Romans 6:1–11 Lesson 9. With Christ.
Key Notes: Union with Christ. The "with" words. A history of baptism.
In chapter 4, Paul tells us that God puts righteousness to our account by faith.
In chapter 5:1–11, we are reconciled to God and are at peace with Him.
In Romans 5:12–21, Christ’s work of obedience and righteousness undoes the evil brought on the human race by Adam.
In Romans 6 part I, we are united with Christ in His death and resurrection life. The passage tells us more about the headship concept found in Romans 5:12–21.
6:1 Paul picks up the theme that ends Romans 5, “…so that as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” He reopens the question he asked in Romans 3:8, “…why not do evil that good may come?”
“Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?”
It is a fact that grace may abound in the presence of sin.
“As sin increases in Colombia, God’s grace increases all the more. Bellavista Prison is a maximum security prison in Medellin that was often called “hell on earth” where the murder rate often topped one per day. Through prayer and the bold witness of some anointed believers, the prison has seen a remarkable turning of the most hardened criminals to Christ. Large numbers of the inmates are now believers, and round-the-clock prayer chains often function. The spirit of murder has all but disappeared, and the brutal conditions have improved. Now a Bible Institute has formed in the prison, training inmates for ministry once they are released.”
(Operation World. P. Johnstone, J. Mandruyk; Paternoster, 2001; p.190.)
6:2–11 Now Paul answers the question at length. We cannot continue in sin because we have died to it. The words death, die or died appear 13 times in these 11 verses. We died to sin because we died with Christ, and were buried and raised again to new life in Him. Not merely died, but crucified. Not merely raised, but never to die again. Not merely alive, but alive to God in Christ.
“Made alive” is our regeneration, another benefit of the Atonement. Regeneration does not have as much coverage as redemption in the NT, but it has been a very popular Christian theme for the past 50 years: “New Life in Christ.”
In this passage there are four words in Greek that have the prefix "syn-" meaning "with":
Buried with Him 6:4
United with Him 6:5
Crucified with Him 6:6
Live with Him 6:8
6:5 United with Him (Gr." symphutoi", grown together) is the key word. It is used in anatomy to describe certain bones, especially in the pelvis and the skull that are knit together in a symphysis. They are loosely jointed only early in life. In maturity they grow together and are so tightly bound as to seem to be one bone, inseparable.
A collection of these "with" words ("syn" as prefix) from the Greek lexicon enables us to make a sequence describing our relationship with Christ in His life, death, resurrection, present activity in the world, and future glory.
Being made conformable with His death ~ Phil. 3:10
Crucified with Him ~ Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20
Died with Him ~ II Tim. 2:11
Buried with Him ~ Rom. 6:4
Made alive with Him ~ Eph. 2:5, II Tim. 2:11; Col. 2:13
Raised together with Him ~ Col. 3:1, Eph. 2:6
Made to sit together with Him in the Heavenly Places ~ Eph. 2:6
Heirs together with Him ~ Rom. 8:17
Partakers of the promise with Him ~ Eph. 3:6
Living with Him ~ Rom. 6:8
Workers together ~ II Cor. 6:1
Suffering with Him ~ Rom. 8:17
Being conformed to His Image ~ Rom. 8:29
Fashioned like His glorious body ~ Phil. 3:21
Glorified together ~ Rom. 8:17
Reigning together ~ II Tim. 2:12; I Cor. 4:8
6:6 …our old self was crucified with Him. The past tense indicates that the transaction was part of our salvation, our justification / redemption / propitiation / regeneration process.
6:6 …so that the body of sin (not the sinful body) might be destroyed. The expression is unusual. In NT teaching, the body is not sinful. The Greeks considered matter to be necessarily corrupt, in contrast to spirit. The term flesh is used in Scripture for that part of our material being that is sinful. The body of sin may be understood to be the mass of our sin that was destroyed.
6:10 He died to sin once for all. This Greek word (ephapax, once for all ) is repeated six times in Hebrews to confirm that Christ’s sacrifice will never be repeated.
6:11 How are we to reckon ourselves dead to sin? The first answer is that we are with Christ, being alive to God. Paul will go on to elaborate in the rest of the chapter.
In biology, we recognize a neurological event called an engram—an engraved memory that leads to attachment of one creature to another based on early nurturing. A farmer friend tells the story of how he cared for a newborn foal that was too weak to get up. He milked the mare and fed the foal by a tube in its stomach until it had enough strength to stand. The foal followed him everywhere, even after it was induced to nurse from the mare. Is there a spiritual engram? There is for some people. They are forever grateful to the Lord for giving them life and they stay close to Him. The leader of the Moravians, Nicholas Ludwig, Count of Zinzendorf (1700–1760) said, “I have one passion, ‘tis He.” (A History of Christianity. K.S. LaTourette, Harpers,’53, p.897.)
Contrast other religions. The Buddhist is not "with" the Buddha. The Muslim does not know God, who is unknowable, ineffable. The Confucianist does not know Confucius. The Hindu may desire to be absorbed into the “All”-- not into the god Brahma but Nirvana--extinction.
Union with Christ is, like justification, redemption, propitiation and access to grace, a benefit, a feature of salvation. It has a picture-word with a rite attached—baptism—as Paul points out. The message illustrates our slavation.
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 6:2, 4
Immersion baptism acts out a death, burial and resurrection--with Christ. For one long second, the believing person is buried—in a watery grave—to be lifted up again, acting out the transforming event of the spiritual life. Baptism is not a saving act, but a demonstration to those who witness that death to sin and resurrection to new life in Christ has already occurred.
Getting married is similar. At the altar, the bride and groom do not decide to get married, but confirm to witnesses a decision they made weeks or months before. A marriage needs public recognition. Salvation needs public recognition as well.
A second message from baptism is of washing.
“Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His Name.” (Acts 22:16)
“…having our bodies washed with pure water.” (Heb. 10:22)
Baptism does not wash sin away, but confirms that Christ has washed the person by faith.
Other Biblical picture-words also illustrate union with Christ .
Jesus used the image of the vine and the branches. Jn. 15
Paul speaks of the head and body (Eph. 5:23), or husband and wife. Eph. 5:21–33
The foundation and temple are “joined together” (Eph. 2:20–22).
The history of baptism in the church is a checkered story of misreading and rereading Scripture, and acting on convenience rather than principle. Baptism is public, and so is subject to political influence.
Early in the Church’s history, baptism was given to adults only, although we note that in Acts at least one family was baptized. (Acts 16:33). We do not know if infants were included, but there is no evidence that they were. The Didache, an early Church manual, instructed that baptism was to be done after a period of instruction and was to be in “living” i.e., running water, rather than in a stone basin or tub.
But by the end of the second century, Tertullian noted that baptism of infants was common.
Augustine at the end of the fourth century gave theological weight to infant baptism because he believed it washed away original sin. This error led to the development of the mixed church, in which many believed that their baptism as infants fitted them for the Kingdom of God, without any act of faith on their part.
Baptism could be used as a political weapon. In the ninth century, Scandinavians were being baptized as whole tribes, sometimes under coercion.
In the cold northern countries, baptism by sprinkling or pouring water over the head replaced immersion; but immersion was the mode in Italy until the thirteenth century. Immersion was considered by many to be dangerous, indecent and inconvenient. As immersion disappeared, the concept of washing replaced the basic idea of death and resurrection to new life. Eastern Orthodox churches, however, continue to baptize infants and adults by immersion as they did from the beginning.
Even ordinary bathing disappeared for centuries when the Roman Empire fell and public baths were abandoned. Bathing the whole body was revived in the New World in the late 1700’s. ("When Society took a Bath." H.D. Eberlein; in Sickness and Health in America. J.W. Leavitt, R.L. Numbers; U of Wis. Press,’78, p. 331–342)
Shortly after the Reformation began (1517), some Christian radicals decided from NT teaching that only adults should be baptized and they should be baptized by immersion. They advocated rebaptizing those who had been sprinkled as infants. They were called “anabaptists” – “rebaptizers.” They were protesting that the Reformation had not gone far enough. Luther could not give up infant baptism. "How do we know for sure that the infant does not believe?" he reasoned.
The first Anabaptist immersion was in January 1525. The Anabaptists were despised and intensely persecuted by Lutherans, Calvinists and Catholics alike, and nearly exterminated. This was in part because of radicalism, real excesses—political violence, polygamy, communal societies, and gross heresy. But they fled away from Germany and Switzerland and survived. They splintered into parties as Mennonites, Baptists, Brethren and Amish. Curiously, they quickly became pacifists, refusing military service. The Anabaptists influenced the Puritans, a group of English dissenters who wanted a pure church free of ritual, icons, bells, incense and candles. Roger Williams was a Puritan, and a Baptist, who founded Providence, Rhode Island in 1636. Puritan teachings form the backbone of what we call Evangelicalism today.
The Anabaptists’ first point, that only believers should be baptized, survived and has spread widely. It is the basis of attempts to form a pure church, one in which only professed believers are members.
For example, “…the only children baptized in the Church of England, and the only adults, are professed believers. And this is why they are declared regenerate.”
(Authentic Christianity. J.R.W. Stott; Edit. T.Dudley-Smith; IVP,’95; p.205)
The Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Reformed, Presbyterians and Methodists continue to baptize infants. Some, like the Methodists, have a second sprinkling at confirmation. The mainline churches will always have trouble maintaining their spiritual fervor when they have to carry the burden of large numbers of uncommitted, unregenerate members, some of whom become leaders.
Baptism should be given to those who profess faith in Christ and demonstrate their commitment by going through this embarrassing and inconvenient way of demonstrating their oneness with Christ and the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Take advantage of this privilege in obedience to Jesus' command. Matt.28:18–19