12:1a Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies…
I’m so glad I have only 2 verses to dig into this week. That will allow me to meditate on them in great detail. Today I get to digest a mere half-verse!
Setting. Prior to today’s verse, in chapters 1-11, Paul highlighted God’s great sovereignty and love and mercy. In the chapter right before this verse, he particularly focuses in on how we have been recipients of God’s mercy. That’s the context as this new chapter begins.
Therefore. This single word is the pivot point separating everything we’ve learned about theological truth from what we’re about to learn in term of practical implementation of that truth. Because God’s been so merciful to us, we should have the proper response.
Exhort. For Paul to use such a strong word emphasizes the importance of what’s coming next. There is a sense of urgency and necessity to what he’s about to say.
Present your bodies. Suprisingly, this verb is in the aorist tense, which–as Pastor Bob pointed out on Sunday–indicates a past “one time” action. It seems really odd, because normally one doesn’t exhort others in the present tense to do something in the past. But the aorist tense is a little different from our simple past tense. As I understand it, it can imply continuing implications of a past occurance.
To help grasp this concept we who are married might compare it to living in accordance with our wedding vows. At a point in time, we pledged our bodies and hearts to be faithful to our spouses. We should be exhorted to live that way. An aorist command to us could be simply stated as: “Be vow-keepers.”
In the same way, it seems to me that Paul wants all of us to come to the place in our spiritual life where we have surrendered our bodies to God in response to His great mercy to us. He wants us to be “vow-keepers” where we pledge to offer our whole selves to God and then live according to that pledge.
Tomorrow I’ll look in detail at what this pledge to “present our bodies” looks like.