1-2 Some people believe that Phoebe carried this letter to Rome for Paul. She was a servant,86 or “deaconess,” of her own local church, and she had been a great help to many (verse 2). Like Phoebe, all Christians are called to be servants of one another.
32 In place of the words controlled by the sinful nature, some translations of the Bible say, “living in the flesh.” The meaning is the same. In many verses in Romans where Paul uses the Greek word for “flesh,” he means “sinful nature,” not body. For further discussion, see Word List: Flesh.
33 Man’s heart and mind are not sinful in themselves. But when they come under the control of our sinful nature, they too become sinful.
34 In this verse, Paul is speaking not about believers in Christ but rather about non-believers. Non-believers are under the control of the law; they are controlled by the sinful nature. But believers are not controlled by the sinful nature (Romans 8:9).
35 Paul writes here: I am … sold as a slave to sin. Many Bible scholars believe that Paul must have been speaking here of the time before he was a Christian, because a true Christian would never have called himself a slave to sin (see Romans 6:18).
36 In verse 22, Paul writes: For in my inner being I delight in God’s law. The Bible scholars who believe that Paul is writing here about his experience after becoming a Christian say that he could never have made that statement as a non-Christian (see 1 Corinthians 2:14).
37 In place of the word unspiritual, some translations of the Bible say "carnal" or "fleshly." The meaning is the same.
38 Conscience is the “voice” of man’s human spirit. Every man has a spiritual part, which responds to God’s Holy Spirit. Our conscience tells us when we are disobeying God’s Spirit. However, without God’s Holy Spirit in our lives, our own spirit, or “inner being,” is unable to overcome our sinful human nature. This is why sin reigns in the lives of those who do not have the Holy Spirit.
The term inner being can also mean man’s “mind”—that is, a mind under the influence or control of man’s spirit. Paul uses the word mind in this way in verse 23. Our mind can be under the control of either our sinful nature or our spirit. When our mind is under the control of our spirit, it represents our spiritual side, our “inner being.” Such a mind is capable of being transformed, or renewed, and placed under the control of God’s Holy Spirit (see Romans 12:2 and comment).
39 Paul uses the word mind here to mean human spirit, or “mind under the influence of the spirit.” For further discussion, see footnote to comment on verse 22.
40 Christ Himself, through His death on the cross, has set us free; but we experience that freedom through the Holy Spirit. Thus, to say that Christ has set us free and to say that the Holy Spirit has set us free is to say basically the same thing; both statements are true.
41 In place of the words to be a sin offering, some versions of the Bible say “for sin,” which is the literal translation of the Greek text. The meaning is the same.
42 Not only that, once every year the Jewish high priest had to offer an animal as a sacrifice for both his own sins and for the sins of the people (Leviticus 16: 6,15-16).
43 In the Greek language, the words sinful nature literally mean “flesh” (see Romans 7:5 and comment). Here in verses 3-13, the Greek word for “flesh” which Paul repeatedly uses is best translated by the term sinful nature.
44 In the Greek language: “The mind that is set on the flesh.”
45 In place of the words controlled by the sinful nature, some versions of the Bible say “in the flesh,” which is the literal translation of the Greek text. The meaning is the same.
46 In the Greek language: “Men of the flesh.”
47 For further discussion of the life of the Spirit, see General Article: Holy Spirit.
48 In place of the words controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, some versions of the Bible say, “not in the flesh but in the Spirit,” which is the literal translation of the Greek text.
49 In place of the word sonship, some translations of the Bible say “adoption.” For further discussion, see Word List: Adoption.
50 Abba is an Aramaic word meaning “Father,” or “Daddy.” It is an informal word expressing love and closeness.
In Jesus’ time, Aramaic was the language most commonly spoken in the Middle East. Aramaic was the language that Jesus spoke while He was on earth. Today, however, Aramaic is spoken by only a few people in one small area of Syria.
51 For the Christian, the cross is a sign of suffering and death, because it was on a cross that Jesus was put to death. The cross was the chief method used by the Romans to execute criminals. Thousands of people were put to death in this way.
52 “Speaking in other tongues” is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 14:2 and comment. For further discussion, see General Article: Holy Spirit Baptism.
53 We are not fully glorified in this world; only in heaven will God fully glorify us. Therefore, why in this verse does Paul use the word glorified in the past tense, as if we had already been glorified? The reason is that Paul is so sure we are going to be glorified that he can speak of it as if it had already happened.
54 Before we were Christians, we were separated from God; but we were not separated from God’s love. God’s love reaches out to men even while they are His enemies. But on the day of judgment His love will no longer reach out to those who have refused to repent and believe in Jesus. On that day they will be separated from God’s love forever.
55 Many people believe that the present-day Arabs are descendants of Ishmael.
56 Here a difficult question arises: How does God harden a man’s heart? Christians give two different answers to this question. The first answer is that God allows some men to continue in sin. As they continue in sin, they stop hearing God’s voice; they can no longer repent. God “gives them over” to their sins (see Romans 1:24,26,28 and comment). Therefore, according to this first answer, God allows men, in effect, to harden their own hearts. Such men refuse to turn from their sins. Such men have first hardened their own hearts (Exodus 7:13-14,22; 8:15,32; Proverbs 29:1). In Hebrews 3:8, we are given the warning: “… do not harden your hearts.” According to this first answer, then, the main responsibility for man’s not obtaining salvation lies with man, not with God.
The second answer to the question about how God hardens man’s heart is that in the very beginning God chose some men for salvation and some men He didn’t. The choice was completely God’s. According to this second answer, the main responsibility for man’s not obtaining salvation lies with God, not with man (see Exodus 7:3; 9:12; 10:20,27; John 12:39-40 and comment; General Article: Salvation—God’s Choice or Man’s Choice?).
It is difficult to say which ofthese two answers is the correct one. But whichever answer is correct, we can never call God unjust. God accepts some men and rejects others, without looking at their work or worthiness. In particular, God accepts those who accept Jesus Christ, and He rejects those who reject Christ. How can we say that God is unjust in rejecting those who reject His own Son?
57 Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament.
58 Zion is another name for Israel (see Romans 9:33).
59 The nation of Israel was sometimes called Jacob, because Jacob was the father of the twelve sons from whom the twelve tribes of Israel are descended. Jacob himself was also given the name Israel by God (Genesis 32:28).
60 In the Greek language: “keep on being transformed.”
61Here Paul uses the word mind in a different sense than he used it in Romans 7:23. There he used mind to mean “man’s spirit,” or a “mind controlled by man’s spirit.” Here in Romans 12:2, however, Paul uses the word mind in its most ordinary sense.
62 Many Christians are unsure of what God’s will is because they are not willing to commit themselves totally to doing whatever God wants. God will not fully reveal His will to those who have not submitted themselves completely to Him. We must first say to God: “I will do anything you want.” Then God will show us clearly what He wants us to do.
63 In the New Testament, grace has two main meanings. Most commonly it means the undeserved love and mercy of God toward sinful man. But the second meaning of grace is a special appointment or gift, by which one is enabled to carry out a specific task for God. Here in this verse, Paul has this second meaning in mind. For further discussion, see Word List: Grace.
64 Some people have a deeply rooted “inferiority complex,” which is almost unconscious. While the humility of such people may not be false, their self-image certainly is. Such people need help in thinking “rightly” about themselves.
65 The problem of thinking too highly of oneself is undoubtedly more common than the problem of thinking too lowly of oneself. If one is in doubt, it is better to err on the side of thinking lowly!
66 For further discussion, see footnote to comment on verse 3.
67 Of course, whenever we serve others, we are also serving the Lord Jesus (see Matthew 25:34-40 and comment).
68 In place of the word encouraging, some translations of the Bible say “exhorting.”
69 In place of the words willing to associate with people of low position, some translations of the Bible say, “willing to do menial work.”
70 Sometimes what is “right” in the eyes of men is evil in the eyes of God. If that is the case, then we must do only what is right in God’s eyes (see Acts 4:18-20; 5:29).
71 For further discussion of this subject, see General Article: Resisting Evil.
72 All authority comes from God, even the authority of the most evil rulers (see verse 1).
73 In place of the words, Let no debt remain outstanding, some translations of the Bible say, “Owe no one anything.”
74 In place of the words fellow man, some translations of the Bible say “neighbor.” The meaning is the same.
75 Even though we Christians should not love ourselves, there is an important sense in which we should value ourselves as cherished and beloved children of God. We must not despise ourselves. If we have a negative and unhealthy image of ourselves, we will not be able to love God and others as we should.
76 There would be some change in our activities, no doubt; projects of over a month’s duration could safely be canceled!
77 It is wrong to argue over these matters, but it is not wrong to discuss them during a Bible study. We should not be afraid to discuss disputable matters, but we should do so only in a spirit of love and humility.
78 The Jewish Sabbath day begins at sundown on Friday and continues until sundown on Saturday. The Jews regard the Sabbath as holy; on that day they worship at the synagogue and do no work (Exodus 20:8-11).
The early Christians also observed the Sabbath on Saturday; but later on in New Testament times, they began to observe the Sabbath on Sunday, the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). This practice still prevails among Christians in most countries.
79 Whatever we eat or drink, we must eat it and drink it for God’s glory. Christians eat in order to live for God. Many people live in order to eat; they are called gluttons. Eating to keep our bodies healthy brings glory to God, if our bodies have been given to Him (Romans 12:1); a healthy body is more useful to God. But eating solely for pleasure or eating unhealthy food does not glorify God. Whatever we do, we need to ask ourselves: Is this going to glorify God or not? If what we do does not glorify God either directly or indirectly, then it is a sin.
80 In Paul’s day, the New Testament had not been completed.
81 In place of the word Accept, some translations of the Bible say “welcome.” The meaning in this context is the same.
82 The name Messiah is the Hebrew word meaning “anointed one.” “Christ” is the Greek word meaning the same thing. Thus Messiah is another name for Christ.
83 In place of the word Jews, some translations of the Bible say “circumcision.” The Jews were often referred to as “the circumcision,” meaning a nation of circumcised people.
84 Many great blessings are included in the word “salvation,” but the greatest of them is eternal life with Christ. For further discussion, see General Article: Way of Salvation.
85 Today Jerusalem is one of the main cities of Israel. It is regarded as a holy city by Jews, Muslims, and Christians.
86 The Greek word for servant used in this verse is the same as the Greek word Paul uses in 1 Timothy 3:8, where it is translated “deacon.” That is why some translations of the Bible say “deaconess” in this verse.
87 In place of the name Priscilla, some translations of the Bible say “Prisca,” which is merely a short form of the name Priscilla.