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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
Romans 12

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

1. οὖν. Cf. Romans 5:1; Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 3:1. The exhortation presents the true state of a Christian as the consequence of all that has gone before.

ἀδελφοί. The appeal is to their realisation of their relation to each other and to the Father.

διὰ τῶν οἰ. τ. θ. Cf. Romans 15:30; 1 Corinthians 1:10; and esp. 2 Corinthians 10:1. The compassionate dealings (plur.) of GOD enforce the exhortation: |[228] ‘If GOD so loved us …,’ ‘If then ye were raised with Christ …’ = This being GOD’s attitude towards you, make the due response. διὰ, see Romans 12:3.

οἰκτιρμῶν. Cf. 2 Corinthians 1:3. In O.T. the compassions of GOD are the basis of the covenant with Israel; cf. Exodus 34:6; Isaiah 63:15; Luke 6:36. The plural signifies the concrete instances of compassion in all the long history, cf. Psalms 50:1 (LXX[229]), 2 Samuel 24:14. They have been the burden of the preceding chapters.

παραστῆσαι. Cf. Romans 6:13-19; 2 Timothy 2:15, the only passages where it is the act of the man himself. Of others’ action cf. Luke 2:22; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Colossians 1:28 : of GOD’s action, 2 Corinthians 4:14; Ephesians 5:27; Colossians 1:22. The sacrificial suggestion seems to be always due to the context, not to the word itself.

τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν. Cf. σεαυτόν, 2 Tim. l.c[230]; τὰ μέλη, ἑαυτούς, vi. l.c[231] For the thought, cf. 1 Corinthians 6:20. The body is of course more than the flesh: it is the organic vehicle or instrument (ὅπλα, Romans 6:13) of the mind or spirit which it uses for its own activities under present conditions of human life. This instrument is to be presented to GOD now for His use, and that involves a change and new development of the mind, which was formerly directed to using the body without regard to GOD. The body is not to be neglected, but used in this new service. And the reference is to personal activities in the social life.

θυσίαν. Cf. Mark 12:33; Ephesians 5:2; Philippians 2:17; Philippians 4:18; Hebrews 13:15-16; 1 Peter 2:5 (with Hort’s note). In 2 Corinthians 2:14 f. the word does not occur but the thought is closely similar. In all these passages the conception is that the living activities of the man, in the condition of his life on earth, are devoted to service of GOD by service of man, as a thankoffering. The type of sacrifice implied is not the expiatory but the thanksgiving. The motive is given by the mercies received (διὰ τῶν οἱ.); the method is the imitation of the earthly life of Christ (cf. below, Romans 12:3-21; Eph. l.c[232]). The ‘sacrifice’ is not negative merely, in self-denial and surrender, but positive, a willing dedication of self to service in the power of the new life. This is the force of the epithet. It is to be observed that this is the only sense in which S. Paul uses the word θυσία.

ζῶσαν. The offering takes effect not by destruction or repression of life, but by its full energy; cf. Romans 6:13.

ἁγίαν. Set apart and consecrated to GOD.

τῷ θ. εὐάρεστον. By this full energy of life so consecrated man pleases GOD: cf. ὀσμὴ εὐωδίας, 2 Corinthians 2:14. Cf. Hort, l.c[233], p. 113 b.

τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑ. In apposition to the whole clause παραστ. κ.τ.λ. This offering to GOD of the life in its daily activities is the service dictated by the reasonable consideration of man’s nature and his relation to GOD.

λογική. 1 Peter 2:2 (only). In both passages (see Hort on 1 Pet. l.c[234]) the word has reference to the rational element in man, which, as the mark of his divine origin and the organ of control over the animal nature in its passions and appetites, is his distinctive characteristic. It has its origin in Stoic philosophy, but had spread into common use and may be supposed to have become part of popular psychology. Here as an epithet of λατρεία it indicates that the service described corresponds to the higher nature of man, in contrast to such action as would be a mere assimilation through the lower nature to the ways of a transitory world: so this thought comes out in the next verse where the idea of λογικὸς is taken up by τοῦ νοός. Perhaps ‘rational’ is the best translation, but it comes very near to ‘spiritual’; cf. 1 Peter 2:5; (πνευματικὰς θυσίας) and Philippians 3:3; Hebrews 8:5 f., Romans 9:14 (qu. Hort, p. 112); cf. also Romans 1:9.

λατρείαν. See Westcott, Heb. p. 232 (ed. 1889). In LXX[235] and N.T. alike the verb and subst. are always used of service to GOD or GODS (but see Deuteronomy 28:48), Judith 3:8 of divine worship offered to Nebuchadnezzar: distinguished from λειτουργία by this limitation and from δουλεία by its voluntary character. It included the whole ritual service of Israel (cf. Romans 9:2; Hebrews 9:1; Hebrews 9:6) but also all personal service offered to GOD, as Lord and Master. For its use here of service in life cf. Romans 1:9; Philippians 3:3; Hebrews 12:28.


Verse 1-2

Romans 12:1-2. The general principle is stated.


Verses 1-21

F. 12–15:13. THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL SEEN IN ITS EFFECT UPON BOTH THE COMMON AND THE INDIVIDUAL LIFE OF CHRISTIANS.

In this section S. Paul deals with the consequences of the principles he has worked out as they affect the character and the conduct of the Christian life. The main principles are two: [1] The Gospel offers to the Christian power to conform his life and conduct to the will of GOD (Romans 1:16), the use of that power depending solely on faith or trust, as man’s contribution to the result. [2] Service in the execution of GOD’s purposes is the fundamental demand made upon man by his relation to GOD this principle has been exhibited as the explanation of Israel’s failure (9–11); and is now to be expounded in its positive bearing, as determining the main characteristics of the Christian life. In the course of this argument two main thoughts come into prominence. The power, as has been already shown (Romans 6:1 ff.), is the life of Christ in man, due to the living union given by the Spirit in baptism. And consequently the service is the service due from members of a spiritual society or body, conceived as potentially coextensive with humanity, the service due both to the Head and to the other members. The special instances of the operation of this power in service are determined by the conventions of the time and of the situation in which S. Paul found himself and those to whom he is writing. The section may be summarised as follows:


Verse 2

2. καὶ μὴ κ.τ.λ. This service of GOD involves a change in attitude of mind: it must no longer be set on meeting the demands of ‘this world’ by an adaptation which can only be superficial, but by a steady renewal of its true nature must work a radical transformation of character, till it accepts as its standard of action the Will of GOD, in all its goodness for man, its acceptance by GOD, and its perfection in execution. This sentence develops the consequence of ‘presenting our bodies etc.,’ says what that means for a man and explains what is involved, especially, in ζῶσαν and λογικήν; cf. closely Ephesians 4:22-24.

μὴ συνσχηματίζεσ̇θε, ‘cease to adapt yourselves to’ (see Moulton, p. 122 f.), as you have done in the past; cf. Eph. l.c[236], 1 Peter 1:14 adds this point explicitly.

συνσχημ. Of an outward adaptation which does not necessarily spring from or correspond to the inner nature. Here the whole point is that the true nature of man demands the repudiation of ‘the world’s’ claims, and so far as the man tries to meet those claims, he is not acting upon or satisfying his true nature. On the word, see Lft, Phil., pp. 125–131; Hort ad 1 Peter 1:14. Cf. μετασχηματίζω of disguise, 1 Corinthians 4:6; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15. In Philippians 3:21 the outward fashion is made to correspond to the true expression of the inner nature.

τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ. The phrase always implies contrast to ὁ αἰὼν ὁ μέλλων, even when the latter is not expressed. Rarely it is purely temporal (Matthew 12:32); but generally the moral contrast is emphasised (Luke 16:8; Luke 20:34), perhaps always so in S. Paul (? Ephesians 1:21; Titus 2:12). The moral significance (as in the use of κόσμος, cf. Ephesians 2:2) depends upon the idea of the transitory and superficial character of ‘this age’ when treated as of independent value: its standards and claims all deal with what is superficial and transitory in man, that is, with his lower nature, ignoring the eternal in him.

μεταμορφοῦσθε. Execute such a change in the manner of your life as shall correspond to your true nature; cf. 2 Corinthians 3:18, where the same process is described but with more explicit statement of the divine influence at work and the new character gained. The word occurs also in Mark 9:2 = Matthew 12:2 only. But cf. also Romans 8:29; Philippians 3:10; Philippians 3:21.

τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοός. The renewal of the mind is the means by which the transformation is gradually effected. Cf. Ephesians 4:23, where ἀνανεοῦσθαι corresponds to μεταμορφοῦσθε here, and τῷ πν. τ. ν. . to τῇ ἀνακ. τ. ν. . here. 2 Corinthians 4:16 gives the closest parallel, cf. Colossians 3:10. This renewal is the work of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5) primarily, but of course requires man’s energy of faith; so personal action (μεταμορφοῦσθε) is required.

τῇ ἀνακαινώσει: the article = which is open to you in Christ: the word has its full force = the making fresh and new again, as it once was: the mind has become old and worn; by the Holy Spirit it is made fresh again and vigorous with youth; cf. τὸν παλαιὸντὸν καινὸν ἄνθρωπον, Ephesians 4:22; Ephesians 4:24; 2 Cor. l.c[237] Cf. also 2 Corinthians 5:17; Revelation 21:4. The youthful joy and vigour of Christians was the constant wonder of observers. The word brings out vividly the contrast with the prevailing pessimism of contemporary thought. The effect of the Spirit is fresh vitality and a true direction of the mind.

τοῦ νοός. The mind is the faculty by which man apprehends and reflects upon GOD and divine truth. As it is moved by the spirit or by the flesh it develops or degenerates; cf. c. Romans 7:25 n. Cf. Ephesians 4:17; Colossians 2:18; 1 Timothy 6:5; Titus 1:15.

εἰς τὸ δοκ. κ.τ.λ. The aim of the whole effort (εἰς τὸ dep. on μεταμορφ.) is to test what is GOD’s will for man both in general and in the particular details of life. The action of the mind is not conceived of as speculative, but as practically discovering by experiment more and more clearly the lines upon which the change of nature and conduct must work. The thought is expressed fully in 1 Corinthians 2:6-16, esp. cf. Romans 12:12; Romans 12:16. Contrast supra Romans 1:28.

δοκιμάζειν = to test or find out by experiment.

τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ = what the will of GOD is for your new life; Cf. Romans 2:18; Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 5:17; Colossians 1:9; 1 Peter 4:2. The apprehension of the will is essential to the true conduct of the new life.

τὸ ἀγαθὸν κ.τ.λ. The will of GOD here as in ll.cc. means not the faculty which wills, but the object of that will, the thing willed (cf. Giff. ad loc[238]); consequently these epithets are applicable: the object of GOD’s will, here, is the character of the new life in detail, and this is good, as regards man’s needs, acceptable, as regards his relation to GOD, and perfect, as being the proper and full development of man’s nature. It is noticeable that here only in N.T. are any epithets given to τὸ θέλημα τ. θ.

These two verses, then, summarise, in the most concise form, the practical duty which follows upon man’s relation to GOD as described; they describe conditions of the Christian life as it depends upon the power for salvation to be appropriated by faith: and introduce the detailed applications now to be made.


Verse 3

3. γὰρ enforces the charge just given by a description of the right temper of mind for men in their circumstances.

διὰ τῆς χ., ‘on the authority of’; cf. 1; 1 Thessalonians 4:2, and perhaps 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 2:2 : the accus. Romans 15:15 has a different suggestion.

τῆς χ. τῆς δοθ. μοι. Cf. Romans 1:5, Romans 15:15; 1 Corinthians 3:10; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Galatians 2:9; Ephesians 3:2; Ephesians 3:7. His commission to preach the free favour of GOD to all, and his own share in this grace, authorise him to insist to every one of them upon its conditions; cf. Robinson, Eph., pp. 224 f. The aor. part. of course refers to his call.

παντὶ τῷ ὄντι ἐν ὑ. All Christians stand on the same level and under the same conditions, whatever their special gifts.

ὑπερφρονεῖνφρονεῖνσωφρονεῖν. φρονεῖν here describes the quality (as νοῦς the faculty), not the object or contents, of thought or mind; cf. Romans 11:21, Romans 12:16; 1 Timothy 6:17, and perhaps Philippians 2:5. In all other places it is used of the object or contents as in Matthew 16:23 = Mark 8:33; Acts 28:22 : and freq. in S. Paul, ὑπερφρ. only here, φρονεῖν S. Paul only exc. ll.cc. σωφρονεῖν Pauline, exc. Mark 5:15 |[239] Lk., 1 Peter 4:7. It is impossible to represent the play on words in English with the same epigrammatic point. The clue to the full thought is given by 1 Corinthians 2:16 and Philippians 2:5 f. The ‘mind’ of the Christian must reproduce, in his place and capacity, the ‘mind’ of Christ, of whom he is a member.

παρ' ὃ δεῖ φρονεῖν. Cf. the use of παρὰ with comparatives, Hebrews 1:4; Hebrews 3:3, and also Hebrews 1:9 alibi, infra Romans 14:5. δεῖ, as the subject of GOD’s mercies and gifts.

σωφρονεῖν = that sound habit of mind which holds to the realities of a man’s position, and does not err either by excess or defect: used of sanity, Mark 5:15; 2 Corinthians 5:13. εἰς τὸ = up to the point of. The elements of this σωφροσύνη are explicitly. stated in Ephesians 4:2. Comparing Romans 8:1, we may say that this σωφροσύνη consists in recognising the law of the new life.

ἑκάστῳ picks up the παντὶ and emphasises the distinctness of each in the common life: prob. governed by ἐμέρισεν, and transposed for emphasis.

ἐμέρισεν. I.e. at his call, in baptism = 1 Corinthians 7:17 only; cf. 2 Corinthians 10:13; Mark 6:41; Hebrews 7:2; μερισμὸς, Hebrews 2:4 : the faith which is the condition of the reception of the Spirit in baptism is itself a gift of GOD.

μέτρον πίστεως. μέτρον does not = μέρος or μέρις, as most commentators take it; in N.T. it always has its proper significance of ‘a measuring instrument.’ Consequently the genitive must be a genitive of definition, a measuring instrument consisting in faith. The point is that faith was given to each as a measure by which to test his thinking of himself, to see whether it is true and sound thinking: faith is such a measure because it recognises the true relation of the man to GOD and his true position in the society of Christ; cf. Romans 14:23 n. So far as a man’s thinking of himself conforms to his faith, so far is it true and sound thinking (μέτρον is suggested by σωφρονεῖν). He will then think of himself as deriving all that he has from GOD, having nothing from himself, and therefore bound to serve GOD in all things and to claim nothing for himself: so his mind will be busy in that transformation which will be a presenting of a living offering to GOD. This thinking in faith will also show him his special call and aptitudes in the one body.

The usual interpretation makes μέτρον πίστεως = a specific measure or portion of faith: but this, besides the strain on the word μέτρον, involves serious difficulties, and practically forces commentators who adopt it to take πίστεως as equal to χάριτος.


Verses 3-8

3–8. The connexion seems to lie in the emphasis just laid upon mind as the instrument of the formation of the new character. This leads to the charge to keep that mind in the attitude and quality proper to one who derives from GOD faith, by which he can use the given power, and in its use is bound by his relation to Christ and the other members of the body. These considerations [3] exclude all self-importance, enforce self-restraint, and (4–8) dictate the object, service in the one body, and therefore the quality and temper of mind in details of service.


Verse 4

4. καθάπερ γὰρ.… Cf. 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. The reason for this exercise of sober thought in contrast to exaggerated thought of self, is the position of the Christian as a member of a body in Christ. In 1 Cor. l.c[241] the comparison is developed in far greater detail and is applied to elucidating the various functions which the several personal members perform in the body. Here stress is rather laid on the temper of mind in which the several gifts should be utilised, as illustrating the detailed exhibition of σωφροσύνη. In Ephesians 4 both lines of thought are combined. The difference of aim in the several passages accounts for certain differences of phraseology.

ἐν ἑνὶ σώματι κ.τ.λ. A favourite analogy with S. Paul. It brings out [1] the dependence of all on the one life received from the union with Christ (cf. Romans 6:1 f.), [2] the mutual dependence of each on each and all for giving effect to that life in each, [3] the common share of each and all in the work to which that life is directed. While the idea of this diversely organic unity of life and aim in Christ underlies all S. Paul’s ethical teaching, it may be said to be the single subject of Eph. where it is fully and positively developed. S. H. rightly point out that the comparison of a social organism to the body was very common in ancient writers.

τὰ δὲ μέλη πάντα κ.τ.λ. But the members have not all the same business or mode of action.


Verse 5

5. οἱ πολλοὶ κ.τ.λ. We who are many, being in Christ, are one body; cf. Romans 8:1-10. The connexion of the individual with Christ, made in baptism, is a connexion of life, given by the presence of His life in him. But this life is one and the same for all who are baptised into Him; therefore the connexion of the individual is not only with Christ but with all who are instinct with the same life. The individuality however is not thereby submerged, but socialised, so to speak: it is developed by being brought into these new and living relations and has its part in the organic whole. The emphasis here is not on the connexion with Christ, which is assumed, but on the consequent connexion with others. So in 1 Corinthians 10:17; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 2:16; Ephesians 4:4. In 1 Corinthians 12:27, Ephesians 1:23; Ephesians 4:12 alibi, the stress is on the relation to Christ.

τὸ δὲ καθ' εἷς. Cf. Mark 14:19, [Joh.] Romans 8:9. “κατὰ is used as an adverb distributively. M. Gr. καθείς or καθένας = each,” Moulton, p. 105. τὸ … = as regards our several individualities; cf. Romans 9:5, Romans 12:18; Blass, p. 94. The accus. of reference has become an adverbial accus.

ἀλλήλων μέλη. Cf. Ephesians 4:25, where also the stress is on the mutual obligations in the society; otherwise μέλν Χριστοῦ (1 Corinthians 6:15; 1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 5:30). Thus again the special direction of the σωφροσύνη is indicated.


Verse 6

6. ἔχοντες δὲ κ.τ.λ. δὲ brings out, in contrast with the unity just emphasised, the difference of function indicated in 4 b. But, as we have different gifts, we must use them in relation to others, in service. Some place a comma after μέλη; but the balance of the sentences and the connexion of thought are against this.

χαρίσματαχάρις. χάρις is the one gift of life in Christ, given to all; χάρισμα is the special character which this gift assumes as differentiated in each. “χάρις is the vital force of the σῶμα τ. χρ. which flows from Christ through all its living members; χάρισμα a special determination of this force to enable a particular μέλος to do its part towards the whole σῶμα,” Lid.; cf. 1 Peter 4:10; 1 Corinthians 12:4; 1 Corinthians 12:7 (where τὸ πνεῦμα takes the place of χάρις).

τῆν δοθεῖσαν ἡμῖν. Cf. 3 (δοθείσηςἐμέρισεν) of baptism.

εἴτε προφητείαν κ.τ.λ. A very characteristic series of elliptical clauses. What is the ellipse? The first member of each clause clearly describes a χάρισμα, the second member its manner of use; the context demands that all these uses should be instances of σωφροσύνη, the sober thought of self as meant for service; the ellipse must, then, be supplied in each case to bring out this point.

προφητείαν. The decisive passage in S. Paul is 1 Corinthians 14:1-33; the Rev. claims to be a book προφητείας (Revelation 1:3, Revelation 22:7 f.); here = a χάρισμα the gift or power of prophecy as 1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Corinthians 13:2; as a particular act, 1 Corinthians 14:22; 1 Thessalonians 5:20; 1 Timothy 1:18; 1 Timothy 4:14. It may include foretelling, but its normal exercise has οἰκοδομὴ in view (1 Corinthians 14:3; 1 Corinthians 14:5; 1 Corinthians 14:26), i.e. exposition of divine truth in such a way as to bring out the condition of the human heart (1 Corinthians 14:25) and to encourage and console. It seems to differ from διδάσκειν as involving the consciousness of acting under direct inspiration, rather than of drawing upon personal experience and reflexion. It is clear from 1 Corinthians 14:32 that S. Paul had to heighten and spiritualise the current thoughts about ‘prophecy’ and ‘prophets.’

κατὰ τὴν ὀ. τ. π. Sc. we must use this gift—προφητεύωμεν.

κατὰ τὴν ἀναλογίαν = in due or full proportion to or correspondence with.

τῆς πίστεως. The faith which animates and enlightens the prophet. The aim of προφητεία is οἰκοδομή; its inspiration therefore must be the faith of the προφήτης; and that faith must be allowed free play, so that he delivers all that he believes, “without exaggeration, display, or self-seeking,” Giff. Lid. follows the Latin as against the Greek fathers in taking τῆς πίστεως = the Christian Faith (objective), and κατὰ τὴν ἀναλ. = “according to the majestic proportion, etc.”; but this is exactly a case where the instinctive interpretation of the Greek fathers is decisive. Moreover, the context requires here a reference, not to an external standard, but to the temper and spirit in which the action is performed.


Verse 7

7. εἴτε διακονίαν κ.τ.λ. Sc. ὦμεν; cf. 1 Timothy 4:15, ἐν τούτοις ἴσθι; so with the next two clauses, thoroughness and devotion are insisted upon.

διακονίαν. The widest word for service, including the functions of apostles, prophets, etc., but here probably of personal service in the community; cf. Phoebe Romans 16:1. ἐν τῇ διακ., the special way of serving given to each.

ὁ διδάσκων. The change of form probably merely the result of instinctive literary feeling. The teacher is distinguished from the prophet (Acts 13:1; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11) perhaps as expounding, elucidating and systematically imparting truth rather than discovering and declaring it. It is of course a distinction of functions not of persons. See above, Romans 12:6.

ἐν τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ. Cf. 1 Timothy 4:13; 1 Timothy 4:16. The act or practice of teaching, not the thing taught (so generally in the Pastoral Epp.).


Verse 8

8. ὁ παρακαλῶν. S. Paul is not thinking only of gifts qualifying for office, but of all gifts which help the society and its members. So here of the gift of stimulus or encouragement, especially in the application of truth to conduct; cf. 1 Timothy 6:2; Titus 1:9; Titus 2:15.

ὁ μεταδιδοὺς κ.τ.λ. Here and in the two following clauses we have to supply an imperative from the participle.

ἁπλότητι, liberality; cf. 2 Corinthians 8:2; 2 Corinthians 9:11; 2 Corinthians 9:13; James 1:5; where see Hort: S. Paul’s use seems to be definitely = liberality.

ὁ προϊστάμενος, very general, for any one in a position of control or guidance; cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:12; 1 Timothy 3:4 f., Romans 5:17 (alibi Titus 3:8; Titus 3:14).

ὁ ἐλεῶν, only here and Judges 1:22 (outside the Gospels) of human mercy, ἐν ἱλ. cf. Sirach 32. (35.):11, Proverbs 22:8 S. H.; perhaps there is a special reference to works of compassion, with almsgiving or healing. Cf. ἐλεημοσύνη, Matthew 6:2 f.


Verse 9

9. ἡ ἀγάπη ἀνυπόκριτος. As in 1 Corinthians 13. S. Paul passes from the question of χαρίσματα to a καθ' ὑπερβολὴν ὁδός, the way of love, so here in passing to an enumeration of instances of Christian character in general, as distinct from special gifts, he begins with ἀγάπη. It is to be observed that all these characteristics are the result of the ‘power for salvation’ which the Gospel brings; and they illustrate the metamorphosis which character undergoes to become Christian.

ἀνυπόκριτος, ‘without dissimulation’ A.V., ‘without hypocrisy’ R.V.; better perhaps ‘unfeigned.’ ὑπόκριτος = playing a part, unreality being implied; cf. 2 Corinthians 6:6; 1 Timothy 1:5 (πίστις); 1 Peter 1:22. Christian love must be real.

ἀποστυγοῦντες κ.τ.λ. This clause insists on the necessity of an uncompromising moral standard, easily ignored by any merely class morality or forgotten by a sentimental benevolence. The moral sternness of the Gospel is here strongly represented; cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 (but there the reference is more limited). S. H. connect this clause with the preceding, and take τὸ πονηρὸν and τὸ ἀγαθὸν to mean the evil and good in others; but this is farfetched, and blunts the point of both injunctions. The participles express avoidance and adherence in the strongest possible way.

τὸ πονηρόν. The only certain instance of the substantival neuter of this adj. in N. T.; exc. Luke 6:45 |[244] Mt., wh. compare.

κολλώμενοι, gen. in N. T. with dat. of person, but cf. Acts 8:29; freq. in Patr. Apost., qu. Did. 5, 2.


Verse 10

10. τῇ φιλαδελφίᾳ. Cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22 (in LXX[245] only in 4 Macc.). A recognised duty, therefore liable to formalities; this must be provided against by an eager feeling of affection as to real members of a family.

φιλόστοργοι. Always of family affection; so 2 Maccabees 9:21 alibi Polyb. alibi

τῇ τιμῇ. Cf. Romans 13:7; John 4:44; 1 Timothy 6:1; Hebrews 3:3; 1 Peter 3:7, of respect paid by man to man.

ἀλλήλους προηγούμενοι. We have to choose between [1] an unparalleled construction = giving each other a lead; this requires the genitive: [2] an unparalleled sense ‘each considering another superior to himself.’ Even if we take [1] the proper meaning would be ‘taking the lead of each other,’ which is the opposite of the evident sense. [2] assumes that the compound follows the sense of ἡγεῖσθαι = to hold, consider, τινὰ τοιοῦτον, the only sense in which the simple verb is used in N. T. except in the participle. This is supported by Philippians 2:3 and Theodoret’s παραχωρείτω δὲ ἕκαστος τῶν πρωτείων τῷ πέλας. Chrys. wavers: [1] τὸ σπουδάζειν τῇ τιμῇ νικᾷν τὸν πλησίον; [2] λέγει οὐ τιμᾶτε ἀλλὰ προηγεῖσθε; and although no parallel to this sense of the compound can be found, it is possible and suits the context.


Verses 10-21

10–21. Note the remarkable coordination of participles, adjectives, infinitives [15], and imperatives. All should be translated by the imperative; cf. Moulton, pp. 180 f., 222; cf. 1 Peter 2:18; 1 Peter 3:1; 1 Peter 3:7-8 f., Romans 4:8 f.; cf. Colossians 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 9:11; 2 Corinthians 9:13; Ephesians 4:2-3; Hebrews 13:1-5. The participles are all durative in action, implying habits. So the imperatives, except δότε, Romans 12:19, which implies a single act once for all. The negatives with participles and imperatives follow the general rule of μὴ with the present imperative and imply the giving up of former habits; cf. Moulton, p. 122 f. All are instances of the σωφροσύνη which is the result of the μεταμόρφωσις.


Verse 11

11. τῇ σπουδῇ, in the zealous diligence which Christian practice requires.

ὀκνηροί, of hesitation from whatever cause, so sluggish, idle; cf. Matthew 25:26.

τῷ πνεύματι prob. = with or by the Holy Spirit—the source in the man of all the activities which are being urged. ζέοντες, cf. Acts 18:25; ζεστός, Revelation 3:15-16. The whole phrase )[248] ὀκνηροί

τῷ κυρίῳ δουλεύοντες. The fervour inspired by the Spirit is to be used in the service of the Lord; cf. Acts 20:19; 1 Peter 2:16. The two clauses remind them of the power and the allegiance which are the background of the whole exhortation. The alternative reading τῷ καιρῷ is attractive, both because it brings this clause more into line with the neighbouring clauses and as parallel to Galatians 6:10; Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5. But the parallels are not quite convincing—there the man is urged to make himself master of opportunity, here to be its slave, a very different and even dubious exhortation. And if we take τῷ πνεύματι as above we get an excellent sense and parallel.

δουλεύοντες. Of the relation of Christians in general; cf. Romans 6:18, Romans 14:18; 1 Thessalonians 1:9; otherwise generally of apostles or ministers till Rev.


Verses 11-14

11–14. The urgency of the times calls for the new character in man.


Verse 12

12. τῇ ἐλπίδι χαίροντες. Cf. Romans 15:13; dat. = because of your hope; their hope is motive of joy; and hope naturally springs from the thought of the Spirit and the Lord; cf. Revelation 22:17.

τῇ θλίψει. In your tribulation—a recognised condition of the Christian profession; cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 3:3 f. alibi S. H. call attention to the regular appearance of this note of persecution from the beginning of S. Paul’s Epp.

υπομένοντες. Absol. as 2 Timothy 2:12; Hebrews 12:7; 1 Peter 2:20. It takes the accus. of the object.

τῇ προσευχῇ προσκαρτεροῦντες. Cf. Acts 1:14; Acts 2:42; Acts 6:4; Colossians 4:2; your practice of prayer; in this and the two following clauses the subst. is governed by the verb.


Verse 13

13. ταῖς χρείαις. Cf. Acts 28:10; Philippians 2:25; Philippians 4:16; Philippians 4:19; Titus 3:14 = the needs. On μνείαις see crit. note, p. xlv.

κοινωνοῦντες. κοιν. = to be partners or act as partners; the dat. of the thing marks the matter in which the partnership is exercised; cf. Romans 15:27; 1 Timothy 5:22; 1 Peter 4:13; 2 John 1:11; dat. of person = the persons with whom the partnership is formed, cf. Philippians 4:15; Galatians 6:6; the gen. of the thing, the matter which the partners share; cf. Hebrews 2:14. So here = acting as their partners in the matter of their needs: goes farther than μεταδιδούς, Romans 12:8, as implying personal service; cf. 1 Timothy 6:18.

τὴν φιλοξενίαν διώκοντες. Cf. Romans 9:30-31, Romans 14:19; 1 Corinthians 14:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:15, alibi This use confined to Pauline writings (incl. Heb., 1 Pet.); not the mere exercise, but the active search for opportunity is implied. Hospitality, a recognised duty, is to be carefully cultivated; cf. 1 Peter 4:9; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8.


Verse 14

14. εὐλογεῖτε κ.τ.λ. Cf. Luke 6:28 (Matthew 5:44); 1 Corinthians 4:12; 1 Peter 3:9. This clause inserted here shows that the order is not systematic.


Verse 14-15

14–15:13. The special care for scrupulous brethren and Christian duty towards them.

Romans 12:1-2. The consequence to be drawn from this exposition of the working of GOD’s compassion towards man, in the call of Jews and Gentiles and in His dealing with them, is the duty to offer the whole nature and capacity of a man, in living and consecrated service for GOD’s use, in the way He pleases, as the reasonable work of a man: and this duty requires a refusal to fashion oneself to meet the demands of what is merely temporary and transitory, and a determination to undergo a radical transformation and renewal of mind, so as to test the will of GOD, in all its goodness, acceptance, and perfection, as the determining factor in conduct and character.


Verse 15

15. χαίρειν κ.τ.λ., for infin. = imper. cf. Philippians 3:16, “familiar in Greek, esp. with laws and maxims,” Moulton, l.c[251]; here used in preference to the participle perh. on grounds of euphony.


Verse 16

16. τὸ αὐτὸ …, maintain that mutual agreement with each other which is the basis of peace; cf. Romans 15:5; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 2:2; Philippians 4:2.

μὴ τὰ ὑψ. A potent source of danger to peace. τὰ ὑψ. φρ. = ὑπερφρονεῖν, Romans 12:3, Romans 11:21; 1 Timothy 6:17; cf. ὑπερήφανος, James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5; here it refers to the estimate of self in comparison with other men; in all other passages of an overweening estimate of self in relation to GOD.

τοῖς ταπεινοῖς, always masc. in N. T. and O. T., exc. Psalms 137:6 (where Heb. suggests persons), in contrast with ὕψος, Luke 1:52; James 1:9. The antithesis to τὰ ὑψηλὰ. has led some commentators to take it as neut. here. But, against this, is not only biblical use, but the context; masc. gives a better expansion of τὸ αὐτὸ κ.τ.λ., and better suits the verb συναπαγ.

συναπαγόμενοι. No real |[252] to this use is given: Galatians 2:13; 2 Peter 3:17 pass. Chrys. gives συμπεριφέρου συμπεριέρχου; cf. Field, ad loc[253] = put yourselves on a level with, accommodate yourselves to. S. H. (though preferring the neuter) qu. Tyn. Cov. Genev., ‘make yourselves equal to them of the lower sort.’ Rhem., ‘consenting to the humble.’

μὴ γίνεσθε φρ. παρ' . Proverbs 3:7; with parallel clause ἐπὶ σῇ σοφίᾳ μὴ ἐπαίρου = avoid self-conceit; cf. Romans 11:25.


Verse 17

17. μηδενὶ κακὸν κ.τ.λ., 1 Thessalonians 5:15 f.; 1 Peter 3:9 f.

προνοούμενοι καλὰ κ.τ.λ., Proverbs 3:4, LXX[254]; 2 Corinthians 8:21; the sense is well given by Chrys.: πρόνοιαν ποιεῖσθε τοῦ καλοὶ φαίνεσθαι ἐν τῷ μηδενὶ διδόναι ψόγου πρόφασιν, he compares 1 Corinthians 10:32. Lid. cf[255], 1 Thessalonians 4:12; 1 Peter 2:12. There is a common standard of honour which Christians must by no means ignore; cf. 2 Corinthians 4:2.


Verse 18

18. εἰ δυνατόν, τὸ ἐξ ὑμῶν κ.τ.λ. If it is possible, at least as far as depends on yourselves. The accumulation of conditions emphasises the difficulty of the precepts; cf. Field.


Verse 19

19. ἀγαπητοί. N. the appeal to the treatment which they have received from GOD, as enforcing this most difficult act of self-denial.

δότε τόπον. The aor. marks the instantaneous and final character of the act. τόπον, ‘room’ or ‘opportunity’; cf. Ephesians 4:26; Hebrews 8:7; Hebrews 12:17; Acts 25:16.

τῇ ὀργῇ. The wrath of GOD as Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 2:16; cf. 1 Peter 4:19.

γέγραπται γὰρ κ.τ.λ., Deuteronomy 32:35 Heb.; see Giff. on form of quotation.


Verse 20

20. ἐὰν πεινᾷ κ.τ.λ., Proverbs 25:21; for ψώμιζε cf. 1 Corinthians 13:3.

ἄνθρακας πυρὸς κ.τ.λ. The context in Prov. and here forbids us to take this as a symbol of mere punishment or vengeance. The ‘coals of fire’ are pains, but healing pains, of remorse and repentance. Lid. qu. Jerome and Aug. in support of this interpretation; cf. 1 Peter 2:15; 1 Peter 3:16.


Verse 21

21. μὴ νικῶ κ.τ.λ. sums up 17–20. Comm. qu. Sen. de benef., VII. 31, vincit malos pertinax bonitas. Wetst. gives a long catena of |[256].

 


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Romans 12:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/romans-12.html. 1896.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, September 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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