Romans 12:6
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerNewellParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTeedTTBVWSWESTSK
EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) Gifts differing according to the grace.—The English loses a point here. The word translated “gifts” means specially “gifts of grace,” grace standing here for the operation of the Spirit. Different kinds of grace, with different forms of expression, are given to different individuals, and they are to be cherished and used accordingly.

Prophecy.—The gift of prophecy is treated at length in 1 Corinthians 14. From the detailed description there given, we gather that it was a kind of powerful and inspired preaching which, unlike the gift of tongues, was strictly within the control of the person who possessed it. What precise relation this bore to the prediction of future events, mentioned in Acts 11:27-28; Acts 21:10-11, does not appear.

According to the proportion of faith.—It seems best to take this, not as having reference to the objective rule of faith or doctrine, the due proportions of which are to be preserved, but rather of the active faculty of faith present in him who prophesies. It would then be very nearly equivalent to the condition above—“according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” The prophet is to let his utterances be regulated strictly by the degree of faith of which he is conscious in himself. The inward inspiration and the outward deliverance must keep pace, and advance step by step together. Preaching in which this proportion is not observed is sure to become rhetorical and insincere.

Romans

GRACE AND GRACES

Romans 12:6 - Romans 12:8
.

The Apostle here proceeds to build upon the great thought of the unity of believers in the one body a series of practical exhortations. In the first words of our text, he, with characteristic delicacy, identifies himself with the Roman Christians as a recipient, like them, of ‘the grace that is given to us,’ and as, therefore, subject to the same precepts which he commends to them. He does not stand isolated by the grace that is given to him; nor does he look down as from the height of his apostleship on the multitude below, saying to them,-Go. As one of themselves he stands amongst them, and with brotherly exhortation says,-Come. If that had been the spirit in which all Christian teachers had besought men, their exhortations would less frequently have been breath spent in vain.

We may note

I. The grace that gives the gifts.

The connection between these two is more emphatically suggested by the original Greek, in which the word for ‘gifts’ is a derivative of that for ‘grace.’ The relation between these two can scarcely be verbally reproduced in English; but it may be, though imperfectly, suggested by reading ‘graces’ instead of ‘gifts.’ The gifts are represented as being the direct product of, and cognate with, the grace bestowed. As we have had already occasion to remark, they are in Paul’s language a designation of natural capacities strengthened by the access of the life of the Spirit of Christ. As a candle plunged in a vase of oxygen leaps up into more brilliant flame, so all the faculties of the human soul are made a hundred times themselves when the quickening power of the life of Christ enters into them.

It is to be observed that the Apostle here assumes that every Christian possesses, in some form, that grace which gives graces. To him a believing soul without Christ-given gifts is a monstrosity. No one is without some graces, and therefore no one is without some duties. No one who considers the multitude of professing Christians who hamper all our churches to-day, and reflects on the modern need to urge on the multitude of idlers forms of Christian activity, will fail to recognise signs of terribly weakened vitality. The humility, which in response to all invitations to work for Christ pleads unfitness is, if true, more tragical than it at first seems, for it is a confession that the man who alleges it has no real hold of the Christ in whom he professes to trust. If a Christian man is fit for no Christian work, it is time that he gravely ask himself whether he has any Christian life. ‘Having gifts’ is the basis of all the Apostle’s exhortations. It is to him inconceivable that any Christian should not possess, and be conscious of possessing, some endowment from the life of Christ which will fit him for, and bind him to, a course of active service.

The universality of this possession is affirmed, if we note that, according to the Greek, it was ‘given’ at a special time in the experience of each of these Roman Christians. The rendering ‘was given’ might be more accurately exchanged for ‘has been given,’ and that expression is best taken as referring to a definite moment in the history of each believer namely, his conversion. When we ‘yield ourselves to God,’ as Paul exhorts us to do in the beginning of this chapter, as the commencement of all true life of conformity to His will, Christ yields Himself to us. The possession of these gifts of grace is no prerogative of officials; and, indeed, in all the exhortations which follow there is no reference to officials, though of course such were in existence in the Roman Church. They had their special functions and special qualifications for these. But what Paul is dealing with now is the grace that is inseparable from individual surrender to Christ, and has been bestowed upon all who are His. To limit the gifts to officials, and to suppose that the universal gifts in any degree militate against the recognition of officials in the Church, are equally mistakes, and confound essentially different subjects.

II. The graces that flow from the grace.

The Apostle’s catalogue of these is not exhaustive, nor logically arranged; but yet a certain loose order may be noted, which may be profitable for us to trace. They are in number seven-the sacred number; and are capable of being divided, as so many of the series of sevens are, into two portions, one containing four and the other three. The former include more public works, to each of which a man might be specially devoted as his life work for and in the Church. Three are more private, and may be conceived to have a wider relation to the world. There are some difficulties of construction and rendering in the list, which need not concern us here; and we may substantially follow the Authorised Version.

The first group of four seems to fall into two pairs, the first of which, ‘prophecy’ and ‘ministry,’ seem to be bracketed together by reason of the difference between them. Prophecy is a very high form of special inspiration, and implies a direct reception of special revelation, but not necessarily of future events. The prophet is usually coupled in Paul’s writings with the apostle, and was obviously amongst those to whom was given one of the highest forms of the gifts of Christ. It is very beautiful to note that by natural contrast the Apostle at once passes to one of the forms of service which a vulgar estimate would regard as remotest from the special revelation of the prophet, and is confined to lowly service. Side by side with the exalted gift of prophecy Paul puts the lowly gift of ministry. Very significant is the juxtaposition of these two extremes. It teaches us that the lowliest office is as truly allotted by Jesus as the most sacred, and that His highest gifts find an adequate field for manifestation in him who is servant of all. Ministry to be rightly discharged needs spiritual character. The original seven were men ‘full of faith and of the Holy Ghost,’ though all they had to do was to hand their pittances to poor widows. It may be difficult to decide for what reason other than the emphasising of this contrast the Apostle links together ministry and prophecy, and so breaks a natural sequence which would have connected the second pair of graces with the first member of the first pair. We should have expected that here, as elsewhere, ‘prophet,’ ‘teacher,’ ‘exhorter,’ would have been closely connected, and there seems no reason why they should not have been so, except that which we have suggested, namely, the wish to bring together the highest and the lowest forms of service.

The second pair seem to be linked together by likeness. The ‘teacher’ probably had for his function, primarily, the narration of the facts of the Gospel, and the setting forth in a form addressed chiefly to the understanding the truths thereby revealed; whilst the ‘exhorter’ rather addressed himself to the will, presenting the same truth, but in forms more intended to influence the emotions. The word here rendered ‘exhort’ is found in Paul’s writings as bearing special meanings, such as consoling, stimulating, encouraging, rebuking and others. Of course these two forms of service would often be associated, and each would be imperfect when alone; but it would appear that in the early Church there were persons in whom the one or the other of these two elements was so preponderant that their office was thereby designated. Each received a special gift from the one Source. The man who could only say to his brother, ‘Be of good cheer,’ was as much the recipient of the Spirit as the man who could connect and elaborate a systematic presentation of the truths of the Gospel.

These four graces are followed by a group of three, which may be regarded as being more private, as not pointing to permanent offices so much as to individual acts. They are ‘giving,’ ‘ruling,’ ‘showing pity,’ concerning which we need only note that the second of these can hardly be the ecclesiastical office, and that it stands between two which are closely related, as if it were of the same kind. The gifts of money, or of direction, or of pity, are one in kind. The right use of wealth comes from the gift of God’s grace; so does the right use of any sway which any of us have over any of our brethren; and so does the glow of compassion, the exercise of the natural human sympathy which belongs to all, and is deepened and made tenderer and intenser by the gift of the Spirit. It would be a very different Church, and a very different world, if Christians, who were not conscious of possessing gifts which made them fit to be either prophets, or teachers, or exhorters, and were scarcely endowed even for any special form of ministry, felt that a gift from their hands, or a wave of pity from their hearts, was a true token of the movement of God’s Spirit on their spirits. The fruit of the Spirit is to be found in the wide fields of everyday life, and the vine bears many clusters for the thirsty lips of wearied men who may little know what gives them their bloom and sweetness. It would be better for both giver and receiver if Christian beneficence were more clearly recognised as one of the manifestations of spiritual life.

III. The exercise of the graces.

There are some difficulties in reference to the grammatical construction of the words of our text, into which it is not necessary that we should enter here. We may substantially follow the Authorised and Revised Versions in supplying verbs in the various clauses, so as to make of the text a series of exhortations. The first of these is to ‘prophesy according to the proportion of faith’; a commandment which is best explained by remembering that in the preceding verse ‘the measure of faith’ has been stated as being the measure of the gifts. The prophet then is to exercise his gifts in proportion to his faith. He is to speak his convictions fully and openly, and to let his utterances be shaped by the indwelling life. This exhortation may well sink into the heart of preachers in this day. It is but the echo of Jeremiah’s strong words: ‘He that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord. Is not my word like as fire, saith the Lord, and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?’ The ancient prophet’s woe falls with double weight on those who use their words as a veil to obscure their real beliefs, and who prophesy, not ‘according to the proportion of faith,’ but according to the expectations of the hearers, whose faith is as vague as theirs.

In the original, the next three exhortations are alike in grammatical construction, which is represented in the Authorised Version by the supplement ‘let us wait on,’ and in the Revised Version by ‘let us give ourselves to’; we might with advantage substitute for either the still more simple form ‘be in,’ after the example of Paul’s exhortation to Timothy ‘be in these things’; that is, as our Version has it, ‘give thyself wholly to them.’ The various gifts are each represented as a sphere within which its possessor is to move, for the opportunities for the exercise of which he is carefully to watch, and within the limits of which he is humbly to keep. That general law applies equally to ministry, and teaching and exhorting. We are to seek to discern our spheres; we are to be occupied with, if not absorbed in, them. At the least we are diligently to use the gift which we discover ourselves to possess, and thus filling our several spheres, we are to keep within them, recognising that each is sacred as the manifestation of God’s will for each of us. The divergence of forms is unimportant, and it matters nothing whether ‘the Giver of all’ grants less or more. The main thing is that each be faithful in the administration of what he has received, and not seek to imitate his brother who is diversely endowed, or to monopolise for himself another’s gifts. To insist that our brethren’s gifts should be like ours, and to try to make ours like theirs, are equally sins against the great truth, of which the Church as a whole is the example, that there are ‘diversities of operations but the same Spirit.’

The remaining three exhortations are in like manner thrown together by a similarity of construction in which the personality of the doer is put in the foreground, and the emphasis of the commandment is rested on the manner in which the grace is exercised. The reason for that may be that in these three especially the manner will show the grace. ‘Giving’ is to be ‘with simplicity.’ There are to be no sidelong looks to self-interest; no flinging of a gift from a height, as a bone might be flung to a dog; no seeking for gratitude; no ostentation in the gift. Any taint of such mixed motives as these infuses poison into our gifts, and makes them taste bitter to the receiver, and recoil in hurt upon ourselves. To ‘give with simplicity’ is to give as God gives.

‘Diligence’ is the characteristic prescribed for the man that rules. We have already pointed out that this exhortation includes a much wider area than that of any ecclesiastical officials. It points to another kind of rule, and the natural gifts needed for any kind of rule are diligence and zeal. Slackly-held reins make stumbling steeds; and any man on whose shoulders is laid the weight of government is bound to feel it as a weight. The history of many a nation, and of many a family, teaches that where the rule is slothful all evils grow apace; and it is that natural energy and earnestness, deepened and hallowed by the Christian life, which here is enjoined as the true Christian way of discharging the function of ruling, which, in some form or another, devolves on almost all of us.

‘He that showeth mercy with cheerfulness.’ The glow of natural human sympathy is heightened so as to become a ‘gift,’ and the way in which it is exercised is defined as being ‘with cheerfulness.’ That injunction is but partially understood if it is taken to mean no more than that sympathy is not to be rendered grudgingly, or as by necessity. No sympathy is indeed possible on such terms; unless the heart is in it, it is nought. And that it should thus flow forth spontaneously wherever sorrow and desolation evoke it, there must be a continual repression of self, and a heart disengaged from the entanglements of its own circumstances, and at leisure to make a brother’s burden its very own. But the exhortation may, perhaps, rather mean that the truest sympathy carries a bright face into darkness, and comes like sunshine in a shady place.12:3-8 Pride is a sin in us by nature; we need to be cautioned and armed against it. All the saints make up one body in Christ, who is the Head of the body, and the common Centre of their unity. In the spiritual body, some are fitted for and called to one sort of work; others for another sort of work. We are to do all the good we can, one to another, and for the common benefit. If we duly thought about the powers we have, and how far we fail properly to improve them, it would humble us. But as we must not be proud of our talents, so we must take heed lest, under a pretence of humility and self-denial, we are slothful in laying out ourselves for the good of others. We must not say, I am nothing, therefore I will sit still, and do nothing; but, I am nothing in myself, and therefore I will lay out myself to the utmost, in the strength of the grace of Christ. Whatever our gifts or situations may be, let us try to employ ourselves humbly, diligently, cheerfully, and in simplicity; not seeking our own credit or profit, but the good of many, for this world and that which is to come.Having then gifts - All the endowments which Christians have are regarded by the apostle as gifts. God has conferred them; and this fact, when properly felt, tends much to prevent our thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, Romans 12:3. For the use of the word rendered "gifts," see Romans 1:11; Romans 5:15-16; Romans 6:23; Romans 11:29; 1 Corinthians 7:7; 1 Corinthians 12:4, 1 Corinthians 12:9,1 Corinthians 12:28, etc. It may refer to natural endowments as well as to the favors of grace; though in this place it refers doubtless to the distinctions conferred on Christians in the churches.

Differing - It was never designed that all Christians should be equal. God designed that people should have different endowments. The very nature of society supposes this. There never was a state of perfect equality in any thing; and it would be impossible that there should be, and yet preserve society. In this, God exercises a sovereignty, and bestows his favors as he pleases, injuring no one by conferring favors on others; and holding me responsible for the right use of what I have, and not for what may be conferred on my neighbor.

According to the grace - That is, the favor, the mercy that is bestowed on us. As all that we have is a matter of grace, it should keep us from pride; and it should make us willing to occupy our appropriate place in the church. True honor consists not in splendid endowments, or great wealth and function. It consists in rightly discharging the duties which God requires of us in our appropriate sphere. If all people held their talents as the gift of God; if all would find and occupy in society the place for which God designed them, it would prevent no small part of the uneasiness, the restlessness, the ambition, and misery of the world.

Whether prophecy - The apostle now proceeds to specify the different classes of gifts or endowments which Christians have, and to exhort them to discharge aright the duty which results from the rank or function which they held in the church. "The first is prophecy." This word properly means to predict future events, but it also means to declare the divine will; to interpret the purposes of God; or to make known in any way the truth of God, which is designed to influence people. Its first meaning is to predict or foretell future events; but as those who did this were messengers of God, and as they commonly connected with such predictions, instructions, and exhortations in regard to the sins, and dangers, and duties of people, the word came to denote any who warned, or threatened, or in any way communicated the will of God; and even those who uttered devotional sentiments or praise. The name in the New Testament is commonly connected with teachers; Acts 13:1, "There were in the church at Antioch certain prophets, and teachers, as Barnabas, etc.;" Acts 15:32, "and Judas and Silas, being prophets themselves, etc.;" Acts 21:10, "a certain prophet named Agabus." In 1 Corinthians 12:28-29, prophets are mentioned as a class of teachers immediately after apostles, "And God hath set some in the church; first apostles, secondly prophets; thirdly teachers, etc."

The same class of persons is again mentioned in 1 Corinthians 14:29-32, 1 Corinthians 14:39. In this place they are spoken of as being under the influence of revelation, "Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If anything be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets;" 1 Corinthians 14:39, "Covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues." In this place endowments are mentioned under the name of prophecy evidently in advance even of the power of speaking with tongues. Yet all these were to be subject to the authority of the apostle. 1 Corinthians 14:37. In Ephesians 4:11, they are mentioned again in the same order; "And he gave some apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors, and teachers, etc." From these passages the following things seem clear in relation to this class of persons:

(1) They were an order of teachers distinct from the apostles, and next to them in authority and rank.

(2) they were under the influence of revelation, or inspiration in a certain sense.

(3) they had power of controlling themselves, and of speaking or keeping silence as they chose. They had the power of using their prophetic gifts as we have the ordinary faculties of our minds, and of course of abusing them also. This abuse was apparent also in the case of those who had the power of speaking with tongues, 1 Corinthians 14:2, 1 Corinthians 14:4,1 Corinthians 14:6, 1 Corinthians 14:11, etc.

(4) they were subject to the apostles.

(5) they were superior to the other teachers and pastors in the church.

(6) the office or the endowment was temporary, designed for the settlement and establishment of the church; and then, like the apostolic office, having accomplished its purpose, to be disused, and to cease. From these remarks, also, will be seen the propriety of regulating this function by apostolic authority; or stating, as the apostle does here, the manner or rule by which this gift was to be exercised.

According to the proportion - This word ἀναλογίαν analogian is no where else used in the New Testament. The word properly applies to mathematics (Scheusner), and means the ratio or proportion which results from comparison of one number or magnitude with another. In a large sense, therefore, as applied to other subjects, it denotes the measure of any thing. With us it means analogy, or the congruity or resemblance discovered between one thing and another, as we say there is an analogy or resemblance between the truths taught by reason and revelation. (See Butler's Analogy.) But this is not its meaning here. It means the measure, the amount of faith bestowed on them, for he was exhorting them to Romans 12:3. "Think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." The word "faith" here means evidently, not the truths of the Bible revealed elsewhere; nor their confidence in God; nor their personal piety; but the extraordinary endowment bestowed on them by the gifts of prophecy.

They were to confine themselves strictly to that; they were not to usurp the apostolic authority, or to attempt to exercise their special function; but they were to confine themselves strictly to the functions of their office according to the measure of their faith, that is, the extraordinary endowment conferred on them. The word "faith" is thus used often to denote that extraordinary confidence in God which attended the working of miracles, etc., Matthew 17:26; Matthew 21:21; Luke 17:6. If this be the fair interpretation of the passage, then it is clear that the interpretation which applies it to systems of theology, and which demands that we should interpret the Bible so as to accord with the system, is one that is wholly unwarranted. It is to be referred solely to this class of religious teachers, without reference to any system of doctrine, or to any thing which had been revealed to any other class of people; or without affirming that there is any resemblance between one truth and another. All that may be true, but it is not the truth taught in this passage. And it is equally clear that the passage is not to be applied to teachers now, except as an illustration of the general principle that even those endowed with great and splendid talents are not to over-estimate them, but to regard them as the gift of God; to exercise them in subordination to his appointment and to seek to employ them in the manner, the place, and to the purpose that shall be according to his will. They are to employ them in the purpose for which God gave them; and for no other.

6-8. Having then gifts differing according to the grace given to us—Here, let it be observed, all the gifts of believers alike are viewed as communications of mere grace.

whether—we have the gift of

prophecy—that is, of inspired teaching (as in Ac 15:32). Anyone speaking with divine authority—whether with reference to the past, the present, or the future—was termed a prophet (Ex 7:1).

let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith—rather, "of our faith." Many Romish expositors and some Protestant (as Calvin and Bengel, and, though, hesitatingly, Beza and Hodge), render this "the analogy of faith," understanding by it "the general tenor" or "rule of faith," divinely delivered to men for their guidance. But this is against the context, whose object is to show that, as all the gifts of believers are according to their respective capacity for them, they are not to be puffed up on account of them, but to use them purely for their proper ends.

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us; or, seeing we have different gifts and offices, according as the grace of God hath bestowed them upon us, let us use them aright. This is added to prevent pride and envy: none should be proud of that he hath himself or envy what another hath, seeing all is of grace.

Whether prophecy, let us prophesy; the words, let us prophesy, are not in the text; but they are put in by our translators, to fill up the sense. There is an ellipsis in the words, and something must be inserted. Some make the supply from the last words in the foregoing verse: Let us be one another’s members in prophesying, teaching, exhorting, &c. Others think it ought to be supplied out of Romans 12:3: q.d. Whether we have prophecy, let us be wise unto sobriety in prophesying; and so in all the rest that follow: in all the several gifts and offices, he showeth how they should behave themselves. The Greek scholiast will have supplied in them all, let us persevere. By prophesying, in this place, you may understand an extraordinary gift that some had in understanding Divine mysteries and Old Testament prophecies, with a wonderful dexterity in applying the same; to which was joined sometimes the revelation of secret and future things: see Acts 11:27 21:9.

According to the proportion of faith; i.e. they that have this gift of prophesying, must exercise it according to the measure of knowledge, in heavenly mysteries, that God hath given them; or else, in their prophesying they must have regard to the articles of Christian faith, and see that they regulate themselves according thereunto. Some think he calls the Holy Scripture in general, an analogy or proportion of faith; by these, the false prophets of old were discerned, if they delivered anything contrary thereunto, Deu 13:1, &c. Others think he speaks of certain principles, or heads of Christian religion, see Hebrews 6:1 from which the prophets and others were not to swerve; yea, some think he aims at the symbol and creed, called the Apostles’, which, from the beginning, was called the analogy of faith. Having then gifts, differing,.... As in a natural body, the various members of it have not the same office, and do not perform the same actions, thus they have not the same, but different faculties; one has one faculty, another another; the eye has the faculty of seeing, the ear of hearing, &c. thus in the spiritual body the church, as there are different members, these members have not the same work and business assigned them; some are employed one way, and some another; also they have diversities of gifts for their different administrations and operations, and all from Christ their head, by the same Spirit, and for the service of the whole body,

according to the grace that is given unto us; for all these gifts are not the effects of nature, the fruits of human power, diligence, and industry, but flow from the grace of God, who dispenses them when, where, and to whom he pleases in a free and sovereign manner; and therefore to be acknowledged as such, and used to his glory, and for the good of his church and people. Wherefore

whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith. The offices here, and hereafter mentioned, are not of an extraordinary, but ordinary kind, such as are lasting, and will continue in the church unto the end of time: and are divided into two parts, which are after subdivided into other branches. The division is into "prophesying" and "ministering". By "prophesying" is meant, not foretelling things to come, thought this gift was bestowed upon some, as Agabus, and others in the Christian church; but this, as it is of an extraordinary nature, so it is not stinted and limited according to the proportion of faith; but preaching the Gospel is here designed, which is the sense of the word in many places of Scripture, particularly in 1 Corinthians 13:2. Now such who have this gift of prophecy, or of opening and explaining the Scriptures, ought to make use of it, and constantly attend toil: "let us prophesy"; diligently prepare for it by prayer, reading and meditation, and continually exercise it as opportunity offers; nor should any difficulty and discouragement deter from it: or whereas this last clause is not in the original text, it may be supplied from Romans 12:3; thus, "let us think soberly", who have this gift, and not be elated with it, or carry it haughtily to those who attend on the exercise of it: but behave with sobriety, modesty, and humility, in the discharge thereof: "according to the proportion of faith". There must be faith, or no prophesying; a man must believe, and therefore speak, or speak not at all; a Gospel minister ought not to be a sceptic, or in doubt about the main principles of religion; such as concern the three divine persons, the office, grace, and righteousness of Christ, and the way of salvation by him: he should be at a point in these things, should firmly believe, and with assurance assert them, nor fear to be called dogmatical on that account: he is to preach according to his faith, the proportion of it: which may be the same with the measure of it, Romans 12:3. And so the Syriac version reads it, , "according to the measure of his faith"; to which the Arabic version agrees; that is, according to the measure of the gift of Christ he has received; according to the abilities bestowed on him; according to that light, knowledge, faith, and experience he has; he ought to preach up unto it, and not in the least come short of it; or by "the proportion", or "analogy of faith", may be meant a scheme of Gospel truths, a form of sound words, a set of principles upon the plan of the Scriptures, deduced from them, and agreeably to them; and which are all of a piece, and consistent with themselves, from which the prophesier or preacher should never swerve: or the Scriptures themselves, the sure word of prophecy, the rule and standard of faith and practice: the scope of the text is to be attended to, its connection with the preceding or following verses, or both; and it is to be compared with other passages of Scripture, and accordingly to be explained: and this is to follow the rule directed to.

{5} Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the {l} proportion of faith;

(5) That which he spoke before in general, he applies particularly to the holy functions, in which men are in greater danger if they sin. And he divides them into two types: that is, into prophets and deacons: and again he divides the prophets into teachers and pastors. And of deacons he makes three types: that is, those who are to be

(as it were) treasurers of the Church, whom he calls deacons in the most proper sense: the others to be the governors of discipline, who are called seniors or elders: the third, those who properly serve in the help of the poor, such as the widows.

(l) That every man observe the measure of that which is revealed to him.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 12:6-8. In the poseession, however, of different gifts. This ἔχοντες δὲ χαρίσματα κ.τ.λ. corresponds to τὰ δὲ μέλη πάντα οὐ τὴν αὐτὴν ἔχει πρᾶξιν, Romans 12:4.

As regards the construction, the view adopted by Reiche, de Wette, and Lachmann makes ἔχοντες a participial definition of ἐσμεν, Romans 12:5; accordingly, εἴτε προφητείαν and εἴτε διακονίαν depend on ἔχοντες as a specifying apposition to χαρίσματα; whilst the limiting definitions κατὰ τὴν ἀναλ. τ. πίστ., ἐν τῇ διακ., ἐν τῇ διδασκ., ἐν τῇ παρακλ. κ.τ.λ. are parallel to the κατὰ τὴν χάριν δοθ. ἡμῖν, and with εἴτε ὁ διδάσκων the discourse varies, without however becoming directly hortatory. Comp. also Rückert. But usually κατὰ τὴν ἀναλ. τ. πιστ., ἐν τῇ διακ. κ.τ.λ., are regarded as elliptical hortatory sentences, whilst ἔχοντες is by some likewise attached to the foregoing (Theodoret, Erasmus, Luther, Castalio, Calvin, Estius, and others, including Flatt, Tholuck, Reithmayr), and with others ἔχοντες begins a new sentence (so Olshausen, Fritzsche, Baumgarten-Crusius, Philippi, van Hengel, Hofmann, following Beza). The usual construction is the only correct one (in which, most suitably to the progressive δέ, a new sentence commences with ἔχοντες), because, under the mode followed by Reiche and de Wette, the alleged limitations ἐν τῇ διακ., ἐν τῇ διδασκ., and ἐν τῇ παρακλ. either express nothing, or must be taken arbitrarily in a variety of meaning different from that of the words with which they stand; and because ἐν ἁπλότητι, ἐν σπουδῇ, and ἐν ἱλαρότητι, Romans 12:8, are obviously of a hortatory character, and therefore the previous expressions with ἐν may not be taken otherwise. By way of filling up the concise maxims thrown out elliptically, and only as it were in outline, it is sufficient after κατὰ τὴν ἀναλογ. τ. πίστ. to supply: προφητεύωμεν, after ἐν τῇ διακονίᾳ: ὦμεν, after ἐν τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ; ἔστω, the same after ἐν τῇ παρακλήσει; and lastly, after the three following particulars, ἐν ἁπλότητι κ.τ.λ., the imperatives of the corresponding verbs (μεταδιδότω κ.τ.λ.). Comp. the similar mode of expression in 1 Peter 4:10-11.

χαρίσματα] denotes the different peculiar aptitudes for the furtherance of Christian life in the church and of its external welfare, imparted by God’s grace through the principle of the Holy Spirit working in the Christian communion (hence πνευματικά, 1 Corinthians 12:1), On their great variety, amidst the specific unity of their origin from the efficacy of this Spirit, see esp. 1 Corinthians 12:4 ff.

Paul here mentions by way of example (for more, see 1 Corinthians 12), in the first instance, four of such χαρίσματα, namely: (1) προφητεία, the gift of theopneustic discourse, which presupposes ἀποκάλυψις, and the form of which, appearing in different ways (hence also in the plural in 1 Corinthians 13:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:20), was not ecstatic, like the speaking with tongues, but was an activity of the νοῦς enlightened and filled with the consecration of the Spirit’s power, disclosing hidden things, and profoundly seizing, chastening, elevating, carrying away men’s hearts, held in peculiar esteem by the apostle (1 Corinthians 14:1). Comp. on 1 Corinthians 12:10. Further, (2) διακονία: the gift of administration of the external affairs of the church, particularly the care of the poor, the sick, and strangers; comp. 1 Corinthians 12:28, where the functions of the diaconia are termed ἀντιλήψεις. Acts 6:1 ff.; Php 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:8; 1 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 4:11; Romans 16:1. The service of the diaconate in the church, which grew out of that of the seven men of Acts 6, is really of apostolic origin: Clem. Cor. 1:42, 44; Ritschl, altkath. Kirche, p. 359; Jul. Müller, dogmat. Abh. p. 560 ff. (3) The διδασκαλία, the gift of instruction in the usual form of teaching directed to the understanding (ἐξ οἰκείας διανοίας, Chrysostom, ad 1 Corinthians 12:28), see on Acts 13:1; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 14:26. It was not yet limited to a particular office; see Ritschl, p. 350 f. (4) παράκλησις, the gift of hortatory and encouraging address operating on the heart and will, the possessor of which probably connected his discourses, in the assemblies after the custom of the synagogue (see on Acts 13:15), with a portion of Scripture read before the people. Comp. Acts 4:36; Acts 11:23-24; Justin, Apol. I. c. 67.

κατὰ τὴν ἀναλ. τ. πίστ.] Conformably to the proportion of their faith the prophets have to use their prophetic gift, i.e. (comp. Romans 12:3): they are not to depart from the proportional measure which their faith has, neither wishing to exceed it nor falling short of it, but are to guide themselves by it, and are therefore so to announce and interpret the received ἀποκάλυψις, as the peculiar position in respect of faith bestowed on them, according to the strength, clearness, fervour, and other qualities of that faith, suggests—so that the character and mode of their speaking is conformed to the rules and limits, which are implied in the proportion of their individual degree of faith. In the contrary case they fall, in respect of contents and of form, into a mode of prophetic utterance, either excessive and overstrained, or on the other hand insufficient and defective (not corresponding to the level of their faith). The same revelation may in fact—according to the difference in the proportion of faith with which it, objectively given, subjectively connects itself—be very differently expressed and delivered. ἀναλογία, proportio, very current (also as a mathematical expression) in the classics (comp. esp. on κατὰ τ. ἀναλογ. Plato, Polit. p. 257 B, Locr. p. 95 B; Dem. 262. 5), is here in substance not different from μέτρον, Romans 12:3; comp. Plato, Tim. p. 69 B: ἀνάλογα καὶ ξύμμετρα. Hofmann groundlessly denies this (in consequence of his incorrect view of μέτρον πίστεως, Romans 12:3), yet likewise arrives at the sense, that prophetic utterance must keep equal pace with the life of faith. Paul might, in fact, have written συμμέτρως τῇ πίστει, and would have thereby substantially expressed the same thing as κατὰ τ. ἀναλ. τ. πίστ. or ἀναλόγως τ. π. The old dogmatic interpretation (still unknown, however, to the Greek Fathers, who rightly take τ. πίστεως subjectively, of the fides qua creditur) of the regula fidei (πίστις in the objective sense, fides quae creditur), i.e. of the conformitas doctrinae in scripturis (see esp. Colovius), departs arbitrarily from the thought contained in Romans 12:3, and from the immediate context (κατὰ τ. χάρ. τ. δοθ. ἡμῖν), and cannot in itself be justified by linguistic usage (see on Romans 1:5). It reappears, however, substantially in Flatt, Klee, Glöckler, Köllner, Philippi (“to remain subject to the norma et regula fidei Christianae”), Umbreit, Bisping, although they do not, like many of the older commentators, take prophecy to refer to the explanation of Scripture.

ἐν τῇ διακονίᾳ] If it be the case that we have diaconia (as χαρίσμα), let us be in our diaconia. The emphasis lies on ἐν. He who has the gift of the diaconia should not desire to have a position in the life of the church outside of the sphere of service which is assigned to him by this endowment, but should be active within that sphere. That by διακονία is not intended any ecclesiastical office generally (Chrysostom, Luther, Reithmayr, Hofmann), is shown by the charismatic elements of the entire context. On εἶναι ἐν, versari in, comp. 1 Timothy 4:15; Plato, Prot. p. 317 C, Phaed. p. 59 A; Demosth. 301. 6, et al.; Krüger, ad Dion. Hist. p. 269, 70.

εἴτε ὁ διδάσκων] Symmetrically, Paul should have continued with εἴτε διδασκαλίαν (sc. ἔχοντες), as A. actually reads. Instead of this, however, he proceeds in such a way as now to introduce the different possessors of gifts in the third person, and therefore no longer dependent on the we implied in ἔχοντες. The change of conception and construction may accordingly be thus exhibited: “While, however, we have different gifts, we should, be it prophecy that we have, make use of it according to the proportion of our faith,—be it diaconia that we have, labour within the diaconia,—be it that it is the teacher, (he should) be active within the sphere of teaching, etc.” After ὁ διδάσκων, simply ἐστί is to be supplied: if it, viz. one charismatically gifted, is the teacher. The apostle, in the urgent fulness of ideas which are yet to be only concisely expressed, has lost sight of the grammatical connection; comp. Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 331. Hofmann’s expedient, that here εἴτεεἴτε are subordinated to the preceding ἐν τῇ διακονίᾳ, and ὁ διδάσκων and ὁ παρακαλῶν are to be taken as a parenthetical apposition to the subject of the verb to be supplied (“be it that he, the teacher, handles teaching,” etc.), is an artificial scheme forced upon him by his incorrect view of διακονία, and at variance with the co-ordinated relation of the first two cases of εἴτε.Romans 12:6 ff. At this point an application, apparently, is made of what has been said in Romans 12:4-5, but the grammar is very difficult. Both A.V. and R.V. supply what is needed in order to read the verses as an exhortation; thus in Romans 12:6, “let us prophesy”; in Romans 12:7, “let us wait”; and in Romans 12:8, answering to the change of construction in the Greek, “let him do it”. This is the simplest way out of the difficulty, and is followed by many scholars (Meyer, Lipsius, Gifford). But it is not beyond doubt, and there is something to say for the more rigorous construction adopted by Weiss and others, who put only a comma after μέλη at the end of Romans 12:5, and construe ἔχοντες with ἐσμεν. In either case, there is an apodosis to be supplied; but while in the former case it is hinted at in the second half of every clause (as is seen in our English Bibles), in the latter it is simply forgotten. It is as if Paul had said, “We are members one of another, and have gifts differing according to the grace given to us; our gift may be prophecy, prophecy in the proportion of our faith; it may be διακονία in the sphere appropriate for that; another instance would be that of the teacher in his department, or of the exhorter in his; or again you may have the distributor, whose gift is in the form of ἁπλότης; or the ruler, who is divinely qualified for his function by the gift of σπουδή, moral earnestness; or the man who to show mercy is endowed with a cheerful disposition”. All this requires an apodosis, but partly because of its length, partly because of the changes in construction as the Apostle proceeds, the apodosis is overlooked. Its import, however, would not vary, as in the A.V., from clause to clause, but would be the same for all the clauses together. Even with the ordinary punctuation, which puts a period at the end of Romans 12:5, I prefer this reading of the passage. The varying apodoses supplied in the English Bible to the separate clauses are really irrelevant; what is wanted is a common apodosis to the whole conception. “Now having gifts differing according to the grace given to us—as one may see by glancing at the phenomena of church life—let us use them with humility (remembering that they are gifts) and with love (inasmuch as we are members one of another).” It is easier to suppose that the construction was suspended, and gradually changed, with some general conclusion like this before the mind from the beginning, than that it broke down, so to speak, as soon as it began; which we must suppose if we insert προφητεύωμεν in Romans 12:6. But it is not a question which can be infallibly decided. It ought to be observed that there is no hint of anything official in this passage; all ministry is a function of membership in the body, and every member has the function of ministry to some intent or other. χαρίσματα: Romans 1:11, 1 Corinthians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 12:4; 1 Corinthians 12:9; 1 Corinthians 12:31; 1 Corinthians 12:1 P. Romans 4:10. With the exception of 1 P. Romans 4:10 (which is not without relation to this passage) Paul alone uses χάρισμα in the N.T. Every χάρισμα is a gift of the Holy Spirit given to the believer for the good of the Church. Some were supernatural (gifts of healings, etc.), others spiritual in the narrower sense: this passage is the best illustration of the word. τὴν δοθεῖσαν, sc., when we believed. προφητείαν κατὰ τὴν ἀναλογίαν τῆς πίστεως. προφητεία is the highest of χαρίσματα, 1 Corinthians 14:1 ff. When one has it, he has it κατὰ τὴν ἀναλογ. τῆς πίστεως = in the proportion of his faith. The faith meant is that referred to in Romans 12:3, the measure of which is assigned by God: and since this is the case, it is obviously absurd for a man to give himself airs—ὑπερφρονεῖν—on the strength of being a προφήτης: this would amount to forgetting that in whatever degree he has the gift, he owes it absolutely to God. The expression προφητείαν κατὰ τὴν ἀναλογίαν τῆς πίστεως implies that the more faith one has—the more completely Christian he is—the greater the prophetic endowment will be. [In theology, “the analogy of the faith” is used in quite a different sense, though it was supposed to be justified by this passage. To interpret Scripture, e.g., according to the analogy of the faith meant to interpret the parts, especially difficult or obscure parts, in consistency with the whole. The scope of the whole, again, was supposed to be represented in the creed or rule of faith; and to interpret κατὰ τ. . τ. πίστεως meant simply not to run counter to the creed. In the passage before us this is an anachronism as well as an irrelevance. There was no rule of faith when the Apostle was thinking out the original interpretation of Christianity contained in this epistle; and there is no exhortation or warning, but only a description of fact, in the words.] διακονία as opposed to προφητεία and the other functions mentioned here probably refers to such services as were material rather than spiritual: they were spiritual however (though connected only with helping the poor, or with the place or forms of worship) because prompted by the Spirit and done in it. One who has this gift has it ἐν τῇ διακονίᾳ, i.e., in the qualities and in the sphere proper to it: it is in its own nature limited; it is what it is, and nothing else, and fits a man for this function and no other. This is not “otiose,” and it provides a good meaning without importing anything. ὁ διδάσκων ἐν τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ: it is in his teaching that the διδάσκαλος possesses the gift peculiar to him: 1 Corinthians 14:26. ὁ παρακαλῶν ἐν τῇ παρακλήσει: so again with the exhorter, the man who speaks words of encouragement: cf. Romans 15:4-5; Acts 4:36; Acts 9:31; Acts 13:15. It is in his παράκλησις, and not in something else, that his χάρισμα lies. Thus far Paul has not defined the quality of the χαρίσματα, or shown in what they consist; the functionary is merely said to have his gift in his function—teaching, exhorting, or service. But in the cases which follow, he tells us what the gift, proper to the special functions in view, is; in other words, what is the spiritual quality which, when divinely bestowed, capacitates a man to do this or that for the Church. Thus there is ὁ μεταδιδούς (cf. Ephesians 4:28, Luke 3:11), the man who imparts of his means to those who need; he has his χάρισμα in ἁπλάτης. Cf. 2 Corinthians 9:11; 2 Corinthians 9:13; Jam 1:5. It is not exactly “liberality,” though in these passages it approaches that sense: it is the quality of a mind which has no arrière-pensée in what it does; when it gives, it does so because it sees and feels the need, and for no other reason; this is the sort of mind which is liberal, and God assigns a man the function of μεταδιδόναι when He bestows this mind on him by His Spirit. ὁ προϊστάμενος is the person who takes the lead in any way. He might or might not be an official (1 Thessalonians 5:12, 1 Timothy 5:17, 1 Timothy 3:4-5; 1 Timothy 3:12 : cf. also πρόστατις Romans 16:2, and Hort, The Christian Ecclesia, p. 126 f.); but in any case he had the χάρισμα which fitted him for his special function in σπουδή, moral earnestness or vigour. A serious masculine type of character is the pre-supposition for this gift. Finally ὁ ἐλεῶν, he who does deeds of kindness, has his charisma in ἱλαρότης. A person of a grudging or despondent mood has not the endowment for showing mercy. He who is to visit the poor, the sick, the sorrowful, will be marked out by God for His special ministry by this endowment of brightness and good cheer. Cf. 2 Corinthians 9:7 = Proverbs 22:8 and Sirach 32(35):11: ἐν πάσῃ δόσει ἱλάρωσον τὸ πρόσωπόν σου, καὶ ἐν εὐφροσύνῃ ἁγίασον δεκάτην.6. whether prophecy, &c.] The Gr. construction from hence to the end of Romans 12:8 is peculiar, because elliptical; but the E. V. well interprets the ellipses.

prophecy] Here probably the charisma, or special miraculous gift, of preaching; of utterance in the Christian assemblies under immediate Divine impulse and guidance. It is now no longer possible to analyze minutely this sacred phenomenon; but we gather (from the great passage on the subject, 1 Corinthians 14) that up to a certain point the utterances were under the conscious will of the utterer, and (as we see in the present passage) might be, by negligence or extravagance of will, distorted and otherwise misused. See next note.

according to the proportion of faith] Lit. according to the proportion of the faith, i.e. the faith of the utterer. The meaning “the (Christian) faith” would in itself be allowable, but in this Epistle (see note “on measure of faith” above) it is not probable. The Gr. word rendered “proportion” is analogia, (whence our analogy). It is used in classical Greek for arithmetical proportion, and in its derived meanings closely resembles our word “proportion.” Here, accordingly, we may fairly render in proportion to his faith; as regulated by his faith, in respect of less or more. This may be explained thus:—The “prophecy” would, above all else, deal with Christ, His Person and Work; with Christ as made known to the “prophet” as the Object of his own faith; a faith which itself (if genuine) was based not on his own impulses and reveries, but on the solid ground of Divine revelation, verifiable as such. Accordingly the “prophet,” in exercising his gift, was to watch over his utterances, and not to allow them to fluctuate with his own independent thinking or wishing, but to see that they were steadily adjusted to the eternal Truth concerning his Lord, already revealed to him as a believer.Romans 12:6. Ἔχοντες, having) This word also depends on ἐσμέν [Romans 12:5]: for there is an apodosis at the end of Romans 12:4; but ἐσμὲν denotes we are, and at the same time inclines to [borders on] a gentle exhortation [let us be, by implication], as Galatians 4:28, note. Hence in the several parts of this enumeration, the imperative ought to be understood, comp. Romans 12:14; but it is Paul’s characteristic ἦθος, not to express the imperative often, after it has been once put at the beginning, as in Romans 12:3.—χαρίσματα, gifts) these are of different kinds, χάρις, grace is one.—προφητείαν, prophecy) This stands first among the gifts. Acts 2:17-18; Acts 11:27; Acts 13:1; Acts 15:32; Acts 19:6; Acts 21:9-10; 1 Corinthians 11:4, etc., 12, etc.; Ephesians 2:20; Ephesians 3:5; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:20; 1 Timothy 1:18; 1 Timothy 4:14; Revelation 1:3, etc. When these passages are compared together, it is evident, that prophecy is the gift, by which the heavenly mysteries, sometimes also future events, are brought under the notice of men, especially believers, with an explanation of Scripture prophecies, which could not be elicited by the ordinary rules of interpretation. But the other gifts, which we find in the first epistle to the Corinthians, are not added in this epistle, which is otherwise so copious. See ch. Romans 1:11; 1 Corinthians 9:2, notes.—κατὰ, according to) Repeat, we having, viz., the gift, prophecy, and so in succession. So just before, according to the grace, [as here, “according to the proportion of faith]. As it is given to a man, so ought a man to be of service to others.—τὴν ἀναλογίαν τῆς πίστεως, the proportion [analogy of faith]) i.e., as God distributes (to every prophet) the measure of faith, Romans 12:3 : for there already Paul slightly touched upon this point, and he now returns to it, after some other topics had been introduced in the intervening verses. Prophecy and faith are closely connected, 1 Corinthians 12:9-10; 1 Corinthians 13:2. Peter treating of the same subject, first epistle Romans 4:11, says, Ὡς λόγια Θεοῦ, as the oracles of God. It is much the same as if Paul were to say, whether it be prophecy, [let it be restricted within the limits of, or] in prophecy; with which compare what follows: let it not be carried outside of and beyond the bounds of faith; nor let any one prophesy from the promptings of his own heart, beyond what he has seen; and again, on the other hand, let him not conceal or bury the truth; let him only speak so far as he has seen, and knows, and believes,[130] see Colossians 2:18; Revelation 1:2. Paul himself affords an example of such a proportion [analogy], 1 Corinthians 7:25. Erasmus says, The phrase, ACCORDING TO THE PROPORTION, gives one to understand, that the gifts are the greater [are bestowed in the greater number], in proportion as one’s faith shall have [hath] been the more perfect; so also, Corn. a Lapide, Piscator, Peter Martyr. Basilius M. on the Holy Spirit, He fills all things with His powerful working, and they, who are worthy, can alone receive Him, nor is He merely received in one, μέτρῳ, measure, but, κατὰ ἀναλογίαν τῆς πίστεως, according to the proportion of faith, He distributes his operations, c. 9. Chrysostom: for although it is grace, yet it is not poured out uniformly, but taking the several measures [the various proportions in which it is poured out] from the [several states] of those who receive it, it flows in proportionally to what it has found the size of the vessel of faith presented to it. Lichtscheid discusses this point at great length in Tr. Germ. vom ewigen evangelio (of the everlasting Gospel), p. 60, etc. As with Paul here, so with Mark the Hermit, the measure, μέτρον, and the proportion, ἀναλογία, are one and the same thing: see his book, ΠΕΡῚ ΤῶΝ ΟἸΟΜΈΝΩΝ ἘΞ ἜΡΓΩΝ ΔΙΚΑΙΩΘῆΝΑΙ (concerning those who think that they are justified by works), a little past the middle. The knowledge of a man’s affairs (business, conduct) depends on the proportion in which he puts in practice the precepts of the law, but the knowledge of the truth (of the doctrine of salvation) depends on the measure of faith in Christ; and this same writer often uses the word, ἀναλογίαν, in this sense. In the writings of Paul, however, the word ΜΈΤΡΟΝ is used in the sense of limiting, in reference to moderation or the avoiding of excess; whereas ἈΝΑΛΟΓΊΑ has a fuller meaning (if we compare it with what follows) in reference to the avoiding of deficiency [the full proportion]. In what theologians call the creed, all the heads agree together in an admirable analogy [completeness of proportion], and each article, respecting which a question occurs, should be decided according to the articles already certainly known, the interpretation of the rest should be adjusted according to the declaration [the dictum] of Scripture clearly explained; and this is the analogy of Scripture itself, and of the articles of faith, which form the creed. But every man does not know all things; and, of what he does know, he does not know all with equal certainty; and yet he holds the things, which he certainly knows, by that very faith, by which the creed is formed; wherefore both he himself, in prophesying, should determine all things according to the analogy of the faith, by which he believes, and others, in hearing [also ought to determine all points] according to the analogy of the faith, whereby they believe [and form their creed]. 1 Corinthians 14:29; 1 Corinthians 14:37; Hebrews 13:8-9; 1 John 2:20, and the following verses.

[130] The construction is, whether it be prophecy, we are [i.e. we ought to be as Christians] persons who have it according to the proportion of faith.—ED.Verses 6-8. - Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, according to the proportion of our faith; or ministry, in our ministry; or he that teacheth, in his teaching; or he that exhorteth, in his exhortation; he that giveth, in simplicity; he that ruleth, with (literally, in) diligence; he that showeth mercy, with (literally, in) cheerfulness. The elliptical form of the original has been retained in the above translation, without the words interposed for elucidation in the Authorized Version. There are two ways in which the construction of the passage might possibly be understood.

(1) Taking ἔχοντες δὲ in ver. 6 as dependent on ἐσμεν in ver. 5, and κατὰ τὴν ἀναλογίαν τῆς πίστεως, not as hortatory, but as parallel to κατὰ τὴν χάριν τὴν δοθεῖσαν ἡμῖν, and understanding in a like sense the clauses that follow. Thus the general meaning would be - we are all one body, etc., but having our several gifts, to be used in accordance with the purpose for which they are severally given.

(2) As in the Authorized Version, which is decidedly preferable, hortation being evidently intended from the beginning of ver. 6. The drift is that the various members of the body having various gifts, each is to be content to exercise his own gift in the line of usefulness it fits him for, and to do so well. The references are not to distinct orders of ministry, in the Church, but rather to gifts and consequent capacities of all Christians. The gift of prophecy, which is mentioned first, being of especial value and importance (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:1, seq.), was the gift of inspired utterance, not of necessity in the way of prediction, but also, and especially, for "edification, and exhortation, and comfort" (1 Corinthians 14:3), for "convincing," and for "making manifest the secrets of the heart" (1 Corinthians 14:24, 25). He that has this special gift is to use it "according to the proportion of his faith;" for the meaning of which expression see on μέτρον πίστεως above (ver. 3). According to the prophet's power of faith to be receptive of this special gift, and to apprehend it if granted to him, would be the intensity and truth of its manifestation. It would seem that prophets might be in danger of mistaking their own ideas for a true Divine revelation (cf. Jeremiah 23:28); and also that they might speak hastily and with a view to self-display (see 1 Corinthians 14:29-33), and that there was a further gift of διάκρισις πνευμάτων required for distinguishing between true and imagined inspiration (see 1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Corinthians 14:29). Further, the spirits of the prophets were subject to the prophets (1 Corinthians 14:32); they were not carried away, as the heathen μάντις was supposed to be, by an irresistible Divine impulse; they retained their reason and consciousness, and were responsible for rightly estimating and faithfully rendering any revelation (ἀποκάλυψις, 1 Corinthians 5:30) granted to them. Delusion, inconsiderate utterance, extravagance, as well as repression of any real inspiration may be meant to be forbidden in the phrase. (The view of τῆς πίστεως being meant objectively of the general Christian doctrine, from which the prophecy was not to deviate - whence the common use of the expression, analogia fidei - is precluded by the whole drift of the passage. It is not found in the Greek Fathers, having been apparently suggested first by Thomas Aquinas.) The gift of ministry (διακονία) must be understood in a general sense, and not as having exclusive reference to the order of deacons (Acts 6:1-6; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:8; Romans 16:1), who were so called specifically because their office was one of διακονία. The words διακονεῖν διακονία διάκονος, though sometimes denoting any kind of ministry, even of the highest kind, were used and understood in a more specific sense with reference to subordinate ministrations, especially in temporal matters (cf. Acts 6:2, "It is not reason that we should leave the Word of God, and serve tables (διακονεῖν τραπέζως)"). If any had a gift for any such kind of administrative work under others, they were to devote themselves to it, and be content if they could do it well. Teaching (διδασκαλία) may denote a gift for mere instruction in facts or doctrines, catechetical or otherwise, different from that of the inspired eloquence of prophecy. Exhortation (as παράκλησις, which bears also the sense of consolation, seems here to be rightly rendered) may be understood with reference to admonitory addresses, in the congregation or in private, less inspired and rousing than prophetic utterances. In Acts 13:15 the word παράκλησις denotes the exhortation which any person in the synagogue might be called upon by the rulers to address to the people after the reading (ἀνάγνωσιν) of the Law and the prophets; cf. 1 Timothy 4:13, where Timothy is told to give attendance to reading (ἀνάγνωσιν), to exhortation (παράκλησιν), and to teaching (διδασκαλίαν). He that giveth (οὁ μεταδιδοὺς) points to the gift of liberality, to the endowment with which both means supplied by Providence and a spirit of generosity might contribute. The almsgivers of the Church had their special gift and function; and they must exercise them in simplicity (ἐν ἀπλότητι), which may perhaps mean singleness of heart, without partiality, or ostentation, or secondary aims. But in 2 Corinthians 8:2; 2 Corinthians 9:11, 13, the word seems to have the sense of liberality, and this may be the meaning here. "Uti Deus dat, Jac. 1:5" (Bengel). In the 'Shepherd of Hermas' (written, it is supposed, not later than the first half of the second century) ἁπλῶς is explained thus: Πᾶσιν ὑστερουμένοις δίδου ἁπλῶς μὴ διστάζων τίνι δῷς ἠ τίνι μὴ δῷς πᾶσι δίδου ('Hermae Pastor,' mandatum 2.). Possibly this gives the true original conception, from which that of general liberality would follow. [The idea that the almoners of the Church, rather than the almsgivers, are intended, viz. the deacons (Acts 6:3, seq.), is inconsistent with the general purport of the passage, as explained above. Besides, μεταδιδόναι means elsewhere to give up what is one's own, not to distribute the funds of others. Ὁ διαδιδούς might rather have been expected in the latter case (cf. Acts 4:35).] He that ruleth (ὁ προιστάμενος) means, according to our view all along, any one in a leading position, with authority over others; and not, as some have thought, exclusively the presbyters. Such are not to presume on their position of superiority so as to relax in zealous attention to its duties. He that showeth mercy (ὁ ἐλεῶν) is one who is moved by the Spirit to devote himself especially to works of mercy, such as visiting the sick and succouring the distressed. Such a one is to allow no austerity or gloominess of demeanour to mar the sweetness of his charity. On the general subject of these gifts for various administrations (cf. 1 Corinthians 12, seq.; 14; Ephesians 4:11, seq.) it is to be observed that in the apostolic period, though presbyters and deacons, under the general superintendence of the apostles, seem to have been appointed in all organized Churches for ordinary ministrations (Acts 11:30; Acts 14:23; Acts 15:2, seq.; 16:4; 20:17; 21:18; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3. l, 8; 5:17; Titus 1:5), yet there were other spiritual agencies in activity, recognized as divinely empowered. The "prophets and teachers" at Antioch (Acts 13:1) who, moved by the Holy Ghost, separated and ordained Barnabas and Saul for apostolic ministry, do not appear to have been what we should now call the regular clergy of the place, but persons, whether in any definite office or not, divinely inspired with the gifts of προφητεία and διδασκαλία. In like manner, the appointment of Timothy to the office he was commissioned to fill, though he was formally ordained by the laying on of hands of St. Paul himself (2 Timothy 1:6) and of the presbyters (1 Timothy 4:14), appears to have been accompanied - perhaps sanctioned - by prophecy (1 Timothy 4:14). Persons thus divinely inspired, or supposed to be so, appear, as time went on, to have visited the various Churches, claiming authority - some, it would seem, even the authority of apostles; the term "apostle" not being then confined exclusively to the original twelve; else Barnabas could not have been called one, as he is (Acts 14:14), or indeed even Paul himself. But such claims to inspiration were not always genuine; and against false prophets we find various warnings (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:3, seq.; Galatians 1:6, seq.; Galatians 3:1; 1 John 4:1, seq.; 2 John 10 Revelation 2:2). Still, these extraordinary agencies and ministrations, in addition to the ordinary ministry of the presbyters and deacons, were recognized as part of the Divine order for the edification of the Church as long as the special charismata of the apostolic age continued. Afterwards, as is well known, the episcopate, in the later sense of the word as denoting an order above the general presbytery, succeeded the apostolate, though how soon this system of Church government became universal is still a subject of controversy. It appears, however, from 'The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles' (Διδαχὴ τῶν Δώδεκα 'Αποστόλων), recently brought to light by Archbishop Bryennius (the date of which appears to have been towards the end of the first century or the beginning of the second), that the earlier and less regular system continued, in some regions at least (it does not follow that it was so everywhere), after the original apostles had passed away. For in this early and interesting document, while directions are given for the ordination (or election; the word is χειροτονήσατε, the same as in Acts 14:23) of bishops and deacons in the several Churches, there is no allusion to an episcopate of a higher order above them, but marked mention of teachers, apostles, and prophets (especially the last two, apostles being also spoken of as prophets), who appear to have been itinerant, visiting the various Churches from time to time, and claiming authority as "speaking in the Spirit." To these prophets great deference is to be paid; they are to be maintained during their sojourn; they are to be allowed to celebrate the Eucharist in such words as they will (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:16); while speaking in the Spirit they are not to be tried or proved (οὐδὲ διακρινεῖτε; cf. δια κρίσεις πνευμάτων, 1 Corinthians 14:10; and οἱ ἄλλοι διακρινέτωσαν, Romans 14:29), lest risk be run of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. Still, among these itinerants there might often be false prophets (ψευδοπροφήται; cf. Matthew 7:15; Matthew 24:11, 24; Mark 13:22 1 John 4:1), and the Churches are to exercise judgment in testing them. If they taught anything contrary to the received doctrine; if they remained for the sake of maintenance without working for more than two days; if they asked in the Spirit for worldly goods for themselves; if their manner of life was not what it should be; - they were false prophets, and to be rejected, Similarly, in the 'Shepherd of Hermas' (apparently a document of the first half of the second century, and in some parts corresponding closely with the Teaching, from which such parts may have been derived) like directions are given for distinguishing between true and false prophets, between those who had τὸ Πνεῦ,α τὸ Θεῖον and those whose πνεῦμα was ἐπίγειον (mandatum 11.). And even in the 'Apostolical Constitutions' (a compilation supposed to date from the middle of the third to the middle of the fourth century) there is a passage corresponding to what is said in the Teaching about distinguishing between true and false prophets or teachers who might visit Churches (Romans 7:28). The Teaching seems to denote a state of things, after the apostolic period, in which the special charismata of that period were believed to be still in activity, though with growing doubts as to their genuineness in all cases. As has been said above, it does not follow that this order of things continued everywhere at the time of the compilation of the Teaching; but that it was so, at any rate in some parts, seems evident; and hence some light is thrown on the system of things alluded to in the apostolical Epistles. It is quite consistent with the evidence of the Teaching to suppose that in Churches which had been organized by St. Paul or other true apostles, the more settled order of government which soon afterwards became universal, and the transition to which seems to be plainly marked in the pastoral Epistles, already prevailed. Prophecy

See on prophet, Luke 7:26. In the New Testament, as in the Old, the prominent idea is not prediction, but the inspired delivery of warning, exhortation, instruction, judging, and making manifest the secrets of the heart. See 1 Corinthians 14:3, 1 Corinthians 14:24, 1 Corinthians 14:25. The New-Testament prophets are distinguished from teachers, by speaking under direct divine inspiration.

Let us prophesy

Not in the Greek.

According to the proportion of faith (κατὰ τὴν ἀναλογίαν τῆς πίστεως)

Ἁναλογία proportion, occurs only here in the New Testament. In classical Greek it is used as a mathematical term. Thus Plato: "The fairest bond is that which most completely fuses and is fused into the things which are bound; and proportion (ἀναλογία) is best adapted to effect such a fusion" ("Timaeus," 31). "Out of such elements, which are in number four, the body of the world was created in harmony and proportion" ("Timaeus," 32). Compare "Politicus," 257. The phrase here is related to the measure of faith (Romans 12:3). It signifies, according to the proportion defined by faith. The meaning is not the technical meaning expressed by the theological phrase analogy of faith, sometimes called analogy of scripture, i.e., the correspondence of the several parts of divine revelation in one consistent whole. This would require ἡ πίστις the faith, to be taken as the objective rule of faith, or system of doctrine (see on Acts 6:7), and is not in harmony with Romans 12:3, nor with according to the grace given. Those who prophesy are to interpret the divine revelation "according to the strength, clearness, fervor, and other qualities of the faith bestowed upon them; so that the character and mode of their speaking is conformed to the rules and limits which are implied in the proportion of their individual degree of faith" (Meyer).

Links
Romans 12:6 Interlinear
Romans 12:6 Parallel Texts


Romans 12:6 NIV
Romans 12:6 NLT
Romans 12:6 ESV
Romans 12:6 NASB
Romans 12:6 KJV

Romans 12:6 Bible Apps
Romans 12:6 Parallel
Romans 12:6 Biblia Paralela
Romans 12:6 Chinese Bible
Romans 12:6 French Bible
Romans 12:6 German Bible

Bible Hub






Romans 12:5
Top of Page
Top of Page