Romans 6:7 - What Does It Really Mean?

by Honesty 16 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Honesty

    The convoluted JW interpretation of Romans 6:7 just does not make any kind of sense at all. After careful consideration of the scriptutre within its context I have to ask myself why I never noticed the inconsistency in the various WT publications. I would really love to hear from some of the more outspoken JW apologists who frequent this board because they have proven that they can think for themselves and may have recieved some New Light on the subject that they'll be willing to share with the rest of us. If they do reply please don't flame them no matter what they have to say. They get enough of that at the KH. Thanks.

  • NeonMadman

    You sure you're citing the right text? Romans 6:7 just says, "he who has died has been freed from his sin." My understanding of the JW teaching of that (though I'm by no means an apologist for them) is that, since the "wages of sin is death," one who has died has paid the penalty for his sins, and is therefore free of them. However, he is also dead (which to them means nonexistent). In order to have any hope of future life, the sacrifice of Christ must come into play. That seems like a reasonably straightforward explanation in view of their teachings, even though I don't agree with it.

  • Leolaia

    The Watchtower doctrine contradicts the widespread NT (and apocalyptic Jewish) notion of resurrection as a resurrection for judgment on Judgment Day (Matthew 10:15, 11:22-42, 12:41-42; Romans 2:5, 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10; Hebrews 6:2, 9:27; Jude 14-15; Revelation 20:11-15), judgment such that "Man is destined to die once and after that face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27), such that "each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10). There are many similar examples of such statements in the intertestamental literature, such as 1 Enoch, 2 Baruch, 4 Ezra, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, and in Josephus. The Watchtower teaching is that the slate is wiped clean in the resurrection, whereas Revelation says that "the dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books".

    Paul shared a view of eschatological judgment, as 2 Corinthians makes clear; Romans 6:7 states that man is "freed from sin" when he dies, as he no longer has the ability to sin, having lost his "sinful body" (6:6), and no more "in the flesh" (8:10). For sin "reigns in mortal bodies" and the body can be "turned into an unholy weapon fighting on the side of sin" (6:12-13), tho the job of the Christian is to keep themselves away from sin. Sin is the source of death (5:12), and thus the "wages of sin is death" (6:23); this does not mean that the slate of one's deeds is wiped clean through death, it simply means that sin results in death. The dead person no longer is under sin (being apart from the fleshly body) but also does not have life. Romans 6:23 thus says "the present given by God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord"; the resurrection is to be in a new kind of body which is not "corruptible" by sin (1 Corinthians 15). In Romans 6, Paul is making a metaphorical use of death as a symbol for baptism; just as a dead person is released from sin through death, so a Christian "dies" at baptism and is "dead" to the world, no longer under the lure of sin.

  • Terry

    Imagine three different people: A B and C.

    A has stolen all his life and dies.

    B has lied, stolen and murdered all his life and dies.

    C has lied, stolen and murdered and cursed God all his life and dies.

    Now let us apply different schemes of justice to their "judgement".

    1.Death pays the debt

    All three have "paid" for their sins the same way, by dying, and the quantity or severity of the actual sins are irrelevent.

    2.Death, followed by the Resurrection for Judgement

    All three die because they are mortal (due to Adam) but, must additionally account for EACH of their sins on a "pay as you go" one to one basis.

    This ___sounds__more equitable, but, the penalty really comes down to a practical matter: HOW do you pay for a sin past being required to DIE for it?

    3.Death, Resurrection and Judgement with length of penalty equated with severity of sin.

    Hell with a length of sentence calibrated for punishment over time would fit this plan. But, the punishment in Hell would eventually end when the sentence was served. Consciousness and a sense of pain (or penalty) is required in all case, of course, for there to be MEANINGFUL punishment.

    Now let us ask ourselves a more important question. What is the purpose of penalty in sin?

    1.Give revenge to those wronged by the sinner OR restitution (repayment).

    This would be, as an accounting procedure, fair and balanced (debits vs credits). However, the actual loss experienced by any victim could never really be addressed. Example: if somebody murders your child; HOW DO THEY make restitution? How does it bring back the child? It doesn't

    2.Removes OPPORTUNITY for further sin from wrongdoer.

    Note: Every second God delays JUDGEMENT it allows other sinners their opportunity to create damage on victims.

    Paradoxically, it is opportunity for repentance for sinners who come to grips with the evil of their ways.

    What makes little logical sense in all of these scenarios (at least to me) is the practicality of God in allowing ANY OFFSPRING to issue forth from a damaged Adamic gene pool. This is the REAL reason for the spread of sin and death in the world. The offspring of Adam did not choose to be born with a sinful nature, did they? No.

    Had God judged Adam and Eve and ended their fertility as part of their punishment penalty, then, NO FURTHER HARM could be transmitted virus-like to a world of mankind.

    How would humanity have been able to exist?

    It WOULDN'T HAVE and SHOULDN'T HAVE until God solved his free-will problem. God has never solved this problem. He has only applied a really long-term stop gap policy of cleaning up a huge mess.

    My explanation for this is simple. Humans are the authors of our mythos about Adam and Eve and even scripture itself. In doing so they have been unable to solve the conundrum created. All attempts to address the solution are illogical and convoluted. Religion and religious views are attempts to by humans to figure this out. Their opinions, somehow, become doctrines with authority behind them. The madness continues.


  • stillajwexelder

    (Romans 6:1-11) 6 Consequently, what shall we say? Shall we continue in sin, that undeserved kindness may abound? 2 Never may that happen! Seeing that we died with reference to sin, how shall we keep on living any longer in it? 3 Or do YOU not know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we were buried with him through our baptism into his death, in order that, just as Christ was raised up from the dead through the glory of the Father, we also should likewise walk in a newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall certainly also be [united with him in the likeness] of his resurrection; 6 because we know that our old personality was impaled with [him], that our sinful body might be made inactive, that we should no longer go on being slaves to sin. 7 For he who has died has been acquitted from [his] sin. 8 Moreover, if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. 9 For we know that Christ, now that he has been raised up from the dead, dies no more; death is master over him no more. 10 For [the death] that he died, he died with reference to sin once for all time; but [the life] that he lives, he lives with reference to God. 11 Likewise also YOU: reckon yourselves to be dead indeed with reference to sin but living with reference to God by Christ Jesus.

  • stillajwexelder

    It means the same as Romans 6 vs 23

  • Leolaia

    Verse 7 continues the thought in verse 6. The prior verse refers to a release from slavery to sin through the "destruction of the body". The body is destroyed at death. Slavery is a legal debt which holds on a person throughout life, and "sin" is conceived as the slave-holder, but this debt ends at death; a person does not remain a slave when he is dead. The gar "for" in v. 7 indicates that the thought in v. 7 is dependent on the conception in v. 6. So the "acquittal" from sin -- or the legal freeing from sin -- occurs through death. This could either be literal death, or, as the overall context of ch. 6 makes clear, metaphorically through baptism in which the "old self" is put to death. While a person could subsequently sin after baptism, this is on one's own choice; one is not sinning because of being a slave. And tho one is legally freed from slavery through death, this is does not mean that "a man's death atoned for his sins in relation to God, or that a dead man was no longer accountable to God for his sins" (Cranfield). This is because the legal relationship between man and sin is of an entirely different order than between man and God.

    The meaning in v. 23 is a little different. Here sin is not precisely a slave-holder but an employer who pays wages. The language, in fact, has military imagery (hopla "weapons" in v. 13, opsónion "cooked food" in v. 23); the picture is of a general paying his soldiers money to buy food. The metaphor tho is still applicable to slaves because Roman slaves normally received a peculium "pocket-money" for incidental expenses, including food (cf. Cicero Phil. 8.32, Varro R. R. 1.2.17; Seneca, Moralia 80.7), which could even be saved over a period of years to secure their own release from slavery. Many Roman soldiers, in fact, were conscripted slaves. The overall picture is of sin as a general or slave-owner (e.g. the same slave-owner of v. 6-7) who pays out death to his slaves. This payment secures the release of the slaves from sin, just as Roman slaves can save up their peculium to secure their own release. This has no bearing, however, on the judgment of the "works" these former slaves had done while under slavery, for this concerns the relationship between slaves and God, not between the slaves and their former master.

  • Honesty

    NeoMadman, Leolaia, Terry and Stilla posted excellent comments regarding the WT doctrines surrounding Romans 6:7 which they pull out of context to support their view that a non-annointed JW has paid the price of Adamic sin when he/she dies and will therefore be resurrected with a physical body to live again on earth for 1,000 years and then go through a final test to prove their loyalty to Jehovah all over again by their obedience to the WTBTS who will represent Jesus on earth for those 1,000 years. You would think that one life full of tests would be sufficient if their God is really a God of love.

    I researched the Reasoning Book and it had some interesting things to say regarding the resurrection:

    *** rs 338 Resurrection ***
    Will some be raised simply to have judgment pronounced and then be consigned to second death?
    What is the meaning of John 5:28, 29? It says: “All those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.” What Jesus said here must be understood in the light of the later revelation that he gave to John. (See Revelation 20:12, 13, quoted on page 337.):

    Rev 20:12-13 (HCSB) 12 I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books. 1 3 Then the sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead; all were judged according to their works.

    Both those who formerly did good things and those who formerly practiced bad things will be “judged individually according to their deeds.” What deeds? If we were to take the view that people were going to be condemned on the basis of deeds in their past life, that would be inconsistent with Romans 6:7: “He who has died has been acquitted from his sin.” It would also be unreasonable to resurrect people simply for them to be destroyed. So, at John 5:28, 29a, Jesus was pointing ahead to the resurrection; then, in the remainder of Joh 5 verse 29, he was expressing the outcome after they had been uplifted to human perfection and been put on judgment.

    When Romans 6:7 is read within the context as it was meant to be the WT/JW doctrines don't hold water.

    Romans 6:1-23 (HCSB)

    The New Life in Christ

    1 What should we say then? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may multiply?

    2 Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

    3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

    4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life.

    5 For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection.

    6 For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin,

    7 since a person who has died is freed from sin’s claims.

    8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him,

    9 because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, no longer dies. Death no longer rules over Him.

    10 For in that He died, He died to sin once for all; but in that He lives, He lives to God.

    11 So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

    12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires.

    13 And do not offer any parts of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness.

    14 For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace.

    From Slaves of Sin to Slaves of God

    15 What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not!

    16 Do you not know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey—either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness?

    17 But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were entrusted to,

    18 and having been liberated from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness.

    19 I am using a human analogy because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you offered the parts of yourselves as slaves to moral impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification.

    20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from allegiance to righteousness.

    21 And what fruit was produced then from the things you are now ashamed of? For the end of those things is death.

    22 But now, since you have been liberated from sin and become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification—and the end is eternal life!

    23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  • M.J.

    So if I got WTS dogma correct, Christ died ONLY for Adam's sin, which was the one sin that knocked mankind out of paradise. Christ's corresponding payment for that one transgression won back the right for mankind to live in paradise.

    On the other hand, it's every human's duty to pay for his/her own personal sins through his/her own death.

    Which begs the question, how will JWs who "never die" pay for their own personal sins?

  • Leolaia

    Thank you for bringing up this subject. It's a great example of how unbiblical doctrines can be constructed through ignoring context and through proof-texting. The Reasoning Book passage starts out by acknowledging that there are texts (in John and Revelation) that appear to indicate that there will be a resurrection to judgment on the basis of deeds in one's former life. Of course, acknowledging this would admit the NT/Jewish "Judgment Day" scenario which posits punishment on those judged negatively (i.e. punishment in Gehenna). The Society thus uses Romans 6:7 in isolation, plucked out of its context, as proving that such a scenario is unbiblical. They also assert that it makes no sense to say that God will resurrect people just to destroy them; this is actually a flaw in their own misinterpretation of the relevant texts, as they must construe "punishment" as "destruction" to make this into a contradiction....the scenario of resurrection < judgment < punishment nowhere involves this purported difficulty. This is a good example of the self-referential "theory-internal" logic of WTS doctrine. Next they need to reinterpret the other passages that clearly refer to eschatological judgment with respect to resurrection. The approach to John 5:28-29 is entirely arbitrary; the text is interpreted as not referring to (1) a resurrection of the righteous to a blessing of life and (2) a resurrection of the wicked to a judgment necessitating punishment (as the plain meaning of the text is), but rather to (1) a resurrection of everyone and (2) a still later judgment of the wicked based on their deeds after their resurrection. Nothing in the text itself supports the second interpretation. As for the Revelation text, it apparently is left uninterpreted even though it is most explicit on the scenario involved. In particular, it states that the "dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books" (20:12). The Watchtower teaching is that Judgment Day is actually the thousand year reign of Christ during which the dead are resurrected and they are judged on the basis of their deeds during this period. This goes against the reference to what "they HAD DONE" (past tense) as recorded in the BOOKS (e.g. records of their past deeds, the book of life, cf. Daniel 7:10, and the references to the sins of Judah being written in books in Jeremiah 17:1), and especially against the fact that the general resurrection occurs AFTER the millennium (cf. Revelation 20:5).

Share this