SUMMARY.--The Divine Mercy should Move Us.
Faithfulness in Our Own Personal Duties.
Loving with Pure Hearts.
Blessing for Cursing; Good for Evil.
Leaving Vengeance to the Lord.
Treatment of Enemies.
1, 2. I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God.
The depth of the riches of the divine mercy has been shown in the
argument of the preceding chapters, mercy for Jew and Gentile
believers, and mercy in prospect for all Israel. The argument is now
ended; God's plans have been explained, and the apostle appeals to
those who have found mercy, in the name of that mercy, "to continue in
the goodness of God."
That you present your bodies a living sacrifice. The Jewish
dispensation with its sacrifices was ended; it closed when Christ, "our
was offered for us. But a new order of sacrifice has come in. We should
give ourselves. As the victim on the altar was surrendered wholly to
God, so our bodies with all their members should be consecrated to his
service; not as slain, but as "living sacrifices." We do this when they
become the temple of the Holy Spirit, and are used to serve God.
Reasonable service. The consecration of the body to God is
not an outward act, like the sacrifice on the altar, but an act of the
mind, or reason; hence "a reasonable service."
2. Be not conformed to this world. The spirit of the world is
opposed to that of Christ. Satan is "the Prince of this world."
"to deliver us from this present wicked world." Hence the service of
Christ renders necessary a refusal to fashion ourselves after its ways.
But be ye transformed. Instead of following the ways of the world,
the Christian must be "transformed," changed into a new form of life by
renewing of your mind, by having a new spirit, and walking
after the Spirit.
That ye may prove. Demonstrate, show forth. The saint,
transformed, renewed, will show forth in his life "the will of
3-5. For I say, through the grace given unto me. The grace given
unto him, specially, was that of apostleship. See
Rom. 1:5; 15:15; 1 Cor. 3:10.
Not to think more highly, etc. A much needed exhortation. To be
puffed up in one's own conceits is the end of progress. It is the
humble who are exalted;
those that hunger are filled.
Think soberly. Let each one take a sober judgment of himself, of
his powers, and duties.
The measure of faith. That measure of faith which would enable
one to exercise spiritual gifts. The
verses that follow
show that this is Paul's meaning. It is not the ordinary faith that
saves the soul, but the extraordinary faith, which was accompanied in
the first century by supernatural gifts, that is meant.
4. For as we have many members, etc. The church is likened to
the human body in which the various organs each has its own office; so
in the church,
we being many, are one body in Christ, and all related to each
other as the organs of the body are related.
6-8. Having then gifts. Each in the church had his duties, just
as the hand, or foot, or eye of the body. These duties were indicated
by the "gift" dealt out by "the measure of faith." They differed
according to the
grace that was given. Compare
One gift was given to one, as he was seen to be fitted for it, and
another gift to another. Seven gifts are now spoken of in succession.
The first four are official, and some of them are extraordinary.
Whether prophecy. To prophesy was to speak by inspiration. As
the early church did not yet have the New Testament, many were thus
inspired to speak. One would be called to this work.
7. Or ministry. If instead of prophecy, our gift be the more
lowly one of ministering, let us give our time and attention to it. The
word rendered "ministry" is Diakonia, "Deaconship," service.
Or he that teacheth. The work of an elder, or bishop, who must
be "apt to teach."
If this was one's work, his soul must be put into it.
8. Or he that exhorteth. He whose peculiar strength was to
encourage feeble saints, and to stir up Christians to duty.
He that giveth. A duty of all, which must be discharged without
He that ruleth. One who is an elder should attend to his duty
with diligence, an exhortation that a great many elders have
overlooked. Every leader should be diligent.
He that sheweth mercy. Whenever called upon to show
9-13. Let love be without dissimulation. Not a deceitful
profession of love, but genuine; not like that of Judas to Christ,
or Joab to Abner:
a kiss and a stab.
Abhor that which is evil. Evil must be repulsive to the saint;
good, on the other hand, attractive.
10. With brotherly love. The brotherhood of the saints was not a
name only, but a real tie of tenderness and love; and each, in the
spirit of true brotherhood, was to seek the honor of his Christian
11. Not slothful in business. See the Revision.
The idea is, "Give all diligence."
Fervent in spirit. Zealous, enthusiastic, not indifferent.
Serving the Lord. Whatever we find to do is to be done with our
might, but above all, the service of Christ.
12. Rejoicing in hope. Hopeful, and hence rejoicing in the
Patient in tribulation. Patient in sorrow, suffering and
persecution. Patience implies steadfastness.
In prayer. "Praying always and fainting not"
13. Distributing. Making the needs of fellow saints your own and
Given to hospitality. This duty was especially needful in those
early days when Christians were so often driven from their homes by
14-17. Bless them that persecute you. See
Thus did Christ on the cross,
and the martyred Stephen.
He who can obey this precept is a transformed man.
15. Rejoice with them
that do rejoice, etc. Sympathize with the joys and sorrows of
16. Be of the same mind, etc. Let there be harmony; a spirit of
Mind not high things. Do not seek for official or social
distinction. Obedience to this would eliminate caste from the church.
Condescend to things that are lowly. So reads the Revision.
Instead of seeking pre-eminence, we are to walk in lowly spirit like
Be not wise in your own conceits. Conceited and opinionated as
18-21. Live peaceably with all men. If you can do so. Sometimes
it is impossible. Sometimes sinners are exceedingly mad against the
saints. But we are to be "peacemakers"
19. Beloved, avenge not yourselves. If we are injured, we are to
leave the matter in the hands of God and
give place unto his wrath. He sees and resents the injuries of
For it is written.
The Lord claims it as his prerogative to avenge what needs to be
avenged. When we do it, we trample on the divine rights.
20. If thine enemy hunger, feed him. This is the spirit of
Christ's command, to return good for evil. Compare
Prov. 25:21, 23.
Thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Thou wilt by this
kindness most readily subdue him, and make him feel most keenly the
wrong he has done.
21. Be not overcome by evil. Don't let the fact that you are
treated wickedly induce you to do wrong, but
overcome evil by returning good for evil. This sums up the whole
matter respecting the treatment of adversaries. Happy would it be if
the Christian world could come up to these requirements! The logic of
kind deeds is more powerful than the logic of argument.