I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL

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NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

Dr. Robert R. Seyda

EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS

CHAPTER SIX (Lesson VII)

Verse 5: Christ died, and if we have also been planted with Him by dying, we will certainly be joined with Him by rising from death as He did.

In case there was any doubt in the minds of those believers in Rome reading this letter as to what Paul was trying to illustrate through baptism, he now makes it crystal clear. This was in line with what he wrote the Ephesians,1 something he also shared with the Philippians: “All I want is to know Christ and the power that raised Him from death. I want to share in His sufferings and be like Him even in His death. Then there is hope that I myself will somehow be raised from death.2

Those Jewish members of the church in Rome who were familiar with Scripture may have been reminded of God’s word to His people: “Judah, I planted you like a special vine. You were all from good seed. How did you turn into a different vine that grows bad fruit?3 But Paul may have had these words of our Lord on his mind: “It is a fact that a grain of wheat must fall to the ground and die before it can grow and produce much more wheat. If it never dies, it will never be more than a single seed. Whoever loves the life they have now will lose it. But whoever is willing to give up their life in this world will keep it. They will have eternal life.4

Martin Luther points out that just as a branch grafted into a tree has the same life or death in common with the tree, we will partake both of the life and death benefits in Christ. Because, if we are grafted according to the likeness of Christ’s death, which was not without a resurrection, then our death shall not be without a resurrection.5 The resurrection Paul is speaking of here first is the new creature in Christ Jesus who rises from the death of the old nature, and it is this new nature that is guaranteed resurrection when its earthly house is destroyed by death.

Robert Haldane points out that Paul states: “If we have been planted with Christ.” This life and resurrection are not automatic just because you read the Bible or attend Church. The conditional statement “if,” is evidently founded on Paul’s premise of what it takes. And this postulation is clear: If we are dead and buried with Christ in relationship to sin, then we will equally be with Him in His resurrection in connection to everlasting life. If we have been buried with Christ, so we shall rise with Christ. Haldane then repeats Paul’s phrase of Planted together. He notes that this word in the original Greek refers to trees, and designates planting them side-by-side. Says Haldane: “It signifies the closest union of any kind, as being incorporated, growing together, joined with, united. The meaning, then, is, that as in baptism we have been exhibited as one with Christ in His death, so in due time we shall be conformed to Him in the likeness of His resurrection.6

Albert Barnes also notes that the Greek adjective symphytos (planted) used here, occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It identifies vegetation planted at the same time so that it sprouts and grows together. A field of grain that was sown at the same time, so everything grew simultaneously was given this name. Hence, it means closely connected, or joined together. Says Barnes: “Here it denotes that Christians and the Savior have been united intimately in regard to death; as He died and was laid in the grave, so have they by profession died to sin. And it is, therefore, natural to expect that, like grain sown at the same time, they should grow up in a similar manner, and resemble each other.”

Barnes goes on to say that similar to such fellow-plants, we too will resemble Him on the day of resurrection. However, Barnes also believes that as Christ rose from the grave, so will we rise from sin. As He lived a new life after being raised up, we likewise will live a new life. The validity of using such a figure of speech is taken from the New Testament doctrine of union between Christ and His followers. In Barnes’ mind, Paul’s use of this factor is drawn from what was said by the Savior Himself: “Because I live, ye shall live also.7 Says Barnes: “There is perhaps not to be found a more beautiful illustration than that employed here by the Apostle of seed sown together in the earth, sprouting together, growing together, and ripening together for the harvest. Thus, the Savior and His people are united together in His death, start up to life together in His resurrection, and are preparing together for the same harvest of glory in the heavens.8

Adam Clarke makes it clear that the death of Jesus Christ is represented as the seed from which His fruitfulness springs. Just as Christ is the author of eternal salvation passed on to all who believe; and as genuine believers in Him are represented as being planted in His death, and springing up out of it; that all their growth, vigor, firmness, beauty, and fruitfulness follows from it. Says Clarke: “In a word, it is by His death that Jesus Christ redeems a lost world; and it is from that vicarious death that believers derive that pardon and holiness which makes them so happy in themselves, and so useful to others. This sacrificial death is the soil in which they are planted; and from which they derive their life, fruitfulness, and their final glory.9

Charles Hodge believes that Paul’s whole discussion here relates to sanctification. There is a necessary connection between the death of Christ as an atonement for sin, and the holiness of His people. As such, those who are cleansed and pardoned from the guilt and punishment of sin, are likewise cleansed also from its pollution. Hodge says that this is evident. But he goes on to caution that we cannot eliminate all references to the future resurrection of the body.10

Then Charles Ellicott makes an important point on how our growing in Christ should be understood. He points out that the Greek word “symphytos” uses here does not necessarily mean “planted.” Rather, it means to be conjoined, united, growing together. It is used only once here in the New Testament. Ellicott says: “The metaphor is taken from the parasitic growth of a plant, but applies to natural growth, not ‘planted together with,’ as in the Authorized version. The idea would correspond to the growth of a bud or graft regarded as part of that of the stock in which it is inserted, but without reference to the operation of budding or grafting. It is used here to express the closest intimacy and union.”11

One Jewish scholar makes an interesting comparison between this verse and verse 4. In his mind, in baptism, we are conformed to Christ’s death, and in being baptized, we conform to His moral life. This writer believes that Paul’s words may be rooted in Isaiah’s saying, “by His stripes, we are healed.12 He bases this on the fact that the Hebrew root word for “stripes” is chabbuwrah, which comes from the root chabar, meaning, “to be joined.1314 This might give us pause to revisit what Paul said to Timothy: “If we suffer with Him, we will also reign with Him.15

Verses 6-7: We know that our old life was put to death on the cross with Christ. This happened so that our sinful selves would no longer have power over us. That would make us slaves to sin. That’s why anyone who has died in Christ is made free from sin’s control.

Here Paul lays another layer on his teaching of how we become new creatures in Christ Jesus, which he illustrated with the ordinance of water baptism. We see this same concept in Paul’s letter to the Galatians: “I am not the one living now – it is Christ living in me. I still live in my body, but I live by faith in the Son of God. He is the One who loved me and gave Himself to save me.”16 That’s why he goes on to explain: “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their sinful self. They have given up their old selfish feelings and the evil things they wanted to do. We get our new life from the Spirit, so we should follow the Spirit.17

Paul encouraged the Colossians to live a positive life: “You are now wearing a new life, a life that is new every day. You are growing in your understanding of the one who made you. You are becoming more and more like Him.18 This echoes the cry we find in Isaiah’s Song of Praise: “Lord, you are our God, but in the past, we followed other lords. We belonged to other masters, but now we want people to remember only one name – Yours.19 This confession of faith was necessary. We cannot forget what happened to the children of Israel when after centuries living in squalor in Egypt, being slaves and beaten by their Egyptian masters as they slaved in the hot sun, they still complained to Moses after being miraculously delivered: “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt — it cost us nothing! — and the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, the garlic!20

The Jews refer to what was said by God Himself on such serious flaws in man’s mind: “I will never again curse the ground because of humankind since the imaginings of a person’s heart are evil from his youth.21 One Jewish scholar puts God’s words here in paraphrase: “I must not allow them opportunities to sin, since they refrain from sin only out of fear of My retribution. Were they to know that I have sworn an oath not to bring a general calamity on mankind, they would continue sinning every day.22 Paul was not convinced of such an argument. He says that people must put to death the very desire to sin, and the only way to do so is to crucify the carnal nature with Christ.23 And the Apostle Peter has this to say: “Christ suffered while He was in his body. So you should strengthen yourselves with the same kind of thinking Christ had. The one who accepts suffering in this life has clearly decided to stop sinning.24

1 Ephesians 2:5-6

2 Philippians 3:10-11

3 Jeremiah 2:21

4 John 12:24-25

5 Martin Luther: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit. p. 102

6 Robert Haldane: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p

7 John 14:19

8 Albert Barnes: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

9 Adam Clarke: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 104

10 Charles Hodge: On Romans, loc. cit., p. 303

11 Charles Ellicott

12 Isaiah 53:5

13 I.e,. Hosea 417

14 Messianic Bible: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

15 2 Timothy 2:12

16 Galatians 2:20

17 Ibid. 5:24-25; Cf. Ephesians 4:22

18 Colossians 3:10

19 Isaiah 26:13

20 Numbers 11:5

21 Genesis 8:21

22 Rabbi Abraham Saba: Tzror Hamor, op. cit., Noach, Genesis 8:21, p. 157

23 See Colossians 3:1-5

24 1 Peter 4:1

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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