From Commentary on Romans (1515)
God has decreed to destroy through Christ what Satan brought into the world through Adam, namely sin and death… We are not found in a state of perfection as soon as we have been baptized into Jesus Christ and his death, we merely strive to obtain the blessings of this death and to reach our goal of glory. Just so, when we re baptized into everlasting life and the kingdom of heaven, we do not at once possess its full wealth of blessings. We have merely taken the first steps to seek after eternal life. Baptism has been instituted that it should lead us to the blessing s of this death and through such death to eternal life. Therefore it is necessary that we should be baptized into Jesus Christ and his death.
Paul writes, “Our old man is crucified with him.” We speak of the “old man” inasmuch as it, our nature, is begotten by Adam. Properly the expression does not refer to our nature, but to its corruption. The nature in itself is good, but the corruption of it is evil. A person is said to be an “old man” not merely inasmuch as he does the works of the flesh, but also, and that with far greater right, inasmuch as outwardly he acts righteously, seeks after wisdom, exercises himself in all manner of spiritual gifts, and even loves and honors God.
The reason for this is that in all these things enjoyed the gifts of God and so merely sues God From the sin of such misuse he can be raised only the grace of God… The carnal nature has the seed of the Devil and endeavors to bring forth sin and bear sinful fruit. The spiritual nature, the new man, has the seed of God and seeks to bring forth righteousness and the fruits of righteousness.
Paul writes, “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more.” He does not say, “He will live,” but “He dies no more.” This negative formulation is more emphatic and meaningful. It stresses the eternity of Christ’s life. Paul writes, “In that he died, he died unto sin once; but in that he lives, he lives unto God.” Because Christ is eternal, so also is our spiritual life; for Christ is our life and through faith he shines into our hearts the rays of grace which abide forever. In verse 8, Paul expresses the thought thus, “If we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.” Our spiritual life is not a matter of experience but of faith. No one knows or experiences the fact that he lives spiritually or is justified, but he believes and hopes this. We live unto God, that is our spiritual and new life to eternity.
Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a German priest and theologian, a seminal figure of the Protestant Reformation. His teaching about justification by faith, revealed in his study of the Pauline Epistles, became the core of Protestant teaching about salvation, and inspired a wide-reaching series of reform in Christian ministry, worship, and spiritual practice. His Commentary on Romans is an early work, a digest of his lectures at the University of Wittenberg. Martin Luther is commemorated on February 18 on the calendars of several Lutheran and Anglican Churches. This translation of the text is by J. T. Mueller (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1954).