Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary - Alford
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?Chap. 6-8.] The moral effects of justification.
6:1-14.] No encouragement given hereby (see ch. 5:20) to a life in sin: for the baptized are dead to sin, and walk in a new (vv. 1-7) life, and one (vv. 8-11) dedicated to God.
1.] What then shall we say?—the introduction of a difficulty or objection arising out of the preceding argument, and referring to ch. 5:20. See ch. 3:5.
ἐπιμένωμεν, ‘must we think that we may persist,’—the deliberative subjunctive. So εἴπωμεν ἢ σιγῶμεν, Eur. Ion 758: παρέλθω δόμους, Med. 1275. See Kühner, Gramm. § 464, and note on ch. 5:1. [Are we to continue (‘Must we think that we may persist,” in other words] “May we persist”) in (our natural state and commission of) sin, that (God’s) grace may be multiplied (ch. 5:20)?
2.] μὴ γέν. (see reff.), used of some inference in itself abhorrent from reverence or piety, or precluded by some acknowledged fact inconsistent therewith. The latter is here the ground of rejection. An acknowledged fact in the Christian life follows, which precludes our persisting in our sin.
We who (οἵτινες describing quality, not merely matter of fact) died (historic aorist, not perf. as in E.V. [the true reference is thus most unfortunately lost]: the time referred to being that of our baptism) to sin (reff. and examples in Wetst.:—became as separate from and apathetic towards sin as the dead corpse is separate from and apathetic towards the functions and stir of life: μένειν ἀκίνητον ὥσπερ τὸν νεκρόν, Chrys. ‘Sin,’ τῇ ἁμ. = as above), how shall we live any longer therein (= περιπατεῖν ἐν—but not, as De W., ζῇν with a dative: ζῇν ἔν τινι is a further step than ζῇν τινι, implying introition, and not merely sympathy)?
3.] Or (supposing you do not assent to the argument in the last verse, see reff.) are ye ignorant (the foregoing axiom is brought out into recognition by the further statement of a truth universally acknowledged) that all we who were (i.e. all of us, having been [not as E. V., again most unfortunately, “so many of us as were;” giving it to be understood that some of them had not been thus baptized]) baptized into Christ Jesus (‘into participation of,’ ‘into union with,’ Christ, in His capacity of spiritual Mastership, Headship, and Pattern of conformity) were baptized into (introduced by our baptism into a state of conformity with and participation of) His death? The Apostle refers (1) to an acknowledged fact, in the signification, and perhaps also in the manner (see below) of baptism—that it put upon us (Galatians 3:27) a state of conformity with and participation in Christ;—and (2) that this state involves a death τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ even as He died τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ (ver. 10);—the meaning being kept in the background, but all the while not lost sight of, that the benefits of His Death were likewise made ours by our introduction into the covenant.
4.] A further explanation of the assertion in the last verse proceeding (οὖν) on its concession by the reader. We were then (not the temporal but inferential ‘then:’ q. d. “You grant my last position: Well then,” …) buried with Him (καθάπερ ἔν τινι τάφῳ τῷ ὕδατι καταδυόντων ἡμῶν τὰς κεφαλὰς ὁ παλαιὸς ἄνθρωπος θάπτεται, καὶ καταδὺς κάτω κρύπτεται ὅλως καθάπαξ, Chrys. on Joh_3. Hom. xxv. 2, vol. viii. p. 151) by means of our baptism into (His) death (τοῦ βαπτ. εἰς τὸν θάνατον belong together, not συνετάφ. εἰς τ. θ., which would hardly bear any sense. The absence of the art. before εἰς is no objection to this;—it is unnecessary, because no distinction from any other baptism is brought out, and τὸ βάπτ.-εἰς-τὸν-θάν. is connected as one idea); in order that, as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory (δόξα and δύναμις are cognate ideas; compare the import of the Heb. עֹז and the LXX in Psalm 68:35 (67:34 LXX), Isaiah 12:2: and τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης in Colossians 1:11. The divine δόξα includes all that manifests the Creator to the creature: and hence also his Almightiness. Tholuck.
The renderings ‘in Dei gloriam’ (Beza, Bretschneider), and ‘because He is the image of the Father’ (Dr. Burton, altern.), are inadmissible for διὰ with a gen.) of the Father (Theodoret makes ἡ δόξα τοῦ πατρός = ἡ οἰκεία θεότης of the Son, which is manifestly wrong), thus we also should walk in newness of life (not = ‘a new life;’—nor are such expressions ever to be diluted away thus: the abstract καινότητι is used to bring the quality of newness, which is the point insisted on, more into prominence, compare 2Thessalonians 2:11; 1Timothy 6:17 [and notes]; Winer, edn. 6, § 34. 3.
The comparison is not only (as Stuart) between our Lord’s physical death and resurrection, and our spiritual; but reaches far deeper: see notes on vv. 10, 11).
5.] The Apostle confirms the last verse by a necessary sequence that those who are united to Him in His Death, shall be also in His resurrection. For (confirmatory) if we have become united with the likeness of His Death (σύμφυτος = either (1) ‘congenital,’—as διὰ τὴν σύμφυτον δικαιοσύνην, spoken of Samuel, Jos. Antt. vi. 3. 3,—or (2) ‘cognate,’ of like nature,—or (3) ‘arising simultaneously,’—or (4) ‘grown together,’—or (5) ‘planted with,’ ‘consitus.’ The rendering of Syr., Vulg., Luth., E. V., ‘planted together,’ is inadmissible, -φυτος being not from φυτεύω, but from φύω: as also is that of Erasm. and Calv.,—‘insititii.’ The fourth meaning, ‘grown together,’ ‘intimately and progressively united,’—‘coaluimus,’ as Grot.,—seems here to apply best. Obs. σύμφ. is to be connected with τῷ ὁμ., not with τῷ χριστῷ understood, as in ver. 6: in which case we should have to supply τῷ ὁμοιώματι again before τῆς ἀναστάσεως, which would be not only grammatically difficult, but would not correspond to the sense: for Christians, it is true, partake of the likeness only of Christ’s death, but of His actual Resurrection itself, as the change of construction shews: see below), so shall we be also (ἀλλά after a hypothetical clause serves to strengthen the inference: see reff., and Hartung, Partikellehre, ii. p. 40) with His Resurrection (a change of construction: because it could not well have been said σύμφυτοι τοῦ ὁμοιώματος τ. θ. above, the gen. after adjectives compounded with σύν denoting the thing actually partaken (cf. Kühner, § 519, and Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 171: who cites examples in σύντροφος, Soph. Philoct. 203,—σύννομος, Eur. Hel. 1508,—σύμφωνος, Aristoph. Av. 658,—συμφυής, Plato Legg. iv. p. 721,—συνήθης, ib. v. p. 739,—σύμψηφος, Cratyl. p. 398), and hardly the mere figure or likeness of it,—and similarly it could not well here be said σύμφ. τῇ ἀναστάσει, because the dat. would not be strong enough to denote the state of which we shall be actual partakers.
The future is used perhaps because of the inference, as a logical sequence,—‘If, &c., … A shall = B:’—but more probably with a deeper meaning, because the participation in His Resurrection, however partially and in the inner spiritual life, attained here, will only then be accomplished in our entire being, when we ‘shall wake up after his likeness’).
6.] Knowing (recollecting) this, that our old man (former self, personality before our new birth—opposed to καινός or νέος ἄνθρ., καινὴ κτίσις,—see Colossians 3:10; 2Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:22-24,—not merely the guilt of sin, nor the power of sin, but the man. The idea is not Jewish, as Tholuck has shewn: the passage quoted from the Sohar-chadasch not bearing the meaning commonly given to it,—and if it did, that book itself being a production probably of the sixteenth century) was (at our baptism) crucified with Him (the great key to our text is ref. Gal. As the death of the Lord Jesus was by crucifixion, the Apostle uses the same expression of our death to our former sinful self, which is not only by virtue of, but also in the likeness of, Christ’s death,—as signal, as entire, as much a death of cutting off and putting to shame and pain), in order that (the aim and end of the συσταυρωθῆναι) the body of sin might be annulled (“τὸ σῶμ. τῆς ἁμαρτ. belongs together, and τῆς ἁμαρτ. is not to be joined with καταργ. as being = ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτ. (Theodoret, Wahl);—nor is τὸ σῶμ. τ. ἁμ ‘the totality of sin’ ( 2, Theophyl. 1, Grot.); nor ‘the substance or essence of sin,’ after the Heb. (Rabbinical) usage of עֶצֶּם and גּוּף (Schöttg.): nor, ‘the mass of sin’ (Thol. 1);—nor a mere figure to carry out the idea of being crucified with Christ (Calov., Wolf, Reiche, Olsh., Stuart 2, al.);—nor = ἡ σὰρξ τ. ἁμαρτ; but ‘the body, which belongs to or serves sin,’ in which sin rules or is manifested, = τὰ μέλη, ver. 13, in which is ὁ νόμος τῆς ἁμαρτίας, ch. 7:23,—τὸ σῶμα τ. θανάτου, ch. 7:24,—αἱ πράξεις τοῦ σώματος, ch. 8:13,—τὸ σῶμα τῆς σαρκός, Colossians 2:11.” De Wette: with whom agree Orig. 1, Theophyl. 2, Beza, Bengel, Meyer, Tholuck, Stuart 1, al. But as De W. further remarks, we must not understand that the body is the seat of sin, or at all events must no so understand those words as if the principle of sin lay in the body, which is not true, for it lies in the will).
καταργηθῇ, might be rendered powerless (annulled as far as regards activity and energy. The word occurs twenty-five times in Paul’s Epistles (elsewhere, Luke 13:7, Hebrews 2:14 only), and does not appear to signify absolute annihilation, but as above. Gregory of Nyssa has gone into the meaning in his discourse on 1Corinthians 15:28, vol. i. p. 1325), that we might no longer be in bondage (be slaves to) sin (i.e. that the body should no longer be under the dominion of sin, see below, ver. 12).
7.] The difficulty of this verse arises from the Apostle having in a short and pregnant sentence expressed a whole similitude, joining, as he elsewhere does in such cases, the subject of the first limb of the comparison with the predicate of the second. Fully expressed, it would stand thus: ‘For, as a man that is dead is acquitted and released from guilt and bondage (among men: no reference to God’s judgment of him): so a man that has died to sin is acquitted from the guilt of sin and released from its bondage.’ I express δεδικ. by this periphrasis in both cases, because I believe that all this is implied in it: ‘is acquitted,’ ‘has his quittance,’ from sin, so that Sin (personified) has no more claims on him, either as a creditor or as a master: cannot detain him for debt, nor sue him for service. A larger reference is thus given to δεδικ. than the purposes of the present argument, which is treating of the power, not the guilt of sin, required: but that it is so, lies in the nature of ἁμαρτία, the service of which is guilt, and the deliverance from whose service necessarily brings with it acquittal.
8-11.] This new life must be one dedicated to God.
8.] Now (continuing the train of argument) if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also (the future as in ver. 5,—because the life with Him though here begun, is not here completed: and the πιστεύομεν used more of dogmatic belief, than of trust, though the latter meaning is not altogether absent) live with Him. 9.
9.] This and the following verse explain what sort of a life with Christ is meant, by what we know of the Resurrection-life of Christ himself. The only difficulty here is in οὐκ ἔτι κυριεύει, as implying that Death had dominion over Christ, which we know it had not: see John 10:17, John 10:18; John 2:19; Acts 2:24. But this vanishes, when we remember that our Lord, by submitting to Death, virtually, and in the act of death, surrendered Himself into the power of Death. Death could not hold Him, and had no power over Him further than by his own sufferance: but power over Him it had, inasmuch as He died.
10.] For (the proof of the foregoing) the death which He died (not ‘in that He died,’ as E. V., nor is ὅ for καθʼ ὅ, either here or in ref. Gal., but the accus. objective, governed by the verb. So also of ὃ δὲ ζῇ below), unto sin He died (De Wette well remarks that we must in expressing this verse abide by the indefinite reference to sin in which the death of Christ is placed; if we attempt to make it more definite, ‘for sin,’ or ‘to that state, in which He suffered the punishment of sin,’ we shall lose the point of comparison, which lies in ‘to sin,’ and ‘to God.’ If we are to expand the words ‘died to sin,’ we must say that our Lord at death passed into a state in which He had ‘no more to do with sin’—either as tempting Him (though in vain), or as requiring to be atoned for (this having been now effected), or as met by Him in daily contradiction which He endured from sinners) once for all (so that it is not to be repeated: see reff.); but the life which He liveth (see above) He liveth unto God (indefinite again, but easily filled up and explained: to God,—as being glorified by and with the Father, as entirely rid of conflict with sin and death, and having only God’s (properly so called) work to do,—as waiting till, in the purposes of the Father, all things are put under Him:—and to (for) God, as being the manifestation and brightness of the Father’s glory).
11.] An exhortation to realize this state of death unto sin and life unto God with Christ. Thus (after the same manner as Christ) do ye also (imperative: Meyer only holds it to be indic.) account yourselves (better than ‘infer yourselves to be,’ as Chrys. and Beza,—see reff. and on ch. 3:28) dead (indeed) unto sin (as ver. 2 and following), but alive unto God in Christ Jesus (i.e. ‘by virtue of your union with Him:’ not through (διὰ) Christ Jesus; in this chapter it is not Christ’s Mediatorship, but His Headship, which is prominent.—ἐν χρ. Ἰης., is not (Reiche, Meyer, Fritz.) to be joined with both νεκρ. τῇ ἁμ. and ζῶν. τ. θ., but only with the latter, next to which it stands, and of which it is literally and positively, whereas of the other it is only figuratively (τῷ ὁμοιώμ., ver. 5) and negatively true).
12, 13.] Hortatory inferences from ver. 11: from μή to τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ, negative, answering to νεκροὺς τῇ ἁμ.,—then positive, answering to ζῶντας τῷ θεῷ.
12.] βασιλευέτω answers to the imagery throughout, in which Sin is a master or lord. It is hardly right to lay a stress on it, and say (as Chrys.) οὐκ εἶπε μὴ οὖν ζήτω ἡ σὰρξ μηδὲ ἐνεργείτω, ἀλλʼ, ἡ ἁμαρτία μὴ βασιλευέτω. οὐ γὰρ τὴν φύσιν ἦλθεν ἀνελεῖν, ἀλλὰ τὴν προαίρεσιν διορθῶσαι: it is no matter of comparison between reigning and indwelling merely, but between reigning and being deposed.
But why τῷ θνητῷ ὑμ. σώματι? Orig., al., explain it ‘dead to sin,’ which it clearly cannot be. Chrys., Theodoret, Grot., and Reiche suppose the word inserted to remind us of the other life, and the shortness of the conflict, or (Theophyl.) of the shortness of sinful pleasures; Köllner,—to point out that it is dishonourable to us to serve Sin, whose reign is confined to the mortal body; Fritzsche, ‘quoniam, qui peccato ministrum se præbet, adhuc in mortali corpore hærere nec nisi fragilis vitæ meminisse videtur;’ De Wette, Tholuck, al., that the Apostle, wishes to keep in view the connexion between sin and death on the one hand, and that συνζῆν which is freed from death on the other. This last view seems the most probable. See 2Corinthians 4:11 and note.
There is considerable uncertainty in the reading of the latter part of this verse. That which I have adopted is supported by the primary mss. and has the approval of Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, and De Wette.
13.] Nor render (see reff.;—as a soldier renders his service to his sovereign, or a servant to his master) your members (more particular than ‘your bodies;’ the individual members being instruments of different lusts and sins) as instruments (or, ‘weapons,’ as Vulg., most of the Greek expositors, and Luth., Calv., Beza, Tholuck, which latter defends this rendering by Paul’s fondness for military similitudes, and by the occurrence of ὀψώνια below, ver. 23;—but as De W. observes, the comparison here is to servitude rather than soldiership) of unrighteousness to sin; but render (the present imperat. above denotes habit,—the exhortation guards against the recurrence of a devotion of the members to sin: this aorist imperat., on the other hand, as in ch. 12:1, denotes an act of self-devotion to God once for all, not a mere recurrence of the habit) yourselves (not merely your members, but your whole selves, body, soul, and spirit) to God, as alive from having been dead (as in vv. 4 ff. and Ephesians 2:1-5), and your members as instruments (see above) of righteousness to God (dat. ‘commodi,’ as indeed is τῇ ἁμαρτ. above, the dat. after παριστ. being there left to be supplied, because of τῆ̣ ἁμ. following).
14.] An assurance, confirming (by the γάρ) the possibility of the surrender to God commanded in the last verse, that sin shall not be able to assert and maintain its rule in those who are not under the law but under grace. The future κυριεύσει cannot be taken as a command or exhortation, which use of the future would if not always, yet certainly here, require the second person,—and would hardly suit a personification like ἁμαρτία.
The second part of the verse refers back to ch. 5:20, 21, where the law is stated to be the multiplier of transgression,—and accords with 1Corinthians 15:56, ἡ δύναμις τῆς ἁμαρτίας, ὁ νόμος. The stress is on κυριεύσει: q. d. ‘Your efforts to live a life of freedom from the tyranny of sin shall not be frustrated by its after all tyrannizing over you and asserting its dominion: for ye are not under that law which is the strength of sin, but under that grace (here in the widest sense, justifying and sanctifying,—grace in all its attributes and workings) in which is no condemnation,’ ch. 8:1.
It will be seen from the above, that I interpret κυριεύσει rather of the eventual triumph of sin by obtaining domination over us, than of its reducing us under its subjection as servants in this life. This is necessary, both to fit this verse into the context, and to suit the question which arises in the next. See Calvin’s masterly note. So also Tholuck and De Wette.
The discussions (in Stuart and al.) as to whether νόμ. is the moral or ceremonial law, and as to whether we are bound by the former, are irrelevant here: the assertion being merely that of the general matter of fact, about which there can be no question, that we (Christians) are not under the law, placed in a covenant of legal obedience, but under grace,—placed in a covenant of justification by faith and under the promise of the indwelling Spirit—subjects of a higher law—even the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, ch. 8:2. Whether we are bound by the law, and how far, depends on how far the law itself spoke the immutable moral truth of God’s government of the world, or was adapted to temporary observances and symbolic rites now abolished,—the whole of which subject is not under consideration here. I make these remarks to justify myself for not entering into those long and irrelevant discussions with which many of our commentaries are interrupted, and the sense of the Apostle’s argument confounded.
15-23.] The being under grace (free from the condemnation of sin) and not under the law, is no encouragement to sin: for (vv. 16-19) we have renounced the service of sin, and have become the servants of righteousness: and (vv. 20-23) the consequences of the service of sin are terrible and fatal, whereas those of the service of righteousness are blessed and glorious.
15.] τί οὖν (sc. ἐστίν); = τί οὖν ἐροῦμεν; ver. 1.
ἁμαρτήσωμεν] Must we imagine that we may sin? may we sin?—the aor. because he is speaking of committing acts of sin [not of a habit of living in sin, although that would be induced by such acts]: on the deliberative subjunctive, see ver. 1.
This question is not, any more than that of ver. 1, put into the mouth of an objector, but is part of the Apostle’s own discourse, arising out of what has preceded, and answered by him in the following verses.
16.] ‘You are the servants either of God or of sin,—there is no third course.’ The former part of the verse as far as ὑπακούετε reminds them merely of an universal truth,—that the yielding ourselves servants for obedience to any one, implies the serving, being (in reality) the servants of such person. Then this is applied in the form of a dilemma, implying that there is no third service, q. d. ‘Now this must be true of you with regard either to sin or to God.’ Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants with a view to obedience, his servants ye are to whom ye obey, (and in this case) either (ἤτοι—ἤ only occurs here in N. T. ἤτοι in alternatives is exclusive, cf. Herod. i. 11, δίδωμι αἵρεσιν, ὁκοτέρην βούλεαι τραπέσθαι … ἤτοι κεῖνόν γε τὸν ταῦτα βουλεύσαντα δεῖ ἀπόλλυσθαι, ἢ σὲ τὸν ἐμὲ.… Isocr. ἀντιδ. p. 317, ἦλθεν ἄν ἤτοι κατηγορήσων ἢ καταμαρτυρήσων, and see Hartung, Partikellehre, 2:355 f.) (servants) of sin, unto death (‘with death as the result,’—not physical death merely, nor eternal death merely, but death (by sin) in its most general sense, as the contrast to (life by) righteousness,—the state of misery induced by sin, in all its awful aspects and consequences:—and so throughout this passage and ch. 7), or of obedience (τοῦ θεοῦ, sc.—obedience to Him who alone ought to be obeyed) unto righteousness (with righteousness as its result; not imputed merely, nor implanted merely, but righteousness in its most general sense as the contrast to death,—the state of blessedness induced by holiness, and involving in it, as a less in a greater, eternal life: and so throughout this passage)?
17, 18.] The dilemma solved for them by reference to the matter of fact: that they were once servants of sin, but on receiving the gospel, obeyed its teaching: and consequently were freed from the service of sin, and became the servants of righteousness:—and this in the form of a thanksgiving to God (1Corinthians 1:14) whose work in them it was.
There is a stress on ἦτε as referring to a state past. So Ephesians 5:8: on account of which stress apparently the μέν, which would naturally follow it, is omitted.
17. ὑπ.… διδαχῆς] Attr.: the simple construction would be ὑπηκούσατε τῷ τύπῳ τῆς διδ. εἰς ὃν (or ὃν) παρεδόθητε), ye obeyed (ὑπ. on account of ὑπακοή above) from the heart (reff.) that form of teaching (so μόρφωσις ch. 2:20: see examples in Fritzsche, vol. i. p. 418; most probably used of the practical norma agendi accompanying the doctrine of the gospel; so Calv., Luth., Beza, Reiche:—De W. thinks it is the Pauline form of teaching, of justification by faith, distinguished from the Judaistic) to which ye were delivered ([not as E. V., ‘which was delivered you’] this inversion to the passive agrees admirably with τύπος, as a mould, exemplar, or pattern after which they were to be fashioned: so κατὰ τὰ δόγματα τυποῦσθαι, Arrian. Enchir. ii. 19 (Thol.): and Beza,—‘hoc dicendi genus magnam quandam emphasin videtur habere. Ita enim significatur evangelicam doctrinam quasi instar typi cujusdam esse, cui veluti immittamur, ut ejus figuræ conformemur, et totam istam transformationem aliunde provenire.’ (Thol.) And Chrys. remarks, τὸ παραδοθῆναι, τὴν τοῦ θεοῦ βοηθείαν αἰνίττεται. See on the construction, Winer, edn. 6, § 24. 2. b).
18. ἐλενθ … δικαιοσ.] And (this verse is closely united with the foregoing; Rückert, Reiche, and Meyer think that it might be stated as a syllogistic conclusion, of which the dilemma is the major, and the fact of ver. 17 the minor) being freed from sin, ye were enslaved (see on next verse) to righteousness. 19.
19.] For the expression ἐδουλώθητε the Apostle apologizes: ‘it is not literally so; the servant of righteousness is no slave, under no yoke of bondage; but in order to set the contrast between the former and the new state better before you, I have used this word:’ I speak as a man (according to the requirements of rhetorical antithesis) on account of the (intellectual, as De W. and Thol.: not moral, as Meyer and Olsh.) weakness of your flesh (i.e. ‘because you are σαρκικοί and not πνευματικοί, and want such figures to set the truth before you.’
Orig., Chrys., Theodoret, Calv., Estius, Wetst., al., take these words in a totally different sense: ‘I require of you nothing which your fleshly weakness will not bear’): for (explanatory of ἐδουλώθ.) like as ye (once) rendered up your members (as) servants to impurity and to lawlessness (two divisions of ἁμαρτία—impurity, against a man’s self,—lawlessness against God), unto lawlessness (both which, ἀκαθ. and ἀνομ., lead to ἀνομία, result in it: ‘qui justitiæ serviunt, proficiunt: ἄνομοι, iniqui, sunt iniqui, nihil amplius.’ Bengel: not ‘from one ἀνομία to another,’ as Œcum., Theophyl., Luth., Grot., Erasm., al.: because (De W.) ἀνομία is not an act, but a principle), so now render up your members (as) servants to righteousness (see ver. 16) unto (leading to, having as its result, perfect) sanctification (contrast to ἀνομία, and both embracing their respective consequences).
20-23.] As a further urging of the above exhortations, the Apostle contrasts the end of their former life with that of their present.
20.] γάρ introduces a motive for the foregoing: but the verse [properly] belongs to the following: for ver. 22 is the contrast to it. Meyer and Fritz. think it to be an explanation of ver. 19, but are certainly mistaken. For when ye were servants of sin, ye were free in relation to (dat. of regard or reference, Winer, edn. 6, § 31.1) righteousness.
There is doubtless a latent irony in the use of ἐλεύθεροι here; but it must not be brought out too strongly: it does not appear, till the end of that freedom is declared.
21.] ‘Well, then, ye were free: and what was the benefit?’ οὖν concedes and assumes.
There are two ways of pointing: (1) that of E. V., carrying on the question to ἐπαισχύνεσθε, and supplying ἐπʼ ἐκείνοις before ἐφʼ οἷς, adopted by Chrys., Œ, Vulg., Beza, Grot., Estius, Bengel, Reiche, Meyer, Fritz., Stuart, al. But this though good as far as construction is concerned, is inconsistent with the N. T. meaning of καρπός, which is ‘actions,’ the fruit of the man considered as the tree, not ‘wages,’ or ‘reward,’ the fruit of his actions: see below, ver. 22, and ch. 1:13, note. So even Philippians 1:22 (see note).
So that I much prefer (2) the punctuation of Theod. , Theodoret, Theophyl., Luth., Melancth., Koppe, Flatt, Tholuck, Rückert, Köllner, Olsh., Lachm., Griesb., De Wette, al., placing the interrogation at τότε, and making ἐφʼ οἷς ν. ἐπαισχ. the answer. What fruit then had ye at that time? (Things, deeds) of which ye are now ashamed. τὸ μὲν γὰρ τέλ. ἐκ. θ
τὸ μὲν γὰρ τέλ. ἐκ. θ.] the reason of their present shame. For the end (= virtually ὀψώνια, ver. 23, and would be a mere repetition of καρπός on the first method of punctuation above) of those things (those καρποί consisting of sinful acts) is death (death in the widest sense, see note on ver. 16,—physical, which has been the end of sin, in which we are all involved,—and spiritual and eternal, which will be the end of actual sin if followed out).
22.] Contrast of your present state to that former one: freedom from sin as a master,—servitude (compare ἀνθρώπινον λέγω, ver. 19) to God (a higher description than merely δικαιοσύνη, the actual antithesis to ἁμαρτία, ver. 18. The devil would be the corresponding antithetical power: and not unfrequently appears in the teaching of Paul: but usually in casual expressions, as Ephesians 4:27; Ephesians 6:11; 2Timothy 2:26, not as the principal figure in a course of argument),—fruit (see on καρπός, above, ver.21,—and remark τὸν καρπόν, your fruit, fruit actually brought forth, q. d. ἔχετε καρπόν, καὶ ὁ καρπὸς ὑμῶν ἁγιασμός) unto (leading unto perfect) sanctification,—and the end (governed by ἔχετε) life everlasting.
23.] The ends of the two courses placed pointedly and antithetically, and the inherent difference, that whereas death (see above) is the wages (ὀψ. = pay, or ration, of soldiers; compare the similitude in ver. 13, and remarks there) of sin, earned and paid down,—eternal life is no ὀψώνιον, nothing earned, but the free gift of God to His soldiers and servants;—and that in (not ‘through,’—true enough, but not implied in ἐν, see above on ver. 11) Christ Jesus our Lord.