Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Romans 12:9

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Let love be without dissimulation - Ἡ αγαπη ανυποκριτος· Have no hypocritical love; let not your love wear a mask; make no empty professions. Love God and your neighbor; and, by obedience to the one and acts of benevolence to the other, show that your love is sincere.

Abhor that which is evil - Αποστυγουντες το πονηρον· Hate sin as you would hate that hell to which it leads. Στυγεω signifies to hate or detest with horror; the preposition απο greatly strengthens the meaning. Στυξ, Styx, was a feigned river in hell by which the gods were wont to swear, and if any of them falsified this oath he was deprived of his nectar and ambrosia for a hundred years; hence the river was reputed to be hateful, and στυγεω signified to be as hateful as hell. Two MSS. read μισουντες, which signifies hating in the lowest sense of the term. The word in the text is abundantly more expressive, and our translation is both nervous and appropriate.

Cleave to that which is good - Κολλωμενοι τῳ αγαθῳ· Be Cemented or Glued to that which is good; so the word literally signifies. Have an unalterable attachment to whatever leads to God, and contributes to the welfare of your fellow creatures.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Let love - The apostle proceeds to specify the duties of Christians in general, that they might secure the beauty and order of the church. The first which he specifies is love. This word here evidently refers to benevolence, or to good-will toward all mankind. In Romans 12:10 he specifies the duty of brotherly love; and there can be no doubt that he here refers to the benevolence which we ought to cherish toward all people. A similar distinction is found in 2 Peter 1:7, “And to brotherly-kindness add charity,” that is, benevolence, or good will, and kind feelings to others.

Without dissimulation - Without hypocrisy. Let it be sincere and unfeigned. Let it not consist in words or professions only, but let it be manifested in acts of kindness and in deeds of charity; 1 John 3:18; compare 1 Peter 1:22. Genuine benevolence is not what merely professes attachment, but which is evinced by acts of kindness and affection.

Abhor that which is evil - The word “abhor” means to hate; to turn from; to avoid. The word “evil” here has reference to malice, or unkindness, rather than to evil in general. The apostle is exhorting to love, or kindness; and between the direction to love all people, and the particular direction about brotherly love, he places this general direction to abhor what is evil; what is evil in relation to the subject under discussion, that is, malice or unkindness. The word “evil” is not infrequently used in this limited sense to denote some particular or special evil; Matthew 5:37, Matthew 5:39, etc.; compare Psalm 34:14; 2 Timothy 2:19; Psalm 97:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:22.

Cleave to that which is good - The word rendered “cleave” to denotes properly the act of gluing, or uniting firmly by glue. It is then used to denote a very firm adherence to an object; to be firmly united to it. Here it means that Christians should be firmly attached to what is good, and not separate or part from it. The good here referred to is particularly what pertains to benevolence - to all people, and especially to Christians. It should not be occasional only, or irregular; but it should be constant, active, decided.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The professed love of Christians to each other should be sincere, free from deceit, and unmeaning and deceitful compliments. Depending on Divine grace, they must detest and dread all evil, and love and delight in whatever is kind and useful. We must not only do that which is good, but we must cleave to it. All our duty towards one another is summed up in one word, love. This denotes the love of parents to their children; which is more tender and natural than any other; unforced, unconstrained. And love to God and man, with zeal for the gospel, will make the wise Christian diligent in all his wordly business, and in gaining superior skill. God must be served with the spirit, under the influences of the Holy Spirit. He is honoured by our hope and trust in him, especially when we rejoice in that hope. He is served, not only by working for him, but by sitting still quietly, when he calls us to suffer. Patience for God's sake, is true piety. Those that rejoice in hope, are likely to be patient in tribulation. We should not be cold in the duty of prayer, nor soon weary of it. Not only must there be kindness to friends and brethren, but Christians must not harbour anger against enemies. It is but mock love, which rests in words of kindness, while our brethren need real supplies, and it is in our power to furnish them. Be ready to entertain those who do good: as there is occasion, we must welcome strangers. Bless, and curse not. It means thorough good will; not, bless them when at prayer, and curse them at other times; but bless them always, and curse not at all. True Christian love will make us take part in the sorrows and joys of each other. Labour as much as you can to agree in the same spiritual truths; and when you come short of that, yet agree in affection. Look upon worldly pomp and dignity with holy contempt. Do not mind it; be not in love with it. Be reconciled to the place God in his providence puts you in, whatever it be. Nothing is below us, but sin. We shall never find in our hearts to condescend to others, while we indulge conceit of ourselves; therefore that must be mortified.
Ellen G. White
That I May Know Him, 254.5

We need to be constantly on our guard, to watch and pray lest we enter into temptation. The indulgence of spiritual pride, of unholy desires, of evil thoughts, of anything that separates us from an intimate and sacred association with Jesus imperils our souls.... If the thought of apostasy is grievous to you, and you do not desire to become the enemies of the truth, the accusers of the brethren, then “abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good” (Romans 12:9), and believe in Him who is “able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24).5 TMK 254.5

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 325

You may think me too severe, but I cannot be more severe than the transaction deserves. Did you all think, when you condemned the guiltless, that God was altogether such a one as yourselves? The subsequent condition of Brother D was the result of the position taken by you on that occasion. Had you shown fairness and sympathy, he would stand today where his influence would tell on the side of truth with the power that a meek and quiet spirit exerts. Brother D was not a ready speaker, and the smooth words and fair speeches of A B, uttered with apparent coolness and candor, had effect. The poor, sightless man should have been regarded with pity and tenderness; but, instead of this, he was placed in the worst possible light. God saw and will not hold one of you guiltless who acted a part in that unfair investigation. Brother A, it will not then appear so amusing to you as when you were sitting in judgment against a blind brother. You should learn a lesson from this experience; namely, to close your ears to those who would prejudice you against the very ones whom God would have you sustain, pity, and strengthen. 4T 325.1

Brother C and you could not see the defects in the Brethren B; neither could you discern the opposite traits of character in Brother D. But his influence, sanctified by the Spirit of God, would tell upon the cause of God with tenfold greater power than that of the Brethren B. You have done much to injure Brother D; and I advise you to repent of this wrong as heartily as you committed it. In the name of the Master, I entreat you to shake yourself from human influences and close your ears to gossiping reports. Let no person put a testimony in your mouth; but let God, rather than men who are unconsecrated at home and abroad, give you a burden for His cause. 4T 325.2

Brother C needs the softening, refining Spirit of God in his heart. He needs to exercise it in his home. “Let love be without dissimulation.” Let the arbitrary, dictatorial, censorious spirit be put away from his home, with all malice. The same overbearing, judging spirit will be carried out in the church. If his feelings are somewhat softened for the time being, he will act in a more kindly manner; but if they happen to be the opposite, he will act accordingly. Self-control and self-discipline he has not exercised. Where Brother D has one defect, his judges and those who condemned him have ten. 4T 325.3

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Ellen G. White
Our High Calling, 347.5

We need to be constantly on our guard, to watch and pray lest we enter into temptation. The indulgence of spiritual pride, of unholy desires, of evil thoughts, of anything that separates us from an intimate and sacred association with Jesus, imperils our souls. We must have living faith in God.... If the thought of apostasy is grievous to you, and you do not desire to become the enemies of the truth,... then “abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” Romans 12:9. OHC 347.5

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