Romans 6:21
What fruit had you then in those things whereof you are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) For.—(You had no fruit) for. &c. Some put the question at “then.” “What fruit had ye therefore (omitted in the Authorised version) at that time? Things of which ye are now ashamed; for their end is death.” But the construction of the Authorised version is probably best.

6:21-23 The pleasure and profit of sin do not deserve to be called fruit. Sinners are but ploughing iniquity, sowing vanity, and reaping the same. Shame came into the world with sin, and is still the certain effect of it. The end of sin is death. Though the way may seem pleasant and inviting, yet it will be bitterness in the latter end. From this condemnation the believer is set at liberty, when made free from sin. If the fruit is unto holiness, if there is an active principle of true and growing grace, the end will be everlasting life; a very happy end! Though the way is up-hill, though it is narrow, thorny, and beset, yet everlasting life at the end of it is sure. The gift of God is eternal life. And this gift is through Jesus Christ our Lord. Christ purchased it, prepared it, prepares us for it, preserves us to it; he is the All in all in our salvation.What fruit, then ... - What reward, or what advantage. This is an argument drawn from the experience of Christians respecting the indulgence of sinful passions. The question discussed throughout this chapter is, whether the gospel plan of justification by faith leads to indulgence in sin? The argument here is drawn from the past experience which Christians have had in the ways of transgression. They have tried it; they know its effects; they have tasted its bitterness; they have reaped its fruits. It is implied here that having once experienced these effects, and knowing the tendency of sin, they will not indulge in it now; compare Romans 7:5.

Whereof ye are now ashamed - Having seen their nature and tendency, you are now ashamed of them; compare Romans 1; Ephesians 5:12, "For it is a shame to speak of those things which are done of them in secret," 2 Corinthians 4:2; Jde 1:13; Philippians 3:19.

For the end - The tendency; the result. Those things lead to death.

Is death - Note, Romans 6:22.

21. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death—What permanent advantage, and what abiding satisfaction, have those things yielded? The apostle answers his own question:—"Abiding satisfaction, did I ask? They have left only a sense of 'shame.' Permanent advantage? 'The end of them is death.'" By saying they were "now ashamed," he makes it plain that he is not referring to that disgust at themselves, and remorse of conscience by which those who are the most helplessly "sold under sin" are often stung to the quick; but that ingenuous feeling of self-reproach, which pierces and weighs down the children of God, as they think of the dishonor which their past life did to His name, the ingratitude it displayed, the violence it did to their own conscience, its deadening and degrading effects, and the death—"the second death"—to which it was dragging them down, when mere Grace arrested them. (On the sense of "death" here, see on [2207]Ro 5:12-21, Note 3, and [2208]Ro 6:16: see also Re 21:8—The change proposed in the pointing of this verse: "What fruit had ye then? things whereof ye are now ashamed" [Luther, Tholuck, De Wette, Philippi, Alford, &c.], seems unnatural and uncalled for. The ordinary pointing has at least powerful support [Chrysostom, Calvin, Beza, Grotius, Bengel, Stuart, Fritzsche]). q.d. And this will be much more equal and reasonable, if you consider these three things:

1. How little fruit and satisfaction your former sins have afforded you in the very time of committing them.

2. How nothing but shame and sorrow doth follow upon the remembrance of them.

3. How death, yea, eternal death and damnation, (unless pardoning grace and mercy prevent it), will be the certain conclusion of them. And whether these things are true or not, I appeal to yourselves. What fruit had ye then in those things?.... That is, what profit, pleasure, satisfaction, or comfort, had ye in the commission of sin? Sin yields no real profit to the servants of it. If a man, by sinful practices, could amass together the riches of the Indies, or gain the whole world, yet if his soul is lost thereby, what advantage would it be to him? he would be infinitely the loser by it; nor would all his wealth and riches profit him in the day of God's wrath and righteous judgment: nor is there any true pleasure in sin; persons may imagine within themselves they enjoy a real pleasure whilst they are serving divers lusts; but this is but imaginary, it is not real; and this imaginary pleasure is but for a season; it issues in bitterness and death: nor is there any satisfaction in it; when men have endeavoured to gratify their carnal lusts and sensual appetites in every way that can be devised, they still remain as they were; nor can they reflect with real satisfaction, and without some slinging remorse, upon the methods they have pursued to gain it: nor is there any true honour in sin, nothing but what is scandalous and disgraceful to human nature; shame, sooner or later, is the fruit of sin:

whereof ye are now ashamed; some men may be indeed for the present so hardened as not to blush and be ashamed at the commission of the vilest sins; such are they who have no sense of sin, have no fear of God, or regard to men; and so sin openly, and without any guise, glory in it, and make their boast of it: but when persons are wrought upon by the Spirit of God, they are ashamed of sin; which might be exemplified in the case of Adam and Eve, of Ephraim, of the prodigal son, and of the poor publican; the reason is, because light is struck into their hearts; and this makes manifest the odious and detestable nature of sin; sin is hereby seen in its own proper colours, as exceeding sinful, loathsome, and abominable: besides, the grace and goodness of God are discovered in the forgiveness of it; and the glory of God's purity and holiness, and the beauty and loveliness of Christ, are discerned by such persons; all which have a tendency to make them ashamed of sin, out of love with it, and to abhor it: and a good thing it is to be brought to be ashamed of sin here; for such who are not ashamed of it here, shall be brought to everlasting shame and confusion hereafter. Nay, this is not all; not only shame will be the fruit of sin, but it will also issue in death:

for the, end of those things is death: the profit, the reward, and wages of them is death: sin not only brings a spiritual or moral death on persons, on all the powers and faculties of their souls, and is followed with a corporeal death; but if grace prevent not, it will end in an eternal one; for however right and good the ways of sin may seem to the carnal mind, "the end thereof are the ways of death" (#Pr 14:12 16:25).

{10} What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the {u} end of those things is death.

(10) An exhortation to the study of righteousness and hatred of sin, the contrary results of both being set down before us.

(u) The reward or payment.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 6:21 f. To decide which of the two lives, or of the two freedoms, is the true, Paul appeals to their fruits. The marked contrast between τότε and νῦν is in favour of those who put the mark of interrogation after τότε. “What fruit therefore had you then? Things of which you are now ashamed.” The construction ἐφʼ οἶς ἐπαισχύνεσθε is found also in Isaiah 1:29 : ᾐσχύνθησαν ἐπὶ τοῖς κίποις. If the point of interrogation is put after ἐπαισχύνεσθε, the answer “none” must be interpolated: and ἐκείνων supplied as antecedent to ἐφʼ οἷς. νυνὶ δέ: But now, now that the situation is reversed, and you have been freed from sin and made slaves to God, you have your fruit εἰς ἁγιασμόν. He does not say what the fruit is, but we know what the things are which contribute to and result in ἁγιασμός: see Romans 6:19.21. What fruit had ye then] “Then,” or “therefore,” points to the resulting practice due to their just-described position.

fruit] The word is very often used as a figure for “result,” and almost always in a good sense. The probable meaning here will thus be, “Did you find any happiness or profit resulting?” For a comment on these clauses see the passage 1 Peter 4:1-4, which is pregnant with illustration of this whole context. (Cp. e.g. Romans 6:3; Romans 6:7, with 1 Peter 4:1; Romans 6:12-13, with 1 Peter 4:2.) See too, for the deep and gracious contrast between the past and the present of other Christian converts, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

death] See on Romans 1:32. From, Romans 6:23 here it is plain that this “death” is the correlative of “eternal life.” It is the “second death” of the Revelation; the “destruction,” or “ruin,” of Matthew 7:13.Romans 6:21. Τίνα οὖν καρπὸν εἴχετε τότε, ἐφʼ οἷς νῦν ἐπαισχύνεσθε) This whole period has the force of a negative interrogation. He says, that the righteous have their fruit unto holiness; but he does not consider those things which are ‘unfruitful’ [ἄκαρπα] worthy of the name of fruit.—Ephesians 5:11. He says, therefore, those things which now cause you to feel ashamed, were, indeed, formerly not fruits. Others put the mark of interrogation after τότε, then, so that ἐφʼ οἷς may be the answer to the interrogation; but then the apostle should have said ἐφʼ ᾧ, sc. καρπῷ [Sanctification is the reverse of this shame, Romans 6:22, evidently just as in 1 Corinthians 1:28; 1 Corinthians 1:30, that which is base (“base things”) and sanctification, are in antithesis; but the multitude of Christians are now ashamed of sanctification, which is esteemed as something base. What a fearful death hangs over such persons! O the degeneracy of the times and the manners (principles of men)!—V. g.]—νῦν, now) when you have been brought to repentance.—γὰρ, for) instead of moreover [autem]; but it has a greater power of separation, comp. Romans 6:22 at the end, δὲ, and moreover [autem]; so γὰρ, for, ch. Romans 5:7.—ἐκείνων, of those things) He does not say, of these things; he looks on those things as the remote past.—θάνατος, death) The epithet eternal (αἰώνιος) Romans 6:23, is never added to this noun, not only in relation to those, in the case of whom, death yields to life, but not even in relation to those who shall go away into everlasting fire, torment, and destruction. If any one can think, that it is by mere chance, and not design, that Scripture, when eternal life is expressly mentioned, never names its opposite, eternal death, but everywhere speaks of it in a different manner, and that, too, in so many places, I, for my part, leave to him the equivalence of the phrases, eternal destruction, etc.[66] The reason of the difference, however, is this: Scripture often describes death, by personification, as an enemy, and an enemy, too, to be destroyed; but it does not so describe torment.

[66] I leave him to his own foolish notion, that the phrases eternal destruction, etc., are equivalent to eternal death.—ED.Fruit

See on Romans 1:13.

Had ye (εἴχετε)

Imperfect tense, denoting continuance. What fruit were ye having during your service of sin?

In the things whereof (ἐφ' οἷς)

Some change the punctuation, and read "What fruit had ye at that time? Things whereof ye are now ashamed." But the majority of the best texts reject this, and besides, the question is of having fruit, not of the quality of the fruit.

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