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Bible Commentaries
Romans 13

Gray's Concise Bible CommentaryGray's Concise Commentary

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Verses 1-14


In chapter 6 Paul revealed the secret of experimental sanctification as the yielding of one’s self unto God, in which case sin would not have dominion over one In chapter 8 he showed the divine process of sanctification as the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer. Having finished the doctrinal part of his epistle, he returns to what he then said (chap. 6), and exhorts us to yield because of the “mercies of God” of which he had been speaking throughout (Romans 12:1-2 ). The presenting of our bodies is the same as the yielding of our members in chapter 6. This exhortation is followed by a promise that we shall not be “conformed to this world,” but be “transformed by the renewing of your mind.” In other words the Holy Spirit will do His work in us; as a result, we shall do the “good, acceptable and perfect will of God.”

The verses, and indeed the chapters that follow to the end of the epistle, indicate the ways in which this will should be done:

In the exercise of spiritual gifts as members of the body of Christ (Romans 12:3-8 ); · In our social duties as Christian brethren (Romans 12:9-16 ); · In our general conduct towards the world (Romans 12:17-21 ); · In our subjection to human governments (Romans 13:1-14 ); · In our church relations concerning doubtful things (Romans 14:1 to Romans 15:13 ). This last will repay further exposition. “Him that is weak in the faith,” is the Christian brother with scruples on matters of practice, such as the eating of meats and the observance of fast days (Romans 14:1-9 ). He is not to be denied fellowship on that ground, since he is walking out of regard to God’s honor. On the other hand, he is not to judge the brother who does not see the particular matter just as he does. The whole question of judging or criticizing one another then comes under review (Romans 14:10-11 ), after which the apostle turns to the consideration of the “strong” brother who does not possess these scruples. He has a right to his Christian liberty, but he should not press it to the point of “stumbling” his weaker brother (Romans 14:13-18 ), but seek peace (Romans 14:19-21 ). If he has the faith to believe that he is at liberty as a Christian to do thus and so, let that be a matter between him and God, but let him be careful lest in openly exercising that faith or Christian privilege, he does not bring himself under self-judgment (Romans 14:22 ). If he has a doubt about his liberty, he had better not “eat,” as that will thus condemn him. To insist on his liberty when he is in doubt about it is sin. The better plan is to follow Christ’s example (Romans 15:1-4 ), which is the apostle’s prayer for them (Romans 15:5-7 ). The difficulty as to the strong and the weak had probably arisen between the Jews and Gentiles, which may explain the rest of this section (Romans 15:8-13 ).

The epistle concludes with:

A reference to the apostle’s special ministry to the gentiles (Romans 15:14-21 ); another expression of his desire and purpose to visit Rome (Romans 15:23-33 ); individual remembrances, in which it is interesting to observe the references to Paul’s personal acquaintances and relatives (Romans 16:1-16 ); a warning and exhortation (Romans 16:17-20 ); friendly greetings, a benediction and an ascription of praise to God (Romans 16:21-27 ).

In this last, Paul incidentally mentions “my Gospel,” and also “the mystery which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest” (Romans 16:25-26 ). Just what this “mystery” is as distinguished from the “Gospel,” will appear more particularly in the epistles to the churches at Ephesus and Colosse, although chapter 6 of this epistle gave us an introduction to it in the believers identification with Christ. The full truth of the mystery is found in a right conception of the church of Christ as distinguished from the kingdom of Israel, and the union of Judah and Gentile believers in this age in that mystical body of which Christ is the head.


1. To what chapter, and what thought in that chapter, are we carried back by the beginning of this lesson?

2. What is the promise attached to the yielding of our bodies to God?

3. What will be the result of the renewing of our minds?

4. In what ways is our doing of the will of God to be shown?

5. Who is meant by “him that is weak in the faith”?

6. Why should he not be denied Christian fellowship?

7. What is the Christian obligation of the weak brother?

8. What is the caution given to the strong brother?

9. Give an outline of the conclusion of this epistle.

10. What is the explanation of the mystery here named?

Bibliographical Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on Romans 13". Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jgc/romans-13.html. 1897-1910.
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