Romans 12:21 reads, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” King James Version (KJV)
|ESV||Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.|
|NASB||Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.|
|NIV||Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.|
|NLT||Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.|
Overcome Evil With Good: Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
12:17-21 Since men became enemies to God, they have been very ready to be enemies one to another. And those that embrace religion, must expect to meet with enemies in a world whose smiles seldom agree with Christ’s.
Recompense to no man evil for evil. That is a brutish recompence, befitting only animals, which are not conscious of any being above them, or of any existence hereafter.
And not only do, but study and take care to do, that which is amiable and creditable, and recommends religion to all with whom you converse.
Study the things that make for peace; if it be possible, without offending God and wounding conscience. Avenge not yourselves. This is a hard lesson to corrupt nature, therefore a remedy against it is added. Give place unto wrath.
When a man’s passion is up, and the stream is strong, let it pass off; lest it be made to rage the more against us.
The line of our duty is clearly marked out, and if our enemies are not melted by persevering kindness, we are not to seek vengeance; they will be consumed by the fiery wrath of that God to whom vengeance belongeth.
The last verse suggests what is not easily understood by the world; that in all strife and contention, those that revenge are conquered, and those that forgive are conquerors. Be not overcome of evil. Learn to defeat ill designs against you, either to change them, or to preserve your own peace.
He that has this rule over his spirit, is better than the mighty. God’s children may be asked whether it is not more sweet unto them than all earthly good, that God so enables them by his Spirit, thus to feel and act.
Romans 12:21 | Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Be not overcome of evil—for then you are the conquered party.
but overcome evil with good—and then the victory is yours; you have subdued your enemy in the noblest sense.
Note, (1) The redeeming mercy of God in Christ is, in the souls of believers, the living spring of all holy obedience (Ro 12:1).
(2) As redemption under the Gospel is not by irrational victims, as under the law, but “by the precious blood of Christ” (1Pe 1:18, 19), and, consequently, is not ritual but real, so the sacrifices which believers are now called to offer are all “living sacrifices”; and these—summed up in self-consecration to the service of God—are “holy and acceptable to God,” making up together “our rational service” (Ro 12:1).
(3) In this light, what are we to think of the so-called “unbloody sacrifice of the mass, continually offered to God as a propitiation for the sins both of the living and the dead,” which the adherents of Rome’s corrupt faith have been taught for ages to believe is the highest and holiest act of Christian worship—in direct opposition to the sublimely simple teaching which the Christians of Rome first received (Ro 12:1)
(4) Christians should not feel themselves at liberty to be conformed to the world, if only they avoid what is manifestly sinful; but rather, yielding themselves to the transforming power of the truth as it is in Jesus, they should strive to exhibit before the world an entire renovation of heart and life (Ro 12:2).
(5) What God would have men to be, in all its beauty and grandeur, is for the first time really apprehended, when “written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tables of stone, but on the fleshy tables of the heart,” 2Co 3:3 (Ro 12:2).
(6) Self-sufficiency and lust of power are peculiarly unlovely in the vessels of mercy, whose respective graces and gifts are all a divine trust for the benefit of the common body and of mankind at large (Ro 12:3, 4).
(7) As forgetfulness of this has been the source of innumerable and unspeakable evils in the Church of Christ, so the faithful exercise by every Christian of his own peculiar office and gifts, and the loving recognition of those of his brethren, as all of equal importance in their own place, would put a new face upon the visible Church, to the vast benefit and comfort of Christians themselves and to the admiration of the world around them (Ro 12:6-8).
(8) What would the world be, if it were filled with Christians having but one object in life, high above every other—to “serve the Lord”—and throwing into this service “alacrity” in the discharge of all duties, and abiding “warmth of spirit” (Ro 12:11)!
(9) Oh, how far is even the living Church from exhibiting the whole character and spirit, so beautifully portrayed in the latter verses of this chapter (Ro 12:12-21)! What need of a fresh baptism of the Spirit in order to this! And how “fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners,” will the Church become, when at length instinct with this Spirit! The Lord hasten it in its time!