The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans

By G. Campbell Morgan

Chapter 20








1. General Rom 12:5

2. Particular. Rom 12:6-8

a. The Gifts. Rom 12:6-8 a

Spiritual. Rom 12:6-8 a

Prophecy. Spiritual Interpretation.

Ministry. Spiritual Application.

Teaching. Spiritual Instruction.

Exhortation. Spiritual Insistence.

Material. Rom 12:3 b

Giving. Material Supply.

Ruling. Material Oversight.

Showing Mercy. Material Aid.

b. Their Use.


According to the Proportion of Faith.

According to our Ministry.

According to his Teaching.

According to his Exhorting.


With Liberality.

With Diligence.

With Cheerfulness.


a. THE PRINCIPLE. Rom 12:9 a

b. THE PRACTICE. Rom 12:9-21

1. Within the Fellowship. Rom 12:9-17

a. Purity. Rom 12:9-10

Personal. The Mind of Love. Rom 12:9 b

Relative. The Method of Love. Rom 12:10

b. Activity. Rom 12:11-16 a

Personal. The Mind of Love. Rom 12:11-12

Relative. The Method of Love. Rom 12:13-16 a

c. Humility. Rom 12:16-17

Personal. The Mind of Love. Rom 12:16 b

Relative. The Method of Love. Rom 12:17

2. Toward Enemies. Rom 12:18-21

a. The Aim. Rom 12:18

b. The Attitude. Rom 12:19

c. The Activity. Rom 12:20-21

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Having in his appeal declared the true attitude of the Christian life to be that of surrender to the will of God, the apostle proceeded to show how such surrender will be expressed. The teaching is full of interest and importance, as there may be much talk of submission while there is no practical evidence of the same. The first positive proof of abandonment to the will of God is that the personal life is characterized by simplicity. In dealing with this, the apostle defined the character as being that of humility; and the consciousness as that of communion; finally describing the consequent conduct of simplicity.


Basing his right upon the grace that was given him, and thus manifesting his own true humility, the apostle appealed carefully to the individual, as is evident from his phrase, "I say ... to every man." His message was both negative and positive. A man is "not to think . . . more highly than he ought"; he is "so to think . . . according as God hath dealt ... a measure of faith." The plain meaning of this is that a man's opinion of himself must be that of God's opinion of him. It is a most searching and safeguarding conception. Let every man honestly stand in the presence of God, and become conscious of the Divine measurement of himself, and there will be very little fear of that objectionable pride which is at the root of so much which is dishonouring to God, and which hinders the witness of the saints. The whole setting demonstrates the fact that the humility enjoined is humility concerning spiritual things. Of course that will create humility in all things. There is always danger that a person having solemnly dedicated everything to God, should on that very account become proud, and there is no pride more dangerous and more objectionable than spiritual pride.


The last statement of the paragraph defining the character of humility, prepares the way for the apostle's discussion of the consciousness of communion. "God hath dealt to each man a measure of faith,'' is a declaration which recognizes a certain deposit committed to the individual; and also the aggregation of such into the faith, - in the most spacious meaning of that word, - of the whole Church. To be conscious of that individual deposit, is necessarily to become conscious of its relation to the larger whole. The apostle therefore immediately proceeded to the declaration of truth concerning the whole body, and the complementary nature of the offices of the members thereof; showing that for the fulfillment of the function of the whole, the service of every part is necessary. Consequently the importance of each is measured not by its own significance, but by its contribution to the whole. Using the figure of the human body, he applied it in his declaration that believers are one body in Christ, and therefore are related to each other as members.

For purpose of illustration he then made particular application of his figure, by an enumeration of gifts, and an indication of the way in which they should be used, in order to the accomplishment of the purpose of the whole body or Church.

Of these gifts, four have definitely to do with the spiritual ministry whereby the whole Church is edified in grace. Prophecy is the gift of spiritual interpretation. Ministry is that sacred service whereby the truth revealed in prophecy is applied. Teaching is the gift of the patient impartation of instruction. Exhortation is the gift of stirring up those who are taught, to obedience.

The remaining three are operative in that material activity whereby the spiritual realities are made manifest. They are the gifts of serving tables, none the less sacred than the former, and absolutely necessary if the former are to be exercised to full advantage. Giving is the sacred gift through which the actual material supply is provided. Ruling is the gift of leading and conducting business affairs. Showing mercy is the gift of distributing material aid.

As the apostle named these gifts, he indicated the method of their use; and there is a difference between his statements with regard to the first four, and those with regard to the last three. For the clearer understanding of this passage I should personally omit all the italicized words.

It will then be seen that the little phrase "according to," becomes extremely suggestive with regard to the first four. He first recognized that gifts differed "according to the grace that was given to us"; and then insisted upon it that the exercise was to be according to the gift. Prophecy is to be according to the proportion of the faith, for here the marginal reading, "the faith," instead of "our faith," is of great value. Prophecy has many emphases. To different men different proportions of the faith are given. Let them exercise that which they have. The same principle is applied with regard to ministry, to teaching, and to exhortation.

The use of the preposition "with'' is equally suggestive with regard to the last three. The exercise of the gift of giving is to be with liberality; that of the gift of ruling, with diligence; that of the gift of showing mercy, with cheerfulness.

Let it be carefully observed that all these things are gifts bestowed in order to use. In the recognition of that fact there is a correction of the possibility of pride. All those possessions which make us of use to Christ and the Church are received from Him, and not contributed by us to Him, save in the sense that we exercise them under His control to the glory of His name.

Moreover all these are gifts of equal value to the well-being of the whole, and no graver mistake can be made than that of attempting to set them in some order of importance. In the economy of faith they are of equal value.

Humility therefore is manifest in the exercise of a gift, when it is used with a view to the fulfillment of the function of the whole body, rather than for the glorification of self.


The character of humility, and the consciousness of communion, inevitably result in the conduct of simplicity. In dealing with that, the apostle first enunciated the principle, and then enjoined the practice.


The master-principle of simplicity is expressed in briefest words, "Let love be without hypocrisy." It will be noticed that this injunction pre-supposes the presence of love, and indicates the true method of its activity. It is to be without hypocrisy; that is, without acting, or simple, as opposed to complex; it must be genuine. The command is all-inclusive, at once revealing the true impulse of obedience to all the instructions concerning the practice, and indicating the unifying bond which holds them in true relation.


The practice of simplicity has two realms of application, the first within the fellowship; and the second in the relation between the saints and those who are antagonistic to them.

1. Within the Fellowship

In examining the teaching of the apostle concerning the practice of simplicity within the fellowship it is interesting to note the alternation between personal character and relative conduct. There are three groups of instructions.

The first concerns the personal purity of the mind of love; it abhors the evil and cleaves to the good; and shows that the relative expression of it, is that of tender affection, and the rendering of honour to others.

The second concerns the personal activity of the mind of love, indicating its energy, "in diligence not slothful"; its inspiration, "fervent in spirit''; its motive, "serving the Lord"; its buoyancy, "rejoicing in hope"; its persistence, "patient in tribulation"; its power, "continuing steadfastly in prayer." The relative expression of this activity is that of supplying the needs of others, "communicating to the necessities of the saints; given to hospitality"; the bestowment of blessing on those who persecute, "bless them that persecute you; bless, and curse not"; the keen sensitiveness which enters into the experience of others, "rejoice with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep"; and the unity of mind which is of the essence of peace, "be of the same mind one toward another.

The third concerns the personal humility of the mind of love. It is not ambitious, "Set not your mind on high things"; it is meek, "condescend to things that are lowly"; it is not arrogant, "be not wise in your own conceits." The relative expression of humility is that of non-resistance, "render to no man evil for evil"; and honesty, "take thought for things honourable in the sight of all men."

2. Towards Enemies

Such self emptying, love-centered devotion to the will of God will alone make possible obedience to what follows. The aim of the simple life in which love is without hypocrisy is to be that of peace. In this connection it is to be carefully noted that the "if it be possible" is not an excuse for a believer under any circumstances to break the peace. It is rather a recognition that there will be some men who will not be at peace. The burden of responsibility is indicated by placing emphasis upon the word "you," "As much as in you lieth." There is an old adage that two are necessary to a quarrel. Taking this for granted, the Christian is to see to it that there shall be no contribution on his part to the making of a quarrel. If there is a breach of the peace, it must not be created by those who are devoted to the will of God. Where this aim is recognized, the attitude which the apostle enjoined is the result. If an outsider violates the principle of peace, the believer is not to avenge, for "Vengeance belongeth unto Me; I will recompense, saith the Lord."

This attitude is to be demonstrated by an activity. If the paragraph had ended with the words we have quoted, it would have been possible to understand a very popular attitude of mind toward the great declaration. How often we are tempted to say with a sigh of relief, Yes, thank God, vengeance does belong to the Lord! Thus although active reprisals are prevented, the heart rejoices in the thought that at last the punishment of God will be meted out to the wrong-doer. This thought is entirely out of harmony with the will of God for His child, and therefore the believer is called to such action as will demonstrate the existence of true and unfeigned love. The hungry man is to be fed, and the thirsty one supplied with water.

The closing injunction deals with the inner motives. "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." Thus the first expression of true devotion to the will of God is to be found in that simplicity which expresses itself in the humility of a self-emptied life, and the genuine love which creates true relations with all men.