Friday, July 26, 2013

“The just shall live by faith”— A Study of the Relationship of Faith to Salvation in its Justifying, Sanctifying, and Glorifying Fulness, part 19

A note from Kent Brandenburg, before you read the Thomas Ross post.  I want to thank Jack Lamb (here is his website) for getting our Word of Truth Conference website looking much better.  The 2012 audio will all be up soon and we will talk about the 2013 conference soon.


While a rhetorical oughtness should not be excluded from the questions in Romans 6:1, 15 (Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?Ø; Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace?), the questions are not simply ones of propriety, but ones of possibility—a possibility indubitably negated, Paul declares.  That is, the “God forbid” that answers Paul’s questions does not just negate the propriety of continuing in sin, but the possibility of it.  That Romans 6:1ff. teaches that the believer is certain to not continue in sin is demonstrated by a number of exegetical considerations. (If the Greek font below appears garbled, get a free copy of the trial version of accordance Bible software here.)

First, whenever Paul follows a “What shall we say” (ti÷ e˙rouvmen;) question in Romans with another question, what is negated is the possibility, not merely the propriety, of the action.  Thus, considering the examples outside of Romans 6, the answer to “What shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance?” (Romans 3:5, ti÷ e˙rouvmen; mh\ a‡dikoß oJ Qeo\ß oJ e˙pife÷rwn th\n ojrgh/n (kata» a‡nqrwpon le÷gw);—note that the “I speak as a man” is an appropriate addition to all of the following similar questions in Romans) is not, “God who takes vengeance ought not to be unrighteous, but perhaps He is unrighteous,” but “God who takes vengeance is certainly not unrighteous.”  The answer to “What shall we say then? Is the law sin?” (Romans 7:7, Ti÷ ou™n e˙rouvmen; oJ no/moß aJmarti÷a;), is not “The law ought not to be sin, but perhaps it is sin,” but “The law certainly is not sin.” The answer to the question, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31, Ti÷ ou™n e˙rouvmen pro\ß tauvta; ei˙ oJ Qeo\ß uJpe«r hJmw◊n, ti÷ß kaq∆ hJmw◊n;), is not “No one ought to be effectually against us and defeat God’s purpose of grace, but it is possible that God will be defeated,” but “Certainly no one is effectually against us and can defeat God’s purpose of grace.”  The answer to the question, “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God?” (Romans 9:14, Ti÷ ou™n e˙rouvmen; mh\ aÓdiki÷a para» twˆ◊ Qewˆ◊;), is not, “There ought not to be unrighteousness with God, but perhaps there is,” but “There is certainly no unrighteousness with God.”  Certainty, not possibility, is also found following the “What shall we say?” constructions in Romans that are followed by a statement rather than a question (9:30).  Consequently, the questions in Romans 6 are also answered by certainties, not mere potentialities or proprieties.  “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1, Ti÷ ou™n e˙rouvmen; e˙pimenouvmen thØv aJmarti÷aˆ, iºna hJ ca¿riß pleona¿shØ;) is not answered, “we ought not, but may, continue in sin,” but “we shall certainly not continue in sin.”  “How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:2, oiºtineß aÓpeqa¿nomen thØv aJmarti÷aˆ, pw◊ß e¶ti zh/somen e˙n aujthØv;) is not answered, “We that are dead ought not to be alive to and live in sin any longer, but we may,” but “We that are dead will not be alive to and live in sin any longer.”  The question, “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace?” (Romans 6:15, Ti÷ ou™n; aJmarth/somen, o¢ti oujk e˙sme«n uJpo\ no/mon, aÓll∆ uJpo\ ca¿rin;) is not answered, “We ought not to continue in sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace, but we might,” but “We will not continue in sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace.”  Likewise, the condition in Romans 6:8 is not merely possibile, but certain;  those that are dead with Christ will certainly, rather than only potentially, live with Him—they are eternally secure and saved from sin’s penalty and power.  The questions that parallel those of Romans 6:1, 15 demonstrate that the believer will certainly not continue in sin.

Second, leaving aside the “What shall we say?” (Romans 3:5; 4:1; 6:1; 7:7; 8:31; 9:14, 30) use of e˙rouvmen, which does not, in any case, provide any contrary evidence, Paul always uses the first plural future active indicative (the Textus Receptus properly reads e˙pimenouvmen and aJmarth/somen in Romans 6:1, 15, while the minority text’s reading of e˙pime÷nwmen and aJmarth/swmen is corrupt) of a certainty, not a mere possibility.  Believers are certain to judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:3); it is certain that it is not a great thing to reap carnal things where spiritual things have been sown (1 Corinthians 9:11);  it is certain that believers will bear the image of the heavenly second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:49);  it is certain that believers who do not faint will reap (Galatians 6:9);  it is certain that those who are dead with Christ will live with Him (2 Timothy 2:11);  it is certain that those who suffer with Christ will reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12);  it is certain that the audience of Hebrews will go on, if God permit (Hebrews 6:3);  it is certain that those who are in subjection to the Father of spirits shall live (Hebrews 12:9).  Consequently, it is also certain that believers will not continue in sin (Romans 6:1, 15) and will not live in sin (Romans 6:2) but will live with Christ (Romans 6:8).

            Third, in every instance where Paul negates an affirmation with “God forbid” (mh\ ge÷noito) in Romans, what is negated is not potentially possible, but certainly impossible.  It is certain that the faithfulness of God is not of none effect (Romans 3:3-4).  It is certain that God who takes vengenace is not unrighteous (Romans 3:5-6).  It is certain that the law is not sin (Romans 7:7).  It is certain that God’s good law was not made death unto Paul (Romans 7:13).  It is certain that there is no unrighteousness with God (Romans 9:14).  It is certain that God has not cast away His people (Romans 11:1).  It is certain that Israel has not stumbled so that the nation was cast off forever (Romans 11:11).  Indeed, there is no clear evidence of any instance of “God forbid” in Paul’s writings that does not deal with a certainty (Romans 3:4, 6, 31; 6:2, 15; 7:7, 13; 9:14; 11:1, 11; 1 Corinthians 6:15 (cf. 6:9-11); Galatians 2:17; 3:21; 6:14).  Consequently, it is a certainty that believers will not continue in sin (Romans 6:1-2, 15).  God forbid—He will not allow it to be so.  (Note that God is involved, and “God forbid” a proper translation, in the expression mh\ ge÷noito.  See, on the Old Testament construction with lyIlDj, Commentary on the Old Testament, C. F. Keil & F. Delitzsch, on Joshua 22:29;  also see 1 Samuel 24:6; 26:11; 1 Kings 21:3; Job 34:10; 1 Chronicles 11:19.  The LXX renders the Old Testament lyIlDj phrase with mh\ ge÷noito at times (Genesis 44:7, 17; Joshua 22:29; 24:16). A. T. Robertson notes: “In modern Greek Dr. Rouse finds people saying not mh\ ge÷noito, but oJ qeo\ß na» fula¿xhØ (pg. 940, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, A. T. Robertson).  See also pg. 94, The Epistle to the Romans, John Murray).

            Fourth, the context of Romans 6 indicates that the believer is certain not to live in sin.  His death to sin and identification with Christ (6:1-4) make a walk in newness of life certain.  He is certain to be in the holy likeness of Christ’s resurrection (6:5).  Crucifixion with Christ is certain to bring freedom from sin’s domination (6:6-7);  the believer’s new spiritual life is as certain as the resurrection of Christ to new life (6:8-10).  The believer is to reckon himself dead to sin and alive to God (6:11-13), not because it is possible that true Christians can be dominated by sin, but because God’s promise is certain:  “sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (6:14).  While his new obedience is imperfect (6:19), nonetheless the time that believers were enslaved to sin is in the past—now all have become the servants of righteousness and are free from sin’s dominion (6:17-21).  All believers have their fruit unto holiness, and their end everlasting life (6:22), while all those who still bring forth fruit unto sin receive spiritual death and eternal damnation (6:15-16, 21-23).

            Sound exegesis makes it very clear that Romans 6:1, 15 affirms that the believer not only ought not to, but certainly will not, live in sin as do the unregenerate.

This post is part of the complete study here.


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