Matthew 5:17 Ministries

Romans 6

1.  United to Christ, or the logic of our baptism (6:1–14)

 These verses are reiterating what was said in 3:5–8, and introduce the theme of chapters 6–8.  They are Sha’ul’s answer to all who accuse the New Covenant of offering “cheap grace.” He is more radical than those who merely exhort us to subdue our sinful impulses; for he asserts that by virtue of being united with the Mashiach (Messiah) (3–6) our old self and its sinful inclinations have died.

Therefore, being immersed into the Messiah (v. 3) is equated with being united with him (v. 5). These verses clearly support the fact that full immersion is the only form of baptism that is valid since baptism is compared here with burial, and burial resembles immersion and in now resembles pouring or sprinkling as certain denominations practice.

Paul uses the Hebrew phrase y˒khupar, meaning “covered” until you die.” He is drawing on the Jewish tradition that says an individual’s own death atones for their sin. He applies it by affirming that our union with the Messiah and with his death (3–6) means that we have effectively died. In other words, in union with the Messiah’s death, we died, which atones for our sin.

Yeshua raised people from the dead, as did Elijah and Elisha; but they all died once again. Yeshua’s resurrection is the first fruits of the new creation (1 Cor 15:20, 23), in which all believers have a share (2 Cor 5:17, Gal 6:15, Ja 1:18), a new creation from which death has been eliminated (1 Cor 15:50–57, Rev 20:14, 21:4).

No longer under the law but under grace. Sha’ul’s use of this phrase is discussed more in-depth in Gal 3:23. The word “law” which is often translated as “Torah” in the Jewish New Testament (Mt 5:17), in its proper context and in the original Hebrew means legalism, which is defined in 3:20 as a perversion of the Torah into a system of rules for earning G-d’s praise without trusting, loving, or communing with G-d who gave us the Torah.

G-d’s people are to live within the framework of the Torah, but they are not in subjugation to legalism. G-d’s giving of the Torah was itself an act of grace which the New Covenant compares with his sending Yeshua (Jn 1:17). G-d’s people, the people who are in a trusting relationship with him, are and always have been under grace and under Torah (a gracious subjection) but never under legalism (a harsh subjection).

2.  Enslaved to God, or the logic of our conversion (6:15–23)

Sha’ul expounds on  Yeshua’s saying, “No one can serve to two masters” (Mt 6:24). The slaves to sin get no benefit (v. 21) but earn their wages, which is death (v. 23). But when enslaved to righteousness (v. 18), eternal life is what one receives as the unmerited gift from G-d (v. 23). Such slavery is true freedom.

    Verse 23 is Sha’ul’s classic expression of the idea that the only place we can work our way to is death; no one can work their way to eternal life. To reach heaven one must acknowledge the ineffectuality of striving in one’s own strength and accept G-d’s unmerited gift of eternal life as being offered in union with Yeshua by his grace when one responds with faith or trust.