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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 12 - Verse 17

Verse 17. Recompense. Render, give, or return. See Barnes "Mt 5:39".

This is probably one of the most difficult precepts of Christianity; but the law of Christ on the subject is unyielding. It is a solemn demand made on all his followers, and it must be obeyed.

Provide. The word rendered provide means, properly, to think or mediate beforehand. Make it a matter of previous thought, of settled plan, of design. This direction would make it a matter of principle and fixed purpose to do that which is right; and not to leave it to the fluctuations of feeling, or to the influence of excitement. The same direction is given in 2 Co 8:21.

Things honest. Literally, things beautiful, or comely. The expression here does not refer to property, or to provision made for a family, etc. The connexion requires us to understand it respecting conduct, and especially our conduct towards those who injure us. It requires us to evince a spirit and to manifest a deportment, in such cases, that shall be lovely and comely in the view of others; such as all men will approve and admire. And the apostle wisely cautions us to provide for this, i.e. to think of it beforehand, to make it a matter of fixed principle and purpose, so that we shall not be overtaken and excited by passion. If left to the time when the offence shall be given, we may be excited and off our guard, and may therefore evince an improper temper. All persons who have ever been provoked by injury (and who has not been?) will see the profound wisdom of this caution to discipline and guard the temper by previous purpose, that we may not evince an improper spirit.

In the sight of all men. Such as all must approve; such that no man can blame; and, therefore, such as shall do no discredit to religion. This expression is taken from Pr 3:4. The passage shows that men may be expected to approve a mild, kind, and patient temper in the reception of injuries; and facts show that this is the case. The Christian spirit is one that the world must approve, however little it is disposed to act on it.

{n} "Recompense to man evil" Mt 5:39; 1 Pe 3:9 {o} "Provide things honest" 2 Co 8:21

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