In Response to God’s Mercies

Significantly, Paul’s appeal in Romans 12 is to all believers, irrespective of ethnic origin. This is important to see because Romans 12 immediately follows Paul’s effort toward bringing the Jewish believers (Rom. 11:1-12) in harmony with the Gentile believers (Rom. 11:13-24). It is against this backdrop that Paul makes his appeal in Romans 12, which Stott (2001) understands as all believers having “the same vocation to be the holy, committed, humble, loving and conscientious people of God” (p. 320). Interestingly, Paul begins to unpack these characteristics beginning in 12:3. 

Paul’s appeal “διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ (by/through the mercies of God)” (12:1) suggests that “it is only in view of God’s mercy that his appeal becomes relevant and that our obedience of it is possible” (Moo. 1994. P. 1149.). In other words, all that God has done through His Son was very much an act of mercy on our behalf, and therefore it is entirely appropriate for us to respond in a manner where our bodies are presented as a living sacrifice (12:1b). Not that we need to offer ourselves as a blood sacrifice rather our response to Jesus’ sacrifice (God’s mercies) should be one that it is rooted in the Spirit (internally) and then manifests itself outwardly in our actions, which makes it a holistic response. So, this begs the question: What does presenting ourselves as this living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God look like? Paul answers this question in what follows, but not before he emphasizes that this is very much a transformative process (12:2). 

The phrase “λογικὴν λατρείαν (spiritual worship)” in 12:1 is very interesting because, for many, perhaps the immediate image that comes to mind is worship service. After all that is what many have married the word to. I think that here, we need to set the Sunday morning worship service aside and grasp worship as something that directs our lives altogether. Worship, in this sense is spiritual and it redirects our hearts toward God and away from the world. However, it is not purely spiritual because it is something that we express in our actions of revealing God’s holy love, mercy and grace in the world. 


Moo, D. J. (1994). New Bible commentary: 21st century edition. Accordance electronic ed. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.

Stott, J. R. W. (1994). Bible speaks today (Nt): V.6: Romans. Accordance electronic ed. InterVarsity Press.