For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.Romans 6:5-7
In the last part of our study we saw the Apostle Paul ask a powerful question:
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?Romans 6:1
Paul asked that question based on his previous statement –
Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.Romans 5:20-21
He answered his question directly and emphatically –
Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?Romans 6:2
Paul then addressed the issue of being ‘baptized’ into Christ’s death –
… that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
We continue our study of Romans 6 beginning in verse 5.
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.
ει γαρ συμφυτοι γεγοναμεν τω ομοιωματι του θανατου αυτου αλλα και της αναστασεως εσομεθα
ει γαρ συμφυτοι γεγοναμεν τω ομοιωματι του θανατου αυτου (ei gar sumphutoi gegonamen tō homoiōmati tou thanatou autou) “if for united we have become in the likeness of the death of him” … ei is the ‘if’ of a fulfilled condition – ‘in view of the fact,’ (Wuest) .. sumphutoi means “grown together, congenital, united with” (KJV uses “planted together) .. the compounding of the words sum and phuó means ‘to grow up together with’ .. it is a picture of two living things having a vital union with each other .. gegonamen means “come into being, come about, happen” and is a verb (perfect, indicative, active) that speaks of a complete action of the past that has continuing results .. homoiōmati means “that which is made like something, resemblance of something, a similitude” .. thanatou autou speaks to the physical ‘death’ of Jesus Christ.
αλλα και της αναστασεως εσομεθα (alla kai tēs anastaseōs esometha) “certainly also of the resurrection we will be” … anastaseōs means “rising up, standing up again, resurrection” .. esometha means “I exist, we exist” ..
Greek language expert Spiros Zodhiates wrote – “Paul in this passage is speaking about baptism as a symbol of our voluntary death and burial even as in the case of the Lord Jesus Christ who died and was buried. If we are baptized unto the death of Christ, then we shall participate also, both here and hereafter, in the likeness of His life.” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament, World Bible Publishers, 1992, p 1042)
This is a primary theme in Paul’s letters. We are united with Christ in both His death and resurrection. That is the heart of the Gospel message. Simple, direct, true, powerful, life-changing.
knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
τουτο γινωσκοντες οτι ο παλαιος ημων ανθρωπος συνεσταυρωθη ινα καταργηθη το σωμα της αμαρτιας του μηκετι δουλευειν ημας τη αμαρτια
τουτο γινωσκοντες οτι ο παλαιος ημων ανθρωπος συνεσταυρωθη (touto ginōskontes hoti ho palaios hēmōn anthrōpos sunestaurōthē) “this knowing that old of us self was crucified with him” … ginōskontes means “to know, recognize, perceive” .. it is present tense, participle, active voice .. this knowledge is active in our lives as Christians and plays a vital role in our new life in Christ .. palaios means “old, not new or recent, former, obsolete” .. the word was used for a garment when it was ‘worn out’ and no longer good for wearing .. hēmōn is a first-person pronoun (I, we, us) .. anthrōpos means “man, mankind, human” .. sunestaurōthē is a combination of sun and stauroó and means “to crucify together with” .. the combination of the two words carries the meaning of “is crucified as he was.” That’s a powerful idea when we look at the Cross and see our ‘old man’ crucified ‘with’ Christ. It is a personification of sin to say that it was ‘alive,’ but was put to death on the Cross.
Being placed “into Christ” includes our ‘old man’ being placed into Christ’s death on the Cross. That is certainly a supernatural event. It is not something we can see by natural means, but we can see it ‘by faith’ in what God says about what happened to us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Being ‘crucified together with’ Jesus means our ‘old man’ was crucified.
Paul used the term ‘old man’ three times in his letters:
- Romans 6:6
- Ephesians 4:22
- Colossians 3:9
Romans 6:6 addressed the ‘old man’ as having been ‘crucified’ with Christ.
Ephesians 4:22 addressed ‘putting off’ the ‘old man’ “which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.”
Colossians 3:9 addressed not ‘lying’ to a Christian brother or sister “since you have put off the old man with his deeds.”
Who is the ‘old man’?
‘Our old man’ … describes who we were in Adam prior to conversion. Romans: Exegetical Guide To The Greek New Testament, John D. Harvey, B&H Academic, p 151
Our old self died with Christ, and the life we now enjoy is a new divinely given life that is the life of Christ Himself. John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, Thomas Nelson, 2019, p 1552
ινα καταργηθη το σωμα της αμαρτιας του μηκετι δουλευειν ημας τη αμαρτια (hina katargēthē to sōma tēs hamartias tou mēketi douleuein hēmas tē hamartia) “so that might be annulled the body of sin that no longer are enslaved we to sin” .. katargēthē means “to abolish, render inoperative, make of no effect, annul” .. Paul used the word earlier in his letter to the Romans:
For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? Romans 3:3
Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law. Romans 3:31
For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect. Romans 4:14
Paul used it again in Romans 7 and also used it in his letters to 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians and 2 Thessalonians. Out of the 27 times the word is used in the New Testament, Paul used it 26 times. You may find a study of the word in Paul’s writings useful in understanding what God has annulled (abolished).
The New American Commentary speaks of it as being ‘reduced to a condition of absolute impotence and inaction, as if it were dead.” (Volume 27: Romans. B&H Publishing, 2012)
What is being ‘done away with’ in Romans 6:6 is the “body of sin” – to sōma tēs hamartias .. sōma means “body” and is used for both physical and spiritual (mystical) ..
The idea of ‘the body of sin’ is an interesting one. It would appear to be a ‘spiritual’ body rather than physical since those who are saved continue to have a viable physical body. The ‘body of sin’ impacts our physical body, of course, but is not the same as our physical soma. Meyer’s NT commentary explains it this way –
The old man had such a body; and this σῶμα was to be destroyed, put out of existence by the crucifixion with Christ; consequently not the body in itself, but in so far as it is the sin-body, becoming determined by sin in its expressions of life to sinful πράξεσι (Romans 8:13).
hamartias means “sin, failure, forfeiture because of missing the mark” .. every human being ‘misses the mark’ set by God and something has to be done about it .. every human being is separated from God because of sin (missing the mark) and something has to be done about it .. what was done about it was Jesus died on the Cross .. what did that accomplish?
that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
We are no longer ‘slaves’ (δουλευειν – douleuein) of sin (αμαρτια – hamartia). The word douleuein is a present tense verb, so the idea is of being ‘enslaved.’ The word was used of people who were the property of another – owned by another – for the purpose of serving the owner (master). Before we became Christians, we were ‘slaves of sin.’ After becoming Christians, we are no longer ‘slaves of sin.’ Why is that? Because our old man was crucified with Christ, “that the body of sin might be done away with.”
Praise God that we are no longer ‘slaves to sin!’
For he who has died has been freed from sin.
ο γαρ αποθανων δεδικαιωται απο της αμαρτιας
ο γαρ αποθανων δεδικαιωται απο της αμαρτιας (ho gar apothanōn dedikaiōtai apo tēs hamartias) “the one for having died has been freed from sin” .. apothanōn means “die off, die away from” .. dedikaiōtai means “declare righteous, show to be righteous” ..
Our spiritual ‘freedom’ comes to us through God’s declaration of our righteousness in Christ. That reminds us of what Paul wrote previously in his letter to the Romans –
Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:20-26
And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. Romans 5:16-18
απο της αμαρτιας means we are freed “from sin.” We are no longer under its domination and control.
The early Church Fathers have an interesting take on this –
God set a limit to man’s sin by interposing death and thus using sin to cease, putting an end to it by the dissolution of the flesh, which should take place in the earth, so that man, ceasing at length to live in sin and dying to it, might begin to live in God. Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.23.6
He is set free, he is delivered, he is classed of all sin, and not sin in word and deed only but also of all irrational movements of the mind. Basil, Concerning Baptism 1.2
This he says of every man, that as he that is dead is henceforth freed from sinning, lying as a dead body, so must he that has come up from baptism, since he has died there once for all, remain ever dead to sin. If then you have died in baptism, remain dead, for any one that dies can sin no more; but if you sin, you mar God’s gift. After requiring of us then heroism (Gr. philosophy) of this degree, he presently brings in the crown also, in these words. Chrysostom, Homily 11 on Romans
It is my own view that while Christians have been freed from the ‘domination, power and control’ of sin (the old man under bondage to sin), we often continue to choose to sin against God. That seems obvious from the many challenges we see from the apostles to Christians to live in a way worthy of their holy calling. We also see that in what Jesus Christ said to five of the churches in Revelation 2-3.
If it were not for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we could not respond successfully to the challenges of Scripture. Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can respond successfully to the challenges. We owe everything to Jesus – who died and rose again.
In verses 1-4, Paul has brought out two major facts; first, that when God saves a sinner, He separates him from the indwelling sinful nature, which cleavage is so effective, that the believers is not compelled to sin anymore; he has been permanently delivered from its power, when at the same time that nature is left in him permanently; second, that God at the same time has imparted the diving nature, which gives him both the desire and the power to do God’s will. Now, in verses 5-10, he repeats these great truths in the event that some of his readers may not have caught their full implications as presented in verses 2-4. Kenneth Wuest, Romans In The Greek New Testament, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1955
All this can be asserted, knowing as we do that ‘our old man’ = our old self, what we were before we became Christians—was crucified with Him. Paul says συνεσταυρώθη simply because Christ died on the cross, and we are baptised into that death, not because “our old man” is the basest of criminals for whom crucifixion is the proper penalty. The object of this crucifixion of the old man was “that the body of sin might be brought to nought”. τὸ σῶμα τῆς ἁμαρτίας is the body in which we live: apart from the crucifixion of the old self it can be characterised as ‘a body of sin’. It may be wrong to say that it is necessarily and essentially sinful—the body, as such, can have no moral predicate attached to it; it would be as wrong to deny that it is invariably and persistently a seat and source of sin. Expositor’s Greek Testament
By the old man is meant, that corrupt and polluted nature which we derive from Adam, the first man: see Ephesians 4:22 Colossians 3:9,10. The old and new man are opposites; as then the new man is the image of God repaired in us; so the old man is a depravation of that image of God, and a universal pollution of the whole man. Is crucified with him; by virtue of our union with him, and by means of his death and crucifixion: see Galatians 2:20. Matthew Poole’s Commentary
If it is true that we have been united with Christ in his death 15 —and we have—it then follows that we are also united with him in his resurrection. 16 As he was raised victor over death, so also are we set free from the bondage of sin. Death precedes life in the realm of the Spirit. Since it is true that we are “one with Him by sharing in His death” ( Weymouth), then certainly 17 we are one with him by sharing in his resurrection life. New life in Christ follows death to sin as certainly as Christ’s resurrection followed his crucifixion. Robert H. Mounce (2012). New American Commentary Vol 27: Romans. B&H Publishing Group.
Is crucified – Is put to death, as if on a cross. In this expression there is a personification of the corrupt propensities of our nature represented as “our old man,” our native disposition, etc. The figure is here carried out, and this old man, this corrupt nature, is represented as having been put to death in an agonizing and torturing manner. The pains of crucifixion were perhaps the most torturing of any that the human frame could bear. Death in this manner was most lingering and distressing. And the apostle here by the expression “is crucified” doubtless refers to the painful and protracted struggle which everyone goes through when his evil propensities are subdued; when his corrupt nature is slain; and when, a converted sinner, he gives himself up to God. Sin dies within him, and he becomes dead to the world, and to sin; “for as by the cross death is most lingering and severe, so that corrupt nature is not subdued but by anguish.” (Grotius.) All who have been born again can enter into this description. They remember “the wormwood and the gall.” They remember the anguish of conviction; the struggle of corrupt passion for the ascendency; the dying convulsions of sin in the heart; the long and lingering conflict before it was subdued, and the soul became submissive to God. Nothing will better express this than the lingering agony of crucifixion: and the argument of the apostle is, that as sin has produced such an effect, and as the Christian is now free from its embrace and its power, he will live to God. Barnes’ Notes on the Bible
‘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. Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers
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. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
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’. Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
6, 7. Knowing this, &c.—The apostle now grows more definite and vivid in expressing the sin-destroying efficacy of our union with the crucified Saviour.
that our old man—’our old selves’; that is, ‘all that we were in our old unregenerate condition, before union with Christ’ (compare Col 3:9, 10; Eph 4:22-24; Ga 2:20; 5:24; 6:14).
crucified with him—in order.
that the body of sin—not a figure for ‘the mass of sin’; nor the ‘material body,’ considered as the seat of sin, which it is not; but (as we judge) for ‘sin as it dwells in us in our present embodied state, under the law of the fall.’
might be destroyed—(in Christ’s death)—to the end.
that henceforth we should not serve sin—’be in bondage to sin.’ Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Previous Romans Study eBooks
We will look at Romans 6:8-11 as we continue our study of the Gospel of God.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.