Romans - Lesson 25

Class Discussion on Romans 6:1-14

This lesson is a discussion between students and Dr. Moo on Romans 6:1-14.

Lesson 25
Watching Now
Class Discussion on Romans 6:1-14

Discussion Questions:

1) Why does Paul bring the subject of baptism into the argument here? What does that say about our practice of baptism?

2) What does death to sin mean? How do you communicate that to a Christian audience?

  • This lesson offers a deep dive into Paul's Letter to the Romans, revealing its pastoral aims, Paul's intentions to visit Spain, Jerusalem, and Rome, and its relevance to early Christian dynamics and theological inquiries about the Law in Christ's time.
  • This lesson offers a fresh view of Paul's theology, focusing on Romans. It emphasizes the first-century context, highlighting Gentile inclusion and unity in Christ, challenging traditional views. Gain insights into Paul's message and its relevance today.
  • Explore the book of Romans for modern faith conflicts: balance tradition with contemporary practices, learn from history, and grasp Paul's ministry and Gospel's complexities.
  • Follow along with Dr. Moo as he begins a thorough review of Romans 1:2-5. You will learn how Paul emphasizes Jesus' earthly life, resurrection, and his appointment as the Son of God in power. This lesson examines the interconnectedness of faith and obedience, underscoring that while faith initiates salvation, genuine faith inherently entails obedience to Christ as Lord, maintaining a balanced Christian life.
  • By delving into Romans 1:16-17, you'll understand the Gospel extends beyond individual salvation, encompassing God's reign over creation and His establishment of justice. The Gospel challenges worldly powers, offering hope and transformation to all who embrace it.
  • Listen along as the class discusses questions and answers revolving around Romans 1:16-17.
  • In Romans 1:18-28, you learn that all people are held accountable by God, having knowledge of Him through natural revelation but some turn away. This passage highlights the manifestation of God's wrath against sin, the exchange of truth for falsehoods, and the absence of excuses for humanity's actions, ultimately emphasizing God's fair judgment.
  • Listen in as the class and Dr. Moo discuss aspects of Romans 1:18-28.
  • The lesson discusses Romans 2:1-11, it highlights the use of the diatribe device and the transition from focusing on Gentiles to Jews. It underscores the Jewish belief in their special status and their potential misunderstanding of God's judgment. The lesson reviews the focus of the text on key themes such as judgment, righteousness, and the relationship between faith and good deeds.
  • In this lesson, you'll review the significance of the Law, notably the Law of Moses, in God's judgment. Paul stresses that mere knowledge of the Law isn't sufficient for righteousness; obedience is key. The primary message is that salvation ultimately relies on God's grace and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as human efforts and consciences alone cannot secure salvation. This lesson highlights the importance of understanding these concepts in interactions with people of different religious beliefs.
  • The key takeaway in this lesson is that while being a Jew comes with a great heritage, it doesn't guarantee salvation. Obedience to God's law is crucial, and reliance on religious heritage or rituals won't save you. The lesson emphasizes the universal human condition of being under the power of sin, and people cannot be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the Law or by the works of the Law. Only through faith in Christ are we made righteous.
  • This lesson explores the New Perspective on Paul, emphasizing that the Law was for Jewish covenant status, not just salvation. It promotes a holistic faith view, balancing vertical and horizontal aspects, Spirit-led obedience, and 1st-century Judaism diversity, enriching Pauline teachings in the church.
  • In exploring Romans 3:21-26, you'll gain insights into the relationship between righteousness, faith, and salvation. Paul highlights God's righteousness, which is accessible to all through faith in Jesus Christ. By weaving together themes of righteousness, faith, and inclusivity, Paul challenges conventional Jewish and Gentile perspectives, emphasizing the continuity of God's salvation plan while underscoring the centrality of faith in Christ for all believers.
  • In this lesson, you will gain insights into the potential challenge in translating Romans 3:23-24, particularly the term "all" and its connection to the debate on universalism in evangelicalism. Dr. Moo stresses the importance of coherence in biblical interpretation and explores the themes of God's righteousness, faith, and grace in justification. The lesson reviews the cultural background of redemption, drawing parallels with the Greco-Roman slave market and emphasizing the need to understand both the problem of sin and the Gospel solution.
  • Embarking on this lesson, you'll gain insight into the historical development and contemporary challenges surrounding the doctrine of justification. Through exploring classic Reformation principles and contemporary reassessments, you'll understand the tensions between Protestant and Roman Catholic perspectives, particularly regarding the infusion of righteousness and the role of grace.
  • The lesson explores the intricate connection between faith and works, justification, and sanctification in contemporary theological discourse. It delineates divergent views on justification, with scholars like Piper advocating for the preservation of biblical distinctions amidst modern theological trends. The lesson examines key questions regarding the meaning, basis, time, and means of justification.
  • Students in Dr. Moo's class ask multiple questions about justification.
  • By studying Romans 3:27-4:25, you gain insight into Paul's theology, where faith, exemplified by Abraham's righteousness, transcends works and ethnicity, emphasizing the universal scope of salvation through Christ.
  • Hear the questions the students ask regarding Romans 3:27–4:25. And discover Dr. Moo's answers to the questions posed.
  • In Romans 5 – 8, you gain insights into profound theological concepts like justification, identity in Christ, and the tension between present reality and future hope, guiding you to embrace your changed identity and hope for future transformation amidst life's trials.
  • Students as deep questions about Romans 5-8. Hear what Dr. Moo presents as answers to their questions.
  • Through Romans 5:1-11, you'll review the contrast between the Old and New Realms, understanding the essence of living in grace, finding hope amid suffering, and experiencing the assurance of eternal security rooted in Christ's sacrifice and God's love poured into believers' hearts by the Holy Spirit.
  • In Romans 5:12-21, Paul contrasts Adam's sin with Christ's redemptive grace, emphasizing humanity's hope and victory over death through union with Christ, while various interpretations of original sin underscore the universal need for redemption and Christ's pivotal role in restoring humanity to God.
  • Listen to the thorough questions the students ask regarding Romans 5:12-21.
  • The students ask excellent questions of Dr. Moo in this insightful discussion on Romans 6:1-14.
  • Through this lesson, you will gain a deeper understanding of the theological implications of Christ's death and resurrection as explained in Romans 6. You will explore different interpretations of Paul's language regarding the old self and the new self, considering the implications for the Christian life. Ultimately, you will be challenged to recognize your identity in Christ and to actively live according to that identity, rejecting the slavery of sin and embracing servitude to God.
  • Hear the questions the students ask of Dr. Moo regarding Romans 6:1-23.
  • In diving into Romans 7, you'll explore the Law's role in Christian life. Paul's discourse clarifies the distinction between law and gospel, emphasizing the Torah's significance in understanding divine commandments.
  • Class discussion on Romans 7:1-6
  • In Romans 7:7-12, Paul explores the Law's role in intensifying sin and contrasts it with Christ's liberation. His narrative prompts reflection on individual experience and collective identity, enriching understanding of Christian faith.
  • The class discusses the previous lesson on Romans 7:7-12.
  • This lesson covers interpretations of Romans 7:13-25; whether Paul's description is of pre- or post-conversion struggle with the Law.
  • In Romans 8:1-22, discover the Spirit's transformative power over sin, leading to a life free from condemnation, intimacy with God, and anticipation of future glory amid present sufferings.
  • Explore the theological insights on environmental stewardship, emphasizing Christian responsibility in light of Romans 8:19-22.
  • Gain insights into Romans 8:23-27, understanding destined glory despite present suffering. The Spirit intercedes, bridging current and promised futures, offering assurance amid weakness.
  • Romans 8:28 offers profound insights into the nature of God's providence and the believer's journey of faith. Beyond its surface meaning, the verse challenges misconceptions about 'good' and underscores the transformative power of God's grace. It invites believers to trust in God's unfailing love amidst life's trials, anchoring their hope in the assurance of His sovereign care and redemptive purposes.
  • Romans 9:1-5 highlights Paul's profound concern for Israel's salvation and the theological complexities surrounding God's promises. Reviewing salvation history, you'll learn that God's offer of salvation for both Jew and Gentile, fits within the Old Testament narrative.
  • Paul discusses Israel's role in God's plan, emphasizing grace over race. He illustrates divine choices and sovereignty, sparking debates on salvation.
  • Discover diverse views on election, Israel's struggle with faith, and the significance of overcoming theological narrowness in Romans 9:30-10:21. Gain insights into law versus faith in attaining righteousness and the importance of engaging deeply with Scripture for a comprehensive understanding.
  • Gain insights into faith versus works, Christ as the culmination of the Law, and the inclusivity of righteousness through Him. Embrace unity in Christ, transcending cultural divisions, and embodying love and holiness.
  • Gain insight into contrasting righteousness by law vs. faith in Romans 10:5-13. Accessibility of salvation through Christ bridges Old and New Testament teachings, emphasizing unity and continuity.
  • Gain insights into Romans 10:14-21, emphasizing faith, preaching, and Israel's reception of the message. Dr. Moo highlights Paul's use of Old Testament quotes and God's ongoing relationship with Israel, revealing the significance of faith and salvation.
  • Gain insight into Romans 11:11-15. Paul discusses Jewish rejection, Gentile salvation, and Jewish inclusion, aiming to provoke Jewish envy. The phrase "life from the dead" hints at spiritual renewal or future resurrection.
  • Gain insights into the Olive Tree analogy in Romans 11:16-24. Understand humility, faithfulness, and the purpose of warning passages in Scripture.
  • Discover the mystery of Israel's salvation in Romans 11:25-32. Paul reveals unity of Jews and Gentiles, challenging arrogance and emphasizing God's inclusive love.
  • Gain deeper understanding of Christian-Jewish ties, navigate theological challenges, address Israel-Palestine tensions, and embrace God's inclusive grace.
  • Gain deep insights into Romans 12:1-2: True worship extends beyond rituals, urging sacrificial living and transformation in response to God's mercy.
  • In Romans 12:3-8, Paul stresses humility, unity, and diverse gifts within the body of Christ, urging faithful stewardship for the edification of the body of Christ.
  • Gain insights into love's complexity in Romans 12:9-21. Paul urges sincere affection, alludes to Jesus' teachings, and prompts contemplation on love and judgment.
  • Gain insights into balancing submission to authorities with obedience to God. Understand the context of Paul's exhortation to Roman Christians and the complexities of submission, emphasizing humility, unity, and love in the Christian life within God's sovereignty.
  • In Romans 14:1-15:13, you learn about the division in the Roman Christian community, the concept of adiaphora, the balance between liberty and love, and Paul's emphasis on mutual acceptance and avoiding spiritual harm through personal conviction and respect for others' practices.
  • In Romans 15:14-16:27, you explore Paul's extended conclusion, his ministry to the Gentiles, his request for prayers regarding his journey to Jerusalem, the roles of Phoebe and Junias in ministry, and the diversity of the early Christian community.

Dr. Douglas Moo, from Wheaton College Graduate School, offers an exegetical examination of the book of Romans. This course was recorded during a D.Min. seminar at the Carolina Graduate School of Divinity in May 2012.


Other Recommended Reading:

The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright, Piper, John. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007. (978-1581349641) 

Understanding Paul: The Early Christian Worldview of the Letter to the Romans. 2d ed., Westerholm, Stephen. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004. (978-0801027314) 

Justification: God's Plan and Paul's Vision, Wright, N. T.  Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2009. (978-0830838639) 

English version of the Bible: NIV (2011) is preferred; ESV and HCSB are also recommended.

Dr. Douglas Moo 
Romans 6:1-14  
Lesson Transcript


Romans 6:1-14

Let’s talk briefly about the two questions you were discussing. Your discussions may have thrown up some further issues and questions. It might be worthwhile getting a brief report from each group to the degree that you surfaced any particular significant questions or came to any conclusions. 

1) Why does Paul bring baptism into his argument in Romans 6? What does that say about our practice of baptism?

Well, we spent the balance of our time trying to decide what baptism was before we could move past that term and get to the actual answer. One member in our group said that it was salvific and that it was part of the salvation experience. Until you are baptized and immersed in water, you are not part of the church, you’re not united with Christ. The rest of our group said no to that. We were stuck on that point. 

We could all agree that you had to die to your old self in order to walk in the newness of life in Christ. We had one minor point that it could be tied to the Cross, the baptism of the death of the Christ on the cross, “could you be baptized in the same manner I am being baptized?” We went all the way around the world on that one.

Dr. Moo: 
Did you get to the point of why then Paul brings baptism in here? I realize what baptism is, is tied to why he refers to it here. 

You said it was because of the immersion symbolism, right? 

I think he could bring it in because they were all baptized; I think he did bring it in because it was something that they all could look back to, as that moment when they died to sin, so they can’t live any longer in it. 

I argued that baptism was shorthand for the salvation experience, kind of the same points as you but not in the same place.

Paul has done a good job up until now destroying works-righteousness. When he brings in baptism he is bringing back works in reality, not works-righteousness, but saying that your life will be different after coming to Christ. He uses the baptism symbolism to talk about that in great detail. In some ways he either replaces or shows an extension almost of the circumcision thing that was done in the past, where in the past, circumcision identified you, now baptism identifies you. It is replacing or extending what was going on with circumcision. We thought that this was the reason he introduced baptism. Within our room we leaned towards the initiation understanding of baptism, so that there would be a lot of questions raised as to when the appropriate time to baptize is and what it exactly means, particularly what does dying to sin mean to a five year old or a 30 year old. 

Dr. Moo: 
Thanks. Obviously, the matter of baptism is a matter that divides the people of God in some significant ways. Do we have any infant baptizers among us, those who prefer infant baptism? So, we have that view represented as well of course. That continues to be something that among evangelicals there is considerable discussion and disagreement. We’re not going to solve that anytime soon. 

As you know from reading my commentary, for myself, baptism is more than symbolic and that one of the reasons why Paul brings it in here is because it is linked to the salvation experience. not of itself, in my view it salvific, but it is linked to the salvation experience, so that is something to which Paul can refer back to in that way. 

I think when it comes to baptism and the Lord’s Supper, that we broadly as an evangelical movement (and I realize we have very different facets of that movement represented here), but at least in general, we haven’t done a very good job in creating a robust theology of why we do baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The very fact that Paul can bring in water baptism the way he does here is significant in that it perhaps has more significance than we sometimes think it does. It isn’t a sort of optional thing or something that we can neglect or treat lightly. I think there is more work for us to do here in trying to figure out from scripture what place baptism has in our practice, and what theological significance it may have ultimately as well.

We really had a lot more discussion on the death to sin subject. We acknowledged that death to sin begins when you come to Jesus Christ. He immediately starts to point out to you things that you should change, things that you should do to draw closer to Him. So, then the question became does the actual water of baptism change that dynamic of dying to sin. Paul says through baptism we are dead to sin Does the actual water do something of significance?

Dr. Moo:   
To me, it is really significant for us to grapple with that language of through baptism in verse 4: “buried with him through baptism into death,” that somehow baptism is the means by which we are connected with Christ and enjoy the benefits of our death in and with Him, and why he can put baptism in that place. It is the same question when we go to 1 Peter 3 where Peter says that “baptism now saves you.” What is he saying there? Granted the abundant overwhelming emphasis on the sufficiency of faith alone in scripture, how does baptism then play into that when it figures in those passages in this way?

We had some discussion about whether in that day baptism meant something different than it does to us today. Almost like God needed to give them baptism so that they would have something tangible to understand.

We were thinking what if it were sacramental then, does it need to be sacramental now? It’s almost impossible to look at that event and see a non-sacramental understanding the way you describe it then.  But, fortunately for him, everybody was immersed and everything was great.  Now there are a lot of un-baptized, however you want to describe or define baptism, people; and there are different ways to be baptized. If is a sacrament, how can you talk about people who have never been baptized and yet are obviously manifesting the fruit of the Spirit? So, it can’t be sacramental now as it was then if it was then.

Dr. Moo: 
I am uncomfortable there though; it seems to me that some of these New Testament passages are not only descriptive, here is what they were doing, but prescriptive, here is what baptism isand needs to be. I am a little uncomfortable in driving a wedge between what they viewed it to be and what we can now view it to be. In my view, those have to cohere. Depending on what you mean by sacramental; you have to define that. 

The baptism ended the justification part, and that’s how the justification occurs, your faith.  

Dr. Moo:  
I think that is an over reading of the New Testament evidence, myself. A lot of people would argue that a sacrament is an outward experience that conveys grace, but the grace conveyed need not be the grace of justification or conversion. 

It could actually convey the grace that it was portraying; that’s what a sacrament could mean. 

Dr. Moo:  
But the question then is what does baptism portray? So you just back up the question to another stage. It doesn’t signify in scripture salvation per se. 

Ok, then union with Christ. The thing is if you don’t do it then, you’re not united with Christ. 

Dr. Moo:  
Again, it depends on what you mean by sacramental and what it is accomplishing. I don’t think Paul is saying that it accomplishes by itself this entrance into union with Christ. It conveys the grace of what I would understand to be a kind of a sealing, a capstone, on the union that takes place via faith, repentance, gift of the Spirit, and sort of solidified and solemnized publicly in baptism by water. Again, a lot depends on tricky words like sacramental. 

The option of saying baptism meant a certain thing in that day but doesn’t need to mean the same thing in our day; I am uncomfortable with that because of the way it figures. 

It seems intensely locked to who you really are, and the power you have in Christ. And yet, today, people that do not submit to that and yet, they still seem to have that same kind of power. 

Dr. Moo:  
If, as I argue, you have water baptism as part of a complex of events and you can see this especially in the Book of Acts which talks about four things repeatedly in different combinations: faith, repentance, gift of the Spirit, and water baptism. These are constantly referred to in the book of Acts, in different combinations in terms of what it means to be joined to Christ and to come into the Christian church. Faith is clearly the one that is emphasized most often. 

By the time we’ve come to Romans chapter 6, we have to remember that Paul has already established the significance of faith and I would argue the sufficiency of faith, to bring us into union with Christ and justify us. So, when we come to Romans 6, we don’t come to it in a vacuum, we come with all of that behind us, with all the emphasis on faith. Then we come to baptism and say how does that figure in now. Is Paul saying something different; no, it isn’t faith that does it, it’s water baptism that does it? Clearly that would make him almost to be contradictory within a single epistle.

I think the way to solve that is to say water baptism was viewed as part of this larger experience. So, Paul can refer to the whole experience by looking at one part of it here, which he may do because water baptism, unlike these other things sometimes is something that everybody in the church can point back to and acknowledge there was the day they were baptized in water; the moment when their conversion was capped, was solidified, was sealed for me. So, in the New Testament, this is pretty much the consistent way things are presented and why water baptism plays the role that it does. 

The question we ask is a question that Paul and other New Testament authors as far as we know never dealt with: what do you do with an unbaptized believer? This is a question that again we have no direct evidence about in the New Testament. I think if Paul were confronted with that question, just judging from what he has written, he would respond, first of all, why is a believer not baptized? They should be. Second, this is anomalous and unusual, but if that person has faith in Christ, they are saved, they are in. They still should be baptized, but their faith is adequate. I would argue that based on what Paul has said in Romans 1 – 5. 

In that sense, we can view water baptism as part of what James Dunn calls (and I refer to his book in my commentary) the ‘conversion initiation’ experience, which it seems to be attached generally in the New Testament. But not giving it the independent significance that it accomplishes union with Christ in and of itself. That would make nonsense of so many of these other passages in Paul and Peter and the Book of Acts as well as other New Testament writings. 

I think there is a way to cut between the issue of on the one hand, baptism is only symbolic and it doesn’t really do anything. And on the other hand, the view that says that baptism is the essential and necessary means by which we are joined to Christ. I find that both of those extremes want a clear New Testament balanced perspective.  

2) What does death to sin mean? How do you communicate that to a Christian audience?  

We talked about the fact that when we have died to sin, we can tell sin that we are dead to it; we are no longer going to allow your power to be in our lives. We gain a power within us to simply say no to it. Yet we acknowledge that it is ongoing, it is an ongoing and unfolding experience for us. 

Dr. Moo: 
So, a new power over sin is the ability to say no to sin in a sense. 

We were varied in the room over whether the actual act of baptism impacts that.

Dr. Moo:  
Which is in some ways a separate question, and in some ways, related.

Our answer was that sin is no longer reigning; so, we are not a slave to sin. Yet, by the same token, we need to serve the new master. We have moved from one dominion to another but now we need to enact that and put that into practical reality. 

Basically, that we don’t obey sin anymore. 

Dr. Moo: 
We don’t have to obey it, or we don’t obey it? 

We don’t have to obey, and we don’t obey. We choose not to obey. 

Dr. Moo:  
We choose as a consistent choice?  As a universal choice? Or?

As a consistent choice. 

Dr Moo:   
Not universal. Christians can still choose at moments to obey sin, but that is not the pattern.

I think that is a good way to think about this text; Paul does use a lot of this slavery language, ruling, reigning, lordship language here when he is talking about our relationship to sin. We are in a new relationship to sin as believers. It used to be said that we die not only to the penalty of sin but to the power of sin in Christ, or to use the language you used earlier, in union with Christ, we are provided with both, justification and sanctification. They are not the same thing, nor do they overlap in my view, but both are given together. Again, going back to Calvin’s famous language of the double gift that union with Christ brings us. We are no longer penalized for our sins but also, we are brought into a position via union with Christ in which sin loses its stranglehold over us. It is no longer lord, master, and we are no longer its obedient slaves. 

Part of what I thought about when we were having that discussion was that what death to sin for me is might be different than what death to sin to (another student) is.  It’s interesting that what sin is, is defined differently to us by God, if you will. We get different understanding of what actually sin is. I might be doing things that (another student) might say, oh, I’m dead to that at this point, or vice versa. So, it adds a layer of complexity to it. 

Are you talking about individual sins, or sin in general?

I’m talking about individual sins.

But is Paul talking about sin in general? 

Dr. Moo:  
Paul uses it in the singular One of the interesting things about this section of scripture as you might have noticed, is that Paul pretty consistently uses the singular word, ‘sin’, as a power, as an entity. But when we talk about dying to the power of sin, that works its way out in specific sins. They are very much related to one another. 

Right, because there you get on the straight justification, it’s singular sin.  I’ve always seen sanctification in there, which would be sins. 

Dr. Moo:  
Sanctification has to do with sin as well, if we think about sin’s ruling over us and the fact that as believers, we are no longer under sin’s power in that way, so we are enabled to lead a new life, to please Christ in ways that we haven’t before. As people who are outside of Christ, we have no choice but to sin. But in Christ, we have the choice not to sin. Of course, ultimately, we will not be able to sin when we are in glory as we look to that day.