“Rejoice in the hope. Endure under tribulation. Persevere in prayer.”—Romans 12:12, New World Translation.
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”—Romans 12:12, English Standard Version.
Meaning of Romans 12:12
In this verse, the apostle Paul encouraged Christians in Rome to do three things that would help them to stay faithful despite persecution and other difficulties.
“Rejoice in the hope.” Christians have the marvelous hope of everlasting life—some in heaven and most on a paradise earth. (Psalm 37:29; John 3:16; Revelation 14:1-4; 21:3, 4) This hope includes seeing God’s Kingdoma resolve all the problems that plague mankind. (Daniel 2:44; Matthew 6:10) God’s worshippers can rejoice even while enduring hardships, for they are convinced that their hope is secure and that their endurance will bring God’s approval.—Matthew 5:11, 12; Romans 5:3-5.
“Endure under tribulation.” In the Bible, the Greek verb rendered “endure” is often used in the sense of “remaining instead of fleeing; persevering; remaining steadfast.” Christ’s followers are “no part of the world,”b so they expect persecution and thus need endurance. (John 15:18-20; 2 Timothy 3:12) When a Christian steadfastly serves God even though that means enduring trials, his faith that God will ultimately reward him is strengthened. (Matthew 24:13) In turn, this conviction enables him to endure difficulties with patience and joy.—Colossians 1:11.
“Persevere in prayer.” To remain faithful to God, Christians are repeatedly encouraged to keep praying. (Luke 11:9; 18:1) They constantly seek God’s guidance and depend on him in all areas of life. (Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17) They are convinced that God will answer their requests because they obey his commands and do their best to please him. (1 John 3:22; 5:14) They also know that if they persist in prayer, God will give them the strength they need to stay faithful no matter the trial.—Philippians 4:13.
Context of Romans 12:12
Paul wrote his letter to the Christians living in Rome about 56 C.E. In chapter 12 of this letter, he provides practical advice on how to display Christian qualities, how to deal with fellow believers and others, and how to react peaceably when persecuted. (Romans 12:9-21) This was timely counsel for the Christians in Rome because they would soon face violent opposition.
A few years later, in 64 C.E., a great fire ravaged the city of Rome. The rumor circulated that Emperor Nero was responsible. According to Tacitus, who was a Roman historian, Nero tried to protect himself by blaming the Christians. Evidently, this led to a great wave of persecution against Christians. Paul’s advice on how to endure persecution helped them to face that difficult time with faith and dignity. (1 Thessalonians 5:15; 1 Peter 3:9) Their example is worthy of imitation by God’s worshippers today.
Watch this short video to see an overview of the book of Romans.
b In the Bible, the term “world” can refer to human society separated from God.