12:1–2 EXHORTATION TO A TESTED PRESENTATION AND TRANSFORMATION
The mercies of God are those of which Paul spoke throughout Romans 1–11. The “And so” of 12:1 is a conclusion based on the entirety of the first eleven chapters. The word “give” (12:1) is the same as in 6:13, 16, 19. True worship is seen as a presentation of the self to God. The body is the vehicle of presentation. Remember what was said about the body in Romans 6–8.
The specifics of mind renewal (12:1) involve the proving of God’s will (law) in everyday experience (12:2). Rather than being conformed to the world’s mold, the believers are to be transformed (lit., “metamorphosis”) from the inside out.
12:1–16:27 In these final 5 chapters, Paul explains in great detail how believers are to practically live out the rich theological truths of chaps. 1–11. God has graciously given believers so much, that Paul exhorts them to respond in grateful obedience.
12:1 Therefore. This refers to the last refrain of his doxology of praise in 11:36. Since all things are for His glory, we must respond by offering ourselves for that purpose. urge. This Gr. word comes from a root which means “to call alongside to help.” Jesus used a related word, often translated “comforter,” in reference to the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7). This family of words later came to connote exhorting, encouraging, or counseling. Paul was speaking as a counselor to his readers, but his counsel carried the full weight of his apostleship. mercies of God. The gracious, extravagant, divine graces Paul expounded in the first 11 chapters, including God’s love (1:7; cf. 5:5; 8:35, 39), grace (1:6, 7; 3:24; 5:2, 20, 21; 6:15), righteousness (1:17; 3:21, 22; 4:5, 6, 22–24; 5:17, 19), and the gift of faith (1:5, 17; 3:22, 26; 4:5, 13; 5:1; 10:17; 12:3). present your bodies a living … sacrifice. Under the Old Covenant, God accepted the sacrifices of dead animals. But because of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice, the OT sacrifices are no longer of any effect (Heb 9:11, 12). For those in Christ, the only acceptable worship is to offer themselves completely to the Lord. Under God’s control, the believer’s yet-unredeemed body (see note on 6:6, 12; 7:5; cf. 8:11, 23) can and must be yielded to Him as an instrument of righteousness (6:12, 13; cf. 8:11–13). spiritual service. In light of all the spiritual riches believers enjoy solely as the fruit of God’s mercies (Ro 11:33, 36), it logically follows that they owe God their highest form of service. Understood here is the idea of priestly, spiritual service, which was such an integral part of OT worship.
12:2 do not be conformed. “Conformed” refers to assuming an outward expression that does not reflect what is really inside, a kind of masquerade or act. The word’s form implies that Paul’s readers were already allowing this to happen and must stop. this world. Better translated, “age,” which refers to the system of beliefs, values—or the spirit of the age—at any time current in the world. This sum of contemporary thinking and values forms the moral atmosphere of our world and is always dominated by Satan (cf. 2Co 4:4). transformed. The Gr. word, from which the Eng. word “metamorphosis” comes, connotes a change in outward appearance. Matthew uses the same word to describe the Transfiguration (Mt 17:2). Just as Christ briefly and in a limited way displayed outwardly His inner, divine nature and glory at the Transfiguration, Christians should outwardly manifest their inner, redeemed natures, not once, however, but daily (cf. 2Co 3:18; Eph 5:18). renewing of your mind. That kind of transformation can occur only as the Holy Spirit changes our thinking through consistent study and meditation of Scripture (Ps 119:11; cf. Col 1:28; 3:10, 16; Php 4:8). The renewed mind is one saturated with and controlled by the Word of God. good … acceptable … perfect. Holy living of which God approves. These words borrow from OT sacrificial language and describe a life that is morally and spiritually spotless, just as the sacrificial animals were to be (cf. Lv 22:19–25).