Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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ROMANS - Chapter 12

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Romans 12

Supplemental Commentary:

II:  MORAL:  The Duties of Christians  12, 1 -- 15, 13

12, 1-2:  Conclusion of the Foregoing.    1.  Therefore connects what St. Paul is about to say with the entire foregoing theme.  I exhort: a gracious term, but implying authority.  By the mercy: as abundantly proved in the Epistle so far.  Your bodies . . . a sacrifice: the body is the victim, in this figure, the soul the priest who immolates it.  This is accomplished by putting to death the sinful inclinations of the body, and by directing it towards good works.  This is spiritual service, spiritual because deriving its value from the mental disposition accompanying it.  Cf. Pss. 39, 7-9; 50, 18 f; Prov. 16, 5; Ecclus. 35, 2-5.    2.  Be transformed: by an inner and permanent change.  This is effected by a renewing of the mind, by rejecting the principles of the world and by adopting those of Christ.  What is the good, etc.: in the Greek these three adjectives are nouns: what is morally good, what is acceptable, what is perfect.  There is an intentional gradation in the enumeration.  All these make up the will of God.

12, 3-8:  Humility and Concord.    3.  By the grace: the authority of his apostolic office.  Cf. note to text.    4 f.  On the analogy of the human body St. Paul deals here with the unity and variety of function of the members in Christ's Mystical Body, the Church.  Cf. 1 Cor. 12, 12-31.    6-8.  First, the variety of functions.  These are all gifts or graces bestowed by God on individuals more for the interests of the Church than for the advantage of those receiving them.  Prophecy: an insight into truths otherwise hidden from human reason; its purpose is edification (1 Cor. 14, 1 ff).  According to the proportion of faith: that the faith may be confirmed by it, not against the faith (St. Thomas).  Ministry: including various works.  In ministering: do so assiduously and disinterestedly.  He who teaches: one gifted as a catechist.  In teaching: with zeal.  He who exhorts: one who brings consolation, encouragement, guidance.  In exhorting: to be content and faithful.  He who gives: one prompted to almsgiving.  In simplicity: out of a pure motive.  He who presides: one with the gift of ruling.  In carefulness: in diligence.  He who shows mercy: one gifted to help the afflicted.  In cheerfulness: with joy of heart and affability.

12, 9-21:  Fraternal Charity.  The principle of unity in the Mystical Body.    9.  Without pretense; sincere, and yet reasonable, for it must hate what is evil but hold to what is good in a person.    10.  Fraternal charity: a strong and tender family affection.  Anticipating, etc.: each regarding the other as more deserving (cf. Phil. 2, 3).    11 f.  The true Christian must be fervent, and from this springs the joy of hope, which in turn begets patience.  This is all sustained by persevering in prayer.    13.  The saints: fellow Christians.  Share the needs: moved to sympathy with those in need and disposed to assist them.  Hospitality: a prominent form of charity among Christians.    14.  Bless: to wish another well.    16.  Of one mind: the consciousness of oneness with all Christians, the lowly as well as the rich and powerful.    17.  This precept includes all men, not only their fellow Christians.    18.  Peace involves more than one party.  The Christian, for his part, is instructed to maintain peace.    20.  By showing kindness to an enemy he is made ashamed and induced to repent of his attitude.

Confraternity Bible:

Conclusion of the Foregoing  1* I exhort you therefore, brethren, by the mercy of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice, living, holy, pleasing to God---your spiritual service.  2 And be not conformed to this world, but be transformed in the newness of your mind, that you may discern what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Humility and Concord  3* By the grace that has been given to me, I say to each one among you: let no one rate himself more than he ought, but let him rate himself according to moderation, and according as God has apportioned to each one the measure of faith.  4 For just as in one body we have many members, yet all the members have not the same function, 5 so we, the many, are one body in Christ, but severally members one of another.  6* But we have gifts differing according to the grace that has been given us, such as prophecy to be used according to the proportion of faith; 7* or ministry, in ministering; or he who teaches, in teaching; 8* he who exhorts, in exhorting; he who gives, in simplicity; he who presides, with carefulness; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Fraternal Charity  9 Let love be without pretense.  Hate what is evil, hold to what is good.  10 Love one another with fraternal charity, anticipating one another with honor.  11 Be not slothful in zeal; be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, 12 rejoicing in hope.  Be patient in tribulation, persevering in prayer.  13 Share the needs of the saints, practising hospitality.  14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.  16 Be of one mind towards one another.  Do not set your mind on high things but condescend to the lowly.  Be not wise in your own conceits.  17 To no man render evil for evil, but provide good things not only in the sight of God, but also in the sight of all men.  18 If it be possible, as far as in you lies, be at peace with all men.  19* Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to the wrath, for it is written,
"Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says the Lord." 
20* But
"If thy enemy is hungry, give him food; if he is thirsty, give him drink;

For by so doing thou wilt heap coals of fire upon his head." 
21 Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


1: As a sacrifice: we should daily put to death or mortify the lusts of the flesh and wholly dedicate our bodies to the divine service in accord with the requirements of the Christian laws of right living.  Spiritual service: worship such as the nature of God and the nature of man require, which consists in the submission of one's body and its inclinations to the law of God.

3: Each must take as a rule of estimation of himself, and as his role in the Church, the measure of the faith he has received.  Faith: seems here to mean the charismatic gifts granted to the believer.

6: Prophecy: a supernatural gift in virtue of which the recipient is given an insight into the hidden truths beyond the power of human reason.  This gift is to be exercised according to the proposition of the faith, that is, as says St. Thomas Aquinas, "not in vain, but that the faith may be confirmed by it; not against the faith."

7: Ministry: a general term which includes various functions such as teaching, the distribution of alms, etc.

8: Exhorts: distinct from teaching, this term designates probably the function of comforting and consoling the afflicted.  He who gives: refers to one who gives alms.  He who shows mercy: indicates the individual who feels real sympathy for the poor and afflicted and personally ministers to their needs.

19: Deut. 32, 35.

20: Prov. 25, 21.   Heap coals of fire upon his head: i.e., overwhelm one's enemy with kindness.  The coals of fire seem to mean shame and remorse.  The purpose of the Christian is to bring his enemy to repentance and better conduct.