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Bible Commentaries

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible
Romans 12

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

Romans CHAPTER 12

OUTLINE AND COMMENTARY-MARK DUNAGAN

I. OUTLINE OF CHAPTER 12:

I. The Christian Way of Life: :13

A. The Living Sacrifice:

B. The Christian and the Church:

C. The Christian and Society in General:

III. COMMENTARY ON CHAPTER 12:


Verse 1

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, {which is} your spiritual service.

"beseech"-3870. parakaleo {par-ak-al-eh"-o}; from 3844 and 2564; to call near, i.e. invite, invoke (by imploration, hortation or consolation): -beseech, call for, (be of good) comfort, desire, (give) exhort(-ation), intreat, pray.

"I urge you" (NASV)

"Apostle though he was, Paul didn"t mind "beseeching". He wasn"t above begging people to do what which was honorable and to their ultimate benefit."

"therefore"-"therefore" looks back to what has gone before. As in many of Paul"s letters, doctrinal sections are followed by exhortations to live a godly life. (Ephesians 4:1 ff; Colossians 3:1 ff; 1 Thessalonians 4:1 ff)

"Opponents had said that the logical end of Paul"s doctrine was for people to continue in sin so that grace might have multiplied opportunities to work and bring glory to God. Paul dealt with this nonsense in :17. He had shown there that the logical end of his teaching was a life which pursued holiness. Just the same, if Christians lived ungodly lives all of Paul"s reasoning would go for nothing. This is where 12:1-15:13 comes in. It is Paul"s call to the saints to "live down" (as well as argue down) the slanders of their opponents. So this section is the practical outcome of 6:1-8:17."

"In view of all that God has accomplished for His people in Christ, how should His people live? Doctrine is never taught in the Bible simply that it may be known; it is taught in order that it may be translated into practice. "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." (John 13:17) Hence Paul repeatedly follows up an exposition of doctrine with an ethical exhortation."

"..Paul is not content that his hearers should know theoretically what it is (i.e. the faith-life); he wishes them to have experimental knowledge of it, to actually live it. In fact, it has been for the purpose of making the exhortation of this section that all the previous chapters have been written, for no Bible doctrine is a barren speculation, but a life-root, developed that it may bear fruit in the lives of those who read it."

"In the Bible everywhere, if only we dig deep enough, we find "do right" at the bottom (Expositor"s Bible). We are now approaching the "do right" section of Paul"s epistle to the Romans...It"s been said that what we are is God"s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God."

"by the mercies of God"-"presenting the motive for obedience. I use the compassion of God to move you to present, etc.." (Vincent p. 153). "In view of God"s mercies" (Ber)

"Mercies"-"in view of (all) the mercies of God" (Amp). Considering everything that God has done for us, all the demonstrations of His compassion, as already detailed in this letter. (; 2:4; 3:24-31; 4:5-8; 5:1-11, etc..)

"to present"-"In view of such mercies comes the appeal to consecration. This is the real logic of Christianity. We do not serve God to win his favor but because we have received his favor we serve him in gratitude and love." (Erdman p. 143)

"present"-the exact same word used in ,19. "Paul now brings out in greater detail what is involved in their presenting themselves to God to be used in His service." (F.F. Bruce p. 225)

The word "present" here infers that all are capable of such complete yielding of the body to God, from the very fact that God commands it. Again, we find Paul taking it for granted that people have a free will.

"your bodies"-remember, Paul is addressing the "person" inside the physical body. (,13,19) "The body is in view here as the instrument by which all human service is rendered to God." (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 687) "When Paul mentions only the presenting of our bodies, we must not overlook the fact that we ourselves are to present them." (Lenski p. 746) "Literally, but regarded as the outward organ of the will." (2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 6:20) (Vincent p. 153)

Note: Various religion"s consider the body as unimportant. But try to serve God without the cooperation of your body! "Our bodies are therefore important; in fact, no command can be obeyed, and no kind of service to God can be rendered, without the use of the body." (Whiteside p. 247)

"a living sacrifice"-Christianity also has sacrifices. (1 Peter 2:5; Hebrews 13:15) But in contrast to the O.T., the sacrifice that we offer is the complete submission of our body to the will of God, instead of the bodies of animals.

"Living, as opposed to the slain animals offered by the Jews...as a sacrifice--a thank offering to God." (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 687)

"Living" would seem to suggest also, that such is to be a continual sacrifice, which is offered daily. (Luke 9:23) This living sacrifice of the body, means that the body which was an instrument of sin, is now to be used completely in the service of God (Romans 6:13).

"Moreover, the designs of many to wait till sickness or old age overtakes them before presenting their sacrifice are misplaced, for such conduct is analogous to presenting the maimed and halt and blind to God." (McGarvey p. 488)

"The body cannot present itself and so the body, as the believer"s vehicle of life in this world, represents the whole believer. All of this is in opposition to presenting one"s body as a slave to sin (ff)...Paul is urging believers to "live as a sacrifice."" (McGuiggan p. 347)

"holy, acceptable to God"-"set apart and devoted to God, well-pleasing to God, a delight to him and accepted by him." (Lenski p. 748) This requires that the Christian must be aware of what pleases God (2 Corinthians 5:9) which demands a knowledge of his will.

"which is your spiritual service"-presenting one"s whole self in submission to the will of God, constitutes "spiritual service".

"spiritual"-3050. logikos {log-ik-os"}; from 3056; rational ("logical"): -reasonable, of the word. "Reasonable" (KJV). "as an act of intelligent worship" (Phi). The phrase means here "worship rendered by the reason (or soul)." (Robertson p. 402) "Reasonable, not in the popular sense of the term, as a thing befitting or proper, but rational, as distinguished from merely external or material. Hence nearly equivalent to spiritual. It is in harmony with the highest reason." (Vincent p. 154)

"The spiritual service is service related to the mind, the spirit. It is conscious submission. It isn"t mere ritual. It is worship "in spirit" (John 4:24)." (McGuiggan p. 348)

Points to Note:

1. Many religious bodies have differing ideas as to what constitutes "true spirituality". Paul here informs us. Being spiritual means complete submission to the will of God. If your body isn"t obeying God, then your not spiritual.

2. All that Paul will describe in this chapter (i.e. specific ways in which the body is to be offered), are "reasonable" ways. They are attitudes and actions which befit man, who was made in the image of God. "The service of obedient lives is the only reasonable or logical response to the grace of God." (F.F. Bruce p. 226)

"Service"-2999. latreia {lat-ri"-ah}; from 3000; ministration or God, i.e. worship: -(divine) service.

"Service of worship" (NASV)

Points to Note:

1. While there are acts of worship specified when Christians meet on the First day of the Week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-3). This verse reminds us that all "worship" isn"t confined to the assembly.

2. Anytime that I offer myself in conformity to the will of God (i.e. obeying what God says), I am "worshipping/offering religious service".

"Involved in that life of worship is a multitude of responsibilities toward God..involved in that life of worship is paying debts, providing for one"s family, doing good, assembling with the saints, singing and making melody in the heart as we praise God, sharing the Gospel with the unforgiven, study of the Bible for sustenance, and on and on and on..Worship is the conscious giving to God in a pleasing way that which is pleasing to him." (McGuiggan p. 353) (James 1:27; Philippians 4:18)

"If we"re not careful with this teaching we might just cause people to believe that Christ is really interested in what they watch on television; what they read; what they wear; how they complete their tax returns, how they dress; how much they eat; how they treat their partners and family; how they act on the job. You never can tell, they just might begin to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice to the Lord." (McGuiggan p. 354)

"This act, however, must be followed by an activity. This gift of self must issue in a life of service, this dedication of the body must result in a transformation of character and in doing the will of God." (Erdman p. 144)


Verse 2

Romans 12:2 And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

"be not"-first from the negative point of view. Notice: This is something that we have control over.

"fashioned"-4964. suschematizo {soos-khay-mat-id"-zo}; from 4862 and a derivative of 4976; to fashion alike, i.e. conform to the same pattern (figuratively): -conform to, fashion self according to.

"Do not live according to the fashions of the times" (Nor); "You must not adopt the customs of this world" (Gspd); "Don"t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold" (Phi). "To conform to another"s pattern" (Robertson p. 402) "Do not adopt the external and fleeting fashion of this world." (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 688)

"according to this world"-i.e. society that is opposed to the will of God. (1 John 2:15; Galatians 1:4) "Pictures the sphere or form of life from which God is excluded, the spirit of which is selfishness." (Erdman p. 144)

Points to Note:

1. There is no such thing as a true individual. There is no such thing as a non-conformist. Everyone is imitating or copying another"s behaviour. In the final analysis everyone is a follower of someone or something. Everyone "conforms" to some standard. ()

2. The word "conform/fashion" here suggests that you don"t have to completely line up with the world, to be guilty of conforming to it. Lenski says that the word "conform", here means, "outward conformation" (p. 749). Christians are not to even talk or dress like the world. (Ephesians 5:3) Neither are we allowed to "run with the pack", merely on the weekends. (1 Peter 4:3-4)

"but be ye"-the positive. Christianity is a lot more than a bunch of "thou shalt not"s" (2 Timothy 2:22)

"transformed"-3339. metamorphoo {met-am-or-fo"-o}; from 3326 and 3445; to transform (literally or figuratively, "metamorphose"): -change, transfigure, transform. The same Greek word is used of the transfiguration of Jesus. (Matthew 17:2; Mark 9:2)

While the word "conformed" suggested "external conformity", this word suggests "inward change", "radical change". "The former denotes outward fashion, which may be fleeting...the latter is used to express essential form, in virtue of what a thing is....to undergo a change of essential form.." (P.P. Comm. p. 343)

"Which demands complete and fundamental inner change" (McGarvey p. 489)

"by the renewing"-this is how the transformation process takes place. We must COOPERATE WITH GOD, if His will is going to change us.

"renewing"-342. anakainosis {an-ak-ah"-ee-no-sis}; from 341; renovation: -renewing. "By your new attitude of mind" (Gspd); "by the complete change that has come over your minds" (TCNT).

"mind"-"involved in mind is the inner thoughts, drives and desires." (McGuiggan p. 358) "No one can transform his character while holding to the same old stock of ideas and ideals." (Whiteside p. 249)

Points to Note:

1. True change demands a change in the way we think. A change in our goals, in what we consider to be important, in what we expect from others and from life, a change in our priorities, a change in what we think will make us happy. Often, "attitude change" is placed before behavioral change in the Scriptures. (; Ephesians 4:17 ff; Colossians 3:1 ff) Paul has already pointed out, that such is true also in the opposite direction (Romans 1:21 ff).

2. This also reveals why people don"t change and grow. There is a problem in their attitude/view/perception/convictions about life. (Luke 8:14)

"and ye may prove"-"that you" (NASV), with the result that.

"prove"-1381. dokimazo {dok-im-ad"-zo}; from 1384; to test (literally or figuratively); by implication, to approve: -allow, discern, examine, X like, (ap-)prove, try.

i.e. discern in their experience, what the will of God is. (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 688). "To test out". (Lenski p. 751)

"what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God"-"what the will of God is, that which is good.." (NASV)

In lining my thoughts and actions up with God"s will, by experience I will find that the will of God, expressed in the Bible is:

"good"-i.e. good for me. It is wholesome, it is good for you. What God wants for us is best. (McGuiggan p. 358) (Ephesians 6:1-2; 1 Peter 3:10-12; Deuteronomy 6:2-3; Deuteronomy 6:24)

"Acceptable"-God"s way of doing it, is always the "acceptable" way. Hence those that feel that the Bible is "unacceptable", demonstrate themselves as being people who lack a "renewed mind". Only "renewed minds" are those who can truly appreciate the will of God, only renewed minds see it as "good, acceptable and perfect".

"Perfect"-5046. teleios {tel"-i-os}; from 5056; complete (in various applications of labor, growth, mental and moral character, etc.); neuter (as noun, with 3588) completeness: -of full age, man, perfect.

"That form which nothing is left out or is neglected. The will of God is ethically adequate. Nothing we need is left out. Not only have we been told all we need to know, we have been told what we need to know." (McGuiggan p. 359) (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3)

Hence the "renewed mind" realizes, that the Bible does have all the answers to my problems. It does contain all the true solutions for living.


Verse 3

Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace that was given me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think as to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to each man a measure of faith.

"For"-"since if we have given ourselves wholly to God, and if all our talents and gifts for service are entrusted to us by him, we may be expected to have a humble opinion of ourselves." (Erdman p. 146)

"through the grace that was given me"-i.e. to be an apostle (; Galatians 2:7-9; Ephesians 4:8; Ephesians 4:11 ff).

"to every man that is among you"-everybody needed this lesson.

"not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think"-Everyone needs this admonition because people tend to see themselves as the most important person in the world. (Philippians 2:3-5) "Not to estimate himself above his real value" (Wms).

"Humility is the immediate effect of self-surrender to God" (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 688)

"soberly"-"he must take a sane view of himself" (Mof)

"Humility is a SOUND ASSESSMENT of oneself in light of where God has placed him. It isn"t this false humility...we aren"t vermin crawling around a garbage pail (as I once heard a man say); we"re made in the image of God. But we"re not spiritual tycoons either." (McGuiggan p. 360)

"according as God hath dealt to each man a measure of faith"-"allotted to each a measure of faith" (NASV). "Faith" in this verse isn"t one"s own personal faith, for that comes by hearing. () Rather, "The measure of faith is the specific expression of faith (office or work) delivered to each Christian." (McGuiggan p. 360) This measure of faith, is the same as our "function" (12:4) or "gift" (12:6). Compare with 1 Corinthians 12:11; Ephesians 4:11.

"As saving faith is belief in testimony, it is the product of man"s own action, and God does not deal it out, or give it to any one. If he did, how could he consistently condemn men for the lack of it (Mark 16:16), or how could he exhort men to believe (John 20:27)?" (McGarvey p. 491)

"each man"-note: The measure of faith, is something that all have.

The context that follows suggests that Paul stresses the need for humility, because it appears that the Christians in Rome may have or could fall into the same trap that the Corinthians had (i.e. thinking that spiritual gifts equaled moral superiority-). "Whatever differences exist must be due to a divine provision..thus, whatever estimates we place upon ourselves, all must be controlled by the humility which is inspired when we remember that we belong to God and that whatever we are and possess comes from him." (Erdman p. 146)

Points to Note:

1. Every Christian has a talent. (Matthew 25:14-15; 1 Corinthians 12:18), and every member of the body of Christ has a "function" (Romans 12:4).

2. But no one has "earned" or merited their "place" in the body. Everyone has God-given abilities, everyone is or has the potential to be really good at something. Now I can choose to neglect and waste that ability or, by my trust in God, to use it. But I must always remember, this talent doesn"t make me morally superior to other Christians, for they all have talents too!


Verse 4

Romans 12:4 For even as we have many members in one body, and all the members have not the same office:

"not the same office"-"the same function" (NASV) "Christians are not all intended to major in the same areas. It"s right and proper to call people to function for Christ according to their ability and capacity and gifts. It is right to urge people to surrender their talents to the Master. But it isn"t right to make people feel guilty because they are not exercising abilities they don"t have!" (McGuiggan pp. 361-362)

"office"-4234. praxis {prax"-is}; from 4238; practice, i.e. (concretely) an act; by extension, a function: -deed, office, work. "Lit., mode of acting" (Vincent p. 155). "Task, activity" (Lenski p. 756)


Verse 5

Romans 12:5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and severally members one of another.

"Severally"-"Individually" (NASV)

Points to Note:

1. "A further safeguard against pride is found in the fact that in the...church there is a wide variety of gifts; no one should expect to possess all the talents and to do all the work necessary for the life of the church." (Erdman p. 146)

2. The work of the church never falls on the shoulders of one man.

3. The failure of a congregation to grow never falls on the shoulders of one person.

4. At times we violate this passage when we try to force people into "functions", that they do not have the abilities for. Every young man isn"t cut out to be a preacher or song leader. Every woman isn"t cut out to be a teacher. We are doing more harm to the body of Christ than good, when try to force someone into a "function", that is not their area of expertise. The same truth is taught in 1 Corinthians 12:28-30.

5. The members of the body of Christ, are individuals, not denominations. (1 Corinthians 12:27)

"members one of another"-"and each acts as a counter-part of another" (Knox). Every member of the body is a needed member (1 Corinthians 12:14-27). It is a false humility to say, "The church down there doesn"t need me".

Hence my talent, ability or in N.T. times my spiritual gift, is only useful, if I use it for the benefit of the whole body. God given abilities that are used for selfish interests are talents that end up wasted. Here we see the sin and ugliness of the person who refuses to offer their talent for the benefit of the body of Christ. To be receiving the benefits of the talents of others, and yet refuse to share mine, is selfish. It appears that what was true of spiritual gifts, must also hold true with natural abilities. The purpose of our talents isn"t to build ourselves up, but rather to build up the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 14:4-5; 1 Corinthians 14:12).


Verse 6

Romans 12:6 And having gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us, whether prophecy, {let us prophesy} according to the proportion of our faith;

"having gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us"-none of these gifts had been earned or merited. What would be true of spiritual gifts, would also be true of natural abilities.

"whether prophecy"-if your gift happens to be inspired utterance. (1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11) Not merely someone who predicted the future, which they sometimes did (Acts 11:27-28), but rather one who received their message directly from God. (1 Corinthians 14:30; 2 Peter 1:20-21)

"Paul calls his brothers and sisters to a faithful exercise of their differing capacities." (McGuiggan p. 365)

Note: Paul just assumes that every Christian "knows" what they are good at!

"let us prophesy"-i.e. do it!

"according to the proportion of our faith"-"his faith" (NASV) And yet many here take "faith" as being objective i.e. the contents of Christian doctrine, "the faith" (Jude 1:3).

"proportion"-ANALOGIA-signified in classical Greek "the right relation, the coincidence or agreement existing or demanded according to the standard of the several relations". (Vine p. 225)

-right relationship, in right relationship to, in agreement with, "in agreement with the faith" (Arndt p. 57)

1. Since Prophets did have control over their "gift" (1 Corinthians 14:32), the person with the gift of prophecy is warned, don"t claim a message is from God, when it isn"t. Only attach God"s name to those utterances that are from God and are in agreement with "our faith".

2. Simply be content to speak the utterances of God. (Jeremiah 23:25-28) The same rule would apply to preachers, simply remain content to preach the truth. (1 Peter 4:11; 2 Timothy 4:2)


Verse 7

Romans 12:7 or ministry, {let us give ourselves} to our ministry; or he that teacheth, to his teaching;

"ministry"-this word covers a lot of different jobs. "Of service in general, including all forms of christian ministration tending to the good of the christian body." (Vincent p. 157) "General word for Christian service of all kinds" (Robertson p. 404)

Preaching is "ministry" (Acts 6:4), but so is caring for the physical needs of another (Acts 6:1; 1 Timothy 5:10), assisting the congregation in some manner (Romans 16:1; Acts 12:25; 1 Corinthians 16:15), being a Deacon (1 Timothy 3:8). Any area of service in the body of Christ, is "ministry".

"let us give ourselves to our ministry"-"If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well" (Tay). "The imperative phrase: "in that ministry!" throws this field wide open and bids the Romans plunge in." (Lenski p. 763)

Point to Note:

Sometimes Christians think, "Well, I"ve been doing this for awhile, maybe I should stand aside and let someone else do it". Paul says, "What are you good at? Well, then keep on doing it!" In fact, Paul would often tell people, to "abound more and more" (1 Thessalonians 4:10)

The Apostles refused to get involved in something that would subtract from their time to teach others. Someone else could do that. But they couldn"t leave the area of service that they were better qualified for, then anyone else. (Acts 6:2)

"or he that teacheth"-"aimed at the understanding" (Vincent p. 157) "Teaching is instructing, making things plain" (Lenski p. 763). "To give the sense so that they understood the reading" (Nehemiah 8:8). Are you able to make the hard-simple, the difficult-understandable? Then that is exactly what you need to be doing!


Verse 8

Romans 12:8 or he that exhorteth, to his exhorting: he that giveth, {let him do it} with liberality; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.

"exhorteth"-3870. parakaleo {par-ak-al-eh"-o}; from 3844 and 2564; to call near, i.e. invite, invoke (by imploration, hortation or consolation): -beseech, call for, (be of good) comfort, desire, (give) exhort(-ation), intreat, pray. "Aimed at the heart and will" (Vincent p. 157) "If you can encourage, encourage" (Beck). "the gift of stirring speech should use it to stir his hearers" (NEB)

Barnabas seems to have fit into this category. (Acts 4:36; Acts 11:23) "The teacher teaches what the will of God is and calls for. The exhorter calls him to the performance of it by inspiring and encouraging and challenging words..this doesn"t mean that the work of...teaching and exhorting don"t overlap.." (McGuiggan p. 365)

"giveth"-"There is nothing miraculous about this gift...People especially gifted by God. There are many business people enabled by God to make money so they can glorify God through the wise and loving use of their wealth." (McGuiggan p. 366) (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

"with liberality"-572. haplotes {hap-lot"-ace}; from 573; singleness, i.e. (subjectively) sincerity (without dissimulation or self-seeking), or (objectively) generosity (copious bestowal): -bountifulness, liberal(-ity), simplicity, singleness. "with sincerity" (Lam), i.e. from the proper motive. "With all your heart" (NEB) "which does not mean...or anything regarding size or the value of the gift imparted but refers to the giver"s own motivation..not covertly seeking to secure credit, praise, honor, reward for whatever he imparts. Matthew 6:1-4." (Lenski p. 764)

"he that ruleth"-4291. proistemi {pro-is"-tay-mee}; from 4253 and 2476; to stand before, i.e. (in rank) to preside, or (by implication) to practise: -maintain, be over, rule.

"Those who take the lead". 1 Timothy 5:17 has the same word. So has 1 Thessalonians 5:12. There seems to be no reason to doubt that these are "elders" or "overseers"." (McGuiggan p. 366)

"with diligence"-"haste in the good sense: prompt efficiency, no delay, no excuses." (Lenski p. 765) "Moral earnestness or vigour" (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 691) "With the spirit of zealous attention to the work entrusted to them." (1 Peter 5:1-4) (McGarvey p. 495)

"showeth mercy"-"if you are helping others in distress" (NEB) (Matthew 25:35 ff)

"with cheerfulness"-"No one should attempt to show mercy in a half-hearted or indifferent way". (Whiteside p. 251) "If the one receiving mercy gets the impression the "shower of mercy" is tired of them, they are often driven into deep depression. Be sure you are accepting your limitations before you get involved in serious welfare work for Christ. Those are rough waters!" (McGuiggan pp. 366-367)

"Cheer, like love, must be without hypocrisy, for the one showing mercy has the better end of the blessing (Acts 20:35)." (McGarvey p. 496)


Verse 9

Romans 12:9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

"Let"-we have control over this.

"without hypocrisy"-"Your love must be genuine" (Gspd) 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 teaches us something about love. "There"s nothing sentimental about it for "sentiment" costs nothing and leads to no commitment. We are not to feign love so as to gain advantage. We are not to profess what isn"t our heart. "Give us some love with skin on it!" said a black man who lived in the mud as he heard another glib mouthful of "syrup"" (McGuiggan p. 367)

Apparently, the First Century Church also had problems with "pretended love" (1 John 3:18; 1 Peter 1:22). Many young people need to read this verse often. Don"t tell someone you "love them", when you don"t, and don"t use "I love you", to gain a selfish and sinful pleasure. Such love is hypocritical, and we all know where the hypocrites are headed!

"Abhor"-655. apostugeo {ap-os-toog-eh"-o}: from 575 and the base of 4767; to detest utterly: -abhor. "An intense sentiment is meant: loathing." (Vincent p. 158) "Regard evil with horror" (Wey) "Abhor comes from a word which means "to shudder from". It isn"t often we come across people who shudder at evil." (McGuiggan p. 367)

Points to Note:

1. The love under consideration, real and genuine love doesn"t wink at sin. "It must not countenance moral weakness or allow mutual indulgence." (Erdman p. 148)

2. Our love is not up to the required standard, unless it moves us to abhor evil (Ephesians 5:11) And not just our favorite "evil" that we like to pick on, but ALL FORMS OF EVIL! (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22; 1 Corinthians 13:6).

"Love is not a principle of mutual indulgence; in the Gospel it is a moral principle, and like Christ Who is the only perfect example of love, it has always something inexorable about it. He never condoned evil." (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 691) (Hebrews 1:9)

"cleave to that which is good"-There is such a thing as "good and evil". " Only the believer can consistently speak of good and evil." (McGuiggan p. 367)

"cleave"-glued or joined firmly to. "Cling to the right" (TCNT)

"But to abhor evil does no good if one does not cleave or hold fast to that which is good."


Verse 10

Romans 12:10 In love of the brethren be tenderly affectioned one to another; in honor preferring one another;

"love of the brethren"-"Anyone who would follow the Christ must become a lover of his brothers and sisters". (McGuiggan p. 367). (1 John 2:9-10; 1 John 3:15-16; 1 John 4:7-21; 1 John 5:1-2; John 13:34-35)

"tenderly affectioned"-"devoted to one another" (NASV). "It refers to the feeling of affectionate love that is normal in healthy families." (Green p. 14)

"Tenderly affectioned is a word compounded of "philos" (loving), and "stergos" (to feel natural affection..a parent for its child). Its use here indicates that the church tie should rival that of the family." (McGarvey pp. 497-498)

"Family affection enables to work the other things out." (McGuiggan p. 367)

"in honor preferring one another"-"When it comes to bestowing honor, we are to take the lead." (McGuiggan p. 368). Philippians 2:3 "each counting other better than himself."

1. Eager to show respect to the aged. Proper respect manifested towards the overseers of the flock. (1 Timothy 5:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 5:12) "The idea is that each should be more eager to confer honors than to obtain them." (McGarvey p. 498)

2. Paul was always ready to give praise to fellow-workers. To give credit where credit was due. (Romans 16:1 ff)

3. Too many people stand around waiting for someone to commend or compliment them. Rather we need to look around and pat others on the back.

"Self-proclamation is a common thing. Self-importance is an often-seen spectacle. "Pride", said Albert Barnes somewhere, "is shoddy goods priced too high."" (McGuiggan p. 368)


Verse 11

Romans 12:11 in diligence not slothful; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

"diligence"-"not lagging behind in diligence" (NASV). The KJV has "business", but Paul isn"t talking primarily about our "business dealings". The word here means earnestness and zeal. "Zeal in Christian service must not be allowed to flag" (Erdman p. 148) "I would see you unwearied in activity" (Knox)

Christians are not to excuse themselves for being "poky" in the Lord"s service, "Don"t excuse yourself for spiritual sloth" (McGuiggan p. 368). (1 Corinthians 15:58; Ecclesiastes 9:10)

"Fervent"-2204. zeo {dzeh"-o}; a primary verb; to be hot (boil, of liquids; or glow, of solids), i.e. (figuratively) be fervid (earnest): -be fervent.

"Not cold, indifferent, and apathetic; but enthusiastic" (Green p. 14) (Acts 18:25; 1 Peter 1:22; Revelation 3:16) "The spiritual temperature is to be high in the Christian community." (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 692)

When we realize that we have the message that can set people free from the bondage of drugs, booze, lust, pride and selfishness..certainly we have something to be fervent about!

"serving the Lord"-all this energy is to be used in the Lord"s service.

We can be "fervent" about many things in life, but unfortunately when it comes to doing something that God wants us to do, we can be apathetic. Paul says that there should be exuberance and enthusiasm combined with our service to God. "Many are diligent enough, some have fanatical zeal; many glow and literally boil over in their spirit; but so much of the busy effort and the steam back of it is not at all work for the Lord." (Lenski p. 769)


Verse 12

Romans 12:12 rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing stedfastly in prayer;

"Rejoicing in hope"-"Hope in future blessedness should be a source of joy even in the midst of severe persecutions." (Erdman p. 148) (Luke 6:23; Romans 5:2) "Let hope keep you joyful" (NEB). "let your hope be a joy to you" (Mof).

And yet, how many Christians end up bitter and frustrated with life? How many fear death and the future? How many constantly worry about their salvation? If I am supposed to "rejoice in hope", then I must be able to know if I am truly right with God-now. When was the last time you saw a Christian rejoicing in their hope?

"patient in tribulation"-"Steadfast in time of trouble" (Gspd). This means that we stop complaining about our troubles.

"patient"-5278. hupomeno {hoop-om-en"-o}; from 5259 and 3306; to stay under (behind), i.e. remain; figuratively, to undergo, i.e. bear (trials), have fortitude, persevere: -abide, endure, (take) patient(-ly), suffer, tarry behind.

"We say: Holding on!, the Greek: remaining under! not trying to slip out from under, not trying to evade but, though pressed down by the heavy weight, remaining under it uncomplainingly, quietly, and bravely enduring it." (Lenski p. 771)

"The spirit which will not flee but which faces the trial and presses up under it. It isn"t mere resignation; it"s a choice to remain under and use the trouble." (McGuiggan p. 369)

"continuing steadfastly in prayer"-"Devoted to prayer" (NASV) (1 Thessalonians 5:17). "Steadfastly maintain the habit of prayer" (Phi)

When we find ourselves going to God less frequently in prayer, it means that we are becoming too self-sufficient and independent. We have lost sight of the fact, that we will fail miserably without Him!


Verse 13

Romans 12:13 communicating to the necessities of the saints; given to hospitality.

"communicating"-"Contributing" (NASV), take an interest in, share-give or contribute a share (Arndt p. 438). "This is more than talk of "giving"; it involves feeling their need..and doing something about it." (McGuiggan p. 369) Paul was already in the process of such a "contributing" when this letter was written. (Romans 15:25-28) (James 2:15-16; 1 John 3:17)

"given to hospitality"-"Practicing" (NASV). "The idea is that Christ"s disciple is not to passively wait till hospitality is unavoidable, but he is to be aggressively hospitable, seeking the opportunities." (McGarvey p. 498) (Hebrews 13:2; Matthew 25:35; Luke 14:12-13). "Make a practice of hospitality" (Mof).

"But hospitality is more than bringing someone home and feeding them. It springs from a heart which cares for others. One which renounces reclusive ways and opens itself toward people. There are few things more painful than lost opportunities. So many are lonely and need to be reached for." (McGuiggan p. 370)

This is more than "entertaining, open house or paying someone back". Literally, the word means "a love of strangers". We are to open up our homes to more than just our family or relatives.


Verse 14

Romans 12:14 Bless them that persecute you; bless, and curse not.

"Call down blessings on your persecutors--blessings, not curses" (NEB) (Luke 6:28; Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60). "To curse does not mean to use ordinary profanity; it is a call for calamity to befall a person." (Whiteside p. 253) Pray for their salvation, instead of their damnation! We don"t need to "call down curses" upon the enemies of Christ, for their own sins already condemn them. Evil is coming upon our persecutors, there is no need to call it down. (Matthew 25:41; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). Our desire should be for the salvation of all. (1 Timothy 2:4; Acts 26:29)

"bless"-i.e. pray for them (Matthew 5:44)

"Don"t tell me we can"t live that way. Tell me we don"t; tell me we won"t; but don"t tell me we can"t...Rees cuts to the bone when he parodies: "I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please, not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep..just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don"t want enough of him to make me love a black man...I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3 worth of God please."" (McGuiggan p. 371)


Verse 15

Romans 12:15 Rejoice with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep.

"rejoice"-"Share the happiness of those who are happy" (Phi) The Christian should be able to share in both the sorrows and joys of others. Why is it that some Christians can never be happy and others can never be sad? (1 Corinthians 12:25-26)

"Is there anything more refreshing than the absence of jealousy in one who sees the good fortune of another? Our world is so full of envy and the grudging spirit..The world is so full of heartache, broken promises, failures and despairing people. Shouldn"t we be glad when someone wins? Don"t detract from the joy of the occasion by a cross face." (McGuiggan p. 372)


Verse 16

Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Set not your mind on high things, but condescend to things that are lowly. Be not wise in your own conceits.

"same mind"-() "Have equal regard for one another" (NEB). Think the same thing, i.e. be in agreement, live in harmony (Arndt p. 866) "Enter into the mind or feeling of your brother, whether in joy or sorrow." (McGarvey p. 500) "It does not seem to refer to unity in gospel teaching (as other passages teach), but rather of sentiment, or disposition..each one to enter into the rejoicing and sorrows of the other." (Whiteside p. 253)

Christianity is not a place for "free-thinkers", i.e. people free from the Mind of Christ. How do I want others to view me? As they honestly view themselves. Judge me and treat me in the way that you desire for yourself (Matthew 7:12).

"set not your mind on high things"-"do not be haughty in mind" (NASV), "Don"t become snobbish" (Phi). Strive not after things that are (too high) be too ambitious (Arndt p. 850) "Avoid such things as lead one to flatter the great, to court the rich, and be servile to the mighty." (McGarvey p. 501)

Class distinctions, high positions, situations, social eminence, etc..are to be avoided as tending to sever your sympathies, interests and desires from your humble brethren.

"condescend"-"Associate with" (NASV), "Accommodate yourself to humble ways, or to people, associate with humble folk." (Arndt p. 784). "Accept humble tasks" (Gspd), "Take a real interest in ordinary people." (Phi)

The word "condescend", would suggest to many today, a patronizing attitude. But the word literally means, "a yielding, or being carried away by", being guided or led in the thoughts, feelings, plans, by humble objects. (Whiteside p. 254)

Some would even suggest, "let the lowly take you by the hand" (i.e. you can learn much from humble, ordinary folk.)

"things"-may mean either lowly men or lowly situations. Just like Jesus did. (Philippians 2:6 ff; John 13:4-5). Never think that any job is too menial, don"t forget the "little things" (Matthew 25:35-36).

"Don"t be a satellite orbiting around the great ones in the limelight." (McGuggian p. 373)

"be not wise in your own conceits"-"Estimation" (NASV), in your own opinion (Vincent p. 161). "And don"t think you know it all!" (Tay) "Don"t take yourself too seriously". (McGuiggan p. 373) (Proverbs 3:7)

The proper spirit before God is childlike, teachable (Matthew 18:1-4; James 1:21; Proverbs 9:8).


Verse 17

Romans 12:17 Render to no man evil for evil. Take thought for things honorable in the sight of all men.

"render"-"pay back" (NASV), "Never return injury for injury" (TCNT)

"no man"-emphatic, to no one, Christian or non-Christian. (1 Thessalonians 5:15)

"evil for evil"-this isn"t referring to punishments inflicted on law-breakers by a lawful government (Romans 13:3-4) (the death penalty isn"t under consideration here). Neither does this refer to acts of self-defense. A husband is required by God to protect his wife and family (Ephesians 5:25 ff)

Rather this is dealing with personal vengeance. "Revenge is sweet became a universal saying because it is!"

"Paul first advises that the Christian should not be vindictive. The reason is simple: he is not qualified to mete out vengeance. To his friends, he will be too charitable, to his enemies too strict." (GOT. Jan. 4th, 1979, "Present Your Bodies A Living Sacrifice", Dee Bowman p. 26)

"take thought"-"Respect" (NASV). Take thought for, take into consideration, have regard for (Arndt p. 708) "Determine on the noblest ways in dealing with all people." (Ber) "Taking thought in advance" (Vincent p. 161) "Pre-think--to think before you adopt a certain course of action." (Whiteside p. 255)

"honorable in the sight of all men"-"It isn"t enough that we be honest, we must be seen to be honest." (McGuiggan p. 374) "Give no cause for suspicion or offense, but disarm all enmity by open, and fair-minded dealing." (McGarvey p. 502) "It"s not letting man"s standard rule us, but it is considering, "How is this going to look?" "Can I do it another way without causing suspicion or offense?" (2 Corinthians 8:21; Romans 14:16)


Verse 18

Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men.

"as much as in you lieth"-"So far as it depends on you" (NASV). "If peace does not come about, says Paul, let it be because the other won"t permit it." (McGuiggan p. 374)

Paul here realizes that all men will not permit us to have peace with them. Some men will refuse reconciliation, others will refuse to depart from their sins, others will refuse to forgive. This verse does suggest hard work in trying to bring about peace. Not a peace-talker, or a peace-wisher, or peaceable, but a peace-maker. (Matthew 5:9; 1 Peter 3:11)


Verse 19

Romans 12:19 Avenge not yourselves, beloved, but give place unto the wrath {of God}: for it is written, Vengeance belongeth unto me; I will recompense, saith the Lord.

"Avenge"-"Never take your own revenge" (NASV)

"give place"-"leave room" (NASV), "But leave the field clear for" (Mon) "Make room for the law of divine retribution to operate whether now or on the "day of wrath"." (F.F. Bruce p. 230)

Christians need to realize that when someone is sinning, the wrath of God is "already" on the move. (2 Peter 2:3 "their judgement from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep").

"for it is written"- Deuteronomy 32:35

"belongeth unto me"-"His mind is clouded by no passion, biased by no prejudice, deceived by no false appearances, mislead by no lying testimony, warped by no ill will." (McGarvey p. 504) (Hebrews 10:30) "The idea of personal vindictiveness must be eliminated from the word here..it is rather full meting out of justice of all parties (when vengeance is used in reference to God)" (Vincent p. 163)

We tend to be vindictive, when we forget or never have grasped how bad hell is. If we really realized what the unrepentant will face, we would make every effort to save them and not desire their destruction. "Bitterness, spite, vindictiveness" are attitudes that creep into my life, when I have forgotten the horrible fate that my enemy stands daily in danger of, with only the thin thread of life keeping him/her from it. (Jude 1:22-23)


Verse 20

Romans 12:20 But if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head.

"but"-instead of taking vengeance. Simply to forbear from avenging is only half the battle! Some Christians never take actual revenge, but they sure complain about what happened.

"feed him"-this is exactly how God treats His enemies, in fact, it was how God treated us when we were His enemies. (Luke 6:35) Simply treat him in his best interest, continue to demonstrate kindness.

"heap coals of fire upon his head"-"Refers to the burning pain of shame and remorse which the man feels whose hostility is repaid by love." (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 694) "The most excruciating punishment to a man is to make him feel that he has done wrong to one who loves him, and leave it to his own conscience and to God to punish for the wrong." (Lipscomb p. 232)

The best way to destroy your enemy, is to make a friend out of him.


Verse 21

Romans 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

These are the only two choices we have. Either be conquered by evil, or conquer evil with good. In the context, "returning evil for evil and becoming vindictive and bitter", IS BEING OVERCOME BY EVIL!

Points to Note:

Clearly, the end doesn"t justify the means. Even in a context involving persecution, Christians are not at liberty to use "evil resources", in fighting against evil. We are not at liberty in our struggle against evil to speak falsehood about or slander people, or to bomb abortion clinics, or execute sinners. No, the church wasn"t intended to be the "hit squad" for God. Evil has gotten the best of us, when we react to sin, in a sinful way.

"When we meet evil with good, we have at least overcome the evil in ourselves, if not in our enemy." (McGarvey p. 505)

In looking back on the last 21 verses. This is the life that comes from a renewed mind. Well, how are you doing? What changes do you need to start making today?

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Romans 12:4". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/romans-12.html. 1999-2014.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, September 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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