Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
rom 6:1The apostle here sets himself more fully to vindicate his doctrine from the consequence above suggested, Rom 3:7-8. He had then only in strong terms denied and renounced it: here he removes the very foundation thereof.
rom 6:2Dead to sin - Freed both from the guilt and from the power of it.
rom 6:3As many as have been baptized into Jesus Christ have been baptized into his death - In baptism we, through faith, are ingrafted into Christ; and we draw new spiritual life from this new root, through his Spirit, who fashions us like unto him, and particularly with regard to his death and resurrection.
rom 6:4We are buried with him - Alluding to the ancient manner of baptizing by immersion. That as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory - Glorious power. Of the Father, so we also, by the same power, should rise again; and as he lives a new life in heaven, so we should walk in newness of life. This, says the apostle, our very baptism represents to us.
rom 6:5For - Surely these two must go together; so that if we are indeed made conformable to his death, we shall also know the power of his resurrection.
rom 6:6Our old man - Coeval with our being, and as old as the fall; our evil nature; a strong and beautiful expression for that entire depravity and corruption which by nature spreads itself over the whole man, leaving no part uninfected. This in a believer is crucified with Christ, mortified, gradually killed, by virtue of our union with him. That the body of sin - All evil tempers, words, and actions, which are the "members" of the "old man," Col 3:5, might be destroyed.
rom 6:7For he that is dead - With Christ. Is freed from the guilt of past, and from the power of present, sin, as dead men from the commands of their former masters.
rom 6:8Dead with Christ - Conformed to his death, by dying to sin.
rom 6:10He died to sin - To atone for and abolish it. He liveth unto God - A glorious eternal life, such as we shall live also.
rom 6:12Let not sin reign even in your mortal body - It must be subject to death, but it need not be subject to sin.
rom 6:13Neither present your members to sin - To corrupt nature, a mere tyrant. But to God - Your lawful King.
rom 6:14Sin shall not have dominion over you - It has neither right nor power. For ye are not under the law - A dispensation of terror and bondage, which only shows sin, without enabling you to conquer it. But under grace - Under the merciful dispensation of the gospel, which brings complete victory over it to every one who is under the powerful influences of the Spirit of Christ.
rom 6:17The form of doctrine into which ye have been delivered - Literally it is, The mould into which ye have been delivered; which, as it contains a beautiful allusion, conveys also a very instructive admonition; intimating that our minds, all pliant and ductile, should be conformed to the gospel precepts, as liquid metal, take the figure of the mould into which they are cast.
rom 6:18Being then set free from sin - We may see the apostles method thus far at one view: -
1. Bondage to sin Rom 3:9.
2. The knowledge of sin by the law; a sense of God's wrath; inward death Rom 3:20.
3. The revelation of the righteousness of God in Christ through the gospel Rom 3:21.
4. The centre of all, faith, embracing that righteousness Rom 3:22.
5. Justification, whereby God forgives all past sin, and freely accepts the sinner Rom 3:24.
6. The gift of the Holy Ghost; a sense of Rom 5:5, God's love new inward life Rom 6:4.
7. The free service of righteousness Rom 6:12.
rom 6:19I speak after the manner of men - Thus it is necessary that the scripture should let itself down to the language of men. Because of the weakness of your flesh - Slowness of understanding flows from the weakness of the flesh, that is, of human nature. As ye have presented your members servants to uncleanness and iniquity unto iniquity, so now present your members servants of righteousness unto holiness - Iniquity (whereof uncleanness is an eminent part) is here opposed to righteousness; and unto iniquity is the opposite of unto holiness. Righteousness here is a conformity to the divine will; holiness, to the whole divine nature. Observe, they who are servants of righteousness go on to holiness; but they who are servants to iniquity get no farther. Righteousness is service, because we live according to the will of another; but liberty, because of our inclination to it, and delight in it.
rom 6:20When ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness - In all reason, therefore, ye ought now to be free from unrighteousness; to be as uniform and zealous in serving God as ye were in serving the devil.
rom 6:21Those things - He speaks of them as afar off.
rom 6:23Death - Temporal, spiritual, and eternal. Is the due wages of sin; but eternal life is the gift of God - The difference is remarkable. Evil works merit the reward they receive: good works do not. The former demand wages: the latter accept a free gift.