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Romans 12:18

ESV If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
NIV If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
NASB If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people.
CSB If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
NLT Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
KJV If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

What does Romans 12:18 mean?

How do Christians live together and in the larger world? How should they live as people offering their entire lives in sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1–2)? That's the question Paul has been answering in Romans 12. Now Paul follows the command of the previous verse, which was to always act honorably.

As believers, we should live peaceably with all people. This would include our siblings in Christ, as well as unbelievers. Another way to read this command might be, "Never let yourself be the reason for an un-peaceful relationship with another person."

This is not a statement of total pacifism or complete apathy, however. Paul gives two clear conditions: "If possible" and "so far as it depends on you." This command recognizes that conflict is sometimes unavoidable. Some people are just not interested in making peace with us. There is such a thing as an appropriate time and place to disagree, to dispute, or even to fight. Not every action that makes others happy is something good, or something God would want us to do.

What does it require to live this way? For one, of course, we must be willing to admit our wrongs, to apologize, to make things right, and to forgive. This is where the idea of "so far as it depends on you" comes into play. Our own ego, pride, desires, and prejudices should never get in the way of living peaceably with others. First and foremost, that means we ought not do "wrong" things to or towards other people.

Not all conflict is related to wrongdoing, however. Sometimes, it's simply a question of two sides who disagree about an issue with no absolute answer. In those cases, maintaining the peace may require us to be willing to yield, to be moved, on an issue we care about.

The Bible is clear, however, that on matters of bedrock conviction, we must take our stand with grace, mercy, and integrity (Hebrews 10:23). When making "peace" is possible only by compromising the truth, or the commands of God (Acts 5:28–29), then peace is simply not possible, and the choice no longer depends on us. That stance might result in our own suffering or persecution. Paul has shown that it always matters more that we represent Christ well than to come away with an outcome we find favorable (Philippians 4:11–13).
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