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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, " 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;

Romans 12:15-16

Be Empathic

15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

In our last lesson, we said that Paul was moving from relationships within the church to those with the community at large. At first glance these two verses may appear to contradict that idea, because they reflect the same instructions that he had given to other churches concerning their internal relationships (1 Corinthians 12:26; Philippians 2:17-18), but that is not necessarily the case.

It is good for the church's reputation among the community when its members demonstrate a strong empathy with everyone outside the church. Success and good fortunes often invoke feelings of jealousy, envy, suspicion and resentment among a person's neighbors and friends. It is only the rare occasion when someone will rejoice over another's fame and fortune. The community will see the difference when Christians are spontaneously celebrating with those who have received a blessing.

It is also good for community relations when the church feels the pain of those who are suffering. That is why the Southern Baptist Convention's Disaster Relief has been so effective. We should not limit our love and care to those who are inside the church. Instead, let's show the world that Jesus loves everyone, and that we are there to prove it.

"Be of the same mind one toward another." This does not mean that we should be conformed to the world around us. It literally means, "Minding the same things toward one another." We should take an interest in one another, not minding high things, but be willing to go along with the downtrodden of society. We should appear concerned and humble among the people with whom we have to live.

There is no way to win the lost to Christ, if we stay inside the walls of our churches and show no interest whatsoever in the problems and suffering of our fellow citizens. Charity cannot replace the preaching of the word of God, but it can gain us the right to be heard. We must work to gain the trust of our community. Even though they may hate what we have to say and even though they may hate us for saying it, they will listen when they know we care about them.

Finally, we are admonished to, "Be not wise among yourselves" (or "in your own opinion"). We should not be prideful or elitist. This is another call for us to remain humble among our brethren and the community. With this must also come the knowledge that we have no wisdom except what God provides. A humble person must proceed in his work by looking to God for the answers and guidance that he needs. Our neighbors should be able to see that we are not conceitedly relying on our own wisdom when we are attempting to help them.

Doing God's work requires more from us than just learning a few simple verses to lead someone to Christ. We must also work to earn the right to be heard by demonstrating a great deal of empathy toward others, by caring, loving, and humbling ourselves before the masses.

Before The Throne:

Ask yourself, "In what areas of ministry that are mentioned in these verses could I use some improvement." Don't be wise in yourself. Take the answers to God and seek His guidance on how to proceed. Are there areas where you have really messed up? Ask Him to show you how to mend the fences. Also take the time to read His word and search for answers there. In the book of Acts it tells us that the early church was, "Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." (2:47) This was due to their concern for the welfare of everyone. Ask God to give your church the same effectiveness.

For Further Study:

** Rejoice. Isa 66:10-14; Luke 1:58; Luke 15:5-10; Acts 11:23; 1Cor 12:26; 2Cor 2:3; Phil 2:17-18; 28; ** weep. Neh 1:4; Job 2:11; Ps 35:13-14; Jer 9:1; John 11:19; John 11:33-36; 2Cor 11:29; Phil 2:26; Heb 13:3;

(v.16) ** of the. Rom 15:5; Rom 6:2; 2Chr 30:12; Jer 32:39; Acts 4:32; 1Cor 1:10; Phil 1:27; Phil 2:2-3; Phil 3:16; Phil 4:2; 1Pet 3:8; ** Mind. Ps 131:1-2; Jer 45:5; Matt 18:1-4; Matt 20:21-28; Luke 4:6-11; Luke 22:24-27; 1Pet 5:3; 3John 1:9; Rev 13:7-8; ** condescend Job 31:13-16; Job 36:5; Prov 17:5; Prov 19:7, 17, 22; Matt 6:25, 26; Matt 11:5; Matt 26:11; Luke 6:20; Luke 14:13; Phil 4:11-13; 1Tim 6:6-9; Heb 13:5; Jas 2:5-6; ** Be not. Rom 11:25; Prov 3:7; Prov 26:12; Isa 5:21; 1Cor 3:18; 1Cor 4:10; 1Cor 6:5; 1Cor 8:2; Jas 3:13-17;

Romans 12:14

Facing Persecution

14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

With this verse, Paul turns from describing the elements that should comprise the internal relationships of the church to those that the church should have with the surrounding community. He also departs from his pattern of using descriptive participles to describe the relationships and uses the imperative instead.

Dunn points out that the use of the word "bless" by the early church differed from the typical Greek usage where it meant simply "to praise or speak highly of someone." The Christian meaning of the word is much stronger, being derived from its equivalent in the Hebrew language. It means, "to ask God to treat the person with favor." This is reminiscent of what Jesus had taught in Matthew 5:44 . "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;" There we see that blessing those who persecute you actually means to pray for them.

Persecution is not simply a possibility for the Christian who is living an obedient life; it is a fact that most will face every day of their life. Jesus warned His disciples, saying, "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved." (Matthew 10:22) And again, He said, "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake." (Matthew 24:9)

Hatred is something that we have difficulty dealing with. Our natural instinct is to hate back, fight back, and curse the ones who hate us. It is even more difficult to love those who act out that hatred by persecuting us. Their persecution can take many forms. It can range anywhere from speaking a few angry words against us to killing us. It is not natural for us to love those who would want to kill us. We have enough trouble loving one another within the church.

Nevertheless, we should remember Paul's words from Romans 8:36-37, "As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." No amount of persecution can defeat us. In fact, persecution makes us stronger and, even in death, we are more than conquerors. So there is really no reason to strike back at those who hate us.

"...and curse not..." Cursing is the opposite of blessing. It means to ask God to harm your enemies. But those enemies might one day be your brothers or sisters in Christ. We cannot forget that Paul was a persecutor of the Christian community before his Damascus Road experience. Would we want to answer to God for having prayed for Paul's destruction? Of course not! We do not know whom God has predestinated to be among the chosen, so we are commanded to bless and not to curse all people.

At the time of this writing, persecution in the United States is very mild but it does exist and is steadily growing in its intensity. Every Christian who is actively involved in doing God's will can expect to experience some form of persecution. Jesus said, "Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also." (John 15:20)

Before The Throne:

If you have not experienced any form of persecution, praise God for it but also ask Him whether or not it is because you have not been following His command to make disciples. If you have been hated for your faith, rejoice in it and pray for those who persecute you. Ask God to help you love and forgive your enemies. Pray for the Christians around the world who are suffering imprisonment, beatings and even death for their faith.

For Further Study:

** Job 31:29-30; Matt 5:44; Luke 6:28; Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60; 1Cor 4:12-13; 1Thess 5:15; Jas 3:10; 1Pet 2:21-23; 1Pet 3:9;

Romans 12:12-13

One Body United

12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

As we walk through this epistle one or two verses at a time, we should remember to always go back and read them in their proper context. This paragraph began in the tenth verse and is not completely understood outside of that context. Please review vv 10-11 before proceeding with this study.

James Dunn says, "The more individual exhortations of vv 11-12 are framed by the emphasis on mutual interdependence and communal support (vv 10,13). Zestful spirituality and patient hope cannot be sustained by the individual on his or her own, but only with the support of the congregation functioning as body and family. And such spirituality cannot be maintained apart from practical concern for the physical well-being of all members of the congregation." (Dunn, James D.G., Word Biblical Commentary, Vol 38B, p.754; Word Inc. 1988)

So we go back to the tenth verse which tells us to love one another and to be like family. Our passage for today uses five present active participles to describe how we are to serve the Lord together as one family.

"Rejoicing in hope..." This should be a very observable trait of every Christian congregation. We have hope for the future, a future which we neither earned nor deserved, a free and glorious gift from our God. This is the hope that no other people can claim; it is the hope of eternal life. We should rejoice in this hope together, because it will sustain us through every tribulation.

"...patient in tribulation;.." The Greek word is actually stronger than this. "Persevering in tribulation," is closer to the intended meaning. It is our mutual joy and hope that will help us through every trial along with support from the family of God. Joy is infectious and can be maintained even in the worst of circumstances when the congregation continues to remind its members of the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. Hope and joy give us the strength to stand our ground and persevere when the world pressures us to give up.

"...continuing instant in prayer;..." All of these participles in the Greek text are plurals so we should understand that this describes the congregation as one that persists in praying together. A church is a body of believers who constantly and persistently come before the Lord with one accord in prayer. (See Acts 1:14; 2:42; 6:4; Colossians 2:42) Corporate prayer should be a major part of our worship. Sadly enough it is usually the smallest portion of the service.

"Distributing to the necessity of saints..." The Greek word for "distributing" is again stronger than our English versions. It literally says to "act as partners in the needs of the saints." When one suffers, we all share the suffering and sacrifice to give them what they need. This is a real familial relationship.

"...practice hospitality..." Once again the Greek is a little stronger than our versions. The Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges says, "This use confined to Pauline writings (incl. Heb., 1 Pet.); not the mere exercise, but the active search for opportunity is implied. Hospitality, a recognized duty, is to be carefully cultivated; cf. 1Pe 4:9; 1Ti 3:2; Tit 1:8." Church members are actively seeking to afford their hospitality to others. They enjoy being able to share their home and blessings with others.

These are all important traits that should be present in a healthy church. They are the things that unite us as one body in Christ, the things that give us strength in the face of evil and the things that are so very pleasing to our God.

Before The Throne:

Where does your church need help to improve its participation in the things listed in vv.12-13? Pray for your church and your pastor to be strengthened as a real family. Ask God to show you in which of these areas you should be more diligent. Pray that He will use you to help your church mature. Thank Him and Praise Him for allowing you to be a part of the precious body of Christ.

For Further Study:

** Rejoicing. Rom 5:2-; ; Rom 15:13; Ps 16:9-11; Ps 71:20-23; Ps 73:24-26; Prov 10:28; Prov 14:32; Lam 3:24-26; Hab 3:17-18; Matt 5:12; Luke 10:20; 1Cor 13:13; Phil 3:1; Phil 4:4; Col 1:27; 1Thess 5:8, 16; 2Thess 2:16-17; Titus 2:13; Titus 3:7; Heb 3:6; Heb 6:17-19; 1Pet 1:3-8; 1Pet 4:13; 1John 3:1-3; ** patient. Rom 2:7; Rom 5:3-4; Rom 8:25; Rom 15:4; Ps 37:7; Ps 40:1; Luke 8:15; Luke 21:19; Col 1:11; 1Thess 1:3; 2Thess 1:4; 2Thess 3:5; 1Tim 6:11; 2Tim 3:10; Heb 6:12, 15; Heb 10:36; Heb 12:1; Jas 1:3-4; Jas 5:7, 10-11; 1Pet 2:19-20; 2Pet 1:6; Rev 13:10; ** continuing. Gen 32:24-26; Job 27:8-10; Ps 55:16-17; Ps 62:8; Ps 109:4; Jer 29:12-13; Dan 9:18-19; Luke 11:5-13; Luke 18:1-43; Acts 1:14; Acts 2:42; Acts 6:4; Acts 12:5; 2Cor 12:8; Eph 6:18; Eph 6:19; Phil 4:6; Phil 4:7; Col 4:2; Col 4:12; 1Thess 5:17; Heb 5:7
Jas 5:15-16; 1Pet 4:7; 1John 5:14-15;

(v.13) ** Distributing. Rom 15:25-28; Ps 41:1; Acts 4:35; Acts 9:36-41; Acts 10:4; Acts 20:34-35; 1Cor 16:1-2; 2Cor 8:1-4; 2Cor 9:1, 12; Gal 6:10; Phlm 1:7; Heb 6:10; Heb 13:16; 1John 3:17; ** given. Gen 18:2-8; Gen 19:1-3; 1Tim 3:2; 1Tim 5:10; Titus 1:8; Heb 13:2; 1Pet 4:9;

Romans 12:11

Eager to Serve

11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Paul literally said, "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; in eagerness not slothful..." The idea behind the Greek word for "slothful" is that of being late or slow, even reluctant. We should be about the business of caring for one another willingly and earnestly not slothfully.

The word that is rendered as "business" has the opposite meaning of slothfulness. It means "speed and (by implication) dispatch, eagerness, earnestness." Thus, we should not be lazy, slow or reluctant when showing our brothers and sisters in Christ or the community at large that we care for them.

"(being) fervent in spirit;.." The Greek word ζέω (zeo) means, "to be hot, to boil, or to glow." It is frequently used to indicate the kind of attitude that Christians should have toward the work of the Lord. The heart of the Christian should be on fire for Christ, eager to serve Him, boiling over when anything hinders the work, and glowing when he is at the task.

"serving the Lord." This means to be enslaved to Him. The word in the Greek is a present active participle. Serving is not something that we do once a week or once a month, it is a continuous, ongoing lifestyle by which we are identified.

It seems that so many who call themselves Christian today cannot be described in the way that Paul has laid it out in this verse. They are not loving caring people; they are not eager to be about the Lord's business; and unless you saw them go to church on Sunday morning you would never know that they were Christians. The phrase, "servant of the Lord," simply does not describe them.

God has called His people to be industrious people. The "Christian work ethic" is a phrase that was once heard mentioned often, but has now seemed to disappear from our language. However, work is a very important part of the Christian life. When God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden, He "...took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it." (Genesis 2:15)

Paul commanded the church at Thessalonica saying, "And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;" ( 1 Thessalonians 4:11) And later he said, "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat." (2 Thessalonians 3:10)

Everything we do should be in His service and for God's glory. "Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ." (Colossians 3:22-24)

We serve the Lord Jesus Christ by ministering to others and sharing the gospel with an eager and fervent Spirit. That is how the world should see us at work, at play, and at home.

Before The Throne:

Are you really excited about being a slave to Jesus Chris. Pray that God would fill your heart with the joy of Christian service. If you are not on fire for the Lord, ask Him to light the flame in your heart. Pray for the people whom He wants you to serve. Ask Him to make you the best, most humble servant they have ever seen.

For Further Study:

** slothful. Exod 5:17; Prov 6:6-9; Prov 10:26; Prov 13:4; Prov 18:9; Prov 22:29; Prov 24:30-34; Prov 26:13-16; Eccl 9:10; Isa 56:10; Matt 25:26; Acts 20:34-35; Eph 4:28; 1Thess 4:11-12; 2Thess 3:6-12; 1Tim 5:13; Heb 6:10-11; ** fervent. Matt 24:12; Acts 18:25; Col 4:12-13; Jas 5:16; 1Pet 1:22; 1Pet 4:8; Rev 2:4; Rev 3:15-16; ** serving. 1Cor 7:22; Eph 6:5-8; Col 3:22-24; Col 4:1; Titus 2:9-10; Heb 12:28;

Romans 12:9-10

With Unfeigned Love

9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

Paul's typical sequence of topics is to move from the discussion of the body of Christ to the relational environment that we are to maintain within the body. The main theme is, of course, that of love.

Now he tells us that our love for one another is to be genuine, unfeigned, and strong. He uses the Greek word agape for love. It is a form of godly love, a love that asks for nothing in return and is unconditional. "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently..." (1Peter 1:22)

This is a love that has to be more than a simple emotion. "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth." (1John 3:18) True love must be expressed though kind deeds and works of charity. It is the kind of love that God wants us to show to everyone whether they are Christians or pagans. Jesus even told us to love (agapao) our enemies in Matthew 5:44. If we cannot love one another unconditionally, how could we expect to obey the Lord and love our enemies?

We are to love people while abhorring evil of any kind. Evil thoughts, words and deeds destroy relationships by creating resentment, jealousy, envy and hatred within them. The only hatred a Christian should foster is that of everything evil. "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil." (Isaiah 1:16)

"Cleave to that which is good." This sentence has an interesting grammatical structure in the Greek text. The word "cleave" is a present passive participle of a verb that means to cling to something. In the present tense, it says that this is something that we should always and continuously be doing. The passive voice indicates that we are not the ones doing the clinging but have been in a sense "glued" by someone else to that which is good. As a participle, it describes both the action and the one to whom it is done. If we think about those elements, we get the idea that we should be described as a people whom Christ has separated from sin and from all forms of evil and has permanently glued us to a love for everything that is good.

"Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love..." Here the Greek word philadelphia is used to express the concept of family. Brotherly love is important to the church body. We are members one of another, members of the same family, a new family, the family of God. When someone told Jesus that His mother and brothers were outside wanting to see Him, "...he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!" (Matthew 12:49)

" honour preferring one another..." This might be better understood in the literal sense. "Leading the way to show respect for one another." True love does not wait for someone else to act first. True love takes the initiative to reach out to others. It leads the way in giving others the respect they are due. "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." (Philippians 2:3)

Before The Throne:

How is this passage reflected in your life? Ask the Lord to purify your heart, to put aside all evil thoughts toward others and to give you the ability to love unconditionally. Pray for your church to have a growing sense of family. Ask the Lord to stop the dissension and friction within the church body. Confess your sins, if at anytime you have shown or felt any kind of disrespect for a brother or sister in Christ.

For Further Study:

** love. 2Sam 20:9-10; Ps 55:21; Prov 26:25; Ezek 33:31; Matt 26:49; John 12:6; 2Cor 6:6; 2Cor 8:8; 1Thess 2:3; 1Tim 1:5; Jas 2:15-16; 1Pet 1:22; 1Pet 4:8; 1Jo 3:18-20; ** Abhor. Ps 34:14; Ps 36:4; Ps 45:7; Ps 97:10; Ps 101:3; Ps 119:104, 163; Prov 8:13; Amos 5:15; Heb 1:9; ** cleave. Acts 11:23; 1Thess 5:15; Heb 12:14; 1Pet 3:10-11;

(v.10) ** kindly. John 13:34-35; John 15:17; John 17:21; Acts 4:32; Gal 5:6, 13, 22; Eph 4:1-3; Col 1:4; 1Thess 4:9; 2Thess 1:3; Heb 13:1; 1Pet 1:22; 1Pet 2:17; 1Pet 3:8-9; 2Pet 1:7; 1John 2:9-11; 1John 3:10-18; 1John 4:11, 20-21; 1John 5:1-2; ** with brotherly love. Job 1:4; Ps 133:1; ** in honour. Gen 13:9; Matt 20:26; Luke 14:10; Phil 2:3; 1Pet 5:5;

Romans 12:7-8

Members One of Another

7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

Yesterday I said that I preferred James Dunn's translation of these verses and the way that he connects them to verse 5, so let me remind the reader what they say. "5 So we all are one body in Christ and individually members of one another--- 6 Having charisms which differ in accordance with the grace given to us, whether prophecy in proportion to faith, 7 or service in service, or he who teaches in teaching, 8 or he who encourages in encouraging, he who shares with sincere concern, he who cares with zest, he who does acts of mercy with cheerfulness."

So we are all members one of another, having different gifts such as are in this list of seven. The first and most important was prophecy (v.6) and the second is service or ministry. The Greek διακονίαν (diakonian) is used to represent all kinds of ministry or service being acted out in service to others. It could refer here, however, to those pastors and evangelists who minister the word of God. Pastors would have a wider range of ministry responsibilities and would certainly be next in importance to the church. This would be in keeping with the order of importance as seen in Ephesians 4:11.

He that teaches would then be gifted in the art of teaching. His ministry responsibilities would be more limited... to studying and understanding the word of God and then having the gift of conveying that information clearly to others.

Members of the church are called upon to exhort or encourage one another. "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25) Some will be especially gifted in this area and so are important to the other members in the area of encouraging them.

Those who are gifted to share or to give are gifted in such a way as to do it with simplicity of heart, with no other motive than to care for others. They are generous and loving people who might be the most important in the church, because they foster the sense of family or the feeling of community.

"he that ruleth, with diligence," Most translators agree on the word ruleth or leadeth, but the word can also be used in the sense of placing others before yourself. Dunn's translation assumes that this is the preferred meaning, because of Paul's habit of listing things in their order of priority. He would have placed the gift of leading near the top of the list. Thus, he translates it as, "he who cares with zest."

Finally, we have the gift of showing mercy to others. This would probably have been those within the church who cared for the sick, visited those in prison, or took the homeless, the widows, or the orphans into their homes to care for them. It is difficult to imagine anyone who had this gift not doing it with a cheerful heart. Acts of mercy bring a special joy to those to whom we minister, and it would be difficult for the caretaker not to be filled with the same feeling of joy.

These are some of the gifts that are given to the individual members of the church. Each one has a gift that God has bestowed upon him or her with which to bless the church. At some time in our Christian life we will need someone with one or more of these gifts to minister to us in their area of expertise. It is that need that connects us to one another and makes us members one of another as Paul stated in verse 5.

Before The Throne:

Continue to pray about your gift(s). Ask God where He wants you to serve in your church. Who needs to benefit from your gifts today? Thank Him for allowing you to be a part of His ministry, caring for His people, and reaching out to bring others to Him. Take your ministry seriously and pray for the things you need to make it succeed.

For Further Study:

ministry. Isa 21:8; Ezek 3:17-21; Ezek 33:7-9; Matt 24:45-47; Luke 12:42-44; Acts 20:20; Acts 20:28; Col 4:17; 1Tim 4:16; 2Tim 4:2; 1Pet 5:1-4; ** or he. Deut 33:10; 1Sam 12:23; Ps 34:11; Ps 51:13; Eccl 12:9; Matt 28:19; John 3:2; Acts 13:1; Gal 6:6; Eph 4:11; Col 1:28-29; 1Tim 2:7; 1Tim 3:2; 1Tim 5:17; 2Tim 2:2, 24;

(v.8 ) ** exhorteth. Acts 13:15; Acts 15:32; Acts 20:2; 1Cor 14:3; 1Thess 2:3; 1Tim 4:13; Heb 10:25; Heb 13:22; ** giveth. Deut 15:8-11, 14; Job 31:16-20; Ps 112:9; Prov 22:9; Eccl 11:1; Eccl 11:2; Eccl 11:6; Isa 32:5, 8; Isa 58:7-11; Matt 6:2-4; Matt 25:40; Luke 21:1-4; Acts 2:44-46; Acts 4:33-35; Acts 11:28-30; 2Cor 8:1-9, 12; 1Thess 2:8; 1Pet 4:9-11; ** with simplicity. 2Cor 1:12; 2Cor 8:2; 2Cor 11:3; Eph 6:5; Col 3:22; ** ruleth. Rom 13:6; Gen 18:19; Ps 101:1-8; Acts 13:12; Acts 20:28; 1Cor 12:28; 1Thess 5:12-14; 1Tim 3:4-5; 1Tim 5:17; Heb 13:7; Heb 13:17; Heb 13:24; 1Pet 5:2; 1Pet 5:3; ** with diligence. Ec 9:10; ** shewth. Deut 16:11, 14-15; Ps 37:21; Isa 64:5; 2Cor 9:7;

Romans 12:6-8

The Gift of Prophecy

6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, [let us prophesy] according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, [let us wait] on [our] ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, [let him do it] with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

There has been some debate about the proper translation of verses 6-8. As the reader can see by the italics, the KJV has added words to each of these verses in order to convey what the translators understood the meaning to be. This is also true with most of the modern translations but more difficult to see because they do not italicize the added words. There are some fine arguments for doing this, but I do not believe that we should add to the word of God, unless it is absolutely necessary to convey its meaning into another language. I do not think that is the case in these verses.

James D.G. Dunn translates the passage by connecting these verses as one sentence with what has come before. Thus, "5 so we are all one body in Christ, and individually members of one another--- having charisms which differ in accordance with the grace given to us, whether prophecy in proportion to faith, 7 or service in service etc." (Dunn, James D.G., Word Biblical Commentary, Vol 38B p.719; Word Inc. 1988)

The first point that Paul wants to make in this passage is that, while we are all members of the body of Christ, each of us has been given different gifts to be used for the functioning of the church. He then describes those gifts, and there is no reason for us to change his description of them into imperative sentences.

The gifts have their origin in "the grace that is given to us." They are not natural gifts but are God inspired charisms given "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:" (Ephesians 4:12) Each member has specific gifts for specific purposes just as each organ of our body has its own unique qualities in order to perform its specific function.

Prophecy is the first gift that is mentioned and is perhaps the most misunderstood gift in today's church. Charles Hodge wrote a lengthy explanation of it, and I want to share a portion of what he wrote.

"The original and proper meaning of the Hebrew word rendered prophet in the Old Testament, is interpreter, one who explains or delivers the will of another. And to this idea the Greek term also answers. It matters little whether the will or purpose of God which the prophets were called upon to deliver, had reference to present duty or to future events. They derived their Hebrew name not from predicting what was to come to pass, which was but a small part of their duty, but from being the interpreters of God, men who spoke in his name. We accordingly find the term prophet applied to all classes of religious teachers under the old dispensation. Of Abraham it is said, “He is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee and thou shalt live,” Gen 20:7. The name is often applied to Moses as the great interpreter of the will of God to the Hebrews, Deu 18:18; and the writers of the historical books are also constantly so called. The passage in Exo 7:1, is peculiarly interesting, as it clearly exhibits the proper meaning of this word. “And the Lord said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a God to Pharaoh; and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet,” i.e. he shall be thy interpreter. In Rom 4:16, it is said, “He shall be a mouth to thee;” and of Jeremiah, God says, “Thou shalt be as my mouth,” Jer 15:19; compare Deu 18:18. Any one, therefore, who acted as the mouth of God, no matter what was the nature of the communication, was a prophet. And this is also the sense of the word in the New Testament;" (Hodge, Charles; Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and 1Corinthians; The Word Bible Study Software)

The gift of prophecy is the ability to interpret the will of God and to speak for Him, which originates from His grace, and is given according to the proportion of one's faith. It must also be added that divinely inspired prophecy should be judged according to scripture. It cannot add to what scripture has already told us nor can it contradict anything that has already been written therein. (Proverbs 30:6; Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Revelation 22:18-19) There are and always have been many false prophets in the world and it is our task to search the scriptures to verify what every one of them has to say.

We will look at verses 7-8 in tomorrow's study.

Before The Throne:

Sometimes our spiritual gifts are hidden from us until we commit ourselves to doing what God has called us to do. Pray about what He wants you to do and do not worry about your ability to do it. If God has called you to any task within the church, He will grant you the gift to do it according to the measure of your faith. So humble yourself before Him today and be ready to answer the call. Let your faith be your guide.

For Further Study:

** then. Rom 1:11; 1Cor 1:5-7; 1Cor 4:6-7; 1Cor 12:4-11; 1Cor 12:28-31; 1Cor 13:2; 1Pet 4:10-11; ** whether. Matt 23:34; Luke 11:49; Acts 2:17; Acts 11:27-28; Acts 13:1; Acts 15:32; Acts 21:9; 1Cor 12:10, 28; 1Cor 13:2; 1Cor 14:1, 3-5, 24, 29, 31-32; Eph 3:5; Eph 4:11; 1Thess 5:20; ** according to the proportion. Rom 12:3; Acts 18:24-28; 2Cor 8:12; Phil 3:15;

Romans 12:4-5

One Body

4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

Why is the humility mentioned in verse 3 so important to the church? Paul answers that question by drawing the analogy of the church with the human body. By pointing out that we are all members, body parts or limbs, of the same body, he draws our attention not only to our equality and unity, but also to our need for one another.

Paul made the same comparisons in greater detail in 1Corinthians 12:4-31 and also in Ephesians 4:25; 5:30. There emphasized the different functions of the body's members and the different gifts that God has given to each.

In our passage, he simply emphasizes that each member of the body has a different function without enumerating them. Nevertheless, we must understand that every member is equally important. Ask yourself, "Which of my body parts am I willing to unnecessarily give up?" Likewise, the members of the church are all important to Christ.

We need each of those parts to function efficiently in the work that Christ expects us to do, but we should also remember that the body needs us. No one should consider himself to be of no value. God has designed the church in such a way that we would all have different gifts and functions and that we might be dependent on one another.

We "are one body in Christ," even though we are many individual parts. Christ is the head of the church. He provides the mind, the guidance, the plan, the process, the goal, and the unity that we need to accomplish those things. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:" (Philippians 2:5) It is His humility and His sacrificial willingness to serve the Father that guides His church.

"...and every one members one of another." Every believer is part of all other believers. When one hurts, we should all hurt, and when one rejoices we should all be glad. This is the sentiment that Paul expressed in his letter to the church at Corinth. "That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it." (1 Corinthians 12:25-26)

When we judge others within the body by considering them to be less valued by God than we are, we create schisms in the body. Paul's message to us cannot be repeated too often, "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think;"

Before The Throne:

We are all guilty of having judged our brothers and sisters in Christ. Confess those things to God and beg for His forgiveness. Ask Him to help you see the value in each one of them and to help you esteem them to be your equal. If you have ever felt like you were of no value to your church, you should also confess that. It is contrary to God's word. However, if you have been ignoring your obligation to serve Christ through the church, ask the Lord to show you how you can use the gifts He has given you to bless the whole body.

For Further Study:

** 1Cor 12:4, 12, 27; Eph 4:15-16;

(v.5) ** Rom 12:4; 1Cor 10:17; 1Cor 12:12-14, 20, 27-28; Eph 1:23; Eph 4:25; Eph 5:23, Eph 5:30; Col 1:24; Col 2:19

Romans 12:3

Be Humble

3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Humility is a difficult goal for most of us to achieve but, if we are to be a living sacrifice to God, we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds, and humility should be one of the key products of that transformation.

Paul addresses the way we think of ourselves by demonstrating humility through his own words, "For I say, through the grace given unto me..." He claimed no authority of His own, no position that was superior to any other person, but stood upon the the authority of God's grace. The office of the Apostle was a gift to him that he neither deserved nor could he claim any credit for it.

Everything we think, say or do should be to the glory of God. Paul told the church at Corinth, "But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." (1Corinthians 15:10) He credited his whole existence to God, even the work that he accomplished was only done by the grace of God. There is no such thing as a self-made man.

So, he addresses this plea "to every man that is among you." It is for everyone who reads this epistle and it is ageless in its application. Read it as though Paul was looking you straight in the eye and speaking with the authority that God had given to him, saying, "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought to think..."

I like the way W.R. Nicoll said it. "Everybody in the Church needed this word. To himself, every man is in a sense the most important person in the world, and it always needs much grace to see what other people are, and to keep a sense of moral proportion." We must come to understand that we are not the most important person in the world and neither are we superior to anyone else.

Someone who thinks soberly, who has a sound mind, understands his or her place in the kingdom of God. To think that God has made one person to be superior to others is insanity. Such thinking has been the building blocks of some of the world's cruelest dictatorships. However, the Jew is no better than the Gentile and the Christian is no better than the heathen. We are all sinners, but some of us, having received God's grace, are more fortunate than others and, that should be a very humbling thought.

We are, therefore, to think soberly according to the knowledge that our faith is a gift from God. Paul says that He has distributed a certain measure of faith to each of us. Some received more than others, but no one earned what he received; it is a gift.

Before The Throne:

How do you give God the credit for what you are and for what you do? Think of some ways that you could exhibit a more humble attitude around your friends and family. Pray about it. Ask God to give you a spirit of true humility and to use that humble spirit to glorify Him? Confess the times that your pride has shown through and possibly offended someone. Ask God to forgive you and to give you a way to restore your relationship with that person.

For Further Study:

** I say. Rom 1:5; Rom 15:15-16; 1Cor 3:10; 1Cor 15:10; Gal 2:8-9; Eph 3:2, 4, 7-8; Eph 4:7-12; Col 1:29; 1Tim 1:14; 1Pet 4:11; ** not to. Rom 11:20, 25; Prov 16:18-19; Prov 25:27; Prov 26:12; Eccl 7:16; Mic 6:8; Matt 18:1-4; Luke 18:11; 1Cor 4:7-8; 2Cor 12:7; Gal 6:3; Phil 2:3-8; Col 2:13; Jas 4:6; 1Pet 5:5; 3John 1:9; ** soberly. 1Tim 2:9, 15; Titus 2:2, 4, 6, 12; 1Pet 1:13; 1Pet 4:7; 1Pet 5:8; ** according. Rom 12:6; John 3:34; 1Cor 4:7; 1Cor 12:7-11; 2Cor 12:13; Eph 4:7, 13, 16;

Romans 12:2

Be Transformed

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Worshiping God in the way that Paul has called upon each of us to do in the first verse requires a drastic change in our thinking. We are not naturally inclined to set ourselves aside and to live our life as a sacrifice to God. Our very nature demands that we satisfy the flesh.

The world that we live in reinforces our natural desires. No one can remain holy for very long if he allows the world around him to influence his desires, his decisions and his actions. We live in a time when everything that is good is depicted as evil and that which is evil is said to be good. After awhile it can be confusing, especially for new Christians who have not had time to develop a solid Biblical world view.

The command is, "Do not conform yourself to the present age." The world in this age is evil as compared to the age that is to come and it has no power over us. We cannot blame our sins on the age in which we live. We are the only ones to blame, if we conform ourselves to it or allow ourselves to be conformed by it.

Instead, we are to be transformed. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2Corinthians 5:17) But the maturation of this new creature takes time and work. By studying God's word, by fellowship with the saints, by serving Christ, and by much prayer, our minds will be renovated to such an extent that we will no longer recognize the old man that was in us.

The purpose for this renewal of the mind is to enable us to prove or discern the will of God. "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1Corinthians 2:14) Once a person has been reborn, he has the desire to serve God, is then able to know the will of God and should apply himself to that end.

Christians should learn what is good and acceptable to God. I have known some people who do not want to know God's will for their lives, because it might not be what they want for themselves. The very thought scares them. They are not believers of course. The believer, however, has no need to fear God's will for him. It is good. Everything about God is good; He is the measure of everything good. We should know that which is good and pleasing to Him.

Finally, we are to know that which is perfect in God's eyes. We should be able to discern the difference between those things that cannot satisfy Him and those that do. The old system of law, for example, was incomplete and imperfect, but the law of mercy and grace is perfect and complete.

True repentance must begin here. It must begin by transforming our minds from a secular world view to a biblical world view. We must learn to see things as God sees them. Sin has to be as abominable and repulsive to us as it is to God. By immersing ourselves in His word, in His church, and in His work, we will transform our minds to be in harmony with the mind of Christ and will be able to do the will of the Father.

Before The Throne:

Begin by asking God to work in you, transforming you by renewing your mind. Pray for His will to be revealed to you when you read your Bible. Pray over every passage and ask God what He wants you to learn from it. Is there a command to obey, a sin to avoid, a promise in which to trust, or an example to follow? Then, prayerfully apply those things to your life.

For Further Study:

** be not. Exod 23:2; Lev 18:29-30; Deut 18:9-14; John 7:7; John 14:30; John 15:19; John 17:14; 1Cor 3:19; 2Cor 4:4; 2Cor 6:14-17; Gal 1:4; Eph 2:2; Eph 4:17-20; Jas 1:27; Jas 4:4; 1Pet 1:14, 18; 1Pet 4:2; 2Pet 1:4; 2Pet 2:20; 1John 2:15-17; 1John 3:13; 1John 4:4-5; 1John 5:19; Rev 12:9; Rev 13:8; ** be ye. Rom 13:14; Ps 51:10; Ezek 18:31; Ezek 36:26; 2Cor 5:17; Eph 1:18; Eph 4:22-24; Col 1:21-22; Col 3:10; Titus 3:5; ** prove. Rom 12:1; Ps 34:8; Eph 5:10, 17; 1Pet 2:3; ** good. Rom 7:12, 14, 22; Ps 19:7-11; Ps 119:47- 48, 72, 97, 103, 128, 174; Prov 3:1-4, 13-18; Gal 5:22-23; Eph 5:9; Col 4:12; 1Thess 4:3; 2Tim 3:16-17;

Romans 12:1

A Living Sacrifice

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

The Apostle Paul, having finished the doctrinal portion of his letter to the Romans, now begins to give his readers the practical application of what he has been teaching. The "therefore" refers us back to everything that has been said since 1:16, and especially those things that were taught in the passages immediately before this one.

"I beseech you therefore, brethren,.." This is a call from one who considers his readers to be brothers and sisters in Christ. The closeness that Paul feels with other Christians, though he may never have met them, allows him to appeal to them from a position of familiar intimacy. He, therefore, implores them to make the proper response to the doctrines they have just learned.

" the mercies of God,.." The appeal is further strengthened by asking the reader to consider the mercies of God as their motivation. A Christian's actions should be motivated by and justified by the doctrinal facts of the faith. Understanding the compassionate way in which God has dealt with each of us should inspire us to respond to Him with complete devotion.

The response that Paul urges is, "that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice." There is no longer a need for the shedding of blood, no need for the sacrifice of lambs, bullocks or goats. Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, has been sacrificed for us. His blood has been shed once and for all, and there is no other blood worthy of being shed for our sins. He died that we might have life, and our proper response to that kind of love is to live for Him.

The body represents more than just the flesh. It is the carrier of the mind and spirit of a person. The Christian's body is also the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is only appropriate then, since Christ died that we might live, that we present our bodies to Him as a living sacrifice. We are to live for Him alone, denying ourselves and the lusts of our flesh.

"...holy, acceptable unto God,.." Our sins have been forgiven, and we have been made holy, cleansed of all unrighteousness, and we should strive to maintain that holiness by refraining for sin and living by faith. This would make us acceptable unto God. We are new creatures in Christ, reborn to serve only Him, and we should not allow ourselves to be defiled again.

"...which is your reasonable service." It is this portion of this verse that is so often neglected. It means that this is the only reasonable way to worship the Lord. Our churches today are full of so called "worshipers" who have never presented their bodies as a living sacrifice to God. They live for themselves seven days each week, but for one hour on Sunday morning they are willing to sing some ear tickling songs of praise and listen to a sermon, as long as it is not too long.

You can sing all the hallelujahs you want, lift your hands in praise, shout, "Amen," and bow your knee in prayer but, if you are not living every day for Jesus, refraining from sin and presenting your entire being as a living sacrifice, you are not worshiping. Those other things must come as a spontaneous response to the joy of living for Him and knowing that He is pleased with your service.

Before The Throne:

If you are not living a life that is totally sacrificed to God, confess your sins and commit yourself to change. It is called repentance, a change of mind, a new way of looking at yourself and the world around you. Ask the Lord to help you live a life that is free from the temptation to sin, free from the desire to serve your own lusts, but filled with the motivation to spread the gospel.

For Further Study:

** beseech. Rom 15:30; 1Cor 1:10; 2Cor 5:20; 2Cor 6:1; 2Cor 10:1; Eph 4:1; 1Thess 4:1, 10; 1Thess 5:12; Heb 13:22; ** by the. Rom 2:4; Rom 9:23; Rom 11:30-31; Ps 116:12; Luke 7:47; 2Cor 4:1; 2Cor 5:14-15; Eph 2:4-10; Phil 2:1-5; Titus 3:4-8; 1Pet 2:10-12; ** that ye. Rom 6:13, 16, 19; Ps 50:13-14; 1Cor 6:13-20; Phil 1:20; Heb 10:22; ** a living. Ps 69:30-31; Hos 14:2; 1Cor 5:7-8; 2Cor 4:16; Phil 2:17; Heb 10:20-22; Heb 13:15 -16; 1Pet 2:5; ** acceptable. Rom 15:16; Ps 19:14; Isa 56:7; Jer 6:20; Eph 5:10; Phil 4:18; 1Tim 2:3; 1Tim 5:4; 1Pet 2:5, 20;

Romans 11:34-36

Paul's Doxology

34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? 35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? 36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

Continuing his song of praise, Paul asks, "Who hath known the mind of the Lord?" The purely rhetorical question reinforces the idea that God's knowledge and wisdom are beyond the comprehension of any man, and we must be careful not to speculate about things not revealed to us by Him.

We cannot understand why He made man as He did or the reasons why He chose Israel first over all of the other nations or why He allowed them to turn against Him. If we could understand those things, we certainly could be His counselor. But man is nothing but a worm next to God.

Verse 34 is a quote from Isaiah 40:13 and seems to be one of Paul's favorites. He used it again in 1Corinthians 2:16, but adds an exception, "For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ." There are some things that have been revealed to us as Christians that are not known by other men nor can be known by natural investigations or reasoning. But we must always remember who that knowledge comes from and not become prideful in our own knowledge and wisdom.

In his praise for the overwhelming greatness of God, the next question is a logical one. "Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?" This is not a quote but seems to express the sentiment of Job 41:11 "Who hath prevented me, that I should repay him? whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine." The word prevent means, "to go before." Who has given anything to the Lord first that He would be obligated to repay him? Job says that everything belongs to God. We have nothing to give God that does not already belong to Him.

"For of Him..." Out of Him or from Him all things have originated. He is their source, the Creator of everything that exists. "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." (1 John 1:3) No man can take credit for anything under the sun. Even our salvation, whether we are Jews or Gentiles, is from Him and through Him alone.

Then, there is nothing left for Paul to add to his song but, "To God be the glory forever! Amen." He has praised His superior and unsearchable wisdom and knowledge, the depths of His ways, His ownership of all things, and the wonders of His Creation by which we are so graciously blessed. All the world should be singing,

To God be the glory;
Great things He has done;
So loved he the world that He gave us His Son,
who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
and opened the life gate that all may go in.
Before The Throne:

Don't you just get excited and inspired to praise Him when you think about His unsearchable knowledge, wisdom, power, love, mercy, grace etc.? Use your prayer time to worship Him today, instead of presenting your grocery list of requests. Wallow in His presence, be inspired by His love, feel His protection, and listen to His voice. What is He telling you to do today?

For Further Study:

** Job 15:8; Job 36:22; Isa 40:13; Jer 23:18; 1Cor 2:16;

(v.35) ** Job 35:7; Job 41:11; Matt 20:15; 1Cor 4:7;

(v.36) ** of him. 1Chr 29:11-12; Ps 33:6; Prov 16:4; Dan 2:20-23; Dan 4:3; Dan 4:34; Matt 6:13; Acts 17:25-26, 28; 1Cor 8:6; Eph 4:6-10; Col 1:15-17; Rev 21:6; ** to whom. Rom 16:27; Ps 29:1-2; Ps 96:7-8; Ps 115:1; Isa 42:12; Luke 2:14; Luke 19:38; Gal 1:5; Eph 3:21; Phil 4:20; 1Tim 1:17; 1Tim 6:16; 2Tim 4:18; Heb 13:21; 1Pet 5:11; 2Pet 3:18; Jude 1:25; Rev 1:5-6; Rev 4:10-11; Rev 5:12-14; Rev 7:10; Rev 19:1, 6-7;

Romans 11:33

Our Awesome God

33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

Everything that Paul has said up to this point in the epistle seems to have overwhelmed him so much that he had to stop and interject a song of praise, which takes up the rest of this chapter. The song is written in typical Jewish style and draws on many common phrases from the Old Testament scriptures, although, with the exception of verse 34, it does not seem to be a quote from any particular one.

The use of "O" was an expression of great emotion. The translators of the KJV and most other versions have used the word "both," which limits Paul's praise to just two items, the wisdom and knowledge of God. But I along with several other commentators see no reason for that. The Greek text literally says, "O the depth of the riches and of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God!" There is no apparent need or justification for changing it. Paul is amazed at three attributes of God, His riches, wisdom and knowledge.

Paul sees these attributes of God as without limits and so he speaks of their "depth." This was a common way of expressing the limitlessness of something such as the abyss. The contemplation of the depth of God's riches is enough by itself to bring about this emotional outcry of praise from the apostle. It describes the overwhelming number of blessings in God's control and that He lavishes upon even the most sinful of men. His ability to forgive our sins, the atonement made by His Son, the power of His words, and the gift of the Holy Spirit are just a few of the seemingly endless blessings from God.

The depth of His wisdom refers to the way that He has worked out His plan for bringing sinful man into His perfect kingdom. His choosing the nation of Israel to be His people, the way that He used their fall to bring about the salvation of Gentiles, and finally the way He will use the Christian Gentiles to take the gospel and finally save Israel.

The depth of the knowledge of God, on the other hand, is His perfect omniscience. He knows the past present and future. He knows how many hairs are on the head of each one of us. A sparrow does not fall from the sky without His knowledge. God's foreknowledge enabled Him to work out this plan that Paul had been writing about for the salvation of mankind. There is nothing anywhere or in any time that God does not know about. He can tell us the end from the beginning.

"How unsearchable are his judgments," The "judgments" of God can mean His execution of justice and His wrath upon wicked men, or His commands, or His decisive purposes. The latter is what is meant here. The purposes of His decision to elect some and not others and the deep products of His counsel such as the one that determined Christ should die for us are all beyond our understanding. Only the Spirit of God can search to such depths.

The ways of God are past finding out. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9) His knowledge is unsearchable and so must His thoughts and ways be unsearchable. The methodology by which He accomplishes His purpose, such as the way He chose to leave the Gentiles immersed in the darkness for so many centuries only to then use them to rescue His people Israel.

God is so awesome! Just thinking about the depth of His riches, wisdom, knowledge, judgments and ways should inspire each of us to break out in song like Paul has done. He is unsearchable and yet He says that we can know Him intimately. Wow!

Before The Throne:

Take some time to just praise Him. Thank Him for all that He has done. Thank Him for being with you always. When you leave your prayer closet continue to praise Him. Praise Him in the streets, at work, at school, at the supermarket and everywhere you go.

For Further Study:

** the depth. Ps 107:8-43; Prov 25:3; Eph 3:18; ** riches. Rom 2:4; Rom 9:23; Eph 1:7; Eph 2:7; Eph 3:8; Eph 3:10; Eph 3:16; Col 1:27; Col 2:2-3; ** how. Job 5:9; Job 9:10; Job 11:7-9; Job 26:14; Job 33:13; Job 37:19; Job 37:23; Ps 36:6; Ps 40:5; Ps 77:19; Ps 92:5; Ps 97:2; Eccl 3:11; Dan 4:35;

Romans 11:30-32


30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: 31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

This passage repeats and further explains the relationship between the Gentiles and Israel. It is addressed directly to the Gentiles.

Paul pointed out the fact that in the past, before the gospel was preached to them, the Gentiles did not believe God. He used the verb "apeitheo," which means to be disobedient as a result of one's unbelief. That was the case of all pagans who, since they knew nothing about the true God and His Son Jesus, could not have possibly obeyed His laws.

But, like all of us, they had obtained mercy. There is no one who seeks after God, so we are all disobedient and in need of His mercy. The Gentiles received God's mercy when the Jews rejected the gospel and the apostle turned his preaching toward the Gentiles.

Paul said that the the situation was now reversed. Now the Jews refused to believe and were disobedient; and now they would find God's mercy. He has designed the salvation of the Gentiles so that they would continue preaching the gospel to the Jews. This was a greater gift than even the mercy shown to the Gentiles. The Jews had no excuse for their unbelief. Theirs was willful, sinful disobedience to the gospel, "But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." (5:20)

"For God hath concluded them all in unbelief..." The Greek word for "concluded" means, "to shut them all up together." It was often used to describe those who were shut up in prison together. The Holman Christian Standard Bible says, "For God has imprisoned all in disobedience."

Sinners are imprisoned by their unbelief. "But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed." (Galatians 3:22-23) This was necessary so that no man could boast before God that he had done anything to save himself. All mankind must depend on the mercy of God to set us free from that imprisonment by opening our eyes to the truth and by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit.

This is all by God's design, so that He might have mercy on all of us. There is no way to appreciate God's love for us until we understand the depth's of His mercy. Until we understand what would have been our fate, if He had allowed us to remain imprisoned by our unbelief, we cannot ever understand the cross at Calvary. Until we understand that we are deserving of nothing more than the fires of hell, we will not cling to His love with our every breath.

We are not saved by a prayer, nor by a decision, nor by baptism, nor even by repentance. Those things all follow and are due to God's mercy and grace. We are born anew by the will of God alone, and for that we should surrender everything to Him... our love, our allegiance, our obedience, our property and our lives.

Before The Throne:

Consider what your life was like before you knew the truth. Can you see what God has done for you? Thank Him for that and ask Him, "Why?" He has a purpose for saving you. Just as the Gentiles were saved so that God's mercy could be shed on the Jews, He has a similar purpose for you... a very important purpose. You can respond to His loving mercy by living to fulfill that purpose. Pray about it fervently. If you really understand His mercy, make it your life's priority to discover His plan for you and then do it.

For Further Study:

** as ye. 1Cor 6:9-11; Eph 2:1-2, 12-13, 19-21; Col 3:7; Titus 3:3-7; ** obtained. Rom 11:31; 1Cor 7:25; 2Cor 4:1; 1Tim 1:18; 1Pet 2:10;

(v.31) ** believed. or, obeyed. Rom 10:16;

(v.32) ** God. Rom 3:9, 22; Gal 3:22-23; concluded. John 1:7; John 12:32; 1Tim 2:4-6;