Romans 6:19 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Romans 6:19, NIV: I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.

Romans 6:19, ESV: I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

Romans 6:19, KJV: 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.

Romans 6:19, NASB: I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented the parts of your body as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your body’s parts as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

Romans 6:19, NLT: Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy.

Romans 6:19, CSB: 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 impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification.

What does Romans 6:19 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

In the previous verse, Paul wrote that Christians have been set free from sin, and have become "slaves" of righteousness. Now he seems to suggest the concept of slavery is not a perfect description of our allegiance, in Christ, to God's righteousness as our new "master." He writes that he uses this "human term" because of the limitation in our ability to fully understand what it means to be under the authority of righteousness.

"Slavery" is a charged term in modern society, but it carried a very different meaning in the ancient world. The "chattel slavery" which treats human beings as animals or literal property was not the norm, in that era. Still, there were some who were enslaved in that kind of bondage, so perhaps Paul wants to be sure none of his readers picture our relationship with God in terms of a fearful or degrading experience. Rather, he acknowledges that his metaphor is not exactly a perfect fit, though he will continue to use it.

As he refines the idea, Paul will make clear that Christians are absolutely under the full authority of God to be used for His purposes. However, God remains a loving Father and does not compel us to act against our will. He is always Master, and He is ever calling believers to obey Him.

Paul makes it clear that God wants us to choose obedience to Him. Why else would we need to be told to do so? He commands those in Christ to present their members—bodies, minds, will, etc.—as slaves in the service of righteousness. He tells us to do this in the same way that we once presented ourselves as slaves to impurity and lawlessness.

Paul describes those who are not in Christ as under compulsion to serve sin. They must obey their sinful desires. That is their work. The result of that work? More and more lawlessness. That is, they succeed in creating more sin in their lives and in the world.

Those in Christ, on the other hand, are used by God to serve righteousness. What comes from that, Paul writes, is sanctification or holiness. The New Testament often uses the word "sanctification" to describe the process of being made holy, of becoming like Christ. God uses our service to righteousness to contribute to that process.