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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Romans 12

 

 

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Verse 1-2

Romans 12:1 f. Practical Holiness.—On his doctrine Paul grounds a moral homily.

Romans 12:1. "Therefore" covers the entire previous teaching. "The compassions of God" link this paragraph to the last: the tenderness of the Divine mercy prompts to consecration, "Present your bodies" recalls Romans 6:12 f.*; the demand for physical consecration arose from the prevalence of bodily sin (cf. Romans 6:6; Romans 6:19, etc.). The body is made "a living sacrifice" in the activities of daily duty. "Rational service" (worship)—contrasted with the outward and mechanical (cf. Romans 1:9, Philippians 3:3)—implies intelligent practical devotion, the religion which makes work worship.

Romans 12:2. The "sacrifice" is defined by its opposite: "No longer comply with the fashions of this age (cf. Romans 1:18-32, etc.); but let there be a transformation in you, effected by the renovation of your mind."—"Fashion" is guise or habit of life; "form," the intrinsic mode of being (cf. Philippians 2:6 f.*).—"The mind" to be renewed is the reason (as in Romans 1:28, Romans 7:25)—mind in its essential powers. Such renovation qualifies one "to discriminate what God wills" (cf. Ephesians 5:17): His will is identified with "the good and acceptable and perfect" (mg.), with that which approves itself to a true conscience; cf. Philippians 4:8, etc.

On the above basis, first social (Romans 12:3-21), then civil (Romans 13:1-7) duties are enjoined, all being summed up under the law of love (Romans 13:8-10) and enforced by the urgency of the situation (Romans 13:11-14).


Verses 3-21

Romans 12:3-21. In the Christian Temper, modesty is the first desideratum.

Romans 12:3. "I tell everyone that is among you not to be high-minded above a right mind, but to be of a mind to be sober-minded" (Sp.). This is the "mind" as temper, disposition (so in Romans 8:5-7), not as intellect (Romans 12:2). A modest temper comes from appreciating other men's gifts. "Measure of faith," as the sequel shows, means faith in the variety of its apportioned manifestations.

Romans 12:4 f. For Christians form "in Christ a single body with many members, of widely diverse functions" (pp. 646, 812); 1 Corinthians 12:12-31* expounds this passage.

Romans 12:6 a. These functions are so many "grace-gifts" (charisms, the word of Romans 1:11, Romans 5:15, etc., cf. Charismata in ERE), "differing according to the grace that was given us"—including the writer (Romans 12:3).

Romans 12:6 b - Romans 12:8. The chief charisms (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11) are prophecy, ministry, etc.—an unsystematic enumeration, indicating no formal organisation. "The proportion of faith" in "prophesying" relates not to symmetry of doctrine, but to heart-faith as regulating utterance (cf. Romans 10:10)—conviction controlling inspiration. "Ministry," which in contrast with "prophecy," etc., signifies service in deed (cf. Romans 13:4, 2 Corinthians 8:4, Acts 12:25), and "teaching, exhortation," demand concentration on the business in hand. "The distributor," the man with a surplus for the needy (cf. Ephesians 4:28, 1 Timothy 6:17), must think only of the recipient's benefit (contrast Matthew 6:2). "He who takes the lead" ("that ruleth") imports here leadership in beneficence (cf. Titus 3:8; Titus 3:14). "Cheerfulness" in "the dispenser of mercy" doubles the kindness (cf. 2 Corinthians 9:7).

Romans 12:9. The last-named offices spring from love," which is to be "without simulation" (cf. 2 Corinthians 6:6), as cherished by men "loathing evil," etc.

Romans 12:10-12. Love's fine flower is "love to (Christian) brethren," marked by "tender (family) affection" and the wish of each to see "the other honoured rather than himself"; cf. Philippians 2:3, Matthew 20:25-28.—"In your diligence" (as in Romans 12:8) "not faltering"—be rather "boiling in spirit, since you serve the Lord" (cf. Colossians 3:22-24). In your hope rejoicing, in your affliction enduring"—an echo of Romans 5:3-5; "in prayer stedfastly persevering" (cf. Colossians 4:2, Ephesians 6:18, Acts 11:4)—the soul's resort in trouble.

Romans 12:13 resumes the topic of Romans 12:8 : "imparting to the needs of the saints (cf. Romans 15:25), making an occupation of hospitality" (cf. Hebrews 13:2, 1 Peter 4:9, 3 John 1:5)—a grace much in requisition at Rome.

Romans 12:14 : almost in the words of Jesus (Luke 6:27 f.); the "sympathy" of Romans 12:15 requires a selflessness sometimes wanting in the consciously forgiving.

Romans 12:16. "Harmonious in your relations toward one another" (ICC)—the Greek phrase of Romans 15:5, Philippians 2:2; Philippians 4:2. Harmony of mind precludes "minding high things" (cf. Romans 12:3; Romans 12:10; Romans 11:21); pride and ambition destroy fraternity, which "consents with (mg.; same verb in Galatians 2:13, 2 Peter 3:17) the lowly," i.e. falls in with their ways.—The above faults centre in "self-conceit," censured once more (cf. Romans 12:3), in words drawn from Proverbs 3:7.

Romans 12:17-21. A group of rules bearing on Retaliation, provoked in Christians by frequent wrongs; cf. Romans 12:14, 1 Thessalonians 5:15, etc. "Taking forethought for what is honourable" comes from Proverbs 3:4 (LXX), advising prudent avoidance of offence, in accordance with the next injunction: "If possible, so far as lies in you, keeping peace with all"; give no cause of quarrel on your side.—"Yield place to the anger" of God; if "avenging" must be, leave it to Him, for Scripture declares this "His prerogative." Follow the advice of Proverbs 25:21 f. and "heap coals of fire on the enemy," by kindling in him shame and self-reproach. In short, "conquer evil by good" (Romans 12:21).

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Romans 12:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/romans-12.html. 1919.

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