Romans 12:2
And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
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And be not conformed ... - The word rendered "conformed" properly means to put on the form, fashion, or appearance of another. It may refer to anything pertaining to the habit, manner, dress, style of living, etc., of others.

Of this world - τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ tō aiōni toutō. The word which is commonly rendered "world," when applied to the material universe, is κόσμος kosmos, "cosmos." The word used here properly denotes an age, or generation of people. It may denote a particular generation, or it may be applied to the race. It is sometimes used in each of these senses. Thus, here it may mean that Christians should not conform to the maxims, habits, feelings, etc., of a wicked, luxurious, and idolatrous age, but should be conformed solely to the precepts and laws of the gospel; or the same principle may be extended to every age, and the direction may be, that Christians should not conform to the prevailing habits, style, and manners of the world, the people who know not God. They are to be governed by the laws of the Bible; to fashion their lives after the example of Christ; and to form themselves by principles different from those which prevail in the world. In the application of this rule there is much difficulty. Many may think that they are not conformed to the world, while they can easily perceive that their neighbor is. They indulge in many things which others may think to be conformity to the world, and are opposed to many things which others think innocent. The design of this passage is doubtless to produce a spirit that should not find pleasure in the pomp and vanity of the World; and which will regard all vain amusements and gaieties with disgust, and lead the mind to find pleasure in better things.

Be ye transformed - The word from which the expression here is derived means "form, habit" μορφή morphē. The direction is, "put on another form, change the form of the world for that of Christianity." This word would properly refer to the external appearance, but the expression which the apostle immediately uses, "renewing of the mind,." shows that he did not intend to use it with reference to that only, but to the charge of the whole man. The meaning is, do not cherish a spirit. devoted to the world, following its vain fashions and pleasures, but cultivate a spirit attached to God, and his kingdom and cause.

By the renewing - By the making new; the changing into new views and feelings. The Christian is often represented as a new creature; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 4:24; 1 Peter 2:2.

Your mind - The word translated "mind" properly denotes intellect, as distinguished from the will and affections. But here it seems to be used as applicable to the whole spirit as distinguished from the body, including the understanding, will, and affections. As if he had said, Let not this change appertain to the body only, but to the soul. Let it not be a mere external conformity, but let it have its seat in the spirit. All external changes, if the mind was not changed, would be useless, or would be hypocrisy. Christianity seeks to reign in the soul; and having its seat there, the external conduct and habits will be regulated accordingly.

That ye may prove - The word used here δοκιμάζω dokimazō is commonly applied to metals, to the operation of testing, or trying them by the severity of fire, etc. Hence, it also means to explore, investigate, ascertain. This is its meaning here. The sense is, that such a renewed mind is essential to a successful inquiry after the will of God. Having a disposition to obey him, the mind will be prepared to understand his precepts. There will be a correspondence between the feelings of the heart and his will; a nice tact or taste, which will admit his laws, and see the propriety and beauty of his commands. A renewed heart is the best preparation for studying Christianity; as a man who is temperate is the best suited to understand the arguments for temperance; the man who is chaste, has most clearly and forcibly the arguments for chastity, etc. A heart in love with the fashions and follies of the world is ill-suited to appreciate the arguments for humility, prayer, etc. "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God," John 7:17. The reason why the heart is renewed is that we may do the will of God: the heart that is renewed is best suited to appreciate and understand his will.

That good ... - This part of the verse might be rendered, that ye may investigate the will of God, or ascertain the Will of God, what is good, and perfect, and acceptable. The will of God relates to his commands in regard to our conduct, his doctrines in regard to our belief, his providential dealings in relation to our external circumstances. It means what God demands of us, in whatever way it may be made known. They do not err from his ways who seek his guidance, and who, not confiding in their own wisdom, but in God, commit their way to him. "The meek will he guide in judgment, and the meek will he teach his way," Psalm 25:9. The word "good" here is not an adjective agreeing with "will," but a noun. "That ye may find the will of God, what is good and acceptable." It implies that that thing which is good is his will; or that we may find his will by finding what is good and perfect. That is good which promotes the honor of God and the interests of his universe.

Perfect - Free from defect, stain, or injury. That which has all its parts complete, or which is not disproportionate. Applied to religion, it means what is consistent, which is carried out; which is evinced in all the circumstances and reactions of life.

Acceptable - That which will be pleasing to God. or which he will approve. There is scarcely a more difficult text in the Bible than this, or one that is more full of meaning. It involves the main duty of religion to be separated from the world; and expresses the way in which that duty may be performed, and in which we may live so as to ascertain and do the will of God. If all Christians would obey this, religion would be everywhere honored. If all would separate from the vices and follies, the amusements and gaieties of the world, Christ would be glorified. If all were truly renewed in their minds, they would lose their relish for such things, and seeking only to do the will of God, they would not be slow to find it.

And be not conformed to this world - By this world, αιωνι τουτῳ, may be understood that present state of things both among the Jews and Gentiles; the customs and fashions of the people who then lived, the Gentiles particularly, who had neither the power nor the form of godliness; though some think that the Jewish economy, frequently termed עולם הזה olam hazzeh, this world, this peculiar state of things, is alone intended. And the apostle warns them against reviving usages that Christ had abolished: this exhortation still continues in full force. The world that now is - This present state of things, is as much opposed to the spirit of genuine Christianity as the world then was. Pride, luxury, vanity, extravagance in dress, and riotous living, prevail now, as they did then, and are as unworthy of a Christian's pursuit as they are injurious to his soul, and hateful in the sight of God.

Be ye transformed - Μεταμορφουσθε, Be ye metamorphosed, transfigured, appear as new persons, and with new habits, as God has given you a new form of worship, so that ye serve in the newness of the spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. The word implies a radical, thorough, and universal change, both outward and inward. Seneca, Epis. vi, shows us the force of this word when used in a moral sense. Sentio, says he, non Emendari me tantum, sed Transfigurari; "I perceive myself not to be amended merely, but to be transformed:" i. e entirely renewed.

By the renewing of your mind - Let the inward change produce the outward. Where the spirit, the temper, and disposition of the mind, Ephesians 4:23, are not renewed, an outward change is of but little worth, and but of short standing.

That ye may prove - Εις το δοκιμαζειν, That ye may have practical proof and experimental knowledge of, the will of God - of his purpose and determination, which is good in itself; infinitely so. Acceptable, ευαρεστον, well pleasing to and well received by every mind that is renewed and transformed.

And perfect - Τελειον, Finished and complete: when the mind is renewed, and the whole life changed, then the will of God is perfectly fulfilled; for this is its grand design in reference to every human being.

These words are supposed by Schoettgen to refer entirely to the Jewish law. The Christians were to renounce this world - the Jewish state of things; to be transformed, by having their minds enlightened in the pure and simple Christian worship, that they might prove the grand characteristic difference between the two covenants: the latter being good in opposition to the statutes which were not good, Ezekiel 20:25; acceptable, in opposition to those sacrifices and offerings which God would not accept, as it is written, Psalm 40:6-8; and perfect, in opposition to that system which was imperfect, and which made nothing perfect, and was only the shadow of good things to come. There are both ingenuity and probability in this view of the subject.

And be not conformed to this world,.... By this world is meant, either the Mosaic dispensation, and Jewish church state, so called in opposition to , "the world to come", the Gospel dispensation; in which there were a worldly sanctuary, and the rites and ceremonies of which are styled the rudiments and elements of the world; to which believers in the present state are by no means to conform, there being sacrifices and ordinances of another nature, it is the will of God they should observe and attend unto: or else the men of the world are designed, carnal and unregenerate men, among whom they formerly had their conversation, from among whom they were chosen, called, and separated, and who lie and live in wickedness, and therefore should not be conformed unto them: which is to be understood, not in a civil sense of conformity to them in garb and apparel, provided that pride and luxury are guarded against, and decency and sobriety observed, and the different abilities of persons and stations in life are attended to; or to any other civil usages and customs which are not contrary to natural and revealed religion; but of a conformity in a moral sense to the evil manners of men, to walk vainly, as other Gentiles do, to go into the same excess of riot with them; for this is contrary both to the principle and doctrine of grace, which teach men to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts: and of a compliance with the men of the world in a religious sense, by joining with them in acts of idolatry, superstition, and will worship, and in anything that is contrary to the order, ordinances, and truths of the Gospel.

But be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind; which regards not the first work of conversion and renovation; for in this sense these persons were transformed, metamorphosed, changed, and renewed already; but the after progress and carrying on the work of renovation, the renewing of them day by day in the spirit of their minds; see Ephesians 4:23; which believers should be desirous of, and pray for, and make use of those means which the Spirit of God owns for this purpose, attending to the spiritual exercises of religion, as reading, meditation, prayer, conference, the ministration of the word and ordinances, which is the reverse of conformity to the world: and the end to be attained hereby is,

that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God; by which is meant not the secret will of God, which cannot be searched into, proved, and known, till time and facts discover it: but the revealed will of God, both in the law, as in the hands of Christ, which contains nothing but what is good; and which when done in faith, from a principle of love, and to the glory of God, is acceptable through Christ; and is perfect as a law of liberty, and rule of walk and conversation; and which is to be proved and approved of by all the saints, who delight in it after the inward man: and also that which is contained in the Gospel; as that all that the Father had given to Christ should be redeemed by him, that these should be sanctified, and persevere to the end, and be glorified; all which is the good will of God, an acceptable saying to sensible sinners, and such a scheme of salvation as is perfect and complete, and needs nothing to be added to it; and is, by such who are daily renewed in the spirit of their minds, more and more proved, tried, discerned, and approved of, even by all such who have their spiritual senses exercised to discern things that differ.

{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.

(2) The second precept is this, that we do not take other men's 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.

(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 man's free will, which the popish scholars dream of, because the mind must be renewed; Eph 1:18 2:034:17Col 1:21

2. And be ye not conformed to this world—Compare Eph 2:2; Ga 1:4, Greek.

but be ye transformed—or, "transfigured" (as in Mt 17:2; and 2Co 3:18, Greek).

by the renewing of your mind—not by a mere outward disconformity to the ungodly world, many of whose actions in themselves may be virtuous and praiseworthy; but by such an inward spiritual transformation as makes the whole life new—new in its motives and ends, even where the actions differ in nothing from those of the world—new, considered as a whole, and in such a sense as to be wholly unattainable save through the constraining power of the love of Christ.

that ye may prove—that is, experimentally. (On the word "experience" see on [2256]Ro 5:4, and compare 1Th 5:10, where the sentiment is the same).

what is that—"the"

good and acceptable—"well-pleasing"

and perfect, will of God—We prefer this rendering (with Calvin) to that which many able critics [Tholuck, Meyer, De Wette, Fritzsche, Philippi, Alford, Hodge] adopt—"that ye may prove," or "discern the will of God, [even] what is good, and acceptable, and perfect." God's will is "good," as it demands only what is essentially and unchangeably good (Ro 7:10); it is "well pleasing," in contrast with all that is arbitrary, as demanding only what God has eternal complacency in (compare Mic 6:8, with Jer 9:24); and it is "perfect," as it required nothing else than the perfection of God's reasonable creature, who, in proportion as he attains to it, reflects God's own perfection. Such then is the great general duty of the redeemed—SELF-CONSECRATION, in our whole spirit and soul and body to Him who hath called us into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ. Next follow specific duties, chiefly social; beginning with Humility, the chiefest of all the graces—but here with special reference to spiritual gifts.

12:1,2 The apostle having closed the part of his epistle wherein he argues and proves various doctrines which are practically applied, here urges important duties from gospel principles. He entreated the Romans, as his brethren in Christ, by the mercies of God, to present their bodies as a living sacrifice to Him. This is a powerful appeal. We receive from the Lord every day the fruits of his mercy. Let us render ourselves; all we are, all we have, all we can do: and after all, what return is it for such very rich receivings? It is acceptable to God: a reasonable service, which we are able and ready to give a reason for, and which we understand. Conversion and sanctification are the renewing of the mind; a change, not of the substance, but of the qualities of the soul. The progress of sanctification, dying to sin more and more, and living to righteousness more and more, is the carrying on this renewing work, till it is perfected in glory. The great enemy to this renewal is, conformity to this world. Take heed of forming plans for happiness, as though it lay in the things of this world, which soon pass away. Do not fall in with the customs of those who walk in the lusts of the flesh, and mind earthly things. The work of the Holy Ghost first begins in the understanding, and is carried on to the will, affections, and conversation, till there is a change of the whole man into the likeness of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness. Thus, to be godly, is to give up ourselves to God. 12:2 And be not conformed to this world. The spirit of the world is opposed to that of Christ. Satan is the Prince of this world (Joh 12:31 14:30 16:11). Christ died to deliver us from this present wicked world (Ga 1:4). 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 the renewing of your mind, by having a new spirit, and walking after the Spirit (Ro 8:1,4 Ga 5:16,25).

That ye may prove. Demonstrate, show forth. The saint, transformed, renewed, will show forth in his life the will of God.

Verse 2. - And be not conformed to (rather, fashioned after; the verb is συσχηματίζεσθαι this world; but be ye transformed (the verb here is μεταμορφοῦσθαι) by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove (or, discern) what is the will of God, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (So, rather than as in the Authorized Version; the epithets acceptable and perfect not being properly applicable to the will of God; and the translation given above being close to the original.) It is a matter of no importance for exegesis that ancient authorities leave it uncertain whether the verbs at the beginning of this verse should be read as imperatives (συσχηματίζεσθε and μεταμορφοῦσθε) or as infinitives (συσχηματίζεσθαι and μεταμορφοῦσθαι). In the latter case they depend, with παραστῆσαι in ver. 1, on παρακαλῶ. The meaning remains unaffected. As to the words themselves, Meyer's assertion that they stand in contrast only through the prepositions, without any difference of sense in the stem-words, is surely wrong. St. Paul is not in the habit of varying his expressions without a meaning; and he might have written μετασχηματίζεσθε (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:6; 2 Corinthians 11:13, 14; Philippians 3:21) instead of μεταμορφοῦσθε or συμμορφοῦσθε (cf. Philippians 3:10) instead of συσχηματίζεσθε. And there is an essential difference between the senses in which σχῆμα and μορφή may be used. The former denotes outward fashion, which may be fleeting, and belonging to accident and circumstance; the latter is used to express essential form, in virtue of which a thing is what it is; cf. Philippians 3:21, and also (though Meyer denies any distinction here) Philippians 2:6, 7. The apostle warns his readers not to follow in their ways of life the fashions of this present world, which are both false and fleeting (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:31, Παράγει γὰρ τὸ σχῆμα τοῦ κόσμου τούτου), but to undergo such a change of essential form as to preclude their doing so. If they become συμμόρφοι with Christ (cf. Romans 8:29), the world's fashions will not affect them. The phrase, "this world" or "age"(τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, may be understood with reference to the rabbinical division of time into αἰὼν οῦτος, and αἰὼν μέλλων, or ἐρχόμενος; the latter denoting the age of the Messiah. The New Testament writers seem to regard themselves as still in the former, though to them it is irradiated by beams from the latter, which had already dawned in Christ, though not to be fully realized till the παρούσια (see note on Hebrews 1:2). The transformation here spoken of consists in the renewal of the mind (τοῦ νοὸς), which denotes the Understanding, or thinking power, regarded as to its moral activity. And Christian renewal imparts not only the will and power to do God's will, but also intelligence to discern it. Hence follows εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς, etc. (cf. Ephesians 4:17, 23; 1 Timothy 6:5; 2 Timothy 3:8; and also supra ch. 1:28, where the Gentiles were said to have been given up, in judgment, εἰς ἀδόκιμον νοῦν, when ἀδόκιμον may possibly mean undiscerning. See note on that passage). It is to be observed, lastly, that the present tenses of the verbs συσχηματίζεσθε and μεταμορφοῦσθε, unlike the previous aorist παραστῆσαι, intimate progressive habits. The perfect Christian character is not formed all at once on conversion (of Philippians 3:12, seq.; see also previous note on Romans 6:13, with reference to παριστάνετε and παραστιήσατε). So far the exhortation has been general. The apostle now passes to particular directions; and first (vers. 3-9) as to the use of gifts.

be not.

Exodus 23:2 You shall not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shall you speak …

Leviticus 18:29,30 For whoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls …

Deuteronomy 18:9-14 When you are come into the land which the LORD your God gives you, …

John 7:7 The world cannot hate you; but me it hates, because I testify of …

John 14:30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world …

John 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because …

John 17:14 I have given them your word; and the world has hated them, because …

1 Corinthians 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, …

2 Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which …

2 Corinthians 6:14-17 Be you not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship …

Galatians 1:4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this …

Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, …

Ephesians 4:17-20 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you from now …

James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To …

James 4:4 You adulterers and adulteresses, know you not that the friendship …

1 Peter 1:14,18 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the …

1 Peter 4:2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to …

2 Peter 1:4 Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that …

2 Peter 2:20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through …

1 John 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If …

1 John 3:13 Marvel not, my brothers, if the world hate you.

1 John 4:4,5 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because …

1 John 5:19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in wickedness.

Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, …

Revelation 13:8 And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him…

be ye.

Romans 13:14 But put you on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for …

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Ezekiel 18:31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby you have transgressed; …

Ezekiel 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within …

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things …

Ephesians 1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know …

Ephesians 4:22-24 That you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, …

Colossians 1:21,22 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by …

Colossians 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after …

Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to …

prove.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you …

Psalm 34:8 O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusts in him.

Ephesians 5:10,17 Proving what is acceptable to the Lord…

1 Peter 2:3 If so be you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

good.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you …

Romans 7:12,14,22 Why the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good…

Psalm 19:7-11 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony …

Psalm 119:47,48,72,97,103,128,174 And I will delight myself in your commandments, which I have loved…

Proverbs 3:1-4 My son, forget not my law; but let your heart keep my commandments…

Proverbs 3:13-18 Happy is the man that finds wisdom, and the man that gets understanding…

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, …

Ephesians 5:9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)

Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, salutes you, always …

1 Thessalonians 4:3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you should …

2 Timothy 3:16,17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for …

Conformed - transformed (συσχηματίζεσθε - μεταμορφοῦσθε).

See on was transfigured, Matthew 17:2. For conformed to, Rev., correctly, fashioned according to.

Mind (νοός)

See on Romans 7:23. Agreeing with reasonable service.

That good and acceptable and perfect will

Better to render the three adjectives as appositional. "May prove what is the will of God, what is good," etc. The other rendering compels us to take well-pleasing in the sense of agreeable to men.

12:2 And be not conformed - Neither in judgment, spirit, nor behaviour. To this world - Which, neglecting the will of God, entirely follows its own. That ye may prove - Know by sure trial; which is easily done by him who has thus presented himself to God. What is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God - The will of God is here to be understood of all the preceptive part of Christianity, which is in itself so excellently good, so acceptable to God, and so perfective of our natures.
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