on Romans 12 :3
Through the grace given unto me - By the grace given St. Paul most certainly means his apostolical office, by which he had the authority, not only to preach the Gospel, but also to rule the Church of Christ. This is the meaning of the word, ἡ χαρις, in Ephesians 3:8 : Unto me who am less than the least of all saints is this grace given - is conceded this office or employment immediately by God himself; that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.
Not to think - more highly - Μη ὑπερφρονειν, Not to act proudly; to arrogate nothing to himself on account of any grace he had received, or of any office committed to him.
But to think soberly - Αλλα φρονειν εις το σωφρονειν. The reader will perceive here a sort of paronomasia, or play upon words: φρονειν, from φρην, the mind, signifies to think, mind, relish, to be of opinion, etc.; and σωφρονειν from σοος, sound, and φρην, the mind, signifies to be of a sound mind; to think discreetly, modestly, humbly. Let no man think himself more or greater than God has made him; and let him know that what ever he is or has of good or excellence, he has it from God; and that the glory belongs to the giver, and not to him who has received the gift.
Measure of faith - Μετρον πιστεως. It is very likely, as Dr. Moore has conjectured, that the πιστις, faith, here used, means the Christian religion; and the measure, the degree of knowledge and experience which each had received in it, and the power this gave him of being useful in the Church of God. See Romans 12:6.
on Romans 12 :3
For I say - The word "for" shows that the apostle is about to introduce some additional considerations to enforce what he had just said, or to show how we may evince a mind that is not conformed to the world.
Through the grace - Through the favor, or in virtue of the favor of the apostolic office. By the authority that is conferred on me to declare the will of God as an apostle; see the note at Romans 1:5; see also Galatians 1:6, Galatians 1:15; Galatians 2:9; Ephesians 3:8; 1 Timothy 1:14.
Not to think ... - Not to over-estimate himself, or to think more of himself than he ought to. What is the true standard by which we ought to estimate ourselves he immediately adds. This is a caution against pride; and an exhortation not to judge of ourselves by our talents, wealth, or function, but to form another standard of judging of ourselves, by our Christian character. The Romans would probably be in much danger from this quarter. The prevailing habit of judging among them was according to rank, or wealth, or eloquence, or function. While this habit of judging prevailed in the world around them, there was danger that it might also prevail in the church. And the exhortation was that they should not judge of their own characters by the usual modes among people, but by their Christian attainments. There is no sin to which people are more prone than an inordinate self-valuation and pride. Instead of judging by what 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. The only true standard of character pertains to the principles of action, or to that which constitutes the moral nature of the man; and to that the apostle calls the Roman people.
But to think soberly - Literally, "to think so as to act soberly or wisely." So to estimate ourselves as to act or demean ourselves wisely, prudently, modestly. Those who over-estimate themselves are proud, haughty, foolish in their deportment. Those who think of themselves as they ought, are modest, sober, 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.
According as God hath dealt - As God has 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 act, that God has given it, will be itself one of the most effectual promoters of humility and right feeling. People 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 the 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 an humble man.
The measure of faith - The word "faith" here is evidently put for religion, or Christianity. Faith is a main thing in religion. It constitutes its first demand, and the Christian religion, therefore, is characterized by its faith, or its confidence, in God; see Mark 16:17; compare Hebrews 11; Romans 4. We are not, therefore, to be elated in our view of ourselves; we are not to judge of our own characters by wealth, or talent, or learning, but by our attachment to God, and by the influence of faith on our minds. The meaning is, judge yourselves, or estimate yourselves, by your piety. The propriety of this rule is apparent:
(1) Because no other standard is a correct one, or one of value. Our talent, learning, rank, or wealth, is a very improper rule by which to estimate ourselves. All may be wholly unconnected with moral worth; and the worst as well as the best people may possess them.
(2) God will judge us in the day of judgment by our attachment to Christ and his cause Matthew 25; and that is the true standard by which to estimate ourselves here.
(3) nothing else will secure and promote humility but this. All other things may produce or promote pride, but this will effectually secure humility. The fact that God has given all that we have; the fact that the poor and obscure may have as true an elevation of character as ourselves; the consciousness of our own imperfections and short-comings in the Christian faith; and the certainty that we are soon to be arraigned to try this great question, whether we have evidence that we are the friends of God; will all tend to promote humbleness of mind and to bring down our usual inordinate self-estimation. If all Christians judged themselves in this way, it would remove at once no small part of the pride of station and of life from the world, and would produce deep attachment for those who are blessed with the faith of the gospel, though they may be unadorned by any of the wealth or trappings which now promote pride and distinctions among men.
on Romans 12 :3
12:3 And I say - He now proceeds to show what that will of God is. Through the grace which is given to me - He modestly adds this, lest he should seem to forget his own direction. To every one that is among you - Believers at Rome. Happy, had they always remembered this! The measure of faith - Treated of in the first and following chapter s, from which all other gifts and graces flow.