King James Bible: Romans 12 Verses 1-2
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Adam Clarke’s commentary:
Verse 1. “I beseech you therefore, brethren” – This address is probably intended both for the Jews and the Gentiles; though some suppose that the Jews are addressed in the first verse, the Gentiles in the second.
“By the mercies of God!” – dia twn oiktirmwn tou qeou? By the tender mercies or compassions of God, such as a tender father shows to his refractory children; who, on their humiliation, is easily persuaded to forgive their offenses. The word oiktirmov comes from oiktov, compassion; and that from eikw, to yield; because he that has compassionate feelings is easily prevailed on to do a kindness, or remit an injury.
“That ye present your bodies” – A metaphor taken from bringing sacrifices to the altar of God. The person offering picked out the choicest of his flock, brought it to the altar, and presented it there as an atonement for his sin. They are exhorted to give themselves up in the spirit of sacrifice; to be as wholly the Lord’s property as the whole burnt-offering was, no part being devoted to any other use.
“A living sacrifice” – In opposition to those dead sacrifices which they were in the habit of offering while in their Jewish state; and that they should have the lusts of the flesh mortified, that they might live to God.
“Holy” – Without spot or blemish; referring still to the sacrifice required by the law.
“Acceptable unto God” – euareston? The sacrifice being perfect in its kind, and the intention of the offerer being such that both can be acceptable and well pleasing to God, who searches the heart. All these phrases are sacrificial, and show that there must be a complete surrender of the person-the body, the whole man, mind and flesh, to be given to God; and that he is to consider himself no more his own, but the entire property of his Maker.
“Your reasonable service.” – Nothing can be more consistent with reason than that the work of God should glorify its Author. We are not our own, we are the property of the Lord, by the right of creation and redemption; and it would be as unreasonable as it would be wicked not to live to his glory, in strict obedience to his will. The reasonable service, logikhn latreian, of the apostle, may refer to the difference between the Jewish and Christian worship. The former religious service consisted chiefly in its sacrifices, which were diÆ alogwn, of irrational creatures, i.e. the lambs, rams, kids, bulls, goats, &c., which were offered under the law. The Christian service or worship is logikh, rational, because performed according to the true intent and meaning of the law; the heart and soul being engaged in the service. He alone lives the life of a fool and a madman who lives the life of a sinner against God; for, in sinning against his Maker he wrongs his own soul, loves death, and rewards evil unto himself.
Reasonable service, logikhn latreian, “a religious service according to reason,” one rationally performed. The Romanists make this distinction between latreia, and douleia, latreia and douleia, (or dulia, as they corruptly write it,) worship and service, which they say signify two kinds of religious worship; the first proper to GOD, the other communicated to the creatures. But douleia, douleia, services, is used by the Septuagint to express the Divine worship. See Deut. xiii. 4; Judg. ii. 7; 1 Samuel vii. 3, and 1 Sam. xii. 10: and in the New Testament, Matthew vi. 24; Luke vi. 23; chap. xvi. 18; Col. iii. 24. The angel refused douleian, douleia, Rev. xxii. 7, because he was sundoulov sundoulos, a fellow servant; and the Divine worship is more frequently expressed by this word douleia, douleia, service, than by latreia, latreia, worship. The first is thirty-nine times in the Old and New Testament ascribed unto God, the other about thirty times; and latreia, worship or service, is given unto the creatures, as in Lev. xxiii. 7, 8, 21; Num. xxviii. 18; yea, the word signifies cruel and base bondage, Deut. xxviii. xl8: once in the New Testament it is taken for the worship of the creatures, chap. i. 25.
The worshipping of idols is forbidden under the word latreia, latreia, thirty-four times in the Old Testament, and once in the New, as above; and twenty-three times under the term douleia, doaleia, in the Old Testament; and St. Paul uses douleuein qew, and latreuein qew indifferently, for the worship we owe to God. See chap. i. 9, 25; xii. 1, Gal. iv. 8, 9; 1 Thess. i. 9; Matt. vi. 24. And Ludouicus Vives, a learned Romanist, has proved out of Suidas, Xenophon, and Volla, that these two words are usually taken the one for the other, therefore the popish distinction, that the first signifies “the religious worship due only to God,” and the second, “that which is given to angels, saints, and men,” is unlearned and false. – See Leigh’s Crit. Sacra.
Verse 2. “And be not conformed to this world” – By this world, aiwni toutw, may be understood that present state of things both among the Jews and Gentiles; the customs and fashions of the people who then lived, the Gentiles particularly, who had neither the power nor the form of godliness; though some think that the Jewish economy, frequently termed hzh µlw[ olam hazzeh, this world, this peculiar state of things, is alone intended. And the apostle warns them against reviving usages that Christ had abolished: this exhortation still continues in full force. The world that now is-THIS present state of things, is as much opposed to the spirit of genuine Christianity as the world then was. Pride, luxury, vanity, extravagance in dress, and riotous living, prevail now, as they did then, and are as unworthy of a Christian’s pursuit as they are injurious to his soul, and hateful in the sight of God.
“Be ye transformed” – metamorfousqe, Be ye metamorphosed, transfigured, appear as new persons, and with new habits, as God has given you a new form of worship, so that ye serve in the newness of the spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. The word implies a radical, thorough, and universal change, both outward and inward. SENECA, Epis.
vi, shows us the force of this word when used in a moral sense. Sentio, says he, non EMENDARI me tantum, sed TRANSFIGURARI; “I perceive myself not to be amended merely, but to be transformed:” i. e entirely renewed.
“By the renewing of your mind” – Let the inward change produce the outward. Where the spirit, the temper, and disposition of the mind, Eph. iv. 23, are not renewed, an outward change is of but little worth, and but of short standing.
“That ye may prove” – eiv to dokimazein, That ye may have practical proof and experimental knowledge of, the will of God-of his purpose and determination, which is good in itself; infinitely so. Acceptable, euapeston, well pleasing to and well received by every mind that is renewed and transformed.
“And perfect” – teleion, Finished and complete: when the mind is renewed, and the whole life changed, then the will of God is perfectly fulfilled; for this is its grand design in reference to every human being.
These words are supposed by Schoettgen to refer entirely to the Jewish law. The Christians were to renounce this world- the Jewish state of things; to be transformed, by having their minds enlightened in the pure and simple Christian worship, that they might prove the grand characteristic difference between the two covenants: the latter being good in opposition to the statutes which were not good, Ezek. xx. 25; acceptable, in opposition to those sacrifices and offerings which God would not accept, as it is written, Psa. xl. 6-8; and perfect, in opposition to that system which was imperfect, and which made nothing perfect, and was only the shadow of good things to come. There are both ingenuity and probability in this view of the subject. full commentary