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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Romans 12

Verse 1

Therefore (ουν). This inferential participle gathers up all the great argument of chapters Romans 12:1-11. Now Paul turns to exhortation (παρακαλω), "I beseech you."

By the mercies (δια των οικτιρμων). "By means of the mercies of God" as shown in his argument and in our lives. See 2 Corinthians 1:3 for "the Father of mercies."

To present (παραστησα). First aorist active infinitive of παριστημ, for which verb see Romans 6:13, a technical term for offering a sacrifice (Josephus, Ant. IV. 6, 4), though not in the O.T. Used of presenting the child Jesus in the temple (Luke 2:22), of the Christian presenting himself (Romans 6:13), of God presenting the saved (Ephesians 5:27), of Christ presenting the church (Colossians 1:28).

Bodies (σωματα). So literally as in Romans 6:13; Romans 6:19; 2 Corinthians 5:10 and in contrast with νους (mind) in verse Romans 12:2.

A living sacrifice (θυσιαν ζωσαν). In contrast with the Levitical sacrifices of slain animals. Cf. Romans 6:8; Romans 6:11; Romans 6:13. Not a propitiatory sacrifice, but one of praise.

Acceptable (ευαρεστον). "Well-pleasing." See on 2 Corinthians 5:9.

Which is your reasonable service (την λογικην υμων λατρειαν). "Your rational (spiritual) service (worship)." For λατρεια, see on Romans 9:4. Λογικος is from λογος, reason. The phrase means here "worship rendered by the reason (or soul)." Old word, in N.T. only here and 1 Peter 2:2 το λογικον γαλα (not logical milk, but the milk nourishing the soul).

Verse 2

Be not fashioned (μη συνσχηματιζεσθε). Present passive imperative with μη, stop being fashioned or do not have the habit of being fashioned. Late Greek verb συσχηματιζω, to conform to another's pattern (1 Corinthians 7:31; Philippians 2:7). In N.T. only here and 1 Peter 1:14.

According to this world (τω αιων τουτω). Associative instrumental case. Do not take this age as your fashion plate.

Be ye transformed (μεταμορφουσθε). Present passive imperative of μεταμορφοω, another late verb, to transfigure as in Matthew 17:2 (Mark 9:2); 2 Corinthians 3:18, which see. On the distinction between σχημα and μορφη, see Philippians 2:7. There must be a radical change in the inner man for one to live rightly in this evil age, "by the renewing of your mind" (τη ανακαινωσε του νοος). Instrumental case. The new birth, the new mind, the new (καινος) man.

That ye may prove (εις το δοκιμαζειν). Infinitive of purpose with εις το, "to test" what is God's will, "the good and acceptable and perfect" (το αγαθον κα ευαρεστον κα τελειον).

Verse 3

Not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think (μη υπερφρονειν παρ' ο δε φρονειν). Indirect negative command after λεγω (I say). Play on the two infinitives φρονειν, to think, and υπερφρονειν (old verb from υπερφρων, over-proud, here only in N.T.) to "over-think" with παρ' ο (beyond what) added. Then another play on φρονειν and σωφρονειν (old verb from σωφρων, sober-minded), to be in one's right mind (Mark 5:15; 2 Corinthians 5:13). Self-conceit is here treated as a species of insanity.

A measure of faith (μετρον πιστεως). Accusative case, the object of the verb εμερισεν. Each has his gift from God (1 Corinthians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 4:7). There is no occasion for undue pride.

To each man (εκαστω). Emphatic position before ως (as) and emphasizes the diversity.

Verse 4

The same office (την αυτην πραξιν). Mode of acting or function. Cf. Acts 19:18; Romans 8:13.

Verse 5

And severally (το δε καθ' εις). A difficult late idiom where the preposition καθ' (κατα) is treated adverbially with no effect on the nominative case εις like υπερ εγω (2 Corinthians 11:23). So εις καθ' εις (Mark 14:19) and in Modern Greek καθεις as a distributive pronoun. But we have καθ' ενα in 1 Corinthians 14:31. The use of the neuter article here το with καθ' εις is probably the accusative of general reference, "as to each one."

Verse 6

Differing (διαφορα). Old adjective from διαφερω, to differ, to vary. So Hebrews 9:10.

According to the proportion of our faith (κατα την αναλογιαν της πιστεως). The same use of πιστις (faith) as in verse Romans 12:3 "the measure of faith." Old word. αναλογια (our word "analogy") from αναλογος (analogous, conformable, proportional). Here alone in N.T. The verb προφητευωμεν (present active volitive subjunctive, let us prophesy) must be supplied with which εχοντες agrees. The context calls for the subjective meaning of "faith" rather than the objective and outward standard though πιστις does occur in that sense (Galatians 1:23; Galatians 3:23).

Verse 7

Let us give ourselves . There is no verb in the Greek. We must supply δωμεν εαυτους or some such phrase.

Or he that teacheth (ειτε ο διδασκων). Here the construction changes and no longer do we have the accusative case like διακονιαν (general word for Christian service of all kinds including ministers and deacons) as the object of εχοντες, but the nominative articular participle. A new verb must be supplied of which ο διδασκων is the subject as with the succeeding participles through verse Romans 12:8. Perhaps in each instance the verb is to be repeated from the participle like διδασκετω here (let him teach) or a general term ποιειτω (let him do it) can be used for all of them as seems necessary before "with liberality" in verse Romans 12:8 (εν απλοτητ, in simplicity, for which word, see Matthew 6:22; 2 Corinthians 8:2; 2 Corinthians 9:11; 2 Corinthians 9:13).

He that ruleth (ο προισταμενος). "The one standing in front" for which see 1 Thessalonians 5:12.

With diligence (εν σπουδη). "In haste" as if in earnest (Mark 6:25; 2 Corinthians 7:11; 2 Corinthians 8:8; 2 Corinthians 8:16), from σπευδω, to hasten. Again verse Romans 12:11.

With cheerfulness (εν ιλαροτητ). Late word, only here in N.T., from ιλαρος (2 Corinthians 9:7) cheerful, hilarious.

Verse 9

Without hypocrisy (ανυποκριτος). Late double compound adjective for which see 2 Corinthians 6:6. Hypocritical or pretended love is no love at all as Paul describes αγαπη in Romans 12:1.

Abhor (αποστυγουντες). Old verb with intensive (απο) dislike, only here in N.T. The present active participle is here employed in the sense of the present active indicative as sometimes happens with the independent participle (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 1132ff.). This same idiom appears with κολλωμενο (cleaving) for which verb see on 1 Corinthians 6:17, with προηγουμενο (preferring) in verse Romans 12:10 (old verb here only in N.T.), and with the participles in verses Romans 12:11-13 and again in verses Romans 12:16-18. One can supply εστε if he prefers.

Verse 10

In love of the brethren (τη φιλαδελφια). Late word for brotherly love for which see 1 Thessalonians 4:9.

Tenderly affectioned (φιλοστοργο). Old compound adjective from φιλος and στοργη (mutual love of parents and children), here alone in N.T.

Verse 11

Slothful (οκνηρο). Old adjective from οκνεω, to hesitate, to be slow. Slow and "poky" as in Matthew 25:26.

Verse 12

Patient in tribulation (τη θλιψε υπομενοντες). So soon this virtue became a mark of the Christians.

Verse 13

Communicating (κοινωνουντες). "Contributing." From κοινωνεω for which see 2 Corinthians 9:13. Paul had raised a great collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem.

Given to hospitality (την φιλοξενιαν διωκοντες). "Pursuing (as if in a chase or hunt) hospitality" (φιλοξενια, old word from φιλοξενος, fond of strangers, φιλος and ξενος as in 1 Timothy 3:2). In N.T. only here and Hebrews 13:2. See 2 Corinthians 3:1. They were to pursue (διωκω) hospitality as their enemies pursued (διωκοντας) them.

Verse 14

And curse not (κα μη καταρασθε). Present middle imperative with μη. Like Matthew 5:44 in spirit, not a quotation, but a reminiscence of the words of Jesus. The negative addition gives emphasis. See Luke 6:28 for the old verb καταραομα from καταρα (curse).

Verse 15

Rejoice (χαιρειν). Present active infinitive of χαιρω, absolute or independent use of the infinitive as if a finite verb as occurs sometimes (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 1092ff.). Literally here, "Rejoicing with rejoicing people, weeping with weeping people."

Verse 16

Be of the same mind (το αυτο φρονουντες). Absolute or independent use of the participle again as with all the participles through verse Romans 12:18, "thinking the same thing."

Set not your mind on high things (μη τα υψηλα φρονουντες). "Not thinking the high things" (υψηλος from υψος, height). Cf. 1 Corinthians 13:5.

Condescend to things that are lowly (τοις ταπεινοις συναπαγομενο). "Be carried away with (borne along with) the lowly things" (in contrast with τα υψηλα, though the associative instrumental case may be masculine, "with lowly men." See Galatians 2:13; 2 Peter 3:17 for the only other N.T. examples of this old verb.

Be not wise (μη γινεσθε φρονιμο). "Do not have the habit of becoming (γινεσθε) wise in your own conceits" (παρ' εαυτοις, beside yourselves). Note the imperative in the midst of infinitives and participles.

Verse 17

Render to no man (μηδεν αποδιδοντες). "Giving back to no man." Independent participle again.

Evil for evil (κακον αντ κακου). Directly opposite to the law of retaliation of the Pharisees as in Matthew 5:39; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; 1 Corinthians 13:5.

Take thought of (προνοουμενο). "Taking thought beforehand." Old word. See 2 Corinthians 8:21.

Verse 18

As much as in you lieth (το εξ υμων). Accusative of general reference, "so far as what proceeds from you" ("the from you part"). See το κατ' εμε in Romans 1:15. This phrase explains "if it be possible" (ε δυνατον). "All your part is to be peace" (Alford). For "be at peace" (ειρηνευοντες) see 2 Corinthians 13:11.

Verse 19

Avenge not (μη εκδικουντες). Independent participle again of late verb εκδικεω from εκδικος, exacting justice (Romans 13:4). See already Luke 18:5; 2 Corinthians 10:6.

But give place unto wrath (αλλα δοτε τοπον τη οργη). Second aorist active imperative of διδωμ, to give. "Give room for the (note article as in Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 2:16) wrath" of God instead of taking vengeance in your own hands. See Ephesians 4:27 for διδοτε τοπον. Paul quotes Deuteronomy 32:35 (the Hebrew rather than the LXX). So have Hebrews 10:30 and the Targum of Onkelos, but the relation between them and Paul we cannot tell. Socrates and Epictetus condemned personal vindictiveness as Paul does here.

I will recompense (ανταποδωσω). Future active of the double compound verb quoted also in Romans 11:35.

Verse 20

Feed him (ψωμιζε αυτον). Quotation from LXX text of Proverbs 25:21. Present active imperative of verb from ψωμος, a morsel, and so to feed crumbs to babies, then to feed in general. In N.T. only here and 1 Corinthians 13:3.

Thou shalt heap (σωρευσεις). Future active of old verb σωρευω from σωρος, a heap. In N.T. only here and 2 Timothy 3:6.

Coals of fire (ανθρακας πυρος). That is, burning or live coals.

Anthrax (our "anthracite") is an old word, only here in N.T. It is a metaphor for keen anguish. The Arabs have a proverb "coals in the heart," "fire in the liver." Such kindness may lead to repentance also.

Verse 21

Be not overcome of evil (μη νικω υπο του κακου). Present passive imperative of νικαω, to conquer. "Stop being conquered by the evil (thing or man),"

But overcome evil with good (αλλα νικα εν τω αγαθω το κακον). "But keep on conquering the evil in the good." Drown the evil in the good. Seneca: Vincit malos pertinax bonitas.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Romans 12". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/romans-12.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.