This chapter[ 1 ] has three main points. The duty of Christians toward civil government. Christians should love one another. Be clothed upon with Christ (see chart ROMANS 13 OUTLINE).
Chart ROMANS 13 OUTLINE
1. Duty of Christians toward government (Ro 13:1-7). 2. Love one another (Ro 13:8-10).
3. Be clothed upon with Christ (Ro 13:11-14).
The Jews tried to array Jesus against Caesar. They said He was a rival king (Lu
23:2). During His trial, they cried out to Pilate:
If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar's friend. Whoever makes himself
a king speaks against Caesar (Joh 19:12)
At Thessalonica, Paul was accused by the Jews of preaching "another king--
Jesus" (Ac 17:7). This is interesting because the Jews themselves were galled
under Roman subjection. The Zealot party fanatically resisted the Romans. There
was a controversy among Jews about paying taxes to a foreign government
(Rome). When the Jews from various sects obeyed the gospel, for a while, some
of them held on to a few of their old prejudices. Although they hated the payment
of taxes, Jesus taught his followers to pay them (Mt 22:17-21; Mk 12:14-17; Lu
22:22-25). The consistent teaching of the Scriptures is that Christians should pay
taxes, obey the laws and pray for rulers (see Mt 5:25, 26; 1Ti 2:1, 2; Tit 3:1; 1Pe
2:13-15). Without this teaching Roman persecution would undoubtedly have been
worse than it was.
Civil obedience is right because it is God's will. Those who resist established
government receive just penalties (see Ro 13:2, 3; paragraph on CIVIL
DISOBEDIENCE below; note on Be subject at verse 1).
The Roman government changed hands rather rapidly and unexpectedly during
the first century. Caligula reigned AD 37-41. Claudius was poisoned in AD 54.
At age 31, Nero committed suicide in AD 68. Murder of an existing ruler was
one way the throne was seized. Was each Caesar "ordained by God"? Yes. Even
the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 was carried out by "his armies,"
that is, God's (Mt 22:1-7).
The terrible persecution by Nero began after the great fire in Rome (AD 64).
Paul wrote the Roman letter about seven years prior to that (AD 57). To argue
that Christians were not required to submit to an evil regime because the existing
Roman government was benevolent is to forget that the Holy Spirit knew the
corruption of the Roman state and that persecution was coming on the church just
as surely as Christ knew Jerusalem would be destroyed (see His remarks in Mt
24:2-41; Mk 13:2-30; Lu 21:5-36). Later Christians, some of whom wrote
documents during Roman persecution, continued to confirm what Christ, Paul and
Peter taught, namely, that Christians should pay taxes and obey the civil
authorities.[ 2 ]
What would the world be like without civil government? Consider the riots and lootings by lawless people. Bad civil government is probably a little better than total anarchy.[ 3 ]
Is there ever a time when a Christian should disobey civil government? Yes,
when that government contradicts the plain teaching of God (Ac 5:29). Even then
one needs to be very careful. Christ refused to let Peter keep on defending Him
with the sword. Yet Christ knew that His own arrest was unfair (Mt 26:51, 52;
Mk 14:47; Joh 18:10, 11). There has been controversy about Roman laws
protecting the institution of slavery. Paul did not act in contradiction to those laws
when he returned a runaway slave to his master (Phm 10-12, 17; compare Eph
6:5-9; Col 3:22; 4:1; 1Ti 6:1, 2; Tit 2:9; 1Pe 2:18, 19).
13:1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no
authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by
Let every soul [let every person, everyone is to].[ 4 ] The Roman letter was
written to both Jews and Gentiles . None is exempt from its teaching. There is no
excuse for anyone of any nation not to be a good citizen. Paul taught that all ages,
races and religions are to submit to the civil authorities.
Be subject [be in subjection, submit to].[ 5 ] Obedience to civil government is
demanded except when the demand is sinful. For example, the Egyptian midwives
were right to refuse to kill the boy babies (Ex 1:17). When Israel entered
Canaan, they were not required to obey the existing rulers. When Nebuchadnezzar
commanded that his golden image be worshipped, Shadrach, Meshach and
Abednego appropriately refused. God's honor of their civil disobedience was
confirmed by the divine protection from harm in the fiery furnace (Da 3:5, 6, 17,
18, 25). In about AD 95, when Caesar-worship was demanded, many Roman
Christians suffered death rather than submit to a government requirement to
become guilty of idolatry.
How much rebellion against rulers is allowed? The example of God's OT
prophets may help. As a general rule, the prophets were respectful of governing
authorities. After Moses killed the abusive Egyptian, he feared governmental
reprisals and so escaped into Midian (Ex 2:11, 12). When he returned to Egypt,
he followed God's instructions and made request to Pharaoh for the release of the
Hebrew slaves (Ex 4:23; 5:1; 6:11; 7:16). Moses stretched the favor of Pharaoh
to the limit. Elijah's contest with the prophets of Baal was in rebellion to Queen
Jezebel and King Ahab (1Ki 18:20-21:2). Daniel also was divinely protected from
the lions after he disregarded the king's 30-day decree not petition anyone else (Da
6:7-9, 22). They did not "reject" or "despise" authority nor did they "speak evil
at dignitaries" (Jude 8; compare 2Pe 2:10). Christians would do well to follow
To the governing authorities [unto the higher powers, the authorities that are
above, the government which is over, him].[ 6 ] God's authority is over and above
all civil government, here called "governing authorities" or "higher powers."
For there is no authority except from God [for there is no power but of
God].[ 7 ] The Jews may have thought theirs was the only governmental power
authorized by heaven's throne. On the other hand, Paul implies that in all lands
including Italy existing governments are of God. This does not mean that
unrighteous civil laws are justified simply because God backs civil authorities.
Neither are civil rulers exempt from committing sin just because God ordains
them. Even though Pilate was governor, his handling of Christ was sinful. "Mob
action" sins were not an innocent diversion either. In fact, what the Jews did to
Christ was worse in God's sight than what the Roman governor did.
You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you
from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin
And the authorities that exist [and those that exist, and all of them, for governments].[ 8 ] "The authorities that exist" were governments that existed at the time Paul wrote the Romans letter and by extension other governmental systems even during the present century.
Are appointed by God [are set up, have been instituted, are ordained of, by, are under, God]. [ 9 ] Whatever government is in power is set in order under God. Even Pilate received his authority "from above." Jesus said to him:
A Christian may come into conflict with an irritating tax rule, a speed restriction
or a smoking ordinance that, to some, makes little sense. Yet, in honor to Christ,
he submits in obedience.
13:2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God,
and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
Therefore whoever resists the authority [therefore whosoever, he who, he
that, so that he that, resisteth, sets himself in opposition to, the authorities,
the power].[ 10 ] "Whoever" is general. It applies to Christians and non-Christians
alike. Anyone who disobeys civil government opposes what God has instituted.
This is reason enough to obey the laws. Another reason not to resist authority is
because it is God-ordained for the good of the citizens.
Resists [withstandeth, resisteth, has set himself in opposition to].[ 11 ] To
oppose, resist or rebel against the government is to withstand or set oneself against
it. The occasional lapse or failure to obey the letter of the law is not in view here
(but see 1Pe 2:13-15).
The ordinance of God [what God has appointed, God's ordinance].[ 12 ] God
ordained or set in place civil government. The man who resists what He set in
place, opposes God.
And those who resist [and they that withstand, who [thus] resist, oppose
God's ordinance].[ 13 ] Resistance or opposition in the present verse is against the
authority, the power or the ordinance of God.
Will bring judgment on themselves [will incur, shall receive, shall bring
damnation, sentence of guilt, condemnation to, upon, themselves].[ 14 ] Verse
3 suggests the civil rulers will judge, sentence and punish those who withstand.
Christians are not to commit sin by resisting established rulers.[ 15 ]
Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake,
whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent
by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do
good (1Pe 2:13, 14).
13:3, 4 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want
to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise
from the same. 4 For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil,
be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an
avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.
For rulers [for the rulers].[ 16 ] Rulers may not be Christians but they are still
servants of God. Their God-ordained mission is to uphold the good and oppose
the evil. They are obligated to enact ordinances according to the good teaching
of the Bible. Those rulers who work against God's people and those who promote
humanism, abortion on demand or the practice of homosexuality are in blatant
violation of God's will and will answer to Him at the judgment.
Are not a terror.[ 17 ] God has appointed that rulers cause evil-doers to fear. He
expects rulers to be a terror to evil doers. When evil men and women are
punished, the government is functioning within its divinely-ordained realm.
However, this does not ensure a persecution-free government anymore than God's
rules for moral living make everybody righteous (see note on Be subject at verse
To good works [to good conduct, to a, to the, good work].[ 18 ] Generally
speaking, rulers are not a terror to good people. Exceptions include the casting
of Jeremiah into a pit, Daniel to the lions, the three Hebrews into the fiery
furnace, the unfair judgment of Christ, the execution of James (Ac 12:2), the
arrest and beheading of Paul, as well as the persecution of Christians by Nero and
But for evil [but evil, the evil, to bad, an evil one]. Rulers are divinely
instructed to be a terror to evil. That is, they should incite fear in those who
would choose to commit crimes. Governors are sent by the king to punish
criminals (1Pe 2:14).
Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? [wilt thou then, would you
have, and wouldest thou have, dost thou desire then not be, not to be, afraid,
to have no fear of, the power, him who is in authority?].[ 19 ] [ 20 ] Like all people,
Christians are motivated by hope of reward and by fear of punishment. Fear
should be a strong deterrent to crime. A backlog of court cases, delayed trials,
over-crowded jails and lenient judges do little to deter crime.
Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore
the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil (Ec 8:11).
Do what is good [then do, practise, that which is, good].[ 21 ] Obedience to a
higher law than civil government prompts the Christian to do what is right. If one
consistently does good, he has little cause to fear. He should not have to fear
governmental authorities because rulers are obligated to appreciate good, peaceful
and patriotic citizens. Even if government should fail in this and should execute
Christians for their faith, they do not really need to fear the persecutors, nor
eternity (see Mt 10:28; Heb 10:31).
And you will have praise from the same [and receive, and thou shalt have,
receive, his approval, praise from it, of it, of the same].[ 22 ] It is the
responsibility of civil government to commend, encourage and praise that which
[13:4] For he is God's minister [for it is God's servant, a, the, minister of
God].[ 23 ] Rulers are in God's arrangement of things. They are "appointed by
God" (verse 1). Some translators opt to render ESTIN it is.[ 24 ] Others render it
"he is."[ 25 ] Civil government is to be a servant of God. It is divinely authorized
to carry out His will.
To you for good [for your good, to thee for good, to do you good].[ 26 ] The
pronoun SOI[ 27 ] to you refers to Christians, to those to whom the Roman letter was
addressed. Thus rulers have a divine obligation to do positive good to and for
Christians and encourage others to do the same. Under the broad heading "for
good," government has assumed many things that may or may not be divinely
intended as functions of the state (see charts DUTIES OF THE STATE; THINGS
ASSUMED BY THE STATE NOT SPECIFIED IN SCRIPTURE A and B).
But if you do evil [but if thou do wrong, that which is evil, practisest evil]. [ 28 ]
There is a possibility that a Christian may commit a crime. Whoever does so
ought to expect punishment.
Be afraid [fear].[ 29 ] Punishment for crimes should be executed justly and
quickly in order to instill fear in other would-be criminals. When the criminal
justice system becomes so inefficient that criminals have little fear of it, it has
failed in this aspect of its divinely-ordained mission (see note on verse 3).
For he does not bear [for it bears not, beareth not].[ 30 ] The tense of the
Greek verb implies the bearing of the sword is a constant, continuous and never-ending responsibility of civil government. Very few countries have been able to
long exist without some kind of police force.
The sword in vain [the sword without cause].[ 31 ] "The sword" stands for that
which is used to punish criminals, particularly to execute them. One of the Ten
Commandments plainly stated "You shall not RATSACH murder" (Ex 20:13).
Nevertheless, under OT Law, civil government had authority to carry out capital
punishment. In speaking of legal justice, the Lord said, "The man shall surely
HARAG be put to death" (Nu 15:35; compare Ge 9:6). According to Paul, a
similar principle holds true for civil government in the church age.
For he is God's minister [he is, for it is, God's servant, a, the, servant,
minister, of God].[ 32 ] This phrase occurs twice in this verse (see previous note
on For he is God's minister). As a minister or servant of God, civil government
has a responsibility to know God's will and obey it.
An avenger to execute wrath [a revenger, for wrath, to execute wrath, his
wrath].[ 33 ] Christians do not have the right to take the law into their own hands
or carry out personal vengeance. It is, however, God's will that civil government
should punish criminals.
On him who practices evil [on the evildoer, wrongdoer, to him, upon him, that does, that doeth, evil].[ 34 ] "Him" or "the one" is general and applies to Christian and non-Christian alike. Civil magistrates should not show partiality. They are not interested in granting clemency to a law-breaker just because he happens to be a Christian.
13:5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for
Therefore [wherefore].[ 35 ] Three reasons are given for Christians to be in
subjection. First, the government is God's minister for good (verse 4). Secondly,
it is an avenger that brings wrath (also verse 4; see next three paragraphs).
Thirdly, one should obey the laws of the land for conscience sake (verse 5).
You must be subject [one must be, ye must needs be, it is necessary to be, in subjection].[ 36 ] Subjection to civil rulers is commanded. Reasons are listed above.
Not only because of wrath [not only for, on account of, wrath, to avoid
God's wrath, the wrath].[ 37 ] One reason Paul gives for Christians to obey civil
government is in order to avoid the penalty for disobedience.
But also for conscience' sake [but because of, also for the sake of, on account of, conscience].[ 38 ] Another reason for Christians to be law-abiding is that God commands it. Since He commands it, conscience demands it (see 1Pe 2:13, 14).
13:6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers
attending continually to this very thing.
For because of this [for for, this cause, the same reason, on this account]. [ 39 ] Paul gave reasons for Christians to pay taxes (see verses 4, 5). Another reason is conscience. The government is expected to bring wrath upon those who practice evil.
You also pay taxes [ye pay, pay ye, tribute also].[ 40 ] Tribute is another word for taxes, especially property and poll taxes. Christians are to submit to the laws of their country and pay their taxes.
For they are God's ministers [for the authorities are God's officers, God's servants, ministers of God, ministers of God's service].[ 41 ] Rulers are divinely ordained to serve God and carry out His will on earth. Since His will is for good and against evil, rulers are obligated to be for the good of the people and opposed to their harm.
Attending continually [devoting themselves].[ 42 ] The work of the government
in punishing criminals is demanding, continuous and never-ending (see Ro 12:12).
To this very thing [on, upon, this very thing].[ 43 ] "This very thing" refers
back to verses 4, 5 and the duty of the government to punish offenders.
13:7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs
to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
Render therefore to all their due [pay to all you owe, all of them, render to
all, their dues].[ 44 ] The dues Christians owe the government include submission,
honor, taxes and any required good work (see chart OBLIGATIONS TO
What if the administration is evil? I do not understand the Scriptures to allow
Christians to disobey it even then (see note on Ac 5:29). When Paul wrote this
very letter, there was a fair amount of corruption in the Roman government and
more was looming on the horizon.
It is an abomination for kings to commit wickedness, for a throne is
established by righteousness (Pr 16:12).
Taxes to whom taxes are due [tribute to whom tribute, to whom tribute is
due].[ 45 ] "Tribute" is a tax that may be levied on, but not limited to, persons.
The word is broad enough to include income and property taxes.
Customs to whom customs [revenue to whom revenue is due, custom to whom custom, to whom custom, custom, tax to whom tax].[ 46 ] "Customs" are taxes levied on goods. Gasoline, luxury, cigarette, import and sales taxes are examples (see note on verse 6).
Fear to whom fear [respect to whom respect is due, to whom fear, fear].[ 47 ]
Christians are to give honor and respect to the existing authorities, that is to
Honor to whom honor [honor to whom honor is due, to whom honour, honour].[ 48 ] Paul once called to attention the OT command not to curse a ruler of your people (Ac 23:5; compare Ex 22:28). David refused to strethc out his hand against "the Lord's anointed" (1Sa 24:6). Solomon advised not to curse the king "even in your thought" (Ec 10:20). Jude listed speaking evil of dignitaries along with filthy dreaming and defiling the flesh (Jude 8).
Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king (1Pe
13:8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves
another has fulfilled the law.
Owe no one anything.[ 49 ] Before contracting a debt, one should ask himself the
reason for it. A debt made for vanity, pride or from covetousness is wrong. A
debt made in order to "keep up" with others is in serious question. A debt that
hurts the church, one's family or others is bad. Some have argued that all buying
on credit is sinful. I disagree. As long as the payments are kept current,
installment buying does not violate the command to love one another. My view
is that a debt is not "owed" until it is due or past due.
1. Pay obligations of obedience and taxes to government (Ro 13:1-7).
2. Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another (Ro 13:8).
3. Love does no harm to a neighbor (Ro 13:10).
4. Christians pay their bills [on time].
5. Sinful to owe "bad debts" that wrong another.
6. Make satisfactory arrangements to pay outstanding debts.
It is never right to "skip out" without paying the last few months' rent. It is a
sin to buy on credit and then move with no forwarding address and no intention
to pay. Such schemes are dishonest. On the other hand, it is an abomination for
the "provider" to sell inferior or unusable goods or to charge for repairs not made.
A landlord who bleeds tenants for all the rent he can get but fails to provide a
livable environment is despicable.
Except to love one another [save to, but to, unless to, love one another].[ 50 ]
Love given away is not lost. It is the only debt that can never be completely
repaid. To whom does one owe a debt of love? To God, one's spouse, children,
parents, the lost, enemies, and others. Specifically, "one another," in the present
context, alludes to Christians (see Mt 22:37, 38; 1Co 13:1-8; Col 3:14; note above
on Owe no man anything).
For he who loves another [for he that loveth his neighbor, the other].[ 51 ]
HETEROS another or neighbor usually means another of a different sort.
However, that meaning should not be dogmatically insisted upon here. The Greek
suggests that Christians are to love others who are different. They are not allowed
to freely choose to love only those "others" with whom they have everything in
common. They are to love people dirty and clean, ignorant and educated, old and
young, red and yellow, poor and rich, pretty and ugly, fat and thin, normal and
handicapped, far and near, enemies and friends.
Has fulfilled the law [hath fulfilled the law].[ 52 ] Obedience to God is not
complete until one loves his neighbor. Jesus pointed out that OT Laws stemmed
from the commands to love God and man (Mt 22:37-40; Mk 12:29-31; Lu 10:27,
28). However, in the present verse, the law to be fulfilled is the law of Christ
(see Ga 6:2). Since love "does no harm to a neighbor" (verse 10), and since love
is to be "in deed and in truth" (1Jo 3:18), we may conclude that the debt of love
is paid by doing good (and no ill) to others. Love does not excuse or compromise
with sin. Instead, it motivates one to obey even the detailed commandments of
God (verse 9; compare Lu 11:42; Joh 14:15; 15:10; 1Jo 2:5; 5:3). It does not
authorize the violation of a single NT command. On the contrary, it enjoins the
keeping of them all.
13:9 For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not
murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall
not covet," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this
saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
For the commandments [for, for this, the commandments].[ 53 ] Although the phrase "the commandments" does not appear in the first part of this verse in the Greek, translators appropriately supply it. Those who do so looked ahead in the verse to the phrase "any other commandment." The commandments mentioned are similar to those in Exodus 20:13-17 and Deuteronomy 5:17-20 except that they are not complete and are in a different order.[ 54 ] Because of the unusual order, some have imagined that Paul was following Christ or James rather than the OT. Note that all the commandments Paul lists are NT commandments also. "You shall love your neighbor" was not one of the Ten Commandments. It was first recorded in Leviticus 19:18. This commandment has a NT counterpart too. Christ enjoins loving others as He loved us (Joh 13:34; 15:12).
You shall not commit adultery [thou shalt not commit adultery].[ 55 ] Adultery
is sexual intercourse between parties one of whom is married but not to each other.
It is expressly forbidden in the NT (see 1Co 6:9; 2Pe 2:14). It is also forbidden
by implication in the command to love one's neighbor. This commandment shows
that the Lord honors marriage. Obedience to the command against adultery
protects the family from destruction due to infidelity that is so flagrant in our day.
["LOVE" COMMANDS ENCOMPASS THEM ALL]
1. Civil laws of persons
a. Father and son.
b. Husband and wife.
c. Master and slave.
2. Laws about things
a. Land and possessions.
c. Taxation, royal revenue.
You shall not murder [you shall not kill, thou shalt not kill].[ 56 ] The words
RATSACH (Hebrew) and PHONEUSEIS (Greek) appear in commands that
condemn murder.[ 57 ] A reason that murder is wrong is because life is the basic
and ultimate possession of a human being. Murder is also a sin against man who
is made in the image of God (see Ge 1:26; 5:1; 9:6). Most of the reasons not to
murder apply against premeditated abortion.
You shall not steal [thou shalt not steal].[ 58 ] Certain possessions are absolutely
essential to man's well-being. Among these are food and covering (see Pr 30:8;
1Ti 6:8). Whether or not an item is indispensable to daily life, it is a sin to steal
anything. White collar crime is just as heinous as burglary.
You shall not bear false witness [thou shalt not bear false witness]. This command is omitted in most revised Greek texts. In reciting the commandments to the rich young ruler Jesus included it (Mt 19:18; Mk 10:19; Lu 18:20). In Exodus and Deuteronomy, it was limited to bearing false witness "against your neighbor" (Ex 20:16; De 5:20). In the present chapter, the command is general enough to include all kinds of false witness such as perjury, libel, misrepresentation, slander, vilification or defamation of character.
You shall not covet [thou shalt not lust].[ 59 ] Covetousness is a secret sin of the
heart. It is an intense desire. In the present context, it is especially a desire for
forbidden or evil activities involving self, persons or things. It frequently leads
to impure or immoral acts. Paul said a covetous man "is an idolater" (Eph 5:5).
Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication,
uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry (Col
And if there is any other commandment [and, and if there be, any other
commandment].[ 60 ]
1. Laws relating to self.
a. Add Christian graces, fruit of the Spirit.
b. Avoid works of the flesh.
c. Compassion, generosity, moderation.
d. Forgiving spirit.
e. Purity of heart.
f. Repentance, prayer.
2. Laws relating to others.
a. To the brethren (love, kindness, fellowship, forgiveness, restoration, encouragement).
b. To family (parents, husband and wife, children).
c. Against murder, adultery, fornication, stealing.
d. To the poor.
f. To slaves and masters, employers, employees.
g. To the world (Great Commission).
Are all summed up in this saying [are, it is, briefly comprehended in this
sentence, word, statement].[ 61 ] The command to love one's neighbor
encompasses all human relationships. All immoral and sinful acts against others
are forbidden by it. All positive humanitarian virtues are encouraged.
Namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself [namely, Thou shalt love
thy neighbor as thyself].[ 62 ] The Greek word for "neighbor" primarily signifies
one who is near. He or she may be of any race, color, status or religious
preference. A neighbor is anyone near enough to meet. The positive Christian
seeks to expand his list of neighbors (Mt 5:46, 47), as well as his neighborliness
(Lu 10:25-37). Does love permit adultery, mercy killing, abortion, stealing,
lying? Not at all. Just the opposite is true. If one truly loves his neighbor he will
totally refrain from violating the other commands (see Le 19:18).
13:10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the
Love does no harm [love does no wrong, works, worketh, no ill, no evil].[ 63 ]
Some of the purposes of the OT Law were to focus upon sin, to educate and
benefit man . A major aspect of NT commands are stressed by the statement,
"Love does no harm to a neighbor."
To a neighbor [to its, to his, neighbor].[ 64 ] In the present verse, one's spouse,
family members, relatives and several other people may be considered to be
neighbors (see note on verse 9).
Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law [so love, love therefore, fulfills the
law, is the fulfilling of the whole law].[ 65 ] All NT commandments are summed
up in love (see Ro 13:9). For example, when Christians bear one another's
burdens, their love fulfills the law of Christ (see Ga 6:2).
13:11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of
sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.
And do this [besides this, and this, and that, this also, moreover].[ 66 ] By way
of transition, Paul introduces the idea of spiritual awakening. He then discusses
putting on the armor of light, the urgency of quitting all sins of darkness and a
gives a description of the Christian walk that proper or becoming.
Knowing the time [you know what hour it is, knowing the season].[ 67 ] The
"time" or "season" may have been part of the early church age, the time of the
rapid spread of the gospel as well as the time of bitter persecution. To those in
the present century, it need not correspond to those events. To modern Christians,
it illustrates the urgency of righteous living (compare "Today" in Heb 3:7-15;
That now it is high time [how it is full time now, that already it is time, that
it is already time].[ 68 ] It is always the time to awaken from moral stupor. Such
encouragement is appropriate in any time, especially so in the present century.
1. Samson's sleep of presumption on Delilah's knees (Jg 16:19, 20).
2. The sleep of the sluggard (Pr 24:30-34).
3. Sleep to avoid reality (Jonah 1:5; Eph 5:14).
4. The sleep of the foolish virgins (Mt 25:5).
5. The sleep of weary disciples (Mt 26:40).
6. The sleep of the careless (Mk 13:35-37).
7. Spiritual sleep of the Corinthians (1Co 11:30).
To awake out of sleep [for you to wake, arise, that we should be aroused,
from sleep]. [ 69 ] The light of the gospel awakens from spiritual sleep. Paul insists
that Christians wake up in order to not be indifferent to evil. There must be no
hesitation in the proclamation of the gospel or in putting away sin. Any heathen,
Jewish or worldly error that remains must be cast off.
Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the
knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame (1Co 15:34; see also Eph
5:14; 1Th 5:6, 7).
For now our salvation is nearer [for salvation is nearer to us now, for now is, is our, salvation nearer, nearer to us].[ 70 ] "Now" is in accord with Paul's use of the word "near" or "nigh" earlier in the Roman letter (see note on Ro 5:8). A good understanding of the gospel motivates Christians to live a better life. As they grow older and become more conscious of mortality, they realize with certainty that they are travelling toward the judgment day and heavenly salvation. Their spiritual goal will come to fruition at the end of a life of faith (see 1Pe 1:9; 1Jo 2:25).
Than when we first believed [than when we believed].[ 71 ] "When we first believed" stands for the time when Paul and people in Rome became Christians. It was the time when they believed in Jesus Christ, repented of sins, confessed their faith in Him and were baptized into Him. They had since grown in faith and knowledge. Their better understanding was improving their lives.
13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the
works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
The night is far spent [the night is far gone, is almost gone].[ 72 ] The "night"
was the time in the past before Paul's readers became Christians. That was the
ideal point of time to cast off the works of darkness. However, time had elapsed.
Now, with more knowledge, they must do so without hesitation (compare a similar
figure in Ro 12:1, 2; 1Co 15:34). Dear reader, let us awaken to a new day of
exhilarating and joyous life of purity in the Lord.
You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor
of darkness (1Th 5:5).
The day is at hand [and the day is near].[ 73 ] Thayer missed the idea when he
attributed the day at hand to the final judgment. The apostles did not believe nor
teach that day was near. Paul simply meant it was "getting-up" time. It was time
to get moving and start obeying the Lord's will in everyday living.
Therefore He says: "Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ
will give you light" (Eph 5:14).
The Ephesians did not have to wait for the judgment day for Christ to shine upon them. Neither did the Romans, nor do we (see Joh 9:4).
Therefore let us cast off [let us then, therefore, cast away, put off].[ 74 ] Most
people take off their sleeping clothes when morning comes. In like manner,
Christians cast off or lay aside the works of darkness. This is their definite plan,
not a whim or fantasy. They make an unequivocal decision to cast off the works
of darkness. They form a specific and precise goal and immediately begin to
The works of darkness.[ 75 ] There is as much difference between right and
wrong as between light and darkness. Because of carelessness, permissiveness and
indifference, some cannot see the distinction. As one put it, some Christians
"have run with the goats so long they can't tell `sneeze weed' from clover." It
would help if God's people would quit viewing soap operas, begin serious Bible
study, exercise their senses and discern good and evil (compare Eph 5:11; Heb
And let us put on [and put on].[ 76 ] The command to "put on" or be clothed with the gospel armor is important and should be obeyed decisively. Christians respond positively and make appropriate changes in order to conform to what they have learned.
The armor of light.[ 77 ] God is light (1Jo 1:5). Christians' His armor is made
up of both protection and weapons of light. The battle is against evil forces of
darkness. One must fully armed for a mighty conflict (see 2Co 10:4; Eph 6:13;
1Th 5:8; 2Ti 4:7). In Paul's mind, there was no such thing as fighting with only
part of the armor. All of it was (is) needed for protection and combat-readiness.
The armor of light is "the panoply[ 78 ] of God." "Put on the PANOPLIAN full
armor of God" (Eph 6:11).
13:13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness,
not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.
Let us walk properly [let us conduct ourselves becomingly, honestly].[ 79 ] The
Christian's daily walk of honesty, decency and righteousness is observed by
others. A life of good works is becoming (compare Mt 3:15; 1Ti 2:10). He who
is properly clad in glistening armor,[ 80 ] consistently and faithfully serving Christ,
is beautiful to see (see 1Th 4:11, 12). His purity and dedication make viewing
him very enjoyable. A Christian is never ashamed of his pure and steadfast life.
Contrast this with the shameful, ugly selfishness of humanistic or atheistic
As in the day.[ 81 ] "Day" is the time when people expect to be seen. Even at
night, Christians are to walk "as" in the day. They expect others to notice their
conduct. In this figure, night-living corresponds to sin, day-living to
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as
children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness,
and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord (Eph 5:8-10; compare
"Day" brings the sunlight of God's blessings. When Jesus was physically present
on earth, it was "day" to those who walked and worked with Him (see Joh 9:4;
11:9). In a very real sense, He is with Christians now (Mt 28:20). A walk with
Him is "day"! In heaven, it is a glorious "day" (see Re 22:5).
Not in revelry [not in reveling, rioting, merry-making].[ 82 ] Carousing is what
goes on late at night in worldly parties. There is usually a lot of eating, drinking
of liquor, immoral talk and shameful activities (see chart SIX SINS OF
And drunkenness.[ 83 ]
Not in lewdness [not in debauchery, chambering, sexual lewdness].[ 84 ] The
Greek word for "lewdness" or "chambering" in the Greek Septuagint OT is the
"lie." In the NT it has to do with what goes on in bed between people not married
to each other. "Lewdness" includes both heterosexual and homosexual
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination (Le
And lust [and licentiousness, lasciviousness, wantonness].[ 85 ] In this context,
"lust" is associated with sexual excesses and indecency. Some have interpreted
"lust" as "sodomitical practices."[ 86 ]
Not in strife [not in quarreling].[ 87 ] At Rome, there may have been strife between Jews and Gentiles. There is strife over the authority of Scripture, social issues, personalities and material things.
And envy [and jealousy, envying, emulation].[ 88 ] Each Christian has an essential part to play in the body of Christ. Jealousy should not be in any Christian's thoughts because he or she is fulfilling a special purpose in the work of God.
13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh,
to fulfill its lusts.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ [but put ye on, but clothe yourselves with,
the Lord Jesus Christ].[ 89 ] The figure of putting on or being clothed sometimes
means "abundance." Job said:
I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was like a robe and a
turban (Job 29:14).
Righteousness, along with patience, was a major characteristic of Job's life.
Being clothed may suggest abundance.
The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered with grain;
they shout for joy, they also sing (Ps 65:13).
Being clothed may also imply nearness or intimacy and, then, inward qualities.
As he clothed himself with cursing as with his garment, so let it enter his body like water, and like oil into his bones (Ps 109:18).
Being clothed with Christ implies nearness to Him and being inwardly and
abundantly supplied with His character traits.
At the moment a believer is baptized into Christ he puts on[ 90 ] Christ (Ga 3:27).
Although he is clothed upon with Christ, he does not instantly become fully grown
into His complete likeness. He continues to grow "in grace and knowledge" (2Pe
3:18). The baptized believer is admonished to "put on the new man" (Eph 4:24;
Col 3:10). Putting on "the new man" implies taking on the characteristics of
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering (Col 3:12).
Christians follow the example of Christ, learn His doctrine, imbibe His attitudes,
respect His authority and obey His commands.
And make no provision [and make not provision, do not take forethought,
and do not prepare].[ 91 ] A Christian's mind and spirit do not to look forward to
sinful, fleshly gratification. He does not plan, prepare or "make provision" for the
flesh and its unlawful desires.
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the
flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit (Ro
The spiritual part of man guides and controls the activities of a Christian's body.
There are desires of the flesh and "desires of the mind" that have to be dealt with
1. Dress modestly.
2. Do not view salacious magazines, movies, videos.
3. Turn off questionable TV shows.
4. Never buy tickets to hedonistic movies.
5. Separate from worldly friends.
A Christian has no business engaging in activities calculated to arouse evil,
sensual desires in herself or in others. Some endeavors that seem innocent to a
man in our permissive generation actually "make provision" for the flesh. The
desires of the flesh include more than "wine, women and song" (see Ga 5:19-21).
Amos described them.
Who lie on beds of ivory, stretch out on your couches, eat lambs from the
flock and calves from the midst of the stall; Who sing idly to the sound of
stringed instruments, and invent for yourselves musical instruments like
David; Who drink wine from bowls, and anoint yourselves with the best
ointments, but are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph (Am 6:4-6).
To make provision for something implies attention, forethought and preparation. The Christian is never to dwell upon, plan or prepare for impurity. If he was "overtaken" or "caught" in any trespass (Ga 6:1), it should never be because he slowed down on purpose so that the trespass could catch up with him.[ 92 ] In an effort to obey Paul's command, some have limited or stopped watching television. Others have trashed some of their literature and videos. A decision to completely avoid worldly friends has helped a lot of people avoid making provision for the flesh.
For the flesh [of the flesh].[ 93 ] The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write the word
SARKOS flesh but, perhaps due to theological bias, some translators, instead of
translating, have supplied "your sinful nature."[ 94 ] Even the scholarly Vine writes
of "the depraved nature" as if to imply one may have inherited from Adam a
nature innately sinful! Some Calvinists argue that so long as the spirit of man is
pure, the body can, and does, sin. They suggest bodily sins never cause the loss
of eternal salvation. Why, then, do they worry at all about a so-called inherited
"sinful nature" if, according to their false theory, it is all bodily anyway! (see
charts IS SIN PART OF MAN'S NATURE at Ro 7:3; MAN'S TWOFOLD
BEING (A) at Ro 7:18). Paul is speaking of the sin of unlawfully satisfying the
"For we are also His offspring" (Ac 17:28). God is "the Father of spirits" (Heb
12:9). Would not the spirit have to be born pure since the inherited spirits come
from God Himself? Nevertheless, Paul taught that one must make a real effort to
control fleshly desires. He did not say one is to make "a little less" provision, but
no provision to fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Will it make any difference in eternity
whether one's spirit controlled his bodily lusts? According to Paul, it will matter
greatly. Those who practice the works of the flesh "will not inherit the kingdom
of God" (Ga 5:21).
To fulfill its lusts [to gratify, to its, desires, the lusts thereof, to gratify the lusts].[ 95 ] The deliberate or careless kindling of evil desires is a peril to one's salvation.
Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts
which war against the soul (1Pe 2:11).
In Romans 23, we have read about the duty of Christians toward civil government. Stress was given to the command to love one another. We should put off sin and be clothed upon with Christ.