Rom. 8:10


Please can someone explain this passage from today’s first reading.

Rom. 8:10. But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin,
your spirits are alive because of righteousness.

Protestants believe that justification follows ones acceptance of Jesus as Lord, who thus declares the person just or righteous. This has nothing to do with ones holiness before or after. While several passages in the Bible (including some from Paul) would argue against this protestant doctrine, the above passage by Paul, and a few others in Romans and Galatians seem to agree with the protestants.


It is always good to learn what the true meaning of the written word is and I will leave this passage to someone more qualified. But if you are searching this in order to prove something to our brother Protestants, I suggest you read this thread first - Don’t fall into the trap of proof texting and/or verse interpretational discussions.



Actually - the more I have studied and prayed on this matter the less “contradiction” I see between the two viewpoints…yes there are extremes (Like OSAS) but there is also good truths in both the “imputed” and the “infused” positions on justification.

The clearest explanation that I found on this is contained in Strong’s concordance HERE and copied below. It relates to the Greek words for baptism.
Not to be confused with 911, bapto. The clearest example that shows the meaning of baptizo is a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 B.C. It is a recipe for making pickles and is helpful because it uses both words. Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be ‘dipped’ (bapto) into boiling water and then ‘baptised’ (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. But the first is temporary. The second, the act of baptising the vegetable, produces a permanent change. When used in the New Testament, this word more often refers to our union and identification with Christ than to our water baptism. e.g. Mark 16:16. ‘He that believes and is baptised shall be saved’. Christ is saying that mere intellectual assent is not enough. There must be a union with him, a real change, like the vegetable to the pickle!
Bible Study Magazine, James Montgomery Boice, May 1989.
So the first part - Bapto is a washing - cleanliness is “imputed”…and our desire is to become something different.
The second part takes time and effort and an “immersion” (in the spirit) so that we actually DO become something different. Immersion in the Spirit of God, “seeps in” changing us over time and this is "infusion.

So Paul, in speaking as he does is basically speaking of these two things - a washing clean and a justification based on “intent” - that is “desire”, but this must be followed by our effort to cooperate with God’s grace in us so that we truly become that which God desires us to be.

Hope this helps a bit.



This passage ties together well with the passage in Hebrews that talks about God crediting Abraham’s faith to him “as righteousness”. And I don’t think we disagree with the Protestants about this, actually. We do not get the grace to follow Christ because we first do good actions. In fact, if we are not following Christ, our actions are not even good. Rather we act righteously because we have received God’s grace. Thus, verse 13: “if by the spirit you put to death the things of the flesh, you will live”.

Now, some Protestants seem to believe that faith and sin coexist in the believer, as if they were fundamentally compatible. This is both false, and ruled out by Romans 8.


Thank you so much for that explanation, it was clear, well cited and easy to understand. I have always had a very hard time deciphering St. Paul and; therefore, usually just ignore him in favour of the gospels, other epistles and Aquinas, who I find easier to understand. Do you know of any passage, by passage, commentary on St. Paul’s epistles which would be helpful? Maybe you might write one:)


I’m afraid you give me more credit than I deserve. I tend more toward the mystic side of things and tend to make connections on more of an intuitive level…so where you like Aquinas I often find him difficult.
The reason I like the “Pickle” analogy so much is because it totally simplifies the matter and does so in a way that also helps clarify the term “baptism / baptize”.
I suspect that there are many who do not know what baptize actually meant to the original writers and readers.

Anyway - I’m sorry to say I cannot offer you a passage by passage commentary. Perhaps another can…Or, if no one replies here with one…perhaps just ask in a new thread…I’m sure such things are available.



The key phrase here is “if Christ is in you.” When we sin, Christ is not within us totally anymore and we need to go to Confession for His forgiveness. Therefore, our own personal holiness does matter, because otherwise, that righteousness of having Christ within us can fo away without it.


I take it that you feel as though this passage seems to support a Protestant conception of a purely forensic justification. Don’t fear, because that is not true in the slightest!

The Protestant idea that you are presumably worried about is that we still are dead in sin even after justification because justification consists only in God imputing Christ’s obedience in us, and we, considered of ourselves, are totally reprehensible and worthy of damnation in God’s sight. However, what St. Paul says is, “although your bodies are dead… your spirits are alive…” Sin is the death of the soul, so if our spirits are alive, then they are not in a state of sin. What is “dead” is only the body, which is said because the body is still subject to corruption and mortality. But he says that this will be corrected later: “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Romans 8:11).

If sin does not remain in us, why does he say that our bodies are dead “because of sin?” Not because of anything in us that is properly sin, but only because of the effects of Adam’s sin. Thus St. Paul says earlier, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Romans 5:12).

This passage is perfectly consonant with the Catholic doctrine of infused grace. I hope this takes away your concerns.

Actually, a great set of commentaries on the Pauline Epistles was authored by St. Thomas Aquinas himself. Our very own COPLAND3 has made English translations of several of them available here.


This sounds like Calvinism to me. Some Protestants are Calvinists, but most aren’t.


Calvinism (Reformed Protestantism) is far from a fringe movement.

I hope by my use of the term Protestantism I did not give the impression that I was putting something forward as applicable to all Protestants whatsoever rather than something that is peculiar to the Protestant movement. Many Protestants take a less severe view than the extreme one you quoted, but this is irrelevant. Either they believe justification is purely external, going through great pains to explain how our sanctification is totally unrelated to our standing before God, or they do not believe that justification is a purely external reality, in which case OP’s concern doesn’t apply. However, this external view of justification is the traditional Protestant one and probably the one held by most (or at least most informed) Protestants.


Here is the footnote from the Aquinas Study Bible

**8:10 Christ be in you: **Now this he says, not as affirming that the Spirit is Christ, far from it, but to show that he who has the Spirit not only is called Christ’s, but even has Christ Himself. For it cannot but be that where the Spirit is, there Christ is also. For wheresoever one Person of the Trinity is, there the whole Trinity is present. For It is undivided in Itself, and has a most entire Oneness. (St. John Chrysostom) the body indeed is dead: Those who are baptized are renewed in spirit by Baptism, while their body remains subject to the oldness of sin. (St. Thomas Aquinas Sum Theo 3.68.1.r2)

As we see that Aquinas shows us that we are renewed in Baptism, but what happens when we commit mortal sins after Baptism? That is where Confession is necessary. To become 'saved" we participate in Repentance, faith, and Baptism. Once we do that we are to maintain it by repentance, faith, and Confession.


This is part of a running argument concerning the doctrine of justification which really starts back in chapter 1, v18.
He demonstrates until chapter 3.20 that, “by the deeds of the law shall no man be justified. For by the law comes knowledge of sin.”

Then he goes on to explain about, “the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe.”(v.22)
In chapter 4, he explains how that Abraham was justified by faith by quoting King David:)4.6-8

In chapter 5, Paul expands on the imputation of justification (believers inherit Christ’s righteousness) in place of Adam’s sin (inherited at birth). Then Paul transitions into the whole matter of the believers relationship with Christ and the Spirit, in contrast with his relationship to the law and sin. This continues on through chapter 8.

chapter 8, verse 10 is part of a recapitulation of what was said in chapter 6, vs 6-11,
“For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise consider ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Then, Paul ends his argument on justification at the end of chapter 8 with this magnificent statement:
“I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


Read the whole chapter; Rom 8:13 sums up what Paul means to get across pretty well-and it has nothing to do with a merely declared righteousness:
For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.


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