Posted by: T. Boyd | June 18, 2011

Spiritual Worship or Reasonable Service (Romans 12:1)

I have often wondered about the phrase in Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (ESV) or “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (KJV)

I like the explanation I found in the PuritanBoard site:

This, Paul says, is your spiritual worship, an expression that could be understood as KJV, “your reasonable service.” There are problems relating to both adjective and noun. Today most interpreters understand the adjective as spiritual, which makes good sense and is certainly in mind. But it is hard to think that the connection with “reason” has been completely lost, and there is something to be said for “intelligent worship” (Phillips) or JB’s “that is worthy of thinking beings”. In any case it is a striking word to use in connection with the offering of the body. The noun may be understood of service in general or of the particular service rendered in the act of worship. Harrison sees “service” as having the advantage that it “covers the entire range of the Christian’s life and activity.” But in the end we are left with the fact that Paul has used two words, both of which are ambiguous. We cannot feel confident that either “spiritual” or “rational” is absent from the adjective or that “worship” or “service” is lacking in the noun. There is a “rich complexity” (Leenhardt) in the expression. (From Morris, L. (1988). The Epistle to the Romans (434). Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press)

Finally, I can rest, at least for a while, in that intellegent, resonable, and, I think, spiritual answer. Thank you, Dr. Leon Morris, for writing that, and Dennis E. McFadden for posting it.


  1. What do you all think?

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