2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Some of us find it difficult to praise people. “Don’t be overcome (niko—be conquered) by evil, but overcome (nika—conquer) evil with good“ (v. 21). If we are to “abhor that which is evil,” we must practice the spiritual disciplines of scripture reading, prayer, and Christian fellowship. The irony is that many people who possess money, power, and prestige are nevertheless quite miserable—always moving from deal to deal, conquest to conquest, marriage to marriage, and psychiatrist to psychiatrist in an attempt to find the joy that eludes them. When Paul says, “Vengeance is mine,” he is quoting Deuteronomy 32:35. Romans 12:9-12 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) Marks of the True Christian. After all, we can’t control the other person. Early Christians took seriously the needs of widows and other vulnerable people, particularly within the church (Acts 6:1; 2 Corinthians 8:13-14; Galatians 6:10; 1 Timothy 5:3-16; James 1:27). 15Rejoice with those who rejoice. Second, the 2008 Haverhill Road Lectureship was a series from Romans 12. Either is possible, and both make sense. Implications for How We Read Romans 12 The implication this has for how we read Romans 12 is threefold (at least). Let love be genuine! There have been any number of interpretations of this phrase, but most scholars agree that it means that the recipient of our grace will burn with shame at having treated us badly, and might therefore become our friend. Blanchard’s perspective was practical rather than theological. Paul appeals to Roman Christians “to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God” (v. 1). We are familiar with 1 Corinthians 13, the great love chapter, but often forget that it grew out of a discussion of varying gifts. Prayer is a channel through which the Christian receives strength. Paul lists love first among the thirteen desired behaviors, and love is more than first among equals. To “abhor that which is evil” requires daily re-grounding in the faith so that we can accurately discern the line between good and evil. So there is a lot of love language here! Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. For example, he says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (12:15), or “If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (12:18). How do you spell joy? Romans 12:9–21 is a list of numerous brief, bullet-pointed commands. (ed. Even the pastor is tempted to give too high a priority to filling pews and meeting budgets. He told us to look for opportunities to give honest praise so that we could occasionally offer criticism without getting the praise/criticism ratio out of kilter. J.B. Phillips has an outstanding and memorable translation of Romans 12:1-2: With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give Him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to Him and acceptable by Him. This is good advice for every human relationship. The latter is much more likely, since it fits with the profound theme in this immediate section that we are not to have any part in repaying evil in our personal relationships and it fits with the overarching theme that love is to be genuine. Did you know that good distance runners don’t just play general messages in their minds like “Relax!” or “Stay loose!” while running? 6-9 and 1 Corinthians 12-13. 6-8). The opposite, however, is usually true—praise encourages people to run harder. Honor one another above yourselves. I have heard many an otherwise good sermon fall flat because the preacher failed to convey passion—enthusiasm—conviction. In response to God's majestic glory shown in Romans 11:33-36, we must submit ourselves to Him. For it is written, “Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord.” 20Therefore, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him. In that context, the person bestowing a blessing was, in a sense, asking God to bless the other person. “enduring (hypomenontes—persevere) in troubles“ (v. 12b). Exodus 3:1-6: Coming Home–A Mountain, a Bush and the Call of Moses. But the idea of genuine love that Paul begins with in 12:9 continues to operate through Paul’s emphasis on the love commandment in 13:8-10. The winner must often settle for second prize—being feared instead of being loved. Hold tightly to what is good.10 Love each other with genuine affection,[a]and take delight in honoring each other.11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 18If it is possible, as much as it is up to you, be at peace with all men. Mr. Blanchard received a high fee—many thousands of dollars—for that lecture. To “rejoice with those who rejoice. ), The Lectionary Commentary: The Second Readings: Acts and the Epistles (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001), Morris, Leon, The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Co, 1988), Mounce, Robert H., The New American Commentary: Romans, (Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995). Cling to that which is good” (v. 9). Romans 13:3-4 , with which there is a charming connection. 9Let love (Greek: agape) be without hypocrisy (Greek: anupokritos). This begins a new section in Paul's letter. “Cling (kollomenoi—from kollao) to that which is good” (v. 9c). Weep with those who weep“ (v. 15). • At the cross, Jesus set the example, praying, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). 2. Like any other Pauline letter, Romans 12:9-21 focuses on the humanization of the gospel and the church. “O” stands for others, and “Y” stands for yourself. Romans 12:21. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. For it is written, ‘Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord‘” (v. 19). In verses 1-8, therefore, Paul paints with a broad brush, showing us generally what Christian discipleship requires. Romans 12:9-21. “Let love (agape) be without hypocrisy” (anupokritos) (v. 9a). “continuing steadfastly (proskarterountes—be constantly diligent) in prayer” (v. 12c). 14Bless those who persecute you; bless, and don’t curse. The person who wins the prize often does so at the cost of the admiration that he/she would like to win. We find joy and hope in the assurance that our “heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” and that, if we “seek first God’s Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:32-33). Paul calls us to hate all evil—to hate it in all its forms—to hate each instance of it—to hate the evil within us as well as the evil within our neighbor—to hate evil as the firefighter hates the hidden ember that threatens to undo his/her work—to hate evil as a mother hates the drugs that she finds in her son’s bedroom—to consider evil the enemy—to hate it passionately—to oppose it—to search it out and eliminate it—to practice tough love against it—to engage in a lifelong war against evil. In these five verses, Paul lists thirteen behaviors that the Christian should adopt. So it is here in Romans 12:6-9. Paul calls us to different kind of ambition-behavior. Genuine love is the deepest theme in this section of Romans. Romans 12:1-8 establishes the foundation upon which 12:9-21 is built. Respect what is honorable in the sight of all men. It is also true that a pastor’s work is never done. However all that Paul wrote in Romans 12:3-21 is directly applicable to life within the body of Christ. If we use evil means to achieve a worthwhile end, our evil means will compromise both our character and our witness. • Third is to recognize that we can do part of the job—planting or watering—but it is “God who gives the increase” (1 Cor. I once heard Ken Blanchard of the Hershey-Blanchard management team tell senior executives to praise subordinates as a way of getting the best from them. 7; Romans 12:12 to ch. Romans 9:21 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓] Romans 9:21, NIV: "Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?" The believer may encounter enemies there as well as in … If you have read through this passage, Romans 12:9-21, you can see that the theme is clearly given in the very first sentence: "Love must be sincere." 14, 17) that Paul tells us that we should not seek vengeance. We also find joy and hope in the assurance that our lives count, not just now, but also for eternity. The placement of this pericope is the first thing to attend to in preparation for preaching. 9 and the following chapters, concerning the communion of believers It is the same with Paul’s ideas for genuine Christ-like love in Romans 12:9-21. If we allow the Spirit to guide us to observe these behaviors, we will find our overwhelming concern to be for others rather than self. What gifts do you think you offer in service to people around you? So often we think that the letter of Romans is all about doctrine, or justification by faith. The foundation for Christian living. “fervent in spirit“ (v. 11b)—literally, “in spirit burning or boiling.” It is difficult to overestimate the importance of enthusiasm in ministry. Romans 12:9-21 NIV - Love in Action - Love must be sincere. So Paul is hinting that to love genuinely is to love as Jesus loved. Notice how “hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good” follows immediately after the opening title of “Let love be genuine.” Then the good and evil theme is explicitly mentioned at the end of the text: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (12:21). Paul is not calling us to hunker down and accept the tyrant’s blows, but is instead calling us to keep the faith, even though suffering. There we will learn that our ordinary lives were, by the grace of God, extraordinarily important. Is all service to others sacrifice? Romans 12:21, NASB: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Paul warns the Gentiles in Romans 11:1-2, 29-32 not to be full of pride, and here in Romans 12:9-21 he repeats the same warning to all of us. Family love is special, because the family is special. We must be on guard against burnout. We can save ourselves a basketful of money and learn the same thing by taking Romans 12:10 seriously. We are, therefore, equals under God’s grace. Then in verses 9-21 Paul discharges a series of rapid-fire exhortations that whiz by without much connection or clarification. Hate what is wrong. Our English word sincere comes from the Latin sincerus, which means "without wax." This was an excellent series by Dave Schmidt and Andy Cantrell who went into great depth over most of the exhortations found in this section. “Abhor (apostugountes) that which is evil” (v. 9b). Both joy and hope are frequent themes in the New Testament, even though life for early Christians was anything but easy. Diokontes is a strong word, having the sense of pursuing or pressing forward. Jesus has always demanded one’s all in following him. We want to defeat them—to win the prize—to snatch away the promotion. Hold tightly to what is good. The best way to conquer an enemy is to make him/her our friend. As Christians, we serve under obligation. After discussing how God has gifted various church members with faith appropriate for different roles in the church, Paul offers a poetic composition on how love reaches for the common good in the church. Paul is advocating that we actively look for opportunities to provide hospitality. Romans 12:14. We talk about pillars of the church, by which we mean Christians who contribute a great deal to the church’s work, but we might also consider another pillar metaphor—i.e., Christians standing together as family are like closely placed pillars under a roof—strong—unshakable. This verse says that it doesn’t. Paul urges us to think like other Christians, but not to blindly go along with the group. The secret to joy is to put Jesus first, others second, yourself last. Romans 12:1-8 establishes the foundation upon which 12:9-21 is built. Then, based on God’s mercies, you are to present your body as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your rational service of worship (12:1). Christians are members of their nuclear families (father, mother, brothers, sisters), but are also members of their Christian family. Paul appeals to Roman Christians “to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God” (v. 1). Such is often not the case, however, because we find ourselves jealous of other people’s good fortune and judgmental about their bad fortune. Abhor that which is evil. Paul moves from his description of believers as the body of Christ in verses 3-8 to the metaphor of believers as the family of God in verse 10. There are four words for love in Greek—agape, philos, eros, and storge. There is a tension between “Let love be without hypocrisy” (v. 9a) and “Abhor that which is evil” (v. 9b). Members of healthy families know each other’s warts, but love each other anyway. 12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 10 In love (Greek:philostorgoi) of the brother be tenderly affectionate one to another (Greek: philadelphia); in honor preferring one another; 11not lagging in diligence; fervent in spirit; serving (Greek: douleuontes—from douleuo) the Lord. In the NT, “blessing” translates the Greek makarios, which conveys the idea of fortunate or happy. The next verse, Romans 12:10, literally begins by saying, In brotherly/sisterly love be lovingly affectionate. for in doing so, you will heap coals of fire on his head.”. A resource for the whole church from Luther Seminary. “given (diokontes) to hospitality” (v. 13b). rather than the needs of the other. Don’t set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. [b]12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Jesus recognized that. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself … Patience for God's sake, is true piety. Romans 12:9–21. Verse 9 has no logical connection to what precedes. Jesus emphasized the importance of hospitality to those in need (those who are hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick, or in prison), and warned that failure to show hospitality will have eternal consequences (Matthew 25:31-46). 10-13. “you will heap coals of fire on his head” (v. 20c). Students of this text differ regarding whether this means that by doing good to an enemy you will increase God’s judgment on the person or whether it means that by doing good you will help the person repent. Therefore we ought to support such people, so that we may become co-workers with the truth” (3 John 1:7-8). Verses 10-13 are composed of ten injunctions bracketed by three forms of the Greek philos love-word—philadelphia and philostorgoi—brotherly love and family love (v. 10) and philoxenian—family love (v. 13). Our translations do not catch all the words that have love in the opening verses of this section. “Don’t set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble“ (v. 16b). Consider the salesperson who feigns interest in a person’s family as a way of gaining trust and selling product. “J” stands for Jesus. The more visible our position, the more careful we must be. We want to win, in part, so that we can feel better about ourselves and, in part, to have people admire us. Guiding Principles for the Christian Life – Romans 12:9-21. He is giving us very specific ideas for authentic love. Storge is the Greek for family love (Barclay, 164), and philos is the Greek for brotherly love. At a more surface level, there is a theme of good and evil that operates throughout this text. Be devoted to one another in love. He requires only that we do our part to establish peaceful relationships. Paul calls us to meet violence, not with violence, but with blessing—a startling idea, but not original with Paul: • Jesus calls us to turn the other cheek, to go the second mile, to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:38-44). People looking at the church from the outside today are often puzzled by the joy and hope that they find there. Discussion Questions. “rejoicing in hope“ (v. 12a). Believe. The thought here is much like Paul’s earlier admonition to the church at Thessalonica, “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 21Don’t be overcome (Greek: niko—be conquered) by evil, but overcome (Greek: nika—conquer) evil with good. We find it easy to hate genocide, terrorism, and child molestation. It is the same with Paul’s ideas for genuine Christ-like love in Romans 12:9-21. We find it easy to abhor our daughter’s casual dalliance with a young man not of our liking. As far as any single idea pervades the rest of the chapter it is that of the first words in Romans 12:9: ἡ ἀγάπη ἀνυπόκριτος. Weep with those who weep. What is humility? Cling (Greek: kollomenoi—from kollao) to that which is good. But a closer look shows that the passage is not arbitrary, but loosely tied to what precedes it in 12:1-8. “contributing to the needs of the saints“ (v. 13a). 16Be of the same mind one toward another. 3:7). Having cautioned Christian practitioners to be transformed and renewed in their minds, attitudes, … Continue reading "Commentary on Romans 12:9-21" We must remind ourselves that God is working behind the scenes in ways that we will not know until the day that we see him face to face. There is a progression in Romans 12:9-21. At the heart of everything are the mercies of God. “In love (philostorgoi) of the brother be tenderly affectionate one to another” (philadelphia) (v. 10a). Another very specific idea for love is found in the quotation from Proverbs 25:21-22 to feed and give something to drink to hungry and thirsty enemies. However, when he calls us to “be at peace with all men,” he inserts two qualifications—”If it is possible” and “as much as it is up to you”. “Respect what is honorable in the sight of all men“ (v. 17b). Apostugountes is a strong word meaning to dislike, to abhor, or to have a horror of (Thayer, 68). What Paul is calling us to do here, then, is to glue ourselves “to that which is good”—to connect ourselves “to what is good” as inseparably as tendons bind bone to muscle. The ASV, which is also in the public domain due to expired copyrights, was a very good translation, but included many archaic words (hast, shineth, etc. That familial love is referred to in this passage is shown by two compound Greek words that are used in this verse. We must hate the sin while loving the sinner—a tough balancing act—but evil-hating is one of the ways that we demonstrate genuine-loving. Paul gives some very practical help on this. God must be served with the spirit, under the influences of the Holy Spirit. However, living as we do in a kosmos-world–a world opposed to God–it is difficult to keep the edge on our moral sense. 4. “Don’t be wise in your own conceits“ (v. 16c). A Sermon for Sunday August 31, Exodus 3:1-8a, 10; Romans 12:9-10, 14-16, 21 and Matthew 16:21-24 Believe. Verses 9, 10, 11 have respect to ch. It is easier to accept our sacrifices when we know that we are engaged in saving lives. Romans 12:1-21 . We can control only ourselves. Inwardly, however, he was holding back. Paul shifts here from the agape love-word to the storge and philos love-words. What does “cling to what is good” in Romans 12:9 mean? Paul wrote Romans from Corinth, the church to which he earlier wrote the epistle that included his great love chapter. 3. What does worship mean? Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Genuine agape is love without a selfish agenda—love that seeks what is good for the beloved. Much of what the world calls love is self-serving. Thayer, Joseph Henry, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (New York, American Book Company, 1886). Genuine love has a moral orientation toward the good. Love speaks well of its persecutors. For another, God is in a position to insure that justice is served, whereas we might put ourselves in physical or legal jeopardy by seeking vengeance. Paul uses it here to describe our love for each other. Some manuscripts read, “serve the Lord” (kurios), while others read, “serve the time” (kairos). What does Paul say our love toward others should be like (Romans 12:9a)? Romans 12:21, ESV: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." He never made an exception. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.13 When … Wright, N. Thomas, The New Interpreter’s Bible: Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Vol. They sometimes assume that Christians are putting on an act, because joyful, hopeful Christians often lack the things (money, power, prestige) that, in the eyes of the world, produce joy and hope. I. Genuine Love in Action to the Family of God, vv. 12 Rejoice in The unifying theme of the list is setting ourselves aside, to effectively love … Agape is a high form of love, often used to describe God’s love for people (5:5, 8; 8:39). Romans 12 – Living the Christian Life A. When love is absent, we want to outdo other people in the sense that we win and they lose. Paul describes the kind of love we should show to a non-Christian world. 17Repay no one evil for evil. We find it easy to have a horror of our son’s drug addiction. 12rejoicing in hope; enduring (Greek: hypomenontes—persevere) in troubles; continuing steadfastly (Greek: proskarterountes—be constantly diligent) in prayer; 13contributing to the needs of the saints; given (Greek: diokontes) to hospitality. 1. Don’t be wise in your own conceits. 19Don’t seek revenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to God’s wrath. Being persecuted, we are, therefore, Paul has given short, to-the-point commands without qualification—i.e. “! 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