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Romans Thirteen

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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Romans 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

subject unto the higher powers. See also 1 Peter 2:13-17. God instituted the system of human government immediately after the great Flood (Genesis 9:6), and has never changed this. Furthermore, God sometimes may, for His own purposes, place even wicked men in positions of power (e.g., Nebuchadnezzar—note Jeremiah 27:5-7; Daniel 4:17). The Apostle Paul himself was imprisoned and finally executed by Emperor Nero, yet he never counseled rebellion or disobedience, except when human laws demand disobedience to God's laws (Acts 5:29). Note that Romans 13:4 supports the concept of using “the sword” by government when necessary. This would confirm the principle of justified capital punishment first established in Genesis 9:6, as well as the concept of warfare when justified.

Romans 13:2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

Romans 13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

Romans 13:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Romans 13:5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

Romans 13:6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

Romans 13:7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

Romans 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

Owe no man any thing. The Christian should pay his debts on time. This does not preclude his borrowing money or using charge accounts, as long as he fulfills the terms of the loan on time. Note the teaching of Jesus, implying His approval of paying interest (Luke 19:23; Matthew 25:27). On the importance of paying one's debts, note also Matthew 5:25-26.

Romans 13:9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

adultery. The law has not been abrogated by Christ, but fulfilled by Him and its curse removed (Matthew 5:17; Galatians 3:13; 1 Corinthians 15:56-57). All of God's Ten Commandments are repeated, in effect, in the New Testament (see note on Hebrews 4:9 relative to the law of the sabbath, which is sometimes said to be an exception to this). Here the commands of the second table of the law are cited, having to do with our responsibilities to our fellow men.

this saying, namely. See Matthew 22:37-40, where Jesus applies the commands of Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 as summarizing the first and second tables of the law, respectively (the first table dealing with our responsibility to God). No one can be saved by keeping the law, but one who is saved by grace will love God's law and diligently seek to obey it.

Romans 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

fulfilling of the law. True love—for God and man—fulfills Christ's two great commands (Mark 12:30-31), and thereby fulfills also the Ten Commandments inscribed by God on the two tables of the law.

Romans 13:11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.

nearer than when we believed. The return of Christ has always been “imminent,” and the earliest believers had been told by Christ to “watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:13). We must not set dates, but rather “occupy till [He] come[s]” (Luke 19:13).

Romans 13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

Romans 13:13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.

chambering. Sexual relations with various partners.

Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.