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Verse 6

Having then gifts differing, etc. - As the goodness of God, with this view of our mutual subserviency and usefulness, has endowed us with different gifts and qualifications, let each 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.

Whether prophecy - That prophecy, in the New Testament, often means the gift of exhorting, preaching, or of expounding the Scriptures, is evident from many places in the Gospels, Acts, and St. Paul's Epistles, see 1 Corinthians 11:4 , 1 Corinthians 11:5 ; and especially 1 Corinthians 14:3 ; : He that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. This was the proper office of a preacher; and it is to the exercise of this office that the apostle refers in the whole of the chapter from which the above quotations are made. See also Luke 1:76 ; Luke 7:28 ; Acts 15:32 ; 1 Corinthians 14:29 . I think the apostle uses the term in the same sense here - 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 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.

Dr. Taylor observes that the measure of faith, Romans 12:3 , and the proportion of faith, Romans 12:6 , seem not 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; for it is plain that he 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: therefore the apostle advises them to keep each within his proper sphere; to know and observe the just measure and proportion of the gift intrusted to him, not to gratify his pride but to edify the Church.

The αναλογια της πιστεως , which we here translate the proportion of faith, and which some render the analogy of faith, signifies in grammar "the similar declension of similar words;" but in Scriptural matters it has been understood to mean the general and consistent plan or scheme of doctrines delivered in the Scriptures; where every thing bears its due relation and proportion to another. Thus the death of Christ is commensurate in its merits to the evils produced by the fall of Adam. The doctrine of justification by faith bears the strictest analogy or proportion to the grace of Christ and the helpless, guilty, condemned state of man: whereas the doctrine of justification by Works is out of all analogy to the demerit of sin, the perfection of the law, the holiness of God, and the miserable, helpless state of man. This may be a good general view of the subject; but when we come to inquire what those mean by the analogy of faith who are most frequent in the use of the term, we shall find that it means neither more nor less than their own creed; and though they tell you that their doctrines are to be examined by the Scriptures, yet they give you roundly to know that you are to understand these Scriptures in precisely the same way as they have interpreted them. "To the law and to the testimony," says Dr. Campbell, "is the common cry; only every one, the better to secure the decision on the side he has espoused, would have you previously resolve to put no sense whatever on the law and the testimony but what his favourite doctrine will admit. Thus they run on in a shuffling, circular sort of argument, which, though they studiously avoid exposing, is, when dragged into the open light, neither more nor less than this; 'you are to try our doctrine by the Scriptures only; but then you are to be very careful that you explain the Scripture solely by our doctrine.' A wonderful plan of trial, which begins with giving judgment, and ends with examining the proof, wherein the whole skill and ingenuity of the judges are to be exerted in wresting the evidence so as to give it the appearance of supporting the sentence pronounced before hand." See Dr. Campbell's Dissertations on the Gospels, Diss. iv. sect. 14, vol. i, page 146, 8vo. edit., where several other sensible remarks may be found.

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