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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT
Ver. 1. Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? He puts and rejects the same objection as before. C. iii. v. 7. And having set forth in the last chapter the grace and advantages by Christ's coming, he now exhorts them to avoid sinning, and live in the grace of God. Wi.
Ver. 2. Dead to sin, &c. We are then dead to sin when we neither live in sin by serving it, nor sin lives in us by reigning; in this case, how can we still live in it by yielding to its desires? S. Aug. (c. vi. de spiritu et litera) thus explains the passage: when grace has caused us to die to sin; if we live again in it, we must be exceedingly ungrateful to grace. Estius.
Ver. 3. &c. We . . . are baptized in his death. Greek, unto his death. The apostle here alludes to the manner of administering the sacrament of baptism, which was then done by immersion or by plunging the person baptized under the water, in which he finds a resemblance of Christ's death and burial under ground, and of his resurrection to an immortal life. So must we after baptism rise to lead a quite different life: having been also, when we were baptized and made Christians, planted as branches ingrafted in Christ, let us endeavour to bring forth the fruits of a virtuous life. Wi. — Old man . . . body of sin. Our corrupt state, subject to sin and concupiscence, coming to us from Adam, is called our old man, as our state, reformed in and by Christ, is called the new man. And the vices and sins which then ruled in us, are named the body of sin. Ch. — The old and sinful man we must look upon as crucified with him, and the body of sin, or our sinful body, destroyed. We must look upon ourselves as dead to sin, and that we must sin no more, as Christ being once risen, dies no more. Wi.
Ver. 7. He that is dead is justified from sin. Some translate, is freed from sin: this is true; but perhaps it is better to retain the word justified, which is observed to be a law-word used in courts of justice, where to be justified is to be acquitted, so that a man cannot be questioned again on that account; and so are sinners, when their sins are forgiven. Wi.
Ver. 10. For in that he died to sin. But the sense must be for sins, or to destroy other men's sins, he himself being incapable of sinning. Wi.
Ver. 12. Let not sin, therefore, reign, &c. He compares sin and justice to two kings, or generals, under one of which every man fights in this world. Sin is the tyrant, under which fight the wicked, and make their minds and their members the instruments, or arms of iniquity to sin, when they follow and yield to their disorderly lusts. But he exhorts them to live so as to make the powers of their souls, and their members, instruments or arms of justice to God, to fight under God, their lawful king, and under the banner of his justice. Wi.
Ver. 14. You are not under the law of Moses, as some of you were before: but now you are all under grace, or the law of grace, where you may find pardon for your sins. But take care not to abuse this grace of pardon offered you, nor multiply your sins, and defer your conversion, as some may do, by presuming, that after all, by the merits of Christ, you can find pardon. This, says Tertullian, is the greatest ingratitude, to continue wicked, because God is good. Reflect that you make yourselves servants of him whom you obey. By yielding to your passions, you become slaves to sin. If you keep your obedience to the law of Christ, and to his doctrine, the form of which you have delivered to you by the gospel, you are the happy servants of justice, and the servants of God, who is justice itself. Wi.
Ver. 17. Thanks be to God, &c. He thanks God, not because they had been in sin, but because after having been so long under the slavery of sin, they had now been converted from their heart, and with their whole strength gave themselves to that form of doctrine to which they had been conducted by the gospel. He returns God thanks for their obedience to the faith, because this obedience of the human will is the work and gift of God, that so no one may glory in his sight. Ephes. ii. Estius.
Ver. 19. I speak a human thing, or I am proposing to you what is according to human strength and ability assisted by the grace of God, with a due regard to the weakness and infirmity of your flesh. The sense, according to S. Chrys. is this, that the apostle having told them they must be dead to sin, lead a new life, &c. he now encourages them to it, by telling them, that what is required of them is not above their human strength, as it is assisted by those graces which God offers them, and which they have received. Where we may observe that these words, I speak a human thing, are not the same, nor to be taken in the same sense, as cap. iii. 6. when he said, I speak after a human way, or I speak like men. Wi. — What I ask of you, Christian Romans, is, that you so earnestly labour for your sanctification as to improve daily in virtue, as formerly you plunged every day deeper and deeper into vice. Menochius.
Ver. 20-22. You were free from justice; that is, says S. Chrys. you lived as no ways subject to justice, nor obedient to the law and precepts of God: an unhappy freedom, a miserable liberty, worse than the greatest slavery, the end of which is death, eternal death: of which sins with great reason you are now ashamed, when you are become the servants of God, and obedient to him, for which you will receive the fruit and reward of everlasting life in heaven. Wi.
Ver. 23. For the wages, which the tyrant sin gives to his soldiers and slaves, is eternal death; but the wages, the pay, the reward, which God gives to those that fight under him, is everlasting life; which, though a reward of our past labours, as it is often called in the Scriptures, is still a grace, or free gift; because if our works are good, or deserve a reward in heaven, it is God's grace that makes them deserve it. For, as S. Aug. says, when God crowns our works, he crowns his own gifts. Wi.