In Romans 6, Paul gives a
detailed description of what happens when we are baptized in water. This
chapter is full of rich information that will prove that baptism is absolutely necessary for salvation. In the previous chapter,
Paul taught the Romans that they were justified by an obedient faith to God and
that justification comes through Jesus. Even though we have all sinned (Rom.
3:23), grace, which came through Christ (Jn. 1:17), will always have the power
to overcome our sins. Again, this requires an obedient faith (Heb. 5:8-9; 1 Jn.
What shall we say then?
Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who
died to sin live any longer in it? (Rom.
Grace is not designed to be
a safety net in which we are allowed to sin freely.
Grace can be perverted (Jude 1:4), and we can fall from it (Gal. 5:4). Notice
how firm Paul answered his own question. He said, “Certainly not!” He wanted
them to understand this truth because some had been twisting what he had been
And why not say,
"Let us do evil that good may come"? -- as we are slanderously
reported and as some affirm that we say (Rom. 3:8).
So, Paul put the rumors to rest; grace is not a license
to sin. His next question is an important one. “How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”
Later, we will see that a person is either a servant of sin or a servant or
righteousness. If a person is a servant of righteousness, then he is a Christian
and he has died to sin, which means he should do his best to never become a
servant of sin again.
we become a Christian, we die to sin, but the temptation to sin is still there.
So, we must continue to stay away from sin. Once we die to sin, we should
rejoice because we have overcome sin and are no longer separated from God (Rom.
6:23; Isa. 59:2). So, we must die to sin if we ever hope to be saved.
and when do we die to sin? Paul answered this question in the following
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried
with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the
dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life
In Him you were also
circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body
of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in
baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the
working of God, who raised Him from the dead (Col. 2:11-12).
We can learn several things from these verses:
Baptism is what puts us into Christ. Paul taught the same thing to the
Galatians: “For as many of you as
were baptized into Christ have put on
Christ” (Gal. 3:27, emph. mine). So, being baptized into Christ means a person has
clothed himself with Him. To show the significance of being in Christ, notice the following things that are found in
Obviously, if we want to be
saved and possess all these things found in Christ, we need to be put into and
clothed with Christ. None of these benefits are found outside Christ. Paul
taught that baptism is how we get into Christ where all these wonderful
blessings are found. If we have not been baptized into Christ, then we are lost.
2. Paul pointed out that
baptism is the point we die with Christ, which is not a physical death, but a
spiritual one. He also pointed out that baptism is a burial, which fits
perfectly with the definition of baptism from the Greek: “To dip repeatedly, to immerse, submerge (of vessels sunk)” (Thayer). This definition describes exactly what happens when
we are lowered under the water because we are completely immersed, which
emulates being buried with Christ. Since we are the ones that are being
immersed and buried, this rules out sprinkling or pouring. Besides, sprinkling
and pouring (ballo,
have their own Greek words, and they have nothing to do with the meaning of
way to illustrate this definition is by giving an example that we will all
agree on. When a person passes away and he is buried in the graveyard, do we
pour or sprinkle a little dirt on him and call him buried? Of course not!
Everyone understands that buried means he is completely covered with dirt,
which is the same idea we are given with baptism. Since baptism is a burial in
water, John was baptizing where there was much water (Jn. 3:23), and Philip and
the eunuch went into the water (Acts 8:38).
3. Another interesting point
comes from the word buried, which is
the Greek word sunthapto. This Greek word only occurs two
times in the Bible (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12). Notice how this word is defined and
viewed by the following Lexicons:
Bury (together) with or at the same time; figuratively, of identifying with Christ through baptism in accepting his death and burial as one's own (RO 6.4) (Friberg).
To bury someone along with someone else - 'to bury together with.' 'by our baptism, then, we were buried with him and shared in his death' Ro 6.4 (Louw-Nida).
Of the believers being buried together with their Lord in baptism (BDAG).
To bury together with: together with Christ, passive, namely, Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12.
For all who in the rite of baptism are plunged under the water thereby declare
that they put faith in the expiatory death of Christ for the pardon of
their past sins; therefore Paul likens baptism to a burial by which the former
sinfulness is buried, i.e. utterly taken away (Thayer).
Even A.T. Robertson, renowned
Baptist Greek scholar, who taught that baptism was not necessary for salvation
agreed with Thayer:
Thayer's Lexicon says: "For all who in the rite of baptism are plunged under the water, thereby declare that they put faith in the expiatory death of Christ for the pardon of their past sins." Yes, and for all future sins also. This word gives Paul's vivid picture of baptism as a symbolic burial with Christ and resurrection also to newness of life in him as Paul shows by the addition "wherein ye were also raised with him". In the symbol of baptism the resurrection to new life in Christ is pictured with an allusion to Christ's own resurrection and to our final resurrection (Robertson).
Mr. Robertson admitted that water baptism is what
Paul is talking about. He also admits that it is the point at which we are
buried with Christ, which is the point our sins are taken away. However, as he
continued, he tried to justify his belief, which contradicts what he just said:
Paul does not mean
to say that the new life in Christ is caused or created by the act of baptism.
That is grossly to misunderstand him. The Gnostics and the Judaizers were sacramentalists, but not so Paul the champion of spiritual
Christianity. He has just given the spiritual interpretation to circumcision
which itself followed Abraham's faith (Ro 4:10-12). Cf. Gal 3:27. Baptism gives
a picture of the change already wrought in the heart "through faith" (Robertson).
A.T. Robertson had a great understanding of the Greek language. However, he admitted in his massive Historical Grammar book that sometimes grammar must give way to theology (Jackson, The Preposition “Eis” in Acts 2:38 www.christiancourier.com).
In other words, no matter how clear the Bible
teaches that baptism is necessary for salvation, Robertson was willing to
ignore it so he could hold to his Baptist doctrine.
Every time the Scriptures talk about the necessity of baptism, Robertson tried
to explain it away. Based on these Greek Lexicons and the Bible, we can see
that Paul was teaching that being baptized in water is necessary for our
4. Paul confirmed that baptism is the point at which
we die to our sins because we are buried with Christ in His death. Paul
compared baptism to circumcision. Under the Law of Moses, a male child had to
be physically circumcised on the 8th day to enter the covenant made
by God (Lev. 12:3). However, under the
new covenant, both men and women are spiritually circumcised when they are
baptized. At that point, they enter the covenant made by God. The word circumcised has the basic meaning of
being cut off, and that is what happens to us in baptism because our sins are
cut off from us. Paul will make this point even stronger when we examine verse
5 and following.
5. Paul taught that baptism is not a work of man,
but a work of God. However, it is a response on our part in the sense that we
decide to submit to water baptism. However, what happens at our baptism is done
solely by God, which can be proven in several ways:
time the Word of God speaks of someone being baptized, it is always in the
passive tense, which means baptism is something that is being done to us.
Someone might say this is referring to the person who is baptizing the other
person. However, we need to realize that when a person is helping another
person with his baptism, he is simply making sure that person is fully immersed
because that person has nothing to do with the work that happens to the person
(2) Paul said: “Buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were
raised with Him through faith in
the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Col. 2:12, emph. mine). Notice, it is by our
faith in the working of God that we can know God is causing us to die to our
sins and that He is uniting us with Christ in baptism. It is at the point of
baptism that God adds us to His church (Acts 2:47), which is only something God
can do. There is nothing magical about the water itself. It is simply the place
that God has appointed in which we contact the saving blood of Jesus (Rev. 1:5)
and our sins are washed away (Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Cor. 6:9-11).
(3) This idea can be seen in the Old Testament as
well. In 2 Kings 5, we learn about a commander of the Syrian army named Naaman.
He was a successful military leader, but he had leprosy. His king wanted him to
be healed, so he sent a letter to the king of Israel to let him know he was
sending Naaman to him to be healed. The king of Israel could not help him with
this request, but Elisha could. So, Naaman was sent to Elisha’s house and
Elisha sent a servant out to tell him: “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to
you, and you shall be clean” (2 Kgs. 5:10). At first, Naaman was furious, and he refused, but his servant talked
him into obeying Elisha’s command, and he was cleansed of his leprosy. There
was nothing magical about the Jordan River, but it was the place that Elisha
said he would be healed from his leprosy. It was not until he obeyed that
command and dipped seven times that God cleansed him from his leprosy. Again,
the water itself did not cure him, just like the water itself does not wash
away our sins. Instead, it is the working of God combined with an obedient
faith that healed Naaman and causes us to have the forgiveness of our
6. Once we have been baptized into Christ and we are
raised from the watery grave of baptism, we are supposed “to walk in newness of
life.” Notice, our walk in newness of life does not
begin until we are buried with Christ in baptism. Paul said: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is
a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become
new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
Again, the only way we can become a new creation is by being baptized into
For if we have
been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in
the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was
crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that
we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from
sin (Rom. 6:5-7).
And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your
flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses (Col. 2:13).
As Paul continued, he lets us
know that our salvation and the forgiveness of our sins are conditional. Verse
5 starts out with the Greek word gar,
which means Paul was explaining more about what he said in the previous verse.
Notice the conditional word if. We
can only be united with Christ in the likeness of His death if we are baptized.
It is at the point of baptism that our old self is crucified with Christ. At
that point, we are freed from our sins and made alive with Christ by our faith
in the working of God. Paul said: "I have been crucified with Christ; it
is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I
now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave
Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). It was only when Paul was crucified with Christ in
baptism that Christ lived in him (Acts 9:18).
Just because we have been freed
from our past sins does not mean that we cannot sin any more. Instead, it means
that we should not sin any more. It is also important to note, that once we
have been baptized into Christ for the remission of our sins, we do not need to
be baptized every time we sin. Instead, we have been given the privilege to
come boldly before the throne of grace in prayer to repent and confess our sins
to God (Heb. 4:16; 1 Jn. 1:9). Consider the following verses:
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those
things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things
on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When
Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in
put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness,
passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these
things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you
yourselves once walked when you lived in them.
But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice,
blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.
Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his
deeds, and have put on the new man who
is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where
there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian,
Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all (Col. 3:1-11, see also Eph. 4:20ff).
Once again, we have the
conditional word if. Paul is saying,
if we were raised with Christ in baptism, we should be seeking those things
which are above. When he said, “you died,” he is referring to when we died in
baptism, which was when our lives became hidden with Christ. It is only when we
have died and been raised with Christ in baptism that we have the hope of
appearing with Jesus when He appears at His second coming. Then Paul encourages
us to put off all these sinful deeds that cause us to be separated from God. He
tells us why we should do this when he wrote, “…since you have put off the old
man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who
is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (Col.
3:9-10). Again, Paul teaches us in Romans 6 that putting off the old man
happens at the point of baptism. Paul told Timothy: “This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We
shall also live with Him” (2 Tim. 2:11). Notice, the only way we
can live with Christ is by dying with Him, which happens at the point of
Now if we died
with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been
raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion 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. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to
sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:8-11).
Verse 8 is the same conditional
statement that Paul made to Timothy (2 Tim. 2:11). We can know with all
confidence that if we die with Christ in baptism and we remain faithful, we
will live with Christ in heaven forever. We can know this fact because Jesus
was raised from the dead, and He has put sin in its place. Just as Jesus lives
for God, we are supposed to live our lives for God and consider ourselves dead
to sin but alive in Jesus.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that
you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments
of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to
God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of
righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not
under law but under grace (Rom.
This passage proves we can
resist sin. However, we are human and sometimes we will sin (1 Jn. 1:8, 10),
which is why Paul taught us not to let sin reign in our bodies. As Christians,
we are to fight the good fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12) and keep sin out of our
lives (1 Jn. 2:15-17; 1:6).
When Paul said: “We are not
under law but under grace,” he is saying that we are not under the Law of Moses
in which perfect law-keeping was required. “For whoever shall keep the whole
law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). Some seem to think there
is no law under the system of grace, but this is not true. Consider the
Isaiah prophesied that the law
of Jehovah would go forth from Jerusalem (Isa. 2:3), which happened on the day
of Pentecost (Acts 2). When the new covenant was made through Jesus, Jeremiah
prophesied that God would put His law in their minds and write it on their
hearts (Jer. 31:33). The fact that we
are under a new covenant proves that we are under a law, and the Scriptures
make it clear that we are under a law. For instance, the covenant we are under
is called a law of faith (Rom. 3:27), the law of God (Rom. 7:22, 25),
and the law of the Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2). Paul said he was under law to
Christ (1 Cor. 9:21), and he taught other Christians to fulfill the law of
Christ (Gal. 6:2). James called it the perfect law of liberty and the royal law
(James 1:25; 2:8, 12). Besides, if there is no law, then there is no way we can
sin (Rom. 4:15). However, Jesus said: “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (Jn. 14:15). If there are commandments we can keep, then there is a law
for us to keep. There are many other verses that show that we must obey God’s
law under His system of grace as well (Mt. 7:21-23; Rom. 6:17-18; Col. 3:5-6; 2
Thes. 1:8-9; Heb. 5:8-9; James 1:22; 2:17, 20; 1 Pet.
4:17; 1 Jn. 2:3-4, 17; 5:3; 1 Pet. 1:22; Rev. 21:7-8; 22:14).
What then? Shall we sin
because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present
yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of
sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to
righteousness? But God be thanked that though
you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine
to which you were delivered. And having
been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the
weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves
of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness,
so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for
holiness (Rom. 6:15-19).
Once again, Paul is teaching us
that grace is not a license to sin. When we were baptized into Christ, we made
ourselves slaves of righteousness. We are no longer supposed to be slaves of
sin because it leads to spiritual death. Notice how they became slaves of
righteousness, which caused them to be set free from sin. They obeyed from the
heart that form of doctrine that was delivered to them. What doctrine was
delivered to them that they obeyed? It was the same doctrine that Jesus told
His disciples to teach in The Great Commission (Mt. 28:19-20; Mk. 16:15-16).
When they went around teaching, they taught that a person must believe that
Jesus is the Son of God (Jn. 8:24; Acts 8:37), repent (Lk. 13:3; Acts 2:38),
confess Jesus as Lord (Mt. 10:32-33; Rom. 10:9-10), and be baptized (Mk. 16:16;
Acts 2:38). Paul continued to encourage these brethren to be servants of
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:20-23).
As Paul summed up this
chapter, he pointed out that being a slave of sin will end in spiritual death, but being a slave of righteousness will result in
inheriting eternal life through Jesus our Lord.
When Paul says that when you
were a slave of sin, you were free from righteousness, he is saying there is no
obligation to follow the rules of righteousness if God is not your master.
Though you have the choice to live your life the way you want and be a slave of
sin, you need to think about what that means. As Paul points out, it leads to death,
which is the true wages of sin. Some may try to focus on the pleasure of sin or
the freedom to do what you want, but in the end, it will cost you your soul.
Paul didn’t want any of
these Christians turning back to a life of sin. He reminded them how ashamed
they were of their old lifestyle. Unfortunately, there are some Christians who
will give up the wonderful promise of heaven in order to
live a lifestyle that will put them on the broad road to destruction. Like
Paul, I hope that no Christian will give back the wonderful gift of eternal
life that has been given freely by God.
In conclusion, Paul has
taught us with clarity the necessity of baptism. When we are baptized into
Christ, we die to sin and we become slaves of
righteousness because we obeyed that form of doctrine that has been delivered
to us. If we have not been baptized into Christ, then we are still a slave of
sin. If we die physically in this condition, the Word of God teaches that we
will not make it into heaven. What about you? Are you a slave of righteousness
or a slave of sin? If you desire to be a slave of righteousness, then why not
be united with Christ in baptism today (2 Cor. 6:2)?