1a I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God….
Though the apostle Paul was a firm, uncompromising teacher and defender of God’s Word, his exhortations were affectionate and gentle. Teachers of God’s Word, whether at home or in the church, while unwavering in their commitment to God’s truth, must nonetheless teach it with tenderness and longsuffering.
The word “beseech” can mean “to call alongside, summon” and thus “exhort” or “encourage”. It is a word that carries both the firmness and affection expressed in one’s communication. The apostle’s language does not give a hint that compliance to his exhortations is an optional matter. The great doctrines of the Bible are not static, but dynamic. They produce great acts of godliness in those who were once indifferent to the Lord and wallowing in sin.
In his epistle to the Romans, Paul has hitherto been teaching them the unchangeable truths about salvation by grace through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He has taught them that in Christ, all their condemnations are removed, and that they stand justified and accepted before God. Their glorification is guaranteed, even though they have been persecuted and maligned by the wicked world.
Now, the apostle is about to urge the readers to act on the truths they have received, making the truth of God’s gracious salvation the foundation of their Christian practice. That is why he began by saying, “I beseech you therefore…” Then Paul adds a note of warmth and earnestness to his exhortation by addressing the readers as “brethren”. He expects that the believers will not only listen with high esteem, but also obey with enthusiasm.
To excite the believers to greater compliance to the truths of God, the apostle then proceeded to appeal to God’s mercy. The summon to an obedient life does not come in a vacuum; it is wrapped in God’s mercies. It is the outpouring of divine mercies that exhorts us to live a life that is adorned with the divine truths. We recognise that the word “mercies” (in plural) denotes all that God has done for us in His Son, which Paul has surveyed in chapters 1–11. Everyone who gratefully acknowledges the abundant mercies of God extended to him in Christ, would happily yield to every divine counsel and appropriate it.