Ro 13:1-14. Same Subject
Continued—Political and Social
1, 2. Let every soul—every man of
be subject unto the higher powers—or,
"submit himself to the authorities that are above him."
For there is no power—"no
but of God: the powers that be are ordained of
God—"have been ordained of God."
2. Whosoever therefore resisteth the
power—"So that he that setteth himself against the
resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that
resist shall receive to themselves damnation—or,
"condemnation," according to the old sense of that word; that is, not
from the magistrate, but from God, whose authority in the magistrate's
3, 4. For rulers are not a terror to good
works—"to the good work," as the true reading appears to
but to the evil.
4. he beareth not the sword in vain—that
is, the symbol of the magistrate's authority to punish.
5. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only
for wrath—for fear of the magistrate's vengeance.
but also for conscience' sake—from
reverence for God's authority. It is of Magistracy in general,
considered as a divine ordinance, that this is spoken: and the
statement applies equally to all forms of government, from an unchecked
despotism—such as flourished when this was written, under the
Emperor Nero—to a pure democracy. The inalienable right of all
subjects to endeavor to alter or improve the form of government under
which they live is left untouched here. But since Christians were
constantly charged with turning the world upside down, and since there
certainly were elements enough in Christianity of moral and social
revolution to give plausibility to the charge, and tempt noble spirits,
crushed under misgovernment, to take redress into their own hands, it
was of special importance that the pacific, submissive, loyal spirit of
those Christians who resided at the great seat of political power,
should furnish a visible refutation of this charge.
6, 7. For, for this cause pay ye—rather,
tribute also—that is, "This is the
reason why ye pay the contributions requisite for maintaining the civil
for they are God's ministers, attending
continually upon this very thing—"to this very thing."
7. Render therefore to all their
dues—From magistrates the apostle now comes to other
officials, and from them to men related to us by whatever tie.
fear—reverence for superiors.
honour—the respect due to persons of
8. Owe no man anything, but to love one
another—"Acquit yourselves of all obligations except love,
which is a debt that must remain ever due" [Hodge].
for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the
law—for the law itself is but love in manifold action,
regarded as matter of duty.
9. For this, &c.—better thus: "For
the [commandments], Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not commit
adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not covet, and whatever
other commandment [there may be], it is summed up," &c. (The
clause, "Thou shalt not bear false witness," is wanting in all the most
ancient manuscripts). The apostle refers here only to the second table
of the law, as love to our neighbor is what he is treating of.
10. Love worketh no ill to his—or,
neighbour; therefore, &c.—As love,
from its very nature, studies and delights to please its objects, its
very existence is an effectual security against our wilfully injuring
him. Next follow some general motives to the faithful discharge of all
11. And that—rather, "And this [do]"
knowing the time, that now it is high
time—literally, "the hour has already come."
to awake out of sleep—of stupid, fatal
indifference to eternal things.
for now is our salvation—rather, "the
salvation," or simply "salvation."
nearer than when we—first
believed—This is in the line of all
our Lord's teaching, which represents the decisive day of Christ's
second appearing as at hand, to keep believers ever in the attitude of
wakeful expectancy, but without reference to the chronological
nearness or distance of that event.
12. The night—of evil
is far spent, the day—of consummated
triumph over it
is at hand: let us therefore cast
off—as a dress
the works of darkness—all works
holding of the kingdom and period of darkness, with which, as followers
of the risen Saviour, our connection has been dissolved.
and let us put on the armour of
light—described at length in Eph 6:11-18.
13. Let us walk honestly—"becomingly,"
as in the day—"Men choose the night
for their revels, but our night is past, for we are all the children of
the light and of the day (1Th 5:5): let
us therefore only do what is fit to be exposed to the light of such a
not in rioting and drunkenness—varied
forms of intemperance; denoting revels in general, usually ending in
not in chambering and
wantonness—varied forms of impurity; the one pointing to
definite acts, the other more general.
not in strife and envying—varied forms
of that venomous feeling between man and man which reverses the law of
14. But—to sum up all in one word.
put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ—in
such wise that Christ only may be seen in you (see 2Co
3:3; Ga 3:27; Eph 4:24).
and make no provision—"take no
for the flesh, to fulfil the lust
thereof—"Direct none of your attention to the cravings
of your corrupt nature, how you may provide for their
Note, (1) How gloriously adapted is
Christianity for human society in all conditions! As it makes war
directly against no specific forms of government, so it directly
recommends none. While its holy and benign principles secure the
ultimate abolition of all iniquitous government, the reverence which it
teaches for magistracy, under whatever form, as a divine institution,
secures the loyalty and peaceableness of its disciples, amid all the
turbulence and distractions of civil society, and makes it the highest
interest of all states to welcome it within their pale, as in this as
well as every other sense—"the salt of the earth, the light of
the world" (Ro 13:1-5).
(2) Christianity is the grand specific for the purification and
elevation of all the social relations; inspiring a readiness to
discharge all obligations, and most of all, implanting in its disciples
that love which secures all men against injury from them, inasmuch as
it is the fulfilling of the law (Ro 13:6-10). (3) The rapid march of the kingdom of
God, the advanced stage of it at which we have arrived, and the
ever-nearing approach of the perfect day—nearer to every believer
the longer he lives—should quicken all the children of light to
redeem the time, and, seeing that they look for such things, to be
diligent, that they may be found of Him in peace, without spot and
blameless (2Pe 3:14).
(4) In virtue of "the expulsive power of a new and more powerful
affection," the great secret of persevering holiness in all manner of
conversation will be found to be "Christ IN
US, the hope of glory" (Col 1:27), and Christ ON
US, as the character in which alone we shall be able to shine
before men (2Co 3:8)