Romans 12

Romans 12:1

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

(a) I urge you. I implore you. The new life we have in Christ is too good to miss out on. Why waste another minute walking after the rotten ways of the flesh, when you can enjoy the blessed and abundant life of the spirit?

(b) Brethren. In the New Testament, the word brethren usually refers to Christian brothers and sisters (see entry for Heb. 2:11).

(c) The mercies of God. It is the love and compassion of God that inspires us to act. Extravagant love inspires an extravagant response.

(d) Present your bodies. Don’t be a schmuck and live like a slave of sin; live for the Lord (Rom. 6:13).

(e) A living and holy sacrifice. You are alive and you are holy. You don’t present yourself to become holy but because you are holy. Jesus makes you so. See entry for Holiness.

(f) A holy sacrifice. Throughout scripture, Christians are consistently referred to as holy or sanctified. See entry for Acts 26:18.

(g) Spiritual. The original word (logikos) means logical or rational, not spiritual. Living for God is a right and proper response to his goodness and mercy. Indeed, it is an act of worship.

Romans 12:2

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

(a) Not conformed. Don’t go along with the corrupt values of the present age.

This world will seek to woo you with false and hollow promises. Don’t fall for them. You will be told you need to do this and that to be loved, accepted, and promoted. Don’t listen. Religion will tell you that you need to you need to earn the favor of God. Don’t believe it. You are a dearly-loved child of God, and you have nothing to prove.

(b) Transformed. Genuine change comes as we behold the Lord and allow his word to take root in our hearts.

Although you were made into a brand new creation the moment you responded to the Lord in faith, some things did not change. Old habits, attitudes and mindsets can thwart the purposes of God in your life making you unfruitful and miserable. The remedy is to change the way you think.

(c) Renewing of your mind. Renovate your thinking. Apply the hammer of God’s word to any argument or stronghold that harms your faith. Abandon those mindsets that don’t align with the message of grace, and be quick to believe the goodness of God.

(d) Prove what the will of God is. When we align ourselves to the Lord’s word, we can be sure that we are walking in his will. God’s will is for us to trust him in all things and be led by the spirit.

Romans 12:3

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

A measure of faith. Since God has given every one of us a measure of faith, it’s wrong to say “I have no faith.” Your faith may be hardly used like an undeveloped muscle, but you have faith none the less. You may say, as the disciples did, “Lord, increase my faith” (Luke 17:5). But you don’t need extra faith any more than you need extra arms and legs. You just need to use the faith you have (Rom. 12:6). Just as you build your muscles with use, you can grow your faith by putting it to work (2 Cor. 10:15, 2 Th. 1:3).

One of the ways we strengthen our faith is by growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus (2 Pet. 3:18). As our understanding of God’s love deepens, it strengthens our trust in him. As God gets bigger, our faith in him grows stronger.

See entry for Faith.

Romans 12:4

For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function,

One body; see entry for 1 Cor. 12:27.

Romans 12:5

so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

One body in Christ; see entry for 1 Cor. 12:27.

Romans 12:6

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;

(a) According to the grace given to us. You are not qualified or disqualified on account of your pedigree or education; you are qualified by the Lord and empowered by his grace. The grace of God empowered the apostles (Acts 4:33), Stephen (Act 6:8), Paul (Eph. 3:7) and every believer since (Rom. 12:6, 1 Pet. 4:10).

(b) Each of us is to exercise our God-given gifts regardless of race or gender (see entry for Gal. 3:28).

(c) Exercise them. As we use our gifts we get better at them and our faith grows.

(d) Prophecy. The gift of prophecy is the ability to impart truth from God’s heart in a way that encourages, strengthens, and comforts people (Acts 15:32, 1 Cor. 12:10, 13:2, 14:3–5). Sometimes this gift will manifest in visions or foresight (e.g., Acts 11:28, 16:9–10, 21:10–11).

(e) According to the proportion of his faith. We all have faith (Rom. 12:3), but we don’t all exercise our faith to the same degree. For this reason, some have weak faith while others have strong faith. See entry for Faith.

Romans 12:7

if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching;

(a) Service. The gift of service is the ability to reveal Jesus the Servant-king by helping others (e.g., 1 Cor. 16:15).

(b) Teaching. Biblical teaching is the ability to reveal Jesus the Living Word of God (Acts 4:2, 13:12, 15:35, 18:11, 28:31, Col. 3:16, 2 John 1:9). Teaching also includes the ability to unpack the scriptures (Acts 2:42).

Romans 12:8

or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

(a) Exhorts. The gift of exhortation or encouragement is the ability to come alongside someone and strengthen them in the Lord (e.g., Col. 4:11). Barnabas was gifted in this area and was known as the Son of Encouragement (Rom. 4:36).

(b) Gives. The gift of giving is the ability to reveal the unbridled generosity of God and inspire generosity in others.

(c) Leads. The gift of leadership is ability to set an example of relying so deeply on Christ that others are inspired to follow. The original word (proistemi) means to stand before, not in the sense of a general standing before his troops, but in terms of watching over and setting an example for others to follow (1 Pet. 5:2–3). We can all lead, but specific leadership roles mentioned in the context of the church include apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (Eph. 4:11).

(d) Mercy. The gift of mercy or compassion is the ability to reveal the compassion of God by helping those who are hurting or in need.

(e) Cheerfulness. The original word (hilarotes) is related to a word that means hilarious or merry. Merry hearts are good medicine (Pro. 17:22).

See also the entry for “Spiritual Gifts

Romans 12:18

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

Christianity has an unfortunate association with the image of the bloodied crusader and the bible-thumping preacher, but the true sons of God are peacemakers (Matt. 5:9). Our aim is to live at peace with everyone. When that’s not possible, it may be time to move on, change the subject, change the conversation, perhaps even change towns (see Matt. 10:14).

Further reading: “How to live at peace in a hostile world

Romans 12:19

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.

When we are unjustly treated the temptation is to take matters into our own hands and settle accounts. But when James and John tried to play the judge and jury, Jesus wasn’t happy with them (Luke 9:54). “That’s not my spirit,” he said. Paul says the same thing here. We are not in the vengeance business. That’s God’s business. Our part is to represent Christ by loving our enemies (Rom. 12:20).

The Grace Commentary is a work in progress with new content added regularly. Sign up for occasional updates below. Got a suggestion? Please use the Feedback page. To report typos or broken links on this page, please use the comment form below.

Leave a Reply