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Commentary on Rom. 12:1 [present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy]

"I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service" (MKJV)

Synopsis: the elect who repent in the name of Jesus Christ receive the agape love, which is the love of the truth - the will to learn, use and proclaim it. That is why in Rom. 12:1 Paul writes about reasonable service and therefore this happens "by the mercies of God" (reference to election). The body is obviously a tool for performing this service. However, it is to be holy and living. Holy means separated for special service. What separates us is agape because it gives the direction to the whole life of the elect. In addition, it develops in believers the knowledge of the truth, which in turn transforms character to the image of Jesus Christ. The character is referred to as the body in the Bible. The living body means a developed character that corresponds to the principles of justice, and therefore is not burdened with a death sentence.

God's calling of the Gospel age is of two kinds. First of all, all people are called (invited) to repent in the name of Jesus Christ. This is a universal calling addressed at "all men everywhere" (Acts 17:30). In addition, there is also a special calling directed to a special, selected group of people - a calling to service for the Gospel after the example of Jesus Christ. The winners of this calling will receive their reward in the glory of the divine nature with the Lord as his co-rulers in the future kingdom (1 Pet. 1:3,4; Rev. 5:9,10). However, because not everyone receives this grace and this possibility, in Rom. 12:1 the apostle Paul writes that this happens "by the mercies of God". The elect receive it in the form of the divine love agape - the love of the truth, which 'forces' the called to serve the Gospel in the footsteps of the Lord (Jn. 18:37; ; 2 Thess. 2:10). Love is in its essence an emotion or will, therefore Paul teaches that it is poured into our hearts (Rom. 5:5). Raising emotions, however, is not the purpose of giving love to the elect.

Agape is the love of the truth that acts in three basic directions: 1) deepening the knowledge of God's Word by the mind (Phil. 1:9; Eph. 3:17,18; 2 Tim. 3:16,17); 2) character development modeled on the mind's understanding (Eph. 3:16,19, 4:20-24; ); 3) development of the domain of the truth through evangelization, teaching and prophecy (; Jn. 21:15-17). Paul refers to these three areas in Rom. 12:1 through the prism of their influence on the body of the called. However, the body understood not only as our material coating, but also as character traits recorded in this body (see the lecture ). The New Testament uses the concept of the body in these two meanings depending on the context; in Rom. 12:1 we meet them together in the one term 'holy and living sacrifice'. The starting point, however, needs to be the 'reasonable service' - the influence of the spirit on the mind of believers, which on the one hand seals the body of character on the model of the truth, and on the other hand, makes the body a material tool for the proclamation and teaching of the Word of God.

Then, we are to offer our bodies as a sacrifice. As I pointed out at the beginning, our sacrifice is happening "by the mercies of God". We do not have the power to enter the narrow path of self-sacrifice because this process initiates God by giving the elect His spirit of sacrifice (). However, when we find ourselves on this narrow path, we not only have the right, but even the obligation to act faithfully according to our calling. This thought is emphasized by our Lord in the parable of the talents - the servant will not multiply the talents if he does not first receive an 'initial capital'. When he receives it, he also takes responsibility for handling the entrusted property. Similarly in the . Everyone can come to the feast, just like everyone can receive Jesus. Despite this, only the elect will take part in the feast - those who, due to the spirit of the new birth, received a robe of justice. Therefore, we do not make our bodies to be holy/ consecrated on our own because God sacrifices us by the influence of his love, but when it does happen, the path of offering our bodies in the service of the Gospel becomes open.

Thus, in consecration the spirit of the truth uses the body as a tool of service. Obviously, this has to be a tool suitably prepared, cleansed of sin and ready to bear the fruit of justice. Hence the second aspect of the activity of the spirit of the truth in the form of our sanctification - the transformation of character after the pattern of Jesus Christ. Because the complete personality (soul) covers the spirit of the mind and the body of character, submission to the spirit of the truth in both these aspects will translate to our , or using the vocabulary from Rom. 12:1 - our living/ revival. Subjecting oneself to the influence of the spirit makes man new; not in the sense of flesh, but in a spiritual sense, in the sense of the ability to act in accordance with God's principles. On the one hand, shaping new character traits does not erase existing scripts, hence the concept of the robe of justice, with which we cover our body of sin. On the other hand, the robe means that the body ceases to be visible - similarly thanks to the robe of justice, unwanted character traits cease to be revealed, they become 'overwritten'.

Hence the death and resurrection/ revival in relation to character. The old man (character developed without faith) dies (ceases to translate into behavior), and in his place the new man rises to life (character developed by obedience to faith). We find an exhibition of this teaching in many places of the New Testament, e.g. in Rom. 6:1-6 we read about immersion into death, so that "the body of sin [sinful character] might be destroyed", thus making a place for the "newness of life"; in Eph. 4:20-24 Paul vividly describes the process of putting off the old man and putting on the new man "according to your way of living", and this change is possible by 'renewing in the spirit of your mind' (operation of the spirit of the truth); in Col. 3:8-11, the apostle relates the putting off of the old man with deeds, at the same time emphasizing that the basis for becoming the new man is knowledge (spirit of mind). In this way, God equips us with everything that is necessary so that we can make our sacrifice 'holy and living'.

Keywords: Rom. 12:1, present your bodies a living sacrifice
Bible translations used in the commentary:
MKJV - Modern King James Version