Romans 12:1 – ‘Spiritual’

On Romans 12:1 – used 6-50am Tuesday 22nd May 2012

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” (NIV)

Paul wrote in Greek, and sometimes one Greek word can be translated in a number of different ways.

The word Paul uses, which the NIV translates as “spiritual” in this verse, is translated differently in different Bibles. It is reasonable in the King James, true in the Good News Bible, redelik and wesentlik in Afrikaans Bibles. In both Old and New Xhosa translations, the word used speaks of life and vigour.

What is the Greek word that people interpret in so many ways?

The word Paul uses to describe our sacrificial service is logikos. Scholars tell us that “logical”, “rational” were among the meanings of this word, a favourite of the philosophers.

Paul was a literary man, as were some of the believers he was writing to. Paul only uses the word once in the Bible, so he has chosen it carefully, fully aware of everything it means.

In addition to the interpretations we have already quoted, we may also interpret the word logikos in Romans 12:1 as “logical”, “rational”, even “sensible”.  Paul is saying:

“in serving like this, you are doing the rational thing.”

Paul takes a philosophical word and turns it inside out, giving it a wholly new meaning in the light of what God did for us in Jesus. Paul is talking about the Logic of the Cross.


The Apostle is telling us something about living sacrifice. Not only is it good, and what God wants. He is saying that in God’s Kingdom, the way of living sacrifice also makes logical sense, in deep tune with the Reasoning of God.

In view of the Cross, giving our lives is not only right, and good, but sensible as well.

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