1. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
1. Obsecro itaque vos fratres, per miserationes Dei, ut sistatis corpora vestra hostiam vivam, sanctam, acceptam Deo, rationabilem cultum vestrum.
2. And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.
2. Et ne conformetis vos huic mundo, sed transfiguremini renovatione mentis vestrae, ut probetis quae sit voluntas Dei bona et placita et perfecta.
After having handled those things necessary for the erection of the kingdom of God, -- that righteousness is to be sought from God alone, that salvation is to come to us alone from his mercy, that all blessings are laid up and daily offered to us in Christ only, -- Paul now passes on, according to the best order, to show how the life is to be formed. If it be, that through the saving knowledge of God and of Christ, the soul is, as it were, regenerated into a celestial life, and that the life is in a manner formed and regulated by holy exhortations and precepts; it is then in vain that you show a desire to form the life aright, except you prove first, that the origin of all righteousness in men is in God and Christ; for this is to raise them from the dead.
And this is the main difference between the gospel and philosophy: for though the philosophers speak excellently and with great judgment on the subject of morals, yet whatever excellency shines forth in their precepts, it is, as it were, a beautiful superstructure without a foundation; for by omitting principles, they offer a mutilated doctrine, like a body without a head. Not very unlike this is the mode of teaching under the Papacy: for though they mention, by the way, faith in Christ and the grace of the Holy Spirit, it yet appears quite evident, that they approach heathen philosophers far nearer than Christ and his Apostles.
But as philosophers, before they lay down laws respecting morals, discourse first of the end of what is good, and inquire into the sources of virtues, from which afterwards they draw and derive all duties; so Paul lays down here the principle from which all the duties of holiness flow, even this, -- that we are redeemed by the Lord for this end -- that we may consecrate to him ourselves and all our members. But it may be useful to examine every part.
And what Paul says, in thus exhorting us, ought to have more power over us, inasmuch as he excels all others in setting forth the grace of God. Iron indeed must be the heart which is not kindled by the doctrine which has been laid down into love towards God, whose kindness towards itself it finds to have been so abounding. Where then are they who think that all exhortations to a holy life are nullified, if the salvation of men depends on the grace of God alone, since by no precepts, by no sanctions, is a pious mind so framed to render obedience to God, as by a serious meditation on the Divine goodness towards it?
We may also observe here the benevolence of the Apostle's spirit, -- that he preferred to deal with the faithful by admonitions and friendly exhortations rather than by strict commands; for he knew that he could prevail more with the teachable in this way than in any other.
There are then two things to be considered here, -- the first, that we are the Lord's, -- and secondly, that we ought on this account to be holy, for it is an indignity to God's holiness, that anything, not first consecrated, should be offered to him. These two things being admitted, it then follows that holiness is to be practiced through life, and that we are guilty of a kind of sacrilege when we relapse into uncleanness, as it is nothing else than to profane what is consecrated.
But there is throughout a great suitableness in the expressions. He says first, that our body ought to be offered a sacrifice to God; by which he implies that we are not our own, but have entirely passed over so as to become the property of God; which cannot be, except we renounce ourselves and thus deny ourselves. Then, secondly, by adding two adjectives, he shows what sort of sacrifice this ought to be. By calling it
Hence we learn, that all mortals, whose object is not to worship God, do nothing but miserably wander and go astray. We now also find what sacrifices Paul recommends to the Christian Church: for being reconciled to God through the one only true sacrifice of Christ, we are all through his grace made priests, in order that we may dedicate ourselves and all we have to the glory of God. No sacrifice of expiation is wanted; and no one can be set up, without casting a manifest reproach on the cross of Christ.
Now attend here, and see what kind of renovation is required from us: It is not that of the flesh only, or of the inferior part of the soul, as the Sorbonists explain this word; but of the mind, which is the most excellent part of us, and to which philosophers ascribe the supremacy; for they call it
The epithets which are added are intended for the purpose of recommending God's will, that we may seek to know it with greater alacrity: and in order to constrain our perverseness, it is indeed necessary that the true glory of justice and perfection should be ascribed to the will of God. The world persuades itself that those works which it has devised are good; Paul exclaims, that what is good and right must be ascertained from God's commandments. The world praises itself, and takes delight in its own inventions; but Paul affirms, that nothing pleases God except what he has commanded. The world, in order to find perfection, slides from the word of God into its own devices; Paul, by fixing perfection in the will of God, shows, that if any one passes over that mark he is deluded by a false imagination.
1 By "mercies," the Apostle refers, as some think, to the various sects of God's mercy, such as election, vocation, justification, and final salvation. Grotius considers that God's attributes are referred to, such as are described in Exodus 34:6,7. Erasmus, quoting Origen, says, that the plural is used for amplification, in order to show the greatness of God's mercy, as though the Apostle had said, "by God's great mercy." Schleusner renders the clause, "per summam Dei benignitatem -- by God's great kindness," that is, in bringing you to the knowledge of the gospel. So "Father of mercies," in 2 Corinthians 1:3, may mean "most merciful Father," or the meaning may be, "the Father of all blessings," as mercy signifies sometimes what mercy bestows, (Philippians 2:1,) as grace or favor often means the gift which flows from it. according to this view, "mercies" here are the blessings which God bestows, even the blessings of redemption. -- Ed.
2 The word
They were to be living sacrifices, not killed as the legal sacrifices, they were to be holy, not maimed or defective, but whole and perfect as to all the members, and free from disease. See Leviticus 22:19-22. They were to be acceptable,
It is said by Wolfius, that all the terms here are derived from the sacrificial rites of the law, and that Christians are represented both as the priests who offered, and as the sacrifices which were offered by them. -- Ed.
3 The word
4 Ut probetis,
What Stuart says on the last clause seems just, that it is to be taken by itself, and that the words do not agree with "will," but stand by themselves, being in the neuter gender. Otherwise we cannot affix any idea to "acceptable;" for it would be unsuitable to say that God's will is "acceptable" to him, that being self-evident.
It ought to be borne in mind, as Pareus observes, that in order to discern, and rightly to understand God's will, the Apostle teaches us, that "the renewing of the mind" is necessary; otherwise, as he adds, "our corrupt nature will fascinate our eyes that they may not see, or if they see, will turn our hearts and wills, that they may not approve, or if they approve, will hinder us to follow what is approved." -- Ed.