Chapter # 12 Paragraph # 3 Study # 1
April 27, 2010
9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
1901 ASV Translation:
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
10 In love of the brethren be tenderly affectioned one to another; in honor preferring one another;
11 in diligence not slothful; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
12 rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing stedfastly in prayer;
13 communicating to the necessities of the saints; given to hospitality.
14 Bless them that persecute you; bless, and curse not.
15 Rejoice with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep.
16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Set not your mind on high things, but condescend to things that are lowly. Be not wise in your own conceits.
17 Render to no man evil for evil. Take thought for things honorable in the sight of all men.
18 If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men.
19 Avenge not yourselves, beloved, but give place unto the wrath of God: for it is written, Vengeance belongeth unto me; I will recompense, saith the Lord.
20 But if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head.
21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
- I. Paul's "General" Exhortations.
- A. "Let love be without hypocrisy."
- 1. The issues in "love" are enormously complex because it is "love" that is at the root of our every perspective in living. It is our "real" value system (as opposed to the deception with which we deceive ourselves and/or others in respect to what we think is important).
- a. "Love" in Paul's choice of terms defines what a person thinks is really valuable.
- b. "Value" is what drives all -- perceptions and choices. Additionally, "value" is an enormously mixed bag because "values" compete for prominence from three specific and diverse points of origin. There are those values which have their roots in the physical body and are dominated by pain or pleasure. Then there are those values which have their roots in the soul and are dominated by fear or security. And, third, there are those values which have their roots in the spirit and are dominated by humiliation or exaltation.
- c. It is this competition that produces the most difficulty. As long as the body, soul, and spirit remain as independent, non-integrated, value-producers, not only is the complexity a problem, but also the inner strife sponsors and magnifies Death for the whole. It was for this reason that Paul, after having firmly established God's solutions to each of the domains of value, called for a "presentation" of the body as a living sacrifice to God in 12:1-2. There has to be (and already is) an ultimate determination of "final" value as an integrator that will settle the conflict if, in fact, it is rooted in Truth. The problem for human beings, fallen and redeemed, is that there already exists a final arbiter of value, but it is not in harmony with the Truth so that functioning by it only produces a greater experience of Death. We are "free" of Death only when, by faith, we embrace the "final" arbiter that Truth demands.
- 1) The body's pain and pleasure capacities, when coupled to disbelief in the resurrection of the body, are often the most potent set of values within a person for one basic reason: if the body dies, no other "values" are "valuable". A subset of this "the end of the body is the end of all experience" is the interaction in the body of the pain and pleasure sensitivities. If the body only lives in "pain", and the death of the body is "it", the death of the body becomes the ultimate value. Paul acknowledged this deceit in 1 Corinthians 15:32 where he said that the logical outcome of no resurrection is the doctrine of "let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." It was because of this deceit that God did two things: 1) He set "eternity" in the heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11) in the sense that even those who are most vociferous about the concept of nothing after the death of the body are yet fearful of that death because they do not know they are correct; and 2) He founded all of His Truth-claims upon an historical demonstration of resurrection from the dead. By these means, God has destroyed the legitimacy of allowing the body to be the "final arbiter" of values.
- 2) The spirit's aversion to humiliation and penchant for recognition, when coupled to disbelief in the resurrection, is often allowed to set up the final arbitration in terms of "heroics". A person so invested will often choose to die if the option is humiliation.
- 3) It is the soul's linkage to God as The Spirit that the Bible declares to be the only legitimate "ultimate value". In view of resurrection, it is impossible for any "soul" to legitimately "fear" the death of the body. This is true positively and negatively. Positively, resurrection denies the death of the body any serious power. Negatively, even the possibility that resurrection is a myth leads only to one real conclusion: if the death of the body is "The End", the soul has nothing of which to be afraid.
- 2. The issue of "dissimulation" or "hypocrisy" is an attempt by a person to present him/her self as something that he/she really is not. The word "hypocrite" was used by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount four times, three of which describe someone who is actively attempting to get people to "see" him/her in a way that is not true to the inner reality (Matthew 6:2, 5, and 16). The fourth time (7:5) it can be argued that the "hypocrite" was still attempting to get a favorable view from others by the method of criticizing others. This is, hands down, as blatant a "reach" for personal exaltation as anyone's "spirit" can produce and, thus, is a perversion of true "love".
- B. "Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good."
- 1. This is another way of saying, "let love be without hypocrisy". The difference is that this statement of the principle addresses the issue of methodology and answers the question: How do I "let love be without hypocrisy"?
- 2. The first part of the command is delivered by means of a word that the Online Bible claims means "to utterly detest". It is only used this one time in the New Testament. Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon expands that by claiming it means "to violently hate".
- a. This imagery of "violent hatred" or "utter abhorrence" is problematical. It generates a picture of a level of intolerance that, if "unhypocritical", would isolate every individual who actually practiced it from every other individual on the planet. Paul, himself, declared that even he did not "count" himself as having "apprehended" all of that for which he had been "apprehended" and was not "already perfect" (Philippians 3:12-13). Taken at face value, this has to mean that there were some areas of his life that were out of kilter and would be until the resurrection of the body. Thus, what would "abject abhorrence" look like in Paul? Could anyone obey his injunction and still have anything to do with him?
- b. Even when we plug the object of such violent hatred into the picture -- evil -- the picture is muddled. The issue of "evil" is significantly large: the word is used in 71 texts in the New Testament, 47% of which are found in Matthew and Luke. Because of this "largeness" few, if any, escape its influence. Jesus even said to His disciples, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?" (Luke 11:13). If the children of the heavenly Father are yet "evil", how do we "violently hate" evil?
- c. However, Paul did not write his injunction to the Romans -- "Abhor that which is evil" -- to be ignored or written off because of its "problems".
- 1) Some work this out by making a distinction between the person and his/her "evil". They say things like, "Hate the sin but love the sinner." Psalm 5:5, however, makes this declaration about God, Himself: "Thou hatest all workers of iniquity".
- 2) I prefer to work it out in another way. God both loves and hates all workers of iniquity at the same time. The way He does this is explained in the Bible. As to "love", God is willing to sacrifice Himself to the degree presented in the Gospel for the potential redemption of the wicked. But, as to "hate", God is also willing to utterly destroy those wicked if they remain unswayed by His "love" and remain determined to destroy others in their pursuit of their own unworthy goals. In other words, God "loves" in that He is willing to sacrifice Himself for the sake of the redemption of others, but He "hates" in that He is unwilling to ultimately sacrifice others for the sake of those who are simply determined to sacrifice others to obtain their objectives.
- 3) Therefore, the issue of Paul's command is twofold: it involves an inner look and an outer look. "Abhorring what is evil" starts at home: abjectly hating any personal unwillingness to suffer to the point of physical death for someone else's sake even if that someone else is an enemy ("Love your enemies" -- Luke 6:27). From that "inner look" of seeing what is really driving one's attitudes toward the events that exist (Is there a willingness in me to sacrifice to the uttermost?) we must also go to an "outer look" where those who refuse to adopt the personal sacrifice thesis are to be "hated" as "evil". Clearly, the former must precede the latter if "hypocrisy" is to be avoided.
- 4) A word of caution: because most of us will not "love to the uttermost" (in direct defiance toward Paul's command), we will also not "hate" the "evil" without hypocrisy, nor will we have any real peace of heart because we continue to seek to be the children of God without being willing to reflect His character (Matthew 5:44-45). Paul was not restrained from giving the command just because the majority will refuse to obey it.
- 3. The second part of the command presents the second necessity: cleave to that which is good.
- a. The verbal concept is not "active"; the "cleave to" is parsed as a "present, passive, participle" by the Logos Library System and a "present, middle, participle" by Wigram's Analytical Lexicon. The question here is whether the commanded individual has a primary part to play (middle voice) or a lesser part (passive voice). Wigram is most likely: Paul's command is to "glue yourself to" what is good. This raises the question of methodology: How does one "glue him/her self to what is good"? The answer is above in our discussion of the complexities of love caused by the competition of a tripartite makeup. One "glues" oneself to what is good by making the soul's connection to the Father the ultimate priority.