Rob Ventura's Commentary on Romans, pt. 4

Editor's Note: Rob Ventura has provided us with a chapter from his forthcoming Mentor Commentary on the Book of Romans.  We are thankful for the opportunity to share it with you. Our plan is to run segments of chapter 12 throughout the coming months. Enjoy!

Text: Rom. 12:9-21

General theme: Authentic Christianity

Homiletical outline of the verses:

A. Paul’s practical directives Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. 17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Summary of section: In these verses, Paul shows what true gospel transformation looks like in the lives of God’s people.[1] Far from leaving us wondering about this matter, he fleshes out for us in concrete ways how we, who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ should live toward believers within the household of faith (vv. 9-13), and then also how we should live toward unbelievers outside the household of faith (vv. 14-21). This topic is crucial for us to comprehend if we would honor Christ and the gospel in the world. Thus, this last section in this chapter does not consist of some random list of disconnected directives as some might think. Rather, it shows us very practically and clearly what authentic Christianity looks like in action. These verses show us in a series of “short, sharp, tweet-length statements”[2] what genuine Christianity is all about ethically speaking. As Paul begins his topic, it is noteworthy that he begins with the subject of love. Love is his starting point, as it should be for us as well. Love is that which is “the cement of the saints, and the bond of perfectness, without which all the gifts that men have, the profession they make, and works they do are of no avail, and they themselves nothing.”[3] As Vaughan and Corley note,

After considering the importance of humility and spiritual gifts, Paul is now ready to show us “a more excellent way” (1 Cor. 12:31). The sequence of ideas is exactly similar to that of 1 Cor. 12, 13, and obviously suggested by it. In the section that follows, love is the ruling thought, but Paul does not entangle it in the sloppy sentimentalism that haunts the word in modern religious talk. It is first of all love “without hypocrisy” (v. 9a), that is, “sincere,” “genuine.” In the ministry of the church, the Christian’s love must be the real thing, not counterfeit. . . . . We can best define the all-embracing character of unfeigned love by briefly commenting on its active features.[4]

Exegetical & Practical Insights:

Obs. 1- (v. 9a) That as Paul begins to speak about authentic Christianity among those within the household of faith, he writes with the force of a command saying:

  • Let love[5] or more literally from the Greek text, let “the love,” that is to say, the distinctive Christian love, which is “the greatest virtue of the Christian life;”[6] be without hypocrisy[7] or without insincerity, so that we are not playacting in our demonstration of it.[8] “In classic Greek drama, the hypokrites (actor) wore a facemask. The Christian’s loving behavior should not be playing a part or wearing a mask, but an authentic expression of goodwill.”[9]

The Bible has much to say about our love for fellow believers.[10] It tells us (among other things) that it: 1- is a genuine mark of true Christianity (John 13:35; 1 John 3:14, 4:20), 2- that it should be natural for us to express toward those who have been born again (1 Thess. 4:9), and 3- that it is to be expressed fervently with a pure heart (1 Pet. 1:22). But what does this type of love really look like among us?

The Puritan John Owen answers this question plainly. In writing on the topic of Gospel Charity (or Gospel Love [agape]), he says,

It is a fruit of the Spirit of God, an effect of faith, whereby believers, being knit together by the strongest bonds of affection, upon the account of their interest in one head, Jesus Christ, and participating of one Spirit, do delight in, value, and esteem each other, and are in constant readiness for all those regular duties whereby the temporal, spiritual, and eternal good of one another may be promoted.[11]

He said it is,

The principal grace and duty that is required among, and expected from, the saints of God, especially as they are engaged in church-fellowship.[12]

  • (v. 9b) Abhor[13] or constantly detest, “not only shun but vehemently hate it;”[14] what is evil[15] i.e., morally wicked according to the Word of God or “sin in general”[16] (even the matter of hypocrisy previously mentioned); Cling or be cemented and glued; to what is good[17] or constantly be fixed and fastened to that which is morally right and excellent according to the Bible (which in this context would especially be authentic love for the brethren);
  • (v. 10) Be kindly affectionate or continually devoted; to one another as all the loving members of the same spiritual household should be;[18] with the preposition expressing the manner by which this affection is to be shown; brotherly love or more literally, brotherly philadelphia (the Greek word philadelphia is a compound which is composed of two other words: “love” and “brother.” Although this word for love is similar to the word agape [which was mentioned earlier], and is perhaps a subset of it and can be used interchangeably with it, the main difference seems to be that this type of love is a love which all Christians are mutually required to express toward one another. Hence, it is brotherly love[19]); in honor giving preference to one another, in other words, be regularly valuing each other so much that you “esteem others better than yourself” (Phil. 2:3);


  • (v. 11) not lagging or being lazy; in diligence or zeal, and this so that we do not “lose steam,”[20] especially as we seek to fulfill the above directives concerning our brethren;[21] fervent or more literally from the Greek text, “red hot” and “boiling;” in spirit that is our own inner spirit or disposition, and this as we are; serving the Lord for as we do it unto Him, we do it unto to His people;[22]


  • (v. 12) rejoicing or constantly exulting; in hope, which seems to be a reference to that future, blessed hope of glory that we who are Christians have when we appear before the presence of our God forevermore (cf. Rom. 5:2-5); patient or enduring continually; in tribulation or afflictions (whether those tribulations be our own or those of our brethren[23]); continuing steadfastly or persistently; in prayer which is one of the most loving things we can do for all the people of God;[24]


  • (v. 13) distributing or, we might say, constantly contributing; to the needs of the saints i.e., believers in need “when it is in the power of our hand to do so” (Prov. 3:27);[25] given to[26] not just providing but habitually and intentionally going after and pursuing with great effort; hospitality or more literally from the Greek text, “the hospitality,” that is, the uniquely Christian hospitality. (As we exercise this grace we are to generally think “basic” not “ballroom.” “Crockpot” not “caviar.” “35 minute meal preparation time” not “3 days”).

Haldane speaks aptly to this point. In speaking about hospitality, he said,

This does not mean, as it is generally now applied, social intercourse and conviviality [feasting among neighbors], but it means the receiving and entertaining of strangers at a distance from their own habitations. This was a duty of peculiar necessity in the primitive times, when inns and places of entertainment were unusual. But it is a duty still; and the change of times and customs cannot set aside any of the precepts of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christians ought hospitably to receive their brethren coming from a distance, and to assist them in their business. We are here directed not only to practice hospitality, but according to the import of the original, to follow or pursue it. Christians are to seek opportunities of thus manifesting love to their brethren. In another place the Apostle enforces the same duty: ‘Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.’[27]

Tony Merida comments further,

Hospitality was important in Paul’s day—Christians lacked accommodations for various reasons. We know that Paul enjoyed the hospitality of many. Throughout Scripture we read of the gracious hospitality of our God, as he who welcomes weak and weary sinners (Isa. 25:6-7; 55:1-3; Matt. 11:28; Luke 14:12-24; Rev 21:3). This should motivate our hospitality (Rom. 15:7), and Peter urges us to do it without grumbling (1 Pet. 4:9). Here in Romans 12 Paul speaks of the intentionality of it: pursue it. Be intentional about inviting others into your home and into your life. Use your home to bless others, to bless those in the church, and to bless people in need outside of your church, with wisdom and compassion.[28]


Vv. 14-21 How We Are to Live Toward Unbelievers outside the Household of Faith.

  • (v. 14) Bless[29] or quite literally from the Greek text, continue to “eulogize” or “speak well of;” those who persecute[30] or harass; you, “The obedient Christian not only must resist hating and retaliating against those who harm him but is commanded to take the additional step of blessing them.”[31]

The point is, we are not to act in kind toward unbelievers who often mistreat us. Rather, we are to be like Jesus who, “when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Pet. 2:23). We are to obey our Lord when he said that, as his followers, we are to “love our enemies, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us, and pray[32] for those who spitefully use us and persecute us (Matt. 5:44).[33] Bless (Paul repeats himself here just in case we thought that he meant something else in his original command in the previous words);[34] and do not curse or call done calamity or destruction upon those who persecute us.[35] “When Paul adds, “bless and curse not”, he underlines the fact that our attitude is not to be a mixture of blessing and cursing but one of unadulterated blessing.”[36]

  • (v. 15) “These two verses [vv.15, 16] return to the issue of internal relations in the church, beginning with ‘rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn and with those who mourn.’ Though most agree this likely includes unbelievers, it is primarily the saints who have this empathy for one another.”[37] Rejoice or be glad and happy; with those who rejoice,[38] and weep[39] with those who weep or continually come alongside of those who are suffering and empathize with them. Feel what they feel, for “if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Cor. 12:26).

 Merida helpfully comments on verse 15,

This often-quoted verse reminds us to come alongside other believers in the highs and lows of life. And do not limit that to funerals and weddings! Sometimes it is harder for us to rejoice with others than to weep with them, if they have obtained that which we want to obtain, envy and jealousy and competition make it difficult to rejoice.[40] But this is why we need the gospel. A sign of growing in grace is that we are able to rejoice in the success of other brothers and sisters. This is a wonderful way to love others: rejoice when they rejoice.

What about weeping? How do we do this? Showing up is most of the job, right? You do not need a great speech. Just be present with the hurting. This would have been a radical idea in a hierarchical [ranked] Roman culture: the elite weeping with the poor migrant worker. But that is what brothers and sisters in Christ do—regardless of background or class.[41]

  • (v. 16) Be of the same mind[42] or opinion and judgment, which does not mean that we must always see eye to eye on secondary, nonessential matters. Rather, it means that even when we disagree on things like this, we are still earnestly to seek a harmony of relationships, and an “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3);[43] toward one another.[44] “To live in harmony means working through conflict, misunderstanding, miscommunication, and wounds. Through those awkward conversations, gracious interactions, and repentance, reconciliation and harmony are experienced. Harmony takes hard work, humble work, and heart work.”[45] Do not set your mind on high things or never be conceited, high-minded, and full of self-importance;[46] but[47] or instead of doing this, and no doubt to help neutralize it; associate or go along; with the humble or those of low degree. “Don’t become snobbish but take a real interest in ordinary people”[48] The idea is “not that we should avoid associating with those in high positions of wealth or influence. But as far as our service to them is concerned, we typically have more obligation to associate with the lowly, not because they are more important but because they are more needy.”[49] Do not be wise in your own opinion[50] or estimation.

In this verse, Paul revisits some of what he said back in verse 3 of this chapter when he wrote that we are “not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think.” His words are also similar to what he writes in Philippians chapter 2:2, “be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.”[51] Of course, all of this instruction is vital for the ongoing unity of the church. Simply put, things like pride, arrogance, self-will, and egotism among ourselves will be devastating to the church. These are sins that we must seek to mortify in ourselves by the help of the Holy Spirit if we want things to go well in our congregations (Rom. 8:13).[52]

  • (v. 17) Repay or paying back; no one[53] (regardless of who they are, or what they have done, believer or unbeliever, who is Paul’s specific focus here again); evil for evil. “Private revenge is contrary to our gospel. We are not to repay evil words for evil words or evil deeds for evil deeds.”[54]

Here the apostle provides us no loopholes or excuses. His language is similar to what he says in 1 Thess. 5:15, “See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursuing what is good both for yourselves and for all.” And his words are similar to Jesus’ words when He said in Luke 6:29, “To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.”

Thus, while of course our Lord (and Paul) is not saying that we should never protect ourselves against evil people who would seek to hurt us (or those whom we love), He is teaching us that we should not to go after them in kind. He is saying that even though this is what the ungodly do, as Christians, we are not to do this. Paul will give us the ultimate reason for this in verse 19 of this chapter.

Have regard for good things or better translated from the Greek text, continually giving thought to what is morally and ethically right and noble; in the sight or presence; of all men which means that genuine Christianity is concerned with rightly presenting Christianity to the world. It is concerned with appropriately adorning “the doctrine of God our Savior in all things” (Titus 2:10), so that our “public behavior is above criticism.”[55]

Or, as Leon Morris wisely notes concerning Paul’s words to his readers,

He is calling on them to live out the implications of the gospel. Their lives are to be lived on such a high plane that even the heathen will recognize the fact. They will always be living in the sight of non-Christians, and the way they live should be such as to commend the essential Christian message (cf. Prov. 3:4; Matt. 5:6; Luke 2:52; 2 Cor. 4:2; 8:21; Titus 2:10).[56]


Sproul further elaborates,

Paul is saying, ‘Act with integrity in the sight of all men. Let your honesty be a model to the world.’ There is a sense in which even pagans applaud civic virtues of righteousness. Even the pagan will appreciate a man who keeps his word. The pagan will appreciate a man who does his business dealings with integrity. Pagans can appreciate righteousness, at least where they are the beneficiaries of that righteousness.[57]

  • (v. 18) If it is possible (implying its difficulty);[58] or if it is in our power to do so; as much as depends on you (even if the unbeliever will not do it “as far as your responsibility goes”[59]), live peaceably with all men.[60] Obviously Paul, in these words, is not calling us to “peace at any price.” Nor is he encouraging us ever to compromise our convictions about Christ or the gospel. Rather, he is encouraging us to be sure that there is nothing in our persons or personalities that might cause problems with non-Christians. Simply stated, we are not purposefully to be offensive or odious to them but are to labor to live in harmony with them as much as we can.

Calvin states the point plainly,

But here two cautions must be stated: We are not to seek to be in such esteem as to refuse to undergo the hatred of any for Christ, whenever it may be necessary. And indeed we see that there are some who, though they render themselves amicable [friendly] to all by the sweetness of their manners and peaceableness of their minds, are yet hated even by their nearest connections on account of the gospel. The second caution is,—that courteousness should not degenerate into compliance, so as to lead us to flatter the vices of men for the sake of preserving peace. Since then it cannot always be, that we can have peace with all men, he has annexed to particulars by way of exception, If it be possible, and, as far as you can. But we are to conclude from what piety and love require that we are not to violate peace except when constrained by either of these two things. For we ought, for the sake of cherishing peace to bear many things, to pardon offenses, and kindly to remit the full rigor of the law; and yet in such a way, that we may be prepared, whenever necessity requires, to fight courageously: for it is impossible that the soldiers of Christ should have perpetual peace with the world, whose prince is Satan.[61]

  • (v. 19) Beloved, these tender words highlighting “Paul’s awareness of the difficulty of this requirement;”[62] do not avenge or ever take vengeance for; yourselves, but rather give place or leave room or defer; to wrath (which is to say, God’s wrath and anger, which Paul has spoken of throughout this letter: 1:18; 2:5, 8; 3:5; 5:9; 9:22); for the explanatory conjunction telling us why we should do this; it is written[63] (or stands written in Deuteronomy 32:35)[64] “Vengeance is Mine which is to say, it completely belongs to God alone to inflict it; I literally, I even I; will repay,” says the Lord.[65]

In these words, Paul highlights something which is crucial for us to grasp—vengeance is not Christian. Genuine Christianity does not seek to get even. It does not recompense itself because it realizes that vengeance is a usurping of God’s sovereign prerogative to deal with our enemies for us in this life or in the life to come. Consequently, biblical Christianity lets God, the sovereign judge of all the earth deal with wrongs done to us in His way, and in His own time. It agrees with Paul when he said, “it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you” (2 Thess. 1:6).

Vos wisely notes,

Here again we have a solemn admonition not to seek vengeance [cf. v. 17]. The world talks continually about vengeance. As Christians we should not think in such terms. Even a nation at war should not seek vengeance. Revenge is far from the Christian ideal in spirit. Rather, we are commanded to give place unto wrath, and leave vengeance to the Lord.

God, who is absolutely just as well as merciful, will render retribution to evildoers. He will pay them according to absolute justice. No sin will be overlooked. God will render to all according to their deeds unless they repent and seek His mercy in Christ.[66]

  • (v. 20) Therefore or perhaps better translated from Greek text “but” or “on the contrary” (Paul quotes from Proverbs 25:21, 22);

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

Here Paul gives a balancing perspective to what he just spoke of in verse 19. He goes “beyond the reactive to the proactive,”[67] showing us that real Christianity does not ignore the needs of others—even if they are our enemies. “Christianity goes beyond non-resistance to active benevolence.”[68]

The apostle says here in essence that we are to let our gospel-light shine before men, even toward those who harm us, for “in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Concerning this matter of our good deeds toward our enemies figuratively heaping “coals of fire on their head,” MacArthur says, that this refers to

an ancient Egyptian custom in which a person who wanted to show public contrition carried a pan of burning coals on his head. The coals represented the burning pain of his guilt and shame. When believers lovingly help their enemies, it should bring shame to such people for their hate and animosity.[69]

  • (v. 21) Do not be overcome or conquered; by evil, but[70] or on the contrary; overcome evil with good.[71]

The apostle here summarizes all that he has been saying in the previous verses. He says to us by way of another command: do not be overpowered by all the ills that are done to us so that they cause us to be bitter, angry, and depressed. Rather, he says that we are to overpower that evil with good. We are to do good when others treat us badly. We are to treat them good when they deserve nothing but our retribution. And what is the greatest good that we can do for them? It is to give them the gospel. It is to tell them about Christ’s person and work! This is what authentic Christianity seeks to do by the grace of God. This is how God would have us to live in the world as we continue to offer ourselves to Him as “living sacrifices” (vs. 1). May He then, by the empowerment of His Holy Spirit, enable us to do this very thing.

Lewis Johnson concludes his exposition of this chapter well when reminds us that,

As we look over the chapter, it becomes clear that the apostle’s emphasis is on the necessity of being something first, and then of doing something. Right conduct can flow only from right being and thinking. Thus, the first step in the fulfillment of 12:3-21 can be accomplished only by the “Christian offering” that Paul refers to in verse 1, and the transformation of the believer by the renewing of the believer’s mind through the Word of God (set forth in v. 2).[72]

Suggested applications from the text for the church:

1- Our passage calls us to repent where we have fallen short of these perspectives as God’s people.

2- Our passage calls us to a fresh renewal of a commitment to all of these perspectives.

3- Our passage calls us to recall that our Lord Jesus Christ is always willing, able, and ready to help us to do all that He requires us to do.

Suggested application from the text for the non-Christian:

1- Our passage calls you to remember that because you are not an authentic Christian, you need to be born again, just as Jesus said (John 3:7). Since you cannot do this for yourself, you must call out to Him to do this for you, even this day.

[1] It may be that Paul was specifically led by the Holy Spirit to address these various topics with the church at Rome because they were falling short of these matters in their midst. Moo discusses this possibility, along with others on pages 771-774 in his commentary.

[2] Bird, p. 430.

[4] Curtis Vaughan and Bruce Corley, Bible Study Commentary Romans p. 141.

[5] The Greek word for love here agape speaks about us having a warm, intentional regard for and a strong interest in others (Christians or non-Christians) whether they express this love back to us or not.

It is a love that is sacrificial on our part and is not caused by anything in the one loved. It is a love which cannot be earned; that is, it is unconditional. It is not based on what someone does for us in return. MacArthur says that this love “centers on the needs and welfare of the one loved and will pay whatever personal price necessary to meet those needs and foster that welfare” MacArthur, p. 184. Although scholars tell us that this type of love was uncommon in the Roman culture because it was seen as a sign of weakness, this is how God would have us, His people, to act toward others. Since God Himself is love (agape, 1 John 4:16) and expresses this love towards those who do not deserve it (John 3:16), we must do the same as His followers.

[6] Ibid., p. 183.

[7] Our Lord often called out the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, Matt. 23:27.

[8] In commenting on the deceptiveness of hypocrisy, John Murray says, “No vice [evil trait] is more reprehensible than hypocrisy. No vice is more destructive of integrity because it is the contradiction of the truth. Our Lord exposed its diabolical character when he said to Judas, ‘Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?’ (Luke 22:48). If love is the sum of virtue and hypocrisy the epitome of vice, what a contradiction to bring these together!’” Murray, 2:128.

[9] R. C. Sproul, The Reformation Study Bible, p. 2003.

[10] Paul will speak more about our love toward believers and unbelievers in the following chapter (13:8-10).

[11] The Works of John Owen, volume 9, p. 259.

[12] Ibid., p. 258

[13] Grk. present, active, participle. It should be noted that the next several directives by Paul are all present, active, participles and thus they should carry this same ongoing sense.

[14] Thomas Robinson, Studies in Romans Book II. p. 179.

[15] Cf. Psalm 97:10.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Cf. Phil. 4:8; 1 Thess. 5:21.

[18] Cf. Acts 2:42-47.

[19] In the Greek text, the word for brotherly love is placed first in the sentence for emphasis.

[20] Moo, NICNT, p. 778.

[21] I imagine that these words could be understood as a standalone idea that we should be very zealous for Christ (cf. Acts 18:25; Col. 3:23). While this is certainly true, I think my above interpretation fits better in this context (cf. Gal. 6:9, 10).

[22] Cf. Matt. 25:40.

[23] Cf. Rom. 5:3; 8:35.

[24] Cf. Col. 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:17.

[25] Cf. Acts 2:45; Rom. 15:25, 26.

[26] Grk. present, active, participle.

[27] Haldane, p. 569.

[28] Merida, p. 205.

[29] Grk. preset, active, verb.

[30] Since persecution is part and parcel with the Christian life, we all need to take special heed to these words, cf. 2 Tim. 3:17.

[31] MacArthur, p. 195. MacArthur relates this personal story in his commentary, “Some years ago, in the store where he was working, a nephew of mine was murdered by an addict looking for drug money. Although deeply grieved by this tragic loss, my brother-in-law has refused to become bitter or hateful. Instead, his continued desire and prayer has been for the salvation of the man who took his son's life. He even visited him in prison to give him the greatest blessing, the gospel. Such is the kind of distinctive Christian love that seeks to bless those who do us harm.” MacArthur, p. 196.

[32] We know that both Jesus and his dedicated follower Stephen, did this very thing (cf. Luke 23:34; Acts 7:59-60).

[33] Cf. 1 Pet. 3:9.

[34] We should also note that Paul practiced this very thing in his own life; thus he says in 1 Cor. 4:12, “Being reviled, we bless.”

[35] While of course, in and of ourselves, obeying the apostle here would be very difficult. Nonetheless, we must continue to go back to the opening words of this chapter where we are told that we are “not conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of our mind.” R. C. Sproul is right when he says, “If there is any dimension in which Christians are to transcend the normal behavior patterns of fallen man, it is with respect to how they deal with their enemies, with those who have injured them. To say something good about one who has persecuted us, takes as much grace as any virtue ever did, because our natural human tendency is to get even. Sproul, p. 252.

[36] Murray, 2:134.

[37] Osborne, Romans Verse by Verse, p. 398. I agree with Osborne's perspective here, but of course, we are not to “rejoice” in those sinful things which might make unbelievers happy.

[38] Cf. Phil. 2:17. Of course, this does not require that we rejoice with the ungodly when they rejoice in that which is evil in God’s eyes.

[39] Grk. present, active, verb,

[40] Chrysostom famously said, “It is easier to weep with those who weep than to rejoice with those that rejoice, because nature itself prompts the former [weeping], but envy stands in the way of the latter [rejoicing]” as cited in S. Lewis Johnson Jr. Discovering Romans, p. 204.

[41] Merida, p. 206.

[42] Cf. Rom. 15:5, 6.

[43] Paul will discuss our treatment of each other when it comes to secondary, nonessential gospel matters more fully in chapters 14 and 15.

[44] Cf. Rom. 15:5.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Cf. Rom. 11:20.

[47] The strong Greek adversative.

[48] Phillips translation.

[49] MacArthur, p.199.

[50] Perhaps in writing this verse, Paul was thinking of the words of Proverbs 26:12: “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” See also Prov. 3:7.

[51] Cf. 1 Pet. 3:8.

[52] It should be noted that in putting forth this instruction, Paul might be preparing his original audience for his discussion on Christian unity that he will take up with them more fully in chapters 14 and 15.

[53] Paul placed these words at the beginning of the sentence by the direction of the Holy Spirit, for the sake of emphasis.

[54] Henry T. Mahan Bible Class Commentary, Romans p. 90. MacArthur further reminds us that, “The Old Testament law of “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” (Ex. 21:24; cf. Lev. 24:20; Deut. 19:21) pertain to civil justice, not personal revenge. Not only that, but its major purpose was to prevent the severity of punishment from exceeding the severity of the offense. In other words, someone guilty of destroying other persons eyes could not be punished with any greater penalty than that of forfeiting one of his own eyes” MacArthur, p. 201.

[55] Phillips translation. See also 1 Tim. 3:7.

[56] Morris, p. 452.

[57] Sproul, p. 255.

[58] Thomas Robinson, Studies in Romans Book II. p. 193.

[59] Phillips translation.

[60] Cf. Heb. 12:14; James 3:17.

[61] John Calvin, p. 472, 473. Baker Books edition.

[62] Wilson, p. 207.

[63] Grk. perfect, passive, verb.

[64] Cf. Psa. 94:1, 2.

[65] Cf. Prov. 20:22.

[66] Vos, p. 261.

[67] Barnett, Christian Focus p. 284.

[68] William McDonald, Believers Bible Commentary (1989), 1731.

[69] MacArthur, One Faithful Life (2019), p. 317.

[70] The strong Greek adversative.

[71] Cf. 1 John 5:4.

[72] S. Lewis Johnson Jr. Discovering Romans, p. 206.


Rob Ventura