5. For if we have been ingrafted, &c. He strengthens in plainer words the argument he has already stated; for the similitude which he mentions leaves now nothing doubtful, inasmuch as grafting designates not only a conformity of example, but a secret union, by which we are joined to him; so that he, reviving us by his Spirit, transfers his own virtue to us. Hence as the graft has the same life or death in common with the tree into which it is ingrafted, so it is reasonable that we should be partakers of the life no less than of the death of Christ; for if we are ingrafted according to the likeness of Christ’s death, which was not without a resurrection, then our death shall not be without a resurrection. But the words admit of a twofold explanation,—either that we are ingrafted in Christ into the likeness of his death, or, that we are simply ingrafted in its likeness. The first reading would require the Greek dative ὁμοιώματι, to be understood as pointing out the manner; nor do I deny but that it has a fuller meaning: but as the other harmonizes more with simplicity of expression, I have preferred it; though it signifies but little, as both come to the same meaning. Chrysostom thought that Paul used the expression, “likeness of death,” for death, as he says in another place, “being made in the likeness of men.” But it seems to me that there is something more significant in the expression; for it not only serves to intimate a resurrection, but it seems also to indicate this—that we die not like Christ a natural death, but that there is a similarity between our and his death; for as he by death died in the flesh, which he had assumed from us, so we also die in ourselves, that we may live in him. It is not then the same, but a similar death; for we are to notice the connection between the death of our present life and spiritual renovation.
Ingrafted, &c. There is great force in this word, and it clearly shows, that the Apostle does not exhort, but rather teach us what benefit we derive from Christ; for he requires nothing from us, which is to be done by our attention and diligence, but speaks of the grafting made by the hand of God. But there is no reason why you should seek to apply the metaphor or comparison in every particular; for between the grafting of trees, and this which is spiritual, a disparity will soon meet us: in the former the graft draws its aliment from the root, but retains its own nature in the fruit; but in the latter not only we derive the vigour and nourishment of life from Christ, but we also pass from our own to his nature. The Apostle, however, meant to express nothing else but the efficacy of the death of Christ, which manifests itself in putting to death our flesh, and also the efficacy of his resurrection, in renewing within us a spiritual nature.
5 Verse 5 affirms what has been implied in v. 4b: the participation of the believer in the resurrection of Christ. The verse takes the form of a conditional sentence, in which the protasis (the “if” clause) states what is already known—the believer’s connection with Christ’s death—as the basis for the conclusion drawn in the apodosis (the “then” clause): that this connection with Christ in death assures participation in his resurrection.381 Complicating Paul’s assertion, however, is his use of the phrase “the form of [Christ’s] death.” Two issues must be resolved.
First, what is the syntactical function of the phrase (a dative in Greek)? Many scholars think that “likeness of his death” is the means by which the believer is united with Christ or, more generally, the location at which this union takes place. See, for instance, the rendering in the NAB: “if we have grown into union with him through a death like his [my italics].” But this is not the most natural reading of the syntax. It is preferable to take “likeness of his death” as the object with which we are “joined”; see our translation: “we have become united with the likeness of his death” (so most English versions).
Second, what does Paul refer to with the phrase? The decisive issue is the meaning of the Greek word homoiōma. Two basic meanings are possible.
(1) Homoiōma can refer to something that resembles something else: a “copy” or “image.” Many scholars argue that this “something” here relates to baptism, in the sense, perhaps, of the “copy” or “image” of Christ’s death that is present in baptism (vv. 3–4). But this interpretation suffers from two serious drawbacks. First, “likeness of his death” makes sense as a reference to baptism only if it refers to the means by which we are joined to Christ. But I have argued that this is not the most likely reading of the syntax. Second, the movement of Paul’s thought in this passage is away from baptism. Other scholars who argue that homoiōma here means “image” assert that Paul is referring to the Christian’s own death to sin, a “copy” of Christ’s death (which was itself a “death to sin,” v. 10). But the language “become joined with” seems too strong if the union is with our own death to sin.
(2) Homoiōma can also mean “form,” in the sense of the outer appearance, or shape, of the reality itself. “Likeness of his death” may, then, simply be the death of Christ itself.389 Substantiation for this can be found in the parallel v. 8, where Paul speaks simply of “dying with Christ.” However, while I think this interpretation is on the right track, Paul’s use of homoiōma suggests that he wants to portray Christ’s death in a particular light. Some think that Paul uses it to designate Christ’s death as the death that is sacramentally present in baptism. But, again, this ignores the plain teaching of v. 4 that baptism mediates our union with Christ—it does not “contain” it. A better alternative, then, begins with the recognition that, as we have seen, the believer’s death and burial “with Christ” is a redemptive-historical association that cannot be precisely defined in terms of time or nature. Homoiōma, while not differentiating the death to which we are joined from Christ’s, nevertheless qualifies it in its particular redemptive-historical “form.” Further, by speaking of the “form” of Christ’s death, Paul may also be reminding us that our “dying with Christ” initiates a conformity with Jesus’ death that is to have a continuing effect on our existence. Reference to this ongoing conformity to the death of Christ explains the perfect tense of the verb Paul uses:394 we have been joined to the form of Christ’s death and are constantly being (and need to be) conformed to it. We may, then, paraphrase: “we (at ‘conversion-initiation’) were united with the death of Christ in its redemptive-historical significance, and are now, thus, in the state of conformity to that death.”
The “but also” introducing the second part of the verse stresses the certainty that our union with “the form of Christ’s death” will mean union with the form of Christ’s resurrection.396 But what are we to make of the future verb “we will be”? Paul may put the matter this way because being “joined to the form of Christ’s resurrection” follows logically upon “being joined to the form of his death.” In this case, the reference could be to the already realized “spiritual” resurrection of believers “with Christ” (as in Col. 2:12 and Eph. 2:6), or to the imperative of living in the “form” and power of Christ’s resurrection life in the present.399 Either of these options is possible, considering the fact that Paul himself infers in this text that believers in this life live in the resurrection power of Christ (vv. 4b, 11, 13). However, I believe the scales are tilted slightly to a true future here by v. 8, which asserts a similar point but with a construction that is more difficult to read as a “logical” future. With most interpreters, then, I take it that Paul is referring to the physical resurrection of believers “with Christ” (see 2 Cor. 4:14)—to that time when God will transform our earthly bodies, “making them conformed to the body of his [Christ’s] glory.”
This does not mean, however, that all allusions to the present are eliminated. For, even as union with the “form” of Christ’s death at baptism-conversion works forward to the moral life, so the union with the “form” of Christ’s resurrection at death or the parousia works backward. It is in this sense that the believer can be said to have been “raised with Christ” and to be living in the power of that resurrected life. Perhaps, then, as our union with Christ’s death cannot be fixed to any one moment, so we should view our union with Christ’s resurrection as similarly atemporal. But, while the spiritual effects of resurrection are felt now, we must not commit the mistake of some in the early church (see 2 Tim. 2:18) and spiritualize the resurrection. We await a real, physical resurrection, and this physicality destroys the parallel at this point with our “dying with Christ.” The futurity of our resurrection reminds us that complete victory over sin will be won only in that day; until then, we live under the imperative of making the life of Jesus manifest in the way we live (see 2 Cor. 4:10).
5. For if we have been planted together—literally, “have become formed together.” (The word is used here only).
in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection—that is, “Since Christ’s death and resurrection are inseparable in their efficacy, union with Him in the one carries with it participation in the other, for privilege and for duty alike.” The future tense is used of participation in His resurrection, because this is but partially realized in the present state. (See on Ro 5:19).
Ver. 5.—For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. So the Authorized Version. But the English word “planted” (though the idea expressed by it has the support of Origen, Chrysostom, and other ancient Father; also of the Vulgate, and, among moderns, Beza, Luther, and others; while some, including Erasmus, Calvin, Estius, Cornelius à Lapide, understand “engrafted”) probably suggests what was not intended. Σύμφυτος is from συμφύω (not συμφυτεύω, and need only express being made to grow together in close association. In classic authors it commonly means innate. It seems here used, not to introduce a new figure, whether of planting or grafting, but only to express the close union with Christ, already intimated, into which we entered in baptism. The Revised Version has “have become united with him,” which may perhaps sufficiently express what is meant, though hardly a satisfactory rendering of σύμφυτοι. Tyndale and Cranmer translate “graft in deeth lyke unto him;” and perhaps “graft into” may be as good a rendering as any other. Meyer, Tholuck, Alford, and others take the dative τῷ ὁμοιώματι as governed by σύμφυτοι, equivalent to ὁμοίως ἀπεθάνομεν ὥσπερ αὐτὸς (Tholuck). But it may be better to understand Χριστῷ: “Graft into Christ, in the likeness of his death,” τῷ ὁμοιώματι being added because Christ’s death and ours, in the senses intended, are not the same kind of death literally, ours only corresponding to, and in a certain sense like his. The main purpose of this verse, as of ver. 4, is to press resurrection with Christ as following death with him. But why here the future ἐσόμεθα? Did we not rise with Christ to a new life when we emerged from our baptismal burial? Future verbs are used also with a similar reference in ver. 8 and ver. 14. Now, there are three senses in which our resurrection with Christ may be understood, (1) As above (cf. Col. 2:12, etc., where the expression is συνηγέρθητε). (2) Our realization of our position of power and obligation in subsequent life—actually in practice “dying from sin and rising again unto righteousness” (cf. below, vers. 12–14). (3) The resurrection of the dead hereafter. Some (including Tertullian, Chrysostom Œcumenius) have taken sense (3) to be here intended; but, though the words themselves, ἐσόμεθα and συζήσομεν in ver. 8, suggest this sense, it can hardy be intended here, at any rate exclusively or prominently, since the drift of the whole passage is to insist on the necessity of an ethical resurrection now; and it is evident that the clause before us corresponds with οὕτω καὶ ἥμεις, etc., in the previous verse, and to ver. 11, et seq. The future ἐσόμεθα is understood by some as only expressing consequence—a necessary conclusion from a premiss, thus: If such a thing is the case, such other thing will follow, If so, sense (1) might still be understood; so that the idea would be the same as in Col. 2:12, etc., viz. that of our rising in baptism itself to a new life with Christ, in which sin need not, and ought not to, have dominion. But still the repeated use of the future tense (especially ἁμαρτία ὑμῶν οὐ κυριεύσει in ver. 14), together with the whole drift of what follows, seems rather to imply sense (2); that is, our realization of our position in our actual lives subsequent to baptism. If it be objected that in this case we should expect “we ought to be” rather than “we shall be,” it may be replied that it is what God will do for us, rather than what we shall do for ourselves, that the apostle has in view. If he has made us partakers in the atoning death of Christ, having forgiven us all trespasses, etc. (Col. 2:13, seq.), he will also make us partakers, as our life goes on, in the power of his resurrection too, delivering us from sin’s dominion. Further, if this be so, the thought may also include sense (3). For elsewhere the future resurrection seems to be regarded as only the consummation of a spiritual resurrection which is begun in the present life, Christians being already partakers in the eternal life of God, of which the issue is immortality; cf. Eph. 1:5, 6; Col. 3:3, 4; Gal. 2:20; also our Lord’s own words, which are peculiarly significant in this regard, “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (John 5:24, 25). Again, “I am the Resurrection, and the Life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (John 11:25, 26).
5. For if we have become united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.
The close connection between verses 3, 4 and verse 5 is indicated by the word For. Hence, the idea of some, that verse 5 refers to the future bodily resurrection of believers must be rejected. Verse 5 repeats the thought of the immediately preceding context, namely, the believers’ union with Christ in (a) his death and (b) his resurrection, considered respectively as the source of (a) their death to sin, and (b) their resurrection to newness of life. But it also adds something to the thought expressed in the preceding. Note the word certainly.
The meaning of verse 5, then, is as follows, “For if we have become united with Christ in a death like his, so that his death brought about our death to constantly living in sin, we shall certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his; that is, then surely his (bodily) resurrection (understood in its most comprehensive sense, as explained above, see p. 196) will bring about our spiritual resurrection; that is, our walking in newness of life.” The emphasis Paul placed on this fact must be ascribed to the ominous character of the antinomian heresy.
 Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans (pp. 222–224). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
 Moo, D. J. (2018). The Letter to the Romans. (N. B. Stonehouse, F. F. Bruce, G. D. Fee, & J. B. Green, Eds.) (Second Edition, pp. 392–396). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
 Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 235). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
 Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). The Pulpit Commentary: Romans (pp. 157–158). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.
 Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (Vol. 12–13, p. 197). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.