Online Bible Commentary
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. 3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (NKJV)
The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the Christians in Rome during a three month visit to the church in Corinth, Greece in late 56 and early 57 A.D. The letter is heavy with Christian Doctrine, Christian teaching.
The major doctrinal portion of the letter ends with chapter 11. Going forward, the next section (chapters 12-15:13) takes this doctrine and applies it through practical Christian living.
Paul begins this passage by calling for Christians to make themselves “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God” (v.1a). We are to “present” ourselves to Him for “reasonable service”. (v. 1b). God wants us to be all in, with Him.
Jesus despised “luke-warm” Christians, which he called the church at Laodicea (Rev. 3:16). The church was full of wealthy people who were caught up in the world. Jesus threatened to “spit you out of my mouth.”
Next, Paul commands Christians to “not be conformed to this world”, but to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (v.2a). When we became Christians, we became new creations.
Our minds became new. We no longer live for the desires of the world. We live to please God, to be acceptable to Him.
Once we become all in with God, we are able to know His “good and acceptable and perfect will” (v.2b). We will know what pleases Him. We will know because we have read His Word, the Bible, we have been in prayer, and we have fellowshipped with other Christians.
“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” (v. 3). Paul reminds us in verse 3 that we are His because of God’s grace and not because of anything we have done.
We have nothing to boast about. God has given each of us “a measure of faith” that we should use in a serious and focused manner.
Paul writes “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,” (v. 4). The meaning here is that each church member has a function in the church. They function differently in order to complete the church according to the spiritual gifts given to them by the grace of God.
Next, Paul writes “so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” (v. 5). The church is one body in Christ and, also, individuals each exercising their spiritual gifts.
“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them:” (v. 6). Each church member is given one or more spiritual gifts through the grace of God. We are to use our spiritual gifts to edify the church.
There are at least 17 spiritual gifts listed in various places of the Bible. Here Paul lists 7 of them in verses 7 and 8.
The first gift he lists is the gift of “prophecy” (v. 7a). He calls Christians to “prophesy in proportion to our faith;” (v. 7b).
The gift of prophecy ended with the coming of Christ and the establishment of the canon of the Bible (Hebrews 1:1). The Bible contains the completed revelation of God’s prophecy.
Next, Paul lists the gift of “ministry”, The Greek word translated “ministry” is the word for “deacon”. A deacon is not a church office, but rather one who serves congregants.
The third spiritual gift listed by Paul is the gift of “teaching” (v. 7c). Teachers in the church should possess this spiritual gift. Pastors should possess both the gift of ministry and the gift of teaching.
Next, Paul lists the gift of “exhortation” (v. 8a). This is one who excites and encourages within the church.
The fifth spiritual gift listed here is the gift of “giving” (v. 8b). Every member of the church should give to God’s work but those with the gift of giving “gives with liberality”, according to Paul
The sixth spiritual gift is “he who leads” or leadership. (v. 8c). Paul writes that those who possess this gift should do so “with diligence” (v. 8d).
The seventh, and final spiritual gift listed here by Paul, is the gift “mercy” (v. 8e). Those who possess this gift shall do so “with cheerfulness” (v. 8f).
In conclusion, Christians are prepared and called by God to edify His church through the use of the spiritual gifts that He has bestowed upon us. This is our “reasonable service”.