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Romans 12:17-19

Live Peaceably

17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.


This passage is the corollary to verse 14, "Bless them which persecute you; bless and curse not." Compare it with 1 Peter 3:9-11, "Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it."

How should we answer evil acts? Jesus said to turn the other cheek and to forgive. He told us to love our enemies. Revenge is never the proper action in response to evil. The act of revenge is the equivalent of pushing God from His throne, although that could never in reality be done. As the Supreme and Sovereign Judge, He has reserved for Himself the decision to avenge any aggression against His saints.

"Provide things honest (good or virtuous) in the sight of all men." Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament explains, "Provide [προνοουμενοι] . The A. V. uses "provide" in its earlier and more literal meaning of taking thought in advance. This has been mostly merged in the later meaning of furnish, so that the translation conveys the sense of providing honestly for ourselves and our families. Better, as Rev., take thought for. 66 The citation is from Pro 3:4, and varies from both Hebrew and Septuagint. Hebrew : And thou shalt find favor and good understanding in the eyes of God and man. Septuagint : And thou shalt find favor and devise excellent things in the sight of the Lord and of men. Compare 2Co 8:21. Construe in the sight of all men with the verb, not with honorable. Men's estimate of what is honorable is not the standard."

Nicoll's Expositor's Greek Testament says, "...here it is apparently that of living in such a way as not to provoke enmity, or give any occasion for breach of peace."

So we are to live in peace, if it is in any way possible. It will not always be possible, because others may act aggressively toward us and we must not retaliate. It may not even be possible to refrain from retaliating when another person's safety is threatened by the enemy. Then, we might have to fight to defend the other person from evil. Nevertheless, we should strive with every ounce of faith that we have within us to live peaceably with all men.

We live in a violent world in which the gospel is despised, the messengers are equally despised and the very name of Jesus is despised. We cannot change that, but we can make a difference. If we stick to the gospel and do not get involved in disputes that are meaningless from the perspective of eternity, we can change the fate of some people. We must be very careful about our involvement in politics, especially in a world where everything good is called evil. We love the unborn, but are said to hate women; we love the homosexual and want him to be saved, but we are called homophobes; we love those who work and are forced to pay huge taxes, but we are called unpatriotic.

With all these battles in which we are engaged, we are making more enemies than converts. We cannot save the world through the political system. Only the gospel can do that! Only the word of God has the power to save men's souls and to change them.

Before The Throne:

Are you engaged in too many battles? God has reserved the spiritual battlefield for you, and you cannot fight on two fronts. Pray about your worldly entanglements and ask God to help you break away and spend that time sharing the gospel. Have you retaliated against your enemies? Pray for forgiveness and for the faith and strength to turn the other cheek next time.

For Further Study:

(v.17) ** Recompense. Prov 20:22; Matt 5:39; 1Thess 5:15; 1Pet 3:9; ** Provide. Rom 14:16; 1Cor 6:6-7; 1Cor 13:4-5; 2Cor 8:20-21; Phil 4:8-9; Col 4:5; 1Thess 4:12; 1Thess 5:22; 1Tim 5:14; Titus 2:4-5; 1Pet 2:12; 1Pet 3:16;

(v.18) ** Rom 14:17, 19; 2Sam 20:19; Ps 34:14; Ps 120:5-7; Prov 12:20; Matt 5:5, 9; Mark 9:50; 1Cor 7:15; 2Cor 13:11; Gal 5:22; Eph 4:3; Col 3:14-15; 1Thess 5:13; 2Tim 2:22; Heb 12:14; Jas 3:16-18; 1Pet 3:11;

(v.19) ** avenge. Lev 19:18; 1Sam 25:26, 33; Prov 24:17-19, 29; Ezek 25:12; ** give. Matt 5:39; Luke 6:27-29; Luke 9:55-56; ** Vengeance. Rom 13:4; Deut 32:35, 43; Ps 94:1-3; Nah 1:2-3; Heb 10:30;

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