Introduction: Chapter 12 marks a major shift in the letter. The first eleven chapters are often called the “doctrinal” section of Romans, while chapters 12-16 make up the “practical” section. With this chapter, Paul is essentially saying, “Here is how all of the preceding information should affect the way you live.”
I. Living Sacrifices (12:1-2)
A. Paul makes a passionate plea, based on the mercies of God as expressed in his plan to make men righteous through Jesus, that his readers present their bodies as living sacrifices (1).
B. In addition, he encourages them not to conform themselves to the ways of the world, but rather to be transformed. In that way, they would properly discern the perfect will of God (2).
1. It has always been the will of God for his people (the Jews in the Old Testament and Christians in the New) to be different from the world around them.
2. Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; 1 Sam. 8:5; 1 Peter 1:14-16; 2 Cor. 6:17-7:1
II. Using Your Gifts (12:3-8)
A. Paul warns them not to think more highly of themselves than they ought to think in the realm of their areas of service in the church. They were to conduct themselves soberly with a proper recognition of the gifts God had blessed each person with (3).
B. He reminds them that a single body is composed of different parts, each having its own peculiar function, but all working together for the good of the whole (4). The local church should operate the same way (5).
C. He would make the same point to the church in Corinth (1 Cor. 12:12-31).
D. Whatever your gift is, use it, whether it is prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, or acts of mercy (6-8).
1. Remember that prophecy was a miraculous gift available to the first-century church, but that it passed away along with the other miraculous gifts (cf. 1 Cor. 13:8-10).
2. But the other gifts were not miraculous by nature. God blesses people with different natural abilities, and he expects us to use those abilities to his glory.
III. Miscellaneous Exhortations (12:9-21)
A. Exhortations regarding self and Christian family (9-13):
1. Let love be genuine, without hypocrisy (9; 1 Cor. 13:1-7).
2. Abhor what’s evil; hold fast what’s good (9; Amos 5:15).
3. Love and honor each other (10; 1 John 4:7-12).
4. Be zealous in serving the Lord (11; Gal. 6:9; 1 Cor. 15:58).
5. Be joyful, patient, and prayerful (12; Phil. 4:4; James 1:2-4; Col. 4:2).
6. Be generous and hospitable (13; Gal. 6:10; 1 Pet. 4:9).
B. Exhortations regarding enemies (14-21):
1. Do not respond to evil with evil (14-17; 1 Pet. 2:21-23).
2. If at all possible, live in peace with everyone (18; Prov. 16:7).
3. Respond with kindness to your enemies, and leave the vengeance to God (19-21).
Conclusion: An important lesson to remember from chapter 12 is this – the good news about Jesus is not merely a blessed gift for us to enjoy, it also includes a solemn obligation to live for him. This chapter reveals many of the characteristics of a life lived in submission to Jesus.