“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”
Paul now changes his subject to teach us of our Christian duties.  In this doctrinal exhortation we need to understand a simple fact.  Doctrine is not taught in the Bibles simply as something to be known; on the contrary, it is taught in order that it might be translated into practice.  Speaking of doctrine (teaching) Jesus said, “If ye know these things, happy  (literally:  blessed) are ye if ye do them” (John 13:17).            

           “For I say”– Paul is speaking authoritatively, as an apostle, with apostolic authority.

          FOR:  (Grk.–gar)-This word “for” shows that Paul is about to introduce some additional considerations to enforce what he had just said; or to show how to show that a mind that is not conformed to the world.

“through the grace given unto me”
Literally:  “through the grace given to me”– Paulis enforceing his counsel by an appeal to his apostolic authority; but he presents it so that, instead of separating himself from the Roman Christians by it, he unites himself with them. He speaks of “the grace given to me,” and in verse 6 of “the grace given to us.”  He was made an Apostle by the same giving God Who has bestowed varying gifts on each of them.

“to every man that is among you”
Literally:  “To everyone in your community”–None among you is to be exempt from this exhortation; not to everyone who thinks himself to be something among you.

Notice that Paul’s first element in his exhortation is that it is addressed to every member of the Christian community–“to everyone that is among you.”  No member of the church is exempt.  Every believer has been given a measure of faith and is called on to estimate himself, or herself, in accord with this apportioned grace.

“through the grace given unto me
Literally:  “Through the grace given to me.”– By virtue of my apostolic office and authority, for which the grace of
God has furnished me.

Paul is  exemplifying his own precept by falling back on that office which required such plainness  towards all classes. He is about to warn against either neglecting or exceeding the special graces given to each person; and he may mean his own special grace.

“not to think himself more highly”
Literally: “Not to have high thoughts beyond what is right to think.”–Not to act proudly;  not lofty minded; not “puffed up.”  Not to arrogate nothing to himself because of any grace he had received, or of any office committed to him.

          The pretensions to superiority of some at Corinth who possessed more showy gifts than others had shown Paul that his admonition  might need to be pressed on all; and in a community like that of the Romans there might well be a special tendency to assumption on the part of some.  Romans were to be by notorious as being an arrogant people. Paul is speaking to “egoholics.”  This is a much needed exhortation for the church in this time.
          To be
puffed up in one's own conceits is the end of progress. It is the humble who are exalted by God (Matt. 23:2); those that hunger are filled (Matt. 5:6; Luke 6:21). It is hard to give advice without assuming an attitude of superiority; it is hard to take it, unless the giver identifies himself with the receiver,  and shows that his counsel to others is also a law for himself. Paul wishes, as the first of the specific duties to which he invites the Roman Christians, an estimate of themselves based upon the recognition of God as the Giver of all capacities and graces, and leading to a faithful use for the general good of the “gifts differing according to the grace given to us.

                        TO THINK…THINK MORE HIGHLY:   (Grk.–phronein…huperphronein)–Paul is making another of his “play on words” in the Greek

            He uses the Greek word (phronein) for “think”), and then turns right around and uses the Greek word (huperphronein) that is translated as, “think highly”, which literally means, “to over-think; to think above,”  and then uses the Greek word (sōphrosynê) for “to think soberly,” or “to think sensibly.  Sōphrosynê was one of the primary virtues in his Greek world, and was specifically contrasted with  (hybris)  or “pride.”  
          Paul is saying to appraise our gifts rightly, but not become puffed-up and proud of them.  A a man  is not to over-estimate himself, or to think more of himself than he ought to do.   There is no sin to which men are more prone than self-valuation and pride. Instead of judging by that which constitutes true excellence of character, they pride themselves on that which is of no intrinsic value–on rank, and titles, and external accomplishments; or on talents, learning, or wealth.

“but to think soberly”–
Literally, “But to think to be sober-minded;” or, “to think so as to act soberly or wisely.”  So to estimate ourselves as to act or demean ourselves wisely, prudently, modestly. 

         What is the true standard by which we ought to estimate ourselves he immediately adds–“but to think soberly”  (Grk.–sōphrosynê).   This is a caution against pride; and an exhortation not to judge ourselves by our talents, wealth, or office, but to form another standard of judging of ourselves by our Christian character. The Romans were probably in much danger from this action. Their prevailing habit was judging according to rank, or wealth, or eloquence, or office.  While this habit of judging prevailed in the world around them, there was danger that it might also be active in the church.   Paul’s exhortation was that they should not judge of their own characters by the usual (the worlds) modes among men, but by their Christian attainments.
         Those  who over-estimate themselves are proud, haughty, or  foolish.  Those who think of themselves as they ought, are modest, sober, and prudent. There is no way to maintain a wise and proper conduct so certain, as to form a humble and modest estimate of our own character. Let no man think himself more or greater than
God has made him; and let him know that whatever he has that is good or excellent, he has it from God; and that the glory belongs to the Giver, and not to him who has received the gift.

            “as God hath dealt”
             Literally:  “Even as God divided.”–As
God has divided, or measured, to each one; or apportioned to each one.

In this place, the faith which Christians have is traced to God as its Giver. This fact, that God has given it, will of itself be one of the most effectual promoters of humility and right feeling. Men commonly regard the objects on which they pride themselves as things of their own creation, or as depending on themselves.  But let an object be regarded as a gift of God, and it ceases to excite pride, and the feeling is at once changed into gratitude.  He therefore who regards God as the Source of all blessings, and He only, will be a humble man.

            “to every man the measure of faith”
            Literally:  “A measure of faith to each.”  The phrase, “to every man” is not in the original
Greek text.  It was added by the English translators.

           Paul here gives a precise standard, or “measure” as he calls it, according to which we are to estimate ourselves. “Faith” is the measure of our gifts, and is itself a gift from God. The strength of a Christian man’s faith determines his whole Christian character.  Although each believer has come to faith by separate and individual acts of belief, the church lives out its Christian experience in fellowship with one another.  The term, “No man is an island” surely does apply to the Body of Christ.  “Lone Ranger Christianity” does not apply to the believer, or to the Church.
          Faith is here viewed as the inlet to all the other graces, and so, as the receptive faculty of the renewed soul–that is, “as God hath given to each his particular capacity to take in the gifts and graces which He designs for the general good.”  Faith is trust; the attitude of receptivity.

          MEASURE OF FAITH: (Grk.–metron pisteos)—An expression which is not easy to accurately define.  It is very likely that, faith, here used, means the Christian faith or religion; and the measure means the degree of knowledge and experience which each had received in it, and the power this gave him of being useful in the Church. The meaning is,   judge yourselves, or estimate yourselves, by your faithfulness. See verse 6.


“For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office;”

“For as we have many members in one body”
Literally:  “For even as we have many members in one body.”–As the human body consists of many parts, each having its respective office, and all contributing to the perfection and   support of the whole; but each being necessary in the place which it occupies, and each being equally useful though performing a different function.

FOR:  (Grk.–gar)–This word here denotes a further illustration or proof of what he had just previously  said.

The duty to which he was exhorting the Roman Christians was not to be unduly exalted or elevated in their own estimation.  In order to produce proper humility, Paul shows them that God has appointed certain orders or grades in the church;
1.      That all are useful in their proper place;
2.      That we should seek to discharge our duty in our appropriate sphere; and,
3.      That due subordination and order would be observed.
There is even subordination (although voluntarily so) in the Godhead: for we see God the Son being subordinate to the will of God the Father; and we God the Holy Spirit being subordinate to the will of God the Son.

            Paul introduces a beautiful comparison drawn from the human body to illustrate this subordination and cooperation. There are various members in the human frame; all are useful and honorable in their proper place; and all designed to promote the order, and beauty, and harmony of the whole.  Likewise,the church is one body, consisting of many members, and each is fitted to be useful and comely in its proper place.  Paul uses this same comparison in I Cor. 12:4-31; also Eph. 4:25; 5:30.  In that chapter the comparison is carried out to much greater length, and its influence shown with great force.
          The same diversity/unity obtains in the Body of Christ, whereof all believers are the several members, as in the natural body. As the human body consists of many parts, each having its respective task or function, and all contributing to the perfection and support of the whole; each being indispensably necessary in the place which it occupies, and each equally useful though performing a different function, so it is with the Body of Christ.

“all members have not the same office;”
Literally:  “All members do not have the same function.”–The eye, for instance, cannot   perform the office of the ear, nor the hand that of the foot. The perfection of the whole depends upon the perfection of each organ.   So it is with the spiritual body, the church.

            THE SAME OFFICE: (Grk.–ten auten exel praxin)—Literally:  “The same function.”  That is, the same use or design; not all appointed for the same thing.  One is to see, another to hear, a third to walk with, etc., (I Cor. 12:14-23).

OFFICE:  (Grk.–praxis)–Meaning, “a mode of acting or function.”   

“So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”
This is the first time that Paul has introduced the theme of the Church as the Body of Christ; although this is his main subject in his letter to the Corinthians, Ephesians and Colossians.  In fact, this likening of the Roman church to the human body is essentially a condensation of I Cor. 12:12-27 written less than a year earlier, and both for the same purpose..  The Church as the Body of Christ is to function as the human body.  That means that the many members do not have the same gifts, but all work together as one body.

“So we, being many are one body in Christ”
Literally:  “So we the many are one body in Christ.” —We who are Christians, and who    are numerous as individuals. Paul is emphasizing that our unity or oneness is in Christ.  One body in Christ.

We who are members of the Church, which is considered the Body of which Christ is the Head, have various offices assigned to us, according to the measure of grace, faith and religious knowledge which we possess; and although each has a different office, and qualifications suitable to that office, yet all belong to the same body; and each has as much need of the help of another as that other has of his; therefore, let there be neither pride on the one hand, nor envy on the other.

BEING MANY:  (Grk.–hoi polloi)–Literally:  “the many;” or, “who are many.”

                      ONE BODY:  (Grk.–hen sōma)–Are united together, constituting one society or one people, mutually dependent, and having the same great interests at heart.

         As the welfare of the same body is to be promoted in one manner by the feet, in another by the eye, etc., so the welfare of the Body of Christ is to be promoted by discharging our duties in our appropriate sphere, as God has appointed us.  And all related to each other as the organs of the body are related.  Christ is the Head, and we are the members of His one Body. The perfection of each member and of the whole Body of Christ does not depend upon all being alike, or doing the same things, but upon all being in their proper places, and doing each his appropriate work.
          One Body, joined to Christ, or connected with Him as the Head. “And gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body” (Eph. 1:22-23),  Comp. John 15:1-7. They are bound to Him by peculiarly tender ties of affection, gratitude, and friendship, and in acknowledging Him as their common Lord and Savior.  Any other union than this is impossible; and the sacred writers never intended that expressions like these should be explained literally. The union of Christians to Christ is the most tender and interesting of any in this world, but no more mysterious than that which binds friend-to-friend, children-to-parents, or husbands-to-their-wives. Comp. Eph. 5:23-33.

“everyone members one of another.”
Literally:  “each on members of one another”–That is, we are so fitted as to be mutually dependent; each one is of service to the other; and the existence and office of the one is necessary to the usefulness of the other.

In the Church, every individual is not only necessary in his place as an individual, but is needful to the proper symmetry and action of the whole.  We may learn here,
1.     That no member of the Church should esteem himself to be of no importance.  In his own place he may be of as much consequence as the man of learning, wealth, and talent may be in his.
God designed that there should be differences of endowments of nature and of grace in the Church; just as it was needful that there should be differences in the members of the human body.
3.      No one should despise or lightly esteem another. All are necessary. We can no more spare the foot or the hand than we can the eye; though the latter may be much more curious and striking as a proof of Divine skill. We do not despise the
hand or the foot any more than we do the eye; and in all we should acknowledge the goodness and wisdom of
God. See these thoughts carried out in I Cor.12:21-25.

“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;”

“Having then gifts differing”
Literally:  “But having different gifts.”–All the endowments which Christians have are regarded by Paul as gifts from
God ,  for He has sovereignly conferred them; and this fact,  when it is properly felt, tends to prevent our thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, (verse 3). 

            GIFTS:  (Grk.–charisma)– Literally:  “A gift of grace.”   In this place it refers to the distinctions conferred on Christians in the churches. This word is the root word for our  English word, “charismatic”.   For the use of the word rendered gifts,  see 1:11; 5:15; 6:23; 11:29; I Cor. 7:7; 12:4, 9, 28).

As the goodness of God, with this view of our mutual subservience and usefulness, has endowed us with different gifts and qualifications, so let each believer apply himself to the diligent improvement of his particular office and talent, and modestly keep within the bounds of it, not exalting himself or despising others. Each in the church had his duties, just as the hand, or foot, or eye of the body. These duties were indicated by the “gift” dealt out by “the measure of faith.”

           DIFFERING:  (Grk.–diaphora)—Literally:  “varying in kind; diverse.”   God never intended that all Christians should be equal.  He designed that believers should have different endowments.

The very nature of society supposes this. There never was a state of perfect equality in anything; and it would be impossible that there should be, and yet preserve society. In this, God exercises sovereignty, and bestows His favors as He pleases, injuring no one by conferring favors on others; and holding me responsible for the right use of what I have, and not for what may be conferred on my neighbor.

“according to the grace”That is, the favor, the mercy that is bestowed on us. As all that we have is a matter of grace, it should keep us from pride; and it should make us willing to occupy our appropriate place in the Church.

True honor consists not in splendid endowments, or great wealth and office; rather, it consists in rightly discharging the duties which God requires of us in our appropriate sphere. If all men held their talents as the gift of God; if all would find and occupy in society the place for which God designed them, it would prevent much of the uneasiness, the restlessness, the ambition, and misery of the world. God graciously bestows upon different members of the Church different talents and gifts, and all are to use them according to His will.

“whether prophecy, let us prophesy”
Literally:  “Whither prophecy,”– In the N.T., prophecy, often means the gift of exhorting, preaching, or of expounding the Scriptures. This is evident from many places in the Gospels, Acts, and Paul's Epistles, (see I Cor. 11:4,5; and especially I Cor. 14:3).

           The phrase, “Let us prophecy” is NOT in the original Greek text.  It was added by the English translators.  Why was this phrase added?  No one knows, and iit does not add to the meaning of the verse.
           Let every man who has the gift of preaching and interpreting the
Scriptures do it in proportion to the grace and light he has received from God and in NO case is to arrogate to himself knowledge which he has not received.  Let him not esteem himself more highly on account of this gift, or affect to be wise above what is written, or indulge himself in fanciful interpretations of the Word of God. 

           He that prophesies speaks to men for edification, or exhortation, and comfort This was the  duty of the office of a preacher; and it is to the exercise of this office that Paul refers in the whole of the chapter from which the above quotations are made (see also Luke 1:76; 7:28; Acts 15:32; I Cor. 14:29).  Paul uses the term in that sense here. He now proceeds to specify the different classes of gifts or endowments which Christians have, and to exhort them to discharge aright the duty which results from the rank or office which they held in the church. The first is prophecy.

          PROPHECY:  (Grk.–prophêteia)–This word properly means to predict future events; but it also means to declare the  will of God ; to interpret the purposes of God ; or to make known in any way the truth of God which is designed to influence men.

          To prophesy was to speak by inspiration. As the early Church did not yet have the N.T., God would endow some in the local churches with this gift of prophecy so He could communicate any messages God had for that local assembly.  One would be called to this work. There no longer exists the office of prophet because the divine revelation (the Canon, the N.T.) is complete and we now have all the revelation that we are to be given. 
         Also, the office of prophet in the N.T. is often connected with teachers. (Acts 13:1), “There were in the church at Antioch certain prophets and teachers, as Barnabas,” etc.; (Acts 15:32), “And Judas and Silas, being prophets themselves,” etc.; (Acts 21:10), “A certain prophet named Agabus.”  There were also women who had been given this gift of prophecy:

 “…We entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was {one} of the seven (original deacons–Acts 6:5); and abode with him.
 “And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophecy (Acts 21:8-9).

“And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Aser…” (Luke 2:36).

           In I Cor. 12:28-29, prophets are mentioned as a class of teachers immediately after apostles. “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers,” etc.  The same class of persons is again mentioned in I Cor. 14:29-32, 39.  In this place they are spoken of as being under the influence of revelation: “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge, if anything be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.”

            “according to the proportion of faith”–This phrase as used here is related to the “measure of faith” (v. 3).  It signifies according to the proportion defined by faith.

            PROPORTION:  (Grk.–analogia)–This Greek word is used nowhere else in the N.T. The word really applies to mathematics, and means the ratio or   proportion which results from comparison of one number or magnitude with another.

            In a large sense, it denotes the measure of anything.  But this is not its meaning here, for here it means the measure, or the amount of faith bestowed on them.   In verse 3 Paul was exhorting them to “think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”
          The “measure of faith,”  (12:3), and the “proportion of faith” (12:6), do not seem to relate to the degree of any gift considered in itself, but rather in the relation and proportion which it bore to the gifts of others.  It is plain that Paul is here exhorting every man to keep soberly within his own sphere.  It is natural to suppose that the new converts might be puffed up with the several gifts that were bestowed upon them; and every one might be forward to magnify his own to the disparagement of others.  Paul advises them to each keep within his proper sphere; to know and observe the just measure and proportion of the  gift entrusted to him, not to gratify his pride but to edify the Church.

          FAITH: (Grk.–pisteōs)–This word as used here evidently does not mean the truths of the Bible elsewhere revealed; nor their confidence in God; nor their personal faithfulness;     but the extraordinary endowment bestowed on them by the gifts of prophecy.

They were to confine themselves strictly to that; they were not to usurp the apostolic authority, but they were to confine themselves strictly to the functions of their office according to the measure of their faith, i.e. the extra-ordinary endowment conferred on them.  And it is clear that we are to regard our spiritual gift as a gift of and for God; and to exercise them in subordination to His appointment; and to seek to employ them in the manner, the place, and to the purpose that shall be according to His will.  We are to employ them in the purpose for which God gave them; AND FOR NO OTHER.