Online Bible Commentary
Romans 12:9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. 17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. 20 Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head." 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (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.
In this passage, Paul calls for Christians to show love, both agape and phileo love. He begins by referring to “agape” love, the Greek term for unconditional love, the love of God for man and man for God.
Agape love is “without hypocrisy” (v. 9a). It is a sacrificial love, given without expecting anything in return.
Agape love should “Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good” (v. 9b}. God’s love despises evil and clings to good. God is good. God is never evil.
Paul uses the word “cling” as one would describe the bond of marriage. The church is the bride of Christ.
Next, Paul turns to how we are to relate to our fellow Christians. Here he refers to “phileo” love, the Greek term for brotherly love.
He writes we should “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love” (v. 10a). He describes this brotherly love as “kindly affectionate”, as we might love our spouse or other family members.
Phileo love should be displayed “in honor giving preference to one another” (v. 10b). We should put others first, before ourselves.
Phileo love should not be “lagging in diligence”, a lazy kind of love. Instead, it should be glowing, “fervent in spirit”, while always “serving the Lord”, honoring God (v. 11).
Phileo love should be “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer” (v. 12). We should show our love by rejoicing in the hope of Jesus Christ, being patient during the hard times and always being in prayer.
Phileo love gives, “distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality” (v. 13). This love gives to the needs of our fellow Christians and shows hospitality to those in need.
Phileo love calls us to “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse” (v. 14). We are to offer blessings when wronged and not to wish curses upon those who have wronged us.
Phileo love calls us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (v. 15). We should join with our fellow Christians in rejoicing, and weep with them in their grief.
Phileo love calls for us to “Be of the same mind toward one another” (v. 16a). We should be in harmony with one another even though we may not always agree.
Phileo love calls for us to “not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble” (v. 16b). We should not be prideful, but be humble.
Phileo love calls for us to “not be wise in your own opinion” (v. 16c). We should check our egos at the door.
Paul concludes this passage with how phileo love should be expressed to non- Christians. We should “Repay no one evil for evil” (v. 17a). Christians should never be a part of evil, that which is not from God.
Instead, we should “Have regard for good things in the sight of all men” (v. 17b). We should be careful to do good in the sight of the world.
Paul writes “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (v. 18). If possible, we should live peaceably with all men, if we have control over the situation.
Next, Paul writes “do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (v. 19). We should not take vengeance upon our enemies. There should be no place for wrath in our heart. Paul makes this point by quoting Scripture from Deuteronomy 32:35.
Instead, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head" (v. 20). Paul quotes Scripture from Proverbs 25:21-22 calling for us to do good to our enemies.
In doing so, we will shock them into being ashamed of their behavior. Doing the unexpected, heaping coals of fire on someone’s head, would certainly shock them.
Phileo love calls us to “not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (v. 21). We are called to overcome the evil of our enemies, not with evil, but with good.