Paul’s letter to the Romans, Commentary. Section 5: Day to day Christian life—things to do, Romans 12-16

Summary

Romans 12. A new kind of priesthood. Based upon what Paul has written to this point, he instructs the Roman believers, who like us and all church age believers are priests, to give themselves to God and for his service. This includes not being conformed to the world’s thinking, but being transformed to God’s thinking. This priesthood and spiritual transformation by taking on biblical thinking puts believers in position to serve God and the church with humility and with their spiritual gifts coupled with faith. Since Christians live around other Christians and serve God together, they are to exemplify godly love, biblical attitudes, and biblical relationships with each other. Furthermore, they have a responsibility to all people, even nonbelievers, to not take revenge, to respect what is right, to be at peace with people if at all possible, and to do God’s good, instead of the world’s evil.

Outline

  1. Romans 12.1-2. God makes all church believers into priests and as priests we believers no longer sacrifice animals to Him, but instead we give ourselves to God for priestly service while at the same time we are progressively being changed inside by a biblical renewal of our thinking instead of being molded in the pattern of the present evil worldview. The sacrifice is alive, holy, and pleasing (predicate adjectives). These words emphatically describe the sacrifice of our bodies to God. Our body is the house in which we live and through which we serve God.
  2. Romans 12:3-8. Believers are individual members of the body of Christ and each has been given a spiritual gift, and so each has the privilege and responsibility to serve God and other believers according to that particular spiritual gift and with the faith that God gives each to serve. Paul then adds a qualifying statement to each gift to encourage and guide the believer in his Christian ministry.
  3. Romans 12:9-16. Once the foundation has been put down—presenting ourselves to God, be transformed by renewing our minds, humility, and serving through spiritual gifts and faith in God for that service—Paul adds 20 items that our attitudes and relationships with other believers should include.
  4. Romans 12.17-21. Paul now broadens his instructions by listing eight ways we ought to think toward and treat all people, believers and non-believers. This includes a responsibility to all people, even nonbelievers, to not take revenge, to respect what is right, to be at peace with people if at all possible, and to do God’s good, instead of the world’s evil.

Select Doctrines in Romans 12

  1. Priesthood of every believer
  2. Spiritual growth
  3. Humility
  4. The body of Christ, the church
  5. Spiritual gifts
  6. Godly love
  7. Relationships among believers
  8. Testing and suffering
  9. Encouragement
  10. Biblical and non-biblical worldviews
  11. The faith life

A new kind of priesthood

  1. Romans 12.1-2. God makes all church believers into priests and as priests we believers no longer sacrifice animals to Him, but instead we give ourselves to God for priestly service while at the same time we are progressively being changed inside by a biblical renewal of our thinking instead of being molded in the pattern of the present evil worldview. The sacrifice is alive, holy, and pleasing (predicate adjectives). These words emphatically describe the sacrifice of our bodies to God. Our body is the house in which we live and through which we serve God.
    1. Romans 12.1. Paul begins now to draw conclusions and applications from chapters 1-11. He makes a parallel with the OT ministry of the priests. He urges us in the church (parakalew, pres act indic) based on God’s mercy to us (dia + genitive of oiktirmos display of concern over another’s misfortune, pity, mercy, compassion). The fact of God’s mercy to us through Jesus Christ and all involved in that—his revelation, the incarnation, the church, the present ministry, his provision for Christian living, the future.
    • Romans 12.1. The main action is to present our bodies (aor act infin of paristemi, to cause to be present in any way, to put at one’s disposal, present, render). Difference of opinion about the use of the aorist. Best to take it as referring to any time and all the time instead of a one-time dedication. Our bodies refer to ourselves. As a priest offered an animal we offer our bodies—our whole self (soul and humans spirit) which lives through the body. This is a presentation that occurs whenever one thinks of serving God. We are consecrated to God. 1 Thessalonians 5.23. 1 Peter 2.5. “True dedication is the presenting of body, mind, and will to God day by day. It is daily yielding the body to Him, having the mind renewed by the Word, and surrendering the will through prayer and obedience. Every Christian is either a conformer, living for and like the world, or a transformer, daily becoming more like Christ.” Wiersbe, Warren W. Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1992. Print
    • Romans 12.1. This is our reasonable (logikos, carefully thought out, 1 Peter 2.2) spiritual service (latreia, service for God, Romans 9.4; Hebrews 9.1,6; John 16.2). It is what we ought to do as Christians. We are in God’s service.
    • Romans 12.1. The sacrifice is alive, holy, and pleasing (predicate adjectives). These words emphatically describe the sacrifice of our bodies to God. Our body is the house in which we live and through which we serve God.
    1. Romans 12.2. Now the how and what. Do not be conformed (suschematizo, to form according to a pattern, pres pass imperative; 1 Peter 1.14) to this age. This age refers to the current worldview, which leaves biblical standards out. See slides.
    • Romans 12.2. But be transformed (metamorphoo, pres pass imperative, to change inwardly or outwardly; Matthew 17.2, 2 Corinthians 3.18 in context of 2 Cor 3). This is a change in thoughts, viewpoint, actions.
    • Romans12.2. How. Renewing the mind (anakainosios, dative of means; Titus 3.5). The right needs to come in, the wrong needs to be replaced. Learning God’s revelation and spiritual growth. The verb anakainoo is used in 2 Corinthians 4.16 and Colossians 3.10. See Ephesians 4.23 for somewhat parallel but with different verb, ananeoo.
    • Romans 12.2. As this happens we can test and prove that God’s will is right and good for us (dokimazo, pres act infinitive; 1 Corinthians 11.28, Galatians 6.4). We can know that God’s will is good.
    1. So what?
      1. Begin and end each day by presenting ourselves to God and for his service.
      2. Our life should be marked by being in God’s service all the time, wherever and whenever. This is to be a constant attitude, and also our choice whenever the time arises and it is appropriate. We are in his service. This is reasonable because of who God is and are relationship to him.
      3. Do not adopt the values, the lifestyles, the thinking of the unbelieving world.
      4. We need a genuine transformation that comes by a change in thinking. We take on God’s thoughts and throw off the world’s thoughts. Where do we find God’s thoughts? The Bible is the storehouse of God’s thoughts.
  2. Romans 12:3-8. Believers are individual members of the body of Christ and each has been given a spiritual gift, and so each has the privilege and responsibility to serve God and other believers according to that particular spiritual gift and with the faith that God gives each to serve. Paul then adds a qualifying statement to each gift to encourage and guide the believer in his Christian ministry.
    1. Main point for this section. The point is that whatever our spiritual gift, and we do not all have the same gift, that gift is a gracious blessing from God and we are to serve by means of that gift and do so knowing that we are serving God and the body of Christ. Furthermore, we serve knowing that God will give us the faith needed to do what he wants us to do. He does not ask us to do things beyond his provision for us to do that.
    2. The spiritual gifts mentioned here are prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation-encouragement, giving, leading, show mercy.
    3. Romans 12.3. Humbly serve. God gave Paul the grace—favor, ability—to advise us to humbly serve God.
      • This means that we do not think that we are not to think arrogantly or puffed up about ourselves.
      • Instead to think wisely about ourselves (1 Corinthians 3.5; 4.7).
      • God has allotted to each a measure of faith. God has given believers the ability to trust him for whatever he asks us to do. Not a spiritual gift of faith. Whatever God calls us to do he gives us the ability to trust him to do his work. This is something like 1 Corinthians 10.13 with a different purpose.
      • “The faith in view in this verse and in verse 6 seems to refer to one’s ability to view and use his or her gifts as abilities that God has given. It also involves trusting in God to work through us to bring blessing to others. Such a view of oneself in relation to his or her gifts is sound judgment because it is consistent with reality. Spiritual gifts do not reflect the worth of the person who has them. For example, a person who has gifts that enable him or her to minister effectively to large crowds of people should not conclude that he or she is a superior Christian.” (Tom Constable notes on Romans 12.3).
      • Seven gifts are listed here.
    4. Romans 12.4-5. The body of Christ is the church. We are many and each has a ministry. Passages that comment on this include 1 Corinthians 12.4-8, 12; Ephesians 4.16. See the main spiritual gift Scripture, Ephesians 2.10, 1 Corinthians 12, 1 Peter 4.10-11, Ephesians 4.11-16.
    5. Romans 12.6-8. Paul says that whatever Christian ministry one does we are to do it whole heartedly.
    6. Romans 12.6. Prophecy (προφητεια) prophecies according to “proportion of his faith.”
      • The prophet was one of the two foundational gifts for the beginning of the church along with the apostle (Ephesians 2.20; 4.11). The prophet was one gifted by the Holy Spirit to communicate divine revelation to believers, primarily in assembly, leading to edification and preparation of believers, and therefore the church, the body of Christ.
      • This faith could be the body of the faith that this prophet was given, or the subjective faith as in Rom 12.3. I think the latter fits best. The prophet teaches confidently because he knows that God is working through him to teach newly revealed truth.
    7. Romans 12.7. We have service (διακονια) and teacher (διδασκω, διδασκαλια).
      • Service: This support gift is the ability to effectively carry out a task, do a job, and engage in an activity for another person or group as a part of the body of Christ. The person with the gift of service functions under authority, with loyalty to that authority, and with an objective or objectives to accomplish (Romans 12:7).
      • Teacher: The ability to communicate the Word of God to believers so that they may understand its content and grow spiritually (Romans 12:7).
    8. Romans 12.8. Paul lists encourage/exhort, giving, leading, and show mercy.
      • Encouragement: The ability to express the content of the Word of God to another believer so that the Holy Spirit can bring about biblical mental attitudes and actions in that believer (Romans 12:8).
      • Giving: This is the ability to share with other believers from your material resources over and above the normal giving of believers (Romans 12:8).
      • Leadership: The ability to lead, direct, and motivate, people, areas of thought, and activity for the orderly, efficient, and harmonious attainment of objectives (Romans 12:8).
      • Mercy: This is the ability to express sympathy, kindness, and help to the person experiencing earthly, human need (Romans 12:8).
      • See summary slides. Doctrine of spiritual gifts later.
  3. Romans 12:9-16. Once the foundation has been put down—presenting ourselves to God, be transformed by renewing our minds, humility, and serving through spiritual gifts and faith in God for that service—Paul adds 20 items that our attitudes and relationships with other believers should include. The verbs are all present participles. They are independent verbal participles that function as imperatives (Wallace GGBTB, 650-651)
    1. Romans 12.9
      1. Godly love without hypocrisy. Αγαπη + ἀνυπόκριτος
      2. Abhor evil. ἀποστυγέω strongly hate + πονηρος pap
      3. Cling to good. Κολλαω unite, associate with + αγαθος ppp
    2. Romans 12.10
      1. Devoted in brotherly love. Φιλαδελφια + φιλοστοργος loving dearly often of family affection
      2. Honor one another προηγεομαι pmpp lead the way,
    3. Romans 12.11
      1. In diligence σπουδη + ‘οκνηρος not holding back, lazy
      2. Fervent in spirit ζεω stirred up. Enthusiastic + πνεματος pap
      3. Serving the Lord δουλευω pap be a slave, perform duties of a slave + κυριος
    4. Romans 12.12
      1. Rejoicing in hope χαιρω + ελπιςω pap
      2. Perservering in tribulation `υπομενω + θλιψις pap
      3. Devoted to prayer προσκαρτερεω pap attach oneself, busily engaged in + προσευχη see Col 4.2
    5. Romans 12.13
      1. Contributing κοινωνέω pap
      2. Hospitality διώκω pap + φιλοξενία see Heb 13.2
    6. Romans 12.14
      1. Bless not curse εὐλογέω paimp, see Luke 6.28 and καταράομαι pmdimpv to call down a curse, pmp imp
    7. Romans 12.15
      1. Rejoice χαίρω painf weep κλαίω painf
    8. Romans 12.16 do not be proud, associate with the lowly
      1. Same mind φρονέω pap
      2. Not haughty ὑψηλός
      3. Associate with συναπάγω ppp
      4. Do not be wise in.. γίνομαι pmpimp + ὑψηλός
  4. Romans 12.17-21. Paul now broadens his instructions by listing eight ways we ought to think toward and treat all people, believers and non-believers. This includes a responsibility to all people, even nonbelievers, to not take revenge, to respect what is right, to be at peace with people if at all possible, and to do God’s good, instead of the world’s evil. He seems to indicate believer and unbeliever by use of anyone and all men in Rom 12.17-18.
    1. Romans 12.17. Do not return or repay (αποδιδωμι pr act pt, mo, masc pl) evil for evil (κακος, morally or socially bad, harmful, dangerous).
      1. Do not match evil with others. Let it go. Consider (προνοεω, pres midd pt. take into consideration, have regard for the good (καλος good, useful, blameless, morally good). Look for the good and benefit in others. Give them the benefit instead of jumping to the negative.
    2. Romans 12.18. Try to live peacefully (ειρηνευω pres act part) with all people (Heb 12.1; Jms 3.16-18).
      1. Do not incite trouble. Do not be a cause for trouble. May not be able to, but at least do not start the trouble. “if you are able or if it is in you power.”
    3. Romans 12.19. Do not take revenge. The verb is εκδικεω to give justice, inflict penalty, give punishment, take vengeance,pres act part.
      1. Here in context has the force of an imperative. The Lord is the one who takes revenger for us (εκδικησις to retaliate, give justice, give punishment. We are wrong when we step in and try to take revenge. When we do that, we take the Lord out of the incident. We think we can do better. This makes an application of Deuteronomy 32.35. Read Deuteronomy 32 and see how the LORD told Israel that he will punish the evil nations for them. See also Psalm 94, Proverbs 24.28-29. David refused to kill Saul two times when he had to chance (1 Samuel 24.1-7; 26).
    4. Romans 12.20. Enemy (ἐχθρός hostility, hated) is hungry and thirsty. The best way to treat those who hassle you or mistreat you is not to get even, but to do the opposite. If he is hungry, feed him; if thirsty, give him a drink. See Proverbs 25 .21-22. “Hot coals” is a figure to express the pain, shame, possibly sorrow that a person has when love is given by one whom he has given pain. Nicol writes, “It must refer to the burning pain of shame and remorse which the man feels whose hostility is repaid by love. This is the only kind of vengeance the Christian is at liberty to contemplate.” (Nicoll, W. Robertson. The Expositor’s Greek Testament: Commentary. Vol. 2. New York: George H. Doran Company. Print.)
    5. Romans 12.21. Paul concludes and summarizes with verse 21. Overcome is νικαω to win in the face of obstacles, to vanquish, to surpass, to conquer. John 16.33; Luke 11.22; 1 John 5.4; Rev 17.14 and others.
      1. The first time it is pres pass impv, and the second time in the pres act impv. Both are second person singular.

So What? Of Romans 12

  1. Our priesthood as believers
  2. Christian life distinctions we need to know
  3. Spiritual growth
  4. Humility
  5. Serving God and the church according to our spiritual gift
  6. Relationship with believers
  7. Relationship with unbelievers, especially those who harass and persecute us

Select Doctrines in Romans 12

  1. Priesthood of every believer
  2. Spiritual growth
  3. Humility
  4. The body of Christ, the church
  5. Serving with spiritual gifts
  6. Godly love
  7. Relationships among believers
  8. Testing and suffering
  9. Encouragement
  10. Biblical and non-biblical worldviews
  11. The faith life
  12. Treat all people, believers and nonbelievers