12:1 I beseech 1 you therefore, brethren, a by the mercies of God, that ye b present your c bodies a d living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your e reasonable service.
(1) The fourth part of this epistle, which after the finishing of the principal points of Christian doctrine, consists in the declaring of precepts of the Christian life. And first of all he gives general precepts and grounds: the principal of which is this, that every man consecrate himself wholly to the spiritual service of God, and do as it were sacrifice himself, trusting the grace of God.
12:2 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your f mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
(a) By this preface he shows that Godís glory is the utmost goal of everything we do.
(b) In times past the sacrifices were presented before the altar: but now the altar is everywhere.
(c) Yourselves: in times past other bodies besides our own, but now our own must be offered.
(d) In times past, dead sacrifices were offered, but now we must offer those which have the spirit of life in them.
(2) The second precept is this, that we do not take other menís opinions or conduct as a rule for life, but that we wholly renounce this world, and set before us as our mark the will of God as is manifested and revealed to us in his word.
12:3 3 For I g say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not h to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think i soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of k faith.
(f) This is the reason that there is no room left for reason, which the heathen philosophers place as a queen in a castle, nor for manís free will, which the popish scholars dream of, because the mind must be renewed; (Ephesians 1:18; 2:3; 4:17; Colossians 1:21)
(3) Thirdly, he admonishes us very earnestly that every man keep himself within the bounds of his calling, and that every man be wise according to the measure of grace that God has given him.
12:4 4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
(g) I charge.
(h) That he does not please himself too much, as those do who persuade themselves they know more than they actually do.
(i) We will be sober if we do not take that upon us which we do not have, and if we do not brag of that which we do have.
(k) By faith he means the knowledge of God in Christ, and the gifts which the Holy Spirit pours upon the faithful.
(4) There are two reasons for the previous precept: the first is because God has not committed everything to be done by every man: and therefore he does backwardly, and unprofitably, and also to the great disservice of others, wearying himself and others, who passes the bounds of his calling: the second is because this diversity and inequality of vocations and gifts results in our being benefitted: seeing that this is therefore instituted and appointed, so that we should be bound one to another. From which it follows that no man ought to be grieved at this, seeing that the use of every private gift is common.
12:6 5 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, [let us prophesy] according to the l proportion of faith;
(5) That which he spoke before in general, he applies particularly to the holy functions, in which men are in greater danger if they sin. And he divides them into two types: that is, into prophets and deacons: and again he divides the prophets into teachers and pastors. And of deacons he makes three types: that is, those who are to be (as it were) treasurers of the Church, whom he calls deacons in the most proper sense: the others to be the governors of discipline, who are called seniors or elders: the third, those who properly serve in the help of the poor, such as the widows.
12:7 Or ministry, [let us wait] on [our] ministering: or he that m teacheth, on teaching;
(l) That every man observe the measure of that which is revealed to him.
(m) Whose office is only to expound the scriptures.
12:8 Or he that n exhorteth, on exhortation: he that o giveth, [let him do it] with simplicity; he that p ruleth, with diligence; he that q sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
(n) Who in other passages is called the "pastor".
12:9 6 [Let] love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
(o) That is, the alms, that he distributes them faithfully, and without any favouritism.
(p) The elders of the church.
(q) Those that are occupied with the care of the poor must do it with cheerfulness, lest they add sorrow upon sorrow.
(6) Now he comes to the duties of the second table of the ten commandments, which he derives from charity, which is as it were the fountain of them all. And he defines Christian charity as sincerity, hatred of evil, earnest study of good things, good affection to help our neighbour, and whose final goal is the glory of God.
12:11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; r serving the Lord;
(r) This verse is well put, for it makes a distinction between Christian duties, and philosophical duties.
12:12 7 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
(7) He reckons up different virtues together with their effects, that is, hope, patience in tribulation, evenness of mind, continuance in prayer, liberality towards the saints, hospitality, moderation of mind even in helping our enemies, feeling the same as others in their adversity as well as their prosperity, modesty, endeavouring to maintain honest agreement as much as we are able with all men, which cannot be extinguished by any man injuring us.
12:13 s Distributing to the t necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
(s) A true rule of charity, that we feel for other menís wants as we do for our own, and having that feeling, to help them as much as we can.
12:16 [Be] of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of u low estate. Be not x wise in your own conceits.
(t) Not upon pleasures and needless duties, but upon necessary uses.
(u) There is nothing that disrupts harmony as much as seeking glory, when every man detests a base estate, and ambitiously seeks to be exalted.
12:20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap y coals of fire on his head.
(x) Do not be puffed up with an opinion of your own wisdom.
(y) In this manner Solomon points out the wrath of God which hangs over a man.