Verses 5:20–6:11

DIGGING DEEPER

The apostle referred to Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection in this section. Seen from the viewpoint of His substitute sacrifice these events did not involve the believer’s participation. Jesus Christ alone endured the cross, experienced burial, and rose from the grave. Nevertheless His work of redemption was not only substitutionary but also representative. It is in this respect that Paul described believers as identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection in the following verses. Paul previously introduced the idea of Christ as our representative in 5:12–21 (cf. 2 Cor. 5:14). Sin has no further claim on Christ because He paid the penalty for sin. Sin no longer has a claim on us because He died as our representative. We are free from sin’s domination because of our union with Him. This was Paul’s line of thought, and it obviously develops further what Paul wrote in 5:12–21. (Constable 65)

SOME KEY IDEAS IN THIS PASSAGE

Original Sin — Anyone who can argue like that, says Paul, shows that he has not begun to understand the gospel. Life in sin cannot coexist with death to sin’ But what is meant by death to sin’? Listen, he says, “Do you not remember what happened when you were baptized? From this and other references to baptism in Paul’s writings, it is plain that he did not regard baptism as an ‘optional extra in the Christian life. He took it for granted that the Roman Christians, who were not his converts, had been as certainly baptized as his own converts were. His remarks on baptism in I Corinthians 1:14–17, concluding with the statement that he was not sent to baptize but to preach the gospel’, do not mean that he regarded the sacrament itself as unimportant; what was unimportant was the identity of the baptizer. He assumes that all the members of the Corinthian church have been baptized (I Cor 1:13; 6:11, 10:1–2; 12:13).

In apostolic times baptism appears to have followed immediately on confession of faith in Christ. The repeated accounts of baptism In Acts give ample proof of this; the incident of the twelve disciples at Ephesus (Acts 19:1–7) is the exception that proves the rule. What is expressly related in Acts is implied in the Epistles. Faith in Christ and baptism were, indeed, not so much two distinct experiences as parts of one whole, Faith in Christ was an essential element in baptism, for without it the application of water, even accompanied by the appropriate words, would not have been Christian baptism.

But when believers were baptized, what happened? This, says Paul. Their former existence came to an end; a new life began. They were, in fact, buried’ with Christ when they were dipped in the baptismal water, in token that they had died so far as their old life of on was concerned, they were raised with Christ when they emerged from the water, in token that they had received a new life, which was nothing less than participation in Christ’s own resurrection life. Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?’ But how could they continue in sin, if the life which they now lived, even while yet in mortal body, was the life which was theirs by union with the risen Christ? The very idea was a moral contradiction in terms.

But how is this going to work out in practice? Yield yourselves to God, says Paul; present your bodies to him as instruments for the doing of his will. Formerly you were enslaved to sin, but your old relation to sin has been broken — broken irrevocably, by death. What death? The death that you have died with Christ. Now that you are united to him by faith, his death has become yours; your “old self” has been “crucified” on his cross. Christ had to do with sin, as well as you; you have had to do with it as sinners, he had to do with it as sin-bearer. As the bearer of his people’s sins, he died; but now he lives his resurrection life. He no longer bears his people’s sins; when once he had died for their sins, he rose from the dead, and now death can touch him no more. If you consider yourselves to have died in his death, and risen to a new way of life in his resurrection, sin will dominate you no more. You now live under a regime of grace, and grace does not stimulate sin, as law does; grace liberates from sin and enables you to triumph over it. (Bruce pg 140–141 )

Baptism . . . functions as shorthand for the conversion experience as a whole. -Moo
What we were ‘in Adam’ is no more; but, until heaven, the temptation to live in Adam always remains. -Moo

SOME REFLECTION QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • What what would it look like for you to “count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God” (6:11)?
  • What assurance and encouragement do you receive from this chapter that might give you assurance in your struggle against sin? (IV Press Bible Study)
  • How does this passage influence or change your missional lifestyle and microchurch?