Thursday, October 19, 2006

Comments on Romans 6:11-14

11 Likewise, you also consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore, do not let sin have dominion in your mortal bodies unto the obedience of its cravings. 13 Nor present your members to sin as tools for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as ones who are alive from the dead, and present your members to God as tools for righteousness. 14 For sin shall not rule over you, for you are not under the Law but under grace.

Paul's reasoning moves from what is true of Christ Jesus to what is true of all who are in Christ Jesus, not, however, as though he has not already drawn out significant inferences in 6:1-10. Now, however, likewise signals that the apostle expressly draws out the theologically analogous inferences. As Christ died and was raised to life, so also you, consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. In my translation, I actually have verse 11 as the closing sentence to the previous paragraph. I begin a new paragraph with verse 12. I notice that others observe the same break.

Pault resumes his imagery of dominion from 5:14, 17, and 21 in Romans 6:6 and 6:9. Yet, in these latter verses, Paul alters the imagery slightly as he merges two imageries. In 5:14, 17, and 21 the imagery employs the verb basileu┼Ź. In 6:6 and 6:9 the verbs are douleuein and kurieuei respectively. It seems quite evident that the imagery of dominion (basileuet┼Ź; reigning, kingship, lorship, (6:12) derives from use of the same imagery in 5:17 which in turn derives from imagery that first emerges in Genesis 1:28 (katakurieusate; rule over). Yes, the word in 6:12 and in 5:17 is not the same as in Genesis 1:28. Nevertheless, it is a synonym, as we see that Paul shifts to kurieusei in 6:14. In other words, the apostle merges two imageries, that of dominion (reigning; kingship) and that of slavery. Paul transitions from the kingdom imagery of ruler-subject, so prominent in 5:14, 17, 21 to the master-slave imagery that he introduces in 6:6 (douleuein and 6:9 (kurieuei). His shift to the slavery-manumission imagery expands, as we will see, in 6:15-23.

Paul represents reality in Christ with indicative verbs in 6:4-10. Verse 11 transitions to exhortation, in verses 12 & 13 where imperative verbs dominate ("Let not sin reign. . . . Do not present . . . but present yourselves."). In verse 14, Paul returns to the indicative to say, "For sin shall not rule over you, for you are not under the Law but under grace." Paul is saying that sin's mastery or lordship (also sin's kingship) has been broken with Christ's death. Already, we dwell under a new master, the Lord Jesus Christ, as we await the consummation of Christ's mastery when sin will have no more dominion over us at all.

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