Today I would like to discuss two very similar sounding English phrases which, upon closer inspection, actually turn out to be quite different. Romans 12:16, in part reads, “Be of the same mind toward one another” and Romans 15:5, again in part, reads, “Be of the same mind with one another.” We might be tempted to use these phrases interchangeably, but I’m quite certain the Apostle Paul never meant that to happen.
In the first verse, the word “toward” is the Greek word eis, it has the general idea of motion, and specifically here it means changing the direction of one’s mind. However, in the second verse, the word “with” is the Greek word ev, it has the primary idea of rest, being in a fixed position, and remaining in a particular place. With regards to our minds, you might even want to say this is a reference to being stubborn!
So why would Paul give two such very different commands in the space of just three chapters? The answer is clear when we examine the context of each phrase.
First, let’s look at Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” The beginning of the very next verse contains the motion-related “be of the same mind toward one another.” Paul wants us to set aside whatever emotions we have at the moment and move towards like-mindedness with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
A few days ago I resolved a personal 6-month old problem; I was so giddy, humming as I did dishes and laundry. But then the phone call came that a good friend was hospitalized with a life-threatening condition. My mind “moved” instantly! This “like-mindedness” is how we should relate emotionally toward one another in the Body of Christ.
Now let’s examine the stubborn, fixed-position “one another”. Romans 15:5b reads, “be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus”. Using my Zodhiates’ Complete Word Study Dictionary, I found that the Greek word translated as “according” means having “conformity of a norm, rule, or standard, conformable to the will of someone…”
So who is the standard, whose will should we be conformable to? “Christ Jesus”! Paul here tells us not only to be conformed to Christ, but to be fixed in that position, and stubbornly remaining there. When each member of the Body of Christ adheres to this Standard, we automatically have “like-mindedness”.
As Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, there is a time and a place for everything. Sometimes we need to change our minds and sometimes we need to stand firm. But in either case, we are commanded to be like-minded.
John 17: 22-23 “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”