Written by: Michael Clark, August 4, 2012
“For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all” (Romans 6:10).
The verb in this verse is “apethanen”, which is “He died”. The aorist can denote a “once for all time” action. However, when the context does not permit the verb to be a “once for all time” action then the tense of the verb should adhere to the context1. However, in Romans 6:10 Paul made the point perfectly clear that Jesus died “once and for all” (ephapax). Paul admonished believers, “Likewise you also, reckon (logizesthe) yourselves to be dead indeed to sin” (Rom. 6:11, NKJV). The Greek term “logizesthe” literally means “to account”. Paul is not telling believers to pretend they are dead to sin. The expression here is, Christians should believe this because it is a fact; believers in Christ are indeed dead to sin.
Previously, Paul asked, “How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:2). Jesus died for sins once for all time. Likewise, the born again believer is dead to sin once for all time. Paul is not saying that Christians are dead to the influence of sin; that would make his statement to not let sin reign in your mortal body a vain warning. He is actually telling believers they are dead to the power of sin and that there is no reason for them to live as slaves of sin any longer. The phrase “we died” (apethanomen) is an aorist as well, thus following, describes a once for all occurrence. Paul did say that he died daily (1 Cor. 15:31). But the verb “die” (apathenosko) is in the present tense. Paul is not saying he dies to the power of sin daily. Jesus died once for all, and He has freed/justified (dedikiOtai) the believer from sin (Rom. 6:7). So, what Paul is choosing to die to is the influence of sin in his life; not the dominion of sin. Jesus died to set the prisoner free/justify.
In conclusion, Paul is making a logical argument here, which is; “Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body” (Romans 6:12). In addition, verse 14 serves as an added conclusion to this passage: “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Rom. 6:14). Below is a summary of Paul’s argument.
(1) Jesus died to sin once for all (Rom. 6:10).
(2) Because of Jesus, believers are also dead to sin (Rom. 6:11)
(3) To be dead to sin means that sin no longer has dominion (or authority) (Rom. 6:12).
(4) Therefore, sin no longer has dominion (or authority) over believers (Rom. 6:14).
What difference does it make to understand that Jesus’ death meant the finality of the power of sin in the believers life? Scripture tells us the difference, “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him” (Rom. 6:8). The application from this is, believers need to know that Jesus has conquered the power of sin, death, and the grave once and for all. There is no need for Jesus to die again. Jesus has risen from the grave once for all. Likewise, sin no longer has dominion over the believer, and the believer shall be resurrected to be with Jesus.
1. Mounce, Bill (2003). Basics of biblical greek 2nd ed. (p. 202). Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI