Bible Commentaries
Romans 13

Edwards' Family Bible New TestamentFamily Bible NT

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Verse 1

The higher powers ; the civil government.

Are ordained of God ; civil government is an ordinance of God, and magistrates are to be obeyed as his ministers, clothed with authority from him.

Verse 2

Resisteth the power ; the civil government, in the exercise of its rightful authority.

Damnation ; condemnation, punishment. As civil government is an institution of God, it should be respected, and its just requirements conscientiously and cheerfully obeyed.

Verse 3

Rulers ; in the discharge of their appropriate duties, are not a terror to good works ; to persons who do right. They were not made rulers by God for this purpose, but to be a terror to the evil ; to evil-doers, by being authorized to punish them.

Be afraid of the power? provided you do evil, because, if the government does its duty, it will punish you.

Thou shalt have praise of the same ; do right, and the government, if it does its duty, will protect and encourage you.

Verse 4

He is the minister of God ; the magistrate is His servant.

To thee for good ; made a ruler, not for his own good, but the good of the people whose interests he is bound to promote.

Not the sword in vain ; the sword is an instrument of punishment, and as such, an emblem in the hand of the magistrate, of rightful authority, in case men maliciously put to death their fellow-men, to punish them even with death. Genesis 9:6 ; Numbers 35:16-21 ; Numbers 35:30-31 .

To execute wrath ; not the wrath of the magistrate or of the government merely, but the wrath of God against evil-doers. As the object for which God established and upholds government is the highest good of the governed, it should be so constructed and administered as will best accomplish this end.

Verse 5

Also for conscience’ sake ; men should obey the laws, not merely from the fear of punishment, but from a sense of duty to God and men.

Verse 6

For this cause ; because government is God’s institution, and magistrates are his ministers to promote the good of the people.

Pay ye tribute ; taxes are justly due to the government for the payment of its officers, and for other needful expenses; and they ought to be freely, conscientiously, and punctually paid.

This very thing ; the discharge of the appropriate duties of their office. Men have no more right to defraud the government of its just dues, or to withhold the taxes of the duties which are needful to carry on its operations, than to defraud their fellow-men. And those who in any way do this, sin not only against men, but against God.

Verse 7

Their dues ; what rightfully belongs to them.

Tribute ; taxes on real and personal estate.

Custom ; taxes on merchandise, and on foreigners.

Fear-honor ; pay to rulers and officers of government such respect as will conduce to the best discharge of their duties. If rulers transcend their just authority, neglect the objects for which they were appointed, and seek their own, not the good of the people-if they terrify the good, encourage the bad, and require men to commit sin-men are bound, in these things, to disobey them, and in all things to obey God. In no case are men to commit sin to accomplish any object whatever.

Verse 8

Owe no man any thing ; discharge, at the proper time, all just obligations.

But to love ; love to men will lead you to fulfill towards them all your duties.

Verse 9

Love thy neighbor as thyself ; desire and in all suitable ways seek to promote his good. Leviticus 19:18 ; Luke 10:29-37 . Do to him as you ought to wish, under similar circumstances, that he should do to you. Matthew 7:12 ; Luke 6:31 .

Verse 10

Supreme love to God, and that genuine love to men which springs from and accompanies it, will lead rulers and ruled to seek each other’s good and that of all their fellowmen. In the government and out of it, in their official duties, in their private example, and in all their influence, good men will strive to do to others as they ought to wish others to do to them.

Verse 11

And that ; and do that which I have been urging.

Knowing the time ; knowing how far it has advanced.

Sleep ; the insensibility and inactvity of sin.

Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed ; our final salvation with Christ, towards which believers are every day drawing nearer.

Verse 12

The night ; our state of darkness and trials in this world.

The day ; the state of light and bliss in heaven.

The works of darkness ; sinful deeds of every kind.

The armor of light ; the armor of righteousness, which is worn by those who walk in the light.

Verse 13

Walk honestly ; live in a manner becoming disciples of Christ hastening to eternity, and preparing for heaven. See note to chap Romans 12:17 .

Rioting and drunkenness ; intemperance.

Chambering and wantonness ; licentiousness.

Verse 14

Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ ; clothe yourselves with his character and spirit. In order to do the most in their power to remove all existing evils, and promote the greatest good, Christians should possess, and in all things manifest, the spirit of Christ, labor to make known his character and will to all people, and set before them the motives which he has revealed, to lead them to believe on and obey him. All should look upward to Him who has the residue of the Spirit, that his heavenly influence may descend in copious effusions, and the evils of sin become as the frosts of winter on the approach of spring, and vanish as darkness before the light of day.

Bibliographical Information
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Romans 13". "Edwards' Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.