“What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?”

In this chapter, Paul begins a discussion that will continue on through to the two following chapters.  His general purpose is to show that the Plan of Justification which God had adopted does not lead men to sin, but, instead it leads men to holiness.  The topic of this chapter announces is seen in the opening question, “Shall we” (or, as the true or literal reading says, May we;" or, “Are we to”) continue in sin, that grace may abound?" HThat this objection was brought against the apostles, we know from 3:8; and we can gather from Gal. 5:13 I Pet. 2:16; Jude 1:4 that some did present this charge; but that it was a total perversion of the Doctrine of Grace as Paul proceeds to show.

“What shall we say”
Literally:  “What then shall we say?”–This is a debater’s phrase; a method of presenting an objection.  It is the rabbinical method of question and answer, but ir also an expression of the victory of grace over sin.  Paul is asking the question of what shall we think of this doctrine of Justification by Faith, especially, as it is taught in the latter part of the preceding     chapter, that where sin abounded grace did much more abound?

Here we see Paul being argumentative;  that is, he is acting like a questioning rabbi.  Don’t forget that before his conversion he had been a Pharisee and a rabbi.  He is now asking this idiomatic question that in the Greek is asked in such a way that there is only one answer.   The objection refers to what Paul had said in 5:20.  “What shall we say to such a sentiment as that where sin a-bounded grace did much more abound? That is, what conclusion are we to draw from the doctrine previously taught?   Shall we continue to live in sin, that grace may the more abound?”

“shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?”–An objection may be raised, or an inference seems to be drawn from the preceding argument that we may do evil (that is, persist in evil) that good may come of it or that grace may increase.

Then does it not follow from this that we may continue in sin; that grace may abound still more, and may appear more glorious in pardoning and saving us?  If sin has been the reason for grace and favor, then shouldn’t we continue in it, and commit as much as possible in order that grace might abound even more?

CONTINUE:  (Grk.–epimenoumen)–This is really in the present tense, so in our  vernacular we might say, “shouldm't we just go on sinning?”

         Paul answers by showing that such a sequence does not really take place. He sets out to prove that the Doctrine of Justification does not lead to such a conclusion.  Sin is not “per se,” the cause of the glorifying God's grace, but of itself, sin is the cause of wrath, and not of grace  It was essential for Paul to vindicate his doctrine, not only from such objections as he knew would be made by the enemies of the cross of Christ to whom he has an eye throughout the whole of the Epistle, but also to Christians themselves, those to whom he was directly addressing.
          It is possible that these were the words of a believing Gentile, meaning a new convert who has just been brought out of his heathen state to believe in Christ Jesus.  as yet had received little instruction in the faith. Such manner of thinking is the prevalent “thinking” in present antinomianism.  And we should not be surprised that a Gentile, who has just emerged from the deepest darkness, might entertain such thoughts as these. 

          SIN:  (Grk.–hamartia)-Some expositors believe that this is not so much referring to acts of sin, as it is referring to the power of sin; that sin is viewed as a power in these verses.             

           SIN REIGNS (Grk.–ebsoileusen)–(5:21) in death.  Those who are outside Christ are “slaves”  to sin (v. 6) but believers have been liberated from the sin that enslaved them and are now “bondslaves to righteousness. 

Christians are NOT to present their bodies to sin, for it no longer rules over them.  However, as has already been pointed out, some antinomians may use this as a kind of justification” for their worldly actions.

“God forbid, How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

How is it possible for people such as we are who have died (once for all) with Christ to sin to any longer or to live in it?  By our mystical death we became separate from sin, as a corpse is from life.

         “God forbid”
         Literally: “Let it not be.”–Or as we might say it, “Let it not be; by no means; far from it; let  not such a thing be mentioned!”

Any of these is the meaning of the Greek phrase, which is a strong expression of surprise and disapprobation: and is not properly rendered by our God forbid! This is an expression of horror, especially to Paul, and his answer (in our terminology) is, “By no means;” or, “no way, man; or, “that’s not going to happen”!

we that are dead to sin”
Literally:  “we who died to sin”–“We who died to sin.”– This is a bad translation, for the verb here rendered as, “we died.”  A more literal translation would read, “we have died.”       

         WE WHO DIED:  (Grk.–apethanomen)–This is in the past  tense, denoting an action that has already taken place and will never be repeated.  The phraseology of this verse is common among Hebrews, Greeks, and Latins.  To die to a thing or person, is to have nothing to do with it or him; to be totally separated from them.

This contains a reason of the implied statement of Paul, that we should not continue in sin. The reason is drawn from the fact, that in fact we are dead to sin. It is impossible for those who are dead to act as if they were alive. Therefore, when it is said that a Christian is dead to sin, the idea is that sin has lost its influence over him.  He is no longer under subjection to it.  The expression used in other places in the N.T.–“For I am dead to the law”  (Gal. 2:19); Col. 3:3, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3); “Who…bare our sins…that we, being dead to sin” (I Pet. 2:24), just to name a few..

“live any longer therein”
Literally:  “How shall we still live in it?”–How shall we, who have become sensible of the evil of sin, and who have renounced it by solemn profession, continue to practice it? 

            It is therefore abhorrent to the very nature of the Christian profession. When we severed our relation with sin, we died to it. If we have cut loose from it then how can we continue in it?  Death is a separation.–physical death is the separation of life from the body and spiritual death is the separation of the soul from God. When we severed our relation with sin, we died to it. If we have cut loose from it, i.e., died to it, then how can we continue in it?

            The benefits of justification and sanctification are always inseparable joined together, and both of them proceed from Christ by the grace of God.   Sanctification is the abolishing of sin; that is, the abolishing of of our natural corruption, whose place is taken by the cleanness and pureness of a reformed nature.  Basically speaking, sanctification simply means, separation to and by Christ.

1.      Positional Sanctification:  Separation from the penalty of sin.
        This takes place the moment we receive Christ as our personal Savior.
2.      Progressive SanctificationSeparation from the power of sin.
         This is taking place as we grow in our knowledge of Christ and His control over us progresses.
3.      Potential SanctificationSeparation from the presence of sin.
         This will take place when we are in the very presence of Christ. and receive our sinless new bodies.
Believers are said by Paul to be dead to sin, for they are made partakers of the power of Christ so that the natural corruption is dead in them.  The power of sin is removed, and it can no longer bring forth its bitter fruits.  

It is verses like this that have led some sincere folk (so called super-saints) to feel they have reached an exalted plane where they do not commit sin;. One such group teaches the “victorious life”–that they have reached the pinnacle of perfection; i.e., eradication of the old sin nature  from their lives.   Nothing could be more impossible or further from the truth.

“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?”

            “know ye not”
            Literally:  “Or are you ignorant?”  This is a common phrase used by Paul, and is really a phrase of abject sarcasm

               KNOW YE NOT:  (Grk.–agnoeite)–From the Greek noun (agnia) which means, “ignorance; unawareness” or the Greek verb, (agnoeō) which means, “be ignorant; fail to understand; disregard.”

            In effect, he is saying, “Don’t you understand;” or, “are you ignorant” or more emphatically, “Are you really so dumb or dense that you don’t see this?”—see I Cor. 6:19 for another use of this phrase.  Notice how close this Greek word (agnoeite) is to a familiar word we have: the word, AGNOSTIC–a word that literally means, “to know nothing.”  By the way, the Latin equivalent of agnostic is the word “ignoramus.”
            Assuming that these Roman believers are (or at least should be) familiar with Paul’s comments regarding baptism.  The simple argument in this verse and the two following is that by our very profession made in baptism we have renounced sin, and have pledged ourselves to live to God. Didn’t they realize the significance of their baptism?  In their baptism they had confessed their choice of Christ as against sin and the old life.

            “that so many of us”
           Literally:  “that all of us”–All who were baptized; i.e., all believing Christians.

                        SO MANY AS:  (Grk.-hosoi)–“All we who; we that;” designating all collectively.

“as were baptized into Jesus Christ”
Literally:  “All who were baptized into Christ Jesus.”–Every man who believes the Christian faith, and receives baptism as the proof that he believes it, and has taken up the profession of it, is bound thereby to a life of righteousness. to receive the doctrine of Christ crucified, and to receive baptism as a proof of the genuineness of that faith, and the obligation to live according to its precept

              BAPTIZED:  (Grk.–baptisma)–Our English word “baptized” is not really a translation of the Greek word used here; it is merely a transliteration–a simply carrying the Greek letters into the English letters.  This reference to baptism is introduced as a designation for those who are believers in Christ since unbaptized believers were virtually nonexistent in Paul’s day.

            If the English translators had really translated this Greek word they would have need to use the words, “immersed” or “plunged,” for that is what the word  (baptizō)  truly means.   But keep inmind that the translators of the KJV were bishops of the Anglican (Episcopal) church, and this church “sprinkles” its members. Therefore, if they had truly translated the Greek word baptizō  they would have been admitting that their church has it wrong; that is, not performing Scriptural baptism.  This they could not do.  There is also the fact that the king was the head of the Church of Englandand King James I did not hesitate to use the headsman's axe on those who resisted him, or who angered him. Anyhow, it is only immersion that truly portrays a burial or death.
            The fact that every follower of Christ has died to sin is confessed publicly by his baptism (immersion) in water.  All its symbolism points to death.  To be baptized into Christ means to enter into a vital union with Him, so as to be found in him (Gal. 3:27)..

“were baptized into His death?”–We were baptized with special reference to Christ’s death .  Our baptism had a strong resemblance to His death.   Baptism into Christ is really a baptism into the death of Christ. That the subjects of baptism are partakers of His death . Ths shown by the form of baptism (total immersion in water).

That a man who is physically dead becomes insensible to the things of the world; by baptism we are testifying that we have become dead to sin.  We are baptized with particular reference to the design of His death, the great leading feature and purpose of His work which was to pay for sin; to free men from its power; to make them pure.  By our baptism we profess our devotion to the same cause; and have solemnly consecrated ourselves to the same design–to put a period to the dominion of iniquity. 

“into His death”–As Christ died to sin, we also we died to sin, just as if we were literally members of His body.

         INTO: (Grk.–eis)–This is the word which is used in Mt 28:19–“Teach all nations, baptizing them in {into}  (eis)  the name of the Father,” etc.  It means, being baptized unto His service; receiving Him as the Savior and Guide, devoting all unto Him and His cause.”  

           This traslation of “into” makes Paul saying that the union with Christ was brought to pass by means of baptism, which is not his idea at all, for Paul did not consider baptism to be some form of sacrament, or that it has some form of sacramental value in it.  This Greek word eis is basically the same in meaning as the Greek word en (in).  Baptism is simply the public proclamation of one's inward spiritual relation to Christ that has already been attained before the baptism.

Paul is saying that you who are baptized died with Christ.  Not only that, your baptism sets forth that you were buried with Him.  Was it not a portrayal of your death and burial when you went down into the water which signified, not cleansing, but death.
          That, as Jesus Christ in His crucifixion died completely, so that no spark of the natural life remained in His body, so those who profess His salvation should be so completely separated and saved from sin, that they have no more connection with it, nor any more influence from it, than a dead man has with or from his departed spirit.
We, through faith, are grafted into Christ; and we draw new spiritual life from this new root, through His Spirit the (Holy Spirit), who fashions us like unto Him, and particularly with regard to His death and resurrection.
           That this, sealed with the seal of heaven, and as it were formally entered and articled, to all the benefits and all the obligations of Christian discipleship in general, and of His death in particular. And since He was “made sin” and “a curse for us” (II Cor. 5:21; Gal. 5:13), “bearing or sins in His own body on the tree,” and “rising again for our justification” (4:25; I Peter 2:24), our whole sinful case and condition, thus taken up into His Person, has been brought to an end in His death.
            Whosoever, then, has been baptized into Christ's death has formally surrendered the whole state and life of sin, as in Christ a dead thing. He has sealed himself to be not only “the righteousness of God in Him,” but “a new creature”; and as he cannot be in Christ to the one effect and not to the dead connection with sin. "How,” then, “can he live any longer therein?”  The two things are as contradictory in the fact as they are in the terms.

“Therefore, we are buried with Him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

“Therefore, we are buried with Him”
Literally: “Therefore, we were
buried with Him.”–It probable that in this place Paul was referring to baptizing by immersion.
Paul's purpose was to show that by the solemn profession made at our baptism, we had become dead to sin, as Christ was dead to the living world around Him when He was buried; and that as He was raised up to life, so we should also rise to a new life. A similar expression occurs in Col. 2:12, “Buried with him in baptism,” etc.

                        BURIED WITH HIM:  (Grk.–sunetaphêmen)–More accurately rendered as, were      buried with Him”–past action, never to be repeated. 

            “by baptism into death”
            Literally:  “Through baptism into death.”–Paul’s argument is that a burial implies

            Baptism portrays a death   burial, therefore its subject has died.  As Christ died through sin, we die to sin; as the Crucified Christ was buried, we who have died to sin through the gospel are buried with Him. As death and burial separate from the natural life, so death to sin and burial into Christ should completely sever our relation to sin.

“Into death”–Literally:  Unto  deathi.e. with a solemn purpose to be dead to sin and to the world.  This as referring to the death of Christ.   In order to represent the death of Christ, or    to bring us into a kind of fellowship with His death

            “Buried with him, by baptism into death”–The comma placed after “Him” will show what the sense is. It is not, “By baptism we are buried with Him into death,” which makes no      sense at all; rather, it is “By baptism with Him into death we are buried with Him.”  To put it simply: “By the same baptism which publicly enters us into His death, we are made partakers of His burial also.” To leave a dead body unburied is represented, alike in heathen authors as in Scripture, as the greatest indignity (Rev. 11:8-9).

            Christ, after “dying for our sins according to the Scriptures,” should “descend into the lower parts of the earth”  As this was the last and lowest step of His humiliation, so it was the honorable dissolution of His last link of connection with that life which He laid down for us; and we, in being “buried with Him by our baptism into His death,”  have by this public act severed our last link of connection with that whole sinful condition and life which Christ brought to an end in His death.
            Paul is here pointing to the mode of administering baptism is by immersion, the whole body being put under the water, which seemed to say, the man is drowned, is dead; and, when he came up out of the water, he seemed to have a resurrection to life; the man is risen again; he is alive!  He was, therefore, supposed to throw off his old Gentile state as he threw off his clothes, and to assume a new character, as the baptized generally put on new or fresh garments. 
          Unfortunately, and unscripturally, the reference to baptism has been used by some in a sacramental way, meaning that baptism of itself communicates the power to overcome sin.  But verse 3 links baptism with dying with Christ, while here in verse 4, burial with Christ is said to occur, “through baptism (Grk.–dia baptismatos).  A sacramental understanding of baptism is erroneous because it emphasizes baptism rather than the death.  and resurrection of Christ.  That Paul’s main concern is not baptism, is shown for he does not mentioned again after this verse.   

“that like as”
Literally:  “that as”–In a similar manner.  

Christ rose from death in the sepulcher; and so we are bound by our vows at baptism to rise to a holy life.  That is, by such a putting FORTH of the Father's power as was the effulgence of His whole glory.

“by the glory of the Father”
Literally:   “Through the glory of the Father.”–Perhaps this means, amidst the glory, the majesty and wonders, evinced by the Father when He raised Him up (Matt. 28:2-3). 

Possibly the word glory is here used to denote simply His power, as the resurrection was a signal and glorious display of His omnipotence. Paul declares that all believers, by the very matter of their baptism, proclaim themselves as having been so identified with  Christ’s  death that they were buried; that their past was ended (not, of course, by the baptism) though the ordinance confessed and proclaimed it.  Note the object of our identification with Christ’s  death is set forth, that just as Christ was raided from among the deatd through the glory of the Father, thus also we might be walking about in newness of life.

            “we also should walk in newness of life.”
            Literally:  “So also we might walk in newness of life.”–But what is that “newness”

               WALK:  (Grk.–peripateō)–“To walk; to live.”  Used figuratively to depict a manner of living. This terminology stems from a Jewish background (see Exodus 18:20; Psa. 86:11).  Displaying the daily activity of the believer.

Surely if our old life, now dead and buried with Christ, was wholly sinful, the new, to which we rise with the risen Savior, must be altogether a holy life; so that every time we go back to “those things whereof we are now ashamed” (v. 21), we belie our resurrection with Christ to newness of life, and “forget that we have been purged from our old sins” (II Pet. 1:9).

“In newness of life”–This is a Hebraism to denote new life; or manner of living.. We should rise with Christ to a new life; and having been made dead to sin, as He was dead in the grave, so should we rise to a holy life, as He rose from the grave.

Paul’s argument in this verse is drawn from the nature of the Christian profession.  By our very baptism, by our very profession, we have become dead to sin, as Christ became dead; and being devoted to Him by that baptism, we are bound to rise as He did to a new life

The picture in baptism points two ways, backwards to Christ’s  death and burial and to our death to sin (v. 1), forwards to Christ's resurrection from the dead and to our new life pledged by the coming out of the watery grave to walk on the other side of the baptismal grave. There is the further picture of our own resurrection from the grave. It is a tragedy that Paul's majestic picture here has been so blurred by controversy that some refuse to see it for what it truly is. It should be said also that a symbol is not the reality, but the picture of the reality.