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Bible Commentaries
Romans 13

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Verse 1

Romans 13:1

Vs. 1 One of the passages that gave rise to the doctrine "The Divine Right of Kings."

every soul -- Every person. The Hebraism suggests prominently the idea of individuality. - ICCNT

be subject -- Or “be submissive.” To submit means to recognize one’s place under someone else in a hierarchy that God himself established (1 Corinthians 14:32, 1 Corinthians 14:34; Ephesians 5:21; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:5, Titus 2:9; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 3:1, 1 Peter 3:5). - NIVZSB

This Greek word was used of a soldier’s absolute obedience to his superior officer. - MSB

The passage does not touch on the question of forms of government. “The powers that be” is a phrase which, on the whole, accepts authority de facto, irrespective of its theory, or of its circumstances of origin. - CBSC [See this resource.]

higher Powers -- Civil Governments; 1 Peter 2:13-14; Titus 3:1; 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (; Acts 5:29)

Jesus asserted this also in John 19:11. in a reply to Pontus Pilate.

Job 34:17 Can anyone govern who hates what is right? and powerful? Job 34:18 God is the one who says to kings, ’You are worthless,’ or to important people, ’You are evil.’ Job 34:19 He is not nicer to princes than other people, nor kinder to rich people than poor people, because he made them all with his own hands. --NCV

Job 34:29 But if God keeps quiet, who can blame him? If he hides his face, who can see him? God still rules over both nations and persons alike. Job 34:30 He keeps the wicked from ruling and from trapping others. -NCV

2 Samuel 23:3; Exodus 22:28;

Christians may not agree on politics or parties but we can agree on the Christians’ altitude toward government.

For -- The apostle gives a “reason” why Christians should be subject.

no authority except from God -- God often claims and asserts that “He” sets up one, and puts down another; Psalms 75:7; Daniel 2:21; Daniel 4:17, Daniel 4:25, Daniel 4:34-35.

authority -- The Greek word used here, exousia, refers not to an abstract concept, but to the authority exercised by government officials. The OT consistently views God as the ultimate authority over human government (Dan 4:17). - FSB

are ordained of God -- This word “ordained” denotes the “ordering” or “arrangement” which subsists in a “military” company, or army.

This does not mean that he “originates” or causes the evil dispositions of rulers, but that he “directs” and “controls” their appointment. By this, we are not to infer: (1) That he approves their conduct; nor, (2) That what they do is always right.

[In the USA could it be said that God "ordained" the "presidency" but not necessarily the man filing that office?? Or does it also allow the "man" to come to power for His own reason or purpose.]

The Bible seems to imply that there are angelic authorities behind human governments (Daniel 10 and the LXX of Deuteronomy 32:8 “When the Most High divided the nations, when He separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God.”) - Utley

placed there by God: -- Scripture consistently teaches that God is actively involved in raising up and casting down human governments and leaders (1 Samuel 2:6-10; 1 Samuel 12:8; Proverbs 8:15-16; Isaiah 41:2-4; Isaiah 45:1-7; Jeremiah 21:7, Jeremiah 21:10; Jeremiah 27:5-6; Daniel 2:21, Daniel 2:37-38; Daniel 4:17). God instituted governing authorities, so rebelling against them is rebelling against God, who will respond with judgment (13:2). - NLTSB

The Christian’s Duty to His Nation

1 Timothy 2:1-2 Pray for the king, and all in authority.

Romans 13:1 ff. vs. 1-7 Be in subjection to government.

Acts 4:19 More important to listen to God

Acts 5:29 We ought to obey God rather than men.

Mark 12:17 To render to Caesar (pay our taxes)

Matthew 22:21 -- Render to Caesar His Due

Luke 20:25

Romans 13:1 Remember that governments are appointed by God

John 19:11 God grants governments their power

Romans 13:2 Not to be a rebel to overthrow

Romans 13:3 Governments must support good

Romans 13:4 Governments are God’s servants

They are God’s ministers of vengeance

Romans 14:5 We are to be in subjection for two reasons.

Romans 13:6 We are to pay our taxes

Romans 13:7 Render them their due, respect and honor

The Nation’s Responsibility

Romans 13:3 Support good, punish the evil

Romans 13:4 Execute justice upon the evil

What God Says About Nations

Proverbs 14:34 Nations obliged to do right.

2 Chronicles 7:14 Nations to turn from wicked ways

Verse 2

Romans 13:2

one who resists authority -- Paul indicates that since God establishes governing authorities, resisting that authority is the same as rejecting the authority of God.

judgment [condemnation] -- In this context, Paul probably is referring to punishment from government authorities. The Greek word used here, krima, also can indicate final judgment from God (compare Romans 2:2-3; Romans 3:8; Romans 5:16).

Verse 3

Romans 13:3

See quotes in note on vs 1 about rulers who do not do right. Job 34:17-19, Job 34:29-30.

rulers -- (lit. the rulers, rulers as a class,) are, as a fact, an agency on the side of right and order; it

a terror -- Even the most wicked, godless governments act as a deterrent to crime.

Civil authority, even in its most distorted forms, never systematically favours wrong as wrong and punishes right as right. Even when a Nero or a Decius persecuted the Church of Christ, the theory of persecution (apart from personal rancour) was the preservation of order; and meantime, in the innumerable details of the common life of the Roman world, the authority of a Nero or a Decius was a necessity and a providential blessing. - CBSC

Do what is good … have praise -- Peaceful, law-abiding citizens need not fear the authorities. Few governments will harm those who obey their laws. In fact, governments usually commend such people. - MSB

Paul presents a positive picture of the governing authorities, describing them in terms of what God has appointed them to do. - NLTSB

Without civil government there would be anarchy, a horrible alternative in which evil runs rampant. - ESVSB

Verse 4

Romans 13:4

God’s minister -- Here Paul applies diakonos [the English word “deacon”] to the government’s authority, which is ordained by God to serve His good purposes.

for good -- By helping restrain evil and protecting life and property. Paul took advantage of his government’s role in promoting what is good when he exercised his rights as a Roman citizen to obtain justice (Acts 16:37; Acts 22:25, Acts 22:29; Acts 25:11). - MSB

sword -- This symbolizes the government’s right to inflict punishment on wrongdoers—especially capital punishment (Genesis 9:6; cf. Matthew 26:52; Acts 25:11). - MSB

to execute wrath -- Not God’s wrath, but the punishment inflicted by the civil authorities.

The Bible and Capital Punishment

Old Testament

Genesis 9:5-6; Leviticus 24:17; Leviticus 24:21; Numbers 35:17-18; Numbers 35:31

Crimes with Capital Punishment

Murder - Numbers 35:17-18

Rape - Deuteronomy 22:25

Kidnapping - Exodus 21:16

Human sacrifice - Leviticus 20:2-5

Bestiality - Exodus 22:19

Treason - 1 Kings 2:25

And perhaps others

New Testament

John 19:9-11 Luke 22:35-36; Luke 22:38; Matthew 26:52; Acts 25:11; Romans 13:1-5; Revelation 13:10;

Purpose -

Revenge and Justice - Romans 12:19

A Deterrent - Deuteronomy 13:10-11; Deuteronomy 21:21;

Execution not to be delayed - Ezra 7:26; Ecclesiastes 8:11

Purpose for Obeying Civil Magistrates

1. Fear - "for wrath’s sake" Romans 13:2-4

2. Conscience’s sake - Romans 13:5-7

3. For Love’s sake - Romans 13:8-10

4. For Jesus’ sake - Romans 13:11-14

Other Considerations

Deuteronomy 17:6

Deuteronomy 24:16

Verse 5

Romans 13:5

be in subjection -- The same verb as in Romans 13:1, emphasizing respect of established authority.

to be in subjection -- There are two reasons stated (1) to escape punishment, either God’s or the governing civil authorities and (2) for the believers’ conscience. - Utley

for conscience’ sake -- The word conscience (Greek suneidesis) refers to the painful knowledge of wrongdoing. Christians know about their duty to submit to governing authorities, and their failure to do so would bring the pain of a guilty conscience. - NLTSB

Verse 6

Romans 13:6

because of this -- Because of "the conscience" that they are God’s ordained human government and He demands submission to it (Romans 13:1-5).

taxes -- The Greek word referred specifically to taxes paid by individuals, particularly those living in a conquered nation to their foreign rulers—which makes the tax even more onerous. That tax was usually a combined income and property tax.

In this context, however, Paul uses the term in the broadest possible sense to speak of all kinds of taxes. Jesus explicitly taught that taxes are to be paid—even to the pagan Roman government (Matthew 22:17-21). He also set an example by willingly paying the temple tax (Matthew 17:24-27). - MSB

It is also possible that Paul has an eye on the Roman Christians since secular historians mention a “tax revolt” in Rome at about the time Paul writes Romans. - NIVZSB

God’s ministers -- servants of God The Greek word used here, leitourgos, portrays public officials as God’s servants, because their authority ultimately comes from Him. Compare Romans 13:4.

Christians must not refuse to pay taxes simply because they think some of the money is used unjustly, for the Roman Empire surely did not use all of its money for godly purposes! So, too, believers are to honor their leaders, even if they are not fully admirable. - ESVSB

attending [devoting, giving their time] -- persevering in, “devoting themselves to.” Same word as e.g. Romans 12:12, (“continuing instant.”) The word points to government as the life-work of the governor; a thing not of pride or privilege so much as of incessant duty. - CBSC

upon this very thing -- Better, with a view to this very thing; i.e., probably, “with a view to the service of God.”

The governor may not consciously “serve God” in his office; but in his office he does a work which is “the ordinance of God,” and must be recognized as such by Christian subjects.—To refer the words “this very thing” to taxes, or tax-gathering, is to limit what is evidently a solemn summary clause, and greatly to lessen its intended weight. - CBSC

Verse 7

Romans 13:7

Render therefore -- Pay to everyone what is owed This series of commands represents the duties of a good citizen. Paul had warned believers not to rebel against government officials (Romans 13:2). Now, he urges them to do what is good.

Render … to all their due -- “Render” translates a Greek word signifying the payment of something owed—not a voluntary contribution—and is reinforced by the word “due.” The apostle reiterates that paying taxes is mandatory. MSB

to all -- To all persons in authority over you. The precept is, of course, of universal application, but plainly bears this special reference here: see the next words. - CBSC

tribute -- -tax on person and property.

customs -- Tolls or taxes on goods.

fear … honor -- God demands that we show sincere respect and an attitude of genuine high esteem for all public officials. - MSB

...believers are to honor their leaders, even if they are not fully admirable.

The Christian’s Duty to His Nation

1 Timothy 2:1-2 Pray for the king, and all in authority.

Romans 13:1 ff. vs. 1-7 Be in subjection to government.

Acts 4:19 More important to listen to God

Acts 5:29 We ought to obey God rather than men.

Mark 12:17 To render to Caesar (pay our taxes)

Matthew 22:21 -- Render to Caesar His Due

Luke 20:25

Romans 13:1 Remember that governments are appointed by God

John 19:11 God grants governments their power

Romans 13:2 Not to be a rebel to overthrow

Romans 13:3 Governments must support good

Romans 13:4 Governments are God’s servants

They are God’s ministers of vengeance

Romans 14:5 We are to be in subjection for two reasons.

Romans 13:6 We are to pay our taxes

Romans 13:7 Render them their due, respect and honor

The Nation’s Responsibility

Romans 13:3 Support good, punish the evil

Romans 13:4 Execute justice upon the evil

What God Says About Nations

Proverbs 14:34 Nations obliged to do right.

2 Chronicles 7:14 Nations to turn from wicked ways

Verse 8

Romans 13:8

The idea of obligation is the hinge that connects Romans 13:1-7 and Romans 13:8-10.

Owe no one anything -- Not a prohibition against borrowing money, which Scripture permits and regulates (cf. Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:35-37; Deuteronomy 15:7-9; Nehemiah 5:7; Psalms 15:5; Psalms 37:21, Psalms 37:26; Ezekiel 22:12; Matthew 5:42; Luke 6:34). Paul’s point is that all our financial obligations must be paid when they are due. [See notes on Deuteronomy 23:19-20; Deuteronomy 24:10-13.]

Owe no one -- Let no debt remain outstanding. Not “never incur a debt” but “make sure that you pay debts you incur on time.”

continuing debt -- There is one debt Christians will never discharge: the debt to love. As often in the NT, the focus is on the obligation Christians have toward “one another” (fellow believers; cf. Galatians 6:10). But believers are also called to love all people (Romans 12:9-21).

love one another -- Believers are commanded to love not only other Christians (John 13:34-35; 1 Corinthians 14:1; Philippians 1:9; Colossians 3:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 6:10; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 Peter 4:8; 1 John 2:10; 1 John 3:23; 1 John 4:7; 1 John 4:21), but also non-Christians (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27, Luke 6:35; cf. Luke 6:28, Luke 6:34; Romans 12:14, Romans 12:20; Galatians 6:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:15). - MSB

fulfilled the law -- See note on Romans 13:10.

It is obvious also that by “the Law” here he means only that part of the Divine Law which affects “the neighbour.” The “first and great commandment” (see Matthew 22:37-38,) is not here in view. - CBSC

Verse 9

Romans 13:9

To demonstrate that love fulfills the law, Paul cites 4 of the Ten Commandments dealing with human relations and ties them in with an overarching OT command. - MSB

They are listed in the order of the LXX in Deuteronomy 5:17-21

For the commandments -- Paul lists several of the Ten Commandments which regulates one’s conduct with his neighbor. (see Exodus 20:13-17; Deuteronomy 5:17-21; compare Luke 18:19-21).

shall not commit adultery -- See Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18.

shall not commit murder -- See Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17.

shall not steal -- See Exodus 20:15; Deuteronomy 5:19.

shall not covet -- See Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21.

other commandment -- Refers either to the Ten Commandments or to the commandments of the law in general.

You shall love your neighbor -- A quotation from Leviticus 19:18. This command encompasses all of God’s laws concerning human relationships (Matthew 22:39); if we truly love our neighbor (anyone with whom we have contact, cf. Luke 10:25-37), we will only do what is in his best interest (Romans 13:10). - MSB

The main point, though, is not self-love, however pure, but a love that embodies an equally deep concern for the well-being of others. - CPNIV

Verse 10

Romans 13:10

Love does no wrong -- The kind of love God speaks of avoids the acts which the Law forbids.

“Love does no harm” is simply the converse of “Love seeks the neighbor’s well-being.” - CPNIV

to a neighbor -- Those we come in contact with.

love is the fulfillment of the law -- If we treat others with the same care that we have for ourselves, we will not violate any of God’s laws regarding interpersonal relationships (Matthew 7:12; James 2:8). - MSB

Verse 11

Romans 13:11

Vs.11 Cf. Matthew 24:13 "The end" - Emphasis on being closer to the Lord’s judgment now than ever before! As His servants we want to be found faithful.

And do this --

knowing the time --

time.. The Gk word views time not in terms of chronology, but as a period, era, or age (cf. Romans 3:26; Matthew 16:3; Mark 1:15; Luke 21:8; Acts 1:7; Acts 3:19; Revelation 1:3). - MSB

now it is high time -- NASB "that it is already the hour"

The “previous” time had been a period of ignorance and darkness, when oppression, and falsehood, and sin abounded. This, the time of the “gospel,” when God had “made known” to people his will that they should be pure.- BN

hour has come for you to wake from sleep (ESV) --

“The hour has come” [NIV] (literally, “the hour is now,” or “it is already the hour”) emphasizes the urgency of the situation. - CPNIV

Awake --

1) Wake up!

2) Get up! - v. 12 "day is at hand"

3) Clean up! - v.12 "cast off" "put on"

4) Grow up! - v.12 "walk"

v.14 We grow on the basis of the food we eat!

awake out of sleep -- Become aware of God and sensitive to His concern for our salvation. (1 Thessalonians 5:6-7)

(Other uses of this metaphor, Matthew 24:42; Matthew 25:13; Revelation 3:3; Revelation 16:15).

This is a beautiful figure. The dawn of day, the approaching light of the morning, is the time to arouse from slumber. In the darkness of night, people sleep. So says the apostle. The world has been sunk in the “night” of paganism and sin. At that time it was to be expected that they would sleep the sleep of spiritual death. But now the morning light of the gospel dawns. - BN

sleep -- Spiritual apathy and lethargy, i.e. unresponsiveness to the things of God. - MSB

Sleep here is a metaphor for a life of moral carelessness and laxity. - ESVSB

Looing at verse 12, the "sleep" was that time before the Lord’s coming into the world and bringing life and mortality to light, John 1:4; John 8:12; 2 Timothy 1:10.

for -- With γὰρ he explains what he means by saying that it is time to be aroused from sleep.

salvation -- G4991, σωτηρία, sōtēria (so-tay-ree’-ah) rescue or safety (physically or morally): - deliver, health, salvation, save, saving. (Total KJV occurrences: 45) - Strongs

Safety, deliverance, preservation from danger or destruction.- WordStudy

Some ... suppose it refers to deliverance from “persecutions.” ... It probably, however, has its usual meaning here, denoting that deliverance from sin and danger which awaits Christians in heaven; - BN

our salvation is nearer --

What was near was the Lord’s return in judgment upon Israel and Jerusalem and deliverance from Jewish persecution. Roman persecution continued however. Nearer also, every day, is the Lord’s return in glory.

The Bible frequently uses the return of Jesus Christ to motivate believers to holy living (2 Corinthians 5:10; Titus 2:11-13; Hebrews 10:24-25; James 5:7-8; 1 Peter 4:7-11; 2 Peter 3:11-14). - MSB See the note "Some Various Comings of Christ" at Matthew 24:3.

when we first believed -- The disciples first believed in Christ even before his atoning death on the cross, but now, after his sacrifice, our salvaion (deliverance) is nearer.

Our final salvation is nearer to us now than when we began to believe. Fitzmyer (682) thinks this refers to Christians collectively, i.e., to the beginning of the Christian era when people first began to believe in Jesus. Others rightly take it as a reference to individual Christians, and to the time when we as individuals “first confessed our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and were baptized” (Hendriksen, 2:441). - CPNIV

Verse 12

Romans 13:12

night -- Satan’s dominion, (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5).

The word “night,” in the New Testament, is used to denote “night” literally (Matthew 1:1 etc.); the starry heavens Revelation 1:1 and then it denotes a state of “ignorance” and “crime,” and is synonymous with the word “darkness,” as such deeds are committed commonly in the night; 1 Thessalonians 1:1. - BN

night is far spent -- Literally, “is cut off.” It is becoming “short;” it is hastening to a close.

The Greek verb is aorist, and the time-reference is to that time before the Lord’s coming when brought light to the darkness, J 1:4-5; John 1:9. John 3:19; John 8:12; 2 Timothy 1:10.

day at hand -- The "day-time" has dawned upon us! It is time to live in the day-light that Christ brought. To live in light of his forgiveness and mercy, and to walk in the way he walked. John 3:19;

Therefore -- In consequence of Christ’s coming, let us ....

cast off -- The figure here casting off, or laying aside, a night-robe, which is to be put off as the sleeper rises for the day. (CBSC)

works [deeds] of darkness -- Refers metaphorically to behavior that is characteristic of evil (compare 1 Thessalonians 5:7). - FSB John 3:19;

Some of the "deeds" of darkness are expressed in the next verse, Romans 13:13.

darkness . . (Same phrase as Ephesians 5:11)—Here we have the idea of moral darkness; not the darkness of trial or pain; Cp. John 3:19; Acts 26:18; 2 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 5:11; 1 Thess. 5:4-5; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 John 1:6.

No doubt the word suggests also the “powers of the darkness,” the personal spiritual “rulers of the darkness,” who tempt the soul and intensify its tendencies to evil. Cp. Luke 22:53; Ephesians 6:12; Colossians 1:13. (CBSC)

works of darkness -- Paul exhorts believers to repent of and forsake their sins (2 Peter 3:14; 1 John 2:28; cf. Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:8-10; Hebrews 12:1, Hebrews 12:14; James 1:21; 1 Peter 2:1; 1 Peter 4:1-3).

put on -- Get dressed for the day. And not merely clothed, but "armed" for the the day. This takes the place of the night-robe. Like a soldier getting dressed for the day, or for battle.

armor [weapons] of light -- Compare Ephesians 6:13-17.

The earliest use of the metaphor by Paul is 1 Thessalonians 5:8; another close parallel. See also 2 Corinthians 6:7, 2 Corinthians 10:4; Peter uses the metaphor also in 1 Peter 4:1.

Verse 13

Romans 13:13

Let us walk -- This speaks of one’s behavior. This was a Hebrew idiom for lifestyle. Paul uses it over 33 times.

“Behave” is the word περιπατέω (peripateo), which literally means “to walk around” but is often used figuratively for daily conduct (e.g., Romans 6:4; Romans 8:4; Romans 14:15). - CPNIV

properly [honestly; decently; becomingly; in a right way].. with the true decorum of a life of obedience to the will of God. - CBSC

as in the day -- “as men walk by day.” The apostle exhorts Christians to live as if all their conduct were seen, and they had nothing which they wished to conceal.

The Christian is thus bidden to think of himself as in the daylight; with light on him and around him. This is probably here the “light” of 1 John 1:7; the light of the knowledge of the Holy One, and of His felt presence. (See Psalms 139:12.) Such “light” is the dawning of that Day in which “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is;” and this accords with the imagery of Romans 13:12. - CBSC

The following list of sins in this verse are made up of three pairs of two terms. The terms have some semantic overlap. It is possible they are meant to be synonyms. - Utley

revelry [carousing] -- Wild parties, sexual orgies, brawls, riots (cf. Galatians 5:21; 1 Peter 4:3). - MSB

This referred to sexual immorality which was linked in pagan religious rituals to drunkenness. In the list of the sins of the flesh in Galatians 5:21, these terms are also listed side by side. - Utley

The first works of darkness are “orgies and drunkenness,” or drunken revelry. The former term (κω̂μος, komos) was originally used for “a festal procession in honor of Dionysus*, then a joyous meal or banquet” (AG, 462), but came to have the negative connotation of excessive, uninhibited revelry, carousing, wild partying, or boisterous brawls and riots. - CPNIV

* [The Greek god of wine, merry-making, and insanity. The son of Zeus and Semele. Also known as Bacchus or Bromius.]

drunkenness -- The Greek (as in Galatians 5:21; and 1 Peter 4:3) is plural; drinking-bouts.

Some try to argue Paul is arguing against "extreme" drinking. But is he arguing against extreme "lewdness and lust", or is just one case of it immoral? See 1 Peter 4:3-4 where Christians were no longer to engage in activies they had engaged in before their conversion.

lewdness -- chambering; Again plural: indulgences of lustful pleasure.

...the word κοίτη (koitē), which literally means “bed,” but was used as a euphemism for sexual intercourse, either in a good sense (Hebrews 13:4) or bad (as here). As used here in the plural it refers to sexual promiscuity, sexual excesses, and harlotries. - CPNIV

lust -- wantonness; Again plural: the varieties of lascivious sin are suggested.

The ... word (ἀσέλγεια, aselgeia) refers to sensual excesses of all kinds, but especially sexual excess, lewdness, licentiousness, or “uninhibited and unabashed lasciviousness” (MacArthur, 2:267). See Mark 7:22; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 4:19; 1 Peter 4:3; 2 Peter 2:18. The two terms taken together, both in the plural, refer to a lifestyle of unrestrained sexual promiscuity. - CPNIV

Such warnings as these, addressed to the justified and believing, not to a mass of merely conventional Christians, are indications of the immense force of moral corruption in the heathen world out of which the Christians had lately come, and which everywhere surrounded them. - CBSC

The new Gentile believers may have been continuing some of their immoral pagan worship practices.

The practices he urged us to avoid here were common in Corinth where Paul wrote this epistle. He observed them constantly. Intemperance often leads to sexual sin that frequently results in contention and quarreling. - Constable

strife -- “Dissension” is ἔρις (eris), the same word translated “strife” in Romans 1:29. It refers to a quarrelsome disposition, a spirit of contention and bickering. MacArthur describes it well: “It reflects a spirit of antagonistic competitiveness that fights to have its own way, regardless of cost to itself or of harm to others” (2:267). CPNIV

strife and jealousy -- Vices that inhibit unity among believers. Paul lists these among the deeds of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21.

envy -- Zēlos can mean “zeal” in a good or neutral sense (Romans 10:2), but is usually used in the negative sense of envy or jealousy, or “the various forms of venomous and hateful feelings leading to discord” (MP, 521). When used together (as they are here and in 1 Corinthians 3:3; 2 Corinthians 12:20; Galatians 5:20), these two words refer to “envious rivalry” (Dunn, 2:792) or “party quarrels” (Godet, 451), or “a determination to have one’s own way, a self-willed readiness to quarrel” (Morris, 473). - CPNIV

These last two terms may relate to the tension between believing Jews and Gentiles in the Roman church. The new Gentile believers may have been acting arrogantly against the returning believing Jewish leaders who had left briefly because of the edict of Claudius which banned all Jewish gatherings and rituals in Rome. [Utley]

Verse 14

Romans 13:14

But -- To contrast the action of the previous verse.

put on the Lord Jesus Christ -- Clothe yourselves; A metaphor of putting on apparel indicates that believers must appropriate Jesus’ virtues and imitate His love (compare Galatians 3:27; Colossians 3:9-10). - FSB

Those in Christ are to be transformed into His image and likeness (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 4:19; 1 John 3:2-3; Romans 8:29).

“Putting on Christ” is here equivalent to being transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). It is the same as putting on “the new man [self],” which is the process of the recreation of the image of God within us (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10). - [CPNIV]

make no provision -- This word has the basic meaning of planning ahead or forethought. Most sinful behavior results from wrong ideas and lustful desires we allow to linger in our minds (cf. James 1:14).- MSB

for the flesh -- Refers to man’s physical being and the part of man to be morally tempted by physical passions.

Lenski is on the right track when he says it is “the body we all have, through which so much sin tries to invade us” (809) *

to fulfill its lusts -- With a view toward evil desires.

The metaphor relates to the Christian who now wears the royal clothing of Jesus and who accepts new lifestyle choices and a life that leads away from the direction of fleshly sins.

“Desires” (NIV, ESV) (ἐπιθυμία, epithymia) here means sinful desires or “lusts” (NASB), as in Romans 1:24 and Romans 6:12.

*The sinful nature” [NIV] is literally “the flesh” (σάρξ, sarx). As explained earlier (JC, 1:373–377), I believe that faithful exegesis leads us to reject the prevalent understanding of sarx as “sinful nature” (contra the NIV), and see it as referring to the unredeemed physical body. Thus, what the NIV calls “the desires of the sinful nature” here are the same as the lusts or “evil desires” of the “mortal body” in Romans 6:12 (see JC, 1:401–402). - CPNIV [underline is WG]

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Romans 13". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/romans-13.html. 2021.
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