June 20 Epistle Reading

Romans 6:18-23

[18] Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of
righteousness.[19] I speak after the manner of men because of
the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members
servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield
your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.[20]
For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.[21]
What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for
the end of those things is death.[22] But now being made free
from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness,
and the end everlasting life.[23] For the wages of sin is
death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our
Lord.

Chrysostom in his Homily 11 on Romans said:

"There are two gifts of God which
he here points out. The freeing from sin, and also
the making them servants to righteousness, which is better than
any freedom. For God has done the same as if a person
were to take an orphan, who had been carried away by savages into their
own country, and were not only to free him from captivity,
but were to set a kind father over him, and bring him to very great
dignity. And this has been done in our case. For it was not our old evils alone that
He freed us from, since He even led us to the life of angels, and paved
the way for us to the best conversation, handing us over to the safe
keeping of righteousness, and killing our former evils, and deadening
the old man, and leading us to an immortal life."

Regarding v20-22, I'm copying a pretty large chunk of Chrysostom's Homily 12:

"Now what he says is somewhat of this kind, When ye lived in wickedness, and
impiety, and the worst of evils, the state
of compliance ye lived in was such that you did absolutely no good
thing at all. For this is, you were free from righteousness.
That is you were not subject to it, but estranged from it wholly. For
you did not even so much as divide the manner of servitude between
righteousness and sin,
but gave yourselves wholly up to wickedness. Now,
therefore, since you have come over to righteousness, give yourselves
wholly up to virtue,
doing nothing at all of vice, that the
measure you give may be at least equal. And yet it is not the mastership
only that is so different, but in the servitude itself there is a vast
difference. And this too he unfolds with great perspicuity, and shows
what conditions they served upon then, and what now. And as yet he says
nothing of the harm accruing from the thing, but hitherto speaks of the
shame.

"So great was the slavery, that even the recollection
of it now makes you ashamed; but if the recollection makes one ashamed,
the reality would much more. And so you gained now in two ways, in
having been freed from the shame; and also in having come to know the condition
you were in; just as then you were injured in two
ways, in doing things deserving shame, and in not even know to be
ashamed. And this is worse than the former. Yet still ye kept in a state
of servitude. Having then proved most
abundantly the harm of what took place then from the shame of it, he
comes to the thing in question. Now what is this thing? For the end
of those things is death.
Since then shame seems to be no such
serious evil,
he comes to what is very fearful, I mean death;
though in good truth what he had
before mentioned were enough. For consider how exceeding great the
mischief must be, inasmuch as, even when freed from the vengeance due to
it, they could not get free of the shame. What wages then, he says, do
you expect from the reality, when from the bare recollection, and that
too when you are freed from the vengeance, you hide your face and blush,
though under such grace as you are! But God's side is far otherwise.

"Of the former, the fruit was shame, even after the being set free. Of
these the fruit is holiness,
and where holiness
is, there is all confidence. But of those things the end is death, and
of these everlasting life. Do you see how he points out some things as
already given, and some as existing in hope,
and from what are given he draws proof of the
others also, that is from the holiness of the
life. For to prevent your saying (i.e. as an objection) everything lies
in hope, he points out that you have already reaped
fruits, first the being freed from wickedness, and
such evils as
the very recollection of puts one to shame; second, the being made a
servant unto righteousness; a third, the enjoying of holiness; a
fourth, the obtaining of life, and life too not for a season, but
everlasting. Yet with all these, he says, do but serve as you served it.
For though the master is far preferable, and the service also has many
advantages, and the rewards too for which you are serving, still I make
no further demand. Next, since he had mentioned arms and a king, he
keeps on with the metaphor in these words:

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord." (6:23)

"After speaking of the wages of sin, in the case
of the blessings, he has not kept to the same order (τάξιν, rank or relation): for he does not say, the
wages of good deeds, but the
gift of God;
to show,
that it was not of themselves that they were freed, nor was it a due
they received, neither yet a return, nor a recompense of labors, but by grace all these
things came about. And so there was a superiority for
this cause also, in that He did not free them only, or change their condition for a
better, but that He did it without any labor or trouble upon their
part: and that He not only freed them, but also gave them much more than
before, and that through His Son. And the whole
of this he has interposed as having discussed the subject of grace, and being
on the point of overthrowing the Law next. That
these things then might not both make them rather listless, he inserted
the part about strictness of life, using every opportunity of rousing
the hearer to the practice of virtue. For when
he calls death the wages of sin, he alarms
them again, and secures them against dangers to come. For the words he
uses to remind them of their former estate, he also employs so as to
make them thankful, and more secure against any inroads of temptations."

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