Romans 12 - Outline of Romans (Book Notes menu page)
VI. Righteousness Practiced- Application, Service (12:1 - 15:13)
A. In Relation to Ourselves, 12:1,2
B. In Relation to the Church, 12:3-8
C. In Relation to Society, 12:9-21
D. In Relation to Government, 13:1-14
E. In Relation to Other Believers, 14:1 - 15:13
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.
I beseech you therefore, brethren...-
beseech - GK=parakaleo, to call upon, to encourage, to admonish.
Paul does not 'command,' because the believer is no longer under the principle of Law.
Rather, he expects that his brethren (ie., those who have become sons of God by faith in Christ) will be moved to serve the Lord, in response to His Grace toward us. the mercies of God...- The plural form of the word, denotes 'abundance of mercy.'
  • These mercies have been Paul's subject from Rom 3:21 through 11:36.
    They include the solemn facts of 'election and hardening,' and of 'breaking off and grafting in,' because God's purpose in all of these things is 'mercy upon all' (11:32). [adapted from Stifler]
  • These mercies moved Paul to worship (11:30-36). Likewise, they ought to move us.
    As the OT worshipper brought a sacrificial animal to the Temple, we ought to present ourselves as a sacrifice, to be totally consumed in service to God.
that ye present your bodies: a living sacrifice...-
  • By 'your bodies,' he means 'your total personalities.' ''The body is the instrument through which we express ourselves. The mind, the affections, the will, and the Holy Spirit can use the body.'' cp. 1Cor 6:20; Php 1:20; 2Cor 4:10; 1The 5:23 [McGee]
  • The term 'living sacrifice' is startling, when we consider that the GK word for 'sacrifice' {thusia} means 'that which is designated to be slain.' The believer is to give himself completely to the Lord, as slain upon His altar to live wholly for Him. Rom 6:3,4; Gal 2:20
  • The word 'present' is translated 'yield' in Rom 6:13.
...holy, acceptable unto God...-
These are not qualities that we are able to produce or develop within ourselves.
Rather, these qualities are the result (A) of Justification by faith in Christ (6:11-13), and
(B) of Sanctification by the Holy Spirit's continuing work within us (8:9-13).
By Grace, we are now 'alive unto God' (no longer dead in our sins), and holy (set apart unto Him), and therefore, acceptable {lit., 'well pleasing'} before Him.
...which is your reasonable {GK=logikos, rational} service.-
'Service' is GK=latreia, the service of a hired man, the service of a priest (in the Tabernacle, cp. Rom 9:4; Heb 9:1), worship.
  • In contrast to ritual worshippers, who do what tradition says they must do...
    In contrast to sacrificial animals, who are unwitting participants in worship...
  • Our worship is to be the reasoned response to His mercies shown to us. We gladly serve Him with our whole heart and mind, with a clear understanding of our debt and of God's provision. cp. Joh 4:23,24; 2Cor 5:14,15
And be not conformed to this world...- cp. 1Joh 2:15-17
This world {GK=aion, age} is characterized by:
  1. its spirit: of selfishness (not love). Eph 2:2,3
    (From this, God in rich mercy, has delivered us. Eph 2:4,5)
  2. its pursuits: to please self (not God).
    (In contrast, see Gal 1:3,4. It is Christ's life, wholly given to the Father's will, that is to be active within us.)
  3. its dominination: by the evil one (rejecting the rule of God).
    (The prince of this world had nothing, in Christ, by which he could cause Him to walk in the ways of this world. Joh 14:30)
    [these three points, adapted from Stifler]
The word 'conformed' {GK=suschematizo, to be fashioned or shaped like something else} relates to external appearance, rather than to essential substance of character. If you belong to Christ, you are not of this world. Therefore, you ought not to be displaying worldly characteristics.
but be ye transformed {GK=metamorphoo, to be changed in essential character (inward substance)}.
The root word {GK= morphe, form, substance} is used of Christ, who was in His essential character 'God,' and took upon Himself the essential character of a 'servant.' Php 2:6,7
The prefix 'meta' denotes 'change.' By God's Grace, the believer's inner nature is transformed from that of a 'slave to sin' to that of a 'son of God.'
by the renewing of your mind...
Compare this word for 'mind' as used previously in Romans:
  • Rom 1:28 - the natural mind is perverted.
  • 7:23,25 - the spiritual mind is defeated.
  • 11:34 - the mind of God, perfect in wisdom & knowledge, determines His Will.
the renewing {GK=anakainosis, renewal, renovation} - The only other NT occurrence of this word (as a noun) is in Titus 3:5, where it is associated with 'regeneration.' Regeneration has the sense of 'new birth' and 'renewing' has the sense of 'refurbishing.'
  • This renewing is not our doing. It is not a process of 'self-improvement.'
    Rather, it is the work of the Holy Spirit, who ''continues what the single act of regeneration, done once for all, begins (2Cor 4:16).'' [Stifler]
  • This renewing is a real change in the thought process of the believer. cp. Psa 51:10
    This change is accomplished within us, by the Holy Spirit, as we yield to Him (allowing Him to do His work). cp. 2Cor 3:18; Gal 5:16; 1The 5:19; Eph 4:22-24
that ye may prove {GK=dokimazo, test, examine, approve, demonstrate}... the Will of God.-
(cp. usage of this word in 2Cor 13:5; Gal 6:4; Eph 5:8-10; 1The 5:21.)
  • The Will of God, which expresses the perfections of the mind of God, is already ''good {ie., beneficial in purpose}, acceptable {ie., well pleasing to God}, and perfect {ie., complete}.''
  • As God's Spirit renews our minds, bringing our thinking into harmony with His,
    we grow in understanding and appreciation of the wisdom of His Will.
    Our lives, lived in loving submission to Him, declare our approval of His ways with us, and demonstrate to the world the rightness of His Will.
    cp. v.2; Rom 8:27,28; 1The 4:3; 5:18; Heb 10:36; 1Pet 2:15; 3:17; 4:2,19
The remaining chapters of this epistle discuss practical aspects of living according to God's Will. cp. Eph 5:1-21
VI. Righteousness Practiced- Application, Service (12:1 - 15:13)
B. In Relation to the Church, Rom 12:3-8
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.
Paul begins with a warning ''to every man that is among you'' (ie., to all believers).
  • 'not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.'- This is startling.
    Within the last few verses, we have considered the unfathomable wisdom & knowledge of God (11:33-36), and acknowledged our need to be submitted to and in harmony with His mind (v.2). Yet, already our tendency to pride is in evidence. How easily we turn our gaze from the Lord, to gloat in what we think we know, and in our own supposed superiorities over other believers.
  • 'but to think soberly {ie., rightly},
    according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith...'-
    The believer, who thinks rightly, acknowledges and submits to the authority of God, and joyfully fills the place assigned to him in the 'body of Christ' (the Church).
         Just as my mind and will is expressed through my body, so, the mind of Christ (not my mind) is to be expressed through His Church.
    The outline below summarizes Rom 12:3-8 and 1Cor 12:12-31. [outline by Adrian Rogers]
    The Body of Christ --
    1. A Manifest Person - The Person of Christ is made known through His Body.
    2. A Ministering Purpose - The purpose of the Body is to serve the Person of Christ.
    3. A Motivating Power - The Person can be revealed only through a Body that is alive.
      A corpse cannot express the will of the person.
      The life of a man's body is in the spirit of a man.
      The life of Christ's Body is in the Holy Spirit.
    4. A Mutual Purpose -
      All of the parts of the Body must work together for Christ's purposes. If the members are in conflict, cut off from one another, or cut off from the Head, the Body becomes a grotesque monster. Such a body cannot fulfill the purpose of the Head, but it can cause great harm. 1Cor 12:25 (a schism is a break, tear, division); Eph 4:15,16
many members in one body, and all members have not the same office {ie., function}.-
It is God who places each member in the position of His choosing.
     Each member's assignment depends of 'the measure {GK=metron, a measured portion} of faith' (v.3b) which may include both the degree of maturity in 'the faith,' and the amount and type of gifting for a specific task. These qualities are 'dealt' {ie., distributed} to individuals at God's discretion. cp. 1Cor 12:4-11
     Paul refers humbly to his assigned place of authority in the Body as 'the grace given unto me.' cp. v.3a; 1Cor 12:28-30
12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, {1Cor 4:7}
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. {GK=charisma, gifts of grace, gracings} differing {GK=diaphoros, varying in kind}...-
God gives each member unique and 'excellent' {another sense of 'diaphoros'} equipage for the place of service designed for that member. cp. Eph 4:7-16; 1Cor 12:28
Among these roles are (this list is representative, not exhaustive):
  • prophecy {the word is composed of GK=phema, to speak; and the prefix GK=pro, forth}-
    In scripture, this role is not primarily 'fore-telling,' but 'forth-telling.'
    The 'prophet' is to 'proclaim' what God has revealed.
    The one who proclaims God's Word is to do so 'according to the proportion of faith' (ie., he is not to go beyond what he knows to be God's Word). cp. 1Pet 4:10,11
  • ministry {GK=diakonia, service}- This word is used of many types of service. Examples:
    Paul's 'office' as an apostle (Rom 11:13), the office of 'deacon' which was originally to 'minister' to the temporal needs of widows (Acts 6:1-6; 1Tim 3:8-13), the general 'ministry' of preaching and teaching (Acts 6:4; Col 4:17; 1Tim 1:12), the 'service' of financial assistance (Rom 15:31), and the general assistance that a former slave could have 'ministered' to Paul (Phm 1:13). Whatever the role, the minister is to faithfully tend to the work God has given him. A minister is a "servant" of God, and, therefore, of His people.
  • teaching {GK=didaskalia, instruction of doctrine}-
    The teacher sets forth foundational truth from the Scriptures (2Tim 3:10,16), so that believers might discern truth from error (Eph 4:14; 2Tim 4:2,3).
  • exhortation {GK=paraklesis, admonition, encouragement, consolation}-
    Paul excercised an aspect of this role in v.1- 'I beseech {exhort} you, brethren' (cp. 1The 2:3,4). The teaching of truth, and the exhortation to follow it, is not always well received by the hearers. Often, Paul had to address false allegations raised against him.
  • giving... let him do it with simplicity {ie., without pretense, without hypocrisy} -
    All can have a part in financial giving. Some may be spiritually gifted to give by faith, beyond what would seem their reasonable ability. (cp. Luk 21:1-4; 2Cor 9:6-11; cf. Acts 4:32 - 5:11)
  • he that 'ruleth' {GK=proistemi, to superintend, to preside over}-
    Since members of the Body do not 'rule' over one another, Paul probably has the role of 'elder' in mind (1Pet 5:1-4). The elders are entrusted with the care of God's people. They are to approach their responsibilities with diligence {ie., earnestly, carefully and faithfully}.
  • he that 'shows mercy' {ie., who has compassion upon those in difficulty, and assists them},
    with cheerfulness {ie., joyfully, with a ready mind, promptly}.
VI. Righteousness Practiced- Application, Service (12:1 - 15:13)
C. In Relation to Society, Rom 12:9-21
( The emphasis is toward other believers in v.9-16, and toward all men in v.17-21. )
12:9 [Let] love {GK=agape} be without dissimulation {ie., without hypocrisy}.
Abhor {ie., hate intensely} that which is evil; cleave {ie., cling} to that which is good.
Love must not be without discernment. Love cannot be passive toward evil.
Rather, it is moved to speak out and take a stand against that which is wrong or harmful. Brothers may honestly disagree on some issues. However, since the Body cannot afford schism, they ought to be open to honest discussion for the purpose of finding the truth, according to Scripture.
12:10 [Be] kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love;
in honour preferring one another; {ie., preferring one another in honor;}
ie., not claiming honor for myself, but not failing to honor others.
12:11 Not slothful in business {lit., 'diligence,' same word in v.8b};
This does not relate to secular livelihood, but to the level of energy invested in the Lord's service.
Luther translated this as: ''In regard to zeal, be not lazy.'' [McGee]
fervent {GK=zeo, lit., boiling with heat, ie., full of zeal} in spirit;
{GK=douleuo, serving as a bondslave of} the Lord;
ie., with every aspect of my character and conduct given over to please Him.
The Lord Jesus is our prime example. Luk 2:49; Joh 2:17
The only 'reasonable' way to serve God is 'diligently,' with all that I am and have (v.1).
12:12 Rejoicing in hope; {cp. Rom 8:17-25}
patient in tribulation
{ie., 'enduring affliction'}; {cp. 1Pet 1:3-9}
continuing instant
{ie., continuing steadfastly} in prayer;
Persistence in prayer is possible because of faith which looks, beyond unanswered prayer,
to Him who hears whatever we ask according to His Will. Eph 6:18,19; Php 4:6,7; 1Joh 5:14,15
" 'Hope... tribulation... prayer.' These three make up the bulk of many a Christian life." [Stifler]
Many Psalms follow a similar pattern. Prayer is directed to the trusted One, whose Word is sure. Secure in Him, the one who prays waits patiently, even in the midst of overwhelming troubles, for God to fulfill His promises.
12:13 Distributing to {GK=koinoneo, partaking in common with}
the necessity
{ie., need, lack} of saints; (see Heb 13:3)
given to
{GK=dioko, lit., pursuing} hospitality {GK=philonexia, love of strangers}.
ie., actively seeking brothers with whom we have had little interaction, that we might share what we have with them. In the early church, hospitality toward strangers was often directed toward helping traveling missionaries and ministers of the Gospel (Heb 13:2; 3Joh 1:5-8).
12:14 Bless them which persecute {GK=dioko, pursue, drive away} you:
bless, and curse not.
The repetition of 'bless' is emphatic... even more so, when coupled negatively with the opposite ('curse').
'Bless' {GK=eulogeo} means to 'speak well of,' to put in a 'good word for' our persecutors, while our natural tendency would be to 'curse' (ie., to pronounce evil against, or bad things upon} them.
Our Lord is our example. Luk 23:33,34
Can we truly seek God's best for our enemies, while we curse our brothers? (v.3,9,10; Jam 3:8-12)
12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
"The world's motto is: 'Laugh and the world laughs with you; weep and you weep alone.' " [McGee]
No wonder the world takes notice, when believers love one another. Joh 13:35
"The mother enters into the innocent joys of her children and is grieved in their sorrows,
for she is one with them and loves them. [Likewise,] believers are 'members one with another' (v.5)." [Stifler]
Jesus wept with Mary and Martha, though He knew their tears would be turned to joy. Joh 11:35
He also wept over Jerusalem, though they had rejected Him, because He knew the sorrows that would befall them. Luk 19:41-44
12:16 [Be] of the same mind one toward another.
This exhortation is not for uniformity of thought, but rather, for humility and love toward one another (Php 2:1-5). The mind of Christ is moved by love for God and for those He loves. It humbly takes the lowest place, in order to lift up another (v.10b).
Mind not high things, {cp. v.3; Mark 10:42-45}
but condescend to
{lit., be carried away with} men of low estate.
men of 'low estate'...- are the humble and lowly, who are of little value in the eyes of this world.
(see this word, translated 'lowly,' 'low degree,' in Mat 11:29; Luk 1:52)
condescend to men of low estate...- This is not 'stepping down to their level' while holding one's nose.
But being drawn to them, as to the beauty of a rose. The rose by the dusty wayside is as sweet as the rose in the king's garden.
"Christ in helping one lowly woman was so 'carried away' that He had no desire to eat (Joh 4:31,32)." [Stifler] The love of Jesus is always 'without dissimulation,' being unfeigned and sincere. (v.9; Jam 2:1-9)
Be not wise in your own conceits. {cp. Rom 11:25; Prov 26:12}
"Self-conceit, too high an estimate of oneself, is a chief hindrance to the duties enjoined above...
The man who is 'above' doing what Christ did for men is far beneath His approval." [Stifler]
12:17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. {cp. v.14; 1Pet 3:9}
{lit., take thought beforehand to ensure...}
things honest in the sight of all men.
{cp. 2Cor 6:3}
12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. no man... in the sight of all men...-
Whereas, v.9-16 focused on interrelationships with other believers,
v.17-21 focus on the believer's interaction with the world.
if it be 'possible' {GK=dunatos, powerful, strong, mighty, miraculous}...
This word is used of God, who is 'able,' in Rom 4:21; 11:23. (also see Mat 19:26) much as lieth in you...-
The power of God's Holy Spirit dwells within you. As you forsake your fleshly ways and yield to His control, you will be enabled to live peaceably {ie., in harmony, without strife} with all men (Rom 8:11,12; 1Pet 3:8-11).
     "Seek peace. The other party may not yield, but let it be no fault of yours if he does not. You are not guiltless until you have exhausted every means to bring about reconciliation. How could church quarrels flourish if men heeded this?" [Stifler]
12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, {cp., v.14,17}
but [rather] give place unto wrath:
for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
{quotes Deu 32:35,43}
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.
{quotes Prov 25:21,22}
Kindness, conferred upon an enemy,
is consistent with the righteous character of our Lord. ; eg., Mat 5:44,45
It will either...
  • convict him of sin, and lead to his repentance, or
  • add fuel to his future judgment by God. cp. Rom 2:4,5
"coals of fire" from before the Lord,
speak of His hot judgment upon sin (Lev 16:12,13; Psa 18:6-13).
Their effect, upon the sinner, will be either...
It is possible for a brother in Christ to be 'thine enemy.' Deal with him also in love. cp. 1Cor 6:7,8
12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. {cp. Prov 16:32; Luk 6:27-36}
evil... good.- (cp. v.9)
There is a parallel with 'sin... righteousness.'
Having been set free from sin, and having had righteousness imputed and imparted, I am to live according to righteousness.
In this chapter, we have seen that righteousness, put into practice, involves:
  • a right relationship toward God, of total submission to Him, and total transformation by Him into conformity with His will (v.1,2).
  • a right relationship within the Body of Christ, with each member in submission to the Head, and each in his proper position with the others, for the benefit of the whole (v.3-8).
  • a right relationship with all men (both believers and unbelievers), displaying the mind of Christ (humility, love, righteousness) in all matters, and in contrast to the way of this world. (1The 5:15; 1Pet 3:10-16)
...overcome {ie., be victorious over} evil with good.-
  • "He who cannot be moved from the basis of love is a victor even though he may not win his enemy. To win himself is a greater triumph." [Stifler]
  • Isn't that what Jesus did? Present yourself, body and mind to Him, that through you, He might show Himself, His righteousness and love, to others.

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