Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Romans
Book: Romans
Chapter: 12

Believers are to dedicate themselves to God. (1,2) To be
humble, and faithfully to use their Spiritual Gifts, in their
respective stations. (3-8) Exhortations to various duties.
(9-16) And to peaceable conduct towards all men, with
forbearance and benevolence. (17-21)

1,2 The Apostle having closed the part of his epistle wherein
he argues and proves various doctrines which are practically
applied, here urges important duties from Gospel principles. He
entreated the Romans, as his brethren in Christ, By the mercies
of God, to present their bodies as a living Sacrifice to Him.
This is a powerful Appeal. We receive from the Lord every Day
the fruits of his Mercy. Let us render ourselves; all we are,
all we have, all we can do: and after all, what return is it for
such very rich receivings? It is acceptable to God: a reasonable
service, which we are able and ready to give a reason for, and
which we understand. Conversion and Sanctification are the
renewing of the mind; a change, not of the substance, but of the
qualities of the soul. The progress of Sanctification, dying to
Sin more and more, and living to Righteousness more and more, is
the carrying On this renewing work, till it is perfected in
Glory. The great enemy to this renewal is, conformity to this
world. Take heed of forming plans for happiness, as though it
lay in the things of this world, which soon pass away. Do not
fall in with the customs of those who walk in the lusts of the
Flesh, and mind earthly things. The work of the Holy Ghost first
begins in the understanding, and is carried On to the will,
affections, and Conversation, till there is a change of the
whole Man into the likeness of God, in knowledge, Righteousness,
and true Holiness. Thus, to be godly, is to give up ourselves to

3-8 Pride is a Sin in us By nature; we need to be cautioned and
armed against it. All the saints make up one body in Christ, who
is the Head of the body, and the common Centre of their unity.
In the spiritual body, some are fitted for and called to one
sort of work; others for another sort of work. We are to do all
the good we can, one to another, and for the common benefit. If
we duly thought about the powers we have, and how far we fail
properly to improve them, it would humble us. But as we must not
be proud of our talents, So we must take heed lest, under a
pretence of Humility and self-denial, we are slothful in laying
out ourselves for the good of others. We must not say, I am
nothing, therefore I will sit still, and do nothing; but, I am
nothing in myself, and therefore I will lay out myself to the
utmost, in the strength of the Grace of Christ. Whatever our
Gifts or situations may be, let us try to employ ourselves
humbly, diligently, cheerfully, and in simplicity; not seeking
our own credit or profit, but the good of many, for this world
and that which is to come.

9-16 The professed Love of Christians to each other should be
sincere, free from deceit, and unmeaning and deceitful
compliments. Depending On Divine Grace, they must detest and
dread all evil, and Love and delight in whatever is kind and
useful. We must not only do that which is good, but we must
cleave to it. All our duty towards one another is summed up in
one Word, Love. This denotes the Love of parents to their
children; which is more tender and natural than any other;
unforced, unconstrained. And Love to God and Man, with zeal for
the Gospel, will make the Wise Christian diligent in all his
worldly business, and in gaining superior skill. God must be
served with the Spirit, under the influences of the Holy Spirit.
He is honoured By our Hope and trust in him, especially when we
rejoice in that Hope. He is served, not only By working for him,
but By Sitting still quietly, when he calls us to suffer.
Patience for God's sake, is true Piety. Those that rejoice in
Hope, are likely to be patient in Tribulation. We should not be
cold in the duty of Prayer, nor soon weary of it. Not only must
there be kindness to friends and brethren, but Christians must
not harbour Anger against enemies. It is but mock Love, which
rests in words of kindness, while our brethren need real
supplies, and it is in our power to furnish them. Be ready to
Entertain those who do good: as there is occasion, we must
welcome strangers. Bless, and Curse not. It means thorough good
will; not, Bless them when at Prayer, and Curse them at other
times; but Bless them always, and Curse not at all. True
Christian Love will make us take part in the sorrows and joys of
each other. Labour as much as you can to agree in the same
spiritual truths; and when you come short of that, yet agree in
Affection. Look upon worldly pomp and dignity with holy
contempt. Do not mind it; be not in Love with it. Be reconciled
to the place God in his Providence puts you in, whatever it be.
Nothing is below us, but Sin. We shall never find in our hearts
to condescend to others, while we indulge conceit of ourselves;
therefore that must be mortified.

17-21 Since men became enemies to God, they have been very
ready to be enemies one to another. And those that embrace
religion, must expect to meet with enemies in a world whose
smiles seldom agree with Christ's. Recompense to No Man evil for
evil. That is a brutish recompence, befitting only animals,
which are not conscious of any being above them, or of any
existence hereafter. And not only do, but study and take care to
do, that which is amiable and creditable, and recommends
religion to all with whom you converse. Study the things that
make for peace; if it be possible, without offending God and
wounding Conscience. Avenge not yourselves. This is a hard
lesson to corrupt nature, therefore a remedy against it is
added. Give place unto wrath. When a Man's Passion is up, and
the stream is strong, let it pass off; lest it be made to rage
the more against us. The line of our duty is clearly marked out,
and if our enemies are not melted By persevering kindness, we
are not to seek vengeance; they will be consumed By the fiery
wrath of that God to whom vengeance belongeth. The last verse
suggests what is not easily understood By the world; that in all
strife and contention, those that revenge are conquered, and
those that forgive are conquerors. Be not overcome of evil.
Learn to defeat ill designs against you, either to change them,
or to preserve your own peace. He that has this rule over his
Spirit, is better than the mighty. God's children may be asked
whether it is not more sweet unto them than all earthly good,
that God So enables them By his Spirit, thus to feel and act.