Douleuo speaks of slave-like service—service under bondage. Of course, this does not endorse playing along with abusive strategies that arise in some dysfunctional relationships. Did you know that good distance runners don’t just play general messages in their minds like “Relax!” or “Stay loose!” while running? Guiding Principles for the Christian Life – Romans 12:9-21. He requires only that we do our part to establish peaceful relationships. The author of Hebrews alludes to Abraham’s hospitality when he says: “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for in doing so, some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2). After all, we can’t control the other person. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 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. Be devoted to one another in love. Some of us find it difficult to praise people. 14Bless those who persecute you; bless, and don’t curse. Romans 12:21. The section begins with the heading, Let love be genuine. 6-9 and 1 Corinthians 12-13. Romans 12:9-21 ESV. He calls us to “be tenderly affectionate one to another in honor”—to focus on satisfying the other person’s need for approval—to facilitate the other person’s victory—in sports lingo, to make an “assist” instead of a goal. [b]12 Rejoice in our confident hope. 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." If we use evil means to achieve a worthwhile end, our evil means will compromise both our character and our witness. He introduces the idea that each is a member in the body of Christ, and all members are uniquely valuable (v. 4-5). People looking at the church from the outside today are often puzzled by the joy and hope that they find there. However all that Paul wrote in Romans 12:3-21 is directly applicable to life within the body of Christ. 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. Read the Scripture: Romans 12:14-21 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 2. 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. Paul does not stop and explore the meaning of each exhortation. 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. Kollao is the Greek word meaning to glue together (Thayer, 353), and is the word from which we get our English word collagen, the fibrous protein found in bones, skin, tendons, and cartilage (Encarta). - Bible Gateway. It is easier to accept our sacrifices when we know that we are engaged in saving lives. In response to God's majestic glory shown in Romans 11:33-36, we must submit ourselves to Him. “you will heap coals of fire on his head” (v. 20c). 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. It is rather to act toward them in ways that help them experience more of God’s goodness. Context Summary. 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?" We hate evil, because evil has the potential to destroy the beloved. Does the end justify the means? Consider the salesperson who feigns interest in a person’s family as a way of gaining trust and selling product. The New Testament also emphasizes hospitality. But ambition-behavior drives wedges between people. 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). 12 Rejoice in Paul is advocating that we actively look for opportunities to provide hospitality. Quiet competence trumps loud semi-competence—perhaps not immediately, but certainly in the long run. Hypomenontes has to do with tough endurance—perseverance. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Love one another with brotherly affection. Then in verses 9-21 Paul discharges a series of rapid-fire exhortations that whiz by without much connection or clarification. He never made an exception. • Second is to recognize the importance of our own health, so that we discipline ourselves to take time for family, recreation, meals, sleep, physical exercise, and prayer. • Paul wrote, “When people curse us, we bless. The willing are always in danger of being consumed by their efforts and discouraged by the lack of clear results. • 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. If we are to “abhor that which is evil,” we must practice the spiritual disciplines of scripture reading, prayer, and Christian fellowship. At the heart of everything are the mercies of God. We want to win, in part, so that we can feel better about ourselves and, in part, to have people admire us. Romans 12:9–21 is a list of numerous brief, bullet-pointed commands. This is the third time in a handful of verses (see vv. The idea of blessing has its roots in the OT, where blessings were treated as having great substance—great value (Gen. 27:30 ff.). This is good advice for every human relationship. Genuine love has a moral orientation toward the good. 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. Romans 12:21 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓] Romans 12:21, NIV: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." When Paul says, “Vengeance is mine,” he is quoting Deuteronomy 32:35. Make … Weep with those who weep” requires a high degree of discipleship—something to which we can aspire and for which we must pray. Like any other Pauline letter, Romans 12:9-21 focuses on the humanization of the gospel and the church. He is giving us very specific ideas for authentic love. 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. 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. What does Paul say our love toward others should be like (Romans 12:9a)? The central thesis of this epistle is that we are all sinners (3:9) and are saved by the grace of God rather than by anything that we have done (3:24). A small word with profound meaning: to have a firm religious faith, to accept something as true, genuine or real. We find it easy to have a horror of our son’s drug addiction. 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. Inwardly, however, he was holding back. “Don’t seek revenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to God’s wrath. “rejoicing in hope“ (v. 12a). Paul moved from the Christian"s duty to his fellow believers to action that would affect non-Christians as well. Therefore we ought to support such people, so that we may become co-workers with the truth” (3 John 1:7-8). He is served, not only by working for him, but by sitting still quietly, when he calls us to suffer. We find it easy to abhor our daughter’s casual dalliance with a young man not of our liking. 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. 9 and the following chapters, concerning the communion of believers Consider how much romantic love is oriented to fulfilling one’s personal needs (sex, security, etc.) What two other ways does he describe a Christian’s love in Romans 12:10? My love for an enemy isn’t genuine if I am motivated by the idea that any kindness shown increases God’s punishment on the person! He doesn’t hold us responsible for the other person’s response to our efforts. Fathers, in particular, find it difficult to praise their sons—fearing, perhaps, that the son might feel that he has accomplished enough and can let down his guard. Outdo one another in showing honor. So do we. 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”. Jesus recognized that. Paul appeals to Roman Christians “to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God” (v. 1). 8; Romans 12:13 to ch. 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. For it is written, “Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord.” 20Therefore, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him. 9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Christians, however, have one foot planted in this world (where we do, indeed, need food, clothing, shelter, and a host of other material things) and the other foot planted in the kingdom of God. Abhor that which is evil. What does “cling to what is good” in Romans 12:9 mean? Such is often not the case, however, because we find ourselves jealous of other people’s good fortune and judgmental about their bad fortune. It is also true that a pastor’s work is never done. Even the pastor is tempted to give too high a priority to filling pews and meeting budgets. “Don’t set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble“ (v. 16b). Blanchard’s perspective was practical rather than theological. He told us to maintain a ten-to-one ratio of praise to criticism—to give at least ten praises for each criticism. 18If it is possible, as much as it is up to you, be at peace with all men. According to Paul, the gospel affirms all human beings and its preaching in the church must equip people to appreciate diversity in all its forms. 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). Love must always be shown with humility. While there is no certain burnout preventative, certain principles apply: • First is to recognize the importance of the mission—ours is life and death work. Romans 12:1-8 establishes the foundation upon which 12:9-21 is built. “not lagging in diligence“ (v. 11a)—literally “in zeal not lazy or slothful”—or perhaps “in zeal not burned out.” That is a challenge for pastors and other Christian leaders. Diokontes is a strong word, having the sense of pursuing or pressing forward. So, also, is any rupture of our bond “to that which is good” spiritually crippling. The apostle Paul provides a theological framework for what it means to follow Christ totally and the consequential c… “contributing to the needs of the saints“ (v. 13a). In verses 1-8, therefore, Paul paints with a broad brush, showing us generally what Christian discipleship requires. Love speaks well of its persecutors. There are other allusions to sayings of Jesus in the rest of chapter 13, and Jesus’ love for others at the cross is stressed in Romans 15:1-3. Exodus 3:1-6: Coming Home–A Mountain, a Bush and the Call of Moses. If he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing so, you will heap coals of fire on his head'” (v. 20). The reason is simple—we can trust God to do the right thing. 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. The World English Bible is based on the American Standard Version (ASV) of the Bible, the Biblia Hebraica Stutgartensa Old Testament, and the Greek Majority Text New Testament. To meet persecution with blessing turns “eye for eye” legalism on its head (see Exodus 21:24; Matthew 5:38-41). “fervent in spirit“ (v. 11b)—literally, “in spirit burning or boiling.” It is difficult to overestimate the importance of enthusiasm in ministry. Discussion Questions. Here, though, as Paul is beginning to head toward the conclusion of the letter, we see once again that the Christian life for him is all about faith working through love (Galatians 5:6). Members of healthy families know each other’s warts, but love each other anyway. If we were to see our enemy stuck in a ditch, this verse would call us to lend a helping hand. And our paragraph doesn’t just say “Love others more,” it describes very specific behaviors for loving others. • He calls us to forgive so that we might be forgiven (Luke 6:37). Paul shifts here from the agape love-word to the storge and philos love-words. Genuine agape is love without a selfish agenda—love that seeks what is good for the beloved. What gifts do you think you offer in service to people around you? So there is a lot of love language here! ), which the WEB has updated. “Be of the same mind one toward another“ (v. 16a)—to auto eis allelous phronountes—literally, “thinking the same thing toward one another.” While this does not require us to agree at every point, it does require us to be agreeable. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will “Repay no one evil for evil“ (v. 17a) is similar in meaning to “Bless those who persecute you; bless, and don’t curse” (v. 14). There is a progression in Romans 12:9-21. It stems from a practice of the early Roman merchants who set their earthen and porcelain jars out for sale. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. To love someone is not simply to cater to specific likes and dislikes of that person. The secret to joy is to put Jesus first, others second, yourself last. There is a textual problem with verse 11c. Romans 13:3-4 , with which there is a charming connection. 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. 19Don’t seek revenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to God’s wrath. It is natural that he would include here some of the thoughts that he expressed there. Paul’s words to bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse in verse 14 sound a lot like what Jesus says in Matthew 5:44, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, or what he says in Luke 6:28, Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. For one thing, God is a perfect judge, and will not make a mistake. Outwardly the man had all the trappings that would make for a great follower. We are, therefore, equals under God’s grace. Paul describes the kind of love we should show to a non-Christian world. Being persecuted, we endure” (1 Corinthians 4:12). 6-8). Throughout this text, Paul has given short, to-the-point commands without qualification—i.e., “Let love be without hypocrisy. Really love them. The 13 exhortations of Romans 12:9-13 are written so that the Holy Spirit may take them and make them the means of his transforming, sanctifying work. “In love (philostorgoi) of the brother be tenderly affectionate one to another” (philadelphia) (v. 10a). • At the cross, Jesus set the example, praying, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Let love be genuine. Why/why not? At its core, much ambition-behavior is an attempt to win approval so that we might feel valued and loved. On that day, God will show us how our small efforts bore fruit in ways that we could never imagine. There we will learn that our ordinary lives were, by the grace of God, extraordinarily important. THE CONTEXT. What is humility? In the following chapter, there is a parenthetical explanation of how God can use government to repay evil for evil. This verse says that it doesn’t. Working with many excellent and not-so-excellent companies, he had learned that excellent companies encourage employees with awards, praise, and promotions while not-so-excellent companies fail to do so. Instead, good runners play very specific messages over and over in their minds, like “Let lower lip sag!” or “Feel how loose my fingers are right now!” These specific messages help their whole body to relax and stay loose. How do you spell joy? Paul appeals to Roman Christians “to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God” (v. 1). “O” stands for others, and “Y” stands for yourself. I have heard many an otherwise good sermon fall flat because the preacher failed to convey passion—enthusiasm—conviction. Honor one another above yourselves. He didn’t then; he doesn’t now. 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. Believe. Romans 12:9-12 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) Marks of the True Christian. Having cautioned Christian practitioners to be transformed and renewed in their minds, attitudes, … Continue reading "Commentary on Romans 12:9-21" “Let love (agape) be without hypocrisy” (anupokritos) (v. 9a). 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). Cling (Greek: kollomenoi—from kollao) to that which is good. Just as Paul cannot help breaking out in poetic tribute to love in his famous love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, after beginning the subject of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12, so also he does the same in Romans 12. Prayer is a channel through which the Christian receives strength. So Paul is hinting that to love genuinely is to love as Jesus loved. 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. This begins a new section in Paul's letter. 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). Anupokritos means genuine—sincere—not hypocritical—the opposite of the actor (hypokritos—from which we get our word “hypocrite”) who hides behind a mask and expresses feelings that come from a script instead of from the heart. Our example for how to love is Jesus. Jesus has always demanded one’s all in following him. Then he says, “Let love be without hypocrisy” (v. 9). In that context, the person bestowing a blessing was, in a sense, asking God to bless the other person. Romans 9:21, ESV: "Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?" For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself … 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Verse 13 ends with the phrase pursuing hospitality, but Paul’s word for hospitality is literally love of stranger. Abraham was the model for hospitality because he entertained three visitors so graciously (Genesis 18). X (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002), Copyright 2008, 2011, 2017, Richard Niell Donovan, “heavenly Father knows that you need all these things”, “seek first God’s Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well”, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing”, All Rights Reserved | © 1997-2020 Richard Niell Donovan. When love is absent, we want to outdo other people in the sense that we win and they lose. He is honoured by our hope and trust in him, especially when we rejoice in that hope. We find it less easy to hate those evils that tempt us personally, whether sex, alcohol, money, ambition, narcissism, self-indulgence, or passivity in the face of evil. He says, “Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (v. 2). Romans 12:9-21 NIV - Love in Action - Love must be sincere. Verses 9, 10, 11 have respect to ch. We must be careful, not only about proper conduct, but also about appearances. 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). Paul lists love first among the thirteen desired behaviors, and love is more than first among equals. Hold tightly to what is good. For it is written, ‘Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord‘” (v. 19). 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. 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. As Christians, we serve under obligation. So often we think that the letter of Romans is all about doctrine, or justification by faith. But a closer look shows that the passage is not arbitrary, but loosely tied to what precedes it in 12:1-8. 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. As in many of his other epistles, Paul begins Romans with teaching on doctrine and ends with teaching on how we should live because of what is true. It is easier to be repelled by some evils than by others. • As they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord, don’t hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60). “serving (douleuontes—from douleuo) the Lord” (v. 11c). He explained that he had for many years observed the rule that he should never be alone behind closed doors with any woman other than his wife—one of many rules that he followed for the sake of his reputation. The best way to conquer an enemy is to make him/her our friend. Both joy and hope are frequent themes in the New Testament, even though life for early Christians was anything but easy. 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