In Romans 12:1 - What is "Therefore" there for?

Is "therefore" there to indicate that Paul is concluding an argument? If so, what was the justification that Paul gave previously in order to issue such a commandment?

Or, can this just be dismissed as part of Paul's writing style, or perhaps a mistranslation of the Greek?

What I am getting at, is: Which of the preceding passages served as the premises, (facts), that would persuade a reader that it certainly is "reasonable", (NKJV) to present your body as a living sacrifice, especially IF this is interpreted as: holy, completed separated to be a priest for reconciliation and nothing more, for God?

NKJV, Romans 12:1 - I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.


NASB, Romans 12:1 - Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

Westcott and Hort / [NA27 variants] Romans 12:1 Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν «τῷ θεῷ» ⇔ εὐάρεστον, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν·


2 Answers 2


Paul has just concluded his treatise on God's insistence that things must be done his way and how that by trying to "climb up another way" the Jews of the first century failed to obtain the justification that the gentiles obtained because they sought it not by faith:

NIV Romans 9: 10Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. 11Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

In other words, obedience is better than sacrifice.

Paul refers then to these "mercies of God" as impetus to throw one's being into service to God as opposed to the Jewish effort to earn favor through works of righteousness by the Torah:

NIV Romans 9: 30What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. 32Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone.

He alludes to another pair of brothers where the elder is refused when he refers to the living sacrifice of the gentiles as an "acceptable" sacrifice:

NIV Genesis 4: 2Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. 6Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” 8Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. 9Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” 10The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. 11Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”

NIV Hebrews 11:By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

  • So, are you saying that Romans 12:1 is an argument that began in chapter 9, about faith? If so, how is being a living sacrifice not another "work of righteousness"? Romans 12 seems counter to "Grace" theology ... If this is actually Paul's conclusion about Grace. Thanks! Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 23:38
  • I think this was addressed in a previous question. However, if you don't see it in a search then please post it as a new question.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 23:52

There are a number of ideas regarding why the "therefore" is there for: It may refer to the whole preceding doctrinal portion of the Epistle, which Alford thinks is the most natural connection; or to ch.11:35-36 (Meyer); or it could refer to the whole close of ch.11 (Tholuck). The apostle appears to be urging or exhorting the church in view of all that he has shared regarding God's mercies or compassion [Rom.9:15; cf. Ps.103:4] shown to both Jew and Gentile. That being the case, I admit that I can't arrive conclusively at the interpretation the apostle Paul had in mind since he discusses the Jew and Gentile throughout the Epistle,though I have a slight tendency in believing that he is referring to his discussion in chapters 9-11.

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