What does Romans 12:4 mean?
ESV: For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function,
NIV: For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,
NASB: For just as we have many parts in one body and all the body’s parts do not have the same function,
CSB: Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function,
NLT: Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function,
KJV: For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
Paul is describing how living sacrifices live. He has urged Christians—all who have received God's mercy because of their faith in Christ—to offer their everyday lives to God as an ongoing act of worship. Previous verses made clear that this will require transformation of our minds and perspective so that we can see and understand what God wants and be used by Him to get it done.
Now, though, Paul begins to get into what our specific jobs in this sacrificial lifestyle might be. It turns out that God's purpose for Christians is that we will spend our lives serving each other in specific ways. His analogy here applies broadly to each local congregation, but it also includes the worldwide church in general.
Paul uses the familiar analogy of a human body, something he develops in more detail in 1 Corinthians 12:12–31. Bodies are a unified whole, containing one person. But that unified body is made up of many different parts that serve wildly different functions from head to toe. Paul will show in the following verses that the church, meaning all Christians, is similar in that we are the body of Christ.
Romans 12:3–8 describes the first responsibility of every living-sacrifice Christian who worships the Lord. The church is like a body: Christ's body. Each Christian has a part to play using the specific spiritual gifts God has given to us. These gifts of grace provide all the power and ability we need to serve each other, but we must still do it, whether our gift is service, teaching, exhortation, mercy, or something else.
In Romans 12, Paul describes the worship of our God as becoming living sacrifices to our God, giving up seeking what we want from life and learning to know and serve what God wants. That begins with using our spiritual gifts to serve each other in the church. Paul's list of commands describes a lifestyle of setting ourselves aside. Our goal as Christians is to love and lift each other up. We must focus our expectation on eternity and wait with patience and prayer for our Father to provide. We must refuse to sink to evil's level, giving good to those who harm us instead of revenge.
Romans 11 ended with a hymn describing God's vast ownership of the universe. Romans 12 begins by asking the question, ''Since He owed us nothing and has given us great mercy, how should we respond?'' The answer is a life of self-sacrificing worship spent in serving the Lord and other believers, refusing revenge and overcoming evil with good. Romans 13 will continue to describe God's intended lifestyle for those in Christ.
The book of Romans is the New Testament's longest, most structured, and most detailed description of Christian theology. Paul lays out the core of the gospel message: salvation by grace alone through faith alone. His intent is to explain the good news of Jesus Christ in accurate and clear terms. As part of this effort, Paul addresses the conflicts between law and grace, between Jews and Gentiles, and between sin and righteousness. As is common in his writing, Paul closes out his letter with a series of practical applications.
Accessed 11/30/2023 5:02:04 AM
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