Romans 12:16
Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
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(16) Be of the same mind . . .—In every Christian community there should be that harmony which proceeds from a common object, common hopes, common desires.

Condescend to men of low estate.—Probably, on the whole, rightly translated in our version; “Let yourselves be carried on in the stream with those who are beneath yourselves in rank and station; mix with them freely; be ready to lend them a helping hand if ever they need, and do this in a simple and kindly way; do not let any social assumptions keep you at a distance.” “Accommodate yourselves,” or “condescend”—of course without any conscious idea or appearance of condescension. Another rendering would be “condescend to lowly things,” in which case the sense would be nearly equivalent to that of Keble’s well-known and beautiful lines—

“The trivial round, the common task,

Will furnish all we ought to ask;

Room to deny ourselves, a road

To bring us daily nearer God.”

The scholar will observe that in this way of taking the passage, the Greek word for “condescend” (sunapagomenoi) has to be a little forced, or at least is not so expressive and natural as in the other. On the other hand, in the Epistles of a writer like St. Paul, it does not by any means follow that because the word for “high” is neuter that for “low estate” must be neuter too.

Be not wise in your own conceits.—Comp. Romans 11:25, and Proverbs 3:7. Humility is necessary to the Christian not only in his dealings with others, but also to keep his mind open and teachable. He sees his errors, and learns from them.



Romans 12:16

We have here again the same triple arrangement which has prevailed through a considerable portion of the context. These three exhortations are linked together by a verbal resemblance which can scarcely be preserved in translation. In the two former the same verb is employed: and in the third the word for ‘wise’ is cognate with the verb found in the other two clauses. If we are to seek for any closer connection of thought we may find it first in this-that all the three clauses deal with mental attitudes, whilst the preceding ones dealt with the expression of such; and second in this-that the first of the three is a general precept, and the second and third are warnings against faults which are most likely to interfere with it.

I. We note, the bond of peace.

‘Be of the same mind one toward another.’ It is interesting to notice how frequently the Apostle in many of his letters exhorts to mutual harmonious relations. For instance, in this very Epistle he invokes ‘the God of patience and of comfort’ to grant to the Roman Christians ‘to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,’ and to the Corinthians, who had their full share of Greek divisiveness, he writes, ‘Be of the same mind, live in peace,’ and assures them that, if so, ‘the God of love and peace will be with them’; to his beloved Philippians he pours out his heart in beseeching them by ‘the consolation that is in Christ Jesus, and the comfort of love, and the fellowship of the Spirit-’ that they would ‘fulfil his joy, that they be of the same mind, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind’; whilst to the two women in that Church who were at variance with one another he sends the earnest exhortation ‘to be of the same mind in the Lord,’ and prays one whom we only know by his loving designation of ‘a true yokefellow,’ to help them in what would apparently put a strain upon their Christian principle. For communities and for individuals the cherishing of the spirit of amity and concord is a condition without which there will be little progress in the Christian life.

But it is to be carefully noted that such a spirit may co-exist with great differences about other matters. It is not opposed to wide divergence of opinion, though in our imperfect sanctification it is hard for us to differ and yet to be in concord. We all know the hopelessness of attempting to make half a dozen good men think alike on any of the greater themes of the Christian religion; and if we could succeed in such a vain attempt, there would still be many an unguarded door through which could come the spirit of discord, and the half-dozen might have divergence of heart even whilst they profess identity of opinion. The true hindrances to our having ‘the same mind one toward another’ lie very much deeper in our nature than the region in which we keep our creeds. The self-regard and self-absorption, petulant dislike of fellow-Christians’ peculiarities, the indifference which comes from lack of imaginative sympathy, and which ministers to the ignorance which causes it, and a thousand other weaknesses in Christian character bring about the deplorable alienation which but too plainly marks the relation of Christian communities and of individual Christians to one another in this day. When one thinks of the actual facts in every corner of Christendom, and probes one’s own feelings, the contrast between the apostolic ideal and the Church’s realisation of it presents a contradiction so glaring that one wonders if Christian people at all believe that it is their duty ‘to be of the same mind one toward another.’

The attainment of this spirit of amity and concord ought to be a distinct object of effort, and especially in times like ours, when there is no hostile pressure driving Christian people together, but when our great social differences are free to produce a certain inevitable divergence and to check the flow of our sympathy, and when there are deep clefts of opinion, growing deeper every day, and seeming to part off Christians into camps which have little understanding of, and less sympathy with, one another. Even the strong individualism, which it is the glory of true Christian faith to foster in character, and which some forms of Christian fellowship do distinctly promote, works harm in this matter; and those who pride themselves on belonging to ‘Free churches,’ and standing apart from creed-bound and clergy-led communities, are specially called upon to see to it that they keep this exhortation, and cultivate ‘the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.’

It should not be necessary to insist that the closest mutual concord amongst all believers is but an imperfect manifestation, as all manifestations in life of the deepest principles must be, of the true oneness which binds together in the most sacred unity, and should bind together in closest friendship, all partakers of the one life. And assuredly the more that one life flows into our spirits, the less power will all the enemies of Christian concord have over us. It is the Christ in us which makes us kindred with all others in whom He is. It is self, in some form or other, that separates us from the possessors of like precious faith. When the tide is out, the little rock-pools on the shore lie separated by stretches of slimy weeds, but the great sea, when it rushes up, buries the divisions, and unites them all. Our Christian unity is unity in Christ, and the only sure way ‘to be of the same mind one toward another’ is, that ‘the mind which was in Christ Jesus be in us also.’

II. The divisive power of selfish ambition.

‘Set not your mind on high things, but condescend to things that are lowly.’ The contrast here drawn between the high and the lowly makes it probable that the latter as well as the former is to be taken as referring to ‘things’ rather than persons. The margin of the Revised Version gives the literal rendering of the word translated ‘condescend.’ ‘To be carried away with,’ is metaphorically equivalent to surrendering one’s self to; and the two clauses present two sides of one disposition, which seeks not for personal advancement or conspicuous work which may minister to self-gratulation, but contentedly fills the lowly sphere, and ‘the humblest duties on herself doth lay.’ We need not pause to point out that such an ideal is dead against the fashionable maxims of this generation. Personal ambition is glorified as an element in progress, and to a world which believes in such a proverb as ‘devil take the hindmost,’ these two exhortations can only seem fanatical absurdity. And yet, perhaps, if we fairly take into account how the seeking after personal advancement and conspicuous work festers the soul, and how the flower of heart’s-ease grows, as Bunyan’s shepherd-boy found out, in the lowly valley, these exhortations to a quiet performance of lowly duties and a contented filling of lowly spheres, may seem touched with a higher wisdom than is to be found in the arenas where men trample over each other in their pursuit of a fame ‘which appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.’ What a peaceful world it would be, and what peaceful souls they would have, if Christian people really adopted as their own these two simple maxims. They are easy to understand, but how hard they are to follow.

It needs scarcely be noted that the temper condemned here destroys all the concord and amity which the Apostle has been urging in the previous clause. Where every man is eagerly seeking to force himself in front of his neighbour, any community will become a struggling mob; and they who are trying to outrun one another and who grasp at ‘high things,’ will never be ‘of the same mind one toward another.’ But, we may observe that the surest way to keep in check the natural selfish tendency to desire conspicuous things for ourselves is honestly, and with rigid self-control, to let ourselves be carried away by enthusiasm for humble tasks. If we would not disturb our lives and fret our hearts by ambitions that, even when gratified, bring no satisfaction, we must yield ourselves to the impulse of the continuous stream of lowly duties which runs through every life.

But, plainly as this exhortation is needful, it is too heavy a strain to be ever carried out except by the power of Christ formed in the heart. It is in His earthly life that we find the great example of the highest stooping to the lowest duties, and elevating them by taking them upon Himself. He did not ‘strive nor cry, nor cause His voice to be heard in the streets.’ Thirty years of that perfect life were spent in a little village folded away in the Galilean hills, with rude peasants for the only spectators, and the narrow sphere of a carpenter’s shop for its theatre. For the rest, the publicity possible would have been obscurity to an ambitious soul. To speak comforting words to a few weeping hearts; to lay His hands on a few sick folk and heal them; to go about in a despised land doing good, loved indeed by outcasts and sinners, unknown by all the dispensers of renown, and consciously despised by all whom the world honoured-that was the perfect life of the Incarnate God. And that is an example which His followers seem with one consent to set aside in their eager race after distinction and work that may glorify their names. The difficulty of a faithful following of these precepts, and the only means by which that difficulty can be overcome, are touchingly taught us in another of Paul’s Epistles by the accumulation of motives which he brings to bear upon his commandment, when he exhorts by the tender motives of ‘comfort in Christ, consolation of love, fellowship of the Spirit, and tender mercies and compassions, that ye fulfil my joy, being of the same mind, of one accord; doing nothing through faction or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself.’ As the pattern for each of us in our narrow sphere, he holds forth the mind that was in Christ Jesus, and the great self-emptying which he shrank not from, ‘but being in the form of God counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God, but, being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death.’

III. The divisive power of intellectual self-conceit.

In this final clause the Apostle, in some sense, repeats the maxim with which he began the series of special exhortations in this chapter. He there enjoined ‘every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think’; here he deals with one especial form of such too lofty thinking, viz. intellectual conceit. He is possibly quoting the Book of Proverbs {Proverbs 3:7}, where we read, ‘Be not wise in thine own eyes,’ which is preceded by, ‘Lean not to thine own understanding; in all thy ways acknowledge Him’; and is followed by, ‘Fear the Lord and depart from evil’; thus pointing to the acknowledgment and fear of the Lord as the great antagonist of such over-estimate of one’s own wisdom as of all other faults of mind and life. It needs not to point out how such a disposition breaks Christian unity of spirit. There is something especially isolating in that form of self-conceit. There are few greater curses in the Church than little coteries of superior persons who cannot feed on ordinary food, whose enlightened intelligence makes them too fastidious to soil their dainty fingers with rough, vulgar work, and whose supercilious criticism of the unenlightened souls that are content to condescend to lowly Christian duties, is like an iceberg that brings down the temperature wherever it floats. That temper indulged in, breaks the unity, reduces to inactivity the work, and puts an end to the progress, of any Christian community in which it is found; and just as its predominance is harmful, so the obedience to the exhortation against it is inseparable from the fulfilling of its sister precepts. To know ourselves for the foolish creatures that we are, is a mighty help to being ‘of the same mind one toward another.’ Who thinks of himself soberly and according to the measure of faith which God hath dealt to him will not hunger after high things, but rather prefer the lowly ones that are on a level with his lowly self.

The exhortations of our text were preceded with injunctions to distribute material help, and to bestow helpful sympathy. The tempers enjoined in our present text are the inward source and fountain of such external bestowments. The rendering of material help and of sympathetic emotion are right and valuable only as they are the outcome of this unanimity and lowliness. It is possible to ‘distribute to the necessity of saints’ in such a way as that the gift pains more than a blow; it is possible to proffer sympathy so that the sensitive heart shrinks from it. It was ‘when the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul’ that it became natural to have all things common. As in the aurora borealis, quivering beams from different centres stream out and at each throb approach each other till they touch and make an arch of light that glorifies the winter’s night, so, if Christian men were ‘of the same mind toward one another,’ did not ‘set their minds on high things, but condescended to things that were lowly, and were not wise in their own conceits,’ the Church of Christ would shine forth in the darkness of a selfish world and would witness to Him who came down ‘from the highest throne in glory’ to the lowliest place in this lowly world, that He might lift us to His own height of glory everlasting.

12:9-16 The professed love of Christians to each other should be sincere, free from deceit, and unmeaning and deceitful compliments. Depending on Divine grace, they must detest and dread all evil, and love and delight in whatever is kind and useful. We must not only do that which is good, but we must cleave to it. All our duty towards one another is summed up in one word, love. This denotes the love of parents to their children; which is more tender and natural than any other; unforced, unconstrained. And love to God and man, with zeal for the gospel, will make the wise Christian diligent in all his wordly business, and in gaining superior skill. God must be served with the spirit, under the influences of the Holy Spirit. He is honoured by our hope and trust in him, especially when we rejoice in that hope. He is served, not only by working for him, but by sitting still quietly, when he calls us to suffer. Patience for God's sake, is true piety. Those that rejoice in hope, are likely to be patient in tribulation. We should not be cold in the duty of prayer, nor soon weary of it. Not only must there be kindness to friends and brethren, but Christians must not harbour anger against enemies. It is but mock love, which rests in words of kindness, while our brethren need real supplies, and it is in our power to furnish them. Be ready to entertain those who do good: as there is occasion, we must welcome strangers. Bless, and curse not. It means thorough good will; not, bless them when at prayer, and curse them at other times; but bless them always, and curse not at all. True Christian love will make us take part in the sorrows and joys of each other. Labour as much as you can to agree in the same spiritual truths; and when you come short of that, yet agree in affection. Look upon worldly pomp and dignity with holy contempt. Do not mind it; be not in love with it. Be reconciled to the place God in his providence puts you in, whatever it be. Nothing is below us, but sin. We shall never find in our hearts to condescend to others, while we indulge conceit of ourselves; therefore that must be mortified.Be of the same mind ... - This passage has been variously interpreted. "Enter into each other's circumstances, in order to see how you would yourself feel." Chrysostom. "Be agreed in your opinions and views." Stuart. "Be united or agreed with each other." Flatt; compare Philippians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 13:11. A literal translation of the Greek will give somewhat a different sense, but one evidently correct. "Think of, that is, regard, or seek after the same thing for each other; that is, what you regard or seek for yourself, seek also for your brethren. Do not have divided interests; do not be pursuing different ends and aims; do not indulge counter plans and purposes; and do not seek honors, offices, for yourself which you do not seek for your brethren, so that you may still regard yourselves as brethren on a level, and aim at the same object." The Syriac has well rendered the passage: "And what you think concerning yourselves, the same also think concerning your brethren; neither think with an elevated or ambitious mind, but accommodate yourselves to those who are of humbler condition;" compare 1 Peter 3:8.

Mind not high things - Greek, Not thinking of high things. That is, not seeking them, or aspiring after them. The connection shows that the apostle had in view those things which pertained to worldly offices and honors; wealth, and state, and grandeur. They were not to seek them for themselves; nor were they to court the society or the honors of the people in an elevated rank in life. Christians were commonly of the poorer ranks, and they were to seek their companions and joys there, and not to aspire to the society of the great and the rich; compare Jeremiah 45:5, "And seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not;" Luke 12:15.

Condescend - συναπαγομενοι sunapagomenoi. Literally, "being led away by, or being conducted by." It does not properly mean to condescend, but denotes a yielding, or being guided and led in the thoughts, feelings, plans, by humble objects. Margin, "Be contented with mean things."

To men of low estate - In the Greek text, the word here is an adjective ταπεινοις tapeinois, and may refer either to "people" or to "things," either in the masculine or neuter gender. The sentiment is not materially changed whichever interpretation is adopted. It means that Christians should seek the objects of interest and companionship, not among the great, the rich, and the noble, but among the humble and the obscure. They should do it because their Master did it before them; because his friends are most commonly found among those in humble life; because Christianity prompts to benevolence rather than to a fondness for pride and display; and because of the influence on the mind produced by an attempt to imitate the great, to seek the society of the rich, and to mingle with the scenes of gaiety, folly, and ambition.

Be not wise ... - Compare Isaiah 5:21, "Wo unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight." See the note at Romans 11:25. The meaning is, do not trust in the conceit of your own superior skill and understanding, and refuse to hearken to the counsel of others.

In your own conceits - Greek, "Among yourselves." Syriac, "In your own opinion." The direction here accords with that just given, and means that they should not be elated with pride above their brethren; or be headstrong and self-confident. The tendency of religion is to produce a low estimate of our own importance and attainments.

16. Be—"Being"

of the same mind one toward another—The feeling of the common bond which binds all Christians to each other, whatever diversity of station, cultivation, temperament, or gifts may obtain among them, is the thing here enjoined. This is next taken up in detail.

Mind not—"not minding"

high things—that is, Cherish not ambitious or aspiring purposes and desires. As this springs from selfish severance of our own interests and objects from those of our brethren, so it is quite incompatible with the spirit inculcated in the preceding clause.

but condescend—"condescending"

to men of low estate—or (as some render the words), "inclining unto the things that be lowly." But we prefer the former.

Be not wise in your own conceits—This is just the application of the caution against high-mindedness to the estimate we form of our own mental character.

Be of the same mind one toward another: this exhortation respects not so much unity in judgment, as in affection: q.d. Bear the same good respect to others, as others bear to thee; let there be a mutual agreement in your desires and good wishes one for another: see Romans 15:5 Philippians 2:2 1 Peter 3:8.

Mind not high things; i.e. things above your capacities and callings. Take heed of ambitious aspirings: remember what David said (one every way above you) in Psalm 131:1.

Condescend to men of low estate: the word low only is in the Greek; the other words are put in by our translators: and it may be referred, either to things, and so it answers to high things, in the foregoing clause; or it may be referred to persons, according to our translation; and then the sense is, that we should not despise our poor brethren, but stoop to the lowest offices of Christian kindness.

Be not wise in your own conceits; this seems to be taken from Proverbs 3:7: see Romans 12:3.

Be of the same mind one towards another,.... Which is not to be understood of the sameness of their judgment, or of their agreement in sentiments, espousing the same doctrines, observing the same ordinances, and in the same manner, and attending to the same form of discipline; but of their having the same love, and being of the same accord and affection to one another, entertaining the same good opinion, or a better, of others than of themselves; and so the Syriac version renders the passage, "what ye think of yourselves, think also of your brethren": think of one another, as equally interested in the love of God, redeemed by the blood of Christ, blessed with the same spiritual blessings in him, and called in the same hope of your calling; and do not think of one another, as being one richer or wiser than another, do not value yourselves upon that:

mind not high things; be not highminded, do not think too highly of yourselves, and despise others; meddle not with, nor grasp at things too high for you, that are out of your reach, and beyond your capacity; nor seek great things for yourselves, as riches, honours, &c. nor covet great company:

but condescend to men of low estate; or "to low things"; be content with mean and low things in life, and disdain not to take notice of and converse with, men in a low condition, whether in things temporal or spiritual; who may be poor in this world, be very ignorant and illiterate, as to general knowledge and learning; be men of mean parts and abilities, of very small gifts, and be weak in faith and experience; condescend to their weaknesses, bear their infirmities, and become all things to them for their good, and God's glory: consider the apostle is writing to citizens of Rome, who might be tempted to look upon themselves above others, and to look disdainfully upon others, as citizens too often do on country people, as if they were below them, as persons of low life to them:

be not wise in your own conceits; see Proverbs 3:7. This is attended with bad consequences, spoils a man's usefulness, prevents his improvement in knowledge, tempts him to reject all counsel and advice given him, and to treat his fellow creatures and Christians with haughtiness and insolence, and exposes him to the scorn and contempt of men: or "be not wise by or with yourselves"; imagining you have all the wisdom, and others have none; or keeping it to yourselves, what wisdom you have communicate it to others; the Ethiopic version reads, "say not, we are wise"; see Job 12:2.

Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of {u} low estate. Be not {x} wise in your own conceits.

(u) There is nothing that disrupts harmony as much as seeking glory, when every man detests a base estate, and ambitiously seeks to be exalted.

(x) Do not be puffed up with an opinion of your own wisdom.

Romans 12:16. These participles are also to be understood imperatively by supplying ἔσεσθε (comp. on Romans 12:9), and not to be joined to Romans 12:15, nor yet to μὴ γίνεσθε φρόν. παρʼ ἑαυτ.

τὸ αὐτὸ εἰς ἀλλ. φρονοῦντες] characterizes the loving harmony, when each, in respect to his neighbour (εἰς, not ἐν as in Romans 15:5), has one and the same thought and endeavour. Comp. generally Romans 15:5; Php 2:2; Php 4:2; 2 Corinthians 13:11. According to Fritzsche, τὸ αὐτό refers to what follows, so that modesty is meant as that towards which their mind should be mutually directed. But thus this clause of the discourse would not be independent, which is contrary to the analogy of the rest.

μὴ τὰ ὑψηλὰ φρονοῦντες] not aiming at high things,—a warning against ambitious self-seeking. Comp. Romans 11:20; 1 Timothy 6:7.

τοῖς ταπεινοῖς] is neuter (Fritzsche, Reiche, Köllner, Glöckler, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Borger, Reithmayr, Philippi, Maier, Bisping, following Beza and Calvin): being drawn onward by the lowly; i.e. instead of following the impulse to high things, rather yielding to that which is humble, to the claims and tasks which are presented to you by the humbler relations of life, entering into this impulse towards the lower strata and spheres of life, which lays claim to you, and following it. The ταπεινά ought to have for the Christian a force of attraction, in virtue of which he yields himself to fellowship with them (συν), and allows himself to be guided by them in the determination of his conduct. Thus the Christian holds intercourse, sympathetically and effectively, in the lower circles, with the poor, sick, persecuted, etc.; thus Paul felt himself compelled to enter into humble situations, to work as a handicraftsman, to suffer need and nakedness, to be weak with the weak, etc. With less probability, on account of the contrast of τὰ ὑψηλά, others have taken τοῖς ταπειν. as masculine,—some of them understanding ταπεινός of inferior rank, some of humble disposition, some blending both meanings—with very different definitions of the sense of the whole, e.g. Chrys.: εἰς τὴς ἐκείνων εὐτέλειαν κατάβηθι, συμπεριφέρου, μὴ ἁπλῶς τῷ φρονήματι συνταπεινοῦ, ἀλλὰ καὶ βοήθει καὶ χεῖρα ὀρέγου κ.τ.λ.; similarly Erasmus, Luther, Estius, and others; Grotius (comp. Ewald): “modestissimorum exempla sectantes;” Rückert (comp. van Hengel): “let it please you to remain in fellowship with the lowly;” Olshausen: Christianity enjoins intercourse with publicans and sinners in order to gain them for the kingdom of Christ; Hofmann: “to be drawn into the host of those who occupy an inferior station and desire nothing else, and, as their equals, disappearing amongst them, to move with them along the way in which they go.”

συναπαγ.] has not in itself, nor has it here, the bad sense: to be led astray along with, which it acquires in Galatians 2:13, 2 Peter 3:17, through the context.

φρόνιμοι παρʼ ἑαυτ.] wise according to your own judgment. Comp. Proverbs 3:7; Bernhardy, p. 256 f. One must not fall into that conceited self-sufficiency of moral perception, whereby brotherly respect for the perception of others would be excluded. Similar, but not equivalent, is ἐν ἑαυτ., Romans 11:25.

Romans 12:16. τὸ αὐτὸ εἰς ἀλλήλους φρονοῦντες: here the Apostle returns to his own grammar (or disregard of grammar), and holds to it till Romans 12:19, when he changes to the imperative (μὴ δότε) with which he concludes (Romans 12:21 μὴ νικῶ, νίκα). τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν, Romans 15:5, is a favourite expression, best explained by reference to Php 2:2; Php 4:2, 2 Corinthians 13:11. The idea is that of loving unanimity, and the εἰς ἀλλήλους points to the active manifestation of this temper in all the mutual relations of Christians. “Let each so enter into the feelings and desires of the other as to be of one mind with him” (Gifford). It is a more abstract expression of the Golden Rule, Matthew 7:12. The negatives which follow introduce explanatory clauses: they forbid what would destroy the unanimity of love. μὴ τὰ ὑψηλὰ φρονοῦντες: see on Romans 12:3 above and Romans 11:21. Selfish ambition in the Church is fatal to perfect mutual consideration, τοῖς ταπεινοῖς συναπαγόμενοι. Elsewhere in the N.T. (seven times) ταπεινὸς is only found in the masculine, and so some would render it here: condescend to men of low estate; let yourself be carried along in the line of their interests, not counting such people beneath you. Cf. Galatians 2:13, 2 Peter 3:17. The bad connotation of συναπάγεσθαι in both these places is due not to itself, but to the context. The contrast with τὰ ὑψηλὰ leads others to take τοῖς ταπεινοῖς as neuter: and so the R.V. has it, condescend to things that are lowly. Certainty on such points must always be personal rather than scientific; the first of the two alternatives impresses me as much more in harmony with the nature of the words used than the other. For the idea cf. Wordsworth’s sonnet addressed to Milton … “and yet thy heart the lowliest duties on herself did lay”. μὴ γίνεσθε φρόνιμοι κ.τ.λ. Proverbs 3:7. Be not men of mind in your own conceit. It is difficult to put our judgment into a common stock, and estimate another’s as impartially as our own; but love requires it, and without it there is no such thing as τὸ αὐτὸ εἰς ἀλλήλους φρονεῖν.

16. Be of the same mind] Cp. Romans 15:5; 1 Peter 3:8.—Lit. Thinking the same thing towards one another; “actuated by a common and well-understood feeling of mutual allowance and kindness.” (Alford.)

Mind not] The verb (on which see on Romans 8:5) is the same as that just rendered “Be of the … mind;” and doubtless refers to it: “Think kindly toward one another; and thereto think not high things.”—The “high things” would be thoughts of personal vanity, or of social, or perhaps also spiritual, pride.

condescend] Lit. being led away with; drawn into sympathy with them.

men of low estate] So probably, better than “low things,” as some render. To sympathize with the humble was the antithesis to the having “the heart haughty and the eyes lofty.” (Psalm 131:1)—The “low estate” in view was no doubt specially that of social inferiority; e.g. that of the slave. Wonderful was the work of the Gospel in bringing home this great and sacred duty, and yet without one note of revolutionary bitterness. See 1 Timothy 6:1-2. It is the Gospel alone which knows the full meaning of Liberté, Fraternité, Égalité.

Be not wise, &c.] Same words as Romans 11:25. Obedience to this precept would be a great help to the fulfilment of those just before and after.

Romans 12:16. Τοῖς ταπεινοῖς, to lowly things [Engl. V. “to men of low estate”]) Neuter, for the phrase high things precedes.—συναπαγόμενοι, being [suffering yourselves to be] carried along with) the verb has the force of the middle voice, by which voluntary συγκατάβασις, condescension, is denoted. The proud think, that he, who is humble, is led away, but it is a good thing to be led away in this manner; so it was with David.—μὴ γίνεσθε φρόνιμοι παρʼ ἑαυτοῖς) Proverbs 3:7, LXX, μὴ ἴσθι φρόνιμος παρὰ σεαυτῷ [comp. Romans 11:25.]

Romans 12:16Condescend to men of low estate (τοῖς ταπεινοῖς συναπαγόμενοι)

Rev., to things that are lowly. Τοῖς ταπεινοῖς to the lowly may mean either lowly men or lowly things. The verb literally means being carried off along with; hence yielding or submitting to, and so condescending. Compare Galatians 2:13, and see on 2 Peter 3:17, in which passages it has a bad sense from the context. According to the original sense, the meaning will be, being led away with lowly things or people; i.e. being drawn into sympathy with them. Farrar suggests letting the lowly lead you by the hand. Meyer, who maintains the neuter, explains: "The lowly things ought to have for the Christian a force of attraction, in virtue of which he yields himself to fellowship with them, and allows himself to be guided by them in the determination of his conduct. Thus Paul felt himself compelled to enter into humble situations." On the other hand, Godet, maintaining the masculine, says: "The reference is to the most indigent and ignorant and least influential in the Church. It is to them the believer ought to feel most drawn. The antipathy felt by the apostle to every sort of spiritual aristocracy, to every caste-distinction within the Church, breaks out again in the last word." Condescend is a feeble and inferential rendering, open to construction in a patronizing sense; yet it is not easy to furnish a better in a single word. The idea, then, fully expressed is, "set not your mind on lofty things, but be borne away (ἀπό) from these by the current of your Christian sympathy along with (σύν) things which are humble."

In your own conceits (παῤ ἑαυτοῖς)

Lit., with yourselves; in your own opinion. See Romans 11:25, and compare Acts 26:8, "incredible with you," i.e., in your judgment.

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