Bible Studies In The Christian Library
 
ROMANS CHAPTER 12

Beginning with verse one we begin a new section of the book of Romans. Paul has finished talking about the grounds for God accepting all men, Jew and Gentile alike. "The just shall live by faith" is the premise laid down in Romans 1:17 and sustained throughout the whole first eleven chapters of the book. Now Paul will discuss how the man of faith is to live. It is a terrible mistake to believe that after a person is saved from their sins that they have no continuing responsibilities before God to grow and live a morally upright life.

VERSES 1-2 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2- And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

A. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God"
1. Beseech here is a tender form of urge. The word beg could also be used, since it fits the same general Greek definition. Paul does not command, which he had the apostolic authority to do. The is a favorite approach of Paulís, not pressing or commanding but pleading as a fellow-servant of God. This, however, does not somehow belittle the necessity of obey the apostleís admonition.

2. The "mercies of God" represent the sum total of all that God has done to show His love and grace toward mankind.

3. "Therefore" simply means "in light of what I have said previously." Likely refers to all the epistle written thus far.

B. "that you present your bodies a living sacrifice"
1. The Old Law made provision for the giving of animal sacrifices. These were always killed before the sacrifice.

2. Paul says that the Christian has the obligation to offer themselves to God in willing service. See Romans 6:13, 19. It is a voluntary service, none are being forced to give that sacrificial service.

3. The idea of sacrifice denotes that there is a giving up of rights, privilege, and prerogatives.

4. This also suggests a continual, not a one time service.

C. "holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service."
1. Under the sacrificial system in the Old Law there was certain criteria for selecting a sacrifice. It would have to usually be a male, free from defect, etc. So, too, for Christians.

2. "Holy" would signify being set apart. Christians are to be set apart from the world, dedicated to God. See also Ephesians 5:25-27.

3. "Acceptable to God" would mean that which is pleasing to Him.

4. "Reasonable service" - This seems to be talking about a "reasoned services" as Lard contends. The Greek word here seems to denote an exercise of the intellect. The word "reasonable" is a perfect translation if we consider it in the context of itís traditional definition, i.e. a reasoned service.

5. All Christian service comes from an exercise of the mind in control of the emotions.

D. "And do not be conformed to this world"
1. Literally, "do not be forced into the worldís mold."

2. There is always the pressure to conform the standards of the worlds 

E. "but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" 
1. This passage envisions a continual, ongoing process of changing the mind into an instrument of service to God. We must continually seek to rid our minds of worldly thoughts and our lives of worldly actions.
F. "that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
1. One of the values of a renewed mind is being able to "prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

2. The only way for us to determine what is right and wrong is to grow closer to God. See Hebrews 5:12-14.

Verses 3-5 "For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 4- For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5- so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another."
A. "For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith."
1. Ironically, there is a tendency on the part of men who begin to achieve a degree of righteous in Christ to begin to think in a conceited manner, believing that they are somehow deserving of their standing before Christ. 

2. Paul says that each man is to think soberly about themselves, thus insuring that they neither become self-righteous, nor self-deprecating.

B. "For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function"
1. This passage is one of the two great passages which teaches that the church is compared to a body.

2. so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another."

3. Each member is an individual, yet part of the body. This section connects with the next one in that Paul urges Christians to not think too highly of themselves in their gifts but to use them for the upbuilding of the kingdom.

VERSES 6-8 "Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7- or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8- he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness."
A. "Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them"
1. Each Christian has been given certain gifts by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:1ff) with various gifts designed to build up the body of Christ. See also Ephesians 4:10-16.

2. The gifts here seem to be partially miraculous in nature and some that are non-miraculous.

3. These gifts are given by God based on the ability of the user. This principle is found in Matthew 25:15ff.

B. "if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith"
1. Prophecy here is inspired preaching and teaching. 

2. The person who had this gift was called upon to excercise it to the very best if his ability.

C. "or ministry, let us use it in our ministering"
1. This could have reference to the work of a deacon, or it can generally be referring to the work that anyone in the church has to do for the Lord. He is telling us to do the very best we can for the Lord.
D. "he who teaches, in teaching; 8- he who exhorts, in exhortation"
1. These are very similar in nature. The Christian who is able to teach, perhaps aided by spiritual gifts, should do this to the very best of their ability.

2. Exhortation would be part of teaching in all likelihood, but not limited to it! Exhortation here would be a strong encouragement to remain faithful.

E. "he who gives, with liberality"
1. This seems to refer to those who have been give special ability to make wealth. We know that God has given all of us varying abilities. If one is specially blessed in a certain area he/she should use it to the best of their ability to please God. 
F. "he who leads, with diligence"
2. Leadership is a skill which can be considered coming from God. There is a sense in which qualified elders have been selected by the Holy Spirit (through the precepts of the Word), Acts 20:28.
G. he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness."
Commentatorís Note: The following passages are difficult to lump together, save the fact that they are immenently practical in their application. They all have to do with the way Christians are to live their everyday lives. Verses 6-8 deal with specific gifts and the Lordís admonition to each individual Christian. Verses 9ff deal with responsibilities that all Christians have in their everyday lives, regardless of the individual gifts each Christian has been given.

Verse 9- "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good."

A. "Let love be without hypocrisy"
1. Christians should never practice love toward others out of anything but a sincere desire to help those who have needs. 
2. Our love for brethren, and all others, should spring forth out of a sincere desire for the well being of those with whom we deal. See also 1 John 3:18.
3. Coffman believes that Paul is referring to all mankind in general in this passage, while he is speaking of brethren in verse 10.

4. Jesus condemns hypocrisy in general in the strongest terms. See Matthew 23:1ff.

B. "Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good."
1 The Christian should oppose every wickedness and despise the sins and weaknesses of the flesh that so plague each of us.
2. It is logical that Paul puts both of these together. One cannot hate evil without loving and practicing good. The Christians should love, support and encourage every good work. See also Psalm 119:128; 1 Thessalonians 5:22; Jude 23.
Verse 10- "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;"
A. "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love"
1. Christians are to have a family relationship with one another. See also Hebrews 13:1.

2. This denotes the tender feeling that a physical brother and sister has for one another.

B. "in honor giving preference to one another;"
1. This shows the kind of attitude that each Christian is to have toward one another. We are to give preference to other brethren and not seek to promote ourselves. See also Galatians 6:10.
Verse 11- "not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;"
A. "not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit"
1. The KJV rendering, "not slothful in business," while certainly representing a worthy admonition, it not a proper translation.

2. We should not let our zeal for the Lord slip, as often happens when we are Christians for awhile. Donít let the "fire go out" on our desire to serve the Lord.

3. This is perhaps the key to why the Ephesians brethren had "left their first love." (Revelation 2:4-5).

B. "serving the Lord"
1. This should be the motivation behind all our work in the world. We no longer belong to ourselves, we belong to the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

2. All our labors, whether specifically spiritual work, or our jobs and other relationships should be done as heartily as possible because we are working for the Lord through that labor.

a. Ephesians 6:5-8; Ecclesiastes 9:10
VERSE 12- "rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;"
A. "Rejoicing in hope"
1. Reese translates this phrase, "Let your hope be a source of joy to you!" The Christians can sustain himself through difficult times through his hope in the glorious future that awaits him/her.

2. We have a living hope for eternal life because of the resurrection of Jesus (1 Peter 1:3-4). That hope is a "anchor of the soul" (Hebrew 6:19).

B. "Patient in tribulatioin"
1. Our hope should allow us to be patient when troubles come. Tribulation here, can mean either general troubles that all mankind suffers, or more likely persecutions that Christians face for being Christians. We should rejoice when we fall into various trial because they build patience (James 1:2-3).

2. Paul tells us in 5:3, "And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;"

C. "Continuing steadfastly in prayer"
1. It is no accident that this admonition is placed where it is. One needs to lean on prayer in order to overcome the tribulations of life!

2. See also Luke 11:5-8; 18:1-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

VERSE 13- "distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality."
A. "Distributing to the needs of the saints"
1. The brotherly love that we should have will cause us to help needy brethren when we know of their plight.

2. We must have hearts of compassion for brethren in need! See also 1 John 3:17.

B. "Given to hospitality"
1. This went hand in hand in the first century. Christians were in constant need of assistance other brethren in their preaching the gospel and having a safe haven from those persecuting them.

2. Hospitality has always been considered one of the greatest of noble attitudes. See Hebrews 13:2. 

 
VERSE 14- "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse."
A. "Bless those who persecute you"
1. Reese maintains that there is some connection between this verse and the previous one. Siting some manuscript evidence for the exclusion of the pronoun you here he states that this might mean that we are to not pray for the best for those who persecute us, but also for other who might be persecuting those to whom we are showing hospitality.
B. "Bless and do not curse"
1. There is no room for evil thoughts concerning those who would do us harm. We cannot seek, encourage, or harbor hopes for, calamity to strike those who would hurt us.

2.This is the "golden rule" in practice. It is the "normal" reaction for Christians to wish their enemies harm and rejoice when bad things happen to them. Agape love hopes for the very best to happen to someone, even though he is an enemy.

VERSE 15- "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep."
A. "Rejoice with those who rejoice"
1. Reese points out that it is literally, "rejoice in company with those who rejoice and weep in company with those who weep." This shows that Christians are to be with other Christians to share the most joyous and also the saddest moments of their lives. 

2. This shows a total lack of jealousy and envy toward our brethren.

3. We are to be happy for those among us who have good things happen to them. 

B. "Weep with those who weep"
1. This combination of the two represent the family relationship that we should have for one another.

2. We would weep with a brother/sister in their loss of a loved one, or some calamity struck. 

3. Coffman made this observation.

a. "Only the wicked or the thoughtless are calloused against the joys and sorrows of humanity; and , if one permits himself to become hardened against concern for fellow mortals, he thereby forfeits the likeness he might have had for him who wept at the grave of Lazarus, had compassion on the multitude, and replenished the wine at the wedding in Cana."
VERSE 16- "Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion."
A. "Be of the same mind toward one another"
1. Partiality within the body of Christ is strictly prohibited. The formation of little groups of people that pay little or no interest to other, especially the poor brother, is wrong!

2. It is not consistent with the biblical doctrine of brotherhood. We are all brothers in the Lord who have been forgiven by the blood of Christ.

3. Note the number of passages which condemn partiality - Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; 1 Timothy 5:21; James 2:1ff.

B. "Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion."
1. Donít be puffed up with your own self importance! Pride is one of the great enemies of the Christian life. We are told that salvation is not by our own merit but by the abundant grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:7-9; Titus 3:5-6).

2. The NKJV rendering here seems to be much perferable than the KJV, "condescend to men of low estate." Condescend carries with it the idea of someone who knows he is superior but try to act like he is one with those of a lower "caste."

3. Associate yourself with others who have the proper attitude toward life. There is only one worse than one person who thinks he is higher than everyone else, it is a group of people who do!

Verses 17-18 "Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18- "Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18- If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men."
A. "Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
1. This seems to be aimed at our interaction with people in general and not specifically toward our enemies. It serves as an introduction for how we are to conduct ourselves toward our enemies.

2. No matter how others conduct themselves, we have a responsibility as Christians to always act in a fair and honorable manner!

B. "Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men."
1. We should always seek good and right actions.

2. We must always conduct ourselves in an honorable fashion with all we come in contact with.

C. "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men."
1. We must try, as much as possible, to be peaceable in our nature and live peacefully with every man. Just because God gives this exception does not mean that we seek excuses for being pugnacious toward others. See James 3:17.

2. We must never have the attitude of looking for strife and conflict!

Verses 19-21 "Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. 20- Therefore ĎIf your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.í 21- Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
A. "Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.
1. Men have always thought that there would be payment for evil deeds. Many have taken that vengence into their own hands. Christians are not to take the payment of sins.
a. See Deuteronomy 32:35.
B. Therefore ĎIf your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.í
1. This passage prevents Christian for desire the retribution to come down swiftly on our enemies.

2. Taken from Proverbs 25:21-22.

3. The coals of fire can either mean that the enemy might feel the burning of remorse at the good you have done in response to his evil, or it could be the punishment being stored up by God because of their persecuting His people.

C. "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
1. When we allow our passions, even for right, to cause us to sin, we have been overcome by what we were opposing. Goodness and kindness should, and will, always win out in the end. That is what the "vengeance is Mine, I will repay" statement is all about. God will take care of the judging toward all those who mistreat us. Let him do that in his own good time.
 


Copyright 1999 by Grady Scott may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no cost to others.


Top of Page