Romans 12:1
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.
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(1) At this point the Apostle turns from the speculative, or doctrinal, portion of his Epistle, and begins a series of practical exhortations to his readers as to their lives as Christians. In the first two verses of the chapter he speaks of this in general terms, but then goes on to give a number of special precepts in no very distinct arrangement or order.

Therefore.—We may well believe that the Apostle having brought his argument up to a climax at the close of the last chapter, would make a pause in his dictation, and perhaps not resume it until another sitting. The one prevailing impression left on his mind, both by the argument just ended and by the whole previous portion of the Epistle, is a profound sense of the merciful and benevolent purposes of God, who, out of seeming evil, only educes the highest good. This sense is still strong upon him, and he makes it the link of transition by which the earnest practical exhortations which follow are bound to what precedes. The sequence is as much one of feeling as of ratiocination.

Your bodies.—Not merely a periphrasis for “yourselves,” but in the strict sense “your bodies,” i.e., the very part of you which is apt to be “an occasion of falling.” The Apostle takes the two main parts of human nature separately. In this verse he deals with the bodies of men, in the next verse with the “mind,” or the intellectual and spiritual faculties.

A living sacrifice.—“How is the body to become a sacrifice? Let thine eye look upon no evil thing, and it hath become a sacrifice; let thy tongue speak nothing filthy, and it hath become an offering; let thy hand do no lawless deed, and it hath become a whole burnt offering. But this is not enough, we must do good works also; let the hand do alms, the mouth bless them that despitefully use us, and the ear find leisure evermore for the hearing of Scripture. For sacrifice can be made only of that which is clean; sacrifice is a firstfruit of other actions. Let us, then, from our hands, and feet, and mouth, and all our other members, yield a firstfruit unto God” (St. Chrysostom).

The idea contained in sacrifice is that of dedication. We are to dedicate our bodies to God. But there is to be this distinction between the old Jewish sacrifices and the Christian sacrifice: the one was of dead animals, the other of the living man. The worshipper must offer, or present, before God, himself, with all his living energies and powers directed consciously to God’s service.

Holy, acceptable unto God.—The qualification sought for in the Jewish sacrifices was that they were to be unblemished, without spot. In like manner the Christian’s sacrifice must be holy and pure in God’s sight, otherwise it cannot be acceptable to Him.

Reasonable service.—The English phrase is somewhat ambiguous. It might mean “a service demanded by reason.” Such, however is not the sense of the Greek, but rather “a service of the reason,” i.e., a service rendered by the reason. Just as under the old dispensation the mind expressed its devotion through the ritual of sacrifice, so now under the new dispensation its worship takes the form of a self-dedication; its service consists in holiness of life, temperance, soberness, and chastity.



Romans 12:1

In the former part of this letter the Apostle has been building up a massive fabric of doctrine, which has stood the waste of centuries, and the assaults of enemies, and has been the home of devout souls. He now passes to speak of practice, and he binds the two halves of his letter indissolubly together by that significant ‘therefore,’ which does not only look back to the thing last said, but to the whole of the preceding portion of the letter. ‘What God hath joined together let no man put asunder.’ Christian living is inseparably connected with Christian believing. Possibly the error of our forefathers was in cutting faith too much loose from practice, and supposing that an orthodox creed was sufficient, though I think the extent to which they did suppose that has been very much exaggerated. The temptation of this day is precisely the opposite. ‘Conduct is three-fourths of life,’ says one of our teachers. Yes. But what about the fourth fourth which underlies conduct? Paul’s way is the right way. Lay broad and deep the foundations of God’s facts revealed to us, and then build upon that the fabric of a noble life. This generation superficially tends to cut practice loose from faith, and so to look for grapes from thorns and figs from thistles. Wrong thinking will not lead to right doing. ‘I beseech you, therefore, brethren, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice.’

The Apostle, in beginning his practical exhortations, lays as the foundations of them all two companion precepts: one, with which we have to deal, affecting mainly the outward life; its twin sister, which follows in the next verse, affecting mainly the inward life. He who has drunk in the spirit of Paul’s doctrinal teaching will present his body a living sacrifice, and be renewed in the spirit of his mind; and thus, outwardly and inwardly, will be approximating to God’s ideal, and all specific virtues will be his in germ. Those two precepts lay down the broad outline, and all that follow in the way of specific commandments is but filling in its details.

I. We observe that we have here, first, an all-inclusive directory for the outward life.

Now, it is to be noticed that the metaphor of sacrifice runs through the whole of the phraseology of my text. The word rendered ‘present’ is a technical expression for the sacerdotal action of offering. A tacit contrast is drawn between the sacrificial ritual, which was familiar to Romans as well as Jews, and the true Christian sacrifice and service. In the former a large portion of the sacrifices consisted of animals which were slain. Ours is to be ‘a living sacrifice.’ In the former the offering was presented to the Deity, and became His property. In the Christian service, the gift passes, in like manner, from the possession of the worshipper, and is set apart for the uses of God, for that is the proper meaning of the word ‘holy.’ The outward sacrifice gave an odour of a sweet smell, which, by a strong metaphor, was declared to be fragrant in the nostrils of Deity. In like manner, the Christian sacrifice is ‘acceptable unto God.’ These other sacrifices were purely outward, and derived no efficacy from the disposition of the worshipper. Our sacrifice, though the material of the offering be corporeal, is the act of the inner man, and so is called ‘rational’ rather than ‘reasonable,’ as our Version has it, or as in other parts of Scripture, ‘spiritual.’ And the last word of my text, ‘service,’ retains the sacerdotal allusion, because it does not mean the service of a slave or domestic, but that of a priest.

And so the sum of the whole is that the master-word for the outward life of a Christian is sacrifice. That, again, includes two things-self-surrender and surrender to God.

Now, Paul was not such a superficial moralist as to begin at the wrong end, and talk about the surrender of the outward life, unless as the result of the prior surrender of the inward, and that priority of the consecration of the man to his offering of the body is contained in the very metaphor. For a priest needs to be consecrated before he can offer, and we in our innermost wills, in the depths of our nature, must be surrendered and set apart to God ere any of our outward activities can be laid upon His altar. The Apostle, then, does not make the mistake of substituting external for internal surrender, but he presupposes that the latter has preceded. He puts the sequence more fully in the parallel passage in this very letter: ‘Yield yourselves unto God, and your bodies as instruments of righteousness unto Him.’ So, then, first of all, we must be priests by our inward consecration, and then, since ‘a priest must have somewhat to offer,’ we must bring the outward life and lay it upon His altar.

Now, of the two thoughts which I have said are involved in this great keyword, the former is common to Christianity, with all noble systems of morality, whether religious or irreligious. It is a commonplace, on which I do not need to dwell, that every man who will live a man’s life, and not that of a beast, must sacrifice the flesh, and rigidly keep it down. But that commonplace is lifted into an altogether new region, assumes a new solemnity, and finds new power for its fulfilment when we add to the moralist’s duty of control of the animal and outward nature the other thought, that the surrender must be to God.

There is no need for my dwelling at any length on the various practical directions in which this great exhortation must be wrought out. It is of more importance, by far, to have well fixed in our minds and hearts the one dominant thought that sacrifice is the keyword of the Christian life than to explain the directions in which it applies. But still, just a word or two about these. There are three ways in which we may look at the body, which the Apostle here says is to be yielded up unto God.

It is the recipient of impressions from without. There is a field for consecration. The eye that looks upon evil, and by the look has rebellious, lustful, sensuous, foul desires excited in the heart, breaks this solemn law. The eye that among the things seen dwells with complacency on the pure, and turns from the impure as if a hot iron had been thrust into its pupil; that in the things seen discerns shimmering behind them, and manifested through them, the things unseen and eternal, is the consecrated eye. ‘Art for Art’s sake,’ to quote the cant of the day, has too often meant art for the flesh’s sake. And there are pictures and books, and sights of various sorts, flashed before the eyes of you young men and women which it is pollution to dwell upon, and should be pain to remember. I beseech you all to have guard over these gates of the heart, and to pray, ‘Turn away mine eyes from viewing vanity.’ And the other senses, in like manner, have need to be closely connected with God if they are not to rush us down to the devil.

The body is not only the recipient of impressions. It is the possessor of appetites and necessities. See to it that these are indulged, with constant reference to God. It is no small attainment of the Christian life ‘to eat our meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God.’ In a hundred directions this characteristic of our corporeal lives tends to lead us all away from supreme consecration to Him. There is the senseless luxury of this generation. There is the exaggerated care for physical strength and completeness amongst the young; there is the intemperance in eating and drinking, which is the curse and the shame of England. There is the provision for the flesh, the absorbing care for the procuring of material comforts, which drowns the spirit in miserable anxieties, and makes men bond-slaves. There is the corruption which comes from drunkenness and from lust. There is the indolence which checks lofty aspirations and stops a man in the middle of noble work. And there are many other forms of evil on which I need not dwell, all of which are swept clean out of the way when we lay to heart this injunction: ‘I beseech you present your bodies a living sacrifice,’ and let appetites and tastes and corporeal needs be kept in rigid subordination and in conscious connection with Him. I remember a quaint old saying of a German schoolmaster, who apostrophised his body thus: ‘I go with you three times a day to eat; you must come with me three times a day to pray.’ Subjugate the body, and let it be the servant and companion of the devout spirit.

It is also, besides being the recipient of impressions, and the possessor of needs and appetites, our instrument for working in the world. And so the exhortation of my text comes to include this, that all our activities done by means of brain and eye and tongue and hand and foot shall be consciously devoted to Him, and laid as a sacrifice upon His altar. That pervasive, universally diffused reference to God, in all the details of daily life, is the thing that Christian men and women need most of all to try to cultivate. ‘Pray without ceasing,’ says the Apostle. This exhortation can only be obeyed if our work is indeed worship, being done by God’s help, for God’s sake, in communion with God.

So, dear friends, sacrifice is the keynote-meaning thereby surrender, control, and stimulus of the corporeal frame, surrender to God, in regard to the impressions which we allow to be made upon our senses, to the indulgence which we grant to our appetites, and the satisfaction which we seek for our needs, and to the activities which we engage in by means of this wondrous instrument with which God has trusted us. These are the plain principles involved in the exhortation of my text. ‘He that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption.’ ‘I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.’ It is a good servant; it is a bad master.

II. Note, secondly, the relation between this priestly service and other kinds of worship.

I need only say a word about that. Paul is not meaning to depreciate the sacrificial ritual, from which he drew his emblem. But he is meaning to assert that the devotion of a life, manifested through bodily activity, is higher in its nature than the symbolical worship of any altar and of any sacrifice. And that falls in with prevailing tendencies in this day, which has laid such a firm hold on the principle that daily conduct is better than formal worship, that it has forgotten to ask the question whether the daily conduct is likely to be satisfactory if the formal worship is altogether neglected. I believe, as profoundly as any man can, that the true worship is distinguishable from and higher than the more sensuous forms of the Catholic or other sacramentarian churches, or the more simple of the Puritan and Nonconformist, or the altogether formless of the Quaker. I believe that the best worship is the manifold activities of daily life laid upon God’s altar, so that the division between things secular and things sacred is to a large extent misleading and irrelevant. But at the same time I believe that you have very little chance of getting this diffused and all-pervasive reference of all a man’s doings to God unless there are, all through his life, recurring with daily regularity, reservoirs of power, stations where he may rest, kneeling-places where the attitude of service is exchanged for the attitude of supplication; times of quiet communion with God which shall feed the worshipper’s activities as the white snowfields on the high summits feed the brooks that sparkle by the way, and bring fertility wherever they run. So, dear brethren, remember that whilst life is the field of worship there must be the inward worship within the shrine if there is to be the outward service.

III. Lastly, note the equally comprehensive motive and ground of this all-inclusive directory for conduct.

‘I beseech you, by the mercies of God.’ That plural does not mean that the Apostle is extending his view over the whole wide field of the divine beneficence, but rather that he is contemplating the one all-inclusive mercy about which the former part of his letter has been eloquent-viz. the gift of Christ-and contemplating it in the manifoldness of the blessings which flow from it. The mercies of God which move a man to yield himself as a sacrifice are not the diffused beneficences of His providence, but the concentrated love that lies in the person and work of His Son.

And there, as I believe, is the one motive to which we can appeal with any prospect of its being powerful enough to give the needful impetus all through a life. The sacrifice of Christ is the ground on which our sacrifices can be offered and accepted, for it was the sacrifice of a death propitiatory and cleansing, and on it, as the ancient ritual taught us, may be reared the enthusiastic sacrifice of a life-a thankoffering for it.

Nor is it only the ground on which our sacrifice is accepted, but it is the great motive by which our sacrifice is impelled. There is the difference between the Christian teaching, ‘present your bodies a sacrifice,’ and the highest and noblest of similar teaching elsewhere. One of the purest and loftiest of the ancient moralists was a contemporary of Paul’s. He would have re-echoed from his heart the Apostle’s directory, but he knew nothing of the Apostle’s motive. So his exhortations were powerless. He had no spell to work on men’s hearts, and his lofty teachings were as the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Whilst Seneca taught, Rome was a cesspool of moral putridity and Nero butchered. So it always is. There may be noble teachings about self-control, purity, and the like, but an evil and adulterous generation is slow to dance to such piping.

Our poet has bid us-

‘Move upwards, casting out the beast,

And let the ape and tiger die.’

But how is this heavy bulk of ours to ‘move upwards’; how is the beast to be ‘cast out’; how are the ‘ape and tiger’ in us to be slain? Paul has told us, ‘By the mercies of God.’ Christ’s gift, meditated on, accepted, introduced into will and heart, is the one power that will melt our obstinacy, the one magnet that will draw us after it.

Nothing else, brethren, as your own experience has taught you, and as the experience of the world confirms, nothing else will bind Behemoth, and put a hook in his nose. Apart from the constraining motive of the love of Christ, all the cords of prudence, conscience, advantage, by which men try to bind their unruly passions and manacle the insisting flesh, are like the chains on the demoniac’s wrists-’And he had oftentimes been bound by chains, and the chains were snapped asunder.’ But the silken leash with which the fair Una in the poem leads the lion, the silken leash of love will bind the strong man, and enable us to rule ourselves. If we will open our hearts to the sacrifice of Christ, we shall be able to offer ourselves as thankofferings. If we will let His love sway our wills and consciences, He will give our wills and consciences power to master and to offer up our flesh. And the great change, according to which He will one day change the body of our humiliation into the likeness of the body of His glory, will be begun in us, if we live under the influence of the motive and the commandment which this Apostle bound together in our text and in his other great words, ‘Ye are not your own; ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and spirit, which are His.’

Romans 12:1. I beseech you therefore, brethren — Paul uses to suit his exhortations to the doctrines he has been delivering. So here the general exhortation to universal holiness, grounded on, and inferred from, the whole of the preceding part of the epistle, is contained in the first and second verses. Particular advices and precepts follow from the third verse to the end of the epistle. By the mercies Δια των οικτιρμων, the bowels of mercies, or tender mercies of God — The whole sentiment is derived from chap. 1.-5.; the expression itself is particularly opposed to the wrath of God, Romans 1:18. It has a reference here to the entire gospel, to the whole economy of grace or mercy, delivering us from the wrath of God, and exciting us to all duty. “The love,” says Macknight, “which God hath expressed in our redemption by Christ, and in making us [true] members of his church, is the most winning of all considerations to engage us to obey God; especially as his commands are calculated to make us capable of the blessings he proposes to bestow on us in the next life. We should therefore habitually recollect this powerful motive, and particularly when any difficult duty is to be performed.” That — Instead of the animal victims, whose slaughtered bodies you have been accustomed to offer, either to the true God, or to idols, you would now present — As it were, at his spiritual altar; your own bodies — That is, yourselves, as he expresses himself, Romans 6:13, a part being put for the whole; and the rather, as in the ancient sacrifices of beasts, to which he alludes, the body was the whole. These also are particularly named, in opposition to the abominable abuse of their bodies, of which the heathen were guilty, mentioned Romans 1:24. And several other expressions follow, which have likewise a direct reference to other expressions in the same chapter. To this we may add, that having taught, Romans 7:5; Romans 7:18; Romans 7:23, that the body, with its lusts, is the source and seat of sin, he exhorted the Romans, very properly, to present their bodies to God a sacrifice, by putting the lusts and appetites thereof to death. It may be proper to observe, also, that the word παραστησαι, here rendered to present, is the word by which the bringing of an animal to the altar to be sacrificed was expressed. A sacrifice — Dedicated to God entirely and irrevocably; (for in the ancient sacrifices, the animals were wholly given, and were not taken back again;) made dead to the world and sin, being slain by the commandment, (Romans 7:9,) or by the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and is quick and powerful to effect this death, (Hebrews 4:12,) and living by that life which is mentioned Romans 1:17; Romans 6:4, &c.; that is, by faith in the gospel, the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus; and thus made a living sacrifice indeed; holy — A sacrifice such as the holy law requires, and the Holy Spirit produces. This is spoken in allusion to the sacrifices under the law being required to be without blemish. Acceptable — A sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour. The sum is, Let your whole souls, with all their faculties, and your bodies, with all their members, being sanctified and animated by divine grace, be dedicated to, and employed in the service of him to whom you are under such immense obligations. Which is your reasonable service — Such a sacrifice is reasonable, not merely because, as Beza observes, it is the sacrifice of a rational creature; whereas the sacrifices of birds and beasts, &c, were sacrifices, αλογων ζωων, of irrational animals; but because the whole worship and service is highly, nay, infinitely reasonable, being the worship and service of faith, love, and obedience, the objects of which are divine truth and love, and wise, just, holy, and kind commands: or, in other words, affections and dispositions, words and actions, suited to the divine perfections, and the relations subsisting between us and God, as our Creator, Preserver, Redeemer, Saviour, friend, and father in Christ Jesus. And as the sacrifice is thus reasonable, it is equally reasonable that we should offer it, being under indispensable, yea, infinite obligations so to do. So that in offering this sacrifice, and in all things, a Christian acts by the highest reason, from the mercy of God inferring his own duty.

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.I beseech you - The apostle, having finished the argument of this Epistle, proceeds now to close it with a practical or hortatory application, showing its bearing on the duties of life, and the practical influence of religion. None of the doctrines of the gospel are designed to be cold and barren speculations. They bear on the hearts and lives of people; and the apostle therefore calls on those to whom he wrote to dedicate themselves without reserve unto God.

Therefore - As the effect or result of the argument or doctrine. In other words, the whole argument of the eleven first chapters is suited to show the obligation on us to devote ourselves to God. From expressions like these, it is clear that the apostle never supposed that the tendency of the doctrines of grace was to lead to licentiousness. Many have affirmed that such was the tendency of the doctrines of justification by faith, of election and decrees, and of the perseverance of the saints. But it is plain that Paul had no such apprehensions. After having fully stated and established those doctrines, he concludes that we ought therefore to lead holy lives, and on the ground of them he exhorts people to do it.

By the mercies of God - The word "by" διὰ dia denotes here the reason why they should do it, or the ground of appeal. So great had been the mercy of God, that this constituted a reason why they should present their bodies, etc. see 1 Corinthians 1:10; Romans 15:30. The word "mercies" here denotes favor shown to the undeserving, or kindness, compassion, etc. The plural is used in imitation of the Hebrew word for mercy, which has no singular. The word is not often used in the New Testament; see 2 Corinthians 1:3, where God is called "the Father of mercies;" Philippians 2:1; Colossians 3:12; Hebrews 10:28. The particular mercy to which the apostle here refers, is that shown to those whom he was addressing. He had proved that all were by nature under sin; that they had no claim on God; and that he had showed great compassion in giving his Son to die for them in this state, and in pardoning their sins. This was a ground or reason why they should devote themselves to God.

That ye present - The word used here commonly denotes the action of bringing and presenting an animal or other sacrifice before an altar. It implies that the action was a free and voluntary offering. Religion is free; and the act of devoting ourselves to God is one of the most free that we ever perform.

Your bodies - The bodies of animals were offered in sacrifice. The apostle specifies their bodies particularly in reference to that fact. Still the entire animal was devoted; and Paul evidently meant here the same as to say, present Yourselves, your entire person, to the service of God; compare 1 Corinthians 6:16; James 3:6. It was not customary or proper to speak of a sacrifice as an offering of a soul or spirit, in the common language of the Jews; and hence, the apostle applied their customary language of sacrifice to the offering which Christians were to make of themselves to God.

A living sacrifice - A sacrifice is an offering made to God as an atonement for sin; or any offering made to him and his service as an expression of thanksgiving or homage. It implies that he who offers it presents it entirely, releases all claim or right to it, and leaves it to be disposed of for the honor of God. In the case of an animal, it was slain, and the blood offered; in the case of any other offering, as the first-fruits, etc., it was set apart to the service of God; and he who offered it released all claim on it, and submitted it to God, to be disposed of at his will. This is the offering which the apostle entreats the Romans to make: to devote themselves to God, as if they had no longer any claim on themselves; to be disposed of by him; to suffer and bear all that he might appoint; and to promote his honor in any way which he might command. This is the nature of true religion.

Living - ζῶσυν zōsun. The expression probably means that they were to devote the vigorous, active powers of their bodies and souls to the service of God. The Jew offered his victim, slew it, and presented it dead. It could not be presented again. In opposition to this, we are to present ourselves with all our living, vital energies. Christianity does not require a service of death or inactivity. It demands vigorous and active powers in the service of God the Saviour. There is something very affecting in the view of such a sacrifice; in regarding life, with all its energies, its intellectual, and moral, and physical powers, as one long sacrifice; one continued offering unto God. An immortal being presented to him; presented voluntarily, with all his energies, from day to day, until life shall close, so that it may he said that he has lived and died an offering made freely unto God. This is religion.

Holy - This means properly without blemish or defect. No other sacrifice could be made to God. The Jews were expressly forbid to offer what was lame, or blind, or in anyway deformed; Deuteronomy 15:21; Leviticus 1:3, Leviticus 1:10; Leviticus 3:1; Leviticus 22:20; Deuteronomy 17:1; compare Malachi 1:8. If offered without any of these defects, it was regarded as holy, that is, appropriately set apart, or consecrated to God. In like manner we are to consecrate to God our best faculties; the vigor of our minds, and talents, and time. Not the feebleness of sickness merely; not old age alone; not time which we cannot otherwise employ, but the first vigor and energies of the mind and body; our youth, and health, and strength. Our sacrifice to God is to be not divided, separate; but it is to be entire and complete. Many are expecting to be Christians in sickness; many in old age; thus purposing to offer unto him the blind and the lame. The sacrifice is to be free from sin. It is not to be a divided, and broken, and polluted service. It is to be with the best affections of our hearts and lives.

Acceptable unto God - They are exhorted to offer such a sacrifice as will be acceptable to God; that is, such a one as he had just specified, one that was living and holy. No sacrifice should be made which is not acceptable to God. The offerings of the pagan; the pilgrimages of the Muslims; the self-inflicted penalties of the Roman Catholics, uncommanded by God, cannot be acceptable to him. Those services will be acceptable to God, and those only, which he appoints; compare Colossians 2:20-23. People are not to invent services; or to make crosses; or to seek persecutions and trials; or to provoke opposition. They are to do just what God requires of them, and that will be acceptable to God. And this fact, that what we do is acceptable to God, is the highest recompense we can have. It matters little what people think of us, if God approves what we do. To please him should be our highest aim; the fact that we do please him is our highest reward.

Which is your reasonable service - The word rendered "service" λατρείαν latreian properly denotes worship, or the homage rendered to God. The word "reasonable" with us means what is "governed by reason; thinking, speaking, or acting conformably to the dictates of reason" (Webster); or what can be shown to be rational or proper. This does not express the meaning of the original. That word λογικὴν logikēn denotes what pertains to the mind, and a reasonable service means what is mental, or pertaining to reason. It stands opposed, nor to what is foolish or unreasonable, but to the external service of the Jews, and such as they relied on for salvation. The worship of the Christian is what pertains to the mind, or is spiritual; that of the Jew was external. Chrysostom renders this phrase "your spiritual ministry." The Syriac, "That ye present your bodies, etc., by a rational ministry."

We may learn from this verse,

(1) That the proper worship of God is the free homage of the mind. It is not forced or constrained. The offering of ourselves should be voluntary. No other can be a true offering, and none other can be acceptable.

(2) we are to offer our entire selves, all that we have and are, to God. No other offering can be such as he will approve.

(3) the character of God is such as should lead us to that. It is a character of mercy; of long-continued and patient forbearance, and it should influence us to devote ourselves to him.



Ro 12:1-21. Duties of Believers, General and Particular.

The doctrinal teaching of this Epistle is now followed up by a series of exhortations to practical duty. And first, the all-comprehensive duty.

1. I beseech you therefore—in view of all that has been advanced in the foregoing part of this Epistle.

by the mercies of God—those mercies, whose free and unmerited nature, glorious Channel, and saving fruits have been opened up at such length.

that ye present—See on [2255]Ro 6:13, where we have the same exhortation and the same word there rendered "yield" (as also in Ro 12:16, 19).

your bodies—that is, "yourselves in the body," considered as the organ of the inner life. As it is through the body that all the evil that is in the unrenewed heart comes forth into palpable manifestation and action, so it is through the body that all the gracious principles and affections of believers reveal themselves in the outward life. Sanctification extends to the whole man (1Th 5:23, 24).

a living sacrifice—in glorious contrast to the legal sacrifices, which, save as they were slain, were no sacrifices at all. The death of the one "Lamb of God, taking away the sin of the world," has swept all dead victims from off the altar of God, to make room for the redeemed themselves as "living sacrifices" to Him who made "Him to be sin for us"; while every outgoing of their grateful hearts in praise, and every act prompted by the love of Christ, is itself a sacrifice to God of a sweet-smelling savor (Heb 13:15, 16).

holy—As the Levitical victims, when offered without blemish to God, were regarded as holy, so believers, "yielding themselves to God as those that are alive from the dead, and their members as instruments of righteousness unto God," are, in His estimation, not ritually but really "holy," and so


unto God—not as the Levitical offerings, merely as appointed symbols of spiritual ideas, but objects, intrinsically, of divine complacency, in their renewed character, and endeared relationship to Him through His Son Jesus Christ.

which is your reasonable—rather, "rational"

service—in contrast, not to the senselessness of idol-worship, but to the offering of irrational victims under the law. In this view the presentation of ourselves, as living monuments of redeeming mercy, is here called "our rational service"; and surely it is the most rational and exalted occupation of God's reasonable creatures. So 2Pe 1:5, "to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."Romans 12:1-3 Paul exhorteth to holiness and conformity to God’s

will; and to think soberly of the gifts allotted every

man respectively.

Romans 12:4,5 We are all members of one body in Christ,

Romans 12:6-8 and should diligently exercise our several gifts for

the common benefit.

Romans 12:9-18 Sundry practical duties recommended,

Romans 12:19-21 Revenge is specially forbidden, and to do good for

evil enjoined.

Hitherto the apostle hath discoursed of matters of faith; in this and the following chapters he sets down precepts of holy life.

By the mercies of God: he useth the word in the plural number, to amplify and set forth the manifold mercies of God, in election, justification, adoption, &c.: q.d. Seeing you Gentiles have received so many and so great mercies from God; seeing he hath preferred you to his ancient people the Jews, and hath chosen and called you, when he hath rejected them; as you value these mercies, let the consideration of them engage you to all manner of holiness and new obedience.

That ye present; that you give, dedicate, and offer up, as spiritual priests.

Your bodies; yourselves, or, your whole man; a part is put for the whole; the body is named, because it is the soul’s instrument in the service of God.

A living sacrifice; the sacrifices of old were presented alive to God, and their blood was shed at the feet of the altar: a beast that died of itself, or was torn by wild beasts, was not so much as to be eaten, Exodus 22:31 Leviticus 22:8. Conformable hereunto, God will have us offer up ourselves

a living sacrifice; i.e. we must be quickened and alive to God, and not dead in sins and trespasses.

Holy; as the sacrifices under the law were to be without blemish or defect, Exodus 12:5 Leviticus 1:10 Deu 15:21.

Acceptable unto God; or, well pleasing uuto God. So were the appointed sacrifices under the law, Leviticus 1:9; so was the sacrifice of Christ the Lamb of God, Ephesians 5:2; and so are all spiritual sacrifices under the gospel, Philippians 4:18 Hebrews 13:16.

Which is your reasonable service; or, which is agreeable to reason; nothing is more reasonable, than that you should devote yourselves to God in this manner. Some think this is added, to show a difference between the sacrifice here required, and that of the Jews, which was of unreasonable beasts. Others, by reasonable service, understand spiritual service, and expound this place by 1 Peter 2:5, where you read of spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Others think, that by reasonable you must understand such service as is according to the word of God; and this suits best with the Greek phrase in the text, logikhn latreian. The same word is used, 1 Peter 2:2, and there it is rendered the milk of the word, and not reasonable milk. And so the service or worship here spoken of is opposed to that will worship, of which you read in Colossians 2:23.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God,.... The apostle having finished the doctrinal part of this epistle, proceeds to that which is more practical; and enforces the several duties of religion, upon the principles he had before laid down, a method generally observed by him in all his epistles. The illative particle "therefore", shows that the following exhortations are so many conclusions, consequences, and inferences, deduced from what had been said in the latter part of the preceding chapter; that since all things are of God, and by him and to him, then the saints ought to present their bodies to him, and to know, approve, and do his will; and since they have nothing but what they have received from him, they ought not to think too highly of, or glory in their attainments. The introduction to these exhortations, is in a very kind and affectionate manner; the saints are addressed as "brethren", and very appropriately; since this expresses the relation they stood in to the apostle, for whom he had an hearty love and concern; and therefore what he pressed them to was out of a sincere regard to their good, as well as to the glory of God; also their relation to each other, and which several of the duties he urges had a connection with; likewise their relation to God, being of his family, having one and the same Father, and so under obligation to regard his will, honour and reverence him: moreover, these things are moved, not in an imperious way, in an authoritative manner, but by way of entreaty, "I beseech you"; as an ambassador of Christ, and as though in his stead: nor are they enforced by terrors, threats, and menaces, but "by the mercies of God"; that is, the abundant mercy of God, displayed in their election, regeneration, and calling; than which, nothing can have a greater influence on a believer, to engage him to holiness of life and conversation; and shows, that the doctrines of grace are no licentious ones, nor do they render useless precepts, exhortations, entreaties, cautions, and advice, particularly such as follow;

that ye present your bodies; not barely that part of them commonly so called, for this is not to be understood of a mere presentation of the body in public worship: for though this ought to be, yet not without the heart engaged therein, otherwise bodily exercise will be of no avail; nor of a bare abstinence from grosser sins done in the body, and against it, and which defile and dishonour it; much less of a maceration, and keeping under the body, by watchings, fasting, &c. and still less of an offering of the body at death in a way of martyrdom, though this ought to be cheerfully complied with when called for: but by their bodies are meant, themselves, their whole souls and bodies, all the powers and faculties of their souls, and members of their bodies; and the presenting of them, designs a devoting of them, with all readiness and willingness, to the service of God for his honour and glory, without putting any confidence in, or placing any dependence upon them; which would be sacrificing to their own net, and burning incense to their drag; it includes the whole of their service, conversation, and religion, internal and external. So the Jews (k) say,

"worthy is the portion of the righteous, who offer every day this offering before the Lord; and what is it? , "their bodies and their souls", which they offer before him.''

The allusion is to the rite of sacrificing, to the bringing of the slain beast, and laying it on the altar, and there presenting and offering it to the Lord. Under the Gospel dispensation all believers are priests; and the sacrifices they bring are not the bodies of slain beasts, but their own bodies, their whole selves; and these

a living sacrifice, in opposition to the bodies of slain beasts offered under the legal dispensation, and to the dead works of such as are destitute of faith in Christ, and to the lifeless performances of the saints themselves at certain times; and designs such a presentation of themselves in the performance of religious duties, as springs from a principle of life under the quickening influences of the Spirit of God, with faith and fervency; though without any view to obtain life hereby, for that is only by the offering up of the body of Christ once for all. Another epithet of this sacrifice of our bodies to God is

holy, in allusion to the sacrifices under the law, which were separated from common use, and devoted to God, and were not to have the least spot and blemish in them; and regards men sanctified by the Spirit of God, and whose actions flow from a principle of holiness, and are performed under the influence of the Holy Spirit; and such sacrifices as are both living and holy, cannot but be

acceptable to God through the mediation of his Son, by whom, as the persons, the souls and bodies of his people, so their spiritual sacrifices, whether of prayer or praise, are only acceptable to him:

which is your reasonable service; it is agreeably to reason, and especially as sanctified, that men who have their beings from God, and are upheld in them by him, and are followed with the bounties of Providence; and especially who are made new creatures, and are blessed by him with all spiritual blessings in Christ, that they should give up themselves to him, and cheerfully serve him in their day and generation; such service is also agreeably to the Scriptures of truth, the standard of filth and practice, and contain and enforce nothing but what is highly reasonable to be complied with; it is such service as lies not in the slaying of irrational creatures, but in the presenting of men endued with rational powers unto God; and is of a spiritual nature, performed by spiritual men, under the influence of the Spirit of God: and is suitable to the nature and perfections of God, and stands opposed to the corporeal and carnal service of the Jews.

(k) Zohar in Lev. fol. 4. 2.

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.

(a) By this preface he shows that God's 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.

(e) Spiritual.

Romans 12:1 f. General exhortation to sanctification.

οὖν] drawing an inference, not from the whole dogmatic part of the epistle, beginning with Romans 1:16 (Calvin, Bengel, and many others, including Reiche, Köllner, de Wette, Philippi, Hofmann),—as also in Ephesians 4:1 and 1 Thessalonians 4:1, the οὖν which introduces the practical portion is not to be taken so vaguely,—but from Romans 11:35-36, where the riches of God were described as, and shown to be, imparted apart from merit. This connection is, on account of διὰ τῶν οἰκτίρμ. τ. Θεοῦ, more readily suggested and simpler than that with Romans 11:32 (Rückert, Fritzsche, and several others).

διὰ τῶν οἰκτ. τ. Θεοῦ] by means of the compassion of God, reminding you of it. Just so διά in Romans 15:30, 1 Corinthians 1:10, 2 Corinthians 10:1. The exhortation, pointing to the compassion of God, contains the motive of thankfulness for compliance with it. “Qui misericordia Dei recte movetur, in omnem Dei voluntatem ingreditur,” Bengel.

On οἰκτιρμοί, see Tittmann, Synon. p. 68 ff. On the singular, comp. Pind. Pyth. i. 85; Sir 5:6; Bar 2:27; 1Ma 3:44. The plural conforms, indeed, to רחמים, but is conceived according to the Greek plural usage of abstract nouns (see Kühner, II. 1, p. 15 f.; Maetzner, ad Lycurg. p. 144 f.): the compassions, i.e. the stirrings and manifestations of compassion.

παραστῆσαι] selected as the set expression for the presenting of sacrificial animals at the altar; Xen. Anab. vi. 1. 22; Lucian, de sacrif. 13; and see Wetstein and Loesner, p. 262. Paul is glancing at the thank-offering (διὰ τ. οἰκτιρμ. τ. Θ.), and raises the notion of sacrifice to the highest moral idea of self-surrender to God; comp. Umbreit, p. 343 ff.

τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν] not, on account of the figure of sacrifice, instead of ὑμᾶς αὐτούς (so usually; still also Philippi), as if σῶμα might denote the entire person, consisting of body and soul (but comp. on Romans 6:12). On the contrary, the apostle means quite strictly: your bodies, reserving the sanctification of the νοῦς for Romans 12:2, so that the two verses together contain the sanctification of the whole man distributed into its parts,—that of the outer man (set forth as the offering of a sacrifice), and that of the inner (as a renewing transformation). Fritzsche also takes the correct view; comp. Hofmann. Other peculiar references of τ. σώμ. ὑμ. (Köllner: “the sensuous nature of man, which draws him to sin;” Olshausen: “in order to extend the idea of Christian sanctification down even to the lowest potency of human nature”) are not indicated by the text. The following τ. λογικ. λατρ. is not opposed to our view; for, in truth, bodily self-sacrifice is also an ethical act, 1 Corinthians 6:20. Comp. on the subject-matter, Romans 6:13; Romans 6:19.

θυσίαν ζῶσαν] as a sacrifice which lives. For the moral self-offering of the body is the antitypical πλήρωσις of the ritual sacrificial-service, in which the sacrifice dies; whereas that ethical sacrifice is no doubt also connected with dying, as to sin namely, in the sense of Romans 6:2, Romans 7:4 ff., Colossians 2:20; Colossians 3:5, Galatians 2:19, but it is precisely out of this death that the being alive here meant proceeds, which has vanquished death (Galatians 2:20, et al.). Such a sacrifice is also, in the eminent sense of antitypical fulfilment, ἁγία (as pure and belonging to God in an ethical relation) and ΕὐΆΡΕΣΤΟς Τῷ ΘΕῷ (comp. Ephesians 5:2). That Τ. ΘΕῷ is not, with Estius, Bengel, and Koppe, to be connected with ΠΑΡΑΣΤ., is shown by its very position, as well as by the superfluous character of a Τ. ΘΕῷ with ΠΑΡΑΣΤ.

Passages from Porphyry, Hierocles, Philo, Josephus, and the Rabbins, in which likewise moral devotion to God is set forth as self-sacrifice, see in Wetstein and Koppe. On the asyndeton, as strengthening the force of the predicative notion, in ἁγ., εὐάρ. τ. Θ., comp. Nägelsbach, z. Ilias, p. 50, ed. 3.

τὴν λογ. λατρ. ὑμ.] accusative of epexegesis,—an appositional definition, and that, indeed, not to the mere θυσίαν (to the notion of which the wider notion of ΛΑΤΡΕΊΑΝ does not correspond), but to the whole ΠΑΡΑΣΤῆΣΑΙ Κ.Τ.Λ., containing, respecting this whole act of presenting offering, the judgment, what it ought to be; see Winer, p. 496 [E. T. 669]; Kühner, II. 1, p. 243 f. Luther aptly remarks: “the which is your reasonable service.” Comp. Lobeck, Paralip. p. 519; Nägelsbach, z. Il. iii. 51; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 134.

λατρεία] service of worship, as in John 16:2. See on that passage. Comp. Romans 9:4. λογικός, rational (1 Peter 2:2; Plato, Locr. p. 99 E, 102 E; Polyb. xxv. 9. 2), is not in contrast to ζῶα ἄλογα (Theodoret, Grotius, Koppe, and many others), which at most would only be to be assumed if ΛΑΤΡΕΊΑ were equivalent to ΘΥΣΊΑ, but generally to the ceremonial character of the Jewish and heathen worship,—designating the ΛΑΤΡΕΊΑ here meant as a spiritual service, fulfilling itself in moral rational activity,—of which nature the opus operatum of the Jewish and heathen cultus was not. The Test. XII. Patr. p. 547 calls the sacrifice of the angels λογικὴν κ. ἀναίμακτον προσφοράν. On the idea, comp. John 4:24; Romans 1:9; Php 3:3; 1 Peter 2:5; Athenag. Leg. 13. Melanchthon: “Cultus mentis, in quo mens fide aut coram intuetur Deum, et vere sentit timorem et laetitiam in Deo.” The opposite is the character of mechanical action, the ἄλογος τριβὴ καὶ ἐμπειρία (Plat. Gorg. p. 501 A).

Romans 12:1. παρακαλῶ οὖν: the reference is to all that has been said since Romans 1:16, but especially to what more closely precedes. Cf. Ephesians 4:1, 1 Timothy 2:1, 1 Corinthians 4:16. The οὖν connects the two parts of the epistle, not formally but really, and shows the dependence of the “practical” upon the “doctrinal”. It is the new world of realities to which the soul is introduced by the Christian revelation on which Christian morality depends. It is relative to that world, and would become unreal along with it. διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν: for the substantive see 2 Corinthians 1:3 (= רַחֲמִים, which has no singular). διὰ in such expressions (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:10, 2 Corinthians 10:1) indicates that in which the motive is found: Winer, p. 477. The mercies are those which God has shown in the work of redemption through Christ, παραστῆσαι is not per se sacrificial: in chap. Romans 6:13; Romans 6:16; Romans 6:19 it is used of putting the body at the disposal of God or of sin: see also 2 Corinthians 4:14; 2 Corinthians 11:2, Colossians 1:22; Colossians 1:28, Ephesians 5:27. τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν is not exactly the same as ὑμᾶς αὐτοὺς, yet no stress is to be laid on the words as though Paul were requiring the sanctification of the body as opposed to the spirit: the body is in view here as the instrument by which all human service is rendered to God, and the service which it does render, in the manner supposed, is not a bodily but a spiritual service. θυσίαν ζῶσαν: “living,” as opposed to the slain animals offered by the Jews. This seems to be the only case in which the new life as a whole is spoken of by Paul as a sacrifice—a thank offering—to God. A more limited use of the idea of θυσίᾳ is seen in Php 2:17; Php 4:18; cf. also Hebrews 13:15 f., 1 Peter 2:5. ἁγίαν: contrast Romans 1:24. εὐάρεστον according to all analogy (see concordance) should go with τῷ θεῷ, and this is secured by the order of the words in A[23] vulg. τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν: in apposition not to τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν but to the presenting of the body as a living sacrifice. For other examples see Winer, 669. λατρεία (Romans 9:4, Hebrews 9:1; Hebrews 9:6, John 16:2) is cultus, ritual service, worship; and such a presentation of the body, as the organ of all moral action, to God, is the only thing that can be characterised as λογικὴ λατρεία, spiritual worship. Any other worship, any retention of Jewish or pagan rites, anything coming under the description of opus operatum, is foreign to the Christian θυσίᾳ; it is λατρεία which is not λογική, not appropriate to a being whose essence is λόγος, i.e., reason or spirit.

[23] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

Ch. Romans 12:1-8. Christian practice as the result of Christian truth: self-dedication to the service of God in the Christian Church

1. I beseech you therefore] The Doctrinal Part of the Epistle, strictly so to be called, is now closed. Not that Doctrine, in the special sense of dogmatic revelation, is absent from the remaining chapters; for morality is always in Scripture traced to dogmatic truth, and constantly occasions statements of it. But the main object, by far, in the remainder of the Epistle is instruction in the application of truth to life—Christian practice.

therefore] i.e. in view of the whole previous argument, in which gratuitous remission of sin, and acceptance of the guilty, for Christ’s sake, has been explained; and the consequent gift and influences of the Holy Spirit; and the assurance of glory: in which, too, the closing sections have reminded both Gentile and Jewish believers of the special aspects of sovereign mercy in their respective cases.

the mercies] the compassions; His motions of tenderness and pity. The same word, or cognates, is used Romans 9:15; Luke 5:36; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Php 2:1; Colossians 3:12; Hebrews 10:28; James 5:11.

This gracious word is doubly noteworthy here, just after the unqualified assertion of Divine Majesty and Sovereignty in Romans 11:33-36.

present] Same word as Romans 6:13; Romans 6:16; Romans 6:19; where E. V. “yield.”

your bodies] i.e., practically, your energies. The soul, in the present state, works through the body; so that its action for its Master can take effect only through the dedication of the body to Him—hands, feet, eyes, tongue, and brain.

a living sacrifice] A metaphor used elsewhere of the Christian’s tokens of thanksgiving: Php 4:18, (of liberal gifts, for Christ’s sake, to the Apostle;) Hebrews 13:15, (of praise, the “fruit of the lips;”) 16, (of beneficence for Christ’s sake;) 1 Peter 2:5, (of tokens of thanksgiving of any kind, offered up by believers, who, as such, are “a holy priesthood.”) See below on Romans 15:16 for further sacrificial metaphor.

reasonable] rational, of the reason. Same word as 1 Peter 2:2, where render “the rational pure milk;” i.e. the pure milk which has to do with the mind not the body. So here:—the “service” which is not of “meats and drinks and washings,” but is the dedication of the inmost self with its energies; spiritual service, not mechanical.

service] Same word as Romans 9:4. See on Romans 1:9, where the cognate verb occurs. In Hebrews 12:28 the words “service” and “acceptable” reappear, in another but kindred connexion.—Meyer renders the Gr. word here by Opfer-cultus.

Romans 12:1. Παρακαλῶ, I exhort) Moses commands: the apostle exhorts. Paul commonly gives exhortations consonant to the doctrines, which had been previously discussed, Ephesians 4 with which comp. ch. 3 So in this passage the general application drawn from the whole discussion is contained in Romans 12:1-2, as the allegations which immediately follow prove. We have shown at Romans 1:16 the special applications from Romans 12:3 up to the conclusion of the epistle.—διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν, by the mercies) The whole sentiment is derived from Chapters 1–5; the word has its origin in the antithesis to wrath, ch. Romans 1:18 : for the whole economy of grace or mercy, exempting us from wrath, and rousing the Gentiles especially to the discharge of duty, is indicated in this passage, ch. Romans 15:9. He who is rightly affected by the mercy of God, enters into the whole will of God. [But the soul exposed to wrath scarcely derives any benefit from exhortations. You are “pouring oil on a stone.”—V. g.]—παραστῆσαι, that ye present) In so large a list of duties, Paul has none of those things, which in the present day among the followers of the Church of Rome, generally make up both sides of the account. παραστῆσαι is repeated from ch. Romans 6:13; Romans 6:16; Romans 6:19, to yield, to present. The oblation is presented alive, not sacrificed.—σώματα, bodies) antithetic to the abominable abuse of their bodies among the Gentiles, ch. Romans 1:24. For more antitheses presently follow in respect of this same topic. The body is generally an impediment to the soul: present the body to God, and the soul will not be wanting, ch. Romans 6:12. See also ch. Romans 7:4; Hebrews 10:5. Vice versa, the soul, when subject to the magistrate, will be obedient with the body also, ch. Romans 13:1.—σώματα, λατρείαν, bodies, [worship] service) We have here the apposition of these two words by metonymy,[127] indicating body and soul.—θυσόαν, sacrifice) Sin having become dead: comp. on this sacrifice, ch. Romans 15:16.—ζῶσαν, living) That life, which is mentioned in ch. Romans 1:17, Romans 6:4, etc. It is an abomination to offer a dead carcase.—ἁγίαν, holy) such as the holy law demands, ch. Romans 7:12.—εὐάρεστον, acceptable, well-pleasing) ch. 8 especially Romans 12:8.—τῷ Θεῷ, to God) construed with παραστῆσαι, to present.—λογικὴν, reasonable) sincere (1 Peter 2:2) in respect of understanding and will: the verb δοκιμάζειν, Romans 12:2, is in consonance with this; and φρονεῖν, κ.τ.λ., Romans 12:3. The service [worship], λατρέια, of the Gentiles is unreasonable, ἄλογος, ch. Romans 1:18-25, the confidence of the Jews is unreasonable, ἄλογος, Romans 2:3, but the Christian considers all things rightly, and collects [infers] his duty from the kindness of a merciful God. The epithet λογικὴν now corresponds to that verb, λογίζεσθαι, which is often used, ch. Romans 3:28, Romans 6:11, Romans 8:18. λογικὸν γάλα, 1 Peter 2:2, is a periphrasis for the Word itself,—the Milk of the word; but here λογικὴ, reasonable, is an epithet of λατρέια, service [worship]. Peter uses the word, Ἄδολον. The Word is sincere, and the Service [worship] in accordance with [resulting from] the word is sincere.

[127] Antecedent for consequent, or vice versa, as here: service, for, the soul which serves.—Appendix.

Verse 1 - Romans 14:23. - III. HORTATORY. (See summary of contents, p. 17.) It is St. Paul's way to supplement his doctrinal treatises with detailed practical directions as to the conduct that should of necessity ensue on belief in the doctrines propounded. So also in Ephesians 4:1, etc., where, as here, he connects his exhortations with what has gone before by the initiatory παρακαλῶ οϋν. Beyond his exposition of the truth for its own sake, he has always a further practical aim. Saving faith is ever with him a living faith, to be shown by its fruits. Nor, according to him, will these fruits follow, unless the believer himself does his part in cultivating them: else were these earnest and particular exhortations needless. If, on the one hand, he is the great assertor of our salvation being through faith and all of grace, he is no less distinct for the necessity of works following, and of the power of man's free-will to use or resist grace; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:10, where, speaking of himself, he does not mean to say that grace had made him what he was in spite of himself, but that grace had not been in vain, because he himself had worked with grace. All was of grace, but he himself had laboured, assisted by grace working with him. It will be observed how comprehensive is the survey of Christian duty that here follows, reaching to all the relations of life, as well as to internal disposition. Verse 1 - Romans 13:14. - E. Various practical duties enforced. Verse 1. - I beseech you therefore, brethren (he does not command, as did Moses in the Law; he beseeches; he is but a fellow-servant, with his brethren, of Christ; he does not "lord it over God's heritage" (cf. 1 Peter 5:3), but trusts that they will of their own accord respond to "the mercies of God" in Christ, which he has set before them), by the mercies of God ("Qui misericordia Dei recte movetur in omnem Dei voluntatem ingreditur. At anima irae obnoxia vix quiddam juvatur adhortationibus," Bengel), that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. The verb παραστῆσαι is the usual one for the presenting of sacrificial animals at the altar (Xen., 'Anab.,' 6:1.22; Lucian, 'De Sacrif.,' 13. The LXX in Leviticus 16:7, 10, has στήσει. Cf. Luke 2:22: Colossians 1:22, 28, and supra, 6:13). Our bodies are here specified, with probable reference to the bodies of victims which were offered in the old ritual. But our offering differs from them in being "a living sacrifice," replete with life and energy to do God's will (cf. Psalm 40:6, 7, 8, and Hebrews 10:5, 6, 7), yea, and oven inspired with a new life - a life from the dead (Romans 6:13). Further, the thought is suggested of the abuse of the body to uncleanness prevalent in heathen society (cf. Romans 1:24). The bodies of Christians are "members of Christ," "temples of the Holy Ghost," consecrated to God, and to be devoted to his service (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:15, etc.); and not in heart only, but in actual life, of which the body is the agent, we are to offer ourselves, after the example of Christ. Your reasonable service (τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν) must be taken in apposition to "present your bodies, rather than to "sacrifice," it being the act of offering, and not the thing offered. that constitutes the λατρεία. This word is especially used for the ceremonial worship of the Old Testament (cf. Exodus 12:25, 26; Exodus 13:5; Romans 9:4; Hebrews 8:5; Hebrews 9:1, 6, 9; Hebrews 10:2; Hebrews 13:10), the counterpart of which in Christians is, according to St. Paul, not ceremonial service, but rather that of a devoted life (cf. Acts 27:23; Romans 1:9; Philippians 3:3; 2 Timothy 1:3; Hebrews 41:28). The epithet λογικὴν has been variously understood. It probably means rational, denoting a moral and spiritual serving of God, in implied opposition to mechanical acts of outward worship. "Respectu intellectus et voluntatis" (Bengel). It may be taken to express the same idea as οἱ Πνεῦματι Θεῷ λατρεύοντες (Philippians 3:3), and πνευματικὴν θυσίαν (1 Peter 2:7; cf. John 4:24). Though the offering of the body is being spoken of, yet "bodily self-sacrifice is an ethical act" (Meyer). Cf. 1 Corinthians 6:20. The word itself occurs in the New Testament only here and in 1 Peter 2:2, where its meaning, though obscure, may be similar. Romans 12:1I beseech (παρακαλῶ)

See on consolation, Luke 6:24.

By the mercies (διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν)

By, not as an adjuration, but as presenting the motive for obedience. I use the compassion of God to move you to present, etc.


See on Romans 6:13. It is the technical term for presenting the Levitical victims and offerings. See Luke 2:22. In the Levitical sacrifices the offerer placed his offering so as to face the Most Holy Place, thus bringing it before the Lord.


Literally, but regarded as the outward organ of the will. So, expressly, Romans 6:13, Romans 6:19; 2 Corinthians 5:10. Compare Romans 7:5, Romans 7:23. Hence the exhortation to glorify God in the body (1 Corinthians 6:20; compare Philippians 1:20; 2 Corinthians 4:10). So the body is called the body of sin (Romans 6:6; compare Colossians 2:11). In later Greek usage slaves were called σώματα bodies. See Revelation 18:13.

A living sacrifice (θυσίαν ζῶσαν)

Living, in contrast with the slain Levitical offerings. Compare Romans 6:8, Romans 6:11. "How can the body become a sacrifice? Let the eye look on no evil, and it is a sacrifice. Let the tongue utter nothing base, and it is an offering. Let the hand work no sin, and it is a holocaust. But more, this suffices not, but besides we must actively exert ourselves for good; the hand giving alms, the mouth blessing them that curse us, the ear ever at leisure for listening to God" (Chrysostom).

Acceptable (εὐάρεστον)

Lit., well-pleasing.

Which is your reasonable service (τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν)

Explaining the whole previous clause. Service, see on Romans 9:4. The special word for the service rendered by the Israelites as the peculiar people of God is very significant here. Reasonable, not in the popular sense of the term, as a thing befitting or proper, but rational, as distinguished from merely external or material. Hence nearly equivalent to spiritual. So Rev., in margin. It is in harmony with the highest reason.

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