Romans 12:9-21

Marks of the True Christian

9 1Let love be genuine. 2Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
10 3Love one another with brotherly affection. 4Outdo one another in showing honor.
11 Do not be slothful in zeal, 5be fervent in spirit,[a]6 serve the Lord.
12 7Rejoice in hope, 8be patient in tribulation, 9be constant in prayer.
13 10Contribute to the needs of the saints and 11seek to show hospitality.
14 12Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
15 13Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
16 14Live in harmony with one another. 15Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.[b]16Never be wise in your own sight.
17 17Repay no one evil for evil, but 18give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, 19live peaceably with all.
19 Beloved, 20never avenge yourselves, but leave it[c] to the wrath of God, for it is written, 21"Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord."
20 To the contrary, 22"if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head."
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Images for Romans 12:9-21

Romans 12:9-21 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO ROMANS 12

The doctrines concerning predestination, justification being established, the duties of religion are built upon them, and enforced by them in this and the following chapters. The apostle first exhorts all the members of the church in common to a regard to the worship of God, in opposition to the things of the world; and then the officers of the church particularly, to the discharge of their duty; and next all of them, both officers and members, to the performance of various duties respecting God, themselves, one another, and the men of the world. The duty of attending public worship is first mentioned, signified by a presentation of their bodies to the Lord, Ro 12:1, to which they are moved, partly by the plenteous mercy and goodness of God to them; and partly by the acceptableness of it to God; as also by the reasonableness of the thing: then follows a dehortation from conformity to the world, the men and manners of it, in superstition and will worship, or in acts of immorality, Ro 12:2, and also an exhortation to a different course of life, in seeking to please God; which is proposed upon a principle of grace in them, being renewed in the Spirit of their mind; and with this end and view, that they might the better prove, try, and discern, and come at, a greater knowledge of the mind and will of God: and whereas gifts are apt to swell men with pride and vanity, such as qualify men to bear any office in the church, the apostle cautions against this spirit and conduct, and exhorts to sobriety and humility; by observing, that what gifts they have, are such that God has given them, and which they have not of themselves; and what they have is only in part and in measure, some one and some another; and none have all gifts, Ro 12:3, this he illustrates, Ro 12:4, by an human body and the members of it, which being many, have not the same office, but some one and some another; which he accommodates to the body of Christ the church, Ro 12:5, which though but one in Christ, has many members; and these are members one of another, and are designed mutually to serve and help each other, for which the gifts among them were bestowed: and then the apostle proceeds to take notice of the particular officers in the church, and exhorts them to the function of their offices, according to their different gifts; as, first, the preacher to preach according to the rule of faith, and the measure of gifts bestowed, Ro 12:6, and then the deacon, the other officer, to attend to his deaconship, Ro 12:7, and inasmuch as these officers, according to their different gifts, may be distinguished, some having a talent for stating, explaining, and defending doctrines, and may be called doctors, or teachers, let them attend to the doctrinal part of the word; and others having a talent in the practical way of preaching, whether by way of exhortation or comfort, and may be called exhorters or comforters, let them attend to that branch of the ministry, Ro 12:8, and as for the deacon, the performance of his office, whether it be by distributing to the poor, let him do it impartially and faithfully; or by assisting in the government of the church, let it be done with all diligence; or by showing mercy to the poor in distress, besides what they usually receive, let it be done with a cheerful countenance: next follow various duties which are mentioned, not in an exact order or method, but may be reduced to these heads; such as concern God, an unfeigned love of him, abhorrence of all evil, and a close attachment to whatsoever is good, Ro 12:9, and also the worship of him, which is to be performed with diligence and fervency, Ro 12:11, the exercise of the grace of hope with joy, patience in the midst of tribulations, and perseverance in prayer, Ro 12:12, then such duties as concern one another, as Christians and brethren in a church relation; as to exercise an affectionate brotherly love to each other, and to honour one another; and even to give each other the preference, who may be equal or superior, both in spiritual gifts, and in temporal things, Ro 12:10, and with respect to poor saints, to communicate cheerfully to their necessities; and with respect to strangers, to entertain them hospitably, Ro 12:13, and as to every member, whether in prosperous or adverse circumstances, to bear a part with them, rejoicing with the one, weeping with the other, Ro 12:15, and to behave with humility, modesty, and sobriety, towards all, Ro 12:16, and next such duties as concern the men of the world, particularly to bless, and not curse persecutors, Ro 12:14, not to retaliate evil for evil, but to do everything that is of good report in the sight of men, Ro 12:17, to study, if possible, to live peaceably with all men, Ro 12:18, to bridle passion and refrain from wrath, and not seek private revenge, but leave it with the Lord to take vengeance, Ro 12:19, on the other hand, to he kind and beneficent to enemies, by giving them food and drink when hungry and thirsty, expressed in the words of Solomon, Pr 25:21,22, the reasons for which are, because hereby an enemy may be wrought upon, and be brought either to shame or repentance, and become a friend, Ro 12:20, and because by doing otherwise, resenting and returning the evil, a man is conquered by it; whereas, by the other method, the enemy is conquered by good, Ro 12:21, and it is much more commendable and honourable to be a conqueror, than to be conquered.

Romans 12:9-21 In-Context

7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching;
8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.Never be wise in your own sight.
17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord."
20 To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head."
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Cross References 22

  • 1. 2 Corinthians 6:6; 1 Timothy 1:5; 1 Peter 1:22
  • 2. Psalms 97:10; Psalms 101:3; Amos 5:15; [1 Thessalonians 5:21, 22]
  • 3. See Hebrews 13:1
  • 4. Romans 13:7; Philippians 2:3; 1 Peter 2:17
  • 5. Acts 18:25
  • 6. Acts 20:19
  • 7. See Romans 5:2
  • 8. See Hebrews 10:36
  • 9. See Acts 1:14
  • 10. Romans 15:25; 1 Corinthians 16:1, 15; 2 Corinthians 9:1, 12; Hebrews 6:10; Hebrews 13:16; [1 Timothy 6:18]
  • 11. See Matthew 25:35
  • 12. See Matthew 5:44; 1 Peter 3:9
  • 13. 1 Corinthians 12:26; [Job 30:25; Hebrews 13:3]
  • 14. Romans 15:5; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 2:2; Philippians 4:2; 1 Peter 3:8
  • 15. ver. 3; Psalms 131:1; Jeremiah 45:5
  • 16. Romans 11:25; Proverbs 3:7
  • 17. Proverbs 20:22; Matthew 5:39; [Romans 14:19]
  • 18. 2 Corinthians 8:21; [Romans 14:16]
  • 19. See Mark 9:50
  • 20. Proverbs 20:22; Matthew 5:39; [Romans 14:19]
  • 21. Hebrews 10:30; Cited from Deuteronomy 32:35; [Psalms 94:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:6]
  • 22. Cited from Proverbs 25:21, 22; [Exodus 23:4, 5; 2 Kings 6:22; Luke 6:27]

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Or fervent in the Spirit
  • [b]. Or give yourselves to humble tasks
  • [c]. Greek give place
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.