Romans 6


In Romans 5 we emphasized that salvation comes to us by grace. We are justified by faith, and we saw that to have faith may mean either;

1. To believe on the basis of evidence provided for us or

2. To believe when there is no evidence to go on, except the word of God Himself, and, to believe because we have confidence in the trustworthiness of God.

‘Abraham believed’ when all the evidence was against the promise of a son ever being fulfilled. He did not hesitate, or waver, but believed that, against all the odds, what God had promised would be fulfilled. We saw that faith is demonstrated in obedience and obedience, in its turn, brings peace with God.

Then, in Romans 5:9, Paul went on to show that not only have we been saved from the guilt of our past, by the blood of Christ, i.e. by His atoning sacrifice, but He continues to work for us, because, since the Lord Jesus is alive, (raised from the dead), we shall be saved by the fact that He lives and is able to help us to remain saved which means ‘keep sound’.

This is possible because, whilst sin is powerful, grace is even more powerful. He has said in Romans 5:20, that when the law came in, it exposed and revealed sin.

Remember the example of trespass, crossing a field on your way home, then, one day, seeing the sign which says ‘NO TRESPASSING’, and you are made aware that all this time you have actually been committing an offence, though you did not know it.

This means that through the coming of the Law, more and more sin became evident or, as Romans 5:20 says in the R. S. V., ‘sin increased’. But, Paul says, that where sin increased, grace ‘over-abounded’.

The word here is related to the Greek word ‘huperperissos’ which means ‘over-abundance’. It is the word ‘huper perlsseuo’.

Now, in Romans 6, Paul deals with certain objections or perhaps genuine problems which his readers might have with this teaching. On the one hand, there would be those who were contending for the continued observance of the Law, the Judaizers, who did not really understand the doctrine of grace.

And we have brethren today who are like this, they are very, very legalistic and seek to impose a rigid discipline on their brethren, and try to hold them in a form of bondage to a system, but who do not really understand New Testament teaching of salvation by grace, because their constant emphasis is on works, on what the members of the congregation produce.

This is one of the major errors, if not the major error, of the ‘Boston movement’, so-called. The failure to understand the doctrine of salvation by grace, apart from works.

But, I am sure that there were others, sincere believers, who, hearing Paul speak of the abundance of grace, found that it was a concept so rich, so wonderful, that they could not grasp it.

Certainly, the questions which you find in Romans 6 are not questions that Paul himself asked! After all his understanding of the doctrine of grace was so clear, that it would never have occurred to him even to ask them, Romans 6:1 / Romans 6:15.

I suggest that these are questions that have been raised by others when they heard Paul speaking about grace. He may even have been asked such questions many times over, and so he introduces them into this chapter in order to focus the attention of the readers of his letter to the Romans on the subject of God’s method of gaining the victory over sin, in the life of the Christian.

Remember this fact, he has just said in Romans 5 that although sin has increased, there is an abundance of grace that can deal with sin. So, you must imagine someone, perhaps an opponent, responding, ‘well, if that is the case, why not keep on sinning, so that God’s grace may have more opportunities of working!’

Imagine someone saying to Paul: ‘Are you actually telling us that God is prepared to forgive a man’s sin as often as he commits it? So! The more we sin, the more opportunities God gets of showing his grace! Why not keep on sinning?’

You will readily see how someone might take advantage of this idea, and say; ‘Why not exploit God’s goodness, and commit all the sins we feel like committing if God’s grace is going to cover them anyway?’

There are religious groups today, who, whilst not expressing it quite like that, certainly reveal that they have a very similar attitude.

They are the people who hold the doctrine which is rather grandly called ‘the doctrine of eternal security’. This, in simple language, means the doctrine of ‘once saved always saved, once in grace, always in grace’.

It is the doctrine that says that, once you have been saved, you can never sin so as to fall away and become lost.

This doctrine is also known as ‘antinoniianism’, ‘anti’ means against and ‘nomos’ means a law. In other words no law! The people who brought out this error taught that justification is a verdict decided by God from eternity (predestination).

And, they argued, that if God has pre-determined, determined beforehand, that a person should be saved, that person must be saved, cannot help but be saved and cannot possibly be lost no matter what sins he commits. But no such doctrine is taught in the Scriptures.

A sinner is never said to be saved until he believes and obeys the Gospel. And, unless our faith can be from eternity, there is no way in which we can be justified from eternity.

Until sin is forgiven by faith and obedience to the Gospel, far from being saved, the sinner is under the wrath of God, according to Romans 4:5 “However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.”

So, here, in Romans 6:1, Paul responds to this idea.

‘If we are saved by the grace of God, apart from the works of law, it doesn’t matter what we do, how much we sin, God’s grace will cover our sin! In fact, why not continue to sin so that it gives God the opportunity of showing his grace?’

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Romans 6:1-2

In Romans 6:2-14 he deals with that first question, why not continue in sin so that grace may be demonstrated.’ That word continue is the word ‘meno’, which is often translated as ‘abide’, or ‘remain’. And looking at it like that, you can see that the question in verse 1 might very well be rendered, ‘shall we stay, continue, to live in a sinful condition, so that God’s grace might be shown?

You see how positively and emphatically he rejects the very idea! He says ‘by no means!’ The expression which is used in the Greek text is ‘me enai’, which translates as ‘perish the very idea!’ ‘Away with ire very thought!’ ‘May it never happen!’ or, as the A.V. has it ‘God forbid!’

When we became Christians we died to the old life, the life of sin. The old man, with his sinful nature, is dead and we are dead to sin. Now, remember that the word for death, is ‘thanatos’ and its root meaning is separation.

This is true whether we think of physical death or spiritual death. Physical death means the separation of life from the body. Spiritual death means the separation of the soul from God. And to be dead to sin means to be separated from the power of sin, introduced by Adam.

Now, I think that this is one of the most difficult truths for Christians to grasp. You say, how can I be dead to sin, when I know very well that I sin in daily life? Of course, we know that we are not alone in this, because in the very next chapter the man who is here telling us that we are dead to sin, tells us that he, himself struggled with the very same problem.

Look at Romans 7:21, for instance, and this is the theme of a large part of that chapter.

“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” John also, in 1 John 1:8 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

This states clearly that, being a Christian does not mean that we have attained sinless perfection!

This is because, although we have been freed from the guilt of our sin, and God has made available to us the power to overcome sin, in giving us the Holy Spirit, the fact remains that we shall be liable to sin for the rest of our earthly lives, and we shall not be completely beyond the reach of sin until we receive our glorified nature, but, and here is an important fact, God has so constituted us, as New Creations in Christ Jesus, that we do not have to sin.

Sin can be overcome and that is the reason why Jesus became a man and took on himself human nature. He came to demonstrate that it is not necessary for God’s people to sin. Sin can be overcome.

Perhaps you have heard the illustration of the electric lamp. Here is a lamp, plugged into a wall socket. So long as the lamp is connected to the source of power, you can get it to light up. Take the plug out of the wall, and you cut it off from the power.

So with a Christian, when you become a child of God, he cuts the connection between you and your evil nature. Connect the lamp to the source of power and it will shine again. Connect the Christian with the old evil nature, and he will sin again.

But as always the choice is ours. We do not lose our freedom of choice when we become Christians. We may choose between obeying the old nature and sinning, or choose to be influenced by our new nature, and live as God wants us to. The choice is ours.

“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” Romans 6:3

In verse 3, Paul shows what he means when he writes about our dying to sin. He shows that our baptism was an occasion of tremendous importance because of what transpired at that moment.

We were ‘Baptized into Christ’.

A Relationship ‘into’. A Position ‘in’. ‘Baptized into his death’.

The second reason we should not continue in sin is because we have been baptized.

‘Baptized into Christ Jesus’ Galatians 3:26-27. One is brought into a special relationship with Christ in baptism, into a state free from sin.

‘Into Christ’ means the same as ‘into the name’, since the name stands for the person.

‘Into His death,’ Paul realised they understood that they were baptised into Christ, but asks if they knew if their baptism was also into His death?

Paul perhaps is simply showing that we are baptised in the likeness of His death. No doubt, he is also showing that we are brought into a special relationship with His death. He shed His blood in His death,  John 19:33-35,

And so, we are baptized into the benefits of His death. Members of the church have been accused of teaching, ‘One is saved by water.’ No, the blood of Christ saves, but it is by baptism that one reaches the benefits of His blood.

Let me ask a question, when do we die to sin? The answer must be when we are baptized into the death of Christ. Another question, where and when do we come into contact with the blood of Christ? And again, when do we begin to walk the new life?

How would you convince an enquirer that sprinkling or pouring water is NOT New Testament baptism? What arguments would you use?

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” Romans 6:4-8

Notice the emphasis on union with Christ, Romans 6:4 ‘with him’ Romans 6:5 ‘united with him’. ‘With him in resurrection’. Romans 6:6 ‘crucified with him’ Romans 6:8 ‘died with Christ’ ‘live with him’.

Paul argues that since we have become united with the Lord Jesus;

1. We cannot continue to serve sin because we have acquired a new Master and a new allegiance.

2. We need not serve sin, because we have acquired new strength. The old man, the old person that we were, the old self (Romans 6:6) died. And when that happened, the hold which sin had on our lives was broken. Sin no longer had the grip on us that it once had.

Suppose you have the TV on in the house, and a program comes on which is offensive to Christian standards, bad language, immorality, the program is not one which you would like to have on if Jesus came into the house.

Well! As a Christian, you can do something which unregenerate men and women cannot do. You can switch off the TV and say, ‘I will not allow such filth into my home, or into my mind. I am in control here’!

Now, before you became a Christian, it is unlikely that it would have occurred to you to think like that. For instance, have you ever encountered people to whom, it is ‘natural’ (and I use that word purposely) to use bad language?

Every sentence contains either filthy language, profanities, or curses. And it is quite evident they do not even know they are using language which gives offence to other people. They have no control over their minds, or their tongues, or their lives, for that matter.

Look again at Romans 5:20-21 “The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Here, Paul describes sin as reigning. Reigning like a king. But now, he says, righteousness reigns. Sin has been dethroned. We have a new King in our lives and we serve Him.

‘Buried with Him through baptism’. There are two Greek words here, both of which mean ‘buried, immersed.’ And so, baptism is a burial.

‘By the glory of the Father’ means the glory of God necessitated it and the power of God brought it about.

‘Even so, we also should walk in newness of life’ and so, we are raised to a new life. As Christ died, was buried, and was raised, we died to sin, are buried in baptism, and are raised to a new life. And so one’s baptism has a likeness to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

A simple understanding of this truth overcomes many false ideas concerning baptism. Sprinkling or pouring has no likeness to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

Other passages teach that baptism is a burial, Colossians 2:12. Many people have baptism in reverse order. They tell us when one believes, or ‘accepts Christ as his personal Saviour,’ he is saved and has a new life. They tell us one is baptised to show that he is already saved and so, ‘salvation before baptism.’

‘If we have been united together in the likeness of His death,’ one is united with Christ in the likeness of His death when he is baptised into Him.

‘We will certainly also united with him in a resurrection.’ If through baptism we have been united in the likeness of His death, we shall be (future tense) in the likeness of His resurrection. And so, from this verse, we see the importance of the re-enactment of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

Paul continues his reasons why we shouldn’t sin. Thirdly, we shouldn’t sin because we are dead to sin. If we have been united with Christ, we understand that several things have happened. We know that our old self was crucified with Him. That old life of sin and corruption has been put to death.

‘That the body of sin…’ The same as the ‘old man.’ When we were buried with Christ in baptism, we crucified, destroyed, and buried that old type of life. Why?

‘That we should no longer be slaves of sin’, here personifies sin as a master who takes control, however, we are no longer bond-servants to sin.

Another reason we shouldn’t commit sin is because we have been freed (Greek, justified) from sin. This shows what being ‘justified’ means. It means to be freed from sin. We are thankful that we can be freed from sin, even from the grossest, ugliest, darkest of sin, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Christians have continual access to forgiveness through Christ, Acts 5:31 / 1 John 1:9.

In Romans 6:8-11, Paul gives the fourth reason we shouldn’t sin because we are looking forward to someday living with Him.

1. ‘Died with Christ,’ when we were baptised and when the old man was crucified.

‘We believe’, believe what? We believe we shall live with Him in eternity because we have been raised to the new life and are walking in it, 2 Timothy 2:10-12.

“For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. ” Romans 6:9

Look, also, at the word ‘mastery’ or ‘dominion’ in verse 9. There, Paul states that since Jesus has risen in triumph from the grave, death has no more dominion over him. He will never die again, because death has no power over him.

Now, he says in Romans 6:14, in the same way, that, because you died to the old, sinful life, sin no longer has ‘dominion’ (same word) over you, because you are not under the old law, but under grace.

The thought of ‘sin reigning as king’ is also in Romans 6:17, where Paul says we were the slaves of sin. The word he uses is the word ‘doulos’ which means bond, servants.

Let me say a few words about the word ‘doulos,’ because it is a word that you will often encounter in your study of the New Testament since it is used in so many ways.

1. It is used 127 times in the New Testament. 6 times rendered ‘bond’ 1 time, ‘bondman’. 120 times rendered ‘servant’.

2. But this is a special kind of service. For instance, the word ‘therapon’, used in Hebrews 3:5, to describe Moses, refers to one who rendered voluntary service. But, this word, which is probably based on the word ‘den’, meaning, ‘to tie or bind’, refers to a very different situation!

Thayer, tells us that it refers to.

1. A slave, a man in a servile condition.

2. One who gives himself up wholly to the will of someone else.

3. One who is devoted to the service of another person, without regard to his own interests.

4. And, not the least significant fact about this kind of servant, one who is bound to another with ties that are so strong that under normal circumstances, only death, could break the bond.

Think about these points and you will see what a serious state we were in, as sinners, the slaves of sin.

But we have been set free, set at liberty because Jesus has paid the price of our redemption. Paul does not use the word in this letter, though he uses it 3 times, all of them in 1 Corinthians.

If you notice just two of those occasions, 1 Corinthians 6:20, and 1 Corinthians 7:23. He says ‘you were bought with a price’. The word ‘agorazo’ means to buy in the market, i.e. the slave market.

But, he uses another word ‘eragorazo’, which means ‘to buy OUT of the market’. And that is what has happened to us. Bought and set free, never to become slaves again, and never to be sold again!

‘Dies no more’ means death will never come to Him again.

‘Has dominion over Him’ means death will never lord over Him again. While He was in the flesh, He was subject to death as all human beings, but when He was raised, He broke the power of death forever. He conquered death and now lives to die no more, Revelation 1:18.

‘He died to sin once for all,’ means He died to the state or sphere of sin, that is, death put Him beyond sin’s power or reach. He died to a sinful world once for all, Hebrews 7:27 / Hebrews 9:26-28 / Hebrews 10:10,

He now lives in harmony with the Father’s will. He now lives with God. He is now reigning in the presence of God, Hebrews 1:3.

“In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” Romans 6:11-14

2. ‘Count yourselves dead to sin’ means we could no longer live in sin than Christ could live His former life over again. We must seek to be dead to the guilt, penalty, power, sphere, and relationship to sin.

‘Alive to God’ means we are to be walking in a new life of service to Him, trying to be well-pleasing and acceptable in His sight. The Christian must strive to remain a new creature, being renewed day by day, Ephesians 4:22-24.

He has been raised to new life with God; he should remain in this new relationship. He should not let the newness wear off. He must not become old and stale in his service.

In Romans 6:12 Paul now gives words of exhortation based on what he had already said. First, he gives three negatives, verses 12-13a.

1. ‘Do not let sin reign in your mortal body.’ We are not to allow sin to re-establish its reign in our bodies. We must overcome sinful habits.

2. ‘So that you obey its evil desires’, we are not to obey evil desires and cravings, 1 Peter 2:11 / Galatians 5:24. To commit sin is to obey sin. To obey sin is to become sin’s slave. We must not, therefore, submit to sin’s rule or mastery in any part of our bodies.

He gives his third negative exhortation in Romans 6:13.

3. ‘Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness.’ We are not to use any part of our body to sin or as instruments (Greek arms, weapons, or tools) to do wrong.

Paul now gives two positives;

1. ‘But present…alive from the dead’. We present ourselves to God as alive from the dead. We are to act as alive from the dead, not half dead.

2. ‘As instruments of righteousness to God’. We are to present the members of our bodies in service to God, Romans 12:1.

We are to use the various parts of our bodies as ‘tools’ in doing right. Put off the old sinful man and put on the new person who is made after the image of Him who created him, Ephesians 4:22-24 / Colossians 3:8-10.

Pail continues to show that justification produces the fruit of holiness.

‘Master’. Sin has its rule, control, or mastery over us when;

1. It leads us in the continual practise of sin and

2. It brings about our final destruction. ‘For you are not under law but under grace’ means you are not under a system mainly of law, but of grace. There are still things we shouldn’t do as Christians, but those laws are there to protect us. It’s a law of love.

Paul uses a figure of speech in which the less is denied to emphasize the greater. If we were under law alone, we could never be forgiven and so, sin would have its dominion over us.

Under the system of grace (a system that is based on grace, but contains law or requires obedience to the will of God) the means of forgiveness is provided (through the death of Christ).

“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” Romans 6:15-18

Paul emphasizes that the system of grace requires obedience to God. ‘Not under law’, this does not mean ‘wholly without law,’ but ‘not under a system mainly of law.’

Freedom from law means freedom from sin, its rule or dominion, not freedom to indulge in sin, or freedom from rules, standards, and restraints. Grace does not give liberty to sin; it only produces a way of escape.

Can one sin all he wants because God has provided forgiveness?

No, his attitude is wrong and wholly unacceptable to God.

‘By no means!’ A strong negative, showing that one cannot commit sin because he is under grace rather than law. To sin under grace is to turn grace into an occasion of lasciviousness, Jude 4.

When someone submits to being someone’s slave and obeys him, he is the slave of the one whom he obeys. So it is with sin and obedience.

‘Obedience leading to righteousness’, obedience (doing the will of God as revealed in the Gospel) brings one into the right relationship with God.

And so, it is a voluntary servitude. We choose which direction we will go. If one is born in sin (totally depraved), there is no voluntary serving, Joshua 24:15.

‘Were slaves of sin’ is the sinful part of their lives was a thing of the past.

‘You obeyed from the heart’ and we know that all acceptable obedience must come from the heart. Notice that one must obey. One is not set free from sin by an inward condition of the heart only.

‘Pattern of teaching’ means in context, refers back to one’s obedience in baptism. One cannot obey the death, burial, and resurrection as such, but he can obey a form or mode of it by being baptized.

‘Claimed your allegiance’ means you were delivered from sin as your master to the doctrine of Christ as your master.

In Romans 6:18 he says that we have been made free from sin. The word free is the word ‘eleutheroo’ and it means to set at liberty. There is a third word that is used along with these two, and it is the word ‘lutroo’.

It is a very important word when thinking about slavery because it concerns the act of paying the price to set us free. It comes from the word ‘lutron’ which is the word for ransom and that was the price paid to free a slave. So ‘lutroo’ describes the act of redeeming by paying the ransom price.

And what was the price of our freedom? 1 Peter 1:18-19. So, do remember these words, ‘doulos’, slave. ‘Agorazo’ redeem to buy in the slave market. ‘Exagorazo’ to buy out of the market (never to be sold again) ‘lutron’ the ransom, the price that was paid to obtain our freedom.

There is yet another word that describes the entire process, it is the word ‘apolutrosis’ which means ‘setting free by paying the price’.

You have been set free from sin as your master, and have become voluntarily bound to righteousness. They were freed from sin when they changed masters when they obeyed the gospel from the heart, and now they should present their members as slaves of God, following His righteousness as we will see in Romans 6:19 / Romans 6:22.

“I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:19-22

Paul continues with ‘the blessings of justification.’ Romans 6 involves, ‘freedom from sin’ and Romans 7, ‘freedom from the law.’

‘Human limitation’, weakness, feebleness with regard to man’s physical makeup, including his intellect. He uses an illustration drawn from the common affairs of men because of their weakness to understand. He uses the well-known (the servant-master relationship) to express the unknown (man’s servitude to God).

‘Slaves of impurity’ means they were slaves to moral impurities, Ephesians 2:2-3 / 1 Peter 4:2-3.

‘To ever-increasing wickedness’ means iniquity or lawlessness had become a way of life and was increasing. They had in time past been the slaves of uncleanness and lawlessness.

‘Righteousness leading to holiness’, Paul encourages them to now present themselves as slaves to right doing for holiness. They should now pursue holiness instead of uncleanness and lawlessness, Hebrews 12:14.

‘Free from the control of righteousness’ means were away from righteousness and not under its influence. When you were slaves of sin, regarding the principles of servitude, you were free as to righteousness, but now being bound as servants to righteousness, you owe it your service. Before becoming slaves to righteousness, they were slaves to sin and followed it.

In Romans 6:21, he asks what benefit? What benefits did you receive? Any honest person would freely admit that a sinful life is empty and worthless.

‘Things you are now ashamed of.’ They could now see the disgracefulness of sin and the beauty of holiness. Every Christian is ashamed when he reflects on his past sins.

‘Result in death’ means everlasting death, the second death, eternal separation from God. Through obedience, they had changed masters. He mentions ‘God’ in Romans 6:22 as their master as opposed to ‘righteousness’ in the preceding verses.

‘The benefit you reap leads to holiness’. Sanctification is similar in nature to being a child of God. There is a definite time when one becomes a child of God, but as a child, he should grow daily in the likeness of His Father. Growth is therefore a continual process.

So it is with sanctification. One is sanctified when he becomes a child of God, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, but the process continues as he produces fruit in his life.

‘The result is eternal life’ is contrasted with ‘result in death.’ They are opposites in quality, but each of the same duration.

Sin as its master pays its wages, and none will be underpaid. Christ died to redeem us from the wages of sin, eternal death. God as a master gives eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. He gives eternal life, not as wages, but as a gift upon conditions.

One would naturally expect that since he has God as His master, he would receive the wages of eternal life, but the Scriptures nowhere teach it. The eternal life cannot be compared (in the terms of compensation) to the labour extended, 2 Corinthians 4:17 / Romans 8:18.

It is similar to one working for one day and then being paid one hundred million pounds.

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