Δεδικαίωται ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίας Freed from Sin

At one time I had Romans 6 memorized in English. I always loved verse 7: “He who has died is freed from sin.” Freedom! Yes!

As I was reading through the passage in Greek this morning I was surprised that the word for “freed” is δικαιόω. I expected ἐλευθερόω, which is the normal word for “free.”

Remember δικαιόω? It’s normally translated “justified.” It is listed in BDAG like this:

1. to take up a legal cause, show justice, do justice, take up a cause

2. to render a favorable verdict, vindicate.

3. to cause someone to be released from personal or institutional claims that are no longer to be considered pertinent or valid, make free/pure

4. to demonstrate to be morally right, prove to be right

As you can see, the third definition is what translators chose for this verse. “Freed from sin” is a perfectly good translation and yet this is a great example of the kind of thing that gets lost in translation.

Δεδικαίωται (“freed”) in verse 7 is a perfect tense. It indicates a new state of being brought about by a past event. The translation “freed” makes it sound aorist, as if Paul is simply reporting a past event. The perfect tense tells us not only that we WERE freed but that we now STAND free.

Even more, δεδικαίωται has strong overtones of justification. It’s not just that God kicked the door open and let me out of my sin-prison. He righted a wrong—MY wrong. I was justly condemned to a hell of my own making, tasting the bitter fruit of my stupidity, reaping what I had sown, sleeping in the bed I had made. Δεδικαίωται means that once and for all, Christ reaped what I had sown. He slept in the bed I had made. So justice was done, and I am free.

I didn’t escape an unjust sentence like in Shawshank Redemption. A just sentence that I deserved was paid and I am forever free.

3 Comments

  1. Juan on August 11, 2015 at 10:19 am

    How does this relate to once saved always saved?
    Can one loose this justification?
    Is obedience required?

  2. Dr. Maury Robertson on August 13, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    Hi Juan. I would say the perfect tense speaks to a once-and-for-all done deal. My understanding is that obedience is the fruit of justification rather than the grounds for it. However, where they is no fruit, it is fair to ask if there has been any justification. What are your thoughts?

  3. Ben on November 22, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    Dr. Maury Robertson,

    I truly appreciate your response to Juan’s question. I have been pleading with people online to test the genuineness of their faith because some believe and are teaching people that they can be saved and yet show no signs of true conversion or repentance in their lives.

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