Romans Chapter 12

The book of Romans is actually a letter Paul wrote to a group of Christians living in Rome prior to his visit there. Paul had spent most of the later years of his adult life traveling in the Mediterranean area starting new churches, and teaching people the insights from the Jewish community as interpreted and understood by Jesus. He was a prolific letter writer, and wrote back to many of the churches he started in order to give them guidance and encouragement.

Generally speaking, Paul’s letters fall into two parts. The first part of his letters tend to be theoretical and teaching oriented, and the last part of the letters tend to be focused on practical application of the Christian life in daily issues.

The 12th chapter falls into the second half of Paul’s letter – that is it relates to practical applications. In this particular chapter you will find reference to the passage that the “gifts model” arises from. The context is a larger consideration of how we need to operate together as members of a community, similar to the different parts of our body – eyes, ears, hands and feet etc. – each quite different and specialized, but each having a place within the body.

The slight shift in terminology that’s used in the gifts model, in order to strip it of its religious overtones and make it more broadly accessible are as follows:


As with the passage in the letter to the people in Corinth (First Corinthians 13 – see elsewhere) Paul goes on to talk about the attitudes which are needed if we are to work closely with people whose personality type is different from ours, but whose contribution to community life complements our weaknesses. He has some remarks on a similar vein leading up to the actual description of the gifts listed above.

This particular passage is listed in the final section called “happy conclusions”, and I find that appropriate in that, frequently our lives do not have happy conclusions when we try to operate completely on our own, and ignore people whose gifts are complementary to our strengths.

Watchmen Nee, a well-known Chinese author from the last century, makes a comment in one of his books that God will keep us banging our heads against a brick wall for years until we finally smarten up enough to realize that we need other people around us to do the parts of life which we are not as good at. In turn, they need us and the things that we have to contribute to society. When we finally get this through our head, we find quite frequently that life does indeed have happy conclusions.