Romans 12:17 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Romans 12:17, NIV: Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.

Romans 12:17, ESV: Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.

Romans 12:17, KJV: Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

Romans 12:17, NASB: Never repay evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all people.

Romans 12:17, NLT: Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.

Romans 12:17, CSB: Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone's eyes.

What does Romans 12:17 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul continues, in a list of commands, to describe what Christians should expect life in Christ to look like. Taken together, Romans 12 is a pretty thorough picture of what it means to follow Christ on this side of eternity.

Paul now comes to what is a difficult command for many people, including Christians. It is absolutely the example Jesus set for us, however. Paul declares that we must resist our natural human instinct for revenge and refuse to ever pay back evil when evil is done to us. This would be true whether the person who hurts us is a believer or not.

Instead, Paul tells us to be thoughtful when evil is done to us. He seems to suggest we see that moment as an opportunity to demonstrate that, in Christ, we are honorable people. We cannot, after all, display the love and forgiveness of Christ until we have the opportunity to forgive. When we do, we make a powerful statement that we are choosing to live in service to God instead of to ourselves.

The following verses will expand on this idea, including the claim that doing good for one's enemies is a far more powerful response than attempting petty revenge.