Obedience to civil magistrates is one of the laws of Christ whose religion makes people good subjects. Love to our fellow-men is a debt that must always be in the paying, yet always owing, for love is inclusive of all duties and is the image of Christ upon the soul.
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.
2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
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:
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.
5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
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.
8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
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.
10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
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.
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.
13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
Romans 13 Intro – J. Vernon McGee
Romans 13:1 – J. Vernon McGee
Romans 13:2 – J. Vernon McGee
Romans 13:3-7 – J. Vernon McGee
Romans 13:8-9 – J. Vernon McGee
Romans 13:10-14 – J. Vernon McGee
Romans 13:1-7 – Rendering “to All Their Dues”
Human government, like the existence of the family relationship, is a divine institution. It is part of the order of the world and rooted in the original conception of the race. It was never intended that we should live as individual units, but as members of family and state. It is evident, therefore, that the authority which is wielded by the ruler expresses, generally speaking, a divine principle. The comfort and well-being of society are better attained in that way than in any other, and the recognition of this principle carries with it the assent of our intuitive convictions. We must render therefore to all their dues.
But it must be acknowledged, also, that there are limits beyond which imperial or legislative authority may not go. When Nero, according to tradition, bade the Apostle to abandon his faith as the condition of liberty, Paul did not hesitate to say that the emperor was intruding on a province to which he had no claim, and that he must obey God rather than man. So far as our life in a community goes, there must be some form of government, which may be modeled according to the varying opinions of men, whether monarchical or republican, autocratic or socialistic; but when once it has been agreed upon, it must be obeyed, unless it forfeits confidence, in which case a new order becomes necessary. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Romans 13:8-14 – Love Fulfills the Law
The one debt which can never be discharged is love. Because we can never be out of debt to God, we are called upon to show unending love to man. So long as we love we cannot injure; and therefore the man who is always caring for others as much as, or more than, he does for himself (and this latter is the Christian ideal) is fulfilling that ancient law.
We resemble soldiers slumbering in their tents while dawn is flushing the sky. Presently the bugle rings out its awakening note. The long night of the world is ending, the dawn is on the sky, and all the malignity of men and demons cannot postpone it by a single hour. Let us put off the garments which only befit the darkness, and array ourselves in the armor of the day! What is that armor? In a word, it is Jesus Christ—His character and method, His unselfishness and purity—so that when men see us, they may involuntarily turn to Him. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Romans 13:14—Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.
This verse is ever memorable from its association with the life of Augustine, who says: “Thus was I sick and tormented in mind, bitterly accusing myself, and rolling and turning about in my chain, till it might be wholly broken.”
At length, rushing into the garden, groaning in spirit, “all my bones were crying out, soul-sick was I and grievously tormented. I said to myself, ‘Be it done now; be it done now.’ And a voice said, ‘Why standest thou in thyself, and so standest not? Cast thyself upon Him. Fear not; He will not withdraw Himself, to let thee fall. He will receive, and will heal thee. Stop thine ears against those unclean members of thine, which are upon the earth, that they may be mortified.’”
Then arose a mighty tempest, bringing a heavy downpour of tears. “I cast myself under a certain fig-tree, and gave vent to my tears, and the floods of mine eyes brake forth. Why not now? Why not this hour make an end of my uncleanness? And, lo! from the neighboring house I heard a voice as of a boy or girl, I know not which, singing and oft repeating, ‘Take and read; take and read!’ Checking the torrent of my tears, I arose, interpreting it to be a Divine command to open the Book and read the first chapter I could find. I seized; I opened, and in silence read the passage on which mine eyes fell: ‘Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.’ No further would I read; nor was there need, for instantly all my heart was flooded with a light of peace, all the sadness of doubt melted away!” —Our Daily Homily