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

(b) 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.

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

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) 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 12:18

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).

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