Romans: Interpreted by Early Christian Commentators

By J. Patout Burns Jr.; Constantine Newman | Go to book overview

Romans 6

In the sixth chapter, the commentators focused on Paul’s discussion of the Christian’s dying with Christ in Baptism and thereby escaping sin and death. Origen’s interpretative lens was individual responsibility for sin, both in Christ and the Christians: a person is called to separate from the collective body of sinners and be joined into the collective body of Christ. Ambrosiaster added the understanding of personified sin as the devil but otherwise tends to follow Origen’s explanation. Augustine and Cyril used the second section of the chapter, 6:5-11, to explain the way in which Christ’s death destroys the power of sin in his own flesh and thereby liberates the Christian from both sin and death. The two interpretations wonderfully illustrate the techniques of Alexandrian and African theology in explaining the efficacy of the redemptive work of Christ: the one using the identity of nature shared by Christ and humans that was achieved through the Incarnation and the other extending a sacramental model from the church to Christ.

In the final sections, the interpreters followed Paul in a moral or voluntary understanding of servitude to good or evil. Augustine, characteristically, insisted upon the primacy of divine grace over human self-determination.


Romans 6:1-4

1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no
means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who
have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried
therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life
.


(1) Ambrosiaster on verses 1-3

What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! Should we always be sinning so that the gift of God might then increase to cover our sins? Should we put the grace of Christ on display by continually hoping for the remission of new sins from a faithful God? Certainly not. For God has taken pity on

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Romans: Interpreted by Early Christian Commentators
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Church’s Bible i
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Series Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Interpreting the New Testament xiii
  • An Introduction to Romans xxiii
  • Preface to Romans 1
  • Romans 1 13
  • Romans 2 37
  • Romans 3 61
  • Romans 4 83
  • Romans 5 102
  • Romans 6 132
  • Romans 7 154
  • Romans 8 182
  • Romans 9 217
  • Romans 10 245
  • Romans 11 260
  • Romans 12 289
  • Romans 13 314
  • Romans 14 334
  • Romans 15 359
  • Romans 16 381
  • Appendix 1- Authors of Works Excerpted 394
  • Appendix 2- Sources of Texts Translated 396
  • Index of Names 414
  • Index of Subjects 417
  • Index of Scripture References 422
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