The point of transition (Romans 6:3-11): The inspired writer shows us how grace is accessed (cf. 5:1). “We were buried therefore with him into his death.” Note the following points: (a) The plural pronoun “we” reveals that the baptism here referenced is the same kind as administered to Paul—namely, water baptism (Acts 9:18), to “wash away sins” (cf. Acts 22:16). The baptism of this text is not Spirit baptism, as commonly alleged. (b) Baptism was the mode of transition “into” the “in Christ” relationship. The popular idea that baptism is merely an outward sign of a conversion already experienced is completely foreign to the plain language of the text. Before baptism, these people were out of Christ; after the rite, they were in Christ. (c) The baptism ushered the candidate “into the death” of Jesus—into the benefits of his death. (d) It involved a burial and being raised. Therefore, it was immersion, as indeed the verb “baptized” signifies. (e) This baptism resulted in “newness of life” and was “to the glory of God”; but the newness of life was not enjoyed until they were raised. (f) “Newness of life” is the equivalent of “free from sin” (v. 18).
Paul continues by emphasizing that we are “united with Christ” at the time we join him in the “likeness of his death” (i.e., in “dying to sin”) and being “buried with him” in baptism (v. 4). When one is raised from baptism he also emulates Christ in a new, resurrected life. The “old man” of the pre-conversion mode of life was “crucified” with Christ (i.e., put to death) separated from his newly purposed Christian conviction. He has resolved to no longer be “in bondage to sin”--enslaved to a rebellion against God (v. 6). The one who has submitted to the conversion process just outlined “is justified from sin” (v. 7). This context focuses clearly upon the point of one’s passage from spiritual death to life.
If one dies with Christ (i.e., turns his back on the world through the rite of conversion), he will also live with the Savior in a new redeemed life (cf. Mt. 28:20)—and beyond that, eternally in heaven (v. 8). Jesus was raised from death to “die no more,” hence was the “first-born” from the dead (Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5) in the permanent sense. The death of Chris was a one-time event. Even so, we must consider ourselves dead to sin but consistently alive (the force of the verb) unto God within the in-Christ domain.
Wayne Jackson, A New Testament Commentary
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