The Berean Expositor
Volume 21 - Page 154 of 202
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who were once in its thrall may now rise as conquerors and reign. Chapter 6: is devoted
to this reign in life; so also are chapters 7: and 8: The subject is approached from all
angles; it is the truth which animates the whole section.
We prepare for the teaching of Rom. 6: by observing the conditions for reigning in
life given in Rom. 5: First, we learn from verse 21 that the reign of sin and death has
been displaced by the reign of grace unto life, through righteousness, by Jesus Christ as
Lord. This is the great basis; but the reign of the redeemed in life is something more. It
is a solemn fact that every redeemed believer does not reign in life. He may be justified,
constituted righteous, and saved, yet he may not "reign". It is important therefore to see
the conditions governing this position. In verses 12, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, 20 and 21, there
is not a single personal or individual reference to the believer, whether to his own
personal sin, or faith, or acquiescence, or agreement, or acceptance. All is outside of his
volition; it is either in Adam or in Christ. The first personal note is struck in verse 16 in
the reference to "many fallings aside", the personal sins of individuals as distinct from
the one sin of Adam. The second personal reference occurs in the next verse: "They
which receive . . . . . shall reign."
These two words and their connection are important--"receive" and "reign". The
word "receive", lambano, needs to be translated by a more active word to give it its true
force. Dechomai in the original corresponds most closely to the word "receive", in the
sense of receiving something brought by another, whereas lambano more properly
signifies to take, to apprehend, to grasp, to hold. Labein is translated in Rev. 4: 11:
"Thou art worthy to receive glory", and in Rev. 5: 9: "Thou art worthy to take the
book." So in Phil. 3: 12 lambano is translated "attained", and in Phil. 3: 12, 13,
prefixed by kata, it is rendered "apprehend". If we would "reign in life", then we must
take, lay hold of, obtain, and accept the "abundance of grace and the free gift of
righteousness" in all their victorious fulness. We may be "saved so as by fire" without it,
but who could feel any gratitude for the great love of God in Christ, and not desire to "lay
hold of that for which he has been laid hold of by Christ Jesus"?
Before we attempt an analysis of the teaching of Rom. 6: we must seek to discover
the divine disposition of its subject-matter, which we call the structure. There are so
many suggested divisions of this chapter that it is all the more important that the true key
should be sought and found. The key is contained in the four times quoted expression,
"God forbid" (6: 2, 15, 7: 7, 13). The words "God" and "forbid" do not occur in the
original. Darby renders the expression each time, "Far be the thought". Rotherham has,
"Far be it". Me genoito, "Not may it become". The phrase must be considered as written
with a shudder, an expression of horror at the mere suggestion. "Let it not come to that"
is perhaps the nearest equivalent in English. With this as a guide, we find the structure of
chapter 6: and 7: to be as follows:--