Category Archives: ROMANS 12

The apostle appeals to believers to present themselves to God so that they may do His will effectively.

ROMANS 12

BELIEVERS IN RELATION TO ONE ANOTHER IN THE BODY OF CHRIST, THE CHURCH

The epistle to the Romans is in three main sections, chapters 1-8, 9-11, and 12-16. Each begins on a personal note by the apostle, and each closes with a note of praise to God. Chapters 1-11 are more expositional in character, whilst 12-16 are more exhortational, but this should not be pressed. We note the general and important lesson that true exhortation can only be on the basis of previously known and understood exposition. Duty must be governed by doctrine, practice by principle.

Romans 12 Believers in relation to one another in the body SERVICE
Romans 13 Believers in relation to the powers that be SUBMISSION
Romans 14-15:7 Believers in relation to another’s conscience RECEPTION
Romans 15:8-33 Believers in relation to another’s background UNITY
Romans 16 Believers in relation to Paul SALUTATIONS

STRUCTURE OF ROMANS 12

Verses 1-5 Exhortations to godly living
Verses 6-8 Exercise of gifts in the Assembly
Verses 9-21 Exhibition of grace to others

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS CHAPTER 12, VERSES 1 to 5:

12:1  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

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

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

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

 12:5  So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

12:1-5    EXHORTATIONS TO GODLY LIVING

Verse 1 Rendering the body to God
Verse 2 Renewing of the mind
Verse 3 Restraining of the mind
Verses 4,5 Relating to the members of the body, the church

12:1    RENDERING THE BODY TO GOD

12:1  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

The first three exhortations, “present”, “be not conformed”, “be ye transformed”, prepare us to prove the will of God.
I beseech you- as we are not under law, but grace, we should respond to exhortations. “Draw me, we will run after thee”, Song of Solomon 1:4, “I will draw all unto Me”, John 12:32.
Therefore- the exhortation has a logical basis. 
By the mercies of God- this is the basis of the exhortation.  Remembering that chapters 9-11 form a parenthesis, this refers to 8:32, “He that spared not His own Son”.  In Genesis 22 the father surrendered his son to sacrifice, then Isaac surrendered himself, and the ram surrendered to the knife.  By the mercies of God- the tender mercies, not the same as mercy in 9:18, which is judicial mercy.
That ye present your bodies- in 1:24 bodies were dishonoured; in 3:13-15 they were used for sinning; but in 6:6 the body of sin is destroyed (robbed of its authority); in 8:10 the body is dead or totally inactive in the service of God apart from the energy of the Spirit within.  In one sense the body is His already, being bought with a price, 1 Corinthians 6:19,20, but here it is presented to God in willing surrender.  The body is perhaps the most liable to lead us to sin, being the headquarters of the sin-principle within, (hence  the expression ‘body of sin’ in Romans 6:6), and capable of being used as an instrument of unrighteousness, 6:13.  To present means to hand over, being the same as is translated “yield” in 6:13. Sit is the same as in Luke 2:22, where the infant Christ is presented to the Lord, and Acts 1:3, where the risen Lord “shewed (presented) Himself alive”, to His disciples.  Present is in the aorist tense signifying a decisive action.  This does not necessarily mean it is done only once.  Rather, it means that when it is done then it should be done decisively.  We are to take up our cross daily, Luke 9:23. 

A living sacrifice- this is the same thought as in 6:13, where the apostle exhorts us to “yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead”.  Death must come to rid us of association with Adam, then in resurrection we begin life in association with Christ. 
Holy- everything that touched the altar had to be holy in Old Testament times.  God’s standard does not change, although the way it manifests itself may.  Holy also signifies suitable to offered to God, separate from defect.  Defects would be features that are not Christ-like. Wild animals could not be offered on God’s altar.  See Acts 10:, where Gentile unbelievers are likened to wild beasts. 
Acceptable unto God- as they will be if living, holy and Christ-like. Acceptable means well-pleasing to God, and therefore that which He is able to accept.  Cf. Hebrews 10:8, “neither hadst pleasure therein….offered by law”. Christ’s sacrifice was made in willing submission to His Father, not as a result of coercion. 
Which is your reasonable service- reasonable literally means logical, rational, intelligent.  The logical outcome of a consideration of the compassion of God.  Note the mind has been at work, and had made deductions and come to conclusions.  The word for service here is religious service, being service directed to God.  The believer can perform greater service than even those of Aaron’s line as they stood at the altar.

12:2    RENEWING OF THE MIND

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

And be not conformed to this world- do not conform yourselves to this age, marked as it is by having rejected Christ.  The Devil is the god of this age, 2 Corinthians 4:4.  To conform means to fashion oneself according to the outward resemblance to the world. . It is not possible for a believer to turn into a worldling, for that would mean there had been a change of nature; The Lord Jesus described His own thus, “they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world”, John 17:14.  Since we have Divine life, then in that respect we are of heaven, as He is.  But there can be the adoption of the superficial things that mark the world, and we can “walk as men”, 1 Corinthians 3:3.  The “but of the next phrase presents the spiritual alternative. 
But be ye transformed by the renewing of the mind- really speaking, fashioning ourselves like the world is mindless.  Transformed means to be changed as to the manifestation of the reality within.  This is the same as “growing up into Him in all things”,  Ephesians 4:15.  The renewing of the mind involves constant adjustment of the thinking processes by the application of truths to do with Christ.  The mind of the worldling is occupied with Adam’s world, for he can rise no higher.  The mind of the Christian should be focussed on heavenly, spiritual things, so that the new things introduced by Christ, (as opposed to the old things of Adam), may transform us into His likeness.  The wise man said of the sinner “as he thinketh in his heart, so is he”, Proverbs 23:7.
That ye may prove- test, prove, with the expectation of approving; primarily used of metals.  Having presented, and not fashioned, and been transformed, we shall be in a position to know what the will of God is in every situation.  The proving is done before we act, not afterwards.  Abraham’s servant said, “I being in the way, the Lord led me”, Genesis 24:27.  He acted on the mind of God expressed though Abraham as he sent him on his mission, but then further light was given him.  If he had not acted on the first instruction, he would not have come across Rebekah.
What is that good- beneficial to others; as unbelievers we were only interested in self, now we are constantly to think of others. 
And acceptable- meaning well-pleasing to God.  What this is will be known by a renewed and transformed mind. 
And perfect will of God- God’s perfect will is that which attains the goal God intends.

12:3    RESTRAINING THE MIND

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

For I say, through the grace given unto me- the apostle is careful to emphasise that he only speaks in according with the favour (grace) of God given him; he does not speak on his own authority or in his own strength. 
To every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think- this does not mean that a man may think highly of himself as long as he does it in moderation.  Rather, not to be high-minded, which is being minded above what a man should.  It is the character of the world, and its god, to be full of pride.  The opposite is dependence on God in faith.  “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith”, Habakkuk 2:4. 
But to think soberly- in a controlled way. 
According as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith- God has measured the boundaries within which faith, (meaning, in this context, dependence on Him), operates; if we are high-minded, we shall go beyond this measure.  The measure is the same for all believers, for it is not “a” measure of faith, as if some had more than others, but “the” measure that is common to all believers, as they control their thinking so that it does not stray into the realm of pride. 

12:4,5    RELATING TO THE MEMBERS OF THE BODY, THE CHURCH

12:4  For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

For as we have many members in one body- as humans we have bodies consisting of many members, such as organs, limbs, etc. 
And all members have not the same office- each part of our body has its own function to perform, being fitted for that task by God. 
So we, being many, are one body in Christ- the human body is used as an illustration of the relationship between Christ, who now that He has ascended to heaven is the head of all things, and believers of this present age considered collectively as the body of Christ, see Ephesians 4:11-16; Colossians 1:18,24.  The way this is ideally worked out is in the context of a local assembly, as 1 Corinthians 12 explains. 
And every one members one of another- the emphasis in this passage is on the relationship between the members of the body of Christ.  Just as members of our body interact for the good of the whole, so should believers relate to one another in a positive way, so that God’s purpose may be worked out.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS CHAPTER 12, VERSES 6 to 8:

12:6  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

 12:7  Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;

 12:8  Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

12:6-8    EXERCISE OF GIFTS IN THE ASSEMBLY

12:6  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

Having then gifts differing according to the grace given unto us- just as members of our bodies have abilities, some more, some less, some visible, some invisible, so it is with the body of Christ, the church.  The gift God has given to each believer is perfectly matched by the needed grace, (which is unmerited favour, here considered as given to believers after they are saved by grace), for the exercise of that gift.  He favours each member in such a way, and to such a degree, that the gift can be used for His glory, and the building up of other believers. 
Whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith- in the days before the New Testament was written, and therefore before it was available for study, prophets were raised up by God so that they could tell forth His mind and will.  They were to do this in faith, however, i.e. in reliance upon Him, and not adding or taking from the message given to them to pass on.  A prophecy which unfolded the mind of God on some deep matter needed to be accompanied by the proportionate amount of faith on the part of the prophet, for he must believe the doctrine he is setting forth.  To unfold a matter and only half-believe it would not advance the cause of truth.  There are no prophets today, since the need for them has gone.

12:7  Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;

Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering- if prophets needed to be careful lest they alter God’s word, the ministers, i.e. those who did deacon work in the church, needed to be careful lest they became slack.  They must wait on their ministry, that is, be committed to it, attentive like a good waiter is attentive to the diners in a restaurant. 
Or he that teacheth, on teaching- the teacher must be attentive to his particular work for the Lord, giving time and energy to it, see 1 Timothy 4:13-16; 2 Timothy 3:15. 

12:8  Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation- this is a very valuable ministry, for the saints need to be encouraged and strengthened, for they live in a hostile environment.  There is plenty to discourage us, so we need the ministry of encouragement.  Note that prophecy and ministry come first, then when a doctrinal foundation has been laid, the exhorter can encourage continuance in the faith already taught. Needless to add, the methods of stimulation and motivation which the business world uses is of no value in Christian things, for the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God, and He condemns those who seek to incorporate these techniques into the church, 1 Corinthians 3:18-20. 
He that giveth, let him do it with simplicity- that is, without self-seeking. The giver should have a simple aim of benefitting another, and glorifying God.  He (or she), should not give to gain some advantage, which is why the giving should, ideally, be anonymous.  Each believer will want to respond to God’s goodness by supporting His work financially, see 1 Corinthians 16:2.  So clearly this gift of being able to give is distinct, and relates to those to whom the Lord has given resources, so they may channel them to the furtherance of His interests.  Every believer is expected to give to the Lord’s interests, 1 Corinthians 16:2, “every one of you lay by him in store”.  Some, however, have resources God has given them, and they are given the gift or ability to handle those resources wisely for God.  The apostle makes a clear distinction between those who are determined to be rich, 1 Timothy 6:9, margin, and those who are rich, verse 17.  The former are warned of the perils of the love of money, the latter are encouraged in the distribution of money. 
He that ruleth, with diligence- the word rule can mean take the lead, or it can mean to direct a business.  The latter would follow on well from the previous idea of giving, and would be in connection with the administration and organisation of Christian charity, education, or medical work, for example. 
He that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness- as with giving, in a general way all believers should be merciful, but some are gifted in a special way with the ability to minister to the needs of those who are in need, whether saint or sinner.  “A merry heart doeth good like medicine”, Proverbs 17:22.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS CHAPTER 12, VERSES 9 TO 21:

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

12:10  Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

12:11  Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

12:12  Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

12:13  Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

12:14  Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

12:15  Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

12:16  Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

12:17  Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

12:18  If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

12:19  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

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

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

12:9-21        EXHIBITION OF GRACE TO OTHERS

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

Let love be without dissimulation- that is, hypocrisy, as when we show what appears to be love for the wrong motive. 
Abhor that which is evil- in connection with evil things, the opposite of love should mark us, as it did the One who “hated iniquity”, Hebrews 1:9. 
Cleave to that which is good- be wedded to good things in a life-long marriage.

12:10  Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

Be kindly affectioned one to another- this is the love of those who are in a family. 
With brotherly love- which is strong and effective.  “A brother is born for adversity”, Proverbs 17:17
In honour preferring one another- be the first to step forward to give honour to another in the family of God.

12:11  Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Not slothful in business- which was originally spelt ‘busyness’, meaning diligence.  The Greek word is “spoude!”, the cry of those who spurred on their favourite runner at the Olympics.
Fervent in spirit- boiling-hot in enthusiasm.  Compare the Laodiceans, who were lukewarm, Revelation 3:16. 
Serving the Lord- slaving away for Him.

12:12  Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

Rejoicing in hope- as in Romans 5:2. 
Patient in tribulation- as in Romans 5:3. Not allowing the present afflictions to deprive us of the rejoicing which the thought of the future hope brings.     
Continuing instant in prayer- steadfast prayer is the source of strength in adversity, and the source of the strength, also, to persevere to the end.  “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint”, Luke 18:1.

12:13  Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

Distributing to the necessity of the saints- sharing with those in need.  Remember the Lord’s word about those of a future day, who will feed, clothe and visit those who are in need during the tribulation period, “Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye did it unto me”, Matthew 25:40. 
Given to hospitality- literally ‘pursuing hospitality’, actively seeking opportunities to share the home God has given to you, with others.  Those who receive such an invitation to hospitality should consider whether, if they refuse, they are depriving a believer of an opportunity to serve the Lord. 

12:14  Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not- there is a play on words here, pursuing hospitality to bless others thereby; bless those that pursue you to harm you. There is a double exhortation to bless because it is not easy in such circumstances.  And the oppositie is mentioned as well, for paul knows that the flesh resists doing this, so we need the help of the Spirit.  As Peter wrote, “not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are hereunto called, that ye should inherit blessing”, 1 Peter 3:9.  Believers have an added blessing from God as part of their inheritance if they respond to evil in the way that is encouraged here.

12:15  Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

Rejoice with them that do rejoice- share in the joys of others, not being so “spiritual” as to be unfeeling. 
And weep with them that weep- the shortest verse in English is “Jesus wept”, John 11:35; the shortest verse in Greek is “Rejoice evermore”, 1 Thessalonians 5:16.  The Lord Jesus was present at a marriage, and supplied the wine of His joy which was superior to any other.  He stood by a graveside and wept, but went further and turned sadness into joy with the raising of Lazarus.  We cannot do this, but we can console those who are sad by giving them thoughts of Christ.  Did He not promise that His people would do greater works than He had done? John 14:12.  It is a greater work to turn a believer’s sadness into joy than it is to turn water into wine.  It is only because He has gone back to the Father, with all that involves in terms of the release of spiritual power, that we can accomplish such things. 

12:16  Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

Be of the same mind one toward another- minding or feeling the same things towards each, not being partial to those you consider more on your level. 
Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate- do not have such a high opinion of yourself that you are not prepared to allow the needy, (men of low estate), to “take you by the hand” so that you go to help them.
Be not wise in your own conceits- be not wise according to your own opinion, so that your mind is closed to the thoughts of others.

12:17  Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

Recompense to no man evil for evil- note the use of word evil in view of the word repay in verse 19.  This attitude is totally contrary to the Adam-nature, but in harmony with the nature of Christ.  “When He was reviled, He reviled not again”, 1 Peter 2:23. 
Provide things honest in the sight of all men- be sure that the things you do are beyond the reproach of critical unbelievers, who watch closely your life, and who have a higher standard for you than they have for themselves. ‘

12:18  If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peacebly with all men- as much as depends on you, live in harmony with unbelievers, not antagonising them.  There is no virtue in being deliberately provocative.  On the other hand, some unbelievers are determined to make trouble for believers, however desirous of living peaceably with them the believers are.

12:19  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves- as those who are dearly loved by God, but hated by men, do not retaliate when angry men attack you because of your faith.  When we appreciate God’s love for us, we shall have the right attitude of heart towards those who hate us.  This is not to say we should condone injustice.  Christ asked why He had been struck by the officer at His trial, in order to expose the illegality of the act, John 18:22,23.  Paul embarrassed the magistrates in Philippi by asking why they were preparing to scourge him, when as a Roman citizen he was protected for that punishment, Acts 16:37-39.  By doing this, the apostle was protecting the new believers in Philippi from harassment after they had left.
But rather give place unto wrath- step aside when the wrath of men is coming your way; let it pass, and let God deal with the matter, as detailed in the quotation which follows.
For it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord- God is perfectly capable of defending His cause in the world, and He will do it in His own way.  “The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God”, James 1:20, so we should avoid carnal reactions to situations.

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

Therefore- in view of the foregoing exhortations. 
If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst give him drink- now the positive action after the negative refusal to retaliate. We should actively do good to our enemies, for this fulfils Christ’s word, “Love your enemies”, Matthew 5:38-48. 
For in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head- perhaps the apostle deliberately chose a passage from Proverbs which seemed to suggest vengeance, in order that we show that we have understood his teaching by doing good to our enemies.  It may be that there were fire-sellers in the East, carrying live coals on their heads in a container.  If their fire was going out, it was kindness to give them a coal from your own fire.  This is the desirable outcome of doing good to an enemy.  On the other hand, by doing good to an enemy, the believer is adding to the judgement which, if the enemy remains unrepentant, God in His vengeance will execute on him in the judgement day.  Both outcomes preserve God’s right to deal with the enemies of His people.

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

Be not overcome of evil- which you will be if you retaliate, for that is part of the purpose of the enemy in attacking, to get us to act contrary to Christ. 
But overcome evil with good- the preposition for “with” is “en”, so the idea is of the believer surrounding  himself with righteous deeds, so that they form a protective shield when the enemy comes.  Note how this attitude in relation to persecution prepares the way for the next chapter with its insistence that we do not resist the powers that be.  The Roman believers would soon be persecuted fiercely by the authorities, so the apostle’s instruction is very timely.