As we come to chapter 12 of Romans, we find ourselves in a new section of the book. The first part of Romans dealt primarily with God’s actions for humanity. This next section, which extends through chapter 15, deals with humanity’s actions in response to God’s actions. It is noted that the first section of Romans has to do with doctrine, while the second half is exhortation. This shows that doctrine must always precede exhortation.
In 12:1-2 we see our need to be dedicated to God. Dr. Constable points out that our relationship to God is foundational and governs all our other conduct. Paul encourages us in these verses to give our whole selves over to God for His service. Serving God is our worship of Him.
12:3-21 involves exhortation concerning conduct within the church. In verses 3-8, Paul gives explanation about the diversity of gifts. It is noted that the body of Christ is a unified organism, and its members are diverse personally and in their functions.
In 12:9-21 we see the necessity of love. Verses 9-13 show us the need to have love for fellow believers. Love for our brothers and sisters in Christ is imperative in order to have unity and success in the church. Verses 14-21 tells us that we are not only to have love for fellow believers, but also for all people.
As we come to chapter 13, we are given exhortation concerning our conduct within the state. 13:1-7 has to do with our conduct towards the government. We are command to submit to the governing authorities. This does not mean we can morally obey every law. However, if a law must be broken, we must willingly submit to the consequences. In verses 8-10 we learn how our conduct should be toward unbelievers. We learn here that debt is not always bad, but we should make sure we pay our debts and remain in good standing with unbelievers. Verses 11-14 talk about our conduct in view of our hope. We must be ready at all times for the return of the Lord. We must be good stewards, who will be found faithful at His return.