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VI. The Duties of Christians[a]

Chapter 12

Sacrifice of Body and Mind. [b]I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.(A) Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.(B)

Many Parts in One Body. (C)For by the grace given to me I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than one ought to think, but to think soberly, each according to the measure of faith that God has apportioned. (D)For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ[c] and individually parts of one another. (E)Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them:[d] if prophecy, in proportion to the faith; if ministry, in ministering; if one is a teacher, in teaching; if one exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others,[e] with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Mutual Love. Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good;(F) 10 love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor.(G) 11 Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.(H) 12 Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.(I) 13 Contribute to the needs of the holy ones,(J) exercise hospitality. 14 [f]Bless those who persecute [you],(K) bless and do not curse them.(L) 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.(M) 16 Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; do not be wise in your own estimation.(N) 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all.(O) 18 If possible, on your part, live at peace with all.(P) 19 Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”(Q) 20 Rather, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.”(R) 21 Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.

Chapter 13

Obedience to Authority.[g] Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God.(S) Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear to good conduct, but to evil.(T) Do you wish to have no fear of authority? Then do what is good and you will receive approval from it, for it is a servant of God for your good. But if you do evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword without purpose; it is the servant of God to inflict wrath on the evildoer.(U) Therefore, it is necessary to be subject not only because of the wrath but also because of conscience.(V) This is why you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Pay to all their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, toll to whom toll is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.(W)

Love Fulfills the Law.[h] Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.(X) The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, [namely] “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”(Y) 10 Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.(Z)

Awareness of the End of Time.[i] 11 And do this because you know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed;(AA) 12 the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness [and] put on the armor of light;(AB) 13 let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day,[j] not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy.(AC) 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.(AD)

Footnotes

  1. 12:1–13:14 Since Christ marks the termination of the Mosaic law as the primary source of guidance for God’s people (Rom 10:4), the apostle explains how Christians can function, in the light of the gift of justification through faith, in their relation to one another and the state.
  2. 12:1–8 The Mosaic code included elaborate directions on sacrifices and other cultic observances. The gospel, however, invites believers to present their bodies as a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1). Instead of being limited by specific legal maxims, Christians are liberated for the exercise of good judgment as they are confronted with the many and varied decisions required in the course of daily life. To assist them, God distributes a variety of gifts to the fellowship of believers, including those of prophecy, teaching, and exhortation (Rom 12:6–8). Prophets assist the community to understand the will of God as it applies to the present situation (Rom 12:6). Teachers help people to understand themselves and their responsibilities in relation to others (Rom 12:7). One who exhorts offers encouragement to the community to exercise their faith in the performance of all that is pleasing to God (Rom 12:8). Indeed, this very section, beginning with Rom 12:1, is a specimen of Paul’s own style of exhortation.
  3. 12:5 One body in Christ: on the church as the body of Christ, see 1 Cor 12:12–27.
  4. 12:6 Everyone has some gift that can be used for the benefit of the community. When the instruction on justification through faith is correctly grasped, the possessor of a gift will understand that it is not an instrument of self-aggrandizement. Possession of a gift is not an index to quality of faith. Rather, the gift is a challenge to faithful use.
  5. 12:8 Over others: usually taken to mean “rule over” but possibly “serve as a patron.” Wealthier members in Greco-Roman communities were frequently asked to assist in public service projects. In view of the references to contributing in generosity and to acts of mercy, Paul may have in mind people like Phoebe (Rom 16:1–2), who is called a benefactor (or “patron”) because of the services she rendered to many Christians, including Paul.
  6. 12:14–21 Since God has justified the believers, it is not necessary for them to take justice into their own hands by taking vengeance. God will ultimately deal justly with all, including those who inflict injury on the believers. This question of personal rights as a matter of justice prepares the way for more detailed consideration of the state as adjudicator.
  7. 13:1–7 Paul must come to grips with the problem raised by a message that declares people free from the law. How are they to relate to Roman authority? The problem was exacerbated by the fact that imperial protocol was interwoven with devotion to various deities. Paul builds on the traditional instruction exhibited in Wis 6:1–3, according to which kings and magistrates rule by consent of God. From this perspective, then, believers who render obedience to the governing authorities are obeying the one who is highest in command. At the same time, it is recognized that Caesar has the responsibility to make just ordinances and to commend uprightness; cf. Wis 6:4–21. That Caesar is not entitled to obedience when such obedience would nullify God’s prior claim to the believers’ moral decision becomes clear in the light of the following verses.
  8. 13:8–10 When love directs the Christian’s moral decisions, the interest of law in basic concerns, such as familial relationships, sanctity of life, and security of property, is safeguarded (Rom 13:9). Indeed, says Paul, the same applies to any other commandment (Rom 13:9), whether one in the Mosaic code or one drawn up by local magistrates under imperial authority. Love anticipates the purpose of public legislation, namely, to secure the best interests of the citizenry. Since Caesar’s obligation is to punish the wrongdoer (Rom 13:4), the Christian who acts in love is free from all legitimate indictment.
  9. 13:11–14 These verses provide the motivation for the love that is encouraged in Rom 13:8–10.
  10. 13:13 Let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day: the behavior described in Rom 1:29–30 is now to be reversed. Secular moralists were fond of making references to people who could not wait for nightfall to do their carousing. Paul says that Christians claim to be people of the new day that will dawn with the return of Christ. Instead of planning for nighttime behavior they should be concentrating on conduct that is consonant with avowed interest in the Lord’s return.

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