Romans Chapter 12

Paul’s Great Plea for Personal Consecration to God, in View of His
Mercies; God’s Perfect Will for Each Believer thus Discovered. Verses 1
and 2.

For We are One Body in Christ, with Varying Gifts. Verses 3-8.

Our Walk toward Others, whether Believers, or Enemies. Verses 9 to 21.

1 I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present
your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your
spiritual service. 2 And be not fashioned according to this age: but be
ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove [in
experience] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Verse 1: I BESEECH YOU—What an astonishing word to come from God! From
a God against whom we had sinned, and under whose judgment we were!
What a word to us, believers,—a race of sinners so lately at enmity
with God,—“I beseech you!” Paul had authority from Christ to command
us,—as he said to Philemon: “Though I have all boldness in Christ to
enjoin thee that which is befitting, yet for love’s sake I rather
beseech.” Let us give heart-heed to this our apostle, who often covered
with his tears the pages whereon he wrote. As he said of his ministry,
“We are ambassadors therefore on behalf of Christ, as though God were
entreating by us: we beseech—!”

And what does he cite to move us to hearken to the great appeal for our
devotion to God which opens this section of Romans—this part that calls
for our response to the great unfoldings of God’s salvation in the

Let us call to mind these MERCIES of which Paul speaks:

1. JUSTIFICATION,—including pardon, removal of sins from us, trespasses
never to be reckoned, a standing in Christ,—being made the
righteousness of God in Him!

2. IDENTIFICATION—taken out of Adam by death with Christ,—dead to sin and to law, and now IN CHRIST!

3. UNDER GRACE, NOT LAW—Fruit unto God,—unto sanctification, made possible.

4. THE SPIRIT INDWELLING—“No condemnation,” freedom from law of sin; witness of Sonship and Heirship.

5. HELP IN INFIRMITY, and in any present sufferings, on our way to share Christ’s glory.

6. DIVINE ELECTION: Our final Conformity to Christ’s Image as His
brethren; God’s settled Purpose,—in which, believers already glorified
in God’s sight!

7. COMING GLORY—beyond any comparison with present sufferings!

8. NO SEPARATION POSSIBLE—God loved us in Christ.

9. CONFIDENCE IN GOD’S FAITHFULNESS confirmed by His revealed plans for national Israel.

Present your bodies—This has been used to divide believers harshly into
two classes,—those who have “presented their bodies” to God, and those
who have not. But this is not the spirit of the passage. For God
“beseeches” us to be persuaded by His mercies. He does not condemn us
for past neglect, nor drive us in the matter of yielding to Him. We
must believe that these Divine mercies have persuasive powers over our
wills. It is not that we can move our own wills; but that faith in
God’s mercies, personally shown us, has power. It is “the goodness of
God” that moves us,—when we really believe ourselves the free
recipients of it!

So Paul beseeches us to present our bodies to God. We might have
expected, Yield your spirits, to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. But
Paul says, bodies. Now if a man should present his body for the service
of another, willingly, it would carry all the man with it.238 In the
case of a slave, his master owns his body; so he does what his master
says: often with inner reluctance. We are besought to present our
bodies,—that is, willingly to do so. God, who made and owns us, and
Christ, whose we’ are (see chapter 1:6,—“called as Jesus
Christ’s”)—God, I say, might have said, Come, serve Me: it is your
duty. That would have been law. But instead, grace is reigning, over
us, and in us; and Paul says to us, I beseech you, present your bodies.
And there and then, in a believing view of God’s mercies, we find our
hearts going forth. For there is great drawing power in the knowledge
that someone has loved us, and given us such Divine bounties as these

A living sacrifice—This is in contrast with those slain offerings
Israel brought to God. God’s service is freedom, not slavery; life, not
death. Holy, acceptable unto God—We remember that God said of Israel’s
offerings: “Whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy” (Ex. 29:37).
It is very blessed to know that any believer’s yielding his body to God
is called a “holy, acceptable sacrifice,”—well-pleasing unto God
Himself! That any creature should be able to offer what could “please”
the infinite Creator, is wonderful; but that such wretched, fallen ones
as the sons of men should do so, is a marvel of which only the gracious
God Himself knows the depth!

Which is your spiritual service—Here “spiritual” or “intelligent”
religious service (logikē latreia) is contrasted with that outward
religious service Israel had in former days. They had the temple, with
its prescribed rites, its “days, and months, and seasons and years,”
its ordinances and ceremonial observances. Indeed, it was right that
they should carry out these ordinances as God directed. But, while it
was “religious service” (which is what latreia means), it was not
intelligent service. It was not logikē latreia; but consisted of
“shadows of the good things to come” (Heb. 10:1-14). There was a
ceaseless round of “services”; but God dwelt in the darkness of the
Holy of Holies; and sin was not yet put away. But now Christ has come,
propitiation has been made; Christ has been raised; the Holy Spirit has
come; and “intelligent service” is now possible. And giving over our
bodies to God is the path into it.239

Verse 2: And be not fashioned according to this world (literally, age,
aiōn). This present age, Paul calls “evil,” declaring in Galatians 1:4
that our Lord Jesus Christ “gave Himself for our sins, that He might
deliver us out of this present evil age (aiōn) according to the will of
our God and Father.” Believers, before they were saved, “walked
according to the course of this world [literally, “according to the age
(aiōn) of this world-order”—cosmos) according to the prince of the
power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). Here you have the cosmos, or world-order,
since Adam sinned; and since then each particular phase of the
Satanically arranged and controlled world-order now on, called the
aiōn. In I Corinthians 7:31, this is called the “fashion,”—literally,
scheme, of this world-order. “We know,” writes John, “that we are of
God, and the whole world [lit., world-order], lieth in the evil one.”
It is necessary to grasp intelligently this fearful state of things, in
order to obey the apostle’s exhortation not to be conformed to it: a
world-order without God!

We read that Cain “went out from the presence of Jehovah and builded a
city” (Gen. 4), which became filled with inventions—“progress”: music,
arts; its whole end being to forget God,—to get along without Him. And
ever since, Satan has developed this fatal world-order, with its
philosophy, (man’s account of all things,—but changing from time to
time); it’s science (ever seeking to eliminate the supernatural); its
government (with man exalting himself); its amusements (adapted to blot
out realities from the mind); and its religion (to soothe man’s
conscience and allay fears of judgment).

The Spirit by Paul asks the saints not to be fashioned240 after this
[Satanic] order of things, but on the contrary to be transformed by the
renewing of their mind. The word for “transformed” is remarkable: our
word “metamorphosis” is the same word, letter for letter! In Matthew
17:2 it is used of Christ: “He was transfigured,” which Luke 9:29
explains: “The fashion of His countenance was altered.” That is, from
the lowly, despised One in whom was “no beauty” to attract the eye of
man, He was transformed to appear as He will appear at His return to
this earth (for of His coming and kingdom the transfiguration was a
figure, II Pet. 1:16-18). Thus Psalm 45 depicts Him at His second

“Thou art fairer than the children of men:

Grace is poured into Thy lips!”

Infinite, endless grace, beauty, and glory, will then be publicly displayed in Christ.

Now, to be “transformed” or “transfigured” into the image of Christ is
the blessed path and portion of the surrendered believer in the midst
of this present evil world. “But we all, with unveiled face beholding
as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same
image, from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit” (II Cor.
3:18). Note that neither in world-conformity, nor in Christian
transformation, are we the actors: the verbs are passive, in both
cases. It is, “Be not fashioned,” and “Be transformed.” In the first
case, Satan and the world have abundant power, they know to fashion
anyone found willing; But how are we to be transformed? The answer is,
By the renewing of your mind; and here we come again upon that
wonderful part of our salvation which is carried on by the Holy Spirit;
and we must look at it attentively.

Paul sweepingly describes this salvation as follows (Titus 3:5): “God
according to His mercy saved us, through the washing of regeneration
(1) and (2) renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Here the first action
signifies the whole application to us of the redemptive work of
Christ,—the “loosing from our sins in His blood” (Rev. 1:5), and the
imparting to us of Christ’s risen life so that we were made partakers
of what is called here “regeneration.”241 Then the second action is
called a “renewing,” and is carried on by the Holy Spirit. Now what
does this signify? It cannot refer to our spirits, for our spirits were
born, created anew, under the first action here described; so that we
were put into Christ, as says II Corinthians 5:17: “If any man be in
Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold,
they are become new.” And, “That which is born of the Spirit, is
spirit” (John 3:6). Nor can this “renewing” refer to our bodies; for,
although they are indeed quickened and sustained by the indwelling
Spirit, according to Romans 8:11; yet there is never a hint (but quite
the contrary), that the believer’s body will be “renewed” during this
present life.

There remains then to be the object of this “renewing,” the soul, which
includes the mind, with its thoughts; the imagination,—so untamed
naturally, the sensibilities or “feelings”; the “tastes,” or natural
preferences,—all which, since the fall of Adam, are naturally under the
influence and power of the sinful flesh, and must be operated upon by
the Holy Spirit, after one’s regeneration. The memory, also, must be
cleansed of all unclean, sinful recollections. And that it is the soul
that is renewed,242 is abundantly confirmed both from Scripture and
from human experience.

Man, we remember, “became a living soul,” after his body had been
formed, and there had been communicated to him a spirit, by God’s
direct in-breathing (Gen. 2:7). Man’s spirit dwelt in his body; but the
body itself could not contact understandingly the world into which Adam
had been introduced. Nor could his spirit do so directly. The
soul-life, however, put him in touch with creation. It had five
“senses”: sight, hearing, feeling, smell, and taste. Man’s spirit was
thus put into intelligent relationship with the creation about him. He
had also another faculty,—reason. The spirit of man perceives things
directly,—apart from a “process of thought.” But God placed man in
circumstances in which he could use this faculty of observation and
discrimination,—of reasoning,—which faculty he was to employ as to the
creation about him. There were also the “sensibilities,” and the
esthetic faculty,—to see the beautiful and enjoy it. Imagination,
too,—what a fertile field for unspiritual, earthly life! Memory, also,
we must not overlook, for although memory belongs to the spirit (even
to lost spirits,—Luke 16:25), yet since man sinned, the memory of saved
people must be “renewed,” so that freedom -from horrid recollections
shall be given, and the blessed inclination to retain that which is
good, remain.

The whole “mind,” therefore must become the object of the Spirit’s
renewing power. The entire soul-life, in human existence, must come
under the Spirit’s control.

Paul’s word, “the renewing of the mind,” takes in the whole sphere of
conscious life for the child of God. This also appears from the use of
the word “renew” by Paul in other places. The “new man” being a new
creation in Christ, all the graces and beauties of Christ belong to
him; just as, before, the evil he inherited from the first Adam was
his, because he was federally connected with him. Now, however, he is
to “put on” the new man by simple appropriating faith. But, in order
that he may do this, his soul-life must be laid hold of, “renewed,” by
the Holy Spirit: “That ye put away, as concerning your former manner of
life, the old man, that waxeth corrupt after the lusts of deceit: and
that ye be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new
man,243 that after God hath been created in righteousness and holiness
of truth” (Eph. 4:22-24).

Paul further develops this in Col 3:9 and 10:

    “Ye have put off the old man with his doings, and
have put on the new man, that is being renewed unto knowledge, after
the image of Him that created him.”

The Colossians are viewed as having put off the old man (when they were
created in Christ), and put on the new man (which hath been created in
righteousness and holiness of truth), and is now ever being renewed
unto perfect knowledge (epignōsis), that experimental, spiritual
revelation of the Risen Christ which Paul so coveted for the Ephesians,
as we see in his great prayer ending thus:

    “That ye may know the love of Christ which passeth
knowledge; that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God” (Eph.

These three distinct aspects of sanctification therefore appear:

1. That effected and perfected once for all by our Lord in His death:
“We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus
Christ once for all . . . For by one offering He hath perfected forever
them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:10, 14). This is the effect of the
shed blood of Christ: it has satisfied all Divine claims against us,
and has redeemed us from sin unto God, separating us unto God forever
with an absolute, infinite tie.

2. That which results necessarily from our being in Christ Risen,—“new
creatures” in Him. Thus the Corinthians, though in their spiritual
condition and experience yet “babes in Christ,” are addressed by the
apostle as those “sanctified in Christ Jesus” (I Cor. 1:2).

3. That wrought in the mind, the soul-life, and its faculties, by the
Holy Spirit, who seeks to bring “every thought into captivity to the
obedience of Christ” (II Cor. 10:5).

The first two aspects are fundamental, and equally true of all
believers. The third, Paul longed to have brought about fully in all
believers: “Admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom,
that we may present every man perfect in Christ” (Col 1:28).

“Come ye out from among them [unbelievers] and be ye separate, saith the Lord,

And touch no unclean thing,

And I will receive you [in the way of fellowship]

And will be to you a Father [in fellowship, as I am in relationship],

And ye shall be to Me sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

“Having therefore these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves
from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the
fear of God” (II Cor. 6:17, 18; 7:1).

“And may the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly; and may your
spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the
coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thess. 5:23).244

That ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of
God—This word “prove” means to put to the proof, as in Eph. 5:8 to 10:
“Walk as children of. light, proving [or finding out by experience]
what is well-pleasing unto the Lord.” The man in Luke 14:19 used the
same word: “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them.”
The “will of God” here may be rendered “what is willed by God” (Meyer);
or, as Sanday says, “The will of God is here not the Divine attribute
of will, but the thing willed by God, the right course of action.” This
passage involves two facts: first, that God had a plan for our lives,
which He is very willing and desirous we should discover; and, second,
that only those who surrender themselves to Him, rejecting conformity
to this age, can discover that will. All of us in times of desperate
need, or crisis, are anxious to find God’s path for us. And, in answer
to the cry of even His unsurrendered saints. He may and often does
graciously reveal the path of safety and even of temporary blessing to
them. But only those who have surrendered their bodies as a living
sacrifice to Him, enter upon the discovery of His blessed will as their
very sphere and mode of life.

That ye may prove—Note that it is not that you are seeking after
“victory,” or “blessing,” or even instruction in truth; but you are to
enter into the will of Another,—even God.

Note, further, that in order to “prove,” or experimentally enter into,
God’s will, there must be “the renewing of the mind” by the indwelling
Holy Spirit. It is all-important to understand that only a yielded will
can desire, discover, or choose God’s will.

Further, we should, along with this, be impressed continually with the
blessed fact that God’s will for us is infinitely loving, infinitely
wise, and gloriously possible of fulfilment; while our own wills are
selfish and foolish and weak: for often we are impotent of
accomplishing even our own poor objects!

Good, acceptable, perfect—Good for us, acceptable to God; and that
which, being itself perfect, leads to our perfecting, as Epaphras
prayed for the Colossians: “That ye may stand perfect and fully assured
in all the will of God” (4:12).

Some would render it, “The will of God, even the thing that is good,
acceptable and perfect”: as if we entered upon it all, once we yielded
our bodies to God. Also, it has been suggested that we enter first into
God’s “good” will: for, although we are ignorant and clumsy at first,
God in His goodness gladly calls our work “good.” Then, when we learn
further, our work becomes in a higher sense “acceptable.” Finally, we
stand “perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.”

Both these views are true. God’s will is always good, acceptable and
perfect; and, when we begin to surrender to it, it is all that, at
once, for us. On the other hand, we do progress in it! It takes faith
to surrender our wills. We must be brought to believe in our very heart
that God’s will is better for us than our own will. And, as we once
heard a man earnestly testify, “If you can’t trust One who died for
you, whom can you trust?”

We beg you to seek out some saints (for there are some!) who have
yielded themselves to God, and study their faces: you’ll discover a
light of joy found on no other countenances. Cling to such. Converse
with them. Learn their secret. Be much with them. And follow such as
follow Christ. Blessing lies that way!

3 For, I say, through the [apostolic] grace that was given to me, to
every one that. is among you, not to be estimating himself beyond what
he ought to estimate; but to be so estimating himself as to have a
sober estimate, according as God to each one of us divided a measure of

We have used here Rotherham’s rendering, “estimate,” instead of the
common rendering, “think.” It is remarkable that God crowds (in the
original) this one word, “have an opinion,” or “estimate,” four times
into this one sentence! It is also striking that this command, not to
have a higher opinion of ourselves than we ought to have, is the first,
the opening one of all the exhortations which follow. Let us lay this
to heart!

Note what this proves: (1) That over-estimation of one’s importance
among the saints is a fundamental temptation. (2) That God has granted
to each one of His saints a certain allotment, or “measure,” of
faith,—that is, of the ability to lay hold on the mighty operations of
the Spirit of grace. And note carefully that God does not say,
according to the measure of knowledge, but “of faith.” (3) That only
the one who comes into a personal discernment of God’s special will
through surrender to Him, will come to have a “sober estimate” of his
own place. (4) That it is a distinct command of the apostle (emphasized
by allusion to the mighty apostolic charge and grace given by God to
him direct to us), that being surrendered to God, we come into a sober
estimate of our place,—of our “measure of faith.” This great verse is
now to be followed by its explanation:

4 For even as we have many members in one body, and all the members
have not the same office: 5 so we, who are many, are one Body in
Christ; and as to each one, members of all the rest! 6 And having gifts
differing according to the grace that was given to us, whether
prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of our faith; 7
or ministry, let us give ourselves to our ministry: or he that
teacheth, to his teaching; 8 or he that exhorteth, to his exhorting: he
that giveth, let him do it with liberality; he that ruleth, with
diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.

Verses 4 and 5: For even as we have many members in. one body, and all
the members have not the same office: so we, who are many, are one Body
in Christ; and as to each one, members of all the rest!

Here is Paul’s first mention of this great doctrine of the Body of
Christ, a doctrine which he alone, among the apostles, sets forth, he
being the one chosen “minister of the Church” (Col 1:24, 25),—as to its
real, heavenly, corporate character. Note now the comparison: (1) Our
human bodies have many members. (2) These members, however, constitute
a unity: they are one body. (3) Each member is a member of all the
others. (4) All our members have not the same work to do.

Even so with us in Christ: (1) We are many, but (2) we are one Body in
Christ. “Body” is not here an illustration, but an actuality. “He that
loveth his own wife, loveth himself, . . . even as Christ also the
Church; because we are members of His Body. For this cause shall a man
leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two
shall become one flesh. This mystery is great: but I speak in regard of
Christ and of the Church” (Eph. 5:28-32): “The Church which is His
Body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22, 23). This
union is so absolute that Paul writes: “As the body245 is one, and hath
many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one
body; SO ALSO IS CHRIST” (I Cor. 12:12). We deceive ourselves and
delude others when we use the word “body” as connected with the Church
of God, of any but the true, elect members of Christ, indwelt by the
Spirit. And that consciousness (that is, the consciousness of the One
Body of Christ of which Christ Risen in glory is the Head and they, the
living, Spirit-indwelt members, are the fulness), should be held by us
continually to the exclusion of anything earthly or merely local or
sectarian. Thus we should find ourselves at once in fellowship with
true believers everywhere, for they with us are members of Christ, and
they and we are members one of another.

(3) We are individually “members one of another.” Compare I Corinthians
12:27: “Now ye are the Body of Christ, and individually members
thereof.” Being members of the Body of Christ, we necessarily are
members of one another; as my right hand, being a member of my body, is
a member of my left hand. Mark that Paul makes this “membership one of
another,” an additional (though necessary) truth to the fact of the one
Body in Christ. Note carefully that Scripture never speaks of “church
members,” as men today do; nor of “membership” in or of a local
assembly; but only of membership in the Body of Christ, and of
membership one of another. We are members of the heavenly Head, Christ,
and therefore members one of another by an operation of the Spirit of
God, not by action of man. In local assemblies, according to Scripture,
we have fellowship, as already members of Christ and of one another.
The importance of seeing this is immeasurable. For the great fact that
we are one, actually members of other believers, is made by the Spirit
of God the basis of our love toward one another! As Paul says in Eph.
4:25: “Putting away falsehood, talk truth each one with his neighbor;
for we are members one of another.” Your right hand has never yet had a
fight with the left: on the contrary, each constantly helps the other!
And, as to suffering, “Whether one member suffer, all the members
suffer with it.”

Verse 6: And having gifts, different according to the grace that was
given unto us—For each believer there is some particular “gift,” to be
bestowed by the already indwelling Spirit, (as those yielding
themselves to God find) to make each believer a direct benefit to the
Body of Christ: “To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit
to profit (the whole Body) withal, . . . the Spirit dividing to each
one severally even as He will.” The various gifts are bestowed by the
Spirit for “ministration” to the Lord Jesus, and the “working” in each
case is by God Himself. Read I Corinthians 12:4 to 11.

Now, these differing gifts are “according to the grace that was given
unto us.” In Romans 12:3 Paul speaks by the apostolic grace given unto
him, and to each believer there is also an individual differing
“grace,” given to each for the particular service to which God calls
him. In accordance with this “grace,” there is, therefore, a “gift,” by
the indwelling Spirit. (This is not the gift of the person of the
Spirit, but is a gift communicated by the already given Spirit.)246 For
the receiving and using of these gifts, there is necessary the element
of faith, which is bestowed by God in exact accordance with the gift
given each one. The bestowal is called, “the grace that was given to
us.”247 It will not do to say, if we find ourselves not in possession
of certain gifts, “They are not for us: they belonged only to the
“Early Church.” This is a three-fold presumption! (1) It is excusing
our own low state; and worse: (2) It is blaming the result of the
failure of the Church upon God,—an awful thing! (3) It is setting up
the present man-dependent, man-sufficient state of things as superior
to the days when the Holy Spirit of God was known in power.

It is true that God, in His infinite grace, accepted, at the hands of
the Jews, at the end of the 70 years’ captivity, the temple of
Zerubbabel, saying: “Build the house, and I will take pleasure in it,
and I will be glorified.” It is true that our Lord called that temple
(though built in its grandeur by Herod, the Edomite—descendant of Esau,
not Jacob!) “My Father’s house,” and “My house,” for He had not yet
finally deserted it, (as He did at last in Matthew 23.38). But the Jews
of our Lord’s day gloried in that temple: though there was in it
neither the Ark of the Covenant nor the Shechinah Presence of Jehovah.
The glory had departed; but the Jews forgot all this, just as many
Christians today, though often quite “Bible students,”—practically
forget or ignore the immediate Presence of the Holy Ghost, with His
all-necessary gifts: saying, “These belonged to the ‘early days’; but
we have the written Word now, and do not need the gifts, as did the
Early Church.”

And this self-sufficiency is leading, has led, to the same form of truth-without-power, that the Jews had in Christ’s day.

We are not hereby saying, Let us bring back these gifts. But we are
pleading for the self-judgment and abasement before God that recognizes
our real state. The outward church today is Laodicean, “wretched, poor,
miserable, blind, naked”—and knows it not! And the Philadelphian
remnant have only “a little strength.” Let us be honest! We have
substituted for the mighty operations amongst us of the Holy Ghost, the
pitiful “soulical” training of men. We look to men to train, to
“prepare” preachers, and teachers, and “leaders,” for a heavenly
company, the Church, among whom the Holy Ghost Himself dwells as
Administrator. Let us not dare to claim that the Holy Ghost is no
longer willing to work in power amongst us. Because, for Him to do so
is God’s plan! Indeed, He is so working where not hindered. Let us
confess the truth. Our powerlessness is because of unbelief,—the
inheritance of the sins of our fathers, the inheritance of a grieved
Spirit. It may be true that He does not work as He once did; but let us
admit two things: we dare not say, He is not willing so to work; and,
we dare not say. It is God’s plan that He does not! We can only say, We
have sinned! So did Daniel (Dan 9). So did Ezra (Ezra 9). So did they
of Nehemiah’s day (Neh. 9). Our days are days of failure, just like
those. Nor will it do, (as with so many enlightened saints), merely to
“see and judge the failure of the professed Church” and gather in the
name of the Lord, and remember His death in the breaking of bread every
Lord’s day. All this is good. But we must judge ourselves if we do not
have real power amongst us. And the power of the Spirit, in a day of
apostasy like this, will bring us into a deep burden over the state of
things, and into prayer, such as the great men of God made in the three
great chapters to which we have just referred!

—Whether prophecy [let us prophesy] according to the proportion of our
faith—Paul’s exhortation, as we shall see, is here devoted to the
believer’s exercising any gifts “according to the proportion” of his
God-given confidence, or “faith,” in the exercise of it: not
over-estimating himself, but soberly estimating, and thus proceeding.
(It is taken for granted, of course, that all are fully willing to
exercise any gift; and will not, through unbelief or false humility,
hold back therefrom.248

We can easily see in a Luther or a Calvin, in the sixteenth century, in
a Bunyan in the seventeenth century; in a Wesley in the eighteenth, in
a Moody in the nineteenth, such apostolic operation. Wesley spoke from
God to all England, as did Luther to Germany. Moody, we know, was first
an evangelist, loving and reaching the lost. But God, who is sovereign,
gave him spiritual authority in the consciences of Christians
throughout the whole world. We know what debt under God all those who
have the truth today owe to Darby, through whom God recovered more
truth belonging to the Church of God, than through any other man since
Paul, and whose writings are today the greatest treasure of truth and
safeguard against error known to instructed believers. Such men had
more than an evangelist’s or teacher’s gift. There was spiritual
authority they themselves did not seek, attending their ministry. This
fact discerning believers,—those free from tradition’s bias, readily
see and gladly admit. Paul defines the prophetic gift in I Corinthians
14:3: “He that prophesieth speaketh unto men edification, and comfort,
and consolation.” New Testament prophets and apostles laid the
foundation of the Church,—the prophets speaking directly by inspiration
from God. But while the early apostles and prophets had their peculiar
ministry in a foundational way, yet both gifts remain in the Church
(see Eph. 4:11-13) along with evangelists, pastors and teachers. Now
since the prophet speaks under the moving of the Spirit, he is to do so
“according to His faith.” Dean Alford makes the evident distinction,
“The prophet spoke under immediate inspiration; the teacher
(didaskalos), under inspiration working by the secondary instruments of
his will and reason and rhetorical power.” We have ourselves sometimes
heard those speaking in “testimony” or “praise-meetings” whose words
were not, properly speaking, teaching; but yet entered in the power of
the Spirit directly into the heart of the hearers, edifying, exhorting,
and consoling,—a high ministry indeed, though in the “secondary
character” of it, as compared to the words of the early apostles and
prophets. Such an one could, of course, speak profitably only when
speaking in the Spirit, and thus, “in proportion to his faith.”

The remarkable foot-note above, from J. N. Darby, is a frank and
explicitly plain statement of truth. Mr. D. repeats over and over
(seven times, at least, in the pages from which our excerpts are
taken—Coll. Writ. 1, 350; III. 217-9) that the written Word is
complete. No honest heart, however, knowing history, can fail to admit
that God has, in mercy, raised up, from time to time, men who have
administered His Word in such apostolical and prophetic power. That He
will again do so, we do not doubt. For there is an ever-recurring need
of these gifts. Probably, a constant need!

Verse 7: Or [personal] ministry, let us occupy ourselves in our
ministering [to the needs of the saints]—God graciously places this
word “ministering” [diakonia] between prophesying and teaching. In Acts
6 we have the word twice, applied first to physical things: “the daily
ministration” (of food to the widows); and second to spiritual things:
“We will continue . . . in the ministry of the Word.” But here in
Romans Twelve, its being placed as it is, indicates that those who,
like the house of Stephanas, in I Corinthians 16:15, minister to the
saints’ material needs, should set themselves to such ministering. It
is the whole-hearted exercise of this gift, when it is given, that is
urged by the apostle. Perhaps there is no gift so liable to lapse into
haphazard exercise, as this Christ-like gift!

Or he that teacheth, to his teaching—Proper Christian teaching is not
mere “Bible study”; but, first of all, clear explanation direct to
believers’ hearts, of Christ’s work for us, and of the Pauline Epistles
that directly concern the Church of God as the Body of Christ, indwelt
by the Spirit, one with Him. Proper teaching would see that the saints
become familiar with the wonders of the Old Testament, and love it. The
prophecies, both of the Old Testament and of the book of The Revelation
should also be taught, remembering that “the testimony of Jesus is the
spirit of prophecy”; and that every true Christian teacher should be
able to say: “It was the good pleasure of God to reveal His Son in me,
that I might preach Him” (Gal. 1:16); “that in all things Christ might
have the preëminence”; “that we may present every man perfect in Christ
Jesus.” This is the kind of work that was done by Priscilla and Aquila,
when they had heard Apollos in the Ephesian synagogue: “They took him
unto them, and expounded unto him the Way of God more accurately.” It
is being done whenever one who knows the truth really brings another
into it. Oh, for more such teaching! We leave so much unapplied,—so
much that the dear saints never really enter into!249

Verse 8: Or he that exhorteth, to his exhortation—The gift of
exhortation is distinct from that of. teaching (though both may be
found in the same person). Exhortation is an appeal to the will;
teaching, to the mind. Exhortation is a precious gift—invaluable!
whereby the Holy Spirit directly persuades the hearing heart into
obedience to the truth which it has heard. A true exhorter, also, must
be walking the path he calls others to follow!

He that giveth, with singleness [of heart toward God]—The literal
meaning of giving here is that of imparting, of sharing our substance
with others; and the manner of such giving is to be without secret
reluctance, for “God loveth a cheerful giver” (II Cor. 9:7); also
without false pretense, such as Ananias and Sapphira had; finally, with
an eye single to God. In fact, in Ephesians 6:5 this same word
“singleness” is used in the phrase “in singleness of your heart, as
unto Christ.”

He that ruleth, with diligence—Ruling is first a gift, then an office,
like those of elders and deacons (I Tim. 3:4, 12), who must, of course,
first “rule well their own house.” Just as prophesying, teaching, and
exhorting were gifts by the Spirit; and as giving is a grace given of
God (II Cor. 8:1, 4, 7); so the work of elders and deacons were
offices: “If a man seek the office of a bishop”—or overseer: called
also “elder,” as see Ac 20:17, 28;—as being more matured in Christian
faith and experience; while the term “bishop” or “overseer” designates
the duties of the office—to oversee). Dean Alford objects to
interpreting “ruleth” here (Rom. 12:8) of rulership in the Church,
saying, (as a true churchman would), “It is hardly likely that the
rulers of the Church, as such, would be introduced so low down in the
list, or by so general a term, as this!” But in the enumeration of the
gifts in I Corinthians 12:28, we have this order: “Apostles, prophets,
teachers, miracles, healings, helps”; and then, “governments,” next to
the last term in the list! Of course man, who glories in office, would
want this order changed.

Gifts were a direct bestowment (charisma) of the Spirit; moreover, they
were general, while the “rulers” were confined to their own assemblies.
Prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Eph. 4:11) were that
wherever they were; but an elder or deacon held his own office in his
own assembly only.

The ruler was to attend, with constant diligence, to his work; not,
indeed, “lording it over” the Lord’s heritage, but according to Peter’s
direction: “The elders among you I exhort . . . tend the flock of God
which is among you” (that was their business—to take care of the Lord’s
sheep in the assembly where they were), “exercising the oversight, not
of constraint, but willingly.” They were to watch; to be ready at any
sacrifice of personal comfort to look after needy sheep: “nor yet for
filthy lucre.” (They were not to have money in mind, although elders
that “ruled well” were to be “counted worthy of double honor,”
especially if they were able to instruct in the Word; God would look
after their financial needs): “neither as lording it over the charge
allotted to you, but making yourselves ensamples to the flock.”

Truth to tell, Christ’s sheep are ill-tended these days! they are
“scattered upon the mountains.” Elders that “rule well,” with humble
diligence, day and night, are desperately needed. Every believer has a
right to the consciousness of being personally shepherded by Divinely
raised-up elders; and cared for even in material things by faithful
deacons. “And when the Chief Shepherd shall be manifested,” the rulers
who have ruled with godly diligence shall receive a crown of glory! (I
Peter 5:1-4.) Concerning false shepherds, see the awful words of
Jeremiah 23:1-4, Ezekiel 34—the whole chapter! and Isaiah 56:10 to 12.
(These chapters make us tremble!)

He that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness—Showing mercy is of course the
bounden duty of those to whom God has shown mercy. But mercy toward
others may be shown with the long, sombre face of one driven by a duty
in which he is not happy. Yet the joyfulness of spirit in which one
helps another is often of more real blessing than the help itself.
Godet well remarks, with many others, that the words “he that showeth
mercy” denote the believer who feels called to devote himself to the
visiting of the sick and afflicted. There is a gift of sympathy which
particularly fits for this sort of work, and which is, as it were, the
key to open the heart of the sufferer. The phrase “with cheerfulness”
literally reads in hilarity!

9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to
that which is good. 10 In love of the brethren be tenderly affectioned
one to another; in honor preferring one another; 11 in diligence not
slothful; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope;
patient in tribulation; continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13
communicating to the necessities of the saints; pursuing hospitality.
14 Bless them that persecute you; bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with
them that rejoice; weep with them. that weep. 16 Be of the same mind
one toward another. Set not your mind on high things, but be carried
away with things that are lowly. Be not wise in your own conceits.

17 Render to no man evil for evil. Take thought for things honorable in
the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible,—as much as in you lieth, be
at peace with all men. 19 Avenge not yourselves, beloved, but give
place unto the wrath [of God]: for it is written, Vengeance belongeth
unto Me; I will recompense, saith the Lord. 20 But if thine enemy
hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink: for in so doing thou
shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but
overcome evil with good.

Verse 9: Let love be without hypocrisy—The world is full of effusive
expressions of affection,—and so, we fear, are many professing
Christians—without real love in the heart: “Talking cream and living
skim milk,” as Mr. Moody phrased it. “Let us not love in word, neither
with the tongue; but in deed and truth” (I John 3:18). Abhor that which
is evil—This is impossible to the unregenerate, and only intermittently
possible for the carnal Christian; but to one who has obeyed the first
two verses of this chapter and surrendered to God, it is a holy
instinct! “Ye that love Jehovah, hate evil” (Ps. 97:10). To be a good
Christian, a man must be a good hater! Cleave to that which is
good—Here is not only the negative, the abhorrence of evil; but the
positive, the discerning and holding fast that which is good. As Paul
says in Philippians 4:8: “Brethren, whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever
things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of
good report: if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, [in a
person] take account of these things.” Trust the anointing which you
have received (I John 2:20, 27) for discernment; and trust the study of
the Word of God, to teach you what is really good.

Verse 10: In love of the brethren be tenderly affectioned one to
another—Of course all Christians “love the brethren” —that is a sign of
spiritual life (I Joh 3:14). But to be tenderly affectioned—how few
are! “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other,
even as God also in Christ forgave you.” Beloved, are we willing to be
made tender? It is God’s will for all believers. In honor preferring
one another—How beautiful a grace! Really to prefer from your heart
other believers before yourself, to be glad when others are honored
above you.250 Farrar well renders, “Love the brethren in the faith, as
though they were brothers in blood.” Vincent prefers the A.V.
rendering, “kindly affectioned,” perhaps properly, since our word kind
was originally kinned, and “kindly affectioned” is, having the
affection of kindred!

Verse 11: In zeal not sluggish—The words have no reference whatever to
worldly “business” or affairs, but wholly to spiritual matters. Luther
renders, “In regard to zeal, be not lazy,” which is the meaning. Alford
renders, “In zeal not remiss,”—saying, “Not business”, as in the Old
Version, which seems to refer it to the affairs of this life; whereas,
it relates as in all these verses (11 to 13), to Christian duties as
such.” Satan would use the doctrine of grace, or the assurance of
faith, to settle down believers into spiritual slothfulness. Watch
against that. Fervent in spirit, serving the Lord—The word translated
“fervent” (used of Apollos in Acts 18:25), means ardent, or burning. Be
ardent in spirit in our Lord’s service. It is the opposite of
dignified, cold, unemotional. Christ has loved us with infinite
fervency. Let us serve Him in the same spirit.

Verse 12: In hope rejoicing—Our hopes are bound up with our Lord’s
coming, in prospect of which we should constantly be filled with
exultation. In tribulation remaining patient—Patience in trial is the
only path to our perfecting; wherefore James says we should count
“manifold trials to be all joy”; and, “let patience have its perfect
work, that we may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing.” In prayer
steadfastly continuing—So did the early Christians (Acts 2:42,46,47;
6:4; 12:5, 12). But do not forget to watch expectantly, and to give
thanks in your prayers. (Col 4:2.) Ten will attend Bible teaching, and
one hundred Sunday preaching, to two or three who “in prayer
steadfastly continue”: but be thou of that two or three; for they
prevail, and to them Christ reveals Himself; and they become channels
of blessing to countless others.

Verse 13: To the needs of the saints contributing—“So to make another’s necessities one’s own as to relieve them.”

When you obey this injunction and begin wisely to inquire about the
saints’ needs, you will be astonished at two things: first, at the
actual pressing necessities of many saints all about you; and second,
at the way God will supply your own necessities as you minister to
them. When the Holy Spirit took complete possession of the early
Church, “Not one of them said that aught of the things which he
possessed was his own; but they had all things common”; with the result
that “neither was there among them any that lacked.” Now this shows the
basal spirit of Christian giving. It is not “saying in our hearts” that
what we have is “our own,” but holding all in stewardship to the Lord,
ready to be ministered, as He shall direct. It is true that Paul, in
his epistles, which give the constitution of the Church of God, does
not direct those that are rich in this world’s goods to “sell all that
they have”; but to “do good, to be rich in good works, ready to
distribute, willing to communicate.” This passage (I Tim. 6:17-19)
should be most carefully regarded as at once the Divine protection
against the awful “community of goods” of socialism and communism,
because the Bible teaches constantly the rights of personal, private
property; and also as the foundation principle of our giving.

Pursuing hospitality—Here the word for hospitality is literally love to
strangers, “stranger-loving,” and the translation “given to” is not
strong enough. In its forty or fifty occurrences in the New Testament,
this word is very frequently translated “pursuing,” which is the
literal meaning. You have it three times in Philippians 3: in verse 6,
“persecuting the church”; in verse 12, “I follow after”; and in verse
14, “I press on” The meaning here, then, is, pursuing
hospitality,—persecuting folks, even strangers, with kindness! What a
wonderful testimony of love, hearty obedience to this simple
exhortation to pursue hospitality would be! We have in Hebrews Thirteen
three uses of this Greek root phil (meaning love): (1) “Let love of the
brethren (philadelphia) continue”; (2) “Forget not to show love unto
strangers” (philoxenia); and, (3) in verse 5, “Be free from
silver-loving” (philarguros). If you are tempted to philarguros,
philadelphia and philoxenia will cure you! “Given to hospitality,”
then, means far more than being “willing to entertain” those who may
call on you. It indicates going after this business, pursuing it,
following it up! The Lord will reward some day even a cup of cold water
given in His Name. Let us make “Strangers’ Inns” of our homes. We are
not staying here long. And the Lord may send “angels” around when we
least expect! “Forget not to show love unto strangers, for thereby some
have entertained angels unawares.”251

Of course it is taken for granted in all these exhortations that we
have presented our bodies to God according to the opening verses of the
Chapter; and thus by the indwelling Holy Ghost are enabled to walk in
His revealed will, as those could not who were under law.

Verse 14: Bless them that persecute you: bless, and curse not—Here is a
verse that needs no comment, in view of our Lord’s words of Lu 6:27,
28: “Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, bless them that
curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you”; and of His blessed
example. But note, in our present verse it is not mere outward blessing
that is commanded, but refraining from inward reservations, or private
expressions, for sometimes we speak sweetly to opposers, but our after
words prove that we did not allow our hearts to go out in love to those
enemies. And by the way, do not stumble if you find other Christians
speaking ill of you, even persecuting you. Bless them, too!

Verse 15: Rejoice with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep—Now
here is a verse that takes us out of ourselves. The literal rendering
is, Rejoice with rejoicing ones, and weep with weeping ones. Believers,
of course, are especially meant in both cases. There will always be
some that are weeping. Blessed is he who, like the Lord at Lazarus’
grave, can enter into others’ sorrow even unto tears!

“Alas, there is such a phenomenon, not altogether rare, as a life whose
self-surrender, in some main aspects, cannot be doubted, but which
utterly fails in sympathy. A certain spiritual exaltation is allowed
actually to harden, or at least to seem to harden, the consecrated
heart; and the man who perhaps witnesses for God with a prophet’s ardor
is yet not one to whom the mourner would go for tears and prayers in
his bereavement, or the child for a perfectly human smile in his play.
As to the Lord Himself, the little child, the wistful parent, the widow
with her mite, the poor fallen woman of the street, could lead away’
his blessed sympathies with a touch”—Moule.

Verse 16: Minding the same thing one toward another—Let us quote
several comments by beloved writers: “Be of one mind amongst
yourselves”—Conybeare. “The harmony which proceeds from a common
object, common hopes and common desires”—Sanday. “The loving harmony
when each in respect to his neighbor has one thought and
endeavor”—Meyer. “Aspiring after the same aims, aiming at the same
object for one another as for ourselves. Having the same solicitude for
the temporal and spiritual welfare of the brother as for one’s
own”—Godet. “Actuated by a common and well-understood feeling of mutual
allowance and kindness”—Alford. Evidently the reference is not to
uniformity of thought, but to charity of attitude.

Not minding high things, but being carried away along with the
lowly—This sixteenth verse is in close connection with the spirit of
verse 15. It is the spirit of Philippians 2:2 to 5: “Be of the same
mind, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind [not of
one opinion, but one heart-intent]; doing nothing through faction or
through vainglory, but in lowliness of mind each counting other better
than himself; not looking each of you to his own things, but each of
you also to the things of others. Have this mind in you which was also
in Christ Jesus.” “High things” are a continual temptation. Carefully
read here the excellent remarks of Godet: “There frequently forms in
the congregations of believers an aristocratic tendency, every one
striving by means of the Christian brotherhood to associate with those
who, by their gifts or fortune, occupy a higher position. Hence small
coteries, animated by a proud spirit, and having for their result
chilling exclusiveness. The apostle knows these littlenesses and wishes
to prevent them; he recommends the members of the church to attach
themselves to all alike, and if they will yield to a preference, to
show it rather for the humble.” Lay these words well to heart. They are
continually needed.

The word rendered “carried away with” really means the opposite of its
King James rendering “condescend to.” The idea of one pardoned sinner’s
thinking of “condescending” to another! The word really means “to be
carried away along with,” as has been every Bernard, Assisi, Luther,
Zinzendorf, Bunyan, Wesley, Whitefield, Spurgeon, Moody. All the saints
filled with the Spirit have found themselves among the lowly of this
earth. For that matter, there is not, and never has been, a real
assembly of God of wealthy upper class people only! “Not many mighty,
not many noble are called.” The rich have to come where the poor are to
hear the gospel. Once received, the gospel of Christ is the blessed and
only real leveler of us all. Beware always of any “religious” movement
cultivating the rich!

Be not wise in your own conceits—Paul in Chapter 11:25 used exactly the
same expression, warning us as Gentile believers of the danger of being
“wise in our own conceits.” This searching expression, “wise in one’s
own eyes,” or “conceit,” occurs five times in the Old Testament, and
two here in Romans,—seven in all. Of such a one, Solomon says, “There
is more hope of a fool than of him.” He is first cousin to the
sluggard, and to a blind rich man; and all of these are related to
“them that know not God.” See Proverbs 26:5, 12, 16; 28:11; 3:7. The
self-conceited are not among those who are “weeping with them that

Verse 17: Render to no man evil for evil—This takes for granted that
some will do you evil. Satan and the world hate God’s saints who walk
with Him; and will do them all permitted evil. Now do not lay it up
against the doer, if evil has been done you. Alas, some real believers
are thoughtless; some jealous, some envious, some possibly even
spiteful. Put far away the expectation of “getting even” with anybody.
“If any man have”—really have—“a complaint against any, even as the
Lord forgave you, so also do ye” (Col. 3:13). The Lord forgets, as well
as forgives! (Heb. 8:12).

Taking care by forethought for comely [or seemly] things before every
one (literally, all men,—whether Christians or not)—“Before the eyes of
all men taking care for what is good” (Meyer). This exhortation has no
special reference to “making provision for ourselves or our families in
an honest manner,” as some have thought (from the Old Version). It
means to take careful forethought for such a course of Christian
behavior (“honorable things”) as will commend itself to all—whether
Christians or not. We forget, most of us, thus to view our lives as a
whole, day by day, detecting and rejecting whatever in ourselves others
might criticize as not honorable.

Verse 18: If it be possible—as much as in you lieth—be at peace with
all men—Paul himself did cause trouble everywhere, as did our Lord, who
said, “Think not that I came to send peace on the earth: I came not to
send peace, but a sword.” But neither Paul nor his Lord was ever the
selfish cause of trouble. It is not always possible for a Christian to
be at peace with all men, but he can be a peace-lover; a peace-liver;
and often a peace-maker, among men. As James says, “The fruit of
righteousness is sown in peace by them that make peace.” Perhaps the
most fruitful cause of trouble for a Christian is his claiming “his
rights,” forgetting Paul’s description of us Christians throughout this

    “For Thy sake we are killed all the day long;

    We were accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”252

Verse 19: Avenge not yourselves, beloved; but give place unto the
[coming] wrath [of God]—Believers are here seen sorely tempted to seek
to bring about by their own hand that righting of matters which belongs
to God only. The motto of Scotland, “Nemo me impune lacessit”—“No one
treads on me unpunished!”—applies to man in the flesh throughout the
world. Note Paul’s word, “Give place unto the wrath,”—to the coming
wrath of God in the day of wrath, of Chapter 2:5. As for “the wrath of
man,” we know it “worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:20).
Oh, how hard, yea, how impossible, for those who have not yielded their
bodies a living sacrifice to God, to leave the visitation of wrath
wholly in God’s hand!

For it is written, Vengeance belongeth unto Me; I will recompense,
saith the Lord—Let us not dare seek to steal from God what He so
distinctly asserts to be His province alone,—vengeance,253—the dealing
out just desert to evil action.

God’s “vengeance” must require that infinite knowledge of conditions,
of motives, of results upon others, which God, the just Judge, alone
possesses. And He has faithfully promised to “recompense.” The Greek of
this word is startling: it means to pay back, personally and
accurately. Both Romans 12:19 and Heb 10:30 quote the passage in
Deuteronomy 32:35 which prophesies the coming vengeance of God. The
word is also used in II Thessalonians 1:6. In these shallow, sinful
days, men have forgotten that there is a day of reckoning; but the
saints must not forget. “Forestall not God’s wrath,” says Meyer, “by
personal revenge, but let it have its course and its sway. The morality
of this precept is based on the holiness of God. Hence, so far as wrath
and love are the two poles of holiness, it does not exclude the
blessing of our adversaries and intercession for them.”

Verse 20: But if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him
to drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his
head—Here are specific directions for active love toward an
enemy,—praying for him meanwhile, as Christ commanded: “Bless them that
persecute you, pray for them that despitefully use you.” There is no
more terrible danger than that of cherished revenge; and nothing marks
out so blazingly a Christian path as love toward a foe. The Indians who
inhabited America when the white man came, hated one another, tribe
against tribe. The war paint, the warpath, the tomahawk, the scalp
lock,—and pride in it all! was the hell-mark wherewith Satan branded
these poor heathen,—and where are they today? No less devilish are the
ghastly family “feuds” in certain parts of America. No less significant
is the kind of man admired in some regions: “He won’t take a word from
anybody”; “He’ll fight at the drop of the hat,” and the like.

Now the promise is most striking indeed, that in a deed of kindness to
an enemy we shall “heap coals of fire upon his head.” Of course, as
always, when the literal statements of God’s judgment are made, we are
apt to shrink in timidity and unbelief, and seek to evade the
actualities. But remember exactly what we are dealing with: we are
asked to step aside from self-avenging, and “give place” to God’s
coming vengeance and recompense. Of course, we continue loving our
enemies and praying for them, hoping they may repent. Thus we are
sharing the feeling of God Himself, who “takes no pleasure in the death
of the wicked, and would have all men to be saved.” Nevertheless, we
know in our hearts that many will refuse Divine mercy, and go on to
that day of vengeance. And what do we read in the Scriptures about
“coals of fire” at that time?

Let burning coals fall upon them;

Let them be cast into the fire,

Into deep pits, whence they shall not rise (Ps. 140:10).

Upon the wicked He will rain snares;

Fire and brimstone and burning wind shall be the portion of their cup (Ps. 11:6).

It is a trifling exposition that would make the “coals of fire” of
Romans 12:20, quoted from Proverbs 25:21, 22, a mere figure—and
meaning, really, nothing!

The knowledge and constant remembrance by the saints of the coming
literal doom of the wicked, is both a deep incentive to a holy walk,
and a strong motive for loving and praying for them. But let us not
forget that the more we are “a sweet savor of Christ unto God” as we
preach the gospel, the more we become “a savor from death unto death in
them that are perishing” (II Cor. 2:14-16). Paul significantly, just
here, adds the words: “And who is sufficient for these things? For we
are not as the many, corrupting the Word of God” (II Cor. 2:17). Our
Lord Himself said, “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had
not had sin: but now they have no excuse for their sin.” It is a
fearful thought that in our kindness to enemies—enemies of our Lord and
of ourselves for the gospel’s sake, we may be increasing their doom:
but the responsibility is theirs; the obedient kindness, ours!

Verse 21: Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good—“Evil”
here directly connects itself with that hatefulness in others of verse
20; but it also includes all the evil in the world, through which the
Christian walks as a stranger and a pilgrim. This plan of setting forth
a positive path of “good” before His saints, instead of a mere negative
“Thou shalt not,” is the constant way of God in grace. Compare, “Let
him that stole steal no more; but rather let him labor, working with
his hands the thing that is good, that he may have whereof to give to
him that hath need” (Eph. 4:28). It is not merely, Stop stealing; but,
Begin giving! Just as in the following verse of Ephesians we read: “Let
no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for
edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear.”
Merely to stop doing wrong things will finally make a monk out of you;
doing good, will put you in Paul’s company. No one is “overcoming” in
the sense of Rom. 12:12, save those whose time is filled with good:
praise, prayer, and thanksgiving towards God; and loving ministry
towards men!

“There is a faith unmixed with doubt,

A love all free from fear;

A walk with Jesus, where is felt

His presence always near.

There is a rest that God bestows,

Transcending pardon’s peace,

A lowly, sweet simplicity,

Where inward conflicts cease.

“There is a service God-inspired,

A zeal that tireless grows,

Where self is crucified with Christ,

And joy unceasing flows.

There is a being ‘right with God,’

That yields to His commands

Unswerving, true fidelity,

A loyalty that stands.”


A man desiring to enlist in the British army comes, after the physical
examination, to present himself to the enlisting officer. He is still
his own man. Then the enlisting officer gives him “the king’s
shilling”—as enlistment money. He signs an attestation as to his age,
place of birth, trade, etc., and takes the oath of allegiance: “To be
true and faithful to the king and his heirs, and truth and faith to
bear of life and limb and terrene honour, and not to know or hear of
any ill or damage intended him without defending him therefrom.” Having
accepted the king’s money, and taken this oath, he is now legally the
king’s own soldier.


It is sad and terrible to see how professing Christianity has departed
from all this blessed “intelligent service” in the Holy Spirit, back
into the darkness of man-prescribed religion! Imagine Peter setting up
holy days, in the Book of Acts; as, “Ash Wednesday”; “Good Friday”;
“Lent”; “Easter”! It would all have been denial of their new connection
with a Risen Christ, and of the Presence of the Comforter! It would
have been turning back to Judaism, yea, to Paganism, for the name
“Easter” is simply “Ishtar,” the great goddess of Babylon. (See on all
these things, Hislop’s Two Babylons.)

We will either yield ourselves to God, and be led by the Holy Spirit
into the “intelligent service” that belongs to this dispensation and to
the true Christian; or we will be hiding away from God in the false
“Christian” forms and ceremonies “Christendom,” with its religion, has
taken on.

God abhors “ceremonies,”—since the blessed Holy Ghost has come, and has brought liberty!


“Fashioned” is literally, schemed-together-with. It is the very word of
I Corinthians 7:31: scheme (Greek, schema), made into a verb, with the
conjunction along-with (sun), for prefix. The devil will rope you into
his “scheme,” unless you surrender your body to God to be by Him


The Greek word for “regeneration” (palingenesia), occurs only twice in
the New Testament, here in Titus 3:5, and in Matthew 19:28. Mr. Darby’s
contention that this word is “not used in Scripture for a communication
of life, but for a change of state or condition,” seems refuted by the
fact that the Greek word for renewing (anakainōsis) in this same verse,
is also used but twice—Titus 3:5 and Romans 12:2. Its cognate verb is
also used twice: II Cor. 4:16, and Col 3:10. In all four instances, it
has to do with the operation of the Holy Spirit upon one already born
again. So that, if the word translated regeneration in Titus 3:5 does
not have in it any reference to the “communication of life,” there is
no real definition of salvation at all in this verse: but the verse
claims to be such a definition!

As to the use of “regeneration” in Matt. 19:28, and the assertion that
the word here is “evidently a change of state and condition, and not
communication of life,” the very opposite is what Scripture asserts
concerning Israel at that time, for this passage concerns the saved
Remnant at the opening of the Kingdom. Of this Remnant, God says, “They
shall be all righteous,” “they shall be those written unto life” in
Jerusalem. It will certainly be the communication of life, yea, the
receiving of them will be “life from the dead,” when they shall have
“looked on Him whom they have pierced.”


The word for “renew” (anakainŏō) is used only by Paul. It means to
“grow up new, afresh” (Thayer),—like foliage in the spring. Man’s
spirit having already been created anew, and being joined to the Lord;
and witnessed to and cared for by the Holy Spirit; man’s soul-faculties
are now to be taken over by that same blessed Spirit; so that the whole
mind and disposition and tastes of the man will become conformed to the
fact that he is a new creature.


This new man is not Christ personally, any more than our old man was
Adam personally. However, we sustained such a relation to Adam that the
“old man” was ours, as much as “by nature” we were Adam’s children. So
since we are in Christ, the “new man” belongs to us,—being that sum
total of the marvelous Divine graces and dispositions “created” for,
and to be realized in, the believer in union with Christ. Note that
believers have “put off” the old man; but are here told to “put him
away,”—be not influenced by him.


5.A “clean heart” is taught in the Scripture most plainly. Even in the
Old Testament David prays, “Create in me a clean heart.” In Acts 15:9,
Peter speaks of the occasion of the Holy Spirit’s falling upon those of
Cornelius’ household, as, “cleansing their hearts by faith.” And Paul
says in his charge to Timothy, “The end of the charge is love out of a
pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned” (I Tim. 1:5). And
further, to Timothy, “Flee youthful lusts and follow after
righteousness, faith, love, peace with them that call on the Lord out
of a pure heart” (II Tim. 2:22).

Now it will not do, in interpreting the Bible, an infinitely accurate
Book, to deal loosely or confuse terms. When David said, in Psalm
108:1, “O God, my heart is fixed,” repeating it in Psalm 57:7, “My
heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing, yea, I will
sing, yea, I will sing praises”—I say in such an utterance the Psalmist
is not claiming that there was not iniquity present with him, but that
his heart was by Divine grace fixedly choosing God and His will: as he
says in Psalm 18:23, “I was also perfect with Him, and I kept myself
from mine iniquity.” Here he recognizes evil present with him, but his
heart is fixed for God.

To confuse the flesh with the heart is a vital mistake. Paul says we
have no confidence in the flesh. But on the other hand we may have
complete confidence toward God, at least when our faith has been
“perfected” (I Thess. 3:10). The heart is the throne-room of the being.
When it is really handed over to God, “the peace of Christ rules”
therein. If no provision is made for the flesh, but instead the Lord
Jesus Christ is put on (Rom. 13:14); if we obey II Cor. 6:14 to 7:1,
refusing “unequal yokes” with unbelievers, refusing to have “portions”
with unbelievers, “keeping ourselves from idols,” “cleansing ourselves
from all defilement of flesh and spirit,” “perfecting holiness in the
fear of God,” and consenting to be “separated” to God and “touch no
unclean thing,”—then God “walks in us.” Our hearts are wholly given to
Him and “do not condemn us.”

Such a surrendered believing heart is called in Scripture, a “pure
heart.” To be among those thus “cleansed” by simple faith, and to have
such a pure heart, should be the longing desire and purpose of every

Do not confuse, therefore, a clean, perfect heart toward God as taught
in Scripture with the supposed “eradication of the sin-principle” from
the flesh. The flesh is unchanged until Christ comes. But God will
cleanse our hearts, by faith, ind the Holy Spirit will form Christ
fully within us.


Of course there is all manner of looseness of talk by those who do not
discern, hold, and continually speak in terms of, the one Body of which
Christ Risen is the Head. We do not have any right to use the word
“body” of any but the true, mystical Body of Christ: those who have
been “by the one Spirit baptized into One Body.” The confusion of the
Scripture doctrine of the true Church, the Body of Christ, with the
Church’s outward relationships, responsibilities, and testing, as the
House of God on earth, has given rise to innumerable evils. The Church
which is Christ’s Body is the blessed company of all true believers
from Pentecost to its Rapture at Christ’s coming. The House of God is
“the pillar and stay of the truth” upon earth, just as Israel was
before the cross. But Just as there was an elect Remnant, Simeons and
Annas, Zachariahs and Elizabeths,—the true Israel—in our Lord’s day;
while the temple, the House of God, had been invaded by all manner of
corruption and merchandising, having been built up by Herod the Great,
a son of Esau;—so, today, the true Church is not what you see gathering
into meetings all about you, but that company of true believers known
to God, all of whom have been baptized by the Spirit into One Body, and
who also are indwelt by the Spirit. All others, however prominent
“church members” they may be, are simply part of the “great house’ of
II Timothy 2:20, where vessels “unto dishonor” as well as those “unto
honor exist; which the “house of God” set forth in I Timothy 3:15 has,
through man’s failure, become.


Of course, it will be to many, as it was to the author, a startling
revelation, that the Spirit is ready to engift each believer for
Divinely appointed service! Those mentioned as “unlearned” in I
Corinthians 14:23 were evidently believers, but ungifted; or, as Alford
says, “plain believers,” persons unacquainted with the gifts of I
Corinthians 12.


Alford well says, “The measure of faith, the gift of God, is the
receptive faculty for all spiritual gifts; which are, therefore, not to
be boasted of, nor Pushed beyond their province, but humbly exercised
within their own limits.”


”An apostle was sent direct, as an architect, authorized by Christ to
build His Church. Apostles were authorized, on the part of Christ, to
found and to build, and to establish rules in His Church. In this sense
there are no longer apostles.

“But it appears to me, that in a lower sense, there may be apostles and
prophets in all ages. Barnabas is termed an apostle. Junius and
Andronicus are called apostles, and it is said of them that they were
‘of note amongst the apostles’ (Rom. 16:7); so that there are others
who were not named.

“As regards the revelation of God, it is complete; as regards any
authority to found the Church it no longer exists; neither the twelve
nor Paul have had any successors. The foundation cannot be twice laid.
But one may act under an extraordinary responsibility as sent by God.
We may cite as examples, without pretending to justify all that they
did, a Luther, a Calvin, a Zwingli, and perhaps others. So for
prophets; although there be no new revelations of truth, there may be,
as proceeding from God Himself, a power of applying to the
circumstances of the church, or of the world, truths hidden in the
Word; such as, in practice, might render the ministry prophetic.
Moreover all those who expressed the mind of God ‘to edification’ were
called prophets, or at least, ‘prophesied.’

“Prophets, who were associated with apostles as the foundation, because
they revealed the mind of God, may, it appears to me, in a subordinate
sense, be believed to exist,—those who not merely teach and explain
ordinary and profitable doctrine,—but who by a special energy of the
Spirit can unfold and communicate the mind of Christ to the Church
where it is ignorant of it (though that mind he treasured up in the
Scripture)—can bring truths, hidden previously from the knowledge of
the Church, in the power of the testimony of the Spirit of God, to bear
on the present circumstances of the Church and future prospects of the
world, and thus be practically prophets (though there be no new facts
revealed, but all are really in the Word already), and thus be a
direct? blessing and gift of Christ to the Church for its emergency and
need, though the Word be strictly adhered to, but without which the
Church would not have had the power of that Word” (Darby).


Many years ago, at the Keswick Convention, in England, I was returning,
about seven o’clock, from an early morning walk. I passed the “Drill
Hall,” and down came MacGregor (G.H.C.) and greeted me. I said, “Your
face looks pale; are you not well?” “Oh yes,—only a bit weary,” said
he. Then, by questioning further, I found he had just then finished
with the last case left from the previous night’s meeting! That was
teaching indeed. He had patiently labored all night long to expound to
one after another “the Way of God more perfectly!”

It is our privilege just now to have beneath our roof a beloved sister
in her eighty-fourth year whose energies for over forty years have been
constantly used in teaching others. Although having to support herself
by public school teaching, yet with a steadfastness that is deeply
touching, one thing she does with every one with whom she comes in
contact: she teaches each the gospel. Many people, and even preachers,
have come to her for instruction, even when she was confined to her bed
in sickness or infirmity. There they sat patiently listening to her
words concerning Christ. Her great passion is to “make all men see”
Paul’s wonderful explanation of our identification with Christ in His
death, burial, and resurrection.

[Later: Alas for us,—not for her! our beloved Mrs. S—— has gone triumphantly Home!]


For “love of the brethren,” and “tenderly affectioned” there are two
beautiful records in the Greek: philadelphia, and philostorgos, the
latter used of the closest family ties.


I doubt if the. reference in “unawares” is to Abraham in Genesis 18.
for he at once recognized the Lord, and knew His attendants. The
statement seems rather an absolute one of inspiration, involving such a
possibility for any of us!


One who had visited the Chicago stock yards on a slaughter-day said to
me, “Our guide took us to where the swine were being slaughtered. Here
there was squealing and grunting everywhere, and the moment the men
laid hold of one for slaughter, it gave a wild shriek, and the uproar
was terrible. By and by we approached another building and heard no
sounds; and we found that here the sheep were being slaughtered,
without complaining—in silence!”


Quaint old John Trapp says: “In reason, revenge is but justice;
Aristotle commends it. The world calls it manhood; it is doghood,