corner graphic   Hi,    
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to

Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
Romans 12



Other Authors
Verse 1

Therefore (ουνoun). This inferential participle gathers up all the great argument of chapters 1-11. Now Paul turns to exhortation (παρακαλωparakalō), “I beseech you.”

By the mercies (δια των οικτιρμωνdia tōn oiktirmōn). “By means of the mercies of God” as shown in his argument and in our lives. See note on 2 Corinthians 1:3 for “the Father of mercies.”

To present (παραστησαιparastēsai). First aorist active infinitive of παριστημιparistēmi for which verb see note on 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 (σωματαsōmata). So literally as in Romans 6:13, Romans 6:19; 2 Corinthians 5:10 and in contrast with νουςnous (mind) in Romans 12:2.

A living sacrifice (τυσιαν ζωσανthusian zōsan). 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 (ευαρεστονeuareston). “Well-pleasing.” See note on 2 Corinthians 5:9.

Which is your reasonable service (tēn logikēn humōn latreian). “Your rational (spiritual) service (worship).” For latreia see note on Romans 9:4. την λογικην υμων λατρειανLogikos is from λατρειαlogos reason. The phrase means here “worship rendered by the reason (or soul).” Old word, in N.T. only here and 1 Peter 2:2 Λογικοςto logikon gala (not logical milk, but the milk nourishing the soul).

Verse 2

Be not fashioned (μη συνσχηματιζεστεmē sunschēmatizesthe). Present passive imperative with μηmē stop being fashioned or do not have the habit of being fashioned. Late Greek verb συσχηματιζωsuschēmatizō to conform to another‘s pattern (1 Corinthians 7:31; Philemon 2:7.). In N.T. only here and 1 Peter 1:14.

According to this world (τωι αιωνι τουτωιtōi aiōni toutōi). Associative instrumental case. Do not take this age as your fashion plate.

Be ye transformed (μεταμορπουστεmetamorphousthe). Present passive imperative of μεταμορποωmetamorphoō another late verb, to transfigure as in Matthew 17:2 (Mark 9:2); 2 Corinthians 3:18, which see. On the distinction between σχημαschēma and μορπηmorphē see note on Philemon 2:8. 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” (τηι ανακαινωσει του νοοςtēi anakainōsei tou noos). Instrumental case. The new birth, the new mind, the new (καινοςkainos) man.

That ye may prove (εις το δοκιμαζεινeis to dokimazein). Infinitive of purpose with εις τοeis to “to test” what is God‘s will, “the good and acceptable and perfect” (το αγατον και ευαρεστον και τελειονto agathon kai euareston kai teleion).

Verse 3

Not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think (μη υπερπρονειν παρ ο δει προνεινmē huperphronein par' ho dei phronein). Indirect negative command after λεγωlegō (I say). Play on the two infinitives προνεινphronein to think, and υπερπρονεινhuperphronein (old verb from υπερπρωνhuperphrōn over-proud, here only in N.T.) to “over-think” with παρ οpar' ho (beyond what) added. Then another play on προνεινphronein and σωπρονεινsōphronein (old verb from σωπρωνsōphrōn 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 πιστεωςmetron pisteōs). Accusative case, the object of the verb εμερισενemerisen Each has his gift from God (1 Corinthians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 4:7). There is no occasion for undue pride.

To each man (εκαστωιhekastōi). Emphatic position before ωςhōs (as) and emphasizes the diversity.

Verse 4

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

Verse 5

And severally (το δε κατ ειςto de kath' heis). A difficult late idiom where the preposition κατkath' (καταkata) is treated adverbially with no effect on the nominative case ειςheis like υπερ εγωhuper egō (2 Corinthians 11:23). So εις κατ ειςheis kath' heis (Mark 14:19) and in Modern Greek κατειςkatheis as a distributive pronoun. But we have κατ εναkath' hena in 1 Corinthians 14:31. The use of the neuter article here τοto with κατ ειςkath' heis is probably the accusative of general reference, “as to each one.”

Verse 6

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

According to the proportion of our faith (κατα την αναλογιαν της πιστεωςkata tēn analogian tēs pisteōs). The same use of πιστιςpistis (faith) as in Romans 12:3 “the measure of faith.” Old word. αναλογιαanalogia (our word “analogy”) from αναλογοςanalogos (analogous, conformable, proportional). Here alone in N.T. The verb προπητευωμενprophēteuōmen (present active volitive subjunctive, let us prophesy) must be supplied with which εχοντεςechontes agrees. The context calls for the subjective meaning of “faith” rather than the objective and outward standard though πιστιςpistis 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 εαυτουςdōmen heautous or some such phrase.

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

He that ruleth (ο προισταμενοςho proistamenos). “The one standing in front” for which see note on 1 Thessalonians 5:12.

With diligence (εν σπουδηιen spoudēi). “In haste” as if in earnest (Mark 6:25; 2 Corinthians 7:11., 2 Corinthians 8:8, 2 Corinthians 8:16), from σπευδωspeudō to hasten. Again Romans 12:11.

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

Verse 9

Without hypocrisy (ανυποκριτοςanupokritos). Late double compound adjective for which see note on 2 Corinthians 6:6. Hypocritical or pretended love is no love at all as Paul describes αγαπηagapē in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.

Abhor (αποστυγουντεςapostugountes). Old verb with intensive (αποapo) 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 κολλωμενοιkollōmenoi (cleaving) for which verb see 1 Corinthians 6:17, with προηγουμενοιproēgoumenoi (preferring) in Romans 12:10 (old verb here only in N.T.), and with the participles in Romans 12:11-13 and again in Romans 12:16-18. One can supply εστεeste if he prefers.

Verse 10

In love of the brethren (τηι πιλαδελπιαιtēi philadelphiāi). Late word for brotherly love for which see note on 1 Thessalonians 4:9.

Tenderly affectioned (πιλοστοργοιphilostorgoi). Old compound adjective from πιλοςphilos and στοργηstorgē (mutual love of parents and children), here alone in N.T.

Verse 11

Slothful (οκνηροιoknēroi). Old adjective from οκνεωokneō to hesitate, to be slow. Slow and “poky” as in Matthew 25:26.

Verse 12

Patient in tribulation (τηι τλιπσει υπομενοντεςtēi thlipsei hupomenontes). So soon this virtue became a mark of the Christians.

Verse 13

Communicating (κοινωνουντεςKoinéōnountes). “Contributing.” From κοινωνεωKoinéōneō for which see note on 2 Corinthians 9:13. Paul had raised a great collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem.

Given to hospitality (την πιλοχενιαν διωκοντεςtēn philoxenian diōkontes). “Pursuing (as if in a chase or hunt) hospitality” (πιλοχενιαphiloxenia old word from πιλοχενοςphiloxenos fond of strangers, πιλοςphilos and χενοςxenos as in 1 Timothy 3:2). In N.T. only here and Hebrews 13:2. See note on 2 Corinthians 3:1. They were to pursue (διωκωdiōkō) hospitality as their enemies pursued (διωκονταςdiōkontas) them.

Verse 14

And curse not (και μη καταραστεkai mē katarāsthe). Present middle imperative with μηmē 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 καταραομαιkataraomai from καταραkatara (curse).

Verse 15

Rejoice (χαιρεινchairein). Present active infinitive of χαιρωchairō 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 προνουντεςto auto phronountes). Absolute or independent use of the participle again as with all the participles through Romans 12:18, “thinking the same thing.”

Set not your mind on high things (μη τα υπσηλα προνουντεςmē ta hupsēla phronountes). “Not thinking the high things” (υπσηλοςhupsēlos from υπσοςhupsos height). Cf. 1 Corinthians 13:5.

Condescend to things that are lowly (τοις ταπεινοις συναπαγομενοιtois tapeinois sunapagomenoi). “Be carried away with (borne along with) the lowly things” (in contrast with τα υπσηλαta hupsēla though the associative instrumental case may be masculine, “with lowly men.” See note on Galatians 2:13 and note on 2 Peter 3:17 for the only other N.T. examples of this old verb.

Be not wise (μη γινεστε προνιμοιmē ginesthe phronimoi). “Do not have the habit of becoming (γινεστεginesthe) wise in your own conceits” (παρ εαυτοιςpar' heautois beside yourselves). Note the imperative in the midst of infinitives and participles.

Verse 17

Render to no man (μηδενι αποδιδοντεςmēdeni apodidontes). “Giving back to no man.” Independent participle again.

Evil for evil (κακον αντι κακουkakon anti kakou). 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 (προνοουμενοιpronooumenoi). “Taking thought beforehand.” Old word. See note on 2 Corinthians 8:21.

Verse 18

As much as in you lieth (το εχ υμωνto ex humōn). Accusative of general reference, “so far as what proceeds from you” (“the from you part”). See το κατ εμεto kat' eme in Romans 1:15. This phrase explains “if it be possible” (ει δυνατονei dunaton). “All your part is to be peace” (Alford). For “be at peace” (ειρηνευοντεςeirēneuontes) see 2 Corinthians 13:11.

Verse 19

Avenge not (μη εκδικουντεςmē ekdikountes). Independent participle again of late verb εκδικεωekdikeō from εκδικοςekdikos exacting justice (Romans 13:4). See already Luke 18:5; 2 Corinthians 10:6.

But give place unto wrath (αλλα δοτε τοπον τηι οργηιalla dote topon tēi orgēi). Second aorist active imperative of διδωμιdidōmi 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 note on Ephesians 4:27 for διδοτε τοπονdidote topon 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 (ανταποδωσωantapodōsō). Future active of the double compound verb quoted also in Romans 11:35.

Verse 20

Feed him (πσωμιζε αυτονpsōmize auton). Quotation from lxx text of Proverbs 25:21f. Present active imperative of verb from πσωμοςpsōmos 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 (σωρευσειςsōreuseis). Future active of old verb σωρευωsōreuō from σωροςsōros a heap. In N.T. only here and 2 Timothy 3:6.

Coals of fire (αντρακας πυροςanthrakas puros). 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 κακουmē nikō hupo tou kakou). Present passive imperative of νικαωnikaō to conquer. “Stop being conquered by the evil (thing or man),”

But overcome evil with good (αλλα νικα εν τωι αγατωι το κακονalla nika en tōi agathōi to kakon). “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)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Romans 12:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 28th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology