Romans 12:4

"For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function..."

Paul compares the church to the human body.  As the human body is diverse and yet unified, so is the church.  The church is diverse with many different members, yet unified in every member's commitment to the head, the Lord Jesus Christ.  The body does what the head wills and desires.

The church is the body of Jesus Christ on earth.  It is his hands, feet, eyes, mouth, ears and feet.  Every Christian is a part of this body.  Every member is significant with an important work to keep the body coordinated.

Some today deeply criticize the church.  They think it's irrelevant to following Jesus.  They are wrong.  It's impossible to love Jesus and not love his Bride.  Jesus died to give his bride life.  How can you love Jesus and not that which he loves the most in this world?  That for which he gave his life?

All Christ followers need to use their gifts to build up the body of Christ.  It helps the body of Christ be coordinated.  It keeps the church relevant in the world. 

And as the church serves a broken world, the world sees a living, vital, relevant Jesus.


Romans 12:3

"For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God as assigned."

In chapters 1-11 Paul gives in depth understanding to the gospel of grace.  In verses 1-2, he outlined the practical personal implications for someone who follows Jesus.  In these next verses, Paul moves toward the communal considerations of grace. How Christians should live together is what Paul is addressing in the following verses.

God has given each Christian a "measure of faith."  Every follower of Jesus has some level of faith.  Paul calls each Christian to assess himself realistically through the lenses of his faith.

In light of our faith in Christ, we should not think of ourselves more highly than we should.  We should all remember our previous sinful state.  There was nothing meritorious within ourselves that earned God's favor.  We were all saved by grace through faith.  We should all have "sober judgment" concerning ourselves.

Humility should be the characteristic that most describes us.  We are nothing.  Christ is everything.  Life is all about glorifying him and him alone.  Who are we that God should even think about us?

We should live humbly with one another.  As we have received grace from Jesus, we should give grace to fellow followers of Christ.

That proves we understand the gospel of grace.


Romans 12:2

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."

Even though Christians are eternally secure in Christ, we still must live in this present age.  It is one still filled with multiple temptations and awful evil.  Christians must fight against its pressure to mold us into its image. 

What is the key to keep from being molded into the image of this present age?  It's the renewal of our minds.  We are what we think.  Whatever we focus our minds on is what we will eventually become.

Then, as our minds are renewed, we are able to discern what is good and evil.  We are able to know God's will and obey it.

This "testing" that comes from living in the world is a good thing.  How can an athlete know if he's successful unless he plays against an opponent?   This testing of living in a fallen world allows us to know if our faith is real and our minds have been truly transformed.

If you want your life to be new and faithful to Christ, look at your thought life.  What you think eventually become actions.

Do you have the mind of Christ?  Do you think as he would will you to think?

The faithful Christian life begins there.


Romans 12:1

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."

From chapters 1-11, Paul has been outlining the glorious gospel of grace.  He has shown everyone how to have a relationship with God through Christ and be righteous before him.  In this section Paul now moves toward the practical applications of God's great grace and mercy.  Here is how a Christian should respond to God's grace and mercy given freely in Jesus.  Here is how a Christian should live.

The "therefore" that begins this verse points back to all the truth Paul has given in the previous 11 chapters.  Christians are to give all they have to God because he has given all he is to us in Christ.  Paul uses sacrificial language from the Old Testament to express a Christian's new life in Christ.  We are to give their entire selves, their bodies, both body and soul, to the one called Lord Jesus.  A living sacrifice connotes someone who was dead and is now alive.  Moreover, we will never be put to death again for sin.  We will never die at all!  Our resurrection is secure in the one who was raised from the dead.

Jesus has also fulfilled all the Old Testament animal sacrifices outlined in Leviticus 1-7.  They are no longer necessary.  Jesus' death on the cross is now sufficient for all sins to be forever forgiven.

Finally, a Christian's "spiritual worship" is his whole life totally offered freely to God.  Jesus offered his life for us.  He paid for all of our sin by giving his entire life to us.  In response, we offer freely our lives for him.

What else can we do in response to God's amazing grace and mercy revealed in Christ?


Romans 11:33-36

“O, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!  For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?  Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?  For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be glory forever.  Amen.”

Paul concludes all this thoughts with a spirited doxology.  When the thinks about God’s salvation history through Jesus, described in chapters 1-11 in the book of Romans, Paul must break forth in praise.  Quoting from the book of Job, Paul says that God’s wisdom, power and methodologies are beyond human comprehension.  

No one has ever given God anything.  To the contrary, all we have comes from God as a precious gift from his divine hand.  Therefore, God alone deserves all the praise. God alone deserves all the glory forever.

When you look at creation, does doxology flow from your heart and start to flow from your lips?  When you contemplate all God has given to you, do you spontaneously start to praise him?  

God’s plan of salvation for us personally and people everywhere should always evoke great praise.  He is worthy of it.

Praise him today!


Romans 11:32

“For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.”

All people, both Jew and Gentile alike, have been consigned to disobedience.  They are locked up in the jail cell of their sin.  Because of their selfish sin nature, they disobey God.

God doesn’t have to save anyone.  He is not obligated to give anyone his mercy and eternal life.  But he does so only because of his incredible mercy.  The “all” here are “all” who receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.  They alone have received God’s mercy by accepting his Son, Jesus, knowing that the penalty of our sin was poured out on him instead of us.

When we recognize the mercy of God, it should make us fall more in love with the Father.  It is beyond our human comprehension.

Thank God today for his great mercy given to you through Jesus.


Romans 11:30-31

“For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy.”

The history of salvation from God’s standpoint features his mercy.  Because of his unique relationship with the Jews, it could be expected that God only desired them to be saved.  But through the Jews’ disobedience, God offered his mercy to the Gentiles as well.  And the salvation of the Jews could happen at any time—again—only because of God’s rich mercy.

Mercy means that we don’t receive what we deserve.  Have you contemplated today about the reality that in our disobedience against a holy God, we deserve to be eternally separated from him.  Yet through Jesus, we have been forgiven of our sin.  We have received God’s mercy.

It’s an extraordinary gift!  Contemplate today God’s great mercy.  Your life will never be the same when you do.


Romans 11:29-30

“For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.”

The fact that God will draw many Jews unto himself as the end of days draws near is not because of their righteousness but because God never revokes his promises.  When he promises something, it will happen in God’s way and time.

God gave unique gifts to Israel: his name, a special relationship, worship, laws, and commandments.  When he called them to be his people, it was a relationship unlike any other people.  He loved the Jews when he called them uniquely to be his own people.  He still does.

Therefore, they will remain close to his heart until Jesus returns.  That’s why many will most assuredly receive salvation before Jesus’ return.

Do you have a promise from God?  If so, believe that all God’s promises to all his children are irrevocable.  Believe them today.  They are true for all God’s children for all times.


Romans 11:28

“As regards the gospel, they are enemies for you sake.  But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers.”

Paul continues his discussion of unbelieving Israel.  Their unbelief has been of benefit to the Gentiles.  Their period of unbelief has allowed the gospel to be given to the Gentiles.  Now the entire world has an opportunity to believe in Jesus.

But God’s election will still include many Jews.  That is Paul’s point in verses 25-27.  There is still yet to come a time in salvation history when God will bring many Jews to faith in Jesus.  God will fulfill his promise of election to the Jews’ forefathers: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  It will happen.  It’s in the future.  It’s still yet to come.  

But it will happen.  God will one day bring salvation history to close.  Jesus will return.  And God’s elect will rejoice in him when he does.

History is in God’s hands.  Trust him.  He oversees all.  Nothing escapes his oversight.

He is worthy of our praise.


Romans 11:25

“Lest you be wise in your own sight.  I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.  And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, ’The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.  And this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”

Paul give a mystery of faith given to him by revelation.  It is for all Gentile believers.  This mystery is not necessarily the revelation of something that can’t be grasped by human intellect.  Rather, it’s a piece to God’s puzzle in history, a revelation of something that was previously hidden but is now understood.

Paul says this mystery has three aspects to it:

  1. At his point in life, as salvation history was progressing, the majority of the Jews’ hearts had been hardened to Christ.  From a Christian’s vantage point today in salvation history, the same is true.
  2. During this same point in salvation history, Gentiles are being brought to Christ. That too has occurred over the last 2,000 years.  There are billions of believers in Jesus over the last 2,000 years.
  3. One day, that is still yet to come, God will do a new work in the hearts of Israel.  On that day, “all” Israel will be saved.

The “all” here implies a number of Jews who will come to faith in Christ at the end times.  Then Paul quotes two verses from Deuteronomy 7:8 and 10:15 to show how God’s promise long ago was fro a Deliverer from Zion who would take people’s sins from them.  Paul this promise fulfilled in Jesus.  One day, he proclaimed, many Jews will believe in Jesus before his Second Coming.

God oversees all salvation history.  He began the world.  He will complete it with Jesus’ glorious return.  

Therefore, there is no reason to despair over current events.  All is overseen by God.  He knows all.  He has a plan.  Therefore, today, rest in his perfect sovereignty and oversight of his world. 


Romans 11:23-24

“And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.  For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.”

Paul makes a promise that any Jew who places his faith in Jesus for his salvation will be grafted back into the olive tree—that being God’s kingdom.

To prove his point, he makes an argument from the lesser to the greater.  If God was willing to graft into his kingdom the wild olive branch, the Gentiles, how much more will he be willing to graft back into his kingdom those with whom he originally made a covenant: the Jews.  His love for the Jews has never ceased.

But now, through Jesus, God’s love is for the entire world, Jew and Gentile alike.  For God so loved the entire world that he gave his Son on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.  Whoever believes in him will never perish but have eternal life.

That’s the gospel of grace.  It was Paul’s passion.  It should be ours too who believe in Jesus.


Romans 11:21-22

“For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.  Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness.  Otherwise, you too will be cut off.”

When you think about the character of God, fear is the appropriate response.  He is awesome and holy beyond description.  The fear of the Lord truly is the beginning of wisdom.  God doesn’t spare any person who fails to believe that he exists and is perfectly holy.  This kind of fear doesn’t take God for granted.  It persists in abiding faith and love.

But his awesome fear must be balanced with his kindness.  His severity must be balanced with his grace.  His kindness has been poured out on all people through his Son, Jesus.  Everyone now has the chance to have their sins forgiven and a forgiven relationship with God the Father.  This too should preserve faith.  It should cause obedience.

Today, get in touch with God’s holiness and grace.  You’ll see both manifested on the cross of Christ.  And you should fall more in love with who God is, his kindness and grace toward wretched sinners like you and me.


Romans 11:19-20

“Then you will say, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.’  That is true.  They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith.   So do not become proud, but fear.”

Paul warns again in these two verses against any Christian pride that believes Christians are special because Jewish branches were broken off and Christians were grafted into God’s plan.  There is nothing to be proud of.  The gift of salvation is rooted in God’s grace.  It’s all his sovereign choice.  Therefore, what can Christians be proud of?

Instead, they should feel fear.  This word “fear” does not imply cowardice.  Rather, it means “to have profound respect and reverence, have fear of offending.”  The Jews were removed from God’s plan because of their unbelief and lack of fear of the Lord.  They lost their respect and reverence for God.  The only way Gentiles remain is by their continued trust and faith. That’s the essence of what the Bible calls, “the fear of the Lord.”

Today, trust totally in the great God of the universe.  Respect his awesome holiness—as he deserves.  This proves you believe in him.

For he alone deserves our praise.


Romans 9:17-18

“But if some of the branches were broken off, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches.  If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.”

Paul uses the illustration of a root and its branches.  The root is God himself and his promises to the patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  The branches that were broken off where the majority of the Jews in Paul’s day.  Gentiles are the wild olive shoot that were grafted into God’s covenant promises originally made to the patriarchs.  Gentiles who believe in Jesus are a part of that original promise made to the patriarchs.

But Paul warns Gentile believers not to be proud.  It is God’s promises (the root) that brings them salvation, not their own good works.  Gentiles should never feel pride when thinking that God removed the Jewish branches from his olive tree and grafted the Gentiles into it.  Paul exhorts all believers to remember that the source of all salvation is God himself.  He is the giver of eternal life.  It’s all because of his grace that it occurs.  There is nothing Gentiles ever did to earn be grafted into God’s plan.

Humility is always rooted in God’s grace.  That’s a good lesson to remember today for all who know that God debases the proud and exalts the humble.


Romans 11:15-16

“For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?  If the dough offered as first fruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.”

The majority of Jews didn’t accept the gospel of grace.  Paul asks if this rejection has meant the salvation of Gentiles, then how much more will be the salvation of Jews in even greater numbers in the years to come.  It will bring about the final resurrection, an amazing spiritual revival and eventually their life from the dead, as history reaches its conclusion.  From that moment onward, people will praise God forever.

Paul uses two illustrations to describe this truth.  There is the “first fruits” and “root” illustrations.  Most likely, these images refer to the patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the original, saving promises from God given to them being fulfilled in Jesus and the gospel’s witness around the world.

If the dough is given to God, then the entire loaf of bread will be holy.  If the root is given to God, then the other branches will be holy.  The source of something defines what it eventually becomes.  God gave great and mighty promises to the patriarchs, the root, the beginning of their formation as a people.

Paul says the original promises given to the patriarchs about the formation of the Jewish nation are from God himself.  That’s the source of how God formed Israel.  Eventually, it’s fruit must be in accordance with its root: great and numerous.  

To that day, Paul looked forward.  In the future, Paul believed a spiritual revival would break out and many Jews would come to faith in Jesus.

God’s promised root must one day produce his promised fruit.  It will happen.  


Romans 11:13-14

“Now I am speaking to you Gentiles.  Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them.”

Paul now turns his attention from his Jewish readers to his Gentile ones.  Note he calls himself “an apostle to the Gentiles.”  This is not irrelevant.  He claims apostolic authority in his message to the Gentiles.  That means that when he spoke, he believed he was speaking the very words of Jesus himself to the Gentiles.  He was called, appointed and given authority from Jesus to speak truth to the Gentiles.  

It was a special calling and commission from Jesus himself, received by Paul on the road to Damascus years earlier.

This special calling magnified Paul’s ministry.  It gave him more authority than most all other Christians—except the other apostles themselves who received a similar apostolic authority from Jesus.

This apostolic calling to the Jews was seen by Paul to make his Jewish brothers jealous to what was happening among the Gentiles and bring many of them to faith in Jesus and be saved.

Paul had a special call to the Gentiles.  Yet he still wanted his Jewish brothers to be saved.  In other words, he wanted the entire world, Jew and Gentile alike, to know Jesus.  It was his passion in life.

Do you share Paul’s similar passion to reach the world for Jesus?


Romans 11:11-12

“So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall?  By no means!  Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles so as to make Israel jealous.  Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean?”

Whenever we look at history, we should realize that no one historical event is God’s final word until God says so.  He is the Lord over all salvation history.  Although all events are overseen by him, he is the author and finisher of the final event—Jesus’ second coming.

Paul was trying to make this point in these two verses regarding Jewish history.  Although Israel hardened its heart against the gospel, that does not mean God was finished with Israel.  He still has a plan to use Israel in salvation history until Jesus returns.

In fact, God was using Israel’s trespass for his perfect plan.  It opened the door to salvation for the Gentiles.  In turn, in seeing Gentiles accept the gospel and commit themselves to obeying God’s moral law originally given to the Jews, they would be provoked to jealousy.  In observing their personal relationship with the living God, they would desire to know him in a similar way.

God still has a future and hope for the Jewish people.

Paul looked forward to the day when there would be a Jewish “full inclusion” with the gospel—the fulfillment of God’s saving promises for the Jews who would come to faith in Jesus.  At this moment, God’s blessings for all Jews and Gentiles will be complete.

It is a day for which the entire world should long.


Romans 10:9-10

“And David says, ‘Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them; let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs forever.’”

Paul had just quoted two verses from Isaiah and Deuteronomy (verses 7-8).  Both show how God historically had hardened the Jews hearts in their rebellion against him.  They faced certain judgment from God because of their rebellion against God.

Next, Paul prays two Old Testament verses from the pen of King David concerning the Jews’ rebellion (Psalm 69:22-23).  It’s a prayer over the Jews of his day who have rejected Christ.  Paul used these verses to ask for God’s eventual judgment over them.

At first glance, this seems harsh.  But isn’t God’s judgment his eventual justice?  Isn’t judgment simply declaring what is wrong is wrong and making right what needs to be made right?  If people, Jew or Gentile, reject God’s only way for their sins to be forgiven and their lives made right with him through Jesus Christ, God must judge this rejection or he can’t be God.  If people’s rebellion goes unpunished, how can their be a moral law and a just God?

I pray you’ll consider Paul’s thoughts as you consider your own life and trajectory into eternity.


Romans 11:7-8

“What then?  Israel failed to obtain what is was seeking.  The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written, ‘God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.’”

Paul combines two Old Testament verses here: from Isaiah 29:10 and Deuteronomy 29:4.  These verses address how God hardened Israel’s heart at different points in its history so that they could not see or hear certain spiritual truths.  

But we also need to understand this ultimate hardening from God only occurred after years of rejection of his truth.  As Paul stated in Romans 1, God gives people over to their sinful ways.  If people persist in their rebellion against God, one day, in his sovereign oversight, he will forever harden their hearts in the direction people have chosen to go.  Only God knows when this time comes.  But it comes to all who rebel against him.  And the ultimate end is eternal separation from God.

If you have any flicker in your heart to love, obey and serve God, this point of hardening has not yet happened.  I pray you will obey those inner promptings today and seek after God.  Each time you do, your heart for God is enlarged.  Each time you do, you’ll be drawn closer and closer into a relationship with the living Lord Jesus Christ.

And you never have to worry about your heart ever being hardened by God.


Romans 11:5-6

“So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.  But if it is by grace, it is not longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.”

Paul had just referred to Elijah who, in his despair over the godlessness of the leaders and people in Israel, thought God had entirely deserted Israel (Kings 19).  But God reminded Elijah that there were still 7,000 faithful Israelites who had not yet bent their knee to godless idols.  They still desired to follow him.  He had not yet deserted Israel.

Similarly, Paul tells his readers that God’s remnant, those who follow Jesus, are still in existence as a remnant.  They are scattered all over the Roman Empire.  They are chosen by God’s grace and God’s grace alone.

The concept of God choosing his people and the doctrine of grace are inextricably interconnected.  Both prove the the work of salvation is God’s work alone.  Neither have anything to do with our works.  Election is solely by God’s choice.  Grace is solely a gift from God.  That way, no one can ever boast of what they did to earn salvation.  That way, all the glory belongs to God and God alone.

As it should be.