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Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by ktn4eg, Dec 6, 2013.
....the last part of Romans 12:20 means? (heaping "coals of fire on his head")
It means doing good to your enemies will reveal their shame. Light in a dark world.
Coal is associated with cleansing in some Bible passages and in the Temple, the priest would prepare the incense for burning (being in God's presence) by preparing the coals, first.
Burning isn't always a bad thing in the scriptures.
It means to provide them with such love and well-treatment that they will be ashamed of being your enemy.
I just thought about something as I was typing that last sentence. You know how shame makes your face turn red and flush? Maybe the "coals" of fire is the flush to the face - the flush of shame.
Metaphors are usually informed by context.
Rom 12:20. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Rom 12:21. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
Think about a charcoal grill. You put a steak on the heap of fiery coals. But what would happen if you put the fiery coals on top of the steak?
Or, you can remove the metaphor entirely: If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou overcome evil with good.
Alternatively, you can 'cheat' and consult a commentary or two.
Albert Barnes: Coals of fire are doubtless emblematical of “pain.” But the idea here is not that in so doing we shall call down divine vengeance on the man; but the apostle is speaking of the natural effect or result of showing him kindness. Burning coals heaped on a man’s head would be expressive of intense agony. So the apostle says that the “effect” of doing good to an enemy would be to produce pain. But the pain will result from shame, remorse of conscience, a conviction of the evil of his conduct, and an apprehension of divine displeasure that may lead to repentance.
John Gill: ...not to do him hurt, not to aggravate his condemnation, as if this would be a means of bringing down the wrath of God the more fiercely on him, which is a sense given by some; as if this would be an inducement to the saints to do such acts of kindness; which is just the reverse of the spirit and temper of mind the apostle is here cultivating; but rather the sense is, that by so doing, his conscience would be stung with a sense of former injuries done to his benefactor, and he be filled with shame on account of them, and be brought to repentance for them, and to love the person he before hated, and be careful of doing him any wrong for the future.