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Bible Commentaries
Romans 13

Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New TestamentMeyer's Commentary

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Romans 13:1 . ἀπό ] Lachm. and Tisch. 8 : ὑπό , which Griesb. also approved, according to preponderant evidence. But ἀπό also retains considerable attestation (D* E* F G, min., Or. Theodoret, Dam.), and may easily have been displaced by a ὑπό written on the margin from the following. After οὖσαι Elz. has ἐξουσίαι , which, according to a preponderance of evidence, has been justly omitted since Griesb. as a supplement; and τοῦ also before the following Θεοῦ is too feebly attested.

Romans 13:3 . τῷ ἀγαθῷ ἔργῳ , ἀλλὰ τῷ κακῷ ] commended by Griesb., adopted by Lachm., Tisch., Fritzsche, according to A B D* F G P א , 6. 67**, several VSS., and Fathers. But Elz., Matth., Scholz have τῶν ἀγαθῶν ἔργων , ἀλλὰ τῶν κακῶν . A presumed emendation in case and number.

Romans 13:5 . ἀνάγκη ὑποτάσσεσθαι ] D E F G, Goth. It. Guelph. Ir. have merely ὑποτάσσεσθε . Commended by Griesb. A marginal gloss, as the reading ἀνάγκη (or ἀνάγκῃ ) ὑποτάσσεσθε (Lect. 7, 8, Aug., Beda, Vulg.: necessitate subditi estote; so Luther) plainly shows.

Romans 13:7 . οὖν ] is wanting in A B D* א *, 67**, Copt. Sahid. Vulg. ms. Tol. Damasc. Cypr. Aug. Ruf. Cassiod. Omitted by Lachm., Tisch., Fritzsche. Rightly; for there was no ground for its omission, whereas by its insertion the logical connection was established.

Romans 13:9 . After κλέψεις Elz. has οὐ ψευδομαρτυρήσεις , against decisive evidence. Inserted with a view to completeness.

ἐν τῷ ] bracketed by Lachm., is wanting in BFG, Vulg. It. and Latin Fathers. But its striking appearance of superfluousness might so readily prompt its omission, that this evidence is too weak.

Romans 13:11 . The order ἤδη ἡμᾶς is decisively supported. So rightly Lachm. and Tisch. 8. Yet the latter has instead of ἡμᾶς : ὑμᾶς , according to A B C P א *, min. Clem., which, however, appeared more suitable to εἰδότες and more worthy of the apostle.

Romans 13:12 . καὶ ἐνδυς .] Lachm. and Tisch.: ἐνδυς . δέ , which also Griesb. approved, according to important witnesses; but it would be very readily suggested by the preceding adversative connection.

Verse 1

Romans 13:1 . Πᾶσα ψυχή ] In the sense of every man , but (comp. on Romans 2:9 ) of man conceived in reference to his soul-nature, in virtue of which he consciously feels pleasure and displeasure (rejoices, is troubled, etc.), and cherishes corresponding impulses. There lies a certain pathos in the significant: every soul , which at once brings into prominence the universality of the duty. Comp. Acts 2:43 ; Acts 3:23 ; Revelation 16:3 .

ἐξουσίαις ὑπερεχ .] magistrates high in standing ( without the article). ὑπερεχ . (see Wis 6:5 ; 1 Peter 2:13 ; 1 Timothy 2:2 ; 2MMalachi 3:11 ) is added, in order to set forth the ὑποτάσς .

ὑπέρ and ὑπό being correlative as corresponding to the standpoint of the magistracy itself (comp. the German: hohe Obrigkeiten ); the motive of obedience follows.

There is no magistracy apart from God expresses in general the proceeding of all magistracy whatever from God , and then this relation is still more precisely defined, in respect of those magistracies which exist in concreto as a divine institution , by ὑπὸ Θεοῦ τεταγμ . εἰσίν ; comp. Hom. Il . 2:204 ff., ix. 38, 98; Soph. Phil . 140, et al. ; Xen. Rep. Lac . 15. 2. Thus Paul has certainly expressed the divine right of magistracy, which Christian princes especially designate by the expression “by the grace of God” (since the time of Louis the Pious). And αἱ δὲ οὖσαι , the extant , actually existing , allows no exception, such as that possibly of tyrants or usurpers (in opposition to Reiche). The Christian, according to Paul, ought to regard any magistracy whatever, provided its rule over him subsists de facto , as divinely ordained, since it has not come into existence without the operation of God’s will; and this applies also to tyrannical or usurped power, although such a power, in the counsel of God, is perhaps destined merely to be temporary and transitional. From this point of view, the Christian obeys not the human caprice and injustice, but the will of God, who in connection with His plan of government inaccessible to human insight has presented even the unworthy and unrighteous ruler as the οὖσα ἐξουσία , and has made him the instrument of His measures. Questions as to special cases such as how the Christian is to conduct himself in political catastrophes, what magistracy he is to look upon in such times as the οὖσα ἐξουσία , as also, how he, if the command of the magistrate is against the command of God, is at any rate to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29 ), etc.

Paul here leaves unnoticed, and only gives the main injunction of obedience, which he does not make contingent on this or that form of constitution. By no means, however, are we to think only of the magisterial office as instituted by God (Chrysostom, Oecumenius, and others), but rather of the magistracy in its concrete persons and members as the bearers of the divinely-ordained office. Comp. οἱ ἄρχοντες , Romans 13:3 , and Romans 13:4 ; Romans 13:6-7 ; Dion. Hal. Antt . xi. 32; Plut. Philop . 17; Titus 3:1 ; also Martyr. Polyc . 10.

Observe, moreover, that Paul has in view Gentile magistrates in concreto; consequently he could not speak more specially of that which Christian magistrates have on their part to do, and which Christian subjects in their duty of obedience for God and right’s sake are to expect and to require from them, although he expresses in general by repeatedly bringing forward the fact that magistrates are the servants of God (Romans 13:3-4 ), indeed ministering servants of God (Romans 13:6 ) the point of view from which the distinctively Christian judgment as to the duties and rights of magistrate and subject respectively must proceed.

Verses 1-7

Romans 13:1-7 . The proud love of freedom of the Jews (see on John 8:33 ; Matthew 22:17 , and their tumultuary spirit thereby excited, which was peculiarly ardent from the time of Judas Gaulonites (see Acts 5:37 ; Josephus, Ant . xviii. 1. 1) and had shortly before broken out in Rome itself (Suetonius, Claud . 25; Dio Cassius, lx. 6; see Introd . § 2, and on Acts 18:2 ), redoubled for the Christians among whom, indeed, even the Gentile-Christians might easily enough be led astray by the Messianic ideas (theocracy, kingdom of Christ, freedom and κληρονομία of believers, etc.) into perverted thoughts of freedom and desires for emancipation (comp. 1 Corinthians 6:1 ff.) the necessity of civil obedience, seeing that they, as confessing the Messiah (Acts 17:6-7 ), and regarded by the Gentiles as a Jewish sect, were much exposed to the suspicion of revolutionary enterprise. The danger thus lay, not indeed exclusively (Mangold, Beyschlag), but primarily and mostly , on the side of the Jewish-Christians, not on that of the Gentile-Christians, as Th. Schott, in the interest of the view that Paul desired to prepare the Roman church to be the base of operations of his western mission to the Gentiles, unhistorically assumes. And was not Rome , the very seat of the government of the world, just the place above all others where that danger was greatest, and where nevertheless the whole Christian body, of the Jewish as well as of the Gentile section, had to distinguish itself by exemplary civil order? Hence we have here the in the Pauline epistles unique detailed and emphatic inculcation of obedience towards the magistracy , introduced without link of connection with what precedes as a new subject. Baur, I. p. 384 f., thinks that Paul is here combating Ebionitic dualism , which regarded the secular magistrate as of non-divine, devilish origin. As if Paul could not, without any such antithesis, have held it to be necessary to inculcate upon the Romans the divine right of the state-authority! Moreover, he would certainly not merely have kept his eye upon that dualism in regard to its practical manifestations (Baur’s subterfuge), but would have combated it in principle , and thereby have grasped it at the root.

The partial resemblance, moreover, which exists between Romans 13:1-4 and 1 Peter 2:13-14 is not sufficient to enable us to assume that Peter made use of our passage, or that Paul made use of Peter’s epistle; a view, which has been lately maintained especially by Weiss, Petrin. Lehrbegr . p. 416 ff., and in the Stud. u. Krit . 1865, 4; see, on the other hand, Huther on 1 Pet. Introd . § 2. Paul doubtless frequently preached a similar doctrine orally respecting duty towards the heathen magistracy. And the power of his preaching was sufficiently influential in moulding the earliest ecclesiastical language, to lead even a Peter, especially on so peculiar a subject, involuntarily to echo the words of Paul which had vibrated through the whole church. Compare the creative influence of Luther upon the language of the church.

Verse 2

Romans 13:2 . Ὥστε ] Since it is instituted by God.

ὁ ἀντιτασς .] Note the correlation of ἀντιτασς ., ὑποτασς ., and τεταγμ . The latter stands in the middle.

ἑαυτοῖς ] Dativus incommodi: their resistance to the divinely-ordained magistracy will issue in their own self-destruction; comp. Rom 2:5 ; 1 Corinthians 11:29 . According to Hofmann (who in his Schriftbew . II. 2, p. 443, even imported a contrast to τῷ κυρίῳ , as in Romans 14:6-7 ), ἑαυτοῖς is to be viewed as in contrast to the Christian body as such; the punishment to be suffered is a judgment which lights on the doers personally , and is not put to the account of their Christian standing . This explanation (“ they have to ascribe the punishment to themselves solely”) is incorrect, because it obtrudes on the text a purely fictitious antithesis, and because the apostle lays down the relation to the magistracy quite generally , not from the specific point of view of Christian standing , according to which his readers might perhaps have supposed that they had become foreign to the political commonwealth. Had this comprehensive error in principle been here in Paul’s view, in how entirely different a way must he have expressed what he intended than by the single expression ἑαυτοῖς , into which, moreover, that alleged thought would have first to be imported!

κρῖμα ] a judgment , is understood of itself, according to the connection, as a penal judgment . Comp. Romans 2:2-3 , Romans 3:8 ; 1 Corinthians 11:29 ; Galatians 5:10 ; Mark 12:40 . From whom they will receive it, is decided by the fact that with οἱ δὲ ἀνθεστηκότες , according to the context, τῇ τοῦ Θεοῦ διαταγῇ is again to be supplied. It is therefore a penal judgment of God , as the executors of which, however, the ἄρχοντες are conceived, as Romans 13:3 proves. Consequently the passage does not relate to eternal punishment (Reiche and others), but to the temporal punishment which God causes to be inflicted by means of the magistrates. Philippi prefers to leave κρῖμα without more special definition (comp. also Rückert); but against this is the consideration, that Romans 13:3 can only arbitrarily be taken otherwise than as assigning the ground of what immediately precedes.

Verse 3

Romans 13:3 . Οἱ γὰρ … κακῷ ] Ground assigned for ἑαυτοῖς κρῖμα λήψονται .

τῷ ἀγαθῷ ἔργῳ ] The good work and the evil work are personified. We are not here to compare Romans 2:7 or Romans 2:15 (Reiche, de Wette).

φόβος ] a terror , i.e. formidandi . For examples of the same use, see Kypke, II. p. 183. Comp. Lobeck, Paralip . p. 513; just so the Latin timor, e.g. Propert. iii. 5. 40.

δέ ] the simple μεταβατικόν . The proposition itself may be either interrogatory (Beza, Calvin, and others, including Lachmann, Tischendorf, Ewald, Hofmann), or as protasis in categorical form (see on 1 Corinthians 7:8 , and Pflugk, ad Eur. Med . 386). So Luther and others, including Tholuck and Philippi. The former is more lively, the latter more appropriate and emphatic, and thus more in keeping with the whole character of the adjoining context.

ἔπαινον ] praise, testimony of approbation (which the magistrate is wont to bestow; see also Philo, Vit. M . i. p. 626 C); not any more than in Romans 2:29 , 1 Corinthians 4:5 , reward (Calvin, Loesner, and others). Grotius rightly remarks: “Cum haec scriberet Paulus, non saeviebatur Romae in Christianos.” It was still the better time of Nero’s rule. But the proposition has a general validity, which is based on the divinely-ordained position of the magistracy, and is not annulled by their injustices in practice, which Paul had himself so copiously experienced. Comp. 1 Peter 2:14 .

Verse 4

Romans 13:4 . Θεοῦ … ἀγαθόν ] Establishment of the preceding thought that the well-doer has not to fear the magistrate, but to expect praise from him by indicating the relation of the magistracy to God , whose servant ( διάκονος , feminine , as in Romans 16:1 ; Dem. 762. 4, and frequently) it is, and to the subjects , for whose benefit (defence, protection, blessing) it is so. The σοί is the ethical relation of the Θεοῦ διάκον . ἐστι , and εἰς τὸ ἀγαθόν adds the more precise definition.

οὐ γὰρ εἰκῆ ] for not without corresponding reason (frequently so in classical Greek), but in order actually to use it, should the case require.

τὴν μάχαιρ . φορεῖ ] What is meant is not the dagger , which the Roman emperors and the governing officials next to them were accustomed to wear as the token of their jus vitae et necis (Aurel. Vict. 13; Grotius and Wetstein in loc .); for μάχαιρα , although denoting dagger = παραξιφός in the classics (see Spitzner on Hom. Il . xviii. 597; Duncan, Lex . ed. Rost, p. 715), means in the N. T. always sword , viii. 35, according to Xen. r. eq. xii. 11 (but comp. Krüger, Xen. Anab. i. 8. 7), differing by its curved form from the straight ξίφος ; and also among the Greeks the bearing of the sword (Philostr. Vit. Ap . vii. 16) is expressly used to represent that power of the magistrates. They bore it themselves, and in solemn processions it was borne before them. See Wolf, Cur . On the distinction between φορέω (the continued habit of bearing) and φέρω , see Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 585.

Θεοῦ γὰρ διάκ . κ . τ . λ .] ground assigned for the assurance οὐκ εἰκῆ τ . μ . φ ., in which the previously expressed proposition is repeated with emphasis, and now its penal reference is appended.

ἔκδικος εἰς ὀργὴν κ . τ . λ .] avenging (1 Thessalonians 4:6 ; Wis 12:12 ; Sir 30:6 ; Herodian, vii. 4. 10; Aristaenet. i. 27) in behalf of wrath (for the execution of wrath) for him who does evil . This dative of reference is neither dependent on ἐστίν , the position of which is here different from the previous one (in opposition to Hofmann), nor on εἰς ὀργήν (Flatt); it belongs to ἔκδικος εἰς ὀργ . Εἰς ὀργήν is not “superfluous and cumbrous” (de Wette), but strengthens the idea.

We may add that our passage proves (comp. Acts 25:11 ) that the abolition of the right of capital punishment deprives the magistracy of a power which is not merely given to it in the O. T., but is also decisively confirmed in the N. T., and which it (herein lies the sacred limitation and responsibility of this power) possesses as God’s minister; on which account its application is to be upheld as a principle with reference to those cases in law, where the actual satisfaction of the divine Nemesis absolutely demands it, while at the same time the right of pardon is still to be kept open for all concrete cases. The character of being unchristian, of barbarism, etc., does not adhere to the right itself , but to its abuse in legislation and practice.

Verse 5

Romans 13:5 . The necessity of obedience is of such a character, that it is not merely externally suggested (by reason of the punishment to be avoided), but is based also on moral grounds; and these two considerations are exhibited by διό as the result of all that has been hitherto said (Romans 13:1-4 ). It is clear, accordingly, that ἀνάγκη is not specially the moral necessity, but is to be taken generally, as it is only with the second διά that the moral side of the notion is brought forward.

διὰ τὴν ὀργήν ] on account of the magistrate’s wrath , Romans 13:4 .

διὰ τὴν συνείδ .] on account of one’s own conscience , διὰ τὸ πληροῦν τὰ προσήκοντα , Theodoret. It is with the Christian the Christian conscience, which as such is bound by God’s ordinance. Hence 1 Peter 2:13 : διὰ τὸν κύριον . Aptly Melanchthon: “Nulla potentia humana, nulli exercitus magis muniunt imperia, quam haec severissima lex Dei: necesse est obedire propter conscientiam.” Both definitions given with διά belong, however, to ἀνάγκη ( sc . ἐστί ), which bears the emphasis, like Hebrews 9:23 .

Verse 6

Romans 13:6 . For on this account you pay taxes this is the confirmation of Romans 13:5 , from the actually subsisting payment of taxes; γάρ retains its sense assigning a reason, and the emphatic διὰ τοῦτο ( from this ground) is exactly in accordance with the context: ὅτι οὐ μόνον διὰ τὴν ὀργὴν , ἀλλὰ καὶ διὰ τὴν συνείδησιν ἀνάγκη ἐστιν ὑποτάσσεσθαι . At the basis of the argument lies the view, that the existing relation of tax-paying is a result of the necessity indicated in Romans 13:5 , and consequently the confirmation of it. If διὰ τοῦτο be referred to Romans 13:1-4 : “ut magistratus Dei mandatu homines maleficos puniant, proborum saluti prospiciant,” Fritzsche (comp. Calvin, Tholuck, de Wette, Borger), Romans 13:5 is arbitrarily passed over. It follows, moreover, from our passage, that the refusal of taxes is the practical rejection of the necessity stated in Romans 13:5 . Others take τελεῖτε as imperative (Heumann, Morus, Tholuck, Klee, Reiche, Köllner, Hofmann). Against this the γάρ , which might certainly be taken with the imperative (see on Romans 6:19 ), is not indeed decisive; but Paul himself gives by his οὖν , Romans 13:7 , the plain indication that he is passing for the first time in Romans 13:7 to the language of summons, which he now also introduces, not with the present, but with the aorist.

καί ] also denotes the relation corresponding to Romans 13:5 . It is not “ a downward climax ” (Hofmann: “even this most external performance of subjection”), of which there is no indication at all either in the text or in the thing itself. The latter is, on the contrary, the immediate practical voucher most accordant with the experience of every subject.

τελεῖτε ] Paul does not in this appeal to his readers’ own recognition of what was said in Romans 13:5 (the summons in Romans 13:7 is opposed to this), but to what subsists as matter of fact .

λειτουργοὶ γὰρ Θεοῦ κ . τ . λ .] justifies the fundamental statement, expressed by διὰ τοῦτο , of the actual bearing of the payment of taxes: for they are ministering servants of God, persevering in activity on this very behalf (on no other). The thought in Romans 13:4 , that the magistracy is Θεοῦ διάκονος , is here by way of climax more precisely defined through λειτουργοί (which is therefore prefixed with emphasis) according to the official sacredness of this relation of service, and that conformably to the Christian view of the magisterial calling. Accordingly, those who rule, in so far as they serve the divine counsel and will, and employ their strength and activity to this end, are to be regarded as persons whose administration has the character of a divinely consecrated sacrificial service , a priestly nature (Romans 15:16 ; Philippians 2:17 , et al .). This renders the proposition the more appropriate for confirmation of the διὰ τοῦτο κ . τ . λ ., which is a specifically religious one.

λειτουργοὶ Θεοῦ is predicate, and the subject is understood of itself from the context: they , namely magisterial persons ( οἱ ἄρχοντες ). Incorrectly as regards linguistic usage, Reiche, Köllner, Olshausen take προσκαρτ . to be the subject, in which case certainly the article before the participle would be quite indispensable (Reiche erroneously appeals to Matthew 20:16 ; Matthew 22:14 ).

εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο ] Telic direction not of λειτουργ . (Hofmann), but of προσκαρτ .: for this very object , by which is meant not the administration of tax-paying (Olshausen, Philippi, and older interpreters), but the just mentioned λειτουργεῖν τῷ Θεῷ , in which vocation, so characteristically sacred , the magistracy is continually and assiduously active, and the subject gives to it the means of being so, namely, taxes. Thus the payment of taxes is placed by Paul under the highest point of view of a religious conscientious duty, so that by means of it the divine vocation of the magistracy to provide a constantly active sacrificial cultus of God is promoted and facilitated. If εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο was to be referred to the administration of taxes, this would not indeed be “nonsensical” (Hofmann), but the emphatic mode of expression αὐτὸ τοῦτο would be without due motive, nor could we easily perceive why Paul should have selected the verb προσκαρτ ., which expresses the moral notion perseverare . The reference of it to the nearest great thought, λειτουργοὶ κ . τ . λ ., excludes, the more weighty and appropriate that it is, any other reference, even that of Hofmann, that αὐτὸ τοῦτο points back to the same proposition as διὰ τοῦτο .

Instead of εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο , Paul might have said αὐτῷ τούτῳ (Romans 12:12 ); he has, however, conceived προσκαρτ . absolutely, and given with εἰς the definition of its aim. Comp. on the absolute προσκατερεῖν , Numbers 13:20 ; Xen. Hell . vii. 5, 14.

Verse 7

Romans 13:7 . Hortatory application of the actual state of the case contained in Romans 13:5-6 : perform therefore your duties to all (comp. on 1 Corinthians 7:3 ), etc. a brief summary ( ἀπόδοτε … ὀφειλ .) and distributive indication of that which is to be rendered to all magisterial persons generally ( πᾶσι ), and to individuals in particular (tax officers, customs officers, judicial and other functionaries), both really ( φόρος , τέλος ) and personally ( φόβος , τιμή ).

πᾶσι ] to be referred to magistrates , not to all men generally (Estius, Klee, Reiche, Glöckler, comp. also Ewald); this is manifestly, from the whole connection and especially from the following specification, as also from the fact that the language only becomes general at Romans 13:8 the only reference in conformity with the text.

τῷ τὸν φόρον ] sc . ἀπαιτοῦντι , which flows logically from ἀπόδοτε πᾶσι τ . ὀφ . (Winer, p. 548 [E. T. 737]; Buttmann, p. 338), and is also suitable to τ . φόβον and τ . τιμήν ; for, in fact, the discourse is concerning magistrates , who and that not merely as respects the notions of that time do certainly, in accordance with their respective positions of power and performances of service, demand fear and honour.

φόρος and τέλος are distinguished as taxes (on persons and property) and customs (on goods). See on Luke 20:22 .

φόβος , τιμή , fear (not merely reverence), veneration . The higher and more powerful the magisterial personages, the more they laid claim, as a rule, to be feared; otherwise and lower in the scale, at least to be honoured with the respect attaching to their office.

Verse 8

Romans 13:8 . Μηδενὶ μηδὲν ὀφείλετε ] negatively the same thing, only generally referred to the relation to everybody and therewith Paul returns to the general duty of Christians which was before said positively in Romans 13:7 : ἀπόδοτε πᾶσι τὰς ὀφειλάς . By this very parallel, and decisively by the subjective negations, ὀφείλετε is determined to be imperative: “Leave toward no one any obligation unfulfilled, reciprocal love excepted,” wherein you neither can, nor moreover are expected, ever fully to discharge your obligation. The inexhaustibility of the duty of love, the claims of which are not discharged, but renewed and accumulated with fulfilment, is expressed. Comp. Origen, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Augustine, Beza, Grotius, Wetstein, Bengel (“ amare debitum immortale”), and many others, including Tholuck, Rückert, Reithmayr, de Wette, Philippi, Ewald, Umbreit, Hofmann. The point lies in the fact that, while ὀφείλετε applies to those external performances to which one is bound (“obligatio civilis,” Melanchthon), in the case of the ἀγαπᾶν it means the higher moral obligation, in virtue of which with the quotidie solvere is connected the semper debere (Origen). The objections of Reiche to the imperative rendering quite overlook the fact, that with εἰ μὴ τὸ ἀλλήλ . ἀγ . the ὀφείλετε again to be supplied is to be taken not objectively (remain owing mutual love!), but subjectively , namely, from the consciousness of the impossibility of discharging the debt of love. But Reiche’s own view (so also Schrader, following Heumann, Semler, Koppe, Rosenmüller, Böhme, Flatt, and by way of suggestion, Erasmus), that ὀφ . is indicative: “all your obligations come back to love,” is decidedly incorrect, for οὐ must then have been used, as e.g. in Plato’s testament (Diogenes Laert. iii. 43): ἀφείλω δʼ οὐδενὶ οὐδέν . The passages adduced on the other hand by Reiche from Wetstein are not in point, because they have μή with a participle or infinitive . Fritzsche (comp. Baumgarten-Crusius and Krehl): Be owing no one anything; only “ mutuum amorem vos hominibus debere censete .” Thereby the whole thoughtfulness, the delicate enamel of the passage, is obliterated, and withal there is imported an idea ( censete ) which is not there.

ὁ γὰρ ἀγαπ . κ . τ . λ .] A summons to unceasing compliance with the command of love having been contained in the preceding εἰ μὴ τὸ ἀλλήλους ἀγαπᾶν , Paul now gives the ground of this summons by setting forth the high moral dignity and significance of love, which is nothing less than the fulfilment of the law. Comp. Galatians 5:14 ; Matthew 22:34 ff.

τὸν ἕτερον ] belongs to ἀγαπῶν : the other , with whom the loving subject has to do (comp. Romans 2:1 ; Romans 2:21 ; 1Co 4:6 ; 1 Corinthians 6:1 ; 1 Corinthians 14:17 ; James 4:12 , et al .). Incorrectly Hofmann holds that it belongs to ΝΌΜΟΝ : the further , the remaining law. For the usage of ἕτερος and ἌΛΛΟς in the sense of otherwise existing (see thereon Krüger, Xen. Anab . i. 4. 2; Nägelsbach, z. Ilias , p. 250 f.) is here quite inapplicable; Paul must at least have written καὶ τὰς ἕτερας ἐντολάς (comp. also Luke 23:32 ; Plato, Rep . p. 357 C, and Stallbaum in loc .). But most intelligibly and simply he would have written τὸν πάντα νόμον , as in Galatians 5:14 . It is impossible to explain the singular ὁ ἕτερος collectively (with an irrelevant appeal to Rost, § 98, B. 3. 5); ἕτερος νόμος could only be another (second) law (comp. Romans 7:23 ), and ὁ ἕτερος ν ., therefore, the definite other of two; Kühner, II. 1, p. 548.

πεπλήρωκε ] present of the completed action, as in Romans 2:25 ; in and with the loving there has taken place (comp. on Galatians 5:14 ) what the Mosaic law prescribes (namely, in respect of duties towards one’s neighbour, see Romans 13:9-10 ; inasmuch as he who loves does not commit adultery, does not kill, does not steal, does not covet, etc.). But though love is the fulfilment of the law, it is nevertheless not the subjective cause of justification, because all human fulfilment of the law, even love, is incomplete, and only the complete fulfilment of the law would be our righteousness. Rightly Melanchthon: “Dilectio est impletio legis, item est justitia, si id intelligatur de idea , non de tali dilectione, qualis est in hac vita.”

Verses 8-14

Romans 13:8-14 . General exhortation, to love (Romans 13:8-10 ), and to a Christian walk generally (Romans 13:11-14 ).

Verse 9

Romans 13:9 . Ἀνακεφαλαιοῦται ] συντόμως καὶ ἐν βραχεῖ τὸ πᾶν ἀπαρτίζεται τῶν ἐντολῶν τὸ ἔργον , Chrysostom. But ἀνα is not to be neglected (is again comprised; see on Ephesians 1:10 ), and is to be referred to the fact that Leviticus 19:18 recapitulates , summarily repeats, the other previously adduced commands in reference to one’s neighbour. Comp. Thilo, ad Cod. Apocr . p. 223.

The arrangement which makes the fifth commandment follow the sixth is also found in Mark 10:19 , Luke 18:20 (not in Matthew 19:18 ), James 2:11 , in Philo, de decal ., and Clement of Alexandria, Strom . vi. 16. The LXX. have, according to Cod. A, the order of the Masoretic original text; but in Cod. B the sixth commandment stands immediately after the fourth, then the seventh, and afterwards the fifth; whereas at Deuteronomy 5:17 , according to Cod. B, the order of the series is: six, five, seven in the LXX., as here in Paul. The latter followed copies of the LXX . which had the same order. The deviations of the LXX. from the original text in such a case can only be derived from a diversity of tradition in determining the order of succession in the decalogue, not from speculative reasons for such a determination, for which there is no historical basis.

On ἀγαπ . ὡς ἑαυτόν , see on Matthew 22:39 .

Verse 10

Romans 13:10 . Since all, that the law forbids us to do to our neighbour, is morally evil , Paul may now summarily conclude his grounding of the commandment of love, as he here does.

ἐργάζεσθαι , with τίνι τι instead of τινά τι is also found, though not frequently, in the Greek writers; comp. 2Ma 14:40 ; Eur. Hec. 1085 and Pflugk in loc.; Kühner, II. 1, p. 277.

πλήρωμα νόμον ἡ ἀγάπη ] ὁ γὰρ ἀγαπῶν τὸν ἕτερον νόμον πεπλήρωκε Romans 13:8 . Other interpretations of πλήρωμα (“id quod in lege summum est,” Ch. Schmidt, Rosenmüller; “plus enim continet quam lex, est everriculum omnis injustitiae,” Grotius; see on the other hand Calovius) are opposed to the context. Comp. Galatians 5:14 , where the point of view of the fulfilment of the law by love is still more comprehensive. Observe, moreover, that πλήρωμα is not equivalent to πλήρωσις , but in the love of one’s neighbour that whereby the law is fulfilled has taken place and is realized .

The commentary on this point, how love works no ill to one’s neighbour, is given by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 .

Verse 11

Romans 13:11 . For compliance with the preceding exhortation to love, closing with Romans 13:10 , Paul now presents a further weighty motive to be pondered, and then draws in turn from this (Romans 13:12 ff.) other exhortations to a Christian walk generally.

καὶ τοῦτο ] our and that, i.e. and indeed, especially as you, etc. It adds something peculiarly worthy of remark here a further motive particularly to be noted to the preceding. See on this usage, prevalent also in the classics (which, however, more frequently use καὶ ταῦτα ), Hartung, I. p. 146; Baeumlein, Partik . p. 147. Comp. 1Co 6:6 ; 1 Corinthians 6:8 ; Ephesians 2:8 ; Philippians 1:28 ; Hebrews 11:12 . That to which here τοῦτο points back is the injunction expressed in Romans 13:8 , and more precisely elucidated in Romans 13:8-10 , μηδενὶ μηδὲν ὀφείλετε , εἰ μὴ κ . τ . λ . The repetition of it is represented by τοῦτο , so that thus εἰδότες attaches itself to the injunction which is again present in the writer’s conception, and hence all supplements (Bengel and several others, ποιεῖτε ; Tholuck, ποιῶμεν ) are dispensed with. The connection of τοῦτο with εἰδότες (Luther, Glöckler) complicates the quite simple language, as is also done by Hofmann, who makes τὸν καιρόν the object of τοῦτο εἰδότες , and brings out the following sense: “ and having this knowledge of the time, that , or, and so knowing the time, that .” Even in Soph. O. T. 37 ΚΑῚ ΤΑῦΤʼ is simply and indeed; the use of τοῦτο as absolute object is irrelevant here (see Bernhardy, p. 106; Kühner, II. 1, p. 266), because τοῦτο in the sense of in such a manner would necessarily derive its more precise contents from what precedes . That which Hofmann means, Paul might have expressed by κ . τοῦτο εἰδ . τοῦ καιροῦ ; Kühner II. 1, p. 238.

ΕἸΔΌΤΕς ] not considerantes (Grotius and others), but: since you know the (present) period, namely, in respect of its awakening character (see what follows).

ὅτι ὥρα κ . τ . λ .] Epexegesis of ΕἸΔΌΤ . ΤῸΝ ΚΑΙΡΌΝ : that , namely, it is high time that we finally (without waiting longer, see Klotz, ad Devar . p. 600) should wake out of sleep . ἤδη does not belong to ὭΡΑ , but to ἩΜᾶς ἘΞ ὝΠΝΟΥ ἘΓ ., and by ὝΠΝΟς is denoted figuratively the condition in which the true moral activity of life is bound down and hindered by the power of sin . In this we must observe with what right Paul requires this ἐγερθῆναι ἐξ ὕπνου of the regenerate (he even includes himself). He means, forsooth, the full moral awakening, the ethical elevation of life in that final degree, which is requisite in order to stand worthily before the approaching Son of man (see immediately below, νῦν γὰρ κ . τ . λ .); and in comparison with this the previous moral condition, in which much of a sinful element was always hindering the full expression of life, appears to him still as, ὕπνος , which one must finally lay aside as on awakening out of morning slumber. The Christian life has its new epochs of awakening, like faith (see on John 2:11 ), and love to the Lord (John 14:28 ), and the putting on of Christ (Romans 13:14 ). This applies also in opposition to Reiche, who, because Christians were already awakened from the ethical sleep, explains ὝΠΝΟς as an image of the state of the Christian on earth, in so far as he only at first forecasts and hopes for blessedness , quite, however, against the Pauline mode of conception elsewhere (Ephesians 5:14 ; 1 Thessalonians 5:6 ff.; comp. also 1 Corinthians 15:34 ).

νῦν γὰρ κ . τ . λ .] Proof of the preceding ὭΡΑ Κ . Τ . Λ . The ΝῦΝ is related to ἬΔΗ not as the line to the point (Hofmann, following Hartung), but as the objective Now to the subjective (present in consciousness); comp. on the latter, Baeumlein, Partik . p. 140 ff. νῦν is related to ἌΡΤΙ (comp. on Galatians 1:10 ) as line to point.

ἩΜῶΝ ] Does this belong to the adverb ἘΓΓΎΤΕΡΟΝ (Beza, Castalio, and others, including Philippi, Hofmann), or to ΣΩΤΗΡΊΑ (Luther, Calvin, and others, following the Vulgate)? The former is most naturally suggested by the position of the words; the latter would allow an emphasis, for which no motive is assigned, to fall upon ἩΜῶΝ .

ΣΩΤΗΡΊΑ ] the Messianic salvation , namely, in its completion, as introduced by the Parousia, which Paul , along with the whole apostolical church, regarded as near, always drawing nearer, and setting in even before the decease of the generation . Comp. Php 4:5 ; 1 Peter 4:7 ; see also Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 426. Not recognising the latter fact, notwithstanding that Paul brings emphatically into account the short time from his conversion up to the present time of his writing ( νῦν ), commentators have been forced to very perverted interpretations; e.g. that deliverance by death was meant (Photius and others), or the destruction of Jerusalem, a fortunate event for Christianity (Michaelis, following older interpreters), or the preaching among the Gentiles (Melanchthon), or the inner σωτηρία , the spiritual salvation of Christianity (Flacius, Calovius, Morus, Flatt, Benecke, Schrader, comp. Glöckler). Rightly and clearly Chrysostom says: ἐπὶ θύραις γὰρ , φησὶν , ὁ τῆς κρίσεως ἕστηκε καιρός . Comp. Theodore of Mopsuestia: σωτηρίαν δὲ ἡμῶν καλεῖ τὴν ἀνάστασιν , ἐπειδὴ τότε τῆς ἀληθινῆς ἀπολαύομεν σωτηρίας . But the nearer the blessed goal, the more wakeful and vigilant we should be.

ἢ ὅτε ἐπιστ .] than when we became believers; 1 Corinthians 3:5 ; 1 Corinthians 15:2 ; Galatians 2:16 ; Mark 16:16 ; Acts 19:2 , and frequently.

Verse 12

Romans 13:12 . To ὕπνος corresponds here as correlate ἡ νύξ , i.e. the time before the Parousia , which ceases, when with the Parousia the day arrives. νύξ and ἡμέρα are accordingly figures for the αἰὼν οὗτος and μέλλων , and ἡμέρα is not equivalent to σωτηρία (de Wette), but the day brings the σωτηρία . Comp. Hebrews 10:25 .

The image is appropriate; for in regard to the knowledge, righteousness, and glory which will have a place in the future αἰών , this approaching blessed time will be related to the imperfect present time as day to night. Theodore of Mopsuestia aptly remarks: ἡμέραν καλεῖ τὸν ἀπὸ τῆς τοῦ Χριστοῦ παρουσίας καιρόν … νύκτα δὲ τὸν πρὸ τούτου χρόνον .

προέκοψεν ] not: is past (Luther), but: has made progress, processit (see Galatians 1:14 ; Luke 2:52 ; 2 Timothy 2:4-6 ; Lucian, Soloec . 6; Joseph. Bell . iv. 4. 6), so that the day is no longer distant. It is very possible that Paul conceived to himself the time of the approach of the Parousia as the time of twilight , with which conception both the preceding ὥρα ἡμᾶς ἤδη κ . τ . λ . and the following ἀποθώμεθα aptly agree.

ἀποθώμεθα ] as one puts off garments . This way of conceiving it (in opposition to Fritzsche and Hofmann) corresponds to the correlate ἐνδυσώμεθα , comp. on Ephesians 4:22 . The ἔργα τοῦ σκότους , i.e. the works, whose element , wherein they are accomplished, is darkness (comp. Ephesians 5:11 ), the condition of spiritual want of knowledge and of the dominion of sin, are regarded as night-clothes , which the sleeper has had on, and which he who has risen is now to put off .

ἐνδυσώμεθα of the putting on of arms ( ὅπλα , as Romans 6:13 ), which in part are drawn on like garments. Comp. Eph 6:11 ; 1 Thessalonians 5:8 .

τοῦ φωτός ] not glittering arms (Grotius, Wetstein), but in contrast to τοῦ σκότους : arms ( i.e. dispositions, principles, modes of action) which belong to the element of (spiritual) light , which one has as πεφωτισμένος by virtue of his existence and life in the divine truth of salvation. τοῦ φωτός has the spiritual sense, as also previously τοῦ σκότους , as being in the application of that which was said of the νύξ and ἡμέρα ; but the metaphorical expressions are selected as the correlates of νύξ and ἡμέρα .

The Christian is a warrior in the service of God and Christ against the kingdom of darkness. Comp. Ephesians 6:11-12 ; 2 Corinthians 6:7 ; 2Co 10:4 ; 1 Thessalonians 5:8 ; 1 Timothy 1:18 ; Romans 6:13 . For profane analogies, see Gataker, ad Anton , p. 58.

Verse 13

Romans 13:13 . Ὡς ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ] as one walks in the day (when one avoids everything unbecoming). This in a moral sense, Paul desires, should be the ruling principle of the Christian, who sees the day already dawning (Romans 13:12 ).

εὐσχημόνως ] becomingly , 1 Thessalonians 4:12 ; 1Co 7:35 ; 1 Corinthians 14:40 . It is moral decorum of conduct.

κώμοις κ . τ . λ .] The datives are explained from the notion of the way and manner in which the περιπατεῖν , i.e. the inner and outward conduct of life, ought not to take place (Kühner, II. 1, p. 382), namely, not with revellings ( κώμοις ; see respecting this, on Galatians 5:21 ; Welker in Jacobs, Philostr . i. 2, p. 202 ff.) and carousals (comp. Galatians 5:21 ), etc. The local view (Philippi) is less in keeping with the particulars mentioned, and that of dativus commodi (Fritzsche, comp. van Hengel) less befits the figurative verb.

κοίταις ] congressibus venereis (comp. on Romans 9:10 ), Wis 3:13 , and see Kypke, II. p. 185.

ἀσελγείαις ] wantonnesses (especially of lust). See Tittmann, Synon . p. 151. On the sense of the plural , see Lucian, Amor . 21: ἵνα μηδὲν ἀγνοῇ μέρος ἀσελγείας .

ζήλῳ ] jealousy (1 Corinthians 1:11 ; 1 Corinthians 3:3 ); neither anger (Fritzsche, Philippi, and others), which is not denoted by ζῆλος (not even in 1 Corinthians 3:2 ; 2 Corinthians 12:20 ; Galatians 5:20 ), nor envy (Photius, Luther, and others), which is less in accordance with the preceding ( κοίτ . κ . ἀσελγ .), whilst strife and jealousy follow in the train of the practice of lust.

The three particulars adduced stand in the internal connection of cause and effect.

Verse 14

Romans 13:14 . Ἐνδύσασθε τ . κύρ . Ἰ . Χρ .] This is the specifically Christian nature of the εὐσχημόνως περιπ . But the expression is figurative, signifying the idea: Unite yourselves in the closest fellowship of life with Christ, so that you may wholly present the mind and life of Christ in your conduct . In classical Greek also ἐνδύεσθαί τινα denotes to adopt any one’s mode of sentiment and action . See Wetstein and Kypke. But the praesens efficacia Christi (see Melanchthon) is that which distinguishes the having put on Christ from the adoption of other exemplars. Comp. Galatians 3:27 ; Ephesians 4:24 ; Colossians 3:12 ; and on the subject-matter, Romans 8:9 ; 1 Corinthians 6:17 ; Photius in Oecumenius: πῶς δὲ αὐτὸν ἐνδυτέον ; εἰ πάντα ἡμῖν αὐτὸς εἴη , ἔσωθεν καὶ ἔξωθεν ἐν ἡμῖν φαινόμενος . Observe further, that the having put on Christ in baptism was the entrance into the sonship of God (Galatians 3:27 ), but that in the further development of the baptized one each new advance of his moral life (comp. on Romans 13:11 ) is to be a new putting on of Christ; therefore it, like the putting on of the new man, is always enjoined afresh. Comp. Lipsius, Rechtfertigungsl . p. 186 f.

καὶ τῆς σαρκὸς κ . τ . λ .] and make not care of the flesh unto lusts , i.e. take not care for the flesh to such a degree, that lusts are thereby excited . By μὴ the πρόνοιαν ποιεῖσθαι εἰς ἐπιθ . together is forbidden, not (as Luther and many) merely the εἰς ἐπιθ ., according to which the whole sentence would resolve itself into the two members: τῆς ς . πρόνοιαν μὲν ποιεῖσθε , ἀλλὰ μὴ εἰς ἐπιθ . In that case μὴ must have stood after ποιεῖσθε (see Romans 14:1 ); for a transposition of the negation is not to be assumed in any passage of the N. T.

τῆς σαρκός ] is emphatically prefixed, adding to the putting on of the Lord previously required, which is the spiritual mode of life, that which is to be done bodily . The σάρξ is here not equivalent to σῶμα (as is frequently assumed; see on the other hand Calovius and Reiche), but is that which composes the material substance of man, as the source and seat of sensuous and sinful desires, in contrast to the πνεῦμα of man with the νοῦς . Paul purposely chose the expression, because in respect of care for the body he wishes to present the point of view that this care nourishes and attends to the σάρξ , and one must therefore be on one’s guard against caring for the latter in such measure that the lusts, which have their seat in the σάρξ , are excited and strengthened. According to Fritzsche, Paul absolutely forbids the taking care for the σάρξ (he urges that σάρξ must be libidinosa caro ). But to this the expression πρόνοιαν ποιεῖσθε is not at all suitable. The flesh, so understood, is to be crucified (Galatians 5:24 ), the body as determined by it is to be put off (Colossians 2:11 ), its πράξεις are to be put to death (Romans 8:13 ), because its φρόνημα is enmity against God and productive of death (Romans 8:6-7 ). The σάρξ is here rather the living matter of the σῶμα , which, as the seat of the ἐπιθυμίαι , in order to guard against the excitement of the latter, ought to experience a care that is to be restricted accordingly, and to be subordinated to the moral end (comp. on σάρξ , 1 Corinthians 7:28 ; 1 Corinthians 15:50 ; 2 Corinthians 4:10-11 ; 2 Corinthians 7:1 ; 2 Corinthians 7:5 ; 2 Corinthians 12:7 ; Galatians 2:20 ; Galatians 4:13-14 ). In substance and in moral principle, the ἀφειδία σώματος (Colossians 2:23 ) is different from this. Chrysostom aptly observes: ὥσπερ γὰρ οὐ τὸ πίνειν ἐκώλυσεν , ἀλλὰ τὸ μεθύειν , οὐδὲ τὸ γαμεῖν , ἀλλὰ τὸ ἀσελγεῖν , οὕτως οὐδὲ τὸ προνοεῖν τῆς σαρκὸς , ἀλλὰ τὸ εἰς ἐπιθυμίας , οἷον τὸ τὴν χρείαν ὑπερβαίνειν . Moreover it is clear in itself, that Paul has added the second half of Romans 13:14 in view of what is to be handled in chap. 14, and has thereby prepared the way for a transition to the latter.

Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Romans 13". Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hmc/romans-13.html. 1832.
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