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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Romans 12

Verses 1-2

Romans 12:1 f. Practical Holiness.— On his doctrine Paul grounds a moral homily.

Romans 12:1 . “ Therefore” covers the entire previous teaching. “ The compassions of God” link this paragraph to the last: the tenderness of the Divine mercy prompts to consecration, “ Present your bodies” recalls Romans 6:12 f.*; the demand for physical consecration arose from the prevalence of bodily sin ( cf. Romans 6:6 ; Romans 6:19, etc.). The body is made “ a living sacrifice” in the activities of daily duty. “ Rational service” (worship)— contrasted with the outward and mechanical ( cf. Romans 1:9, Php_3:3 )— implies intelligent practical devotion, the religion which makes work worship.

Romans 12:2 . The “ sacrifice” is defined by its opposite: “ No longer comply with the fashions of this age ( cf. Romans 1:18-32, etc.); but let there be a transformation in you, effected by the renovation of your mind.”—“ Fashion” is guise or habit of life; “ form,” the intrinsic mode of being ( cf. Php_2:6 f.*).—“ The mind” to be renewed is the reason (as in Romans 1:28, Romans 7:25)— mind in its essential powers. Such renovation qualifies one “ to discriminate what God wills” ( cf. Ephesians 5:17): His will is identified with “ the good and acceptable and perfect” ( mg.) , with that which approves itself to a true conscience; cf. Php_4:8 , etc.

On the above basis, first social ( Romans 12:3-21), then civil ( Romans 13:1-7) duties are enjoined, all being summed up under the law of love ( Romans 13:8-10) and enforced by the urgency of the situation ( Romans 13:11-14).

Verses 3-21

Romans 12:3-21 . In the Christian Temper, modesty is the first desideratum.

Romans 12:3 . “ I tell everyone that is among you not to be high-minded above a right mind, but to be of a mind to be sober-minded” (Sp.). This is the “ mind” as temper, disposition (so in Romans 8:5-7), not as intellect ( Romans 12:2). A modest temper comes from appreciating other men’ s gifts. “ Measure of faith,” as the sequel shows, means faith in the variety of its apportioned manifestations.

Romans 12:4 f. For Christians form “ in Christ a single body with many members, of widely diverse functions” (pp. 646 , 812 ); 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 * expounds this passage.

Romans 12:6 a . These functions are so many “ grace-gifts” ( charisms, the word of Romans 1:11, Romans 5:15, etc., cf. Charismata in ERE), “ differing according to the grace that was given us”— including the writer ( Romans 12:3).

Romans 12:6 b Romans 12:8 . The chief charisms ( cf. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11) are prophecy, ministry, etc.— an unsystematic enumeration, indicating no formal organisation. “ The proportion of faith” in “ prophesying” relates not to symmetry of doctrine, but to heart-faith as regulating utterance ( cf. Romans 10:10)— conviction controlling inspiration. “ Ministry,” which in contrast with “ prophecy,” etc., signifies service in deed ( cf. Romans 13:4, 2 Corinthians 8:4, Acts 12:25), and “ teaching, exhortation,” demand concentration on the business in hand. “ The distributor,” the man with a surplus for the needy ( cf. Ephesians 4:28, 1 Timothy 6:17), must think only of the recipient’ s benefit (contrast Matthew 6:2). “ He who takes the lead” (“ that ruleth” ) imports here leadership in beneficence ( cf. Titus 3:8; Titus 3:14). “ Cheerfulness” in “ the dispenser of mercy” doubles the kindness ( cf. 2 Corinthians 9:7).

Romans 12:9 . The last-named offices spring from love,” which is to be “ without simulation” ( cf. 2 Corinthians 6:6), as cherished by men “ loathing evil,” etc.

Romans 12:10-12 . Love’ s fine flower is “ love to (Christian) brethren,” marked by “ tender (family) affection” and the wish of each to see “ the other honoured rather than himself” ; cf. Php_2:3 , Matthew 20:25-28.—“ In your diligence” (as in Romans 12:8) “ not faltering”— be rather “ boiling in spirit, since you serve the Lord” ( cf. Colossians 3:22-24). In your hope rejoicing, in your affliction enduring”— an echo of Romans 5:3-5; “ in prayer stedfastly persevering” ( cf. Colossians 4:2, Ephesians 6:18, Acts 11:4)— the soul’ s resort in trouble.

Romans 12:13 resumes the topic of Romans 12:8: “ imparting to the needs of the saints ( cf. Romans 15:25), making an occupation of hospitality” ( cf. Hebrews 13:2, 1 Peter 4:9, 3 John 1:5)— a grace much in requisition at Rome.

Romans 12:14 : almost in the words of Jesus ( Luke 6:27 f.); the “ sympathy” of Romans 12:15 requires a selflessness sometimes wanting in the consciously forgiving.

Romans 12:16 . “ Harmonious in your relations toward one another” (ICC)— the Greek phrase of Romans 15:5, Php_2:2 ; Php_4:2 . Harmony of mind precludes “ minding high things” ( cf. Romans 12:3; Romans 12:10; Romans 11:21); pride and ambition destroy fraternity, which “ consents with ( mg.; same verb in Galatians 2:13, 2 Peter 3:17) the lowly,” i.e. falls in with their ways.— The above faults centre in “ self-conceit,” censured once more ( cf. Romans 12:3), in words drawn from Proverbs 3:7.

Romans 12:17-21 . A group of rules bearing on Retaliation, provoked in Christians by frequent wrongs; cf. Romans 12:14, 1 Thessalonians 5:15, etc. “ Taking forethought for what is honourable” comes from Proverbs 3:4 (LXX), advising prudent avoidance of offence, in accordance with the next injunction: “ If possible, so far as lies in you, keeping peace with all” ; give no cause of quarrel on your side.—“ Yield place to the anger” of God; if “ avenging” must be, leave it to Him, for Scripture declares this “ His prerogative.” Follow the advice of Proverbs 25:21 f. and “ heap coals of fire on the enemy,” by kindling in him shame and self-reproach. In short, “ conquer evil by good” ( Romans 12:21).

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Romans 12". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.