossible after Romans 6:21, in accordance with which the word must here also be the emphatic substantive, the finale of the καρπός; hence also ΞΩῊΝ ΑἸΏΝΙΟΝ is dependent not on ΕἸς (Hofmann), but on ἜΧΕΤΕ.

The circumstance, moreover, that Paul in Romans 6:22 says ΔΟΥΛΩΘ. Τῷ ΘΕῷ, while in Romans 6:18 he has said ἘΔΟΥΛ. Τῇ ΔΙΚΑΙΟΣΎΝῌ, is rightly illustrated by Grotius: “qui bonitati rebusque honestis servit, et Deo servit, quia Deus hoc semper amavit et in evangelio apertissime praecepit.” Comp Romans 12:2. And precisely therein lies the true freedom, Romans 6:20. In every state in which man lives, there is a bondage and a liberty. In the old state, it was bondage to sin, and liberty in relation to righteousness. For τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ see Winer, 263.

20. For when, &c.] This verse enforces the exhortation just given, by reminding the Christian that once he was emphatically not the “bond-servant of righteousness.”

free from righteousness] Lit. free unto righteousness; i.e. with respect to it, both as to its mercy and as to its consequent claim. There is here a deep and solemn irony, (if we may venture the word), which has some parallel in 1 Peter 4:3; q. d., “You had nothing to do with the righteousness of God; you were not justified before Him: therefore His righteousness had, as it were, nothing to do with you; it laid no bond of grateful love upon you.”

Romans 6:20. Τῆς ἁμαρτίας, of sin) This case contains the emphasis of the sentence; sin had taken possession of you.—τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ, to [towards] righteousness) that is in respect of righteousness.

Verses 20-23. - For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness (more literally, to righteousness; i.e. ye were not in any bondage to righteousness). What fruit had ye then (i.e. when you were formerly slaves of sin) in those things whereof ye are now ashamed?, for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and made servants to God, ye have your fruit unto sanctification; and the end life eternal. For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of god is life eternal in Christ Jesus our Lord. The logical connection with the previous context of the above series of verses, beginning with ver. 20, as well as the sequence of thought running through them (intimated by the particles γὰρ σῦν, and δὲ), is not at once obvious. It seems to be as follows: the γὰρ in ver. 20 introduces a reason for the exhortation of ver. 19, παραστήσατε, etc. But ver. 20 is not in itself the reason, being only an introduction to the statement of it in the verses that follow. The drift of the whole passage seems to be this: Yield ye your members to the sole service of righteousness; for (ver. 20) ye were once in the sole service of sin, owning no allegiance to righteousness at all; and (ver. 21) what fruit had ye from that service? None at all; for ye know that the only end of the things ye did then, and of which ye are now ashamed, is death. But (ver. 22) your new service has its fruit: it leads to your sanctification now, and in the end eternal life. Authorities, however, both ancient and modern, are divided as to the punctuation, and consequent construction, of ver. 21. In the Vulgate and the Authorized Version (as in the interpretation given above) the stop of interrogation is placed after "ashamed;" the answer, none, being understood, and "for the end," etc., being the reason why there is no fruit The other way is to take the question as ending at "had ye then," and "those things whereof," etc., as the answer to it, and for the end, etc., as the reason why they are ashamed. Thus: "What fruit had ye then (when you were free from righteousness)? The works (or pleasures) of which you are now ashamed were the only fruit; you are ashamed of them now; for their end is death." The latter interpretation is defended by Alford on the ground that it is more consistent "with the New Testament meaning of καρπός, which is 'actions,' the ' fruit of the man' considered as the tree, not 'wages' or 'reward,' the 'fruit of his actions.'" This is true. But, on the other hand, it may be argued that such use of the word καρπός by St. Paul is always in a good sense; he usually regards sin as having no fruits at all; to the fruit of the Spirit is opposed, not any fruit of a different character, but the works (ἔργα) of the flesh (Galatians 5:19, 22); and in Ephesians 5:11 (again in opposition to the fruit of the Spirit) he speaks of the unfruitful works (ἔργοις τοῖς ἀκάρποις) of darkness. Thus the idea of ver. 21, understood as in the Authorized Version, seems closely to correspond with that of the passage last cited. "The things of which ye are now ashamed," in ver. 21, are "the works of darkness" of Ephesians 5:11; and in both places they are declared to have no fruit. Sin is a barren tree, and only ends in death. Cf. what was said above with respect to εἰς τὴν ἀνομίαν and εἰς ἁγιασμόν in ver. 19. It is true, however, that the expression in the next chapter, καρποφορῆσαι τῷ θανάτῳ (Romans 7:5), in opposition to καρποφορήσωμεν τῷ Θεῷ, in some degree weakens the force of the above argument. We observe, lastly, on ver. 23, that to the "wages" of sin (ὀψώνια , used usually to denote a soldier's pay) is opposed "free gift" (χάρισμα for sin earns death as its due reward; but eternal life is not earned by us, but granted us by the grace of God. As to the phrase, δουλωθέντες τῷ Θεῷ, in ver. 22, it can be used without the need of any such apology as seems to be implied in ver. 19 (according to the meaning of the verse that has been preferred) for speaking of our becoming slaves to righteousness. For we do belong to God as his δοῦλοι, and to Christ, having been "bought with a price" (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:23); and St. Paul at the beginning of his Epistles often calls himself δοῦλος Ξριστοῦ (cf. also Luke 17:10). But it does not follow that our service should be the service of slaves; it may be a free, willing, enthusiastic obedience notwithstanding; we obey, not because we are under bondage to obey, but because love inspires us (cf. Galatians 4:6, etc., "Because ye are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no longer a servant, but a son").

Romans 6:20Free from righteousness (ἐλεύθεροι τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ)

An ambiguous translation. Better, Rev., free in regard of righteousness. Disengaged (Morison), practically independent of its demands, having offered their service to the opposing power. They could not serve two masters.

Romans 6:20 Interlinear
Romans 6:20 Parallel Texts

Romans 6:20 NIV
Romans 6:20 NLT
Romans 6:20 ESV
Romans 6:20 NASB
Romans 6:20 KJV

Romans 6:20 Bible Apps
Romans 6:20 Parallel
Romans 6:20 Biblia Paralela
Romans 6:20 Chinese Bible
Romans 6:20 French Bible
Romans 6:20 German Bible

Bible Hub

Romans 6:19
Top of Page
Top of Page