Thoughts for the day: Romans 12:9-21 (TNIV)

Rom 12:9-21 TNIV – It’s one of my favorite passages in Romans. 

9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not think you are superior.

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

18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


6 responses to “Thoughts for the day: Romans 12:9-21 (TNIV)

  1. This is one of my all-time favorite passages in Paul, period.

    Question for you. In the sentence “Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position,” the latter clause can also be rendered something like “be willing to engage in humble tasks.” Your thoughts (based on the Greek, of course)?

  2. Dr Black, thanks so much for commenting.

    Part of my delayed response is my need to think the clause through, in relation to the Greek of course, but also in relation to some theology. I realize that how one decides translate this depends on whether one takes the adjective “lowly” as masculine or neuter (according to the NET Bible Notes). It looks like the majority of translations took it as to mean “to associate with the poor or the lowly.” I see too that many translations have “bw willing to engage in humble tasks” relegated to the footnotes. So why not the other way around?

    If I go strictly with the Greek, I can agree with your translation and why and it makes sense.

    My struggle at the moment is wanting the verse to be just ambiguous enough to maybe mean both at the same time – why? Beacause this clause is put in between two staments, “don’t be proud” and “don’t think you are superior,” characteristics typical of a person who won’t do menial tasks or associate with the poor. Even so, some will engage in certain kinds of menial tasks but not really associate with the poor and so on. At least that is how I see it.

    Maybe some questions I might explore are what is meant by menial tasks and if one is willing to associate with the poor is one also willing to do menial tasks?

  3. Thanks for replying. I’m with you so far. You’re saying Paul might be intentionally ambiguous here. I raised the point simply because so few have ever thought the construction could be neuter. Personally, Jesus is teaching me that associating with people who are different from me often means that I must be willing to leave my comfort zone and perform tasks I would not normally do. Using the squatty potty in Ethiopia is a case in point!

  4. To be honest I hadn’t even looked into it that much – I just finished up preaching through 1-3 John and was talking about hospitality in 3 John and referenced how Paul exhorts us to practice hospitality and was reminded how I liked that passage when I looked it up so I put up the whole section as a blog post.

    I don’t know if Paul himself was being intentionally ambiguous per se, but its obvious there is some ambiguity in the Greek which explains the confusion as to if it is masculine or neuter.

    But I do see your point about associating with people who are different than we are and especially in cross-cultural missions contexts, and was thinking about that as well – I have been in a similar situation of using squatty pottys in both the Philippines and in Thailand on a couple of different missions related trips. But in associating with the poor we do need to enter into their world (incarnate) and do things they do alongside them.

    Thanks again for commenting and interacting – I do appreciate it.

    ps, I am about halfway through you book on linguistics book (on the syntax chapter).

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