8 February 2014

Romans 6:1-14

“Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” (v. 4)


Paul addresses an important question for the Christian way of life. Even though God's grace is so abundant and saves us from our sin and all the ways as a society, we still mess up our relationships; if we cannot save ourselves however hard we try; didn't that then mean there is no point in struggling to live out the good life?

Paul gives the answer by means of the image of participation in Christ through Baptism. When we are baptized (initiated into the Christian life), we were united to Christ. In the first story of creation, the Spirit hovered over the chaotic waters (Genesis 1:1-2), and dry land and creation emerged from the divided waters (Genesis 1:9-11). Baptism uses this imagery. In Baptism, we symbolically go down into the waters of creation, near to the place of the dead and through the Spirit emerge again as a new creation, purified.

Paul explained that in Baptism we chose to enter into solidarity with Christ. Entering the baptismal waters, we died because of our sin and are buried with Christ. God raised Christ, and in the same way, we are raised from the waters of Baptism with Christ to new life.

Our old self is crucified with Christ. In Judaism, the sacrifice of the life of an animal restored life to the worshipper. Christ's sacrifice restored life to the one baptized. His crucifixion destroyed the power of sin. Paul argues that it therefore made no sense to talk about continuing in sin. We are raised to new life in Christ, and therefore all our attitudes and actions will bear the fruit of this new life. We are freed from being concerned about transgressions of the law to live out the more exacting requirements of a new graced life in Christ and our fitting and right place within creation.

To Ponder

  • In what ways do you recognise the struggle in yourself to become a new creation? Do you notice how your old self can re-assert itself, and how you have to wrestle, but going gently on yourself, to let God's new life shine through you?
  • What feelings do you notice in yourself when your old self is uppermost? And what feelings do you notice in yourself when the new life of Christ has free reign within you?

Bible notes author

The Revd Jenny Ellis

Jenny is a Methodist minister and this year has permission to study, as well as work alongside a rural chapel to help it find a new physical presence and sense of mission in its village. She is leading a number of quiet and study days.