The One Death of Christ Was a Death to Sin
Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. (Rom. 6:8–10)
The fourth principle is that Christ’s one death to sin brought not only the death of sin but the death of death for those who, by faith, have died with Him. These three verses are essentially a summary of what Paul has just been teaching about the believer’s death to sin and his new life in Christ. He also stresses the permanence of that awesome and glorious truth.
The assurance that we shall also live with Him obviously applies to the believer’s ultimate and eternal presence with Christ in heaven. But the context, which focuses on holy living, strongly suggests that Paul is here speaking primarily about our living with Him in righteousness in this present life. In Greek, as in English, future tenses often carry the idea of certainty. That seems to be the case with Paul’s use of suzaō (or sunzaō), here rendered shall also live. As the apostle makes clear in verse 10 in regard to Christ, he is not merely speaking of existing in the presence of God but of living to God, that is, living a life fully consistent with God’s holiness.
Building on that thought, Paul goes on to say, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. The point is that, because we have died and been raised with Christ (vv. 3–5), we, too, shall never die again. The sin that made us subject to death is no longer master over us, just as it no longer is master over Him. It also can never be our executioner.
The climax of this section of chapter 6 is that the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Because death is the penalty of sin (Rom. 6:23), to break the mastery of sin is to break the mastery of death.
Two extremely important truths in verse 10 should be emphasized. The first is that Christ died to sin. Having lived a perfectly sinless life during His incarnation, Christ obviously never had the same relationship to sin that every other human being has. He not only was never mastered by sin but never committed a sin of the least sort. How then, we wonder, could He have died to sin? Yet it is clear from this verse that in whatever way Christ died to sin, believers also have died to sin.
Some suggest that believers have died to sin in the sense of no longer being sensitive to the allurements of sin. But that view is not borne out by Christian experience, and it obviously could not apply to Christ, who was never, in the first place, sensitive to sin’s allurements. Others suggest that Paul is teaching that believers ought to die to sin. But again, such an interpretation could not apply to Christ. Nor could it mean that Christ died to sin by becoming perfect, because He was always perfect.
It seems that Paul means two things in declaring that Christ died to sin. First, He died to the penalty of sin by taking upon Himself the sins of the whole world. He met sin’s legal demand for all mankind who would trust in Him. By their faith in Him, empowered by His divine and limitless grace, believers have forensically died to sin. Second, Christ died to the power of sin, forever breaking its power over those who belong to God through their faith in His Son. Paul assured even the immature and sin-prone believers in Corinth that God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
It was perhaps the twin truth that believers die both to the penalty as well as to the power of sin that Augustus Toplady had in mind in the beautiful line from his great hymn “Rock of Ages”—“Be of sin the double cure, save from wrath and make me pure.”
The second crucial emphasis in verse 10 is that Christ died to sin, once for all. He achieved a victory that will never need repeating, a profound truth that the writer of Hebrews stresses again and again (7:26–27; 9:12, 28; 10:10; cf. 1 Pet. 3:18).
In addition to being actually identified with Christ in the ways Paul mentions in this passage—namely, His death and resurrection, the destruction of the body of sin, and the death to sin—believers are also analogically likened to their Lord in His virgin birth, in that both He in His physical birth and they in their spiritual births have been conceived by the Holy Spirit. He identified with our humanity in His incarnation; then through His circumcision He placed Himself temporarily under the authority of the Mosaic law in order to redeem those under the law (Col. 2:11). We also relate to our Lord in His sufferings, as we, like Paul, bear the marks of suffering for Him. In so many ways, believers are so completely and inextricably identified with the Lord Jesus Christ that He is not ashamed to call them brothers (Heb. 2:11).
Living with Jesus Now
If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless [done away with], that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
It is a sad fact that many people perceive Christianity as being negative. It is viewed as a series of don’ts: “Don’t drink; don’t play cards; don’t fool around; don’t laugh too loud.” In fact, “Don’t have fun at all,” because, if you do, God will be looking down from heaven to see it and say, “Now you cut that out!”
It is possible that some reader has taken our first studies of Romans 6 negatively, because the emphasis has been on the fact that once a person has been joined to Jesus Christ he or she can no longer go on sinning. “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” Paul asked. “By no means!” he has answered. “We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (vv. 1–2). That does indeed sound negative, particularly to the non-Christian. Death! And dying! If you do not know Christianity better than that, it sounds almost like “no more anything.”
But that is not what real Christianity is, of course. In fact, it is just the opposite. It is sin that is negative. So to be freed from sin is to be freed to a brand new life, which is positive. Leon Morris, one of the newer and best commentators on Romans, says, “The Christian way is not negative. There is a death to an old way, it is true, but as the believer identifies with Christ in his death he enters into newness of life.” The Christian way of speaking about this is to say that, for the Christian, death is followed by a resurrection.
And not just at the end of time! True Christianity is living out a new, joyful, abundant, resurrected life with Jesus Christ now.
A New, Rich Section
We have already had more than one hint that this has been coming. Paul ended the fifth chapter of Romans by saying that the reign of grace has replaced the reign of sin and death, and in chapter 6 he has concluded that we were “buried with him [Christ] through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (v. 4). Nevertheless, it is in the section to which we turn now (verses 5–10) that this new and abundant life is unfolded fully for the first time.
This is a long section compared to the several smaller units we have been studying in the previous chapters. In fact, it would be too long for one study if it were not that we have already dealt with most of the key terms. Most important, we have studied how we can be said to have died to sin. Jesus died to sin (not “for sin,” though that is also true) by ending the phase of his life in which he was in sin’s realm, and by returning to heaven. In the same way, our old relationships to sin have also ended. God fixed our future when we were taken out of Adam and joined to Christ. We cannot go back to the old life. As I have said several times, there is no place for us to go but forward.
The outline of these verses is a simple one. In verse 5, Paul states a thesis, which verses 6–10 develop. It has two parts: “If we have been united with him like this in his death …” (that is the first part; it is what he has already been talking about extensively) and “… we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection” (that is the second part; it is the new idea to be developed). Paul unfolds the meaning of the first part in verses 6 and 7; he explains the second part in verses 8–10.
The Body of Sin
A few lines back I wrote that the first part of verse 5 (We have been united with Christ in his death) has already been dealt with extensively, and that is true. But when Paul unfolds the meaning of this sentence in verses 6 and 7, he is not just repeating himself. This is the point at which he is starting to talk about the Christian life, particularly the Christian’s sure victory over sin. Now when he mentions our union with Christ in his death, it is to show how this frees us from sin’s tyranny.
The best way to show what Paul is doing in these verses is by focusing on the two key phrases.
- Our old self. The first phrase is “our old self” which, he says, “was crucified with” Christ. Our earlier studies have already indicated how this should be taken. “Old self” refers to our old life, that is, to what we were in Adam before God saved us. That old life is done for. We have died to it. That is why Paul says it “was (or ‘has been’) crucified.”
Many commentators go astray at this point, because they confuse the “old self” with the Christian’s “old (or ‘sinful’) nature,” a phrase Paul uses later. Because the old nature remains with us, these teachers are always urging believers to crucify or kill the old self. They explain the persistence of sin in the believer by observing that crucifixion is a “long drawn out” process. Now it is true that the Christian life is a long-drawn-out battle with sin. That is what Romans 7 is about, as I will show when we get to it. But the secret to victory over sin is not the crucifixion or killing of the old self, for the simple reason that the old self has already died. That is why the Bible never tells us to crucify the old man. How can we if he has already been put to death?
I make this point strongly because, although the Christian life is indeed a struggle, to equate killing our old self with that struggle (when the old self has already been crucified with Christ) is to miss the truth that has been given to us by God for our victory.
- The body of sin. The second key phrase is “the body of sin.” It occurs in the clause “so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless [done away with].” This is the first time we have seen this phrase, though it or some variation will occur a number of times more as we proceed. What does it refer to?
Our first inclination is to think of the body of sin as being the same thing as our old self, which has just been mentioned. This is probably because the old self is said to have been crucified; a body is crucified and, if the body of sin is crucified, it is therefore obviously rendered powerless, which is what the text states. But that is not the idea. I think D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones is exactly right at this point when he says that by the term “body of sin” Paul is talking about the old nature, and that to some extent he means the word body (that is, our physical body) literally. Paul was not talking about this earlier. The old self (or old man) is not the old nature. The old self is the “old me,” who has died. But here, in talking about “the body of sin,” Paul is talking about the old nature, mentioning—for the first time in Romans—the Christian’s actual inclination to sin, which must be dealt with.
That makes sense of verse 6, of course. For what Paul says in verse 6 is that God has taken us out of Adam and placed us in Christ, thereby causing us to die to the old life, in order that (1) our present inclinations to sin might be robbed of their power, and (2) we should be delivered from sin’s slavery.
I want to give a personal reaction to the phrase “body of sin” at this point. If Paul were with us today and I had an opportunity to speak to him, I think I might say that I wished he had spoken of our sinful nature in some other fashion. This is because to locate the Christian’s continuing inclination to sin in the “body,” as this phrase does, seems to suggest two admittedly wrong ideas. First, it suggests: “I am not a sinner; it is only my body.” We do not want to say that. John tells us that “if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves” (1 John 1:8). And second, it suggests that the body is somehow intrinsically evil, and we know that this is a Greek or Hindu idea, rather than a Judeo-Christian one. “Couldn’t you have thought of another phrase?” I would have asked the apostle.
Yet I confess that I cannot think of a better one. And the phrase is helpful as long as I realize that, although I am not ultimately my body, I am nevertheless so much formed by it that I cannot escape its influences. The wording teaches us that in our present physical state, prior to glorification, sin is in possession of our bodies and must be dealt with at that level.
Sin in the Body
Here are some examples of how sin operates in our bodies.
We sit down to eat, and our hostess sets a beautiful spread before us. There is nothing intrinsically wrong (sinful) in either her preparations or our eating. The body is from God; it needs to eat because God made it that way. But we become so enthralled by the food’s appearance and taste that we take this natural bodily function and push it beyond where it was intended to go. We overeat. We indulge, we stuff ourselves. The overindulgence is sin, and it leads to even greater sin if it becomes a pattern. This pattern of eating harms the body and in time makes us insensitive to the needs of others—others who are hungry, for example—and to God, who has given us the food. We become ungrateful, fail to thank him, and even complain if for some reason we are unable at some future point to indulge ourselves as freely.
Take sleeping as another example. The body needs rest. We cannot do without it. Sleep or relaxation refreshes us so that we feel good. But the body can draw us into the sins of sloth and apathy and then lead us to the even more sinful conviction that others should work for us so we can be at ease. We may even think ourselves superior to these other persons since they, in our view, exist chiefly to see that we are made comfortable.
Our glands and the hormones they produce are also parts of the body. They, too, are good, since they have been given to us by God. They feed our emotions. Danger causes our adrenaline to flow so that we can react quickly to escape a life-threatening situation. Sexual hormones awaken us to the qualities of the opposite sex and lead to love, marriage, and procreation. But these same glands also react wrongly and more strongly than they should. Adrenaline will flow just because someone has offended us, and we will fight back when we should show a spirit of meekness. Our sexual glands, particularly when they are stimulated by the world’s culture, lead to lust, infidelity, promiscuity, and other vices. Indeed, they turn us against God when we are told that his law forbids such inclinations.
A person may say, with reason, that it is not the body that is at fault but our minds. Sin begins in the mind or spirit. But although I realize that the source of sin is in the mind or spirit and that the spirit is not the body, it is nevertheless impossible to separate the mind from the body. We are as we think, and the thinking process (so far as anyone can determine) is physiological. So even at this level it is clearly “the body of sin” from which we need to be delivered.
Posse Non Peccare
This is what our having died to sin by our union to Christ in his death is intended to accomplish. Paul says that our union with Christ in his death has been to render the body of sin powerless, so that we might “no longer be slaves to sin.”
“Rendered powerless” (or “done away with”), as in the New International Version, is a better translation than the older word “destroyed” (kjv, rsv). But even this can mislead some people. The Greek word is katargeō, and it occurs twenty-seven times in the New Testament, including three prior instances in Romans. It occurs in Romans 3:3 and 31, where it is rendered “nullify” (“Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness?” and “Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith?”). It also occurs in Romans 4:14, where it is rendered “has no value” (“For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value”). Two more instances in Romans are in chapter 7, where it is translated “released” (“If her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage” [v. 2] and “We have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit” [v. 6]).
None of these instances mean “destroyed,” and they do not mean “rendered powerless” in the sense that the thing involved can be said no longer to exert an influence. They mean rather: “no longer to exert a controlling force or power” or “to be made ineffective.”
In other words, the reason God has removed us from our union with Adam and has joined us to Christ (so that we have died to our past) is so the inclinations to sin that operate so strongly in our bodies might no longer exercise effective power or control us. They are still there, but from this point on they will not dominate us. Before this, we were “slaves to sin” (v. 6), but having died to sin, we are now “freed” from it (v. 7).
Will we sin? Yes! But we do not need to, and we will do so less and less as we go on in the Christian life. You may remember how Saint Augustine put it when he was comparing Adam’s state before the fall, Adam’s state after the fall, the state of those who have been saved by God through the work of Christ, and our final state in glory as Christians.
Augustine said that before he fell Adam was posse peccare (“able to sin”). He had not sinned yet, but he was able to.
After his fall, according to Augustine, Adam became non posse non peccare (“not able not to sin”). By himself he was unable to break free from it.
The state of believers, those who have been saved by Christ, is now one of posse non peccare (“able not to sin”). That is the state Paul is writing about in Romans 6. For them, the tyranny of sin has been broken.
The glorified state, for which we yearn, is non posse peccare (“not able to sin”). In our glorified state we will not be tempted by sin or be able to fall into it again.
A Present Resurrection
The second half of Paul’s topical sentence in verse 5 (“we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection”) is explained in verses 8–10, where Paul speaks of a present resurrection: “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.”
I have quoted those verses in full, because unless we take them together we will perceive the words “we will also live with him” as referring to our future resurrection, when actually they refer to an experience of resurrection life here and how.
Don’t misunderstand. There is a future resurrection, and the same union of the believer with Christ that we have been talking about is a guarantee of it. But that is not what these verses are about. We have already seen what they mean in the case of Christ. They refer to his passage from the sphere where death reigned to the sphere of the resurrection, from where he was to where he is now. In the same way, they refer to our passage—from the reign of death to the reign of grace, to a present resurrection. This is what Paul says of himself in Philippians when he writes: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection …” (Phil. 3:10). He means that he wants to be victorious over sin.
I have been reading Stephen W. Hawking’s stimulating book on modern physics, entitled A Brief History of Time. Hawking is the distinguished English physicist who has Lou Gehrig’s disease and is confined to a wheelchair, but has done pioneer work in the analysis of what are commonly called “black holes” or “singularities.” A black hole is a collapsed star of such density and gravity that nothing can escape from it, not even light, which is why it appears as a dark spot in the panorama of the heavens. Objects rushing toward it approach the speed of light as well as approach infinite mass; as a result, the normal laws of physics tend to lose meaning at the center. No one knows what happens when an object reaches the center, but some have speculated that for reasons beyond most people’s ability to grasp, an object might shoot through the “hole” and pass into another time period or existence.
I understand a great deal less about black holes than scientists do, so I have no idea whether such speculations are true. But it occurs to me that passing through a black hole is an apt illustration of a Christian’s having died to sin and having been raised to new life in Christ—if for no other reason than that he or she cannot come back. Anything that has gone through a black hole has passed through it forever. Similarly, anyone who has been united to Christ has died to sin, is on the way to God, and can never return to his or her former sphere of existence.
And there is this, too: For most of us, to pass through a black hole in space would be, in physical terms, the most important, monumental, irreversible, and life-changing experience we can imagine. But great as that might be, it would not be so great as the change that has already taken place in those who have been lifted out of the realm of sin and joined to Jesus Christ.
When all is said and done, passing through a black hole would still mean being limited to some kind of physical universe. But being joined to Christ means being joined to the One who made the universe itself and who will still be there when heaven and earth—including black holes, quasars, neutron stars, and all the rest—have passed away.
But I do not want to leave you there. This last point is a flight of fancy, so far as I know. But what I started to talk about is the positive Christian experience of being delivered from the power of sin by the realities of Christ’s life. I return to the key questions.
First: “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?”
The answer: “By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”
Second, the question of this study: “How can we triumph over sin?”
The answer: “By knowing what God has done for us when he joined us to Christ.” We are going to look at the meaning of that even more in the next study, when we consider verse 11. But I hope you have noticed, as we studied verses 5–10, that the important word know, which I have called the key to this entire matter of sanctification, is here again and not only once but twice. We saw it first in verse 2: “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” Here it appears in verse 6: “For we know that our old self was crucified with him,” and in verse 9: “For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.”
What is true of Jesus is true of us. His relationship to sin, while he was in this life, has passed forever. It is true of us as well, since we are joined to him. The key to holiness is to know this and to press on.
8–10 Union with Christ continues to be the theme in vv. 8–10, which essentially restate the argument of vv. 5–7:
- 5 = v. 8
- 6: “For we know …”
- 9: “For we know …”
- 7: gar (“because …”; NASB, “for …”; ground for the preceding statement)
- 10: gar (NASB, “for …”; untranslated in NIV)
Resurrection again comes into view in these verses. Though there is considerable similarity with the close of v. 4 and v. 5, the note of futurity (“we will also live with him,” v. 8) makes it apparent that now future bodily resurrection is in view. Our future resurrection will constitute a final victory over sin and its fruit, death. But this future resurrection is anticipated in our present resurrection, and therefore there is also the possibility of a victory over sin already in the present. For a brief time, death, as the executor of sin, held Christ, but not for long (v. 9). Since he was not guilty of personal sin, death had no right to hold him indefinitely (cf. Ac 2:24). Likewise, it had no right to recall him to experience death again. Once having been raised from the dead, our Lord is alive forever and ever (Rev. 1:18). Through him death has finally been conquered. A totally new order of life has been inaugurated.
10 It was important for Paul to emphasize this truth: “[Christ] died to sin once for all [ephapax, GK 2384]” and now “the life he lives, he lives to God.” Similarly, since we have been united with him in baptism, we are to exhibit the same death to sin and the living out of a new life characterized by righteousness. In this respect, Christ presents a pattern for believers in their expectation of the future and also in their motivation for life in the present time (2 Co 5:15). Christians are thus called to “live in this world as those who do indeed share in Christ’s death, not yet fully liberated from the power of death, but no longer in bondage to sin, as those who draw their vital energies and motivations from God in Christ Jesus” (Dunn, 1:333).
8 Paul now reiterates the tie between dying with Christ and being raised with Christ that he established in v. 5: “But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.” He does this in order to draw out the significance of that connection as seen in the light of the nature of Christ’s own death and resurrection (vv. 9–10). The future form “we shall live” sparks the same debate as does the future “we will be [united with his resurrection]” in v. 5b. Is Paul thinking (mainly) of the resurrection of believers “with Christ” at death or the parousia or of the believer’s present enjoyment of new life with Christ?135 The undeniable assumption of the passage (cf. vv. 4b, 11, 13) that the Christian has, as a result of “baptismal-conversion death,” new life with Christ points to the second alternative. But the future tense is not the most natural if this were Paul’s point, and the fact that this “life with Christ” is an object of belief (“we believe”) also fits better with a reference to what we have been promised than with what we already possess. But this future life of resurrection casts its shadow into the believer’s present experience, and it is clear from the sequel that Paul wants us to see the present implications of this promise of future resurrection life.
6:8–11 / The focus now shifts to Christ as the pioneer of the Christian experience. Paul endeavors to show that what is true of Christ is equally true for believers. Thus, if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him (v. 8). Christian existence is not mechanical or automatic, like the law of gravity or the germination of a seed in springtime. In otherwise balanced statements Paul inserts, we believe, which means that believers live by the claim of faith, by the conviction of and commitment to God’s redemption of the world in Jesus Christ. For the present, faith believes more than it experiences, and thus it lives in hope, looking inevitably toward the future (we will also live with him) when Christ will be fully revealed. The wonder and reality of Christ’s death and resurrection can be realized only by a faith relationship with him who died and lives, Christ the Lord, the pioneer of salvation.
Faith is neither grounded in an illusion nor hitched to the cart of wishful thinking. We know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again. Faith is grounded in the risen Christ who is witnessed to through the apostolic proclamation and who is present in the lives of believers through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the anchor of faith and the assurance of our future resurrection (1 Cor. 15:12ff.). Many religions believe in nature gods who, in accordance with the rhythm of nature, reappear in the cycles of death and renewal. This, however, is not the meaning of Christ’s resurrection, for his resurrection is unique, for death no longer has mastery over him (v. 9). The death and resurrection of Christ resound like a trumpet blast through the corridors of time—once for all. Not even the raising of Lazarus (John 11) is a prototype of Christ’s resurrection, for Lazarus died again. Jesus lived in perfect obedience to the eternal God. Because he lived for God he did not live for self; because he did not live for self he knew no sin; because he knew no sin death held no mastery over him. The cross swallows up the grave. Death can claim neither Christ again nor those who through faith “charge their lives to his account” and grow into his likeness.
Faith in the resurrected Christ is thus no pipe dream, but the fulcrum of history, the hope of the ages, the clarion truth that in Jesus eternity beams brightly into the dark shed of human history. Such a truth admits of no languid and nominal acceptance; a strain so rich pulls us from our seats to join the dance of life. The gospel is like the last train to freedom: it must be seized at all costs. “So also you,” says the original, “must count yourselves dead to sin but alive for ever more to God in Christ Jesus.”
6:8 if we died with Christ … we will also live with him. Verse 8 focuses on believers. This verse, like 6:5, taps into the overlapping of the two ages: the age to come came with Christ’s death and resurrection, and therefore Christians share in his resurrection life now. But the age to come will not be complete until the parousia (the return of Christ); only then will believers receive their resurrection body. Both occur by virtue of the believer’s union with Christ.
8, 9. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe we shall also live with him; since we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, no longer dies.
If we died with Christ, that is, if, as a result of Christ’s death for us, we died to sin, we shall also spiritually live in fellowship with him, and this not only in the hereafter but here and now. Cf. verses 3 and 5. We know that such living with him is possible because he, having died, was raised from the dead, never again to die. Death could not hold him (Acts 2:24), for it no longer exercises lordship over him.
Those who, during Christ’s pre-Golgotha ministry, were by him raised from the dead, died again. According to heathen mythology certain deities are constantly dying and rising. Not so Jesus. Death no longer exercises lordship over him. Having been raised, he lives forevermore (Rev. 1:18), and we with him. This we believe: we know it to be true!
The Resurrection of Christ Was a Resurrection to Life (6:8–10)
SUPPORTING IDEA: The believer in Christ is united with Christ in his resurrection so that he might live to God.
6:8–9. Both here and in verse 5, when Paul says “if,” he is saying “since” (“ei with ‘the indicative of logical reasoning’;” Moo, p. 377). His opening statement in this verse could be translated, “Since it is true that we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him” (Moo, p. 377). By his use of grammar, Paul wants the Roman believers (and us) to know that we have died with Christ, and that given that fact, we will also live with him. Life with him, life lived “to God” (v. 10), is what the believer is freed from sin “to.” We can no more not live with Christ, than Christ cannot live to God. If God raised Christ, we are also raised with him.
And what is this living with him? It is nothing short of the transformation of our lives, our sanctification. Think of those who actually did live with him in person. Were their lives not radically altered? Did Peter, James, John, and the others not discover a measure of life, a way of life, that they had never known? A life that became so precious to them that they were willing to die for its promulgation? What believer today, given the opportunity and a clear vision of this new life, would not want to live with Jesus? Who would not want to have him as a friend, a teacher, a counselor, a protector?
If we could boil the theological concept of sanctification down to a manageable phrase, would it not be “living with Jesus”? Granted, not all who lived with Jesus were sanctified. But none who wanted to be made holy were left unholy; none who wanted to follow him were turned away; none who wanted to live with him were told they could not. And so it is for us, Paul says. If we died with Christ, we believe (pisteuo; we have faith, confidence, surety) that we will also live with him.
The reason for our confidence is his resurrection. As Paul told the Corinthians, “If Christ has not been raised … you are still in your sins … [and] we are to be pitied more than all men” (1 Cor. 15:17–19). But he was raised; and because he was raised he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. And because it does not have mastery over him, it does not have mastery over us, because we died and were raised with him. Has mastery is present active indicative of kurieuei, from kurieuo, to exercise lordship over. Death has no ongoing position of lordship over the Lord, nor over those who are the Lord’s. Christ submitted to the reign of death (Rom. 5:21) once for those on whom death had a claim. But having done it once, he will never do it again.
6:10. Christ died once for all (aorist tense; one completed act), but the life he lives (present active indicative; ongoing, continuous action), he lives to God (see Heb. 7:27; 9:12, 26, 28; 10:10; 1 Pet. 3:18; Rev. 1:18). What were we freed to do? To live with Jesus, to live to the glory of God. That is as certain a reality as the death and resurrection of Christ himself. “If Christ were to die again, it follows that those who have died with him and who will be raised with him will also die again along with him! Therefore, the apostle makes it clear that Christ will never die again, so that those who will live with him may be sure of having eternal life” (Origen; quoted in Bray, p. 161).
The question at this point is not one of “What?” but of “How?” How does this actually become a reality in the life of the believer? Fortunately, the key is not new ground. In fact, it is ancient ground, the ground upon which Abraham stood in Genesis 15:6, to which Paul refers in Romans 4:3.
6:8–10. The believer was united with Jesus in His death, a death undergone with reference to breaking the power of sin (He died to sin, v. 10). Jesus rose from the dead, and the believer is united with Him in that as well. If Jesus’ condition is irreversible (Jesus is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him, v. 9), then the believer’s condition is also irreversible. Sin is no longer the slave master over the believer.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (Vol. 1, pp. 327–329). Chicago: Moody Press.
 Boice, J. M. (1991–). Romans: The Reign of Grace (Vol. 2, pp. 665–672). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
 Harrison, E. F., & Hagner, D. A. (2008). Romans. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 107). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Moo, D. J. (1996). The Epistle to the Romans (p. 377). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
 Edwards, J. R. (2011). Romans (pp. 163–164). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
 Pate, C. M. (2013). Romans. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (p. 142). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
 Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (Vol. 12–13, pp. 199–200). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
 Boa, K., & Kruidenier, W. (2000). Romans (Vol. 6, pp. 192–194). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
 Vanlaningham, M. G. (2014). Romans. In The moody bible commentary (p. 1753). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.