We are studying Romans 12:1-8 for Sunday, May 26. These verses begin the section of Paul’s letter to the Romans that lays out Paul’s moral advice, in light of the theological vision he has described in the first part of the letter. [Study notes on the text are here.] Here are a few questions we might want to think over, or discuss in class:
How do we understand Paul’s appeal in verse 1, to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice”? What are examples of that kind of sacrifice? What makes that behavior or situation “sacrificial”?
Are there limits to this kind of sacrifice? What are they, do we think?
What does “spiritual” or “reasonable” worship mean, do we think? How do we think it connects with some of the themes Paul has developed in the letter to the Romans so far? (e.g., sin & death vs. life, nature & “the law,” being in the flesh vs. being in the spirit, etc.)
What do we think Paul means by “conformed to this world (or ‘age’)”? What does he mean by the transformation that comes “renewing of your minds”? Why would that transformation affect people’s “discernment,” do we think?
[More personal] Have we, ourselves, experienced this transformation or renewal, would we say? Would we be willing to share our experience of that? Do we feel we’re finished, or does it seem to us there’s more “transformation” to be done? Why?
What do we think it means to think “according to the measure of faith that God has assigned”? What is that “measure,” do we think? Why do we think that? (e.g., something in the letter to the Romans? Things we know or think about faith in general? Something else?) How does that faith influence thinking about ourselves?
Paul uses the image of a body with many “members” to communicate his vision of how “we who are many” are also “one.” What does this tell us about Paul’s understanding of “church unity,” do we think?
Paul lists several “grace-gifts” in verses 7 & 8. Do we recognize those gifts in anyone we know? In ourselves? Do we think Paul has given a complete list of the gifts given to members of the church, or is this a list of examples? What makes us think that?
Why do we think compassion depends on cheerfulness?