by Grace Hunter

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Romans 12:9-16 NIV

Paul the Apostle wrote the book of Romans as a letter to the church in Rome in 57 AD. He was nearing the end of his third missionary journey and most likely he wrote this letter while in Corinth. Paul planned to visit Rome on his way to Spain, after he personally delivered the collection gathered from many churches for the poverty-stricken church in Jerusalem. He greatly desired to visit the Roman church, but he had not been there yet when he wrote Romans.

The church in Rome was predominantly Gentile but had a Jewish minority as well. The major theme of the letter to the Romans is the presentation of the gospel and God’s plan of righteousness for the world. Romans contains the clearest and most complete presentation of the gospel, perhaps because Paul had not yet visited Rome, nor had another Apostle taught the church in Rome directly.

Paul explains:

  • that all people are unrighteous;
  • that we receive justification through Christ;
  • the process of our sanctification,
  • the role of Israel, and
  • how we are to be righteous in the world.

Chapter 12 of Romans describes and instructs us on how we are to love one another in the body of Christ, His church. He begins Chapter 12 with:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will,” Romans 12:1-2 NIV.

He then teaches on Spiritual gifts. Then chapter 13 instructs us on how we as Christians are to practice righteousness in the world around us, including interacting with governmental authority. Chapter 14 and 15 teach us how to interact with both mature and immature Christians.
Paul’s list of characteristics of how Christians should display God’s love and ways sacrificially (in giving of ourselves to others), precedes Paul’s instruction on how we are to interact with the world at large.

It’s always important to keep in mind the reason a particular book in the Bible was written, to whom it was written, by whom it was written, as well as the time and place it was written. Having an outline of the book as a whole is helpful in understanding a particular passage. For example, Romans is organized more like a theological essay than a personal letter. As you read over Romans 12:9-16, think about all that Paul is instructing the Roman Christians to live out in their spiritual lives. Think about how the Holy Spirit is speaking to you through this section of Romans.

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