Who is Romans 12:13 talking about?


Good morning,

I came across a comment that was made on a particular verse: Romans 12:13, "Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality."

Could you please comment on who it is that is distributing the needs of the saints? And that of given to hospitality. In Greek, this “given to hospitality,” is it dealing with those outside the church? And if so who is it that is supplying their need?

Thank you sir for your time.


Going back to Romans 12:4-8, Paul draws a parallel between the members of the church and the parts of a human body. Each part of the body doesn’t have the same functions even though they are all members of one body. The same is true of Christians (I Corinthians 12:4-31; Ephesians 4:25; 5:30). We should not expect all members to behave exactly the same or to excel at the same things. Unity is emphasized, but not unity for its own sake. It is unity in Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23).

In keeping with not thinking too highly of ourselves, Paul points out that the abilities that we have, miraculous or not, are gifts from God. We can’t lay claim to those abilities as proving that we are someone special. Since our abilities are gifts, we should make the best use of what God has given us. Each of us is not given the same set of gifts (I Corinthians 7:7; 12:4). What we do have is according to God’s kindness to us.

Paul then gives a list of specific examples of gifts from God in Romans 12:9-13.

What is it that Christians owe to each other? Paul starts with love, the foundation of all relationships (I Corinthians 13:1-8). It isn’t a suggestion because love is the characteristic that is to define Christianity (John 15:12, 17; Ephesians 5:2; I Thessalonians 4:9; I John 3:11; 4:20-21). It can’t be just a show of love, it has to be sincere (I John 3:18; I Peter 1:22).

Secondly, we must make a distinction between what is right and wrong (I Thessalonians 5:22-23; Psalms 34:14). Thus, love is not blindly given to any without consideration of who is being loved. Nor does love make compromises with sin. Sin is to be abhorred (Psalms 101:3; 119:104; Amos 5:15; Romans 6:1-2). Righteousness is to be held onto (I Thessalonians 5:15; I Peter 3:10-11).

Love is also to be shown. The word here is one expressing the love between parents and children (I Peter 2:17). “Preferring” translates the Greek word proegeomai, which means setting an example by going before. You don’t wait for others to love you and then love them back. You honor people by showing love to them first. Paul further presses the point: we must not drag our feet in the effort. The word “diligence” translates the Greek word spoude, which contains three simultaneous meanings:

  1. To hurry or do quickly
  2. To work hard and do your best
  3. A speediness because you are eager and willing to do the work.

“Fervent” refers to boiling water or heating metal. It is the intensity of desire to do all we can. In this way, you are not only serving your brethren, but you are also serving the Lord (Colossians 3:22-24).

In our hope for the future, we keep an attitude of joy (I Thessalonians 5:16; Philippians 4:4). In persecution, we remain patient (James 1:4). In prayer, we remain steadfast (I Thessalonians 5:17; Colossians 4:2). Each of these bolsters the others, making all easier to accomplish. In serving others, we cannot forget to improve ourselves as well.

We share what we have (The Greek word koinoneo) meeting the needs of other saints (Acts 2:44; Galatians 6:6, 10; Romans 15:27). It isn’t limited to just fellow Christians, we are also to entertain strangers readily and cheerfully (Hebrews 13:2; I Peter 4:9; Matthew 25:43). The phrase says we are to literally chase opportunities to be hospitable.

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