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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 13 - Verse 8

Verse 8. Owe no man any thing. Be not in debt to any one. In the previous verse the apostle had been discoursing of the duty which we owe to magistrates, he had particularly enjoined on Christians to pay to them their just dues. From this command to discharge fully this obligation, the transition was natural to the subject of debts in general, and to an injunction not to be indebted to any one. This law is enjoined in this place,

(1.) because it is a part of our duty as good citizens; and

(2.) because it is a part of that law which teaches us to love our neighbour, and to do no injury to him, Ro 13:10. The interpretation of this command is to be taken with this limitation, that we are not to be indebted to him so as to injure him, or to work ill to him.

This rule, together with the other rules of Christianity, would propose a remedy for all the evils of bad debts in the following manner:

(1.) It would teach men to be industrious, and this would commonly prevent the necessity of contracting debts.

(2.) It would make them frugal, economical, and humble in their views and manner of life.

(3.) It would teach them to bring up their families in habits of industry. The Bible often enjoins that. See Barnes "Ro 12:11, comp. Php 4:8; Pr 24:30-34; 1 Th 4:11; 2 Th 3:10; Eph 4:28;

(4.) Religion would produce sober, chastened views of the end of life, of the great design of living; and would take off the affections from the splendour, gaiety, and extravagances which lead often to the contraction of debts, 1 Th 5:6,8; 1 Pe 1:13; 4:7; Tit 2:12; 1 Pe 3:3,5; 1 Ti 2:9.

(5.) Religion would put a period to the vices and unlawful desires which now prompt men to contract debts.

(6.) It would make them honest in paying them. It would make them conscientious, prompt, friends of truth, and disposed to keep their promises.

But to love one another. Love is a debt which can, never be discharged. We should feel that we owe this to all men; and though by acts of kindness we may be constantly discharging it, yet we should feel that it can never be fully met while there is opportunity to do good.

For he that loveth, etc. In what way this is done is stated in Ro 13:10. The law in relation to our neighbour is there said to be simply that we do no ill to him. Love to him would prompt to no injury. It would seek to do him good, and would thus fulfil all the purposes of justice and truth which we owe to him. In order to illustrate this, the apostle, in the next verse, runs over the laws of the ten commandments in relation to our neighbour, and shows that all those laws proceed on the principle that we are to love him, and that love would prompt to them all.

{z} "for he that loveth" Jas 2:8

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