Romans 12:7
Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
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(7) Ministry.—The word used is the technical term for the discharge of the office of deacon. The institution of this office is described in Acts 6:1-5. Its object was to provide for the practical business as opposed to the spiritual ministrations of the Church. It included more especially the distribution of alms and the care of the poor, the sick, widows, etc. The functions of the diaconate are called “serving tables” (i.e., in the literal sense, “providing food” for those who needed it) in Acts 6:2-3, and “helps” in 1Corinthians 12:28.

Let us wait on . . .—These words are supplied in the English, “Let us be absorbed in, devoted to, our ministering.”

He that teacheth.—Comp. 1Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11; 1Timothy 5:17. It would seem from the first of these passages (“thirdly teachers”) that teaching was considered as a special office, though not, perhaps, confined to special persons.

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.Or ministry - διακονίαν diakonian. This word properly means service of any kind; Luke 10:40. It is used in religion to denote the service which is rendered to Christ as the Master. It is applied to all classes of ministers in the New Testament, as denoting their being the servants of Christ; and it is used particularly to denote that class who from this word were called deacons, that is, those who had the care of the poor, who provided for the sick, and who watched over the external matters of the church. In the following places it is used to denote the ministry, or service, which Paul and the other apostles rendered in their public work; Acts 1:17, Acts 1:25; Acts 6:4; Acts 12:25; Acts 20:24; Acts 21:19; Romans 11:13; Romans 15:31; 2 Corinthians 5:18; 2 Corinthians 6:3; Ephesians 4:12; 1 Timothy 1:12. In a few places this word is used to denote the function which the deacons fulfilled; Acts 6:1; Acts 11:29; 1 Corinthians 16:15; 2 Corinthians 11:8. In this sense the word "deacon" διάκονος diakonos is most commonly used, as denoting the function which was performed in providing for the poor and administering the alms of the church. It is not easy to say in what sense it is used here. I am inclined to the opinion that he did not refer to those who were appropriately called deacons, but to those engaged in the function of the ministry of the word; whose business it was to preach, and thus to serve the churches. In this sense the word is often used in the New Testament, and the connection seems to demand the same interpretation here.

On our ministering - Let us be wholly and diligently occupied in this. Let this be our great business, and let us give entire attention to it. Particularly the connection requires us to understand this as directing those who ministered not to aspire to the office and honors of those who prophesied. Let them not think of themselves more highly than they ought, but be engaged entirely in their own appropriate work.

He that teacheth - This word denotes those who instruct, or communicate knowledge. It is clear that it is used to denote a class of persons different, in some respects, from those who prophesied and from those who exhorted. But in what this difference consisted, is not clear. Teachers are mentioned in the New Testament in the grade next to the prophets; Acts 13:1; 1 Corinthians 12:28-29; Ephesians 4:11. Perhaps the difference between the prophets, the ministers, the teachers, and the exhorters was this, that the first spake by inspiration; the second engaged in all the functions of the ministry properly so called, including the administration of the sacraments; the teachers were employed in communicating instruction simply, teaching the doctrines of religion, but without assuming the function of ministers; and the fourth exhorted, or entreated Christians to lead a holy life, without making it a particular subject to teach, and without pretending to administer the ordinances of religion.

The fact that teachers are so often mentioned in the New Testament, shows that they were a class by themselves. It may be worthy of remark that the churches in New England had, at first, a class of people who were called teachers. One was appointed to this office in every church, distinct from the pastor, whose proper business it was to instruct the congregation in the doctrines of religion. The same thing exists substantially now in most churches, in the appointment of Sunday school teachers, whose main business it is to instruct the children in the doctrines of the Christian religion. It is an office of great importance to the church; and the exhortation of the apostle may be applied to them: that they should be assiduous, constant, diligent their teaching; that they should confine themselves to their appropriate place; and should feel that their office is of great importance in the church of God; and remember that this is his arrangement, designed to promote the edification of his people.

7. Or ministry, let us wait on—"be occupied with."

our ministering—The word here used imports any kind of service, from the dispensing of the word of life (Ac 6:4) to the administering of the temporal affairs of the Church (Ac 6:1-3). The latter seems intended here, being distinguished from "prophesying," "teaching," and "exhorting."

or he that teacheth—Teachers are expressly distinguished from prophets, and put after them, as exercising a lower function (Ac 13:1; 1Co 12:28, 29). Probably it consisted mainly in opening up the evangelical bearings of Old Testament Scripture; and it was in this department apparently that Apollos showed his power and eloquence (Ac 18:24).

Ministry; under this word are comprehended all ordinary ecclesiastical functions, which afterwards divideth into two sorts; the first relating to the word; the second, to other pious works.

Let us wait on our ministering: the words, let us wait, are not in the text, but fitly supplied: q.d. Let all that be called to the office of the ministry be diligent in it, and attend to it: see Acts 20:28 1 Peter 5:2.

Teaching, in the latter end of this verse, and exhortation, in the beginning of the next, are mentioned as the two great works of those that minister and labour in the word and doctrine. Some think they are distinct offices; see Ephesians 4:11; and that in the primitive church, where they had variety of ministers, some had the office of teachers, and chiefly exercised themselves in instructing their hearers in the principles of religion, in laying down sound doctrine and confuting of errors: others had the office of pastors, and attended chiefly to exhortation and admonition; pressing points of practice, and making application thereof. Others think that they are distinct gifts, but not diverse offices; some have a gift to teach that have none to exhort, and e contra. The apostle, Romans 12:6, calls them differing gifts: sometimes these two are found in the same persons, and they are excellently gifted both for teaching and exhorting.

Or ministry, let us wait on our ministry,.... The word sometimes signifies the whole ecclesiastical ministry, even the office of apostleship, as well as the ordinary ministration of the Gospel; see Acts 1:17; but here "deaconship", or the office of ministering to the poor saints, as in Acts 6:1, being a distinct office from prophesying: or preaching the word, and should be used, exercised, and attended to with diligence, care, and constancy; for such who are appointed to this office, are chosen not only to a place of honour, but of service and business, in which they should behave with prudence, sobriety, and humility:

or he that teacheth, on teaching. The gift of prophesying or preaching is subdivided into "teaching" and "exhorting"; the one belongs to "teachers" or doctors, the other to "pastors"; as the distinction is in Ephesians 4:11, not that different officers and offices are intended, but different branches of the same office; and one man's talent may lie more in the one, and another man's in the other; and accordingly each should in his preaching attend to the gift which is most peculiar to him: if his gift lies in teaching, let him constantly employ himself in that with all sobriety and "teaching" does not design an office in the school, but in the church; it is not teaching divinity as men teach logic, rhetoric, and other arts and sciences, in the schools; but an instructing of churches and the members thereof in the doctrines of the Gospel, in order to establish and build them up in their most holy faith; see 1 Corinthians 12:28; it chiefly lies in a doctrinal way of preaching, in opening, explaining, and defending the doctrines of Christ, as distinct from the practical part of the ministry of the word, and the administration of ordinances, in which the pastor is employed as well as in this.

Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that {m} teacheth, on teaching;

(m) Whose office is only to expound the scriptures.

7. ministry—ministering] Lit. whether service, in the service. The word rendered “ministry” is diaconia; (same word as Romans 11:13, where it means the apostolic service). It is a largely inclusive word; the main fixed idea being that of active, “practical,” duty in the Church, of whatever kind or degree. Almost any work other than that of inspired utterance, or miracle-working, may be included in it here.—“In the service:”—i.e. “let us be really in it; devoted to it.” So “in the teaching,” “in the exhortation,” just below. In 1 Timothy 4:15, the Gr. rendered “Give thyself wholly to them,” is lit. “Be in these things.”

he that teacheth] In 1 Corinthians 12:28-29, (see too Ephesians 4:11,) “teachers” are mentioned as a class of commissioned workers in the Church. Perhaps they were specially the expositors of revealed truth; those who devoted themselves to explaining the application (to belief and practice) of the Scriptures and of the apostolic preaching.

on teaching] Lit. in the teaching. See last note but one.

Romans 12:7. Εἴτε, or) This word is thrice repeated by the figure Ploce [end.] Do, what thou art doing, in earnest, in order that the reality may correspond to [keep] its own name [that what you do, may correspond to what you profess to do], Ecclesiastes 9:10. The principle of the subsequent sentiments is the same.[131]

[131] Ἐν τῇ διακονίᾳ, on the ministry) Let not the minister assume too much to himself and after all not fully discharge his duty.—V. g.

Romans 12:7Ministering (διακονίᾳ)

Let us wait on is supplied. Lit., or ministry in our ministry. The word appears in the New Testament always in connection with the service of the Christian Church, except Luke 10:40, of Martha's serving; Hebrews 1:14, of the ministry of angels, and 2 Corinthians 3:7, of the ministry of Moses. Within this limit it is used, 1. Of service in general, including all forms of christian ministration tending to the good of the christian body (1 Corinthians 12:5; Ephesians 4:13; 2 Timothy 4:11). Hence, 2. Of the apostolic office and its administration; (a) generally (Acts 20:24; 2 Corinthians 4:1; 1 Timothy 1:12); or (b) defined as a ministry of reconciliation, of the word, of the Spirit, of righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:18; Acts 6:4; 2 Corinthians 3:8, 2 Corinthians 3:9). It is not used of the specific office of a deacon; but the kindred word διάκονος occurs in that sense (Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:8, 1 Timothy 3:12). As the word is employed in connection with both the higher and lower ministrations in the Church (see Acts 6:1, Acts 6:4), it is difficult to fix its precise meaning here; yet as it is distinguished here from prophecy, exhortation, and teaching, it may refer to some more practical, and, possibly, minor form of ministry. Moule says: "Almost any work other than that of inspired utterance or miracle-working may be included in it here." So Godet: "An activity of a practical nature exerted in action, not in word." Some limit it to the office of deacon.


Aimed at the understanding.

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