Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual [reasonable, logical] act of worship. 12:1
As I mentioned in an earlier post, my emphasis in verses 1 and 2 has always been the renewing of the mind; I had a riff I’d play that included Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 3:18, Ephesians 4:23, and 1John 3:1-3. But now I am faced with the fact that this passage begins with the presentation of the body as a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God.
I think there is an inclusio in verses 1 and 21, with verse 1 also serving as a hinge and transition from Chapters 9 – 11 and verse 21 reaching back to verse 1 and propelling us into 13:1ff.
The “therefore” of verse 1 transitions us from Chapters 9 – 11 that conclude with, “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” Let’s read this again without the artificial chapter break:
“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual [logical, reasonable] service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
While Christians may have their disagreements over the particular meaning(s) of Chapters 9 – 11, they can generally agree that these chapters set forth the sovereignty of God, that is, that God is in control – while perhaps differing on what that control entails. In that light we have the “therefore” of 12:1. Therefore, [since God is in control], present your bodies a living sacrifice…
If God is indeed in control then I can offer myself to him, beginning with my body, this temple He has created for His dwelling place, wherever I am. My offering of my body is an acknowledgement, among other things, that God is sovereign and in control, that from Him and through Him and to Him are all things – including me.
The ultimate offering of one’s body is generally considered to be death. Jesus’ offering of His body for us is an element of the Atonement. In Revelation 12:11 we see Christians who overcome the enemy, “because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death.”
We read in Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”; how did Jesus Christ overcome evil? It was by His death, resurrection, and ascension. Death came first, the offering of the body – hence the inclusio, the bracket, of Romans 12:1 and Romans 12:21. There is an inclusive thought in this chapter that begins and ends with the offering of the body. To be sure there are other elements and we might say that verse 2 is in the inclusio bracket as well, for to overcome evil with good in the ultimate sacrificing of one’s life envisions a transformed mind offering a dedicated body.
Following 12:21 we have the relationship of the Christian to government, and beyond that we have the relationship of Christians to one another; our bodies come into play in both of these sections. I will pick up the relationship of 12:21 with 13:1 in my next post.
Romans 12:1ff portrays incarnational living, in both the individual and in the Body of Christ – it begins with offering our body. What do justification and sanctification and the sovereignty of God (Chapters 1 – 11) look like in daily life? They look like Chapters 12 – 16.