Romans 6 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Romans 6)

Verse 1

[1] What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

The apostle here sets himself more fully to vindicate his doctrine from the consequence above suggested, Romans 3:7,8. He had then only in strong terms denied and renounced it: here he removes the very foundation thereof.

Verse 2

[2] God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

Dead to sin — Freed both from the guilt and from the power of it.

Verse 3

[3] Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

As many as have been baptized into Jesus Christ have been baptized into his death — In baptism we, through faith, are ingrafted into Christ; and we draw new spiritual life from this new root, through his Spirit, who fashions us like unto him, and particularly with regard to his death and resurrection.

Verse 4

[4] Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

We are buried with him — Alluding to the ancient manner of baptizing by immersion.

That as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory — Glorious power. Of the Father, so we also, by the same power, should rise again; and as he lives a new life in heaven, so we should walk in newness of life. This, says the apostle, our very baptism represents to us.

Verse 5

[5] For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

For — Surely these two must go together; so that if we are indeed made conformable to his death, we shall also know the power of his resurrection.

Verse 6

[6] Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

Our old man — Coeval with our being, and as old as the fall; our evil nature; a strong and beautiful expression for that entire depravity and corruption which by nature spreads itself over the whole man, leaving no part uninfected. This in a believer is crucified with Christ, mortified, gradually killed, by virtue of our union with him.

That the body of sin — All evil tempers, words, and actions, which are the "members" of the "old man," Colossians 3:5, might be destroyed.

Verse 7

[7] For he that is dead is freed from sin.

For he that is dead — With Christ. Is freed from the guilt of past, and from the power of present, sin, as dead men from the commands of their former masters.

Verse 8

[8] Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

Dead with Christ — Conformed to his death, by dying to sin.

Verse 10

[10] For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

He died to sin — To atone for and abolish it.

He liveth unto God — A glorious eternal life, such as we shall live also.

Verse 12

[12] Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

Let not sin reign even in your mortal body — It must be subject to death, but it need not be subject to sin.

Verse 13

[13] Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

Neither present your members to sin — To corrupt nature, a mere tyrant.

But to God — Your lawful King.

Verse 14

[14] For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

Sin shall not have dominion over you — It has neither right nor power.

For ye are not under the law — A dispensation of terror and bondage, which only shows sin, without enabling you to conquer it.

But under grace — Under the merciful dispensation of the gospel, which brings complete victory over it to every one who is under the powerful influences of the Spirit of Christ.

Verse 17

[17] But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

The form of doctrine into which ye have been delivered — Literally it is, The mould into which ye have been delivered; which, as it contains a beautiful allusion, conveys also a very instructive admonition; intimating that our minds, all pliant and ductile, should be conformed to the gospel precepts, as liquid metal, take the figure of the mould into which they are cast.

Verse 18

[18] Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

Being then set free from sin — We may see the apostles method thus far at one view: - Chap. Ver. 1. Bondage to sin Romans 6:12

Verse 19

[19] I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

I speak after the manner of men — Thus it is necessary that the scripture should let itself down to the language of men.

Because of the weakness of your flesh — Slowness of understanding flows from the weakness of the flesh, that is, of human nature.

As ye have presented your members servants to uncleanness and iniquity unto iniquity, so now present your members servants of righteousness unto holiness — Iniquity (whereof uncleanness is an eminent part) is here opposed to righteousness; and unto iniquity is the opposite of unto holiness. Righteousness here is a conformity to the divine will; holiness, to the whole divine nature. Observe, they who are servants of righteousness go on to holiness; but they who are servants to iniquity get no farther. Righteousness is service, because we live according to the will of another; but liberty, because of our inclination to it, and delight in it.

Verse 20

[20] For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.

When ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness — In all reason, therefore, ye ought now to be free from unrighteousness; to be as uniform and zealous in serving God as ye were in serving the devil.

Verse 21

[21] What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.

Those things — He speaks of them as afar off.

Verse 23

[23] For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Death — Temporal, spiritual, and eternal.

Is the due wages of sin; but eternal life is the gift of God — The difference is remarkable. Evil works merit the reward they receive: good works do not. The former demand wages: the latter accept a free gift.