If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
Romans 6:5 (NIV)
If we have, as it were, shared his death, let us rise and live our new lives with him!
Romans 6:5 (Phillips)
Denn wenn wir mit ihm verbunden und ihm gleich geworden sind in seinem Tod, so werden wir ihm auch in der Auferstehung gleich sein.
Römer 6,5 (Lutherbibel)
ει γαρ συμφυτοι γεγοναμεν τω ομοιωματι του θανατου αυτου αλλα και της αναστασεως εσομεθα.
ΠΡΟΣ ΡΩΜΑΙΟΥΣ 6.5 (Westcott-Hort Greek Manuscript, 1881)
I often find it refreshing to spend just a bit of energy delving into the original languages of the Bible. As anyone who speaks more than one language knows, translation is as much of an art as it is a science. Words and expressions rarely find their exact equivalents in other languages and if the meaning is identical, the connotation of the word is different, and even regional understandings and meanings vary.
The verse above is a case in point. I have placed three translations side by side and the original Greek last. The Greek word sumphutoi is translated “united” and “shared” in two English versions, and “verbunden,” meaning “connected,” in the modern German Luther Bible. The original meaning of sumphutoi is to be planted together – which, interestingly, the King James Version and the Douay-Rheims both translate most closely to the original “planted together,” as the 1545 Lutherbibel also used “samt ihm gepflanzt.” Though I normally argue that it is better to remain as close to the original as possible, “planted together” may not communicate well today; it was an agricultural illustration that people in a more modern and less agrarian world may not readily understand.
What the Apostle sought to convey, it appears, is the depth of our new identity as believers in Christ. We tend to take our conversion too casually, as though the only thing that matters is that we have some hope beyond the grave for a better life. Paul, however, struck a strong note here on the fundamental change that happens to every person who has ever trusted in Christ. The word only appears here in the New Testament and refers to those plants that are planted at the same time – like a wheat field that is sown on the same day, or trees that are planted in the same season. The illustration was repeated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, where he likened death to the planting of a seed, a corruptible seed that is raised, or that sprouts, incorruptible. Here, however, the emphasis is on the meaning and application of the death and resurrection of Christ and how it applies to us spiritually. Paul had his eyes fixed on the resurrection from the dead of believers, but he traced its meaning back into our lives today. Simply applied, it means that we believers live today in the reality of the resurrection power of Christ.
Calvin thought that the words “planted together” were too weak to convey the original Greek. Instead he chose the word “ingrafted,” believing that Paul was making a connection for his point later in Romans 11:17, that we gentiles are grafted into the tree of God’s election. The emphasis, then is on the power of God active in our lives by the Spirit, made possible through our identity with the death and resurrection of Christ.
There is great force in this word, and it clearly shows, that the Apostle does not exhort, but rather teach us what benefit we derive from Christ; for he requires nothing from us, which is to be done by our attention and diligence, but speaks of the grafting made by the hand of God.
The meaning, assuming that Calvin has a point in his favor (and I believe he does), is that the life of Christ is not only available for every believer, but already active in every believer. He “does not exhort” means that Paul did not try to challenge us to do this in our own strength, rather he taught us about what is already happening in our hearts and lives.
The Christian life is from beginning to end a complete miracle of God’s grace. We have not only a Savior who died and rose for us, but in whom we have also died and risen. Our priorities, prospects, our hopes, ambitions, aims, and potentials are now changed, everything about us is changed. We think differently, we act differently, we see differently. Oswald Chambers in the daily devotion for today, wrote these challenging words:
We have to realize that the identification of Jesus with sin means the radical alteration of all our sympathies. Vicarious intercession means that we deliberately substitute God’s interests in others for our natural sympathy with them.
We have a different purpose for living, and this means also that we may leave in the hands of God our loved ones. We pray for them, but we are to pray with the perspective of the resurrection. Our natural sympathies, which we all have, do not always run in the same direction as God’s greater love and grace. We spend the rest of our lives seeking to bring these aspects of our character into the greater domain of the Lordship of Christ.
Our death and resurrection in Christ means that our lives now go a new direction. We are buried, no, planted with Him, and His resurrection power and life becomes ours. The first and most important affect on our lives is a changing of our loyalties, from self to Christ. As fledgling as it may at first appear in our lives, this is the work of God from which He will not turn back until He has accomplished His purpose in our lives, the lives of those who belong to Him.
Lord, we praise and thank You for our great salvation that You have purchased and are now working in our souls. Let us live this day and this night in Your resurrection power. Cleanse us from sin, fill us with Yourself. Amen.
 For example, it is impossible to convey in just one or two words to a cultural outsider all that is included in the Southern American expression, “Yes, ma’am,” for its very use includes what Southerners think in terms of relationships, and whether it is said to an older woman, your mother, a school teacher, or to a young lady.
 Writing in Latin, Calvin preferred “insititii facti sumus similitudini mortis ejus” to the Vulgate “conplantati facti sumus similitudini mortis ejus.”
 John Calvin, Commentary on Romans, translated by Rev. John Owen, online version found at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom38.all.html
 Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, May 4 devotional.