Rom 1:1-7, Greeting and benediction;
Rom 1:8-15, Desire to visit Rome;
Rom 1:16-17, Theme of the letter: the Gospel reveals the righteousness of God;
Rom 1:18-5:21, Justification and the righteousness of God;
Rom 6:1-8:39, Sanctification and the righteousness of God;
Rom 9:1-11:36, God’s righteousness and Israel;
Rom 12:1-15:13, Practical Application of God’s righteousness;
Rom 12:1-21, Filled with the Spirit for service, not conformed to the world but to God’s will
Rom 12:1-21 chiastic structure:
1a) Rom 12:1-2, Be a living sacrifice, not conformed to the world but to God’s will;
1b) Rom 12:3-5, Walk in humility;
central axis) Rom 12:6-15, The gifts;
1) Prophecy, 12:6; exhortation for prophets: 12:9 “Let love be without hypocrisy;”
2) Ministry, 12:7, exhortation for ministers: 12:10 “Be kindly affectionate toward one another;”
3) Teaching, 12:7, exhortation for teachers: 12:11 “Not lagging in diligence;”
4) Exhortation, 12:8, exhortation for exhorters: 12:12 “Rejoicing in hope;”
5) Giving, 12:8, exhortation for givers: 12:13 “Distributing to the needs of the saints;”
6) Leading, 12:8, exhortation for leaders: 12:14 “Bless those who persecute you;”
7) Mercy, 12:8, exhortation for the merciful: 12:15 “Rejoice with those who rejoice;”
2b) Rom 12:16, Walk in humility;
2a) Rom 12:17-21, The world’s way contrasted with God’s way (will).
The instruction about serving in your gift (which is the topic of the chapter, giving our lives in service to God as an acceptable sacrifice), is wrapped around, first, an instruction to not be haughty or think of ourselves more highly than we ought. We can think, because we have this gift, whatever it is, that we are so important. Well, we are important to the Body and to God’s plan. But because of Him, not because of us! So never take the cover of humility off of our service in the gifts! Then the package of the gifts, wrapped in humility, is again wrapped in the covering of knowing what the will of the Lord is — not only knowing it with our minds, but living according to it!
Now, let’s place the exhortation of this chapter in the greater context of the letter to the Romans. The chapter opens with a “therefore.” My pastor in Colorado always used to tell us, when you come across a “therefore,” you have to find out what it is there for, LOL. The chapter and verse divisions were not originally in Paul’s letter, and while they help us read a portion of Scripture every day in a neat little package, sometimes the chapter divisions interrupt the flow of a thought.
So, at the end of chapter 11, Paul had just finished extolling the greatness of God’s mercy, wisdom, and judgment! God had consigned all men, Jew and Greek, under disobedience, so that He might have mercy on all. THEREFORE, because the God we serve is SO great, SO high, SO wonderful, SO deep, SO rich in mercy, SO mighty, SO past finding out, we ought to think about and do the things in Rom 12.
Because God is merciful and mighty, THEN let us present ourselves a living sacrifice of service, which is holy and acceptable to God. Why is our service “reasonable?” This word in Greek (Strong’s G3050) means, “rational,” “logical,” “pertaining to reason.” In other words, it is only rational and logical that we give our lives in service to such an awesome God. Not becoming a living sacrifice to such a great and merciful God as YHVH, is illogical.
The language of verse 1 is taken from the Hebrew recorded in Lev 1, the law concerning the whole burnt offering (Strong’s H5930, olah in Hebrew). The sacrifice is consumed entire on the altar, in fire. This offering can only be presented to God by one who is already cleansed from sin, who is in right standing with God. The sinner cannot bring the whole burnt offering; he can only bring the sin offering. Remember the topic of this letter to the Romans – what sets us in right standing before God? Now that Paul has established the fact of our righteousness, he is going on to describe, as a worshiper of YHVH Most High, what we now go on to do. What we now go on to do, is to lay ourselves down upon God’s altar, and allow His fire (Mat 3:11) to consume us entire, and we spend all that we are – spirit, soul, and body; and all that we have – time, talents, and treasure – in service to our great God. And what is our service? Whatever our gift of the Spirit is, in humility, knowing His will and walking by it, not in conformity to the world. WOW!