Presentation and Transformation: An Exposition of Romans 12:1-2 -- By: D. Edmond Hiebert

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 151:603 (Jul 1994)
Article: Presentation and Transformation: An Exposition of Romans 12:1-2
Author: D. Edmond Hiebert

Presentation and Transformation: An Exposition of Romans 12:1-2

D. Edmond Hiebert

[D. Edmond Hiebert is Professor Emeritus of New Testament, Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, Fresno, California.]

“I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:1–2).

These verses clearly mark the transition from the doctrinal to the practical emphasis in this matchless epistle. The first 11 chapters “fairly revel in the great mysteries of the plan of redemption. But when we come to chapter twelve the tide turns. Now it is the practical, the everyday.”1 It is a clear reminder that true Christianity involves both “believing” and “behaving” the gospel. The history of Christendom reveals the tragic results when the vital relationship between doctrine and conduct is lost. As Nygren well remarks, “A doctrine, a gospel, which has no significance for man’s life and conduct is not a real gospel; and life and conduct which are not based on that which comes to us in the gospel are not Christian life and Christian conduct.”2 In a living Christianity, faith and conduct are inseparable.

This connection is indicated by the opening “Therefore”

(οὖν3 ) in Romans 12:1. The doctrinal realities already unfolded form the foundation for the Christian life in all its aspects. Addressed to believers (1:6–7), Paul’s order in this epistle clearly reveals the true relationship between doctrine and conduct (cf. Eph 4:1; 1 Thess 4:1). As Wuest asserts, “Doctrine must always precede exhortation since in doctrine the saint is shown his exalted position which makes the exhortation to a holy life, a reasonable one, and in doctrine, the saint is informed as to the resources of grace he possesses with which to obey the exhortations.”4 The intended scope of the backward look conveyed by the word “therefore” has been understood differently. Knox asserts that “the passage begins without any connection with w...

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