Romans Chapter Twelve
I. Content of the Chapter
The Principle of Life After One Has Been Saved
A. The offering of the living sacrifice (v.1-2);
B. The service in the body (v.5-8);
C. The holy life (v.9-21);
1. The relationship among believers (v.9-16);
2. The relationship between believers and those who rebel the gospel and unbelievers (v.17-21);
II. Verse by Verse commentary
Rom. 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”
YLT: “I call upon you, therefore, brethren, through the compassions of God, to present your bodies a sacrifice -- living, sanctified, acceptable to God -- your intelligent service;”
Meaning of Words: “mercies”: compassions; “beseech”: invoke, beg; “service”: worship, ministry; “reasonable”: rational, logical;
Meaning: “therefore, brethren”, “therefore”, it indicates that the
conclusion is naturally drawn
according to the truth stated previously. From chapter nine to eleven of this
book, salvation comes to the Gentiles on account of God’s mercy (see
“I beseech you, by the
mercies of God”, “the
mercies of God” refer to the mercy
and compassion of God. Not only chapter nine to eleven mention God’s compassion
and mercy, and even chapter one to eight also manifest the extraordinary love
---- the goodness of God leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4); He makes us be
justified by faith outside of the law (
Here, we see the apostles “beseech” believers. He can command, but he likes to beseech them, for he knows what he beseeches can not be accomplished without willingness. Even though they do, it profits nothing.
“That you present your bodies”, note that it does not present “spirit” or “soul” or “heart”, but “bodies”. The person of us is in our bodies. If we devote us to the Lord, we shall present our bodies. Otherwise, our service is abstract, vague and impractical. Here, we should see the meaning of “presenting our bodies”:
1) God’s salvation should reach the outermost body. Otherwise, the power of salvation is imperfect.
2) The body represents all. He who presents his body has devoted all himself. All himself not only includes what we are: spirit, soul (including mind, emotion and will) and body, but also what we have: time, money and talents and etc.
3) There is a feature of body ---- it relates to the outside elements, such as men and things, and is in connection with time and environment. Therefore, to present our bodies also includes presenting our time and environment relating to our bodies.
Therefore, we reach into the conclusion that presenting our bodies is living for the Lord and working for the Lord.
“A living sacrifice”,
it is also the “offering” of the new life (
1) The sacrifice in the Old Testament was firstly killed and then offered to God. That is dead sacrifice. But what is offered in the New Testament is living.
2) The sacrifice in the Old Testament was the external thing besides the body and had represented us. But what is offered in the New Testament is man himself.
3) The sacrifice in the Old Testament is burned up only once and can not be offered again. But what is offered in the New Testament is offered everyday and is living always and burning forever.
“Holy, acceptable to God”, “holy”: be sanctified; “acceptable to God”, the purpose of God’s salvation to us is to gain us.
“Which is your reasonable service”, the purpose and result of devotion is service. The word “service” in the original means “waiting and serving”, namely, preparing to serve. The purpose of devotion is not laborious works, but serving God. If He asks you to stand, you should stand. If He asks you to stand by, you should stand by. If He asks you to run, you should run. This is waiting and service.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The Holy Spirit in us often encourages us to offer us to God in the love of God. The love of God is a great power through which the Holy Spirit can inspire us.
2) No one can answer the requirement of offering through himself, but the love of God can make the weakest man who loves him most willing to sacrifice all that he has for Him.
3) The offering of one’s bodies is on account of the compassion of God. Because of all grace and love of God, one’s bodies must be offered ---- “For the love of the Christ constrains us…that they who live should no longer live to themselves, but to him who died for them and has been raised (2Cor. 5:14-15).”
4) The enlightenment of the full salvation of Christ is the highest motive for offering. The real purpose of offering is to let God fulfill the full salvation on us that we can be transformed into the glorious image of the Son of God so that God Himself has been fully manifested.
5) The offering of one’s “heart” has never been mentioned in the Scriptures, and the offering of one’s “body” is mentioned. No one who has offered himself except for his body. From then on, my mouth, ears, eyes, hands, feet are no longer of me. Everyday, our whole bodies are for the Lord and we only manage them.
6) Once we have offered ourselves, we will no longer have our own freedom, or our plan, or our enjoyment, or our future, or our usage. We have only one thing ---- to live for the purpose, plan and will of God
7) Since God has been in our spirits, He also asks us to offer our outside bodies to Him. Since we have been quickened by Him, He hopes that we also live for Him. Since our spirits have been quickened, He is pleased to the offering of our bodies unto His hand so that our bodies will cooperate with the renewed spirit well.
8) We are priests on one hand ---- “present our bodies” and sacrifices on the other hand ---- “a living sacrifice”.
9) Note that according to the original of this verse the bodies that are presented are in the plural and the living sacrifice is singular. It suggests that our devotion unto God is the fundamental element of keeping the oneness in the assembly. Only believers who have devoted them to the Lord and other believers who have also devoted them to the Lord are one in service.
10) The sacrifice mentioned here is the burnt-offering. A sacrifice will have its sweet odor and become the enjoyment of God when it is burnt into ashes. However, someone is willing to present himself but unwilling to be dealt with by God. Only those who are dealt with by God are for God.
11) God wants us to live for the purpose that we shall be presented to Him. Though we are living, we are dead. As long as we live, we shall present us as we are dead. A living sacrifice means that we have died to us and live to God in our life.
12) Because of the love and grace of the Lord and the drawing of the Lord’s glory and the influence of the Lord’s life, we are delivered all that of us unto death so as to live out the life of Christ ---- this is a living sacrifice.
13) The living sacrifice is to deliver one’s right of life unto God and let the will of God work in our life. If we live according to the will of God, our life will be filled with testimonies and be accepted by God.
14) The sacrifice is for the purpose of pleasing God and satisfying God. Once the sacrifice is offered to God, its action and future will be controlled by God, not the sacrifice itself. Our bodies shall act according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Thus, such bodies are living sacrifices for God.
15) One who has presented himself does not fear death. They present them as a living sacrifice. Though they are living, they have been presented to God and can be used by God at any time ---- God has the authority of deciding whether they are killed, or burnt or bound up to the horns of the altar. We who have presented us to God will serve God.
16) The apostle here beseeches not only those who have special gifts to present them to serve God, but also all those who have been saved to present them to serve God. Therefore, we today in the New Testament should not have the idea or concept that serving God is unnecessary to us or others.
17) True service is to let God have enjoyment in our works, life and devotion. In all the service, God’s satisfaction has the first place and man’s satisfaction is secondary. Therefore, those who serve God should sacrifice themselves.
18) We are often zealous of works. It seems to serve God, but actually we are enjoying the accomplishments of our works in secret or gaining man’s praise or pleasure.
19) Our service does not lie in our zeal or diligence, but in the reality of our being a living sacrifice.
20) “Which is your reasonable service”, no one loves the Lord too much.
21) After we are saved, we have become the children of God. All that we have are of God. Therefore, devotion is reasonable.
22) That we believers serve God with the obedient life is the only reasonable response to the grace of God.
Rom. 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
YLT: “and be not conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, for your proving what the will of God -- the good, and acceptable, and perfect.”
Meaning of Words: “world”: age; “prove”: see and distinguish, approve, test;
Literal Meaning: “do not be conformed to this world”, “world” is “age” in the original; “conform” means “fashioning alike” or “conforming to the same pattern”. “Do not be conformed to this world”: do not follow the fashion of the world or be conformed to the pattern of the world.
“But be transformed by the renewing of your mind”, “mind” is “thought” in the original. Mind is the organ of our thoughts. Our mind was corrupted and was severely infected by sins, the world, human feelings and customs, full of secular thoughts and natural ideas. Therefore, our mind should be renewed and we shall receive the teaching of God. All the old thoughts, ideas, judgment, perspectives should be eliminated. “Renew”, it indicates that it is a continual process, not a single thing.
When we were born again, the Spirit of God had entered into our spirits and our spirits were thus renewed. Later, the Holy Spirit will work outwardly unto every part of our soul, especially our mind. The Holy Spirit will shine from our spirits upon our mind and get rid of the darkness and correct all the falsehood in our mind. Such elimination of darkness and correction of falsehood are the renewing works of the Holy Spirit in our mind.
When a man believed the Lord and was born again, his mind had changed for the first time. And this was a great transformation, namely, repentance. The meaning of repentance is the change of mind. This repentance is the beginning of the transformation of one’s mind. Afterwards, his mind will be renewed everyday. According to spiritual enlightenment, his mind will be increasingly renewed and be more towards God and understand the will of God more. Honestly speaking, mind is the inside eyes of man. When one repents, his eyes are opened. When his mind is renewed, his eyes will be brighter. The brighter man’s inside eyes are, the more increasingly his life shall grow. Therefore, the renewing of one’s mind is rather important. The renewed part of one’s mind is what has transformed in his mind. The transformation of one’s life is through the renewing and changing of one’s mind.
“That you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God”, though God reveals His will into our spirits through His Spirit that our spirits can directly be conscious of the revelation, we should still understand the feeling in our spirits by our mind. The spirit is in the most inner part of us, and mind is in the outside of the spirit and surrounds the spirit. If our mind has not been renewed, we will not be able to understand the feeling in our spirits given by the Holy Spirit. Even though we understand, it is still not correct and cannot exactly know the will of God.
“Prove”, it is to prove whether the inspiration in our spirits comforms to the will of God by the truth of the Scriptures.
There are three features of the will of God: 1) “good”, opposite to evil; 2) perfect, opposite to disordered; 3) acceptable, opposite to grief; all things that are according to the will of God will surely bring us out of evil and darkness and make us acceptable before God.
J. B. Philips gave a free translation of this verse, catching the very meaing of this command: “do not be pressed by the world around us into its pattern. Contrarily, through the “renewing” of our mind, we shall experience a thorough transformation, thus being able to prove the will of God and finding that it brings us full satisfaction.”
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) “To present the bodies” (v.1), “…prove what is… will of God”. Only those who have presented them to God and live for God can understand the will of God.
2) Devotion is the fundamental condition and premise of understanding the will of God.
3) Verse one mentions presenting to God and verse mentions proving the will of God. He who wants to know the will of God should firstly present him as a living sacrifice to God. Without offering to God, one is still self-centered. God reveals His will to him who has presented himself to God. The living sacrifice negatively stops all the works of man’s self and positively makes man live for God.
4) The devotion in chapter six of the Book of Romans profits man ---- having one’s fruit of holiness. The devotion in chapter twelve profits God ---- fulfilling the will of God.
5) Only those who have really presented them to God and serve God need not and can not conform to the world. Men in the world walk according to the tide of the world, but the hearts of Christians are different from that of men in the world. Christians’ mind has been renewed and transformed. Their goal is the will of God. They are determined to walk precisely and changelessly according to the will of God. Such men are men who have presented to God. A man who has presented to God is selfless and will in no wise reject God on account of his own gain.
6) There are two “form”s in the Book of Romans, and they are opposite: one is the image of the Son of God (Rom. 8:29) and the other is the form of the world. If we are unwilling to be conformed to the world, we shall present us to God and let God conform us into the image of His Son. And the key of being conformed to the image of the Son of God is the inside revelation ---- one’s mind should be renewed and the old ideas be overthrown and increasingly know the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, namely, the full Christ. In the process of being increasingly renewed and knowing, God will prove us more His will and we will gradually become the testimony of the will of God.
7) Every age has its particular pattern, feature, style and tide. Christians should live in the world according to the mode, tide or style of the world.
8) We should “be transformed by the renewing of our mind”, that we may “prove” what the will of God is. Therefore, we may use our own mind and will when we seek the will of God. Of course, our mind and will should be “renewed and transformed” by the works of the Spirit.
9) If man cannot know the will of God, it is not the problem of method, but the problem of man. Many people know the way of knowing the will of God, but the men themselves are not right. Therefore, they can still not know the will of God. What kind of men knows the will of God? That is those who have been delivered from the power of their own mind. One’s mind (or thought) should be renewed and transformed and then he can prove what the will of God is.
10) It is rather important of the renewal of one’s mind. After a man has been born again, the condition of his spiritual life is completely decided by the renewal of his mind. Though we have has a new life today, we should still remember that our mind can not be thoroughly renewed immediately. It demands time. This is the work of the Holy Spirit on us everyday. Spiritual things should be understood by the renewed mind (1Cor. 2:14). Spiritual revelation can be known by the renewed mind (Eph. 1:17-18). How important of the renewal of one’s mind in the growth of our spiritual life!
11) A renewed mind can prove what that good and acceptable and perfect will of God is. Many times, this seems to be the will of God, and that also seems to be the will of God. Many times, we have misunderstandings. Only the renewed mind can have right understanding of the will of God.
12) Remember that what we should be responsible for is to keep the will of God and what God should be responsible for is the result of our keeping the will of God. We need not find smooth way. No matter the fool of Christians or the wisdom of them, both of them are of no use in the hands of God. All that we Christians should do is to seek the will of God. We do not seek what we think is good in the world, but prove what good and acceptable and perfect will of God is.
13) To serve according to the will of God is the service that is mostly acceptable by God. Therefore, to serve according to the will of God is the principle of our service. Contrarily, he who serves according to his own mind may consider him right. Meanwhile, the service according to man’s mind is the service that has refused the will of God or ignored the will of God.
Rom. 12:3 “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. ”
YLT: “For I say, through the grace that was given to me, to every one who is among you, not to think above what it behoveth to think; but to think so as to think wisely, as to each God did deal a measure of faith,”
Meaning of Words: “think”: exercise the mind; “measure”: capacity, portion; “soberly”: be of sound mind, sane, moderate;
Literal Meaning: “for I say, through the grace given to me”, it refers to Paul’s apostleship (Eph. 3:7).
“To everyone who is among you”, it is said to everyone without exception.
“Not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think”, not to have any thought above what one should have.
“As God has dealt to each one a measure of faith”, “faith” here does not refer to the faith that enables us to be saved, but the faith that enables to live and work after we are saved. Faith is the mark of Christians and the standard of measuring the power of service.
“But to think soberly”, it in the original does not mean one has calm evaluation of himself and has moderate and pious life. If a believer thinks himself too high, he may thus be proud. If too low, he may lose his heart.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The greatest difficulty in cooperative service is that one “thinks” of himself more highly than he ought to think, thus bringing no good effect of cooperation. Therefore, may the Lord make us not think according to us but according to God.
2) If we want to have normal church life, the first thing that we should deal with is that we may think highly more than what God has given to us so that we have treaded upon others.
3) What God will entrust to us as well as how we think and see ourselves are both decided by the stature of our spiritual life.
4) The Lord distributes His works to everyone, and each of us has our portion. We should not think us highly more than we ought to think. We should be faithful to what the Lord has distributed to us, and honor what the Lord has distributed to others.
5) We can not have great accomplishments, unless we clearly know we can do what we could not do. A true and honest evaluation of our strength, without any pride or humiliation, is the first element that we have a meaningful and life.
6) No matter how great a believer is, he is till only a member in the body of Christ. No matter how young a believer is, he is still a member in the body of Christ. Therefore, one should, neither be pride nor be discouraged, only stand on his own position.
7) The measure of gifts (v.6) is proportional to that of faith. If one’s faith is great, his gifts will also be great. If one’s gifts are great, his faith shall also be great. Both the two points should be balanced. In this way, gifts will not be wasted for the sake of little faith, nor be misapplied because of great faith.
8) God knows everything. He knows the capacity of our faith and the condition of works that we can do. Therefore, He gives us exact faith to use the gifts.
Rom. 12:4 “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,”
YLT: “for as in one body we have many members, and all the members have not the same office,”
Literal Meaning: “for as we have many members in one body”, it takes an example of man’s body to describe the relationship among believers and of believers with the assembly. The features of body are as follows:
1) The body is living. The assembly consists of all the believers who have the life of God, and is not composed of dead customs or organizations, or of unbelievers.
2) There is only one body. The assembly is one in Christ. Any work or condition that divides the assembly or destroys the oneness of the assembly is not right.
3) In one body, there are many members that God
tempers (1Cor. 12:24). We have no freedom to accept not the members that God
“But all the members do not have the same function”, it means that all the members in a body should have their functions respectively.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The assembly is like a body having many members and including each member. Opportunities should be given to every member in the body to let him work and perform his function.
2) Every member in the body has his “function”, unless one is not in the body. However, the “function” of each member is not the same. One can not replace the function of another.
3) He who has revelation of the truth of the body will see each member has his function. Meanwhile, he will see he is only a member of the body and will not place himself on a prominent position or compare with others to occupy the positions of others. Once a Christian sees the truth of the body, he will have no possibility of envy or pride.
4) In the First Book of Corinthians, chapter twelve, it mentions that a member should not occupy the position of others. In the Book of Romans, chapter twelve, it hopes that each member should not give up his position. When every member fulfills his function and serve together, there will be reality of the church.
Rom. 12:5 “so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.”
YLT: “so we, the many, one body are in Christ, and members each one of one another.”
Literal Meaning: “so we, being many”, the many believers of us.
“Are one body in Christ”, all those who have been saved are one body of Christ. And the body of Christ’s body is one.
“And individually members of one another”, according to the original, every member exists for the sake of other members. In the body of Christ, the existence of every member is not for himself, bur for others.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The relationship of Christians is like that of the members of one body. they connect with each other. Therefore, we should not be a Christian alone, but have fellowship, be gathered, pursue and serve with all brothers and sisters.
2) “Are one body in Christ”, it indicates that the church can only be one “in Christ”. True oneness is built on the foundation that we are all “in Christ”.
3) “And individually members of one another”, though we are members, if we have no fellowship or contact, we cannot be members.
4) None of the members of the church, the body of Christ, can be alone. Each one should member one of the other. “The whole body is fitly joined together from Christ” (Eph. 4:16).
5) We are not only believers but also members. To be a member of the body is not a problem of knowledge only, but demands that everyone should enter into the body. The opposite side of body is individual. If we want to enter into the body, we should be delivered from individuals. It is no problem that we are individual, but it should be forbidden if we fall into individualism.
6) We are members, so we are not the whole, even not a half of the body. Each of us is merely a small part of the body. To be a member means that all our works and life are body-centered. Thus, the service of members is the service of the body, and the walking of members is the walking of members. There is no member who works for himself, but for the body.
7) One member cannot represent the whole body, but can influence the whole body.
8) The first side of those who have been saved is the cooperate service of body. Yes, all that have seen the fullness of the body will not ignore the cooperate service. For the cooperative service is the vivid expression of the fullness of the Head. In other words, only those who have firstly know the fullness of Christ and then know the meaning of the church and manifest the reality of the church in life. The order is sure ---- the first eleven chapters are before this chapter.
9) What God will gain is not a man who is saved, but a cooperate man. That we have presented our bodies (v.1) is for the purpose of entering into the body of Christ. No matter how great the number of individual Christians, no matter how zealous or spiritual they are, if they do not live in the body of Christ, they can still not enter into the good and acceptable and perfect will of God (v.2).
10) When we present our bodies, God puts us in the body of Christ. In fact, when individuals disappear, the body of Christ will manifest.
11) When we present our bodies, it is for the purpose of manifesting the mysterious body of Christ. Therefore, if our devotion has not been set in the body of Christ and the mysterious body of Christ has not been manifested, our experience of devotion is still not practical or detailed enough.
Rom. 12:6 “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;”
YLT: “And having gifts, different according to the grace that was given to us; whether prophecy -- `According to the proportion of faith!'”
Literal Meaning: “having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them”, “gifts” refer to the special talents because of grace ---- gifts are given by God for the purpose of the need of the body of Christ. “Differing”, it refers to the differences concerning nature, function and degree.
“If prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith”, “prophesy”: those who have spiritual inspiration can declare the revelation and message of God so as to encourage, comfort and exhort believers.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Since the grace that everyone has enjoyed is different, the gifts that everyone has obtained before God is also different. Everyone who has gifts, no matter the minister of words or the minister of service, should work according to the gifts that God has given to him.
2) We need not be envious of the gifts of others, nor sign for our lack of gifts. We shall receive what God has given to us.
3) Each of us should try our best to perform our gifts given by God. Do not do beyond the portion of our faith. Leave something to others. If you have done all the works, there will be no work for others. It will be best in the church that everyone has to do his part. One member should not do two parts, let alone the whole. We should give every brother or sister chances to serve God, just like ourselves.
4) Believers should not deny the existence of various gifts, nor refuse to use their gifts but abase themselves.
5) We often admire those spiritual ones ---- we admire their gifts, not the spiritual reality. However, gifts are given by God (see 1Cor. 12:11), so one does not need to be envious of gifts of others.
Rom. 12:7 “or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching;”
YLT: “or ministration -- `In the ministration!' or he who is teaching -- `In the teaching!'”
Literal Meaning: “or ministry, let us use it in our ministering”, “ministry”: those who have the gifts of managing things (see 1Cor. 12:28) and can deal with things in the church properly and serve the church and all. It also includes those who help others to serve.
“He who teaches, in teaching”, “teaching”, it is cutting in a straight line the word of truth so that man can have right understanding of God’s will and the truth in the Scriptures. Then, man can keep them in life and lead a life worthy of the will of God.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) There are ministers of words here and ministers of service in the assembly. The latter one is like the works of Levites.
2) Everyone should know what he can do and what gifts the Lord has given to him. Once he has known it, he should do it with his whole heart.
3) Everyone should serve and serve with his whole heart and do what he should do. In other words, one should not interfere with the matter of others or tread upon the feet of others. Everyone should work according to the gifts given by God. Man is inclined to do what should be done by others, overstepping the bound of others.
4) In our service, we often like to compare with others. Actually, God has given gift to everyone. We should treasure our portion appointed by God and pay attention to our own portion.
Rom. 12:8 “he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”
YLT: “or he who is exhorting -- `In the exhortation!' he who is sharing -- `In simplicity!' he who is leading -- `In diligence?' he who is doing kindness -- `In cheerfulness.'”
Meaning of Words: “liberality”: simplicity, singleness, bountifulness; “cheerfulness”: merry, willingness;
Literal Meaning: “he who exhorts, in exhortation”, “exhortation” means calling the one near to exhort him with sympathetic and comforting attitude and words to stir up man’s spirit to accomplish valuable works. The difference between “exhortation” and “teaching” is: teaching is to tell others what should be done; exhortation is to help men to put it into practice.
“He who gives, with liberality”, “he who gives” refers to the one who contributes his properties. It may also include those who help him to distribute what he gives. “Liberality” refers to upright motive, without any evil motive.
“He who leads, with diligence”, “he who leads”, it contains the meaning of “guidance, governance and attendance”. Such man has the talent of being a leader and can bring others together to accomplish the mission entrusted by God. “Diligence” indicates that the one takes the lead in working personally. It is opposite to the leading way of the world, in which the leaders control others orally without any practical participation.
“He who shows mercy, with cheerfulness”, “he who shows mercy”: look after the patient, the poor, the elder, the fatherless and widows. “Cheerfulness”, to serve those who are in want of something is a good pleasure, not an unpleasant task.
YLT: “The love unfeigned: abhorring the evil; cleaving to the good;”
Meaning of Words: “hypocrisy”: dissimulation, performance; “cling to”: hold tight to; stick to;
Literal Meaning: “let love be without hypocrisy”. “Love” here is a general principle to all. It is different from “the brotherly love” in verse ten, which is a kind of particular love. “Without hypocrisy”, it is true love, not unfeigned.
“Abhor what is evil”, here the “evil” refers to wicked things, not wicked men. Concerning the wicked men, there are also other teachings in this chapter (see v.14, 17-21).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The fundamental element of building the church is love. We build the body in love (Eph. 4:16). However, wrong and false love may pull down the church.
2) False love cannot help us see clearly evil or good. Only true love can improve our discernment and see clearly what is evil or good.
3) Let us not love with word, nor with tongue, but in deed and in truth (1John 3:18).
4) Men often say that the way of keeping us from sin is seeing the abomination of sin. Garrel said that what we need to see was the boundless beauty of holiness and the infinite abomination of sin.
5) One thing we should be clear ---- many people hate the result of sin, not sin itself. If the good of a man comes from the fear of the result of sin, his good is not true.
6) Satan is the source of all evil. But it often transforms himself into an angel of light (2Cor. 11:14). Therefore, we should discern what is good apparently but evil in fact.
7) All that hurt God, the Lord, the assembly are evil. We should abhor them.
8) God is good (see Matt. 19:17). All that lead us into deeper fellowship with God are good, to which we should cling.
Rom. 12:10 “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;”
YLT: “in the love of brethren, to one another kindly affectioned: in the honour going before one another;”
Literal Meaning: “be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love”, “brotherly love” refers to the love in God’s house. “Be kindly affectionate to”: be careful of others. It shows that brothers in the brotherly love are reluctant to part and often miss one another, and are not on speaking terms or perfunctory.
“In honor giving preference to one another”, “in honor” means honoring the value of others; “giving preference to one another”, let others obtain the profits and enjoy the enjoyments of others.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Believers should respect one another. Disdain for others is the main reason for stumbling others. The offense against others is rather severe before the Lord (see Matt. 18:6-7).
2) Most of the difficulties in the assembly relate to rights, reputation and status. Someone has not been given his status. Someone is ignored. Or someone has not received thanks from others. The natural men in most of us often want to stick to our rights. However, a Christian has no right ---- he has only obligation. The sign of a real Christian is always humiliation.
3) If we can “esteem the other as more excellent than themselves” (Phil. 2:3), it will be not difficult to give preference to one another.
Rom. 12:11 “not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;”
YLT: “in the diligence not slothful; in the spirit fervent; the Lord serving;”
Meaning of Words: “diligence”: dispatch, eagerness, earnestness; “lagging”: tardy, indolent, slothful;
Literal Meaning: “not lagging in diligence”, diligence is the main reason for spiritual poverty;
“Fervent in spirit”, if the sober and clear mind that has been renewed (see v.2) has not been kept in fervent spirit, one may still “have no accomplishments”. Therefore, our spirit should often be rekindled (2Tim. 1:6-7).
“Serving the Lord”, it can be interpreted in two ways: 1) to serve the Lord as a bondman; 2) to make the opportunity to serve the Lord;
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Christians should not hold a frivolous attitude to anything. Christians can be burnt, but can not become rusty.
2) “Not lagging in diligence”, in other words, he who is not on diligence is lagging. In spiritual things, we may desire do the works as ten or even one hundred times as we do.
3) That we should be in diligence means that we should be a man who is patient and zealous in serving God and fervent in spirit. We should seek to serve God before God.
4) What the risen Christ can not bear most is that one is neither cold nor hot (Rev. 3:15-16).
5) One of the tragedies in one’s life is letting the opportunity slip away. There are three things that will not return ---- the arrow that has been shot, the word that has been spoken, and the chance that has been lost.
YLT: “in the hope rejoicing; in the tribulation enduring; in the prayer persevering;”
Meaning of Words: “continuing steadfastly”: be earnest towards, persevere, be constantly diligent;
Literal Meaning: “rejoicing in hope”, the hope of
Christians will not come to nothing. This is the reason for our joy (
“Patient in tribulation”, be patient in the hope of victory ---- this is the necessary attitude for every Christian, for tribulation is unavoidable (John 16:33).
“Continuing steadfastly in prayer”, one should not merely pray in tribulation, but keep in fellowship with God at any time (see Luke 18:1; 1Thess. 5:17).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Christians should know that there is not a work that is too difficult to be done by Him. “There is not a condition in which there is no hope. He who thinks he has no hope is just worried about troubles of one's own imagining”. There should be no Christians in the world who have no hope.
2) What is fulfilled by prayer is greater than any other outer work. God regards our prayer as more important than our works.
Rom. 12:13 “distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.”
YLT: “to the necessities of the saints communicating; the hospitality pursuing.”
Meaning of Words: “distribute”: share with others, communicate, be partaker;
Literal Meaning: “distributing to the needs of the saints”, it is not the cooperate charity of the assembly, but personal help to Christians near us. When they are undergoing difficulties, we should give help.
“Given to hospitality”, to be hospitable to guests is a clear characteristic of saints (see Gen. 18:1-5; 19:1-3; Heb. 13:2).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) A true Christian must be willing to share the spiritual and worldly riches with saints.
2) Christians have a common characteristic: their hands are open, and their hearts are open and the doors of their families are open.
3) A selfish Christian must be not a happy Christian. A selfish Christian family must be not a happy Christian family.
Rom. 12:14 “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”
YLT: “Bless those persecuting you; bless, and curse not;”
Literal Meaning: “bless those who persecute you”, the greatest blessing that man can obtain is to be a Christian. Therefore, he who blesses others shows that he wishes that the one whom he has blessed will be saved one day.
“Bless and do not curse”, both blessing and curse are concerned with the eternal future of men. Christians should have the bowel of God, who desires that all men should be saved and is not willing that any should perish (1Tim. 2:4; 2Pet. 3:9).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) We Christians are blessed by God. Therefore, we should bless and not curse others.
2) What mostly touches the persecutors’ heart is that the one who is persecuted returns good for evil and requites persecution with blessing. Many persecutors in history had become Christians because of seeing the astonishing reactions of those who were persecuted.
Rom. 12:15 “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”
YLT: “to rejoice with the rejoicing, and to weep with the weeping,”
Literal Meaning: “rejoice with those who rejoice”, actually, it is not an easy thing of rejoicing with those who have succeeded. Men may tend to shed sympathetic tears instead of abandoning their envy inside.
“And weep with those who weep”, if a man wants to sympathize with others, he should “identify with” others. Otherwise, it will be unnatural.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) We should enter into the feeling of the body of Christ so that we can suffer with the member who suffers and rejoice with the one who rejoices (1Cor. 12:26).
2) When we count the loss of others as that of ourselves, we can naturally rejoice and weep with others together.
3) The natural man is inclined to envy those who are blessed and ignore those who are in grief. God desires that we shall share our joy with others and have part in the grief of others.
Rom. 12:16 “Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. ”
YLT: “of the same mind one toward another, not minding the high things, but with the lowly going along; become not wise in your own conceit;”
Literal Meaning: “be of the same mind toward one another”. ---- A Christian shall be considerate towards others and put himself in other's position.
“Do not set your mind on high things”, do not set your mind on things that make you proud.
“But associate with the humble”, one should associate with humble men and care about humble things.
“Do not be wise in your own opinion”, a wise man can be ruined by his own wisdom. He who thinks he is wise may cause a lot of unnecessary troubles or hostility.
Rom. 12:17 “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. ”
YLT: “giving back to no one evil for evil; providing right things before all men.”
Meaning of Words: “have regard for”: consider in advance, look out for beforehand;
Literal Meaning: “repay no one evil for evil”, do not repay anyone.
“Have regard for good things in the sight of all men”, Christians not only live before God but also before all men. Therefore, we should think on good things in the sight of all men (see Phil. 4:8) and plan to do them.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) We should always think that we live in the world that is not perfect and we ourselves are not perfect men. Therefore, we have to confess that we may more or less bring troubles to others and also suffer the troubles caused by others. The troubles caused by us to others should only be on account of ignorance, not hostility.
2) What Christians do should not only be good in the sight of all men but also surpass the standard of all. Contrarily, Christians should never do what is evil in the sight of all.
Rom. 12:18 “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”
YLT: “If possible -- so far as in you -- with all men being in peace;”
Literal Meaning: “if it is possible”, it suggests that there is possibility that it is impossible ---- when the fundamental faith is threatened and the name of the Lord is put to shame, we should not seek peace by compromise. As long as the basic principle has not been opposed and when initiative is in our own hands, it is “possible”.
“As much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men”, Christians should be sons of peace (see Luke 10:6). Sermon on the Mount of the Lord Jesus also mentions that “blessed the peace-makers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matt. 5:9).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) There is precondition for Christians to live peaceably with all men. We should not sacrifice the testimony of truth or join in the evil-doing for the sake of living peaceably with others.
2) He who seeks peace with all men has to pay the cost ---- he has to be willing to let others take advantage of him and willing to adjust him to others.
YLT: “not avenging yourselves, beloved, but give place to the wrath, for it hath been written, `Vengeance Mine,”
Literal Meaning: “do not avenge yourselves”, “avenge yourselves”, it means that one himself rises to avenge the evil-doing of others.
“But rather give place to wrath”, it indicates that our concession to others is actually yielding it to God and letting God deal with it.
“For it is written”, the following words are quoted from the Book of Deuteronomy (32:35).
“Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord”. ---- The greatest reason why we Christians do not avenge ourselves is that we are unwilling to replace the position of God or oppose against the authority of God.
Rom. 12:20 “Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head." ”
YLT: “I will recompense again, saith the Lord;' if, then, thine enemy doth hunger, feed him; if he doth thirst, give him drink; for this doing, coals of fire thou shalt heap upon his head;”
Literal Meaning: “therefore”, the following words are quoted from the Book of Proverb (25:21-22).
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink”; to give what the enemy is unworthy of to him; and to help the enemy actively when he is in need of something;
“You will heap coals of fire on his head”, this is a popular idiom at that time, which means that “it makes him feel more ashamed and as painful as burning”.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The attitude of Christians towards the enemy is not vengeance, but showing grace.
2) To make friends with the enemy is the only way of removing the enmity of the enemy. To love the enemy is the only way of eliminating enmity.
Rom. 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
YLT: “Be not overcome by the evil, but overcome, in the good, the evil.”
Literal Meaning: “do not be overcome by evil”, one should not react or deal with others in a worldly manner because of the evil-doings of others, for it is unworthy of our Christian status.
“But overcome evil with good”, to stick to the principle of the walking of Christians. The power of the life of Christ will finally help you overcome the difficulty ---- maybe you overcome the difficulty, or maybe your testimony conquers the enemy, thus removing the difficulty.
III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons
The Truth of Presenting to God
A. The premise of presenting to God ---- “brethren”, who have been saved and born again;
B. The motive of presenting to God ---- “the mercies of God”;
C. The decision of presenting to God ---- “beseech”, it is of willingness, not of necessity. Devotion is not a reason, but a way that everyone who has been saved has to walk in. It is “brethren”, not merely one brother or several ones.
D. The content of presenting to God ---- “present your bodies”, body refers to the whole body, including one’s spirit, soul and body.
E. The purpose of presenting to God ---- “a living sacrifice”, “present” means that the sacrifice bound up to the horns of the altar near the altar is waiting for being presented. That we present ourselves is not regarding us as bondmen, but sacrifices. But the sacrifice in the Old Testament is offered for death, but we for living ---- live for the Lord. Of course, those who have present themselves also prepare to die for the Lord at any time, just as the sacrifice bound up to the horns of the altar.
F. The benefit of presenting to God:
1. It is holy: what is presented to God will belong to God, namely, holy offerings, because holy things will not be used commonly.
2. It is acceptable to God: the purpose of God’s redemption is making man present him to God.
3. That one can serve God: the devotion to God itself is service as well as the beginning of service. Without devotion, there is no service. “Service” is the work of a priest.
G. What should be paid attention to after presenting to God ---- “do not be conformed to this world”;
H. The pursuit after presenting to God ---- “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”, “transform”: to change the form. He who has presented him to God should not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by God. How will he be changed? It is not started from outside, but inside. Once one’s mind is renewed, the outside condition of him will also be changed. How will one’s mind be renewed? The new man is renewed into full knowledge (Col. 3:10), which is the understanding of the will of God, “that one may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God”. “Prove” can also be translated as “test” or “examine”. One should take heed of the will of God, lest there be man’s mind intermingled therein.
Three Principles of Being a Good Christian
A. He should have the realization of “presenting his body a living sacrifice” (v.1):
1. To present “holy works” to God as a living sacrifice;
2. To present “holy words” to God as a living sacrifice;
B. He should have the determination of “not being conformed to this world” (v.2):
1. Do not conform the social environment in which money is given the priority;
2. Do not conform the social environment characterized by self-centeredness;
3. Do not conform men in the world who so emphasize practicality;
C. He should have the desire of “being transformed by the renewing of your mind” (v.2):
1. To change one’s mind by reading the Scriptures;
2. To change one’s mind by prayers;
To Present One’s Life to God (v.1-2)
A. Do not be conformed to this world:
1. We should not follow or imitate the “avaricious” social mood;
2. We should not follow or imitate the social mood “that is indifferent to the truth”;
B. Be transformed by the renewing of one’s mind:
1. The first path of progress and renewal for Christians is often self-examination;
2. The second path of progress and renewal for Christians is to read the Scriptures diligently;
C. Prove what is the will of God:
1. The above-mentioned two points are the two most elementary and fundamental requirements of knowing the will of God;
2. The ultimate purpose of proving the will of God is that we are willing to believe and obey the environment that God has arranged and His guidance;
How To Perform the Gifts?
A. One shall firstly present his body to God (v.1) ---- so that one’s gifts shall be performed efficaciously, thus glorifying God and doing good to men;
B. One shall prove the will of God (v.2) ---- to perform one’s gifts according to the will of God;
C. One shall think himself soberly (v.3) ---- the performance of one’s gifts should not go beyond the measure of his faith;
D. All believers are individually members of one another (v.5) ---- one shall respect the gifts of others when performing his own gifts;
E. The performance of one’s gifts should be in proportion to his faith (v.6) ---- the performance of one’s gifts should not go beyond the truth (not go against the truth);
F. One shall work with his whole heart, with liberality, with diligence and with cheerfulness (v.7-8) ---- one should do everything heartily, not strive for reputation nor muddle through his work;
The Relationship of Christians with Many Parts
A. Our relationship with God ---- we can serve and worship Him through presenting the whole body to God (v.1-2);
B. Our relationship with ourselves ---- we shall think us soberly (v.3);
C. Our relationship with the members ---- we are individually members of one another and perfecting one another (v.4-16);
D. Our relationship with the opponents ---- we shall overcome evil with good (v.14, 17-21);
The Church Life Requires the Participation of the Whole Man of Us
A. The presenting of one’s body (v.1);
B. The renewal and transformation of one’s soul (mind);
C. Being fervent in spirit (v.11);
The Three “Fire”s in This Chapter
A. The first “fire” ---- towards God:
1. “Present your bodies a living sacrifice” (v.1);
2. Once we have presented ourselves to God, the fire of God will burn us and make us an offering to Him of a sweet odor;
3. This is the holy fire, not strange fire;
4. The fire will burn from our bodies and burn into our soul and spirit;
B. The second “fire” ---- towards believers:
1. “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love …fervent in spirit” (v.10-11);
2. Only when the fire of God has burnt in us, we can have normal church life and are fervent in the ways we get along with other members;
C. The third “fire” ---- towards the world:
1. “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” (v.20)
2. To those who are hostile to and oppose and disbelieve the faith, the holy fire in us will be spread out to those who get in touch with us.
3. The fire will thoroughly melt the stubborn thoughts of the enemy.
Three Principles of Being a Good Member
A. One shall think that “he is useful to” the body (v.3-5):
1. “Think soberly”, it reminds us of our importance.
2. “Think soberly”, it reminds us that we should humbly know the importance of every member.
B. One shall know that “he is of God” (v.6):
1. Everyone in the church has his gifts and talents, just as we have many members in one body ;
2. Our gifts and talents are given by God and should be unto Him;
3. God can bestow gift and talent to men. He could, and He can and He will always be able to;
C. One shall be with “the sense of responsibility” for the church (v.7-8):
1. We should clearly know that our talents shall be used in the church to serve God so as to glorify God.
2. Such sense of responsibility is an active attitude ---- one serves God in the church with his own talents.
A. Particular gifts (v.3-8);
B. Common gifts (v.9-21);
We Should …
A. We should think soberly (v.3-4).
B. We should be individually members of one another (v.5-15).
C. We should be humble (v.16-21).
Treatment Toward Others
A. We should serve one another with our gifts in the assembly and be individually members of one another (v.3-5).
B. We Christians should treat each other as brother in love (v.9-16).
C. We should treat the enemies as friends (v.17-21).
A. We should think soberly (v.3).
B. We should be individually members of one another (v.5).
C. We should serve according to our faith and stature (v.6-8).
D. We should be kindly affectionate … and give preference to one another (v.10).
E. We should help each other and identify with each other (v.13, 15).
Three Principles of Being a Good Believer in the Assembly
A. To believers ---- one should have true love (v.9-10, 13):
1. Such true love is “without hypocrisy” by nature;
2. True love includes the principle of “abhorring what is evil and clinging to what is good”;
3. True love will be presented in the attitude of “being kindly affectionate to one another”;
4. True love will show “honor and modesty” worthy of saints;
5. True love has a willingness of “distributing to the needs of others and giving others hospitality”;
B. To God ---- one should have faithful service (v.11):
1. Faithful service is “persistent” service;
2. Faithful service is “fervent” service;
3. Faithful service is serving heartily;
4. Faithful service is “diligent” service;
C. To the environment ---- one should have the determined will of victory (v.12-13):
1. The first secret of overcoming the environment is “rejoicing in hope”.
2. The second secret of overcoming the environment is “being patient in tribulation”.
3. The third secret of overcoming the environment is “being continuing steadfastly in prayer”.
A. Holy love ---- Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good (v.9);
B. Affectionate love ---- Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love (v.10);
C. Fervent love ---- Be fervent in spirit (v.11);
D. Amazing love ---- Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse (v.14);
E. Sympathetic love ---- Rejoice with those who rejoice (v.15);
F. Humble love ---- Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things (v.16);
G. Modest love ---- Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men (v.17);
Five Aspects of the Life of Christians
A. To others (v.9-10, 13, 15-16);
B. To God (v.11);
C. To one’s self (v.12);
D. To persecutors and the enemies (v.14, 17-21);
E. To all men (v.17);
To Be a Good Believer Among the Gentiles
A. One should know how to treat others well (v.14):
1. To treat others with “goodness” may move and impel the persecutors to God;
2. To treat others with “goodness” can be children of God the Father;
B. One should know how to show loving care for others (v.15):
1. A good believer who knows how to show loving care for others can “rejoice with those who rejoice”;
2. A good believer who knows how to show loving care for others can “weep with those who weep”;
C. One should know how to show respect to others (v.16):
1. A good believer who knows how to show respect to others can preserve himself from “setting his mind on high things”;
2. A good believer who knows how to show respect to others can preserve himself from “being wise in his own opinion”;
D. One should know how to show mercy to others (v.17-21):
1. One should have the determination of “repaying no one evil for evil”；
2. One should have the wisdom of “having regard for good things”;
3. One should have the willingness of “living peaceably with all men”;
4. One should have the great ambition of “overcoming evil with good”;
a) We have no right of judgment, for there is not one who has the right of judgment, except for God;
b) Only mercy can melt man’s heart and convert enemies into friends, “heap coals of fire on his head”.
c) What should be conquered is not others, but our heart that devices vengeance.
A. The same joy ---- “rejoice with those who rejoice” (v.15);
B. The same tears ---- “weep with those who weep” (v.15);
C. The same mind ---- “Be of the same mind toward one another (v.16).” How can we be of the same mind toward one another? “Do not set our mind on high things”.
D. The same association ---- “but associate with the humble (v.16)”. One should not think highly of himself nor look down on others, but be willing to cooperate with others.
E. The same sight ---- “Have regard for good things in the sight of all men (v.17).” “Have sight”: “making preparation for”; a spiritual man is not a stubborn man, but a man who has the spirit of corporation and is willing to cooperate with others in everything.
F. Be friends together ---- regard the enemies as friends or convert enemies into friends (v.19-21);
1. Do not avenge yourselves, “but rather give place to wrath”.
2. To overcome evil with love;
── Caleb Huang《Christian Digest Bible Commentary Series》
Translated by Mary Zhou