Wasted Rough Cut: A persecuted church is a church that intentionally pursues hospitality (Romans 12:13–14)
Working on Roman’s 12 for Sunday. There is a little creative punning by Paul in his Romans 12 (ESV). Most think of a pun as some form of joke or humorous quip; however a pun is a word-play, also called paronomasia. A pun can be both visual (the form of the word) and auditory (hearing), a form of word-play that suggests two or more meanings played off each other for rhetorical effect, harnessing the multiple meanings, for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect. Here in Romans 12, Paul uses such punning to emphasize the importance and significance of the gathered-church.
“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality” (v. 13).
This is my own translation, which reflects Paul's original word order and the reading of it out loud. Sometimes hearing it is the best way to catch the intent: “The needs of the saints, contribute; hospitality, intentionally pursue. Bless those who persecute, bless and do not curse” (Rom 12:13-14).
Three things worth noting:
Until recently, I have always read (rather poorly I will confess) the first few verses of Romans 12 very individualistically. This was how I read them and, for the most part, how these verses were preached and taught to me. Typically, as I have, these verses are taken as words to individual Christians to present their bodies as a living sacrifice, thus read (and heard as), "You, Christian, present your body as a living sacrifice . . ." And, as well, these as verses are disenchurched (yes, I invented a word) from Romans 12 as a whole and are read (heard) apart from their most likely venue of context, the gathered-church . . .
Furthermore, Paul's instruction in the following verses all the way through the rest of the chapter (vv. 3–21) and, really, to the end of the Letter (chapters 13-16), are all about church, specifically the gathered-church. So . . . let's read Romans 12:1–2 as church . . . the church is not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed . . .
The translators who translate "your mind" in v. 2b (by the renewal of your mind) don't help interpretive matters, for there is no "your" in Paul's original text, which allows a different read from the text (". . . but by the renewing of perception, imagination, thinking . . .") with the church as a gathered group sitting in dinning rooms throughout Rome, gathered as church for instruction, worship, and fellowship. Of course individuals need to apply this, but the context is the church, so it is a call to the gathered-church, together: true mark's of the gathered-church are forthcoming in Romans 12:9-21.
A far better read here.
Chip M. Anderson, advocate for biblical social action; pastor of an urban church plant in the Hill neighborhood of New Haven, CT; husband, father, author, former Greek & NT professor; and, 19 years involved with social action.