Death in Romans

Did you know that Paul’s letter to the Romans contains about half of all his references to death and dying?

For various reasons—mainly being committed to a team pulpit ministry—I didn’t preach over the last Easter weekend. Or rather, my Easter sermon was delivered the Wednesday before the weekend at our monthly mid-week friendship service to 21 precious frail-aged seniors (the oldest was 101 years old) and their helpers (all women!).

And so, apart from another important preaching task (helping prepare a kids’ talk for Good Friday), I had a little more time than usual in the run up to Easter to ponder.

Hence my musings on death and dying in Romans.

Now, far be it from me to improve on Paul’s arrangement of his material. But for my own meditation and yours, here is my attempt at a systematic summary of what he says on the topic in that epistle. (The verses below cover most but not every mention of death in Romans.)

Sin causes death

Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. (Rom 5:12)


Many died through one man’s trespass (Rom 5:15)


Because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man (Rom 5:17)

Death reigned… even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam (i.e. by breaking a specifically articulated command, Rom 5:14)

For the wages of sin is death. (Rom 6:23)

And people

Know God’s decree that those who practice such things (i.e. “all manner of unrighteousness”, see Rom 1:29-31) deserve to die. (Rom 1:32)

So a personal observation and related question arises:

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Rom 7:24)

The death of Christ brings us hope

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:6-8)

And so

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood (i.e. his death viewed as a “propitiation by his blood”, see Rom 3:25), much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. (Rom 5:9-10)

We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. (Rom 6:9)


As sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 5:21)

Being united with Christ in his death transforms our lives

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Rom 6:3-5)

So we

Died to sin (Rom 6:2)

Our old self was crucified with him (Rom 6:6)


One who has died has been set free (literally ‘justified’ or ‘acquitted’) from sin (Rom 6:7)

Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him (Rom 6:8)

You also have died to the law through the [crucified] body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God (Rom 7:4)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (Rom 8:1-2)

And so

If you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Rom 8:13)

Triumphant conclusion

Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword (i.e. death)? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:33-35, 37-39)

And commitment

For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. (Rom 14:7-9)

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