Question:

Good day, 

Does 'this form of doctrine' in Romans 6:17 refers to a type? Meaning things we do now will only get their true meaning in heaven.


Answer:

Good to hear from you!

"But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed" (Romans 6:17).

The word definition of "form" in the Greek means a mold, or a casting that you might pour metal into to get a copy of something. It is used many times throughout the Bible in different ways. This example is one we should heed with caution, "I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh" (Romans 6:19). Paul is trying to describe a spiritual matter but it is not a complete description because he must use worldly terms for the Romans to understand.

Read all of Romans 5 and notice the similarities between it and Romans 6. One man (Adam) brought death into the world, but the other (Jesus) brought life."Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come" (Romans 5:14). Adam was a "form" of Christ but not exactly (Romans 5:16). While not exactly the same there are similarities.

The same thing is done in Romans 6, but the change is subtle. Are we being formed in the image of Adam, which represents sin and death that he brought into the world, or are we formed in the image of Christ, which is freedom and life from sin and death? Which mold will you pattern yourself after? "Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself" (Philippians 3:17-21). Which master will you obey? "Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?" (Romans 6:16).

The mold is the gospel in which we believe and obey from the heart (Romans 6:17). "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren" (Romans 8:29).

Part of that molding is seen in baptism, "Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?  Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.  Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Romans 6:3-11).

"Doctrine" is just another word for teaching. That form of doctrine, then, is the pattern of teaching that we are committed to and that we obey. The gospel is the form of doctrine that they learned how to be saved and why they needed saving (Romans 1:16; 10:8-7).

"Committed" or "delivered" refers to what we've been surrendered up to. All over the Bible are examples of the gospel being delivered to mankind:

"For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them" (II Peter 2:21).

"Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).

"Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you" (I Corinthians 11:1-2).

"Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures" (I Corinthians 15:1-3).

The form is not some future molding but one that occurred when we became God's children (I Peter 2:9-10). Those who have faith and were baptized are His children and have received the gospel by putting on Christ, "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:26-27). We change, being conformed both to the image of Jesus' death and his resurrection (Romans 6:3-11); thereby, we become new people. We are no longer conformed to the image of the world, but transformed from the image of the world (Romans 12:1-3).

"But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:22-23).

Alan Feaster and Jeff Hamilton