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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Romans 12

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAPTER 12

Romans 12:2. Instead of the imperatives, which Tisch. also defends, Lachm. has, what Griesb. already approved: συσχηματίζεσθαι and μεταμορφοῦσθαι, according to A B** D F G, min. Theoph. The preponderating evidence of the codd. is in favour of the infinitives, while that of the VSS. (Vulg. It. Syr. etc.) and Fathers is in favour of the imperatives. But, since the frequent practical use of the precept in the direct paraenetic form of expression at any rate suggested—especially considering the closely similar pronunciation of the infinitives and imperatives—the writing of the latter rather than the former, the infinitive reading is to preferred, which א also supports by reading μεταμορφοῦσθαι, although it has συσχηματίζεσθε.

ὑμῶν] is wanting in A B D* F G, 47, 67*, Copt. Clem. Cypr. Omitted by Lachm. and Tisch. The preponderance of evidence, as well as the circumstance that ὑμῶν very readily suggested itself to mechanical copyists for repetition from Romans 12:1, justifies the omission.

Romans 12:5. Lachm. and Tisch. 8 : τό, according to A B D* F G P א, 47*, Antioch. Damasc. Rightly; τὸ δὲ χαθʼ εἷς, not being understood, was exchanged with δὲ καθʼ εἷς, as the antithesis of οἱ πολλοί.

Romans 12:11. τῷ καιρῷ] So Griesb., after Erasm. 2, Steph. 3, Mill, and others. But Erasm. 1, Beza, Elz., Matth., Lachm., Scholz, Tisch., and Rinck have τῷ κυρίῳ. The former is found in D* F G, 5, and Latin Fathers; the latter in A B D** E L P א, and most min. VSS. and Greek Fathers. See the accurate examination of the evidence in Reiche, Comm. crit. p. 70 ff., who decides for κυρίῳ, and in Tisch. 8. κυρίῳ is certainly the oldest and most diffused reading. Nevertheless, if it were original, we cannot well see why καιρῷ should have been substituted for it; for δουλ. τῷ κυρίῳ is a very usual Pauline thought (Acts 20:19; Ephesians 6:7; Romans 14:18; Romans 16:18; Colossians 3:24, et al.), and would suit our passage very well. It would be far easier to take exception to καιρῷ than to κυρίῳ (as in Romans 13:11, instead of καιρόν, the reading κύριον is already found in Clement), especially as the principle itself, τῷ καιρῷ δουλεύειν, might readily seem somewhat offensive to a prejudiced moral feeling. Hardly can κυρίῳ, considering its great diffusion, be a mere copyist’s error (in opposition to Fritzsche).

Romans 12:13. χρείαις] D* F G, Clar. Boern. codd. Lat., in Rufinus and some Latin Fathers: μνείαις (defended by Mill). Its origin is due to the reverence for martyrs: “lectio liturgica pro tempore ficta,” Matth.

Romans 12:17. ἐνώπιον] A** has ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ ἐνώπιον. F G, Arm. Goth. Vulg. and several Fathers: οὐ μόνον ἐνώπιον τ. θεοῦ, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐνώπιον. Ascetic amplification, after Proverbs 3:4; 2 Corinthians 8:21.

Instead of πάντων Lachm. has τῶν, according to A** D * F G, min. It. Harl. Guelph. Tol. Tert. Lucif. Probably, however, this was connected with that amplification.

Romans 12:20. ἐὰν οὖν] A B P א, min. Copt. Arm. Vulg. Clar. Bas. Dam.: ἀλλὰ ἐὰν (so Lachm. and Tisch. 8). D* F G, min. Goth.: ἐάν, which is to be preferred, with Griesb.; the other readings aim at furnishing a connection.

the second, or practical part of the epistle


Verse 1

Romans 12:1 f. General exhortation to sanctification.

οὖν] drawing an inference, not from the whole dogmatic part of the epistle, beginning with Romans 1:16 (Calvin, Bengel, and many others, including Reiche, Köllner, de Wette, Philippi, Hofmann),—as also in Ephesians 4:1 and 1 Thessalonians 4:1, the οὖν which introduces the practical portion is not to be taken so vaguely,—but from Romans 11:35-36, where the riches of God were described as, and shown to be, imparted apart from merit. This connection is, on account of διὰ τῶν οἰκτίρμ. τ. θεοῦ, more readily suggested and simpler than that with Romans 11:32 (Rückert, Fritzsche, and several others).

διὰ τῶν οἰκτ. τ. θεοῦ] by means of the compassion of God, reminding you of it. Just so διά in Romans 15:30, 1 Corinthians 1:10, 2 Corinthians 10:1. The exhortation, pointing to the compassion of God, contains the motive of thankfulness for compliance with it. “Qui misericordia Dei recte movetur, in omnem Dei voluntatem ingreditur,” Bengel.

On οἰκτιρμοί, see Tittmann, Synon. p. 68 ff. On the singular, comp. Pind. Pyth. i. 85; Sirach 5:6; Baruch 2:27; 1 Maccabees 3:44. The plural conforms, indeed, to רחמים, but is conceived according to the Greek plural usage of abstract nouns (see Kühner, II. 1, p. 15 f.; Maetzner, ad Lycurg. p. 144 f.): the compassions, i.e. the stirrings and manifestations of compassion.

παραστῆσαι] selected as the set expression for the presenting of sacrificial animals at the altar; Xen. Anab. vi. 1. 22; Lucian, de sacrif. 13; and see Wetstein and Loesner, p. 262. Paul is glancing at the thank-offering ( διὰ τ. οἰκτιρμ. τ. θ.), and raises the notion of sacrifice to the highest moral idea of self-surrender to God; comp. Umbreit, p. 343 ff.

τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν] not, on account of the figure of sacrifice, instead of ὑμᾶς αὐτούς (so usually; still also Philippi), as if σῶμα might denote the entire person, consisting of body and soul (but comp. on Romans 6:12). On the contrary, the apostle means quite strictly: your bodies, reserving the sanctification of the νοῦς for Romans 12:2, so that the two verses together contain the sanctification of the whole man distributed into its parts,—that of the outer man (set forth as the offering of a sacrifice), and that of the inner (as a renewing transformation). Fritzsche also takes the correct view; comp. Hofmann. Other peculiar references of τ. σώμ. ὑμ. (Köllner: “the sensuous nature of man, which draws him to sin;” Olshausen: “in order to extend the idea of Christian sanctification down even to the lowest potency of human nature”) are not indicated by the text. The following τ. λογικ. λατρ. is not opposed to our view; for, in truth, bodily self-sacrifice is also an ethical act, 1 Corinthians 6:20. Comp. on the subject-matter, Romans 6:13; Romans 6:19.

θυσίαν ζῶσαν] as a sacrifice which lives. For the moral self-offering of the body is the antitypical πλήρωσις of the ritual sacrificial-service, in which the sacrifice dies; whereas that ethical sacrifice is no doubt also connected with dying, as to sin namely, in the sense of Romans 6:2, Romans 7:4 ff., Colossians 2:20; Colossians 3:5, Galatians 2:19, but it is precisely out of this death that the being alive here meant proceeds, which has vanquished death (Galatians 2:20, et al.). Such a sacrifice is also, in the eminent sense of antitypical fulfilment, ἁγία (as pure and belonging to God in an ethical relation) and εὐάρεστος τῷ θεῷ (comp. Ephesians 5:2). That τ. θεῷ is not, with Estius, Bengel, and Koppe, to be connected with παραστ., is shown by its very position, as well as by the superfluous character of a τ. θεῷ with παραστ.

Passages from Porphyry, Hierocles, Philo, Josephus, and the Rabbins, in which likewise moral devotion to God is set forth as self-sacrifice, see in Wetstein and Koppe. On the asyndeton, as strengthening the force of the predicative notion, in ἁγ., εὐάρ. τ. θ., comp. Nägelsbach, z. Ilias, p. 50, ed. 3.

τὴν λογ. λατρ. ὑμ.] accusative of epexegesis,—an appositional definition, and that, indeed, not to the mere θυσίαν (to the notion of which the wider notion of λατρείαν does not correspond), but to the whole παραστῆσαι κ. τ. λ., containing, respecting this whole act of presenting offering, the judgment, what it ought to be; see Winer, p. 496 [E. T. 669]; Kühner, II. 1, p. 243 f. Luther aptly remarks: “the which is your reasonable service.” Comp. Lobeck, Paralip. p. 519; Nägelsbach, z. Il. iii. 51; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 134.

λατρεία] service of worship, as in John 16:2. See on that passage. Comp. Romans 9:4. λογικός, rational (1 Peter 2:2; Plato, Locr. p. 99 E, 102 E Polyb. xxv. 9. 2), is not in contrast to ζῶα ἄλογα (Theodoret, Grotius, Koppe, and many others), which at most would only be to be assumed if λατρεία were equivalent to θυσία, but generally to the ceremonial character of the Jewish and heathen worship,—designating the λατρεία here meant as a spiritual service, fulfilling itself in moral rational activity,—of which nature the opus operatum of the Jewish and heathen cultus was not. The Test. XII. Patr. p. 547 calls the sacrifice of the angels λογικὴν κ. ἀναίμακτον προσφοράν. On the idea, comp. John 4:24; Romans 1:9; Philippians 3:3; 1 Peter 2:5; Athenag. Leg. 13. Melanchthon: “Cultus mentis, in quo mens fide aut coram intuetur Deum, et vere sentit timorem et laetitiam in Deo.” The opposite is the character of mechanical action, the ἄλογος τριβὴ καὶ ἐμπειρία (Plat. Gorg. p. 501 A).


Verse 2

Romans 12:2. Infinitives (see the critical notes): συσχηματίζεσθαι, to become like-shaped, and μεταμορφοῦσθαι, to become transformed. The two verbs stand in contrast only through the prepositions, without any difference of sense in the stem-words. Comp. the interchange of μορφή and σχῆμα in Philippians 2:7, also the Greek usage of σχηματίζειν and μορφοῦν, which denote any kind of conformation according to the context (Plut. Mor. p. 719 B: τὸ μεμορφωμένον καὶ ἐσχηματισμένον, Eur. Iph. T. 292: μορφῆς σχήματα). Here of moral conformation, without requiring us to distinguish μορφή and σχῆμα as inner and outer (Bengel, Philippi), or as appearance to others and one’s own state in itself (Hofmann), On the interchange of the infinitive of the aorist ( παραστῆσαι) and present, comp. on Romans 6:12.

τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ] to the present age, running on to the Parousia, עוֹלָם הַזֶּה (see on Matthew 12:32), the character (ethical mould) of which is that of immorality (Ephesians 2:2; Galatians 1:4; 2 Corinthians 4:4, et al.). συσχηματίζεσθαι is also found in rhetoricians with the dative (as also 1 Peter 1:14), instead of with πρός or εἰς.

τῇ ἀνακαιν. τ. νοός] whereby the μεταμορφ. is to be effected: through the renewal of the thinking power ( νοῦς here, according to its practical side, the reason in its moral quality and activity; see on Romans 7:23; Ephesians 4:23). It needs this renewal in order to become the sphere of operation for the divine truth of salvation, when it, under the ascendency of ἁμαρτία in the σάρξ, has become darkened, weak, unfree, and transformed into the ἀδόκιμος νοῦς (Romans 1:28), the νοῦς τῆς σαρκός (Colossians 2:18). Comp. on Romans 7:23. And this renewal, which the regenerate man also needs on account of the conflict of flesh and spirit which exists in him (Romans 8:4 ff.; Galatians 5:16 ff.) through daily penitence (Colossians 3:10; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:22-23), is effected by means of the life-element of faith (Philippians 3:9 ff.), transforming the inner man (Ephesians 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 5:17), under the influence of the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 4:23-24; Titus 3:5. This influence restores the harmony in which the νοῦς ought to stand with the divine πνεῦ΄α; not, however, annulling the moral freedom of the believer, but, on the contrary, presupposing it; hence the exhortation: to be transformed (passive). As to the ἀνά in ἀνακαιν., see on Colossians 3:10.

εἰς τὸ δοκι΄.] belongs not merely to ἀνακαίνωσις τ. νοὸς ὑ΄. as its direction (Hofmann), but (comp. Philippians 1:10 and on Romans 1:20) specifies the aim of the ΄ετα΄ορφ. τ. ἀνακ. τ. ν. ὑ΄ῶν. To the man who is not transformed by the renewal of his intellect this proving—which is no merely theoretical business of reflection, but is the critical practice of the whole inner life—forms no part of the activity of conscience. Comp. Ephesians 5:10. The sense: to be able to prove (Rückert, Köllner), is as arbitrarily introduced as in Romans 2:18. He who is transformed by that renewal not merely can do, but—which Paul has here in view as the immediate object of the μεταμορφοῦσθαι κ. τ. λ.—actually does the δοκι΄άζειν, and has thereby the foundation for a further moral development; he does it by means of the judgment of his conscience, stirred and illuminated by the Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:12). On τὸ θέλη΄α θεοῦ, what is willed by God, comp. Matthew 6:10; Ephesians 5:17; Ephesians 6:6; Colossians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:3.

τὸ ἀγαθὸν κ. εὐάρ. κ. τέλ.] is, by the Peschito, the Vulgate, Chrysostom, and most of the older interpreters, also by Rückert and Reiche, united adjectivally with τὸ θέλ. But as εὐάρ. would thus be unsuitable to this, we must rather (with Erasmus, Castalio, and others, including Tholuck, Flatt, Köllner, de Wette, Fritzsche, Reithmayr, Philippi, van Hengel, Hofmann) approve the substantival rendering (as apposition to τὸ θέλ. τ. θεοῦ): that which is good and well-pleasing (to God) and perfect. The repetition of the article was the less necessary, as the three adjectives used substantivally exhaust one notion (that of moral good), and that climactically. Comp. Winer, p. 121 [E. T. 159]; Dissen, ad Dem. de cor. p. 373 f.; Kühner, II. 1, p. 528.


Verse 3

Romans 12:3. The exhortation now passes on to single duties, amongst which that of humility and modesty, generally (Romans 12:3-5), and in respect of the individual χαρίσματα in particular (Romans 12:6-8), is the first—the first, too, compliance with which was indispensable to a prosperous life of the church. And Paul must have known how very necessary this same injunction was in the Roman community.

γάρ] for. The special requirement which he is now to make serves in fact by way of confirmation to the general exhortation of Romans 12:2. As to λέγω in the sense of enjoining, see on Romans 2:22.

διὰ τῆς χάρ. τῆς δοθ. μοι] Paul does not command διʼ ἑαυτοῦ, but by means of, i.e. in virtue of the divine grace bestowed on him. It is thus that he characterizes—and how at once truly and humbly! (1 Corinthians 15:10)—his apostleship. Comp. Romans 15:15; 1 Corinthians 3:10; Ephesians 3:7-8. This χάρις was given to him ( μοι), not in common with Christians generally ( ὑμῖν, Romans 12:6).

παντὶὑμῖς] to every one in your community; none among you is to be exempt from this exhortation; not: to every one who thinks himself to be something among you (Koppe, Baumgarten-Crusius).

μὴ ὑπερφρον. κ. τ. λ.] not loftily-minded ought the Christian to be, going beyond the standard-rule of that disposition which is conformable to duty ( παρʼ δεῖ φρ.); but his disposition should be such as to have wise discretion (1 Peter 4:7) for its aim (comp. Hom. Il. xxiii. 305: εἰς ἀγαθὰ φρονέων, Eur. Phoen. 1135: εἰς μάχην φρονεῖν). Paronomasia. Comp. Plat. Legg. x. p. 906 B: σωφροσύνη μετὰ φρονήσεως, Eur. Heracl. 388: τῶν φρονήματωντῶν ἄγαν ὑπερφρόνων; and see Wetstein.

ἑκάστῳ ὡς] ἑκάστῳ depends on ἑμέρισε (comp. 1 Corinthians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 7:17, and on Romans 11:31), not on λέγω (Estius, Köllner)—which view makes the already said παντὶὑμῖν to be once more repeated, and, on the other hand, deprives ἐμέρισε of its essential definition. ὡς designates the scale according to which each one ought φρονεῖν εἰς τὸ σωφρονεῖν, and this scale is different in persons differently furnished with gifts, so that for one the boundary, beyond which his φρονεῖν ceases to be εἰς τὸ σωφρονεῖν, is otherwise drawn than it is for another. The regulative standard, however, Paul expressly calls the measure of faith, which God has assigned. This is the subjective condition (the objective is the divine χάρις) of that which every one can and ought to do in the Christian life of the church. According, namely, as faith in the case of individual Christians is more or less living, practical, energetic, efficacious in this or that direction,—whether contemplative, or manifesting itself in the outer life, in eloquence and action, etc.,—they have withal to measure their appointed position and task in the church. He, therefore, who covets a higher or another standpoint and sphere of activity in the community, and is not contented with that which corresponds to the measure of faith bestowed on him, evinces a wilful self-exaltation, which is without measure and not of God—not that spirit wherein the Christian μετριοφροσύνη consists, the φρονεῖν εἰς τὸ σωφρονεῖν, ἑκάστῳ ὡς κ. τ. λ. The πίστις is therefore to be taken throughout in no other sense than the ordinary one: faith in Christ, of which the essence indeed is alike in all, but the individually different degrees of strength (comp. 1 Corinthians 13:2), and peculiarities of character in other respects (Romans 12:4 ff.), constitute for individuals the μέτρον πίστεως in quantitative and qualitative relation. Comp. Ephesians 4:7. This likewise holds in opposition to Hofmann, who with violence separates μέτρ. πίστεως from ἐμέρισε, and takes it as an accusative of apposition, like τὴν λογικ. λατρείαν ὑμῶν, Romans 12:1; holding πίστεως to be the genitive of quality, which distinguishes the measure within which the thinking of the Christian is confined, from that which the natural man sets up for himself. Comp., in opposition to this strange separation, 2 Corinthians 10:13, and in opposition to this artificial explanation of the genitive, 2 Corinthians 10:13; Ephesians 4:7; Ephesians 3:16; Plat. Theaet. p. 161 E: μέτρῳτῆς σὐτοῦ σοφίας. Soph. El. 229: μέτρον κακότητος. Eur. Ion, 354: ἥβης μέτρον. Pind. Isthm. i. 87: κερδέων μ.


Verse 4-5

Romans 12:4-5 ff. Motive for compliance with the previous exhortation.

For the prevalence of the parallel between a human body and a corpus sociale (1 Corinthians 12.) also among the ancients, see Grotius and Wetstein.

τὰ δὲ μέλη πάντα κ. τ. λ.] i.e. but the members, all of them, have different activity; thus, e.g., the eyes another than the ears, the feet another than the mouth. Wrongly van Hengel takes the expression, as though οὐ πάντα were the reading, so that only some—namely, those we possess in pairs—would be meant, not all.

οἱ πολλοί] the many, i.e. the multiplicity of Christians taken together, in opposition to the unity of the body which they compose. Comp. Romans 5:15.

ἐν χριστῷ] The common element in which the union consists; out of Christ we should not be ἓν σῶμα, but this we are in Him, in the fellowship of faith and life with Christ. He is the Head (Ephesians 1:22-23; Ephesians 4:15; Colossians 1:18; Colossians 2:19),—a relation which is understood of itself by the consciousness of faith, but is not denoted by ἐν χριστῷ (as if this meant on Christ), as Koppe, Rosenmüller, and older interpreters hold.

τὸ δὲ καθʼ εἷς] but in what concerns the individual relation. In good Greek it would be τὸ δὲ καθʼ ἕνα (see on Mark 14:19, and Bernhardy, p. 329; Kühner, II. 1, p. 414); but καθʼ εἷς, in which κατά has quite lost its regimen, is a very frequent solecism in the later Greek writers (Mark, l.c.; John 8:9; 3 Maccabees 5:34). See Lucian, Soloec. 9, and Graev. in loc.; Thom. Mag. p. 483; Wetstein on Mark, l.c.; Winer, p. 234 [E. T. 312]. τὸ καθʼ εἷς is groundlessly condemned by Fritzsche as “commentitia formula.” If καθʼ εἷς and καθʼ εἷς were in use (and this was the case), it follows that τὸ καθʼ εἷς might be just as well said as τὸ καθʼ ἕνα (comp. τὸ καθʼ ἑαυτόν and the like, Matthiae, § 283; Kühner, II. 1, p. 272). See also Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 26 f.


Verses 6-8

Romans 12:6-8. In the poseession, however, of different gifts. This ἔχοντες δὲ χαρίσματα κ. τ. λ. corresponds to τὰ δὲ μέλη πάντα οὐ τὴν αὐτὴν ἔχει πρᾶξιν, Romans 12:4.

As regards the construction, the view adopted by Reiche, de Wette, and Lachmann makes ἔχοντες a participial definition of ἐσμεν, Romans 12:5; accordingly, εἴτε προφητείαν and εἴτε διακονίαν depend on ἔχοντες as a specifying apposition to χαρίσματα; whilst the limiting definitions κατὰ τὴν ἀναλ. τ. πίστ., ἐν τῇ διακ., ἐν τῇ διδασκ., ἐν τῇ παρακλ. κ. τ. λ. are parallel to the κατὰ τὴν χάριν δοθ. ἡμῖν, and with εἴτε διδάσκων the discourse varies, without however becoming directly hortatory. Comp. also Rückert. But usually κατὰ τὴν ἀναλ. τ. πιστ., ἐν τῇ διακ. κ. τ. λ., are regarded as elliptical hortatory sentences, whilst ἔχοντες is by some likewise attached to the foregoing (Theodoret, Erasmus, Luther, Castalio, Calvin, Estius, and others, including Flatt, Tholuck, Reithmayr), and with others ἔχοντες begins a new sentence (so Olshausen, Fritzsche, Baumgarten-Crusius, Philippi, van Hengel, Hofmann, following Beza). The usual construction is the only correct one (in which, most suitably to the progressive δέ, a new sentence commences with ἔχοντες), because, under the mode followed by Reiche and de Wette, the alleged limitations ἐν τῇ διακ., ἐν τῇ διδασκ., and ἐν τῇ παρακλ. either express nothing, or must be taken arbitrarily in a variety of meaning different from that of the words with which they stand; and because ἐν ἁπλότητι, ἐν σπουδῇ, and ἐν ἱλαρότητι, Romans 12:8, are obviously of a hortatory character, and therefore the previous expressions with ἐν may not be taken otherwise. By way of filling up the concise maxims thrown out elliptically, and only as it were in outline, it is sufficient after κατὰ τὴν ἀναλογ. τ. πίστ. to supply: προφητεύωμεν, after ἐν τῇ διακονίᾳ: ὦμεν, after ἐν τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ; ἔστω, the same after ἐν τῇ παρακλήσει; and lastly, after the three following particulars, ἐν ἁπλότητι κ. τ. λ., the imperatives of the corresponding verbs ( μεταδιδότω κ. τ. λ.). Comp. the similar mode of expression in 1 Peter 4:10-11.

χαρίσματα] denotes the different peculiar aptitudes for the furtherance of Christian life in the church and of its external welfare, imparted by God’s grace through the principle of the Holy Spirit working in the Christian communion (hence πνευματικά, 1 Corinthians 12:1), On their great variety, amidst the specific unity of their origin from the efficacy of this Spirit, see esp. 1 Corinthians 12:4 ff.

Paul here mentions by way of example (for more, see 1 Corinthians 12), in the first instance, four of such χαρίσματα, namely: (1) προφητεία, the gift of theopneustic discourse, which presupposes ἀποκάλυψις, and the form of which, appearing in different ways (hence also in the plural in 1 Corinthians 13:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:20), was not ecstatic, like the speaking with tongues, but was an activity of the νοῦς enlightened and filled with the consecration of the Spirit’s power, disclosing hidden things, and profoundly seizing, chastening, elevating, carrying away men’s hearts, held in peculiar esteem by the apostle (1 Corinthians 14:1). Comp. on 1 Corinthians 12:10. Further, (2) διακονία: the gift of administration of the external affairs of the church, particularly the care of the poor, the sick, and strangers; comp. 1 Corinthians 12:28, where the functions of the diaconia are termed ἀντιλήψεις. Acts 6:1 ff.; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:8; 1 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 4:11; Romans 16:1. The service of the diaconate in the church, which grew out of that of the seven men of Acts 6, is really of apostolic origin: Clem. Cor. 1:42, 44; Ritschl, altkath. Kirche, p. 359; Jul. Müller, dogmat. Abh. p. 560 ff. (3) The διδασκαλία, the gift of instruction in the usual form of teaching directed to the understanding ( ἐξ οἰκείας διανοίας, Chrysostom, ad 1 Corinthians 12:28), see on Acts 13:1; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 14:26. It was not yet limited to a particular office; see Ritschl, p. 350 f. (4) παράκλησις, the gift of hortatory and encouraging address operating on the heart and will, the possessor of which probably connected his discourses, in the assemblies after the custom of the synagogue (see on Acts 13:15), with a portion of Scripture read before the people. Comp. Acts 4:36; Acts 11:23-24; Justin, Apol. I. c. 67.

κατὰ τὴν ἀναλ. τ. πίστ.] Conformably to the proportion of their faith the prophets have to use their prophetic gift, i.e. (comp. Romans 12:3): they are not to depart from the proportional measure which their faith has, neither wishing to exceed it nor falling short of it, but are to guide themselves by it, and are therefore so to announce and interpret the received ἀποκάλυψις, as the peculiar position in respect of faith bestowed on them, according to the strength, clearness, fervour, and other qualities of that faith, suggests—so that the character and mode of their speaking is conformed to the rules and limits, which are implied in the proportion of their individual degree of faith. In the contrary case they fall, in respect of contents and of form, into a mode of prophetic utterance, either excessive and overstrained, or on the other hand insufficient and defective (not corresponding to the level of their faith). The same revelation may in fact—according to the difference in the proportion of faith with which it, objectively given, subjectively connects itself—be very differently expressed and delivered. ἀναλογία, proportio, very current (also as a mathematical expression) in the classics (comp. esp. on κατὰ τ. ἀναλογ. Plato, Polit. p. 257 B, Locr. p. 95 B Dem. 262. 5), is here in substance not different from μέτρον, Romans 12:3; comp. Plato, Tim. p. 69 B: ἀνάλογα καὶ ξύμμετρα. Hofmann groundlessly denies this (in consequence of his incorrect view of μέτρον πίστεως, Romans 12:3), yet likewise arrives at the sense, that prophetic utterance must keep equal pace with the life of faith. Paul might, in fact, have written συμμέτρως τῇ πίστει, and would have thereby substantially expressed the same thing as κατὰ τ. ἀναλ. τ. πίστ. or ἀναλόγως τ. π. The old dogmatic interpretation (still unknown, however, to the Greek Fathers, who rightly take τ. πίστεως subjectively, of the fides qua creditur) of the regula fidei ( πίστις in the objective sense, fides quae creditur), i.e. of the conformitas doctrinae in scripturis (see esp. Colovius), departs arbitrarily from the thought contained in Romans 12:3, and from the immediate context ( κατὰ τ. χάρ. τ. δοθ. ἡμῖν), and cannot in itself be justified by linguistic usage (see on Romans 1:5). It reappears, however, substantially in Flatt, Klee, Glöckler, Köllner, Philippi (“to remain subject to the norma et regula fidei Christianae”), Umbreit, Bisping, although they do not, like many of the older commentators, take prophecy to refer to the explanation of Scripture.

ἐν τῇ διακονίᾳ] If it be the case that we have diaconia (as χαρίσμα), let us be in our diaconia. The emphasis lies on ἐν. He who has the gift of the diaconia should not desire to have a position in the life of the church outside of the sphere of service which is assigned to him by this endowment, but should be active within that sphere. That by διακονία is not intended any ecclesiastical office generally (Chrysostom, Luther, Reithmayr, Hofmann), is shown by the charismatic elements of the entire context. On εἶναι ἐν, versari in, comp. 1 Timothy 4:15; Plato, Prot. p. 317 C, Phaed. p. 59 A Demosth. 301. 6, et al.; Krüger, ad Dion. Hist. p. 269, 70.

εἴτε διδάσκων] Symmetrically, Paul should have continued with εἴτε διδασκαλίαν (sc. ἔχοντες), as A. actually reads. Instead of this, however, he proceeds in such a way as now to introduce the different possessors of gifts in the third person, and therefore no longer dependent on the we implied in ἔχοντες. The change of conception and construction may accordingly be thus exhibited: “While, however, we have different gifts, we should, be it prophecy that we have, make use of it according to the proportion of our faith,—be it diaconia that we have, labour within the diaconia,—be it that it is the teacher, (he should) be active within the sphere of teaching, etc.” After διδάσκων, simply ἐστί is to be supplied: if it, viz. one charismatically gifted, is the teacher. The apostle, in the urgent fulness of ideas which are yet to be only concisely expressed, has lost sight of the grammatical connection; comp. Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 331. Hofmann’s expedient, that here εἴτεεἴτε are subordinated to the preceding ἐν τῇ διακονίᾳ, and διδάσκων and παρακαλῶν are to be taken as a parenthetical apposition to the subject of the verb to be supplied (“be it that he, the teacher, handles teaching,” etc.), is an artificial scheme forced upon him by his incorrect view of διακονία, and at variance with the co-ordinated relation of the first two cases of εἴτε.


Verse 8

Romans 12:8. μεταδιδοὺς κ. τ. λ.] The detailed exposition with εἴτε ceases as the discourse flows onward more vehemently, but the series of those charismatically endowed is continued, yet in such a way that now there are no longer mentioned such as possess a χάρισμα for a definite function in the church, but such as possess it generally for the activity of public usefulness in the social Christian life. Hence, because with ἐν ἁπλότητι κ. τ. λ. the continuance of the exhortations is indicated, we are to place before μεταδιδοὺς not a full stop, but a comma, or, better, a colon. The reference of these last three points to definite ministerial functions (such as that μεταδιδ. is the diaconus who distributes the gifts of love; προϊστάμ. the president of the community, bishop or presbyter; ἐλεῶν he who takes charge of the sick) is refuted, first, by the fact that the assumed references of μεταδιδ. (according to Acts 4:35, we should at least expect διαδιδούς) are quite incapable of proof, and indeed improbable in themselves; secondly, by the consideration that such an analysis of the diaconal gift would be out of due place, after mention had been already made of the διακονία as a whole; and thirdly, by the consideration that the position of the προϊστάμενος, as the presbyter, between two diaconal functions, and almost at the end of the series, would he unsuitable. But if we should wish to explain προϊστάμ. as guardian of the strangers (my first edition; Borger), there is an utter want of proof both for this particular feature of the diaconia and for its designation by προϊστάμ. (for the προστάτης at Athens, the patron of the metoeci, was something quite different; Hermann, Staatsalterth. § 115. 4).

μεταδιδούς] he who imparts, who exercises the charisma of charitableness by imparting of his means to the poor. Ephesians 4:28; Luke 3:11. To understand the imparting of spiritual good (Baumgarten-Crusius), or this along with the other (Hofmann), receives no support from the context, especially seeing that the spiritual imparting has already been previously disposed of in its distinctive forms.

ἐν ἁπλότ.] in simplicity, therefore without any selfishness, without boasting, secondary designs, etc., but in plain sincerity of disposition. Comp. 2 Corinthians 8:2; 2 Corinthians 9:11; 2 Corinthians 9:13, and the classical collocations of ἁπλοῦς καὶ ἀληθής, ἁπλ. κ. γενναῖος κ. τ. λ. On the subject-matter, comp. Matthew 6:2 ff.

προϊστάμενος] the president, he who exercises the χάρισμα of presiding over others as leader, of directing affairs and the like (comp. προΐστασθαι τῶν πραγμάτων, Herodian, vii. 10. 16), consequently one who through spiritual endowment is ἡγεμονικὸς καὶ ἀρχικός (Plato, Prot. p. 352 B). This χάρισμα προστατικόν had to be possessed by the presbyter or ἐπίσκοπος for behoof of his work (comp. 1 Corinthians 12:28); but we are not to understand it as applying to him exclusively, or to explain it specially of the office of presbyter, as Rothe and Philippi again do, in spite of the general nature of the context, while Hofmann likewise thinks that the presbyter is meant, not as respects his office, but as respects his activity. What is meant is the category of charismatic endowment, under which the work destined for the presbyter falls to be included.

ἐν σπουδῇ] with zeal; it is the earnest, strenuous attention to the fulfilment of duty, the opposite of φαυλότης.

ἐλεῶν] he who is merciful towards the suffering and unfortunate, to whom it is his χάρισμα to administer comfort, counsel, help.

ἐν ἱλαρότ.] with cheerful, friendly demeanour, 2 Corinthians 9:7, the opposite of a reluctant and sullen carriage. Comp. Xen. Mem. ii. 7. 12 : ἱλαραὶ δὲ ἀντὶ σκυθρωπῶν.

Observe, further, that ἐν ἁπλότ., ἐν σπουδῇ, and ἐν ἱλαρότ. do not denote, like the preceding definitions with ἐν, the sphere of service within which the activity is to exert itself, but the quality, with which those who are gifted are to do their work; and all these three qualities characterize, in like manner, the nature of true σωφρονεῖν, Romans 12:3.


Verse 9

Romans 12:9. ἀγάπη ἀνυπόκρ.] sc. ἔστω. The supplying of the imperative (comp. Romans 12:7), which is rare in the classical writers (Bernhardy, p. 331; Kühner, II. 1, p. 37), cannot occasion any scruple in this so briefly sketching hortatory address. ἀνυπόκριτος is not found in classical Greek, but it occurs in Wisdom of Solomon 5:19; Wisdom of Solomon 18:16, 2 Corinthians 6:6, 1 Timothy 1:5, 2 Timothy 1:5, James 3:12, 1 Peter 1:22. Antoninus, viii. 5, has the adverb, like Clem. Cor. II. 12.

The absolute ἀγάπη is always love towards others (see esp. 1 Corinthians 13), of which φιλαδελφία is the special form having reference to Christian fellowship, Romans 12:10. As love must be, so must be also faith, its root, 1 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 1:5.

The following participles and adjectives may be taken either together as preparing for the εὐλογεῖτε τοὺς διώκ. in Romans 12:14, and as dependent on this (Lachm. ed. min.); or, as corresponding to the personal subject of ἀγάπη ἀνυπόκρ. (so Fritzsche), see on 2 Corinthians 1:7; or, finally, by the supplying of ἐστέ as mere precepts, so that after ἀνυπόκρ. there should be placed a full stop, and another after διώκοντες in Romans 12:13. So usually; also by Lachmann, ed. maj., and Tischendorf. The latter view alone, after ἀγάπη ἀνυπόκρ. has been supplemented by the imperative of the substantive verb, is the natural one, and correspondent in its concise mode of expression to the whole character stamped on the passage; the two former modes of connection exhibit a formal interdependence on the part of elements that are heterogeneous in substance.

ἀποστυγοῦντες] abhorring. The strengthening significance of the compound, already noted by Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, and Theophylact, has been groundlessly denied by Fritzsche; it is quite appropriate in passages like Herod, ii. 47, vi. 129; Soph. Oed. C. 186, 691; Eur. Ion. 488; Parthen. Erot. 8.

τὸ πονηρόν and τῷ ἀγαθῷ are to be taken generally of moral evil and good; abhorrence of the one and adherence to the other form the fundamental moral character of unfeigned love. The evil and good which are found in the object of love (Hofmann) are included, but not specially meant. Comp. 1 Corinthians 13:6.


Verses 9-21

Romans 12:9-21. Exhortations for all without distinction, headed by love!


Verse 10

Romans 12:10. τῇ φιλαδελφ] In respect of (in point of) brotherly love (love towards fellow-Christians, 1 Thessalonians 4:9; Hebrews 13:1; 1 Peter 1:22; 2 Peter 1:7). On its relation to ἀγάπη, comp. generally Galatians 6:10.

φιλόστοργοι] fondly affectionate; an expression purposely chosen, because Christians are brothers and sisters, as the word is also in classical Greek the usual one for family affection. Comp. also Cicero, ad Att. xv. 17.

τῇ τιμῇ] in the point of moral respect and high estimation.

προηγούμενοι] not: excelling (Chrysostom, Morus, Köllner), nor yet: anticipating (Vulgate, Theophylact, Luther, Castalio, Wolf, Flatt), but, in correspondence with the signification of the word: going before, as guides, namely, with the conduct that incites others to follow. Without the support of usage Erasmus, Grotius, Heumann, Koppe, and Hofmann take προηγεῖσθαι as equivalent to ἡγεῖσθαι ὑπερέχοντας (Philippians 2:3), se ipso potiores ducere alios, which would be denoted by ἡγεῖσθαι πρὸ ἑαυτῶν ἄλλ. (Philippians 2:3). In Greek it does not elsewhere occur with the accusative, but only with the dative (Xen. Cyr. ii. 1. 1; Arist. Plut. 1195; Polyb. xii. 5. 10) or genitive of the person (Xen. Hipp. 4. 5; Herodian, vi. 8. 6.; Polyb. xii. 13. 11); with the accusative only, as in Xen. Anab. vi. 5. 10, προηγ. ὁδόν.


Verse 11

Romans 12:11. τῇ σπουδῇ] in respect of zeal, namely, for the interests of the Christian life in whatever relation.

τῷ πν. ζέοντες] seething, boiling in spirit, the opposite of ὀκνηροὶ τῇ σπουδῇ; hence τῷ πνεύμ. is not to be understood of the Holy Spirit (Oecumenius and many others, including Holsten, Weiss), but of the human spirit. Comp. Acts 18:25. That this fervent excitement of the activity of thought, feeling, and will for Christian aims is stirred up by the Holy Spirit, is obvious of itself, but is not of itself expressed by τῷ πνεύματι. ζέω of the mental aestuare is also frequent in the classics; Plato, Rep. iv. p. 440 C, Phaedr. p. 251 B Soph. Oed. C. 435; Eur. Hec. 1055; and Pflugk in loc. See also Jacobs, ad Anthol. IX. p. 203; Dorville, ad Charit. p. 233.

τῷ καιρῷ δουλ.] consigns—without, in view of the whole laying out of the discourse as dependent on ἀγάπη ἀνυπόκρ., Romans 12:9, requiring a connective δέ (against van Hengel)—the fervour of spirit to the limits of Christian prudence, which, amidst its most lively activity, yet in conformity with true love, accommodates itself to the circumstances of the time, with moral discretion does not aim at placing itself in independence of them or oppose them with headlong stubbornness, but submits to them with a wise self-denial (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Comp. on the δουλ. τῷ καιρῷ (tempori servire, Cicero, ad Div. ix. 17, Tuscul. iii. 27. 66) and synonymous expressions ( καιρῷ λατρεύειν, τοῖς καιρ. ἀκολουθεῖν), which are used in a good or bad sense according to the context, Wetstein and Fritzsche in loc.; Jacobs, ad Anthol. X. p. 261. On the thing itself, see Cic. ad Div. iv. 6 : “ad novos casus temporum novorum consiliorum rationes accommodare.”


Verse 12

Romans 12:12. In virtue of hope (of the future δόξα, Romans 5:2) joyful. The dative denotes the motive (Kühner, II. i. p. 380).

τῇ θλ. ὑπομ.] in the presence of tribulation holding out, remaining constant in it. On the dative, comp. Kühner, l.c. p. 385. Paul might have written τὴν θλῖψιν ὑπομ. (1 Corinthians 13:7; 2 Timothy 2:19; Hebrews 10:32, et al., and according to the classical use); he writes, however, in the line of formal symmetry with the other expressions, the dative and then the absolute ὑπομέν. (Matthew 10:22; 2 Timothy 2:12; James 5:11; 1 Peter 2:20).

τ. προσευχῇ προσκ.] perseveringly applying to prayer, Colossians 4:2; Acts 1:14.


Verse 13

Romans 12:13. Having fellowship in the necessities of the saints (comp. Romans 15:27), i.e. so conducting yourselves that the necessities of your fellow-Christians may be also your own, seeking therefore just so to satisfy them. Comp. on Philippians 4:14. The transitive sense: communicating (still held by Rückert and Fritzsche, following many of the older interpreters), finds nowhere, at least in the N. T., any confirmation (not even in Galatians 6:6). The ἅγιοι, are the Christians in general, not specially those of Jerusalem (Hofmann), who are indicated in Romans 15:25, but not here, by the context.

τὴν φιλοξ.] studying hospitality. Comp. Hebrews 13:3; 1 Peter 4:9. A virtue highly important at that time, especially in the case of travelling, perhaps banished and persecuted, Christian brethren. Comp. also 1 Timothy 5:10; Titus 1:8. That those in need of shelter should not merely be received, but also sought out, belongs, under certain circumstances, to the fulfilment of this duty, but is not expressed by διώκοντες (as Origen and Bengel hold). Comp. Romans 9:30; ἀρετὴν διώκειν, Plato, Theaet. p. 176 B τὸ ἀγαθὸν διώκειν and the like, Sirach 27:8, et al.; ἀδικίαν διώκειν, Plat. Rep. p. 545 B.


Verse 14

Romans 12:14. τοὺς διώκ. ὑμ.] who persecute you (in any respect whatever). The saying of Christ, Matthew 5:44, was perhaps known to the apostle and here came to his recollection, without his having read however, as Reiche here again assumes (comp. on Romans 2:19), the Gospels.


Verse 15

Romans 12:15. χαίρειν] i.e. χαίρειν ὑμᾶς δεῖ, infinitive, as a briefly interjected expression of the necessary behaviour desired. See on Philippians 3:16. On the subject-matter, comp. Sirach 7:34. Rightly Chrysostom brings into prominence the fact that κλαίειν κ. τ. λ., γενναίας σφόδρα δεῖται ψυχῆς, ὥστε τῷ εὐδοκιμοῦντι μὴ μόνον μὴ φθονεῖν, ἀλλὰ καὶ συνήδεσθαι.


Verse 16

Romans 12:16. These participles are also to be understood imperatively by supplying ἔσεσθε (comp. on Romans 12:9), and not to be joined to Romans 12:15, nor yet to μὴ γίνεσθε φρόν. παρʼ ἑαυτ.

τὸ αὐτὸ εἰς ἀλλ. φρονοῦντες] characterizes the loving harmony, when each, in respect to his neighbour ( εἰς, not ἐν as in Romans 15:5), has one and the same thought and endeavour. Comp. generally Romans 15:5; Philippians 2:2; Philippians 4:2; 2 Corinthians 13:11. According to Fritzsche, τὸ αὐτό refers to what follows, so that modesty is meant as that towards which their mind should be mutually directed. But thus this clause of the discourse would not be independent, which is contrary to the analogy of the rest.

μὴ τὰ ὑψηλὰ φρονοῦντες] not aiming at high things,—a warning against ambitious self-seeking. Comp. Romans 11:20; 1 Timothy 6:7.

τοῖς ταπεινοῖς] is neuter (Fritzsche, Reiche, Köllner, Glöckler, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Borger, Reithmayr, Philippi, Maier, Bisping, following Beza and Calvin): being drawn onward by the lowly; i.e. instead of following the impulse to high things, rather yielding to that which is humble, to the claims and tasks which are presented to you by the humbler relations of life, entering into this impulse towards the lower strata and spheres of life, which lays claim to you, and following it. The ταπεινά ought to have for the Christian a force of attraction, in virtue of which he yields himself to fellowship with them ( συν), and allows himself to be guided by them in the determination of his conduct. Thus the Christian holds intercourse, sympathetically and effectively, in the lower circles, with the poor, sick, persecuted, etc.; thus Paul felt himself compelled to enter into humble situations, to work as a handicraftsman, to suffer need and nakedness, to be weak with the weak, etc. With less probability, on account of the contrast of τὰ ὑψηλά, others have taken τοῖς ταπειν. as masculine,—some of them understanding ταπεινός of inferior rank, some of humble disposition, some blending both meanings—with very different definitions of the sense of the whole, e.g. Chrys.: εἰς τὴς ἐκείνων εὐτέλειαν κατάβηθι, συμπεριφέρου, μὴ ἁπλῶς τῷ φρονήματι συνταπεινοῦ, ἀλλὰ καὶ βοήθει καὶ χεῖρα ὀρέγου κ. τ. λ.; similarly Erasmus, Luther, Estius, and others; Grotius (comp. Ewald): “modestissimorum exempla sectantes;” Rückert (comp. van Hengel): “let it please you to remain in fellowship with the lowly;” Olshausen: Christianity enjoins intercourse with publicans and sinners in order to gain them for the kingdom of Christ; Hofmann: “to be drawn into the host of those who occupy an inferior station and desire nothing else, and, as their equals, disappearing amongst them, to move with them along the way in which they go.”

συναπαγ.] has not in itself, nor has it here, the bad sense: to be led astray along with, which it acquires in Galatians 2:13, 2 Peter 3:17, through the context.

φρόνιμοι παρʼ ἑαυτ.] wise according to your own judgment. Comp. Proverbs 3:7; Bernhardy, p. 256 f. One must not fall into that conceited self-sufficiency of moral perception, whereby brotherly respect for the perception of others would be excluded. Similar, but not equivalent, is ἐν ἑαυτ., Romans 11:25.


Verses 17-19

Romans 12:17-19. The participles—to be supplemented here as in Romans 12:16—are not to be connected with μὴ γίνεσθε φρόν. παρʼ ἑαυτ.

μηδενί] be he Christian or non-Christian. Opposite: πάντων ἀνθρώπων. The maxim itself taught also by Greek sages, how opposed it was to the ἀδικεῖν τῷ ἀδικοῦντι of common Hellenism (Hermann, ad Soph. Philoct. 679; Jacobs, ad Delect. Epigr. p. 144; Stallbaum, ad Plat. Crit. p. 49 B, ad Phileb. p. 49 D) and to Pharisaism (see on Matthew 5:43)!

προνοούμενοι] reminiscence from the LXX., Proverbs 3:4. For this very reason, but especially because otherwise an entirely unsuitable limitation of the absolute moral notion of καλά would result, ἐνώπιον κ. τ. λ. is not to be joined to καλά (Ewald, Hofmann); it belongs to προνοούμ. Comp. 2 Corinthians 8:21; Polycarp, ad Phil. 6. Before the eyes of all men—so that it lies before the judgment of all—taking care for what is good (morality and decency in behaviour). Verbs of caring are used both with the genitive (1 Timothy 5:8) and with the accusative (Bernhardy, p. 176), which in the classics also is very frequently found with προνοεῖσθαι. Rightly Theophylact remarks on ἐνώπ. πάντων ἀνθρ. that Paul does not thereby exhort us to live πρὸς κενοδοξίαν, but ἵνα μὴ παρέχωμεν καθʼ ἡμῶν ἀφορμὰς τοῖς βουλομένοις, he recommends that which is ἀσκανδάλιστον κ. ἀπρόσκοπον.

εἰ δυνατὸν, τὸ ἐξ ὑμῶν μετὰ κ. τ. λ.] to be so punctuated. For if the two were to be joined together (“as much as it is possible for you,” Glöckler), the injunction would lose all moral character. Still less are we to suppose that εἰ δυνατόν belongs to the preceding (Erasmus, Cajetanus, Bengel), which indeed admits of no condition. Grotius’ view is the correct one: “omnium amici este, si fieri potest; si non potest utrimque, certe ex vestra parte amici este,” so that εἰ δυνατόν allows the case of objective impossibility to avail (how often had Paul himself experienced this!); τὸ ἐξμε͂ ν (adverbially: as to what concerns your part, that which proceeds from you; see generally on Romans 1:15, and Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 225) annuls any limitation in a subjective respect, and does not contain a subjective limitation (Reiche), since we for our part are supposed to be always and in any case peaceably disposed, so that only the opposite disposition and mode of behaviour of the enemy can frustrate our subjective peaceableness.

ἀγαπητοί] urgent and persuasive. Comp. 1 Corinthians 10:14; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Philippians 2:1; Philippians 4:1.

ἀλλὰ δότε κ. τ. λ.] The construction changes, giving place to a stronger (independent) designation of duty. See Winer, p. 535 [E. T. 720]. Comp. here especially Viger. ed. Herm. p. 469. Give place to wrath ( κατʼ ἐξοχήν, that of God), i.e. forestall it not by personal revenge, but let it have its course and its sway. The morality of this precept is based on the holiness of God; hence, so far as wrath and love are the two poles of holiness, it does not exclude the blessing of our adversaries (Romans 12:14) and intercession for them. The view, according to which τῇ ὀργῇ is referred to the divine wrath (comp. Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 2:16)—as the absolute χάρις is the divine favour and grace (comp. Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:16)—is rightly preferred by most interpreters from the time of Chrysostom down to van Hengel, Hofmann, Delitzsch; for, on the one hand, it corresponds entirely to the profane (Gataker, ad Anton, p. 104; Wetstein in loc.) and Pauline (Ephesians 4:27) use of τόπον (or χώραν) διδόναι—which primarily denotes to make place for any one (Luke 14:9), then to give any one full play, time and opportunity for activity (Eph. l.c., comp. Sirach 13:21; Sirach 19:17; Sirach 38:12; Sirach 16:14; Philo in Loesner, p. 263); and on the other hand it is most appropriate to the following scriptural proof. Non-compliance with the precept occasions the ὀργίζεσθαι καὶ ἁ΄αρτάνειν, Ephesians 4:26. Comp. on the thought 1 Peter 2:23; 1 Samuel 24:13; 1 Samuel 24:16. Others interpret it of one’s own wrath, which is not to be allowed to break forth. So de Dieu, Bos, Semler, Cramer, and Reiche: “Wrath produces terrible effects in the moment of its ebullition; give it time, and it passes away.” The Latin use of irae spatium dare agrees indeed with this interpretation, but not the Greek use of τόπον διδόναι—not even in the well-known expression in Plutarch (de ira cohib. p. 462) that we should not even in sport διδόναι τόπον to anger, i.e. give it full play, allow it free course. Since this “giving way to wrath” (justly repudiated by Plutarch as highly dangerous) cannot be enjoined by Paul, he must have meant by τ. ὀργῇ the divine wrath. For the interpretation given by others of the wrath of an enemy, which one is to give place to, to go out of the way of (Schoettgen, Morus, Amnion), must be rejected, since this, although it may be linguistically justified (Luke 14:9; Judges 20:36), and may be compared with Soph. Ant. 718 (see Schneidewin in loc.) and with the Homeric εἴκειν θυμῷ, yet would yield a precept, which would be only a rule of prudence and not a command of Christian morals. This applies also in opposition to Ewald: to allow the wrath of the other to expend itself, which, as opposed to personal revenge, has no positive moral character (it is otherwise with Matthew 5:39); not to mention that the injury, the personal avenging of which is forbidden, by no means necessarily supposes a wrathful offender.

γέγρ. γάρ] Deuteronomy 32:35, freely as regards the sense, from the Hebrew (to me belongs revenge and requital), but with use of the words of the LXX., which depart from the original ( ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ἐκδικήσεως ἀνταποδώσω), and with the addition of λέγει κύριος. The form of this citation, quite similar to that here used, which is found in Hebrews 10:30, cannot be accidental, especially as the characteristic ἐγὼ ἀνταποδ. recurs also in the paraphrase of Onkelos ( וַאֲנָא אֲשַׁלֵּם). But there are no traces elsewhere to make us assume that Paul made use of Onkelos; and just as little has the view any support elsewhere, that the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews followed the citation of Paul (Bleek, Delitzsch). Hence the only hypothesis which we can form without arbitrariness is, that the form of the saying as it is found in Paul and in Hebrews 10:30 had at that time acquired currency in the manner of a formula of warning which had become proverbial, and had influenced the rendering in the paraphrase of Onkelos. The λέγει κύριος Paul has simply added, as was frequently done (comp. Romans 14:11) with divine utterances; in Hebrews 10:30 these words are not genuine.


Verse 20

Romans 12:20. Without οὖν (see the critical notes), but thus the more in conformity with the mode of expression throughout the whole chapter, which proceeds for the most part without connectives, there now follows what the Christian—seeing that he is not to avenge himself, but to let God’s wrath have its way—has rather to do in respect of his enemy.

The whole verse is borrowed from Proverbs 25:21-22, which words Paul adopts as his own, closely from the LXX.

ψώμιζε] feed him, give him to eat. See on 1 Corinthians 13:1; Grimm on Wisdom of Solomon 16:20. The expression is affectionate. Comp. 2 Samuel 13:5; Bengel: “manu tua.” Sirach 7:32

ἄνθρακας πυρὸς σωρεύς. ἐπὶ τὴν κεφ. αὐτοῦ] figurative expression of the thought: painful shame and remorse wilt thou prepare for him. So, in substance, Origen, Augustine, Jerome, Ambrosiaster, Pelagius, Erasmus, Luther, Wolf, Bengel, and others, including Tholuck, Baumgarten-Crusius, Rückert, Reiche, Köllner, de Wette, Olshausen, Fritzsche, Philippi, Reithmayr, Bisping, Borger, van Hengel, Hofmann; comp. Linder in the Stud. u. Krit. 1862, p. 568 f. Glowing coals are to the Oriental a figure for pain that penetrates and cleaves to one, and in particular, according to the context, for the pain of remorse, as here, where magnanimous beneficence heaps up the coals of fire. Comp. on the subject-matter, 1 Samuel 24:17 ff. See the Arabic parallels in Gesenius in Rosenmüller’s Repert. I. p. 140, and generally Tholuck in loc.; Gesenius, Thesaur. I. p. 280. Another view was already prevalent in the time of Jerome, and is adopted by Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Photius, Beza, Camerarius, Estius, Grotius, Wetstein, and others, including Koppe, Böhme, Hengstenberg (Authent. d. Pentat. II. p. 406 f.),—namely, that the sense is: Thou wilt bring upon him severe divine punishment. Certainly at 4 Esr. 16:54 the burning of fiery coals on the head is an image of painful divine punishment; but there this view is just as certainly suggested by the context, as here (see esp. Romans 12:21) and in Prov. l.c., the context is opposed to it. For the condition nisi resipiscat would have, in the first place, to be quite arbitrarily supplied; and how could Paul have conceived and expressed so unchristian a motive for beneficence towards enemies! The saving clauses of expositors regarding this point are fanciful and quite unsatisfactory.


Verse 21

Romans 12:21. Comprehensive summary of Romans 12:19-20.—“Be not overcome (carried away to revenge and retaliation) by evil (which is committed against thee), but overcome by the good (which thou showest to thine enemy) the evil” bringing about the result that the enemy, put to shame by thy noble spirit, ceases to act malignantly against thee and becomes thy friend. “Vincit malos pertinax bonitas,” Seneca, de benef. vii. 31. Comp. de ira, ii. 32; Valer. Max. iv. 2, 4. On the other hand, Soph. El. 308 f.: ἐν τοῖς κακοῖς | πολλήʼ στʼ ἀνάγκη κἀπιτηδεύειν κακά. We may add the appropriate remark of Erasmus on the style of expression throughout the chapter: “Comparibus membris et incisis, similiter cadentibus ac desinentibus sic totus sermo modulatus est, ut nulla cantio possit esse jucundior.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Romans 12:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/romans-12.html. 1832.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, September 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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