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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

Romans 13

Verses 1-6

Third Section.—Christian universalism (Roman Catholicism in Paul’s sense) in proper conduct toward the civil Government (the heathen State), which has a diaconal and liturgical service in the household of God. The office of civil Government defined

Romans 13:1-6

1Let every soul be subject [submit himself] unto the higher powers [to the authorities which are over him].1 For there is no power [authority] but of [except from]2 God: the powers that be are [those which exist3 have been]ordained of [by] God. 2Whosoever therefore resisteth the power [So that he who setteth himself against the authority], resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that [those who] resist shall receive to themselves damnation [condemnation].3For rulers are not a terror to good works [the good work],4 but to the evil, Wilt thou then not [Dost thou then wish not to] be afraid of the power [authority]? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of [from]the same: 4For he is the minister of God [God’s minister] to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth [weareth] not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God [God’s minister], a revenger to5execute wrath upon [an avenger for wrath to] him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs5 be subject [submit yourselves], not only for [because of the]6wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For, for this cause pay ye [ye pay] tribute also: for they are God’s ministers [the ministers of God],6 attending continually upon this very thing.


General Remarks.—As, in chap. 12, ecclesiastical duties are supplemented by personal duties, so here, in chap. 13, civil duties are supplemented by duties toward the world in general.—According to Tholuck, the passive conduct in relation to private injuries, in Romans 12:19-21, has led to this exhortation. Yet this would be too accidental an occasion. The thought of the transition is, that, even in the heathen State, evil must be overcome with good. But the possibility of this conquest lies in the necessity of the Christian’s recognizing something good even in the large State, as well as in the personal opponent. Chrysostom held that this section has the apologetical design of showing that Christianity does not lead to the dissolution of the State, and of the social legal relations (comp. 1 Timothy 2:1; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13-14). According to Calvin, and others, the occasion lay in the fact that the Jews were inclined to resistance to heathen government, and that also the Jewish Christians often became subject, with them, to suspicions of the same disposition.7 As might be expected, Baur finds the key for the solution of this question also in the Clementines. On these and other hypotheses, particularly those of Neander and Baumgarten-Crusius, see further details in Tholuck, pp. 678 ff. The same author says: “If the Epistle was written in the year 58, then it follows that Nero’s five mild years terminated in the following year.” In view of the universal character of this Epistle, even on its practical side, the Apostle must have felt the necessity of defining, from his principle, the relation of duty in which Christians stood to the State, without his having been led to it by this or that circumstance.

Romans 13:1. Let every soul, πᾶσα ψυχή. Every man; yet with reference to the life of the soul, whose emotions in relation to the government come into special consideration (Acts 2:43; Acts 3:23; Revelation 16:3).—Submit himself, ὑποτασσέσθω. Voluntarily subjecting himself to authority. [The reflexive form describes the obedience as of a rational, voluntary, principled character, in distinction from blind, servile subjection.—P. S.]—To the authorities which are over him [ἐξουσίαις ὑπερεχούσαις]. In ἐξουσία are comprised both the magistracy and their power (potestas). Ὑπερέχουσαι, Vulgate: sublimiores. Tholuck: The high, those high in authority, with a reference to 1 Timothy 2:2. [Philippi and Meyer refer to the German phrase: Die hohe Obrigkeit, but there seems to be no reference to the higher grade of rulers. The rendering given above is sufficiently explicit.—It must be noticed how general the injunction is—every soul, and whatever powers are set over him. Wordsworth: He does not say obey, but submit. On the limitations, see below, and Doctr. Notes.—R.]

Except from God [εἰ μὴ . See Textual Note2. The proposition is universal, its application follows. Wordsworth remarks that δύναμις, force, does not occur throughout.—R.] God’s sovereignty is, in the general sense (ἀπο Θεοῦ), the causality of magisterial power.

Those which exist [αἱ δὲ οὖσαι. See Textual Note3.] According to Erasmus and Schmidt, the Apostle understands by the αἱ δὲ οὖσαι, the rightful powers; with reference to John 10:12, ὁ ὤνποιμήν, qui verus pastor est. According to Meyer, and Tholuck, there is no difference whatever. [The words mean simply this: all existing civil authorities, de facto governments. This doubtless includes temporary and revolutionary governments, although nothing is said on this point. Of course, there has been much casuistry in the discussions as to what constitutes the existence, οὖσα, of the authority.—R.]

The general definition, ἀπὸ Θεοῦ, for which Codd. A. B.2, and others, would read ὑπὸ Θ., is “more specifically defined by the ὑτπὸ Θεοῦ τεταγμέναι εἰσί,” have been ordained by God, which denotes Divine appointment.8 The Apostle, however, seems desirous of making a distinction, yet not between the rightful and illegal authorities, but between the actual appearance of the authorities and their ideal and essential ground of life, whose validity should also undoubtedly be recognized in the actual authorities, because of their permanent destination. In harmony with this distinction, Chrysostom, and others, have distinguished between the magisterial office itself and its accidental incumbents. Yet we must hold that the Apostle not only enjoins obedience toward the ideal institution of the authorities, but also toward their empirical appearance. But he will establish the requirement of this obedience by reference to the ideal institution and design of the authorities. This arises clearly from what follows.

Romans 13:2. So that he who setteth himself against, &c. [ὣστε ὁ , κ.τ.λ. Notice the recurrence of τάσσω in various forms and combinations.—R.] Whoever becomes ἀντιτασσόμενος against the actual authorities, becomes also the resister of the ordinance of God. The ἀντιτάσσεσθαι denotes, primarily, military οpposition, the array of a hostile order of battle; but it has also a more general sense. Its meaning, over against the authorities, in every case must be that of resistance; and Tholuck makes an arbitrary limitation when he says: “Neither the armed opposition of the individual, nor of many, as in insurrection, is meant here; it rather appears, from Romans 13:7, what kind of opposition is meant, namely, that of refusal to pay taxes.” Besides, Romans 13:7 is the beginning of another section. [The more general sense is usually accepted, as in the above rendering: He who setteth himself against, which is adopted to bring out the reflexive force of the original.—R.] As related to the Divine appointment (διαταγή, here = διάταγμα), this resistance becomes a spiritual resistance. This is the rule; and, according to this rule, it is said of those who resist the Divine ordinance:

Those who resist shall receive to themselves condemnation [οἱ δὲ ἁνθεστηκότεςἑαυτοῖς κρῖμα λήμψονται]. Meyer properly remarks, that “a condemnation by God is meant, as it is produced by their resistance of God’s ordinance, but that the ἂρχοντες are regarded as executing this sentence; therefore Paul does not mean eternal (according to Reiche, and most commentators), but temporal punishment.” Yet these executioners are not always the ἂρξοντες; for it is well known that revolution very often “devours its own children,” and that the sorest punishments come from anarchy. [The next verse seems to point to the rulers as the instruments in inflicting the Divine punishment (Tholuck, Alford), yet there is no necessity for this limitation, in the face of the fact that punishment often comes by other hands. Though the punishment comes from God, condemnation is preferable to damnation, since the latter refers now to eternal punishment alone, which is not the meaning here.—On Romans 13:1-2, Dr. Hodge remarks: “The extent of this obedience is to be determined from the nature of the case. They are to be obeyed as magistrates, in the exercise of their lawful authority. This passage, therefore, affords a very slight foundation for the doctrine of passive obedience.”—R.]

Romans 13:3. For rulers are not [οἱ γαρ ἂρχοντες οὐκ εἰσίν]. It may be asked here, what the γάρ is designed to establish? According to Meyer, it explains the modality of the condemnation: they shall receive condemnation in so far as the civil authority is its executioner. But Tholuck and Philippi very properly suggest, that the κακὰ ἒργα in Romans 13:3 cannot mean merely resistance to civil authority. If the civil authority exists merely for the quelling of resistance, the whole State would be a mere circle, or the civil authority would be an absolute despotism. According to Calvin and Bucer, Romans 13:3 should connect with Romans 13:1, and prove the utilitas of the Divine ordinance of civil authority.9 But the γάρ refers simply to the idea of absolute punishment in the condemnation in Romans 13:2. In Tholuck there is a similar, and perhaps somewhat more general, reference to Romans 13:2. God punishes insurrection, because it is designed to shake a legal ordinance, existing for the protection of the good and the punishment of the bad. All those are guilty of this misconception of all the moral powers of existing order, who, in their abstract worship of a pure fancy, oppose the best form of government, and therefore finish their labors by perverting existing order to a moral chaos. Now, the limitation of the strict requirements of the Apostle lies in the definition of the civil authority, which he gives in this and the following verses.

A terror, φόβος. For terror, formidandi. Princes are not formidable to the good work, but to the evil.—[To the good work, but to the evil, τῶ , ἀλλὰ τῷ κακῷ. See Textual Note4.—R.]

Dost thou then wish not to be afraid of the authority? [θέλεις δὲ μὴ φοβεῖσθαιτὴν ἐξουσίαν; Although it is not necessary to retain the interrogative form, yet it will express sufficiently the hypothetical force, which most commentators find here.—R.] These words are a hypothetical premise, and not a question, as Griesbach, and others, would construe them.—Thou shalt have praise [ἒξεις ἒπαινον]. Commendations by the magistrates, in opposition to punishments, were common even in ancient times. Origen, on the contrary, says, that it is not the custom of rulers to praise the non peccantes. To this, Pelagius says: Damnatio malorum laus est bonorum. Meyer says: “Grotius, moreover, properly says: ‘Cum hœc scriberet Paulus, non sœviebatur Romœ in Christianos?’ It was still the better period of Nero’s government.” Tholuck’s view is similar. Yet the written words of the Apostle have been of perfect application subsequently, even down to the present day. The Apostle sets up an ideal, by which the ruler also can and shall be judged. We must hold:

1. That he portrays obedience to authority as an obedience for the Lord’s sake (comp. Ephesians 6:5-6). This secures the sphere: “Render to God the things that are God’s;” bondage under religious and conscientious despotism is excluded.

2. The definition of what is good works and what are evil works, abides by the decision of God’s word, of Christian faith, and of conscience, but is not dependent on the ruler.

3. This also indicates that every power shall become weakness, when the poles of sword-bearing shall be so absolutely transposed that the sword becomes a terror to good works; but that it is a matter of the Divine government to prove that weakness, which lies in the fact that an actual government has absolutely dropped off from the idea of its design.[10]

Romans 13:4. For he is God’s minister [Θεοῦγὰρ διάκονός ἐστιν]. The γάρ of Romans 13:4 brings out the ground of the declaration in Romans 13:3. The rule of the magistracy as a terror to the evil, and for the praise and encouragement of those who do good, is explained by its character, its essential design, to be God’s servant.—[To thee for good, σοὶ εἰς τὸ .] But he is God’s minister for the good of man; see Book of Wis 6:4. [While rulers are of God, it is for the benefit of the ruled. A repetition of what precedes, and suggesting the same limitations.—R.]

He weareth not the sword in vain [οὐγὰρ εἰκῆ τὴν μάχαιραν φορεῖ]. He weareth it (φόρει is stronger than φερεῖ) as the symbolical token, insignia, of his governing and judicial sovereignty; but he does not wear it merely as a symbol, without reason, and for show. He makes use of it because he is God’s minister, as the punitive executioner of His wrath. The addition: for wrath, εἰς ὀργήν, expresses the fact that even in the State and municipal court there is the authority of something higher than merely human justice, namely, the Divine retribution of wrath upon offenders.

On the different antiquarian interpretations of the μάχαιρα, particularly as the dagger which the Emperor carried at his side, see Tholuck, p. 690. Tholuck and Meyer decide for the sword, because μάχ. in the New Testament always means this, and because everywhere in the provinces it was borne by the highest officers of military and criminal affairs, as the sign of the jus gladii. Nevertheless, the dagger of the Emperor, and of his representative, the Prœfectus Prœtorii, belongs under the symbolical description. After all, in an abstract and real direction, we would otherwise have to think only of the executioner’s sword. [It requires some ingenuity to escape the conviction that this passage implies a New Testament sanction of the right of capital punishment. At all events, the theory of civil penalties here set forth is in direct opposition to that so constantly upheld nowadays, that the end is simply the reformation of the offender. See Doctr. Note 6.—R.]

Romans 13:5. Wherefore ye must needs, &c. [διὸἀνάγκη, κ.τ.λ.] For the reason stated, it was not merely the duty of prudence, but also a religious and moral duty of conscience, to be subject. When the Apostle says, not only because of the wrath, but also for conscience’ sake, he denotes thereby the antithesis of the servile fear of the external infliction of punishment, and of inward and free obedience, in the knowledge and reverence of the Divine order in the civil affairs of men.11 Comp. 1 Peter 2:13.

Romans 13:6. For, for this cause ye pay tribute also [διὰ τοῦτο γὰρ καὶ φόρους τελεῖτε. The question of connection has been much discussed. Calvin, De Wette, Alford, and many others, make διὰ τοῦτο parallel with διό (Romans 13:5), as another inference from Romans 13:1-4. Meyer, however, connects immediately with Romans 13:5, finding here an inference from the necessity there described, as well as a confirmation of it. He thinks the other construction passes over Romans 13:5 arbitrarily. But if the verses are taken as parallel, this difficulty is not of much weight. See his notes for other views; Stuart takes διὰ τοῦτο γάρ as a strengthened causal particle, and the verb as imperative.—R.] The τελεῖτε must not be read as imperative (Heumann, Morus [Stuart, Hodge], and others); but the γάρ [οὖν with the imperative would have been more natural] and the imperative in Romans 13:7 are against this. The payment of tribute declares a recognition of the State, also according to our Lord’s own declaration (Matthew 22:21). But by means of paying tribute, the subject himself takes part in the government of the magistracy. He actually takes part in the support of the administration, which, consciously or unconsciously, is, in the highest sense, a servant of the kingdom, and, in the widest sense, is a servant [Liturg] of God, analogously to the servant of the temple. Olshausen, and others, erroneously construe προσκαρτεροῦντες as subject.

[For they are the ministers of God, λειτουργοὶ γὰρ Θεοῦ εἰσιν. See Textual Note6. The subject is ἂρχοντες (supplied in thought); λειτουργοί is predicate (Meyer, Philippi, and most). See Philippi on the distinction between λειτουργος and διάκσσονος. He bases upon the former, which, he claims, applies to one engaged in a practical, external service, as well as on the concrete plural (instead of the abstract ἐξουσία), the reference to the collection of tribute in εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο. But it is better, with Tholuck, Wordsworth, and others, to find here the idea of servants ministering to God in representation of the people.—R.]

Attending continually upon this very thing [εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο προζκαρτεροῦντες]. Philippi12 explains εἰς αὖτὸ τοῦτο: for this very purpose, viz., the payment of tribute. But then that would mean: they receive taxes in order that they may exact more taxes. The purpose is the fundamental thought of the whole section: The State is the State of the police, of rectitude, and of civilization. Therefore the λειτουργεῖν τῶ Θεῶ is undoubtedly meant (Tholuck, and others) in the very sense in which the section has described it.


1. As chap. 12. has defined the conduct of Christians toward the Church and the personal departments of life, so does chap. 13 define their conduct toward the State and the world. The Apostle has therefore very forcibly regarded the sphere of personal life as the atmosphere of the Church, and then the sphere of the world as the atmosphere of the State.[13]

2. In reference to the civil authority, the Apostle evidently makes the following distinctions: (1) The actual existence of the civil powers, which are in every case an ordinance of God’s providence [not of a social contract, nor simply by the will of the people.—R.]; and the ideal and real existence of the civil power, which is not merely providentially ἀπὸ Θεοῦ, but is also, by creation and institution, fundamentally an ordinance ὑπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ τεταγμέναι. (2) He distinguishes between social opposition to the civil power, and the spiritual opposition to God’s institution which is comprised therein. (3) He also distinguishes between the power of the State itself and its incumbents, the rulers, by which designation he expresses the possibility of different political forms.[14] (4) He finally distinguishes between the actual appearance and its ideal destination, according to which the ἐξουσὶα should be a διακονία and administrator of Divine right, and the ἂρχο̇ντες should prove themselves as λειτουργοὶ Θεοῦ.

3. The following distinctions with reference to duty toward the State clearly appear:
A. The submission is of necessity (ἀνάγκη), Romans 13:5; (1) Because of the wrath. Since Divine providence has its wise purposes even in raising up, and permitting to exist, severe and despotic powers, so long as they are really State powers, ὑπερέχουσαι, so, in this relation, is the ἀντιτάσσεσθαι a sin against wisdom; the revolter draws upon himself the κρῖμα for his want of judgment, his presumption, and his wicked encroachment and invasion. The same ὀργή which makes the State pass over from an institution of Divine mercy to a phenomenon of Divine wrath, and which makes use of the despotic tool as an axe to be cast aside in due season (Isaiah 10:15), and which oppresses a people to its own chastisement, crushes, first of all, the individual anarchical despots of revolution, who, in excessive self-estimation, would cure the relative evil of despotism by the absolute evil of anarchy. (2) Although this folly itself must be avoided for conscience’ sake, there is added a specific obedience for conscience’ sake, which is unfettered respect for the ideal splendor of the Divine institution, joy at an existence protected by the laws and civilization of the State, gratitude for the moral blessings which humanity possesses in civil life; but, in one word, the knowledge of the Divine, which shines clearly enough even through the imperfect phenomenon of civil life.

B. The “submitting,” ὑποτάσσεσθαι, excludes the resisting, ἀντιτάσσεσθαι; but it by no means excludes it from God’s word and from conscience, nor from judgment (dependent on an existing power) on what is good and what is evil, and what is just and what is unjust; for it is only in consequence of this judgment that there can be a candid conviction that the higher powers, really as God’s servant, exercise the right of the sword for a terror to evil works and protection to good works. Consequently, judgment on the actions of the State within the purely ethical department, and the limits and legality of wisdom, is also unfettered.

C. According to the Apostle, the mark of voluntary obedience consists in not fearing the civil powers, in assuming their existence according to the idea in Romans 13:3-4, and not according to their accidental errors. This fearlessness may not only be united with the respect required by Romans 13:7, but is inseparably connected with it (see Tholuck, p. 692). As one has the right and duty to expect of the Christian that he will act in a Christian way, so has one the right and duty to expect of the State that it be clothed with the ideal principles of the State.

D. The Apostle says: “Render therefore to all their dues; tribute to whom tribute is due;” as if he would say that, by this voluntary act, you participate in the civil government, and pledge your obedience to it. But, in Romans 13:7, he characterizes the same act as indebtedness. The solution of this apparent antinomy has been given by our Lord himself, Matthew 22:21 (see the Commentary on Matthew, pp. 396, 397). The individual has the right to emigrate when an extraneous power arises. But if, with the use of the coin of the country, he enjoys the profit, protection, and authority of the country, there arises the duty of paying the tribute required by the united life and necessities of the State. And he who pays tribute—that is, renders allegiance—with one hand, but with the other rises in revolution, is not only guilty of resistance, but also of self-delusion and self-contradiction.—These are the principal features; they may also be found in Eph 6:5; 1 Timothy 2:2; 1 Peter 2:13. The application of them to the individual cases and questions arising here, has been committed by God’s word to the development of the Christian spirit. We are convinced that this spirit, and its foundation, can be misapplied by impure minds, when, on the one hand, Byzantine adulterers make the gospel of truth a gospel of absolute despotism, and, on the other, fanatical and hierarchical mutineers make it a gospel of revolutionary terrorism, as was the case with the Jewish Zealots, and appears now as secret political justice [Vehmjustiz] (practised in Westphalia in early times), now as brigandage, and now as Fenianism. In both respects the Old Testament is a commentary, rich in illustrations, on the sense of the New, Neither Pharaoh nor Korah’s company, neither Rehoboam nor Jeroboam, neither Nebuchadnezzar nor the adversaries of Jeremiah, escaped the condemnatory judgment of the Spirit recorded on the pages of Holy Writ. But in the Jewish war, when the fanaticism of power and the fanaticism of an enthusiastic fancy for freedom contended together for the Holy City, the Christians emigrated to Pella. The light and right of the Christian consist in the incapacity of any earthly power to intervene between his heavenly King and his conscience. When it is therefore imputed to him that his conscience is stained by falsehood, injustice, cowardice, or partiality, and that he has become faithless to his heavenly King, he knows—for he must know—that his inward life stands or falls with his fidelity to his Lord, it matters not from what side the imputation may come. He must likewise refute the imputation that he employs his whole life in political law questions; for there are other things to be attended to in religious, ecclesiastical, moral, and social life, than contending for the most perfect political and social forms. The same fanatical externalization, which in the Middle Ages took pleasure in absolute ecclesiasticism, can become absolute politicalism in modern society. But if conditions arise in the life of nations in which the Apostle’s definition is not of absolute application to the civil power, when the sword is a terror to the good, then does the definition cease to be of application at its time to ὑπερέχουσα. But even in such a case God could make a Russian winter do more for Germany, than man, alienated from God, could do for France by a series of revolutions. Of course, freedom never takes place without enthusiastic liberators, who know how to distinguish God’s fiery sign from human incendiarism. But every one must know for himself what his duty is in his particular calling. [The positions of Dr. Lange are justly taken, but may require some modification for a region where the civil power is more directly formed and sustained by the individual members of the State. In that case, the personal responsibility in political affairs is, of course, largely augmented; to the duty of obedience and tribute, that of political knowledge and prudence is added. The ideal must be formed by Christian reflection, and by Christian effort we must seek to make it a reality. The abstract right of revolution, which Dr. Lange himself does not deny, will be the more an abstraction as lawful means are at hand to alter the organic law of the State. Thus popular government, when, and only when, the people are permeated by Christian principle, contains in itself the preventive of revolutionary excess. How insupportable it can become when this condition is wanting, history tells plainly enough.—R.]

4. From the experience through which the Apostle had previously passed, he had been often protected by the sword of the Roman authorities against the mutinies of Jewish fanaticism. Learned people have observed, that he has written these exhortations to Rome although Nero was Emperor there. Other scholars have remarked, on the other hand, that the five good years of Nero’s reign had not yet come to an end. But it is certain that, in the ordinance of the State for posterity, as well as in the institution of the Church, the Apostle perceives the historical opposition to the germinating antichristianity in the world, according to 2 Thessalonians 2:0. But he did not regard his liberty of judgment thereby bound (see 2 Timothy 4:17).

5. To what extent is the State a Divine institution? Elaborate discussions on this question are summed up and deliberated upon by Tholuck, pp. 681–689. According to the principles of Romanism, the State is merely a human ordinance (see Tholuck, p. 684; Gieseler, Kirchengesch., ii. 2, pp. 7, 108).—The germ of the Divine institution of the State lies in the Divine institution of the family, in the authority of the head of the family in particular, as well as in the substantial relations of humanity. But as the Old Testament gift of the law is the institution of a theocracy, which still embraces in common the twin-offspring of State and Church, so is there contained also in the Old Testament a Divine sanction of the State—a sanction which pledges the future sanctified State to reciprocity with the future Church. And this presages that it is just as destructive to make the State the servant of the Church, as to make the Church the bondwoman of the State.

[The Scylla and Charybdis of European Christianity, as related to the State, are: Romanism, which subordinates the State to the Church, and Erastianism, which subordinates the Church to the State. The American theory is: that both are coördinate, the State protecting the Church in civil rights, the Church sustaining the State by its moral influence. Yet even here it is questioned whether this is the correct theory. It is an experiment, fraught with great blessings indeed, but, as yet, only an experiment. The dangers here are similar: (1) Romanism, which would make its Church the State; in a popular government, as really as in a despotism, and even more fatally, since the genius of the Church must then become that of the State—what that is, is obvious. (2) On the other hand, we find the theocratic tendency of Puritanism manifesting itself continually. This would identify Church and State, rather by making the State the Church, pressing upon it the duty of legislating men into morality, and even holiness. Here we must class the politico-religionism, which has become so common during the last ten years.—Still, the constant tendency of Christendom to make a practical synthesis of Church and State, is an unconscious prophecy of an era when both shall be united in a christocracy.—R.]

6. On the right of the death-penalty with reference to the sword of authority, sec Tholuck, p. 691. We must, of course, distinguish between the right of using the sword and the duty of its use. [Admitting that the Apostle is describing an ideal of civil government, we still find here the right of capital punishment. Of course, just in so far as the actual government has been below this ideal, has this right been abused. Still, the right remains justified by the theory of punishment here advanced, by the necessities of self-preservation on the part of society represented by the punishing power. The right to punish also implies the right to pardon; and the measure of the right (i. e., the conformity to the ideal here presented) will be also the measure of the sense of responsibility, both as to the punishing and pardoning power. The usual objections to capital punishment misapprehend (a.) the nature of punishment in general; (b.) the Divine authority in civil government.—R.]


Obedience toward the powers that be is every Christian’s duty. 1. Without difference of possessions; 2. Of position; 3. Of culture; 4. And of confession (Romans 13:1).—In how far are there no powers that are not ordained by God? 1. So far as God himself is a God of order, who will therefore have order in civil affairs; 2. So far as God is also a God of love, who designs to do good for us by the powers which He has ordained (Romans 13:1-4).—Resistance to the powers that be, regarded as resistance to God’s ordinance (Romans 13:2).—To do good is the best protection against all fear of civil authority (Romans 13:3).—Praise from the civil magistrates. 1. Who shall obtain it? Every one who does good—that is, every one who, a. does not submit slavishly; but, b. obeys the laws of the country by voluntary obedience. 2. In what should it consist? a. Not so much in showy medals and ribbons, for which many are so eager, as, b. in the simple recognition of the faithfully discharged duty of the citizen (Romans 13:3).—The civil authorities should likewise serve: 1. God; 2. Men (Romans 13:4).—The holy judicial office of the magistracy. 1. From whom is it derived? From God, who is a righteous God, and to whom no wicked person is pleasing (Psalms 5:4). 2. What belongs to it? The exercise of penal judgment, and, above all, the right of life and death. 3. How should they exercise it? In the ennobling, but also humiliating, consciousness that they are God’s ministers (Romans 13:4).

Luther: Worldly power is for the sake of temporal peace; therefore the conscience is bound, by dutiful love, to be subject to it (Romans 13:5).—See how good it is to pay taxes and be obedient; for you thereby help to protect the pious and punish the wicked. Therefore do not be provoked at it (Romans 13:6).

Starke: If persons in authority would attract their subjects to obedience, they should administer their office well, and, to that end, should remember: 1. That they are by nature no better than other men; 2. That they will therefore die, just as all others; 3. That they will have to give a far greater account than their subjects before God’s judgment-bar, because of their official prerogatives and government (Romans 13:1).—Lange: When those in authority read and hear that their station is from God, they should examine themselves as to whether they are to their subjects what the head is to the body and its members (Romans 13:1).—Hedinger: The powers that be, God’s minister! How much is expressed by this! Therefore there are no masters above God. He will hereafter hold to account, and throw aside, all titles of honor (Romans 13:4).—Ye subjects, give freely your possessions and blood, but not your conscience (Romans 13:6).

Gerlach: Though the office be divine, the incumbent may possess it illegally, and abuse it (Romans 13:1).—“Needs” here means not external compulsion, but the inward necessity of being obedient to God (Romans 13:5).

Lisco: The believer’s holy love is the fulfilment of the law; first of all, in relation to the powers that be (Romans 13:1 ff.).—Obedience is a matter of conscience with the Christian; it is an inward and sincere obedience (Romans 13:5).

Heubner: The Christian attitude toward the authorities (Romans 13:1 ff.).—The limits of obedience toward the powers that be are defined by conscience, faith, and God’s commandment; Acts 5:29 (Romans 13:1).—The Christian mode of obedience is free, pure, conscientious, and not from compulsion or fear (Romans 13:5).

Schleiermacher: On the proper relation of the Christian to his ruler. 1. How utterly improper it is for the Christian to be subject merely to avoid punishment; 2. How natural and necessary it is for him to be subject for conscience’ sake (preached in January, 1809); Romans 13:1-5.

[Henry: Magistrates act as God’s ministers: 1. In the administration of public justice; 2. The determining of quarrels; 3. The protecting of the innocent; 4. The righting of the wronged; 5. The punishing of offenders; 6. And the preserving of national peace and order, that every man may not do right in his own eyes.—Waterland: It is the duty of those in authority: 1. To correct those that needlessly and causelessly disturb the public tranquillity; 2. To remove those that libel the established religion, without offering any better, or an equivalent; 3. To curb the insolence and humble the pride of such as fly in the face of authority, and pretend, without commission or qualifications, to instruct, and, under that color, to insult their superiors.—Scott: As to the efforts which are anywhere made by those on whom trusts constitutionally devolve, to preserve, increase, or assist the real liberty of mankind, personal, civil, or religious, or to check the career of despotism or oppression over men of any climate, complexion, or religion: let us zealously forward them with our prayers, and by every mean consistent with the peace and good order of the community; and, if we would enjoy the blessing of good government, we should pray earnestly and constantly for our rulers, and all in authority; else we have no just cause to complain of any real or supposed grievances to which we may be subjected by them.—Clarke: When a ruler governs according to the constitution of his country, and has his heart and life governed by the laws of God, he is a double blessing to his people; while he is ruling carefully according to the laws, his pious example is a great means of extending and confirming the reign of pure morality among those whom he governs.—J. F. H.]


Romans 13:1; Romans 13:1.—[The word ἐξουσία, rendered power in the E. V., has, as its German equivalent: Obrigkeit. Dr. Lange expands ἐξουσίαις ὑπερεχούσαις into: den Obrigkeiten, den ihn überragenden Mächten. The rendering above is partly from Noyes, partly from the revision of Five Ang. Clergymen. Both of these versions substitute throughout, authority for power (E. V., Amer. Bible Union). The change is a happy one, since authority has both an abstract and a personal force, corresponding to that of ἑξουσία. Civil authority is, of course, intended.

Romans 13:1; Romans 13:1.—[א. A. B. D3. L., some fathers, read ὑπό; adopted by Lachmann. D1. E1. F., Origen, ἀπό; which is adopted by modern editors (except Tregelles), since it might readily be changed on account of the ὑπό immediately following, and also because the other reading would be tautological.

Romans 13:1; Romans 13:1.—[The Rec. inserts ἐξουσίαι after οὖσαι, with D3. L., some versions and fathers. It is omitted in א. A. B. D1. F., most versions and fathers. Later editors reject it. It would easily be written as an explanation. The Rec., also inserts τοῦ before θεοῦ, on very insufficient authority.

Romans 13:3; Romans 13:3.—[Instead of τῶν , ἀλλὰ τῶν κακῶν (Rec., D3. L., some fathers, Scholz), the reading: τῷἀγαθῷ ἒργῳ, ἀλλὰ τῷ κακῷ is supported by א. A. B. D1. F., many versions and fathers, Lachmann, Tischendorf, De Wette, Meyer, Philippi, Alford, Tregelles. Stuart and Hodge do not notice the correct reading, which was doubtless altered into that of the Rec., for the sake of supposed grammatical accuracy.

Romans 13:5; Romans 13:5.—[In D. F., and a few minor authorities, ἀνάγκη is omitted, and the infinitive ὑποτάσσεσθαι altered into the imperative ὑποτάσσεσθε. The Vulgate follows the reading ἀνάγκὑποτάσσεσθε. So Luther.

Romans 13:6; Romans 13:6.—[The E. V. has here, God’s ministers, and in Romans 13:4, the minister of God. The expressions are altered in both verses in the version of Five Ang. Clergymen, which I have followed, for this reason, that, in Romans 13:4, the idea of serving on behalf of God is implied in διάκονος; while here, that of serving or ministering to God, on behalf of the people (λειτουργοὶ θεοῦ) seems to be included also. It were perhaps still better to render διάκονος, servant, and reserve the word minister for this verse, as Noyes has done. “We could not vary the English rendering of διάκονος and λειτουργός, except by introducing some word like ‘officer,’ which would have had an awkward sound” (Five Ang. Clergymen).—R.]

[7][This exhortation was probably occasioned by the turbulent spirit of the Jews in Rome, who had been on this account banished from the city for a time by the Emperor Claudius (A. D. 51). Their messianic expectations assumed a carnal and political character, and were directed chiefly toward the external emancipation from the odious yoke of the heathen Romans. A few years after the date of the Epistle to the Romans, the spirit of revolt burst forth in open war, which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem (A. D. 70). The Jewish, and even the Gentile Christians, might readily be led away by this fanaticism, since the gospel proffered liberty, and they might not understand that it was mainly spiritual—moral freedom from the slavery of sin, out of which, by degrees, in the appointed way, a reformation and transformation of civil relations should proceed. Such mistakes have been common; e.g., the Peasant’s war, the Anabaptist tumults in the time of the Reformation, and many revolutions since the latter part of the last century. The attitude of Christ, His Apostles, and His Church down to the time of Constantine, toward the civil government, is truly sublime. They recognized in it an ordinance of God, despite its degeneracy, yielding to it, in all legitimate affairs, a ready obedience, despite the fact that they were persecuted by it with fire and sword. It should be remembered that this exhortation was addressed to the Romans, when the cruelties and crimes of a Tiberius, Caligula, and Claudius were in yet fresh remembrance, and when the monster Nero sat on the imperial throne—the same Nero who, a few years later, wantonly and mercilessly persecuted the Christians, condemning the Apostles Paul and Peter to a martyr’s death. It was, however, by just such Christian conduct, in contrast with such cruelty, that Christ’s Church won the moral victory over the Roman Empire and heathendom. Under the influence of such precepts, the early Church was “great in deeds, greater in sufferings, greatest in death, for the honor of Christ and the benefit of generations to come;” thus she was enabled to “overcome evil with good.”—P. S.]

[8][Without anticipating the discussion in the Doctrinal Notes, it may be well to remark here, that while this phrase has been used very frequently in the interest of the divine right of kings, such an application is rather an accident than a necessary inference from the Apostle’s proposition. The theologians of Germany are apt to turn this against the revolutionary tendencies of Europe, &c.; but should the government under which they live in any way become republican, or ultra-democratic, then consistency must lead them to concede to such authorities also the jus divinum. The simple, pellucid meaning of the Apostle is, that civil government is necessary, and of Divine appointment. We infer that anarchy is as godless as it is inhuman; that magistrates are not “the servants of the people,” nor do they derive their authority from the people, but from God, even though chosen by the people; that republican officials, no less than the hereditary monarchs, can subscribe themselves, “by the grace of God.” Unless the principle be of universal implication, anarchy will be justified somewhere. This principle, moreover, respects the office, not the character of the magistrate; not the abstract authority, indeed, but the concrete rulers, whatever their character. If it be deemed too sweeping, then its self-imposed limitation has been overlooked. For as the obedience is demanded because of God’s appointment, then it is not demanded in matters contrary to God’s appointment. When the civil power contradicts God’s Word and His voice in our conscience, then it contradicts and subverts its own authority. Herein the superior wisdom of Christian ethics is manifest. Human self-will leads to anarchy, human power to despotism; but obedience to de facto rulers as a Christian duty has led, and must lead, to true civil freedom, since it alone makes the individual truly free, and, by asserting the higher law as the basis of the lower authority, ever elevates the lower authority nearer the Divine Law. For, as Alford observes of the duty here laid down: “To obtain, by lawful means, the removal or alteration of an unjust or unreasonable law, is another part of this duty; for all powers among men must be in accord with the highest power, the moral sense.” And the elevation of the moral sense of individuals will accomplish more than revolutions, however justifiable and necessary.—R.]

[9][The view of Calvin, Philippi, Hodge, Alford, and others, that this verse gives an additional ground for obedience, viz., that magistrates, besides being ordained of God, are appointed for a useful and beneficent purpose, has much to commend it. Dr. Lange seems to be led toward such exclusive references as bear against revolution.—R.]

[10][In thus presenting an ideal of civil government (as most commentators suppose), the Apostle gives both the reason for obedience to rightful authority, and makes room for resistance to rulers who utterly and entirely depart from this ideal. Wordsworth, however, takes decided ground against any right of insurrection, and adds: “But even suppose a Nero, and a Nero persecuting the Church; yet even then you may have praise therefrom. You may overcome his evil by your good; you may be more than conqueror—you may derive glory from it. For though it is unjust and condemns you, yet God is just and will reward you. He will crown you for acting justly, and for suffering unjustly. Therefore hold fast your justice, and whether the power acquits or condemns you, you will reap praise from it. If you die for the faith from its hand, you will reap glory from its fury. Augustine (Serm. 13:302).” Yet even this author admits that the Apostle “charitably presumes rulers to be what, being God’s ministers, they ought to be.” This is virtually the presentation of an ideal, the non-realization of which implies certain limitations to absolute submission.—R.]

[11][Melanchthon thus strongly puts the case: Nulla potentia humana, nulli exercitus magis muriunt imperia, quam hæc severissima lex Dei: necesse est obedire propter conscientiam.”—R.]

[12][The original says Meyer, but gives the very words of Philippi; while Meyer (4th ed., without any indication of change of view) defends the wider reference, among other reasons, because the verb, which includes a moral idea, would be inapplicable to the mere collection of taxes. The great thought, ministers of God, seems to be the controlling one. Stuart, Hodge, and the older commentators, prefer the other reference, which, perhaps, to a certain extent, implies this.—R.]

[13][Jowett escapes all the difficulties of this section, by intimating that the Apostle’s exhortation has a reference only to the Roman Christians in their then circumstances. He thinks many a scriptural precept is abused because not thus limited, and adds, respecting the Apostle: “It never occurred to him that the hidden life, which he thought of only as to be absorbed in the glory of the sons of God, was one day to be the governing principle of the civilized world.” It is not likely to be so long, if all its professed possessors pare down the scriptural precepts in this fashion.—R.]

[14][From the expression, “God’s minister to thee for good,” the relative excellence of the different forms of government must be determined, since this is the only rule laid down, and an empirical one at best. So long as a popular government best fulfils this Divine purpose, so long will men gladly lay down their lives, that “the government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth” (Pres. Lincoln at Gettysburg Cemetery.—R.]

Verses 7-14

Fourth Section.—Proper conduct toward the world in general. Legal fellowship with the world. Recognition of the rights of the world in the justice and also in the strength of love for our neighbor. Separation from the ungodliness of the ancient world (the darkness of heathenism). Universalism, and its sanctification through true separatism.

Romans 13:7-14

7Render therefore [omit therefore]15 to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.8Owe no man any thing, out [except] to love one another: for he that [who]loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness [omit Thou shalt not bear false witness],16 Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely,17 Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.18 10Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling [love therefore is the fulfilment] of the11law. And that [this the rather because],19 knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake20 out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when webelieved. 12The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast offthe works of darkness, and21 let us put on the armour of light. 13Let us walk honestly [seemly],22 as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chamberingand wantonness, not in strife and envying: 14But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not [do not make]23 provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.


Preliminary Remark.—This section is connected by Romans 13:7 with the preceding. While the previous section defines the relation of Christians to the State to which they belong as citizens, the present section, on the other hand, regulates their relation to the world in general, in its friendly and hostile side, in fellowship and repulsion; and Romans 13:7 treats of their relation to authorities in the world in general. We have not merely to do with our own civil authorities and our own State, but also with foreign States and dignitaries. The traveller does not have to pay tribute to a foreign State, but he has to pay duty; in all cases we should exhibit becoming honor and respect toward every one. According to Tholuck, Romans 13:7 contains “a summary of the various duties toward all kinds of authorities; first of all, toward the subordinate tax-officers, then to judges and magistrates.”

[The view of Tholuck, which is that of Meyer, Philippi, Alford, and most, implies that Romans 13:7 belongs to the preceding section. At first sight this division seems correct; but, really, Romans 13:7 is both a hortatory summing up of what precedes, and a transition to the more general admonitions which follow. If οὖν be read (see Textual Note1), the former becomes more prominent; if omitted, the latter.—R.]

Romans 13:7. Render to all their dues [ἀπόδοτε πᾶσιν τὰς ὀφειλάς]. Πᾶσιν. According to Estius, Klee, and others, this refers to all men; according to Meyer [Philippi, and many others], it refers merely to magistrates, as if our respect were due to them alone! The antithesis is: Owe no man any thing.

Tribute to whom tribute is due [τῷ τὸνφόρον τὸν φόρον]. Tholuck, Meyer, and others, would supplement ἀπόδοτε by a ἀπαιτοῦντι. But the addition is already indicated in the τὰς ὀφειλάς, and ὀφείλετε follows immediately afterward. Fear and honor are asked from nobody, not even by magistrates, in the form of paying tribute and duty; and even with tribute and duty we should not wait until compelled to pay them. Grotius has supplied ὀφείλεται; Köllner, ὀφείλετε; against which Meyer observes, that it is philologically incorrect, because τῷ does not stand for ᾧ. But were ᾧ the reading, the idea of an organic distribution would easily arise; this was avoided by the Apostle’s placing τῷ contractively for τούτω̣. According to Grotius, simply the Art. prœpositivus is placed for the subjunctives, which is reversed in Rom 14:2-5.24

Custom [τὸ τέλος]. Grotius: Vectigalia pro mercibus dantur, tributa pro solo aut capite. We must, at all events, understand here, by custom, the Roman internal tax on goods. [As tribute was due to home authorities, while custom, duties, &c., are due to foreign authorities as well, there seems to be an extension of thought beyond the obligations referred to in Romans 13:1-6. Bengel is quite incorrect in making φόρος the genus, and τέλος the species.—R.]

[Fear, τὸν φόβον; honor, τὴν τιμήν. Those who confine the reference to magistrates, apply the former word to the proper sentiment and conduct toward the higher magistrates, especially judges, the latter to magistrates in general (Meyer, Philippi). De Wette, however, refers the former to judges, the latter to magistrates in general, especially the higher ones; while Alford refers “φόβος to those set over us and having power; τιμή, to those, but likewise to all on whom the State has conferred distinction.” If the wider view of the verse be accepted, then (with Hodge, Webster and Wilkinson, and others) the one means the reverence paid to superiors, the other, the courtesy due to equals.—R.]

Romans 13:8. Owe no man any thing [μηδενὶ μηδὲν ὀφείλετε. Dr. Lange renders: Bleibt Niemand und Nichts schuldig, which he considers an improvement of the old version: Niemand nichts.—R.] The four preceding categories are here generalized to the idea of the universal duty to our neighbor. Tholuck is doubly inexact when he says: “The Apostle proceeds from the duties of subjects to universal Christian duties.” [De Wette: “The Apostle proceeds at once from the vestibule of morality into her very domain.”—R.]

Except to love one another [εἰ μὴ τὸἀλλήλους . Philippi: “A Pauline argute dictum or acumen.”—R.] In relation to the definite discharges of duty, the Christian should strive to perfectly discharge, and to keep discharged, his duty in every direction; in relation to love, as the source of duties, he should, on the other hand, be conscious, and constantly be more so, of an infinite and permanent indebtedness. The duties are externally a finitum, but the duty of loving our neighbor remains an infinitum. And the more clear the Christian becomes on one, the more clear he becomes on the other. [Bengel: “Amare, debitum immortale. Si amabatis, nil debetis, nam amor implet legem. Amare, libertas est.” So most commentators from the times of Chrysostom. Augustine: “Semper debeo charitatem quœ sola etiam reddita retinet debitorem” (Ep. 62).—R.]

Ὀφείλετε is not indicative (Reiche, and others), but imperative,[25] by which the sentence, “except to love one another,” must be understood thus: except that which you cannot pay as a debt. Meyer emphasizes the subjective rendering: Consider yourselves as debtors of love. Even in the “Owe no man any thing” there is undoubtedly an appeal made to the consciousness and its method of action.

Hath fulfilled the law. Πεπλήρωκε. [Perfect of completed action (Meyer).—R.] It is by love that the fulfilment of the law is fundamentally decided; Romans 14:13. Reiche, and others: Id quod in lege summum est. Instead of this, we must place: Quod legis principium est. That no justification is here implied, is plain, first, from the fact that the Apostle regards this loving as possible only on the ground of justification; and second, from the fact that he lays down this loving, emphatically construed, as an ideal which has not been reached so long as we are still universal debtors in individual matters.

[Although Romans 13:9 shows that the Mosaic law is meant, yet it is to be doubted whether there is any “apologetic reference to the upholders of the law” (Alford). When De Wette says: “He who practises love, the higher duty, has, even before he does this, fulfilled the law, the lower,” he seems to ignore the true position of the law in the Christian dispensation. “The law, as a rule of gratitude, is completely fulfilled by love,” seems a better view. For the former part of the verse implies that we never attain to this, but still “owe” this love increasingly. Hence the reference here is to the completed ideal. “The expression implies more than a simple performance of the precepts of the law; true love does more than this: it adds a completeness to the performance. It reaches those lesser courtesies and sympathies which cannot be digested into a code and reduced to rule. To the bare framework of law, which is as the bones and sinews, it adds the flesh which fills it, and the life which actuates it” (Webster and Wilkinson).—R.]

Romans 13:9. For this, Thou shalt not, &c. [τὸγὰρ οὐ, κ.τ.λ.] It is self-evident that the Apostle does not take the negative commandments of the Decalogue in a merely literal sense. This is clear also from the prominence which he gives to the last: Thou shalt not covet (Luther: Covet nothing; an emphasizing of the object; Romans 7:7 is against this). It also follows, from the fact that this perfect negative conduct is not conceivable without a corresponding positive conduct. Tholuck: “In the enumeration of the commandments in Romans 13:9, that respecting adultery precedes the one respecting! murder. There is the same order in Codd. Alex. LXX., Exodus 6:0.; the same in Philo, and in the New Testament, James 2:11; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20. Philo establishes it, by saying: adultery is the most heinous crime.” For further particulars, see Tholuck, p. 694.

Briefly comprehended. Ἀνακεφαλαιοῦν; see Ephesians 1:10. In the expression there is comprised the idea, that all which is explained from the principle (for example, the Ten Commandments from the law of love) is again summed up in the fulfilment of the principle. Therefore not merely συντόμως (Chrysostom). [So Meyer, Tholuck, Philippi: recapitulated; De Wette, Alford: brought under one head. Dr. Lange includes both ideas. Briefly might be omitted from the E. V. with propriety.—R.]

Romans 13:10. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor. [Philippi remarks that the Greeks usually write ἐργάζεσθαὶ τινά τι, while Paul here has: τῷπλησίον κακὸν οὐκ ἐργάζεται.—R.] The Apostle’s maxim, in the form of an oxymoron, substantiates what has already been said, since love appears as the great positive fulfilment of the law, because it worketh no ill to the neighbor. The perfection (defined, in the main, negatively) of the Decalogue becomes the measure of the perfection (defined, in the main, positively) of the gospel.

[Love therefore is the fulfilment of the law, πλήρωμα οὖν νόμου ἡ . Fulfilment, rather than “fulfilling,” which would be the proper rendering of πλήρωσις. Meyer: “In the love to one’s neighbor, that takes place by means of which the law is fulfilled.” He further adds, that, in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Paul gives a commentary on love’s working no ill, &c. Comp. Galatians 5:14, Lange’s Comm., pp. 135 ff.—R.]

Romans 13:11. And this, knowing the time [καὶτοῦτο εἰδότες τὸν καιρόν. Dr. Lange: “And knowing this, we know also the time,” &c. See below.—R.] According to Bengel, καὶ τοῦτο must be supplemented by ποιεῖτε; according to Estius, by agere debemus (Tholuck, ποιῶμεν). Meyer goes back to the precept in Romans 13:8 : μηδενὶ. Yet not only is that precept quite remote, but there is also here a change from the second person to the first. If we look at the actual connection, the Apostle cannot simply say: Let us do that—love our neighbor as ourselves. The more direct thought is: Let us discharge all our obligations, for we know that the end is nigh. But the Apostle does not say: “the end is nigh,” but, “the day of salvation is nigh.” Therefore it is advisable to accept an ellipsis: καὶ τοῦτο εἰδότες τὸν καιρὸν οἲδαμεν, or, εἰδότες ἐσμέν. Because we know that love, which fulfils the law, is present, we know the importance of the time, namely, that the time of perfect salvation is nigh. To what extent? Because, by love, the works of night must vanish—adultery, murder, theft, covetousness; therefore the day of the complete righteousness of life must dawn. If this combination be deemed doubtful, Meyer’s construction should then be preferred.

[Dr. Lange’s view is indeed doubtful. On the whole, it seems unnecessary to supply any thing, but rather (with Hodge, Meyer, Philippi, and many others) to take και as = et quidem, and indeed, the rather, and to refer τοῦτο to what precedes—i.e., to the injunction of Romans 13:8, as afterwards expanded. This is classical usage, though ταῦτα is more common in such cases than τοῦτο. The demonstrative pronoun is thus used “to mark the importance of the connection between two circumstances for the case in hand” (Hodge). Luther and Glöckler confuse the construction, by joining τοῦτο with εἰδότες. The participle is not = considering (Grotius, Hodge, and others), but is causal, since ye know.—The time. This is explained by the next clause, that it is high time.—R.]

To awake out of sleep [ἐξ ὕπνου ἐγερθῆναι. Dr. Lange paraphrases thus in his text: “to fully arise, or, that we should immediately have arisen.”—R.] How very metaphorical a meaning the Apostle gives to the word, as a designation of the sleep of sin, and of the darkness and bondage of the judgment of conscience by the blindness of sin, is plain from his subsequently describing just this excited, external watching, as works of darkness. According to Reiche, ὕπνος is an image of the Christian’s condition on earth; this is opposed by Meyer, p. 481. [This condition of sleep is that of Christians also, as the verse obviously implies, but only relatively so (Philippi, De Wette, and others).—R.]

For now is our salvation nearer [νῦνγὰρ ἐγγύτερον ἡμῶνσωτηρία]. With Luther, and most commentators, we refer the ἡμῶν to ἡ σωτηρία, and not, with Meyer, to ἐγγύτερον; because it would not be like Paul to say that salvation, absolutely considered, is already brought nearer to us believers. Σωτηρία is here the completion of the redemptive salvation of the messianic kingdom. Therefore Meyer says: “This kingdom begins by means of the second coming of Christ, which Paul regarded near (Usteri, Lehrbegriff, p. 355). It was by not recognizing this—although Paul brings so impressively into the calculation the short time from his conversion to the period of his writing—that men have been induced to accept very preposterous interpretations; for example, that salvation by death is meant (Photius, and others), or the destruction of Jerusalem, which was of good results for Christianity (according to the earlier commentators, and also Michaelis), or the inward σωτηρία, the spiritual salvation of Christianity (Moras, and others).”

According to Tholuck, we can only grant that Paul indulged the hope of the speedy coming of Christ—perhaps even to live to see it—but yet that he had no fixed period of time for it. According to Meyer’s rude view, we would have to imagine, with the Ebionites, a twofold σωτηρία; one of which, the spiritual salvation, has already happened; the other, the second coming of Christ, is near at hand, while between the two there is to be a gloomy period. But this is not the view of the Apostle. Rather, the first or principial σωτηρία, which is already the saving possession of Christians, is in the course of permanent and full development toward the final, peripherical salvation. There is a daily progress from σωτηρία to σωτηρία. And, particularly with Paul, a new era of the development of σωτηρία will come, after Christianity shall have spread from Rome throughout the whole West, which, according to the purpose of the Epistle, is near at hand; and, with this Christianization of the Roman world, the completed σωτηρία will be brought nearer. These great, vital, and dynamic views of the Apostle are very different from the modern assumptions of the Parousia imputed to him. Tholuck: “The period from the appearance of the regnum gloriœ, when compared with its glory, is described as a nocturnal period. Spiritual sleep will be shaken off when the regnum gratiœ comes to men (Colossians 1:12-13); and how much more will this be the fact when the regnum gloriœ approaches!”

[Stuart, Hodge, Webster and Wilkinson, and a large class of commentators, understand by σωτηρία, the consummation of salvation in eternity—deliverance from the present evil world. Dr. Hodge objects at some length to the reference to the second coming of Christ. On the other hand, most modern German commentators defend this reference. Olshausen, De Wette, Philippi, Meyer, and others, think no other view in the least degree tenable; and Dr. Lange, while careful to guard against extreme theories on this point, denies the reference to eternal blessedness, and admits that the Parousia is intended. This opinion gains ground among Anglo-Saxon exegetes. The main objection to it is thus met by Dean Alford: “Without denying the legitimacy of an individual application of this truth, and the importance of its consideration for all Christians of all ages, a fair exegesis of this passage can hardly fail to recognize the fact that the Apostle, here as well as elsewhere (1 Thessalonians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 15:51), speaks of the coming of the Lord as rapidly approaching.” As to this being inconsistent with inspiration, he refers to Mark 13:32 : “Of that day and hour knoweth no man,” &c. “The fact that the nearness or distance of that day was unknown to the Apostles, in no way affects the prophetic announcements of God’s Spirit by them, concerning its preceding and accompanying circumstances. The ‘day and hour’ formed no part of their inspiration; the details of the event did. And this distinction has singularly and providentially turned out to the edification of all subsequent ages. While the prophetic declarations of the events of that time remain to instruct us, the eager expectation of the time, which they expressed in their day, has also remained, a token of the true frame of mind in which each succeeding age (and each succeeding age à fortiori) should contemplate the ever-approaching coming of the Lord. On the certainty of the event, our faith is grounded; by the uncertainty of the time, our hope is stimulated and our watchfulness aroused.” This ignorance of the time of the coming of Christ Dr. Hodge himself brings forward, yet not to account for the expectation so much as to deny it. It is difficult for an unlettered believer to read the New Testament and not find this expectation, while even the most learned commentators now find it.—R.]

Than when we believed. (Calvin, and others), Luther says incorrectly: Than when we believed it. [The aorist refers to the definite time, when we first believed. So 1 Corinthians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 15:2, &c.—R.]

Romans 13:12. The night is far spent, &c. [ἡ νὺξ προέκοψεν, κ.τ.λ.] According to Meyer, the night would be the time before the second coming of Christ; and the near day, on the other hand, the second coming itself. Certainly we do not read: “The night is gone, but the day is come.” But it does not follow from this that Paul supposed that the day would not break until the second coming. The day will break a hundred times, in ever greater potencies, between the first and the second coming of Christ. Consequently, a chronological antithesis is not here in question. The night is the spiritual condition of heathen Rome; the breaking day is the future of Christian Rome. Ἡ νὺξ προέκοψεν. [The sense of the passage in itself considered is perfectly plain; but the precise reference is determined by the view taken of Romans 13:11. Admitting such recurring daybreaks as Dr. Lange suggests, they are still only preludes to “that day” when there shall be “no night.”—R.]

Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness [ὰποθώμεθα οὖν τὰ ἒργα τοῦ σκότους. The verb should be rendered: put off, if the figure of clothing be admitted; put away, if Dr. Lange’s view be accepted.—R.] Meyer: “As one lays off his clothing. This view (against Fritzsche) corresponds to the correlative ἐνδυσώμεθα; comp. on Ephesians 4:22.” [So De Wette, Philippi, Harless, Hodge, Alford, Webster and Wilkinson, Jowett, and most.—R.] But the works of darkness are not the same as the clothing of night. There is a difference between nocturnal revels and nocturnal clothing. The moral side of the heathen, and especially the Roman, night-life, moves before the Apostle, and he makes it designate evil works in moral darkness in general. The Roman of that time, giving himself up to dissolute nocturnal feasts and works of debauchery, but, on the return of day, assuming the favorite Roman costume of arms—a very perceptible contrast to these Roman Christians—is presented to them by the Apostle as a picture of a moral and religious contrast.

And let us put on the armour of light [ἐνδυσώμεθα δὲ τἂ ὂπλα τοῦ φωτός. See Textual Note7]. Not instruments (Morus), clothes (Beza, and others), shining arms (Grotius), but the armor which the Roman wears by day, as a figure of the spiritual means of conflict, and of the conflicts which belong to the light; they are presented by it, and wielded in its element (see Ephesians 6:13). The light is the master from whom, for whom, and with whom, this armor Isaiah 26:0Ἐνδύεσθαι. Tholuck: “The figure of most intimate union with Christ, as the garment with the body; Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10. Also in the classics, see Wetstein.”

Romans 13:13. Let us walk seemly, as in the day [ὡς ἐν ἡμέρᾳ εὐσχημόνως περιπατήσωμεν]. As if that day had already come, when it will be a characteristic of public respectability to live a moral Christian life, and therefore to live decorously. Εὐσχημόνως [referring to the moral decorum of the conduct (Meyer).—R.], 1 Thessalonians 4:12; 1Co 7:35; 1 Corinthians 14:40, because that day is already breaking.

Not in rioting, &c. [Webster and Wilkinson: “Three classes of sins are specified, to each of which two words are appropriated, viz., intemperance, impurity, discord: the first, public or social vice; the second, private and secret vice; the third, ecclesiastico-political vice, the vice infecting communities even Christian.” To this must be added Meyer’s remark, that the three members stand in the internal relation of cause and effect. Comp. Galatians 5:19-21 (Lange’s Comm., p. 138), where five of the six words are found.—R.]—Κώμοις, carousals.27 Meyer translates, “with nocturnal riotings,” by regarding the following dative as the dative of manner. This will not apply well to περιπατεῖν. [Philippi takes the datives as local, which seems the simplest view. Fritzsche, dat. commodi.—R.]—Chambering, κοὶταις [congressibus venereis], feasts of debauchery, rendezvous, chambers and houses of debauchery, works of debauchery itself.—[Wantonness, ἀσελγεἰαις. On this word, see Tittmann, Syn., p. 151. The plural shows that the various manifestations of wantonness are referred to.—R.]—Envying, ζήλω̣, jealousy. The reverse side of nocturnal lusts and pleasures is nocturnal quarrels, especially matters of jealousy, and the forms still prevailing among the works of darkness in our day, especially in Italy and Spain.

Romans 13:14. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ. Ἐνδύεσθαι, Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10. [Hodge: “To be intimately united to Him, so that He, and not we, may appear.” So De Wette, Philippi, &c.—R.] Tholuck: “Christ was already put on at baptism, Galatians 3:27; but this ἐνδύεσθαι, just as the being light, must also be continually renewed. Besides, we must take into consideration the aorist form: The putting on as a garment denotes the entrance of the most intimate communion.” Meyer: “Even in the classics, ἐνδύεσθαὶ τινα denotes assuming somebody’s manner of thought and action.”

And make not provision for the flesh, &c. [καἰ τῆς σαρκὸς πρόνοιαν μὴ ποιεῖσθε εἰς ἐπιθυμίας. Dr. Lange: Und die Pflege des Fleisches macht euch nicht zur pflege der Lüste; and of the care of the flesh do not make for yourselves a care of its lusts. The order of the Greek seems to favor this, but this implies a proper care of the flesh; so that this can only be a tenable view provided σάρξ does not have an ethical sense here. On this point, see below.—R.] Luther’s translation is doubly incorrect: Take care of the body, yet so that, &c. First, the sentence is not divided into a positive and negative precept; second, the question is concerning the σάρξ, and not concerning the σῶμα. The sentence contains the expression of the moral limitation of the external perception of a self-evident duty. The duty is πρόνοια τῆς σαρκός; the enjoined limitation is the μὴ εἰς ἐπιθ. According to Fritzsche, σάρξ can only be understood as care libidinosa, and therefore the whole sentence is a prohibition. Tholuck and Meyer, on the other hand, observe that the σάρξ, understood in this sense as sensual lust, should even be crucified; Galatians 5:24. Meyer describes the σάρξ, as it is here understood, as the lower animal part of man, the fountain and seat of sensual and sinful desires, in antithesis to the πνεῦμα. His calling σάρξ the material of the σῶμα, is better. [Philippi: “σάρξ has here a purely physiological sense.”—R.] Tholuck cites Galen’s medical usus loquendi to prove that the πρόνοια must be understood as care sensu bono; but Ephesians 5:29 and 1 Corinthians 12:23 are of special application here. The distinction between what is vicious in the true care of the flesh, as is shown particularly in respectable clothing—to which the antithesis, “put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ,” specially refers—is not merely expressed by the μὴ εἰς ἐπιθυμὶας: not so that the ἐπιθυμίαι arise from it; but also by the middle: ποιεῖσθε, make for yourselves, in which reference is made to the subjective self-deception, the πράξεις τοῦ σώματος in the gratification of sensuous necessities.

[The view given above is, in the main, that of De Wette, Philippi, and many others. It opposes Luther’s limitation of the negative to εἰς ἐπιθυμίας, but does not take the whole passage as prohibitory. Hodge, Stuart, Alford, and others, render (as in E. V.): Make no provision (whatever) for the flesh (the carnal nature, in the ethical sense) to fulfil its lusts (so as to fulfil them, and also, because such provision would fulfil them; the result and object blended in the thought). The objections to this view are, that πρόνοια is used generally in a good sense; that the prohibition is too mild, if flesh were used in the ethical sense, &c. But the ethical sense has been the prevalent one in the Epistle. The grammatical difficulty is very slight, since μή has suffered a slight trajection. Besides, the order seems to have been chosen to give prominence and emphasis to σαρκός; such emphasis is altogether unnecessary, unless it has its ethical force. Its prominent position brings it into obvious contrast with Ἰησοῦν χριστόν; this contrast of itself seems to determine the meaning. These latter considerations seem to have escaped the German commentators. Comp. Alford also, who claims that the order would have been different had Paul designed to convey the meaning defended by Meyer, &c.—R.]


1. The debt of love denotes the duty of love for our neighbor, as, according to the law, it is a requirement of infinite force; and, according to the believer’s new principle of life, it is an infinitely impulsive power. The unity of this debt divides itself into the differently formed obligations of various duties to our neighbor.
2. Love is the fulfilment of the law: (1) So far as the whole law is only an outline of love to be filled up. (2) So far as it precludes every transgression of the law. (3) On the other hand, every commandment is realized as a vital principle in the new life. It is as love that God has given the law, as our call to our destination. It is as love that Christ has fulfilled the law for our reconciliation. It is as love that the law of the Spirit lives in our faith, and, by the fellowship of Christ, supplies the defects of our deeds, so that, in the imitation of Christ, that fellowship may ever be elevated higher and higher.
3. The new era of love, a dayspring of the new era of light, with which the completion of salvation approaches.
4. If we would define more specifically the relation of Paul, as well as of all the apostles, to the second coming of Christ, we must distinguish: (1) Between the religious measure [Zeitmass, measure of time] of God’s kingdom, and the chronological measure of the world; (2) Between the apostolical prospect of a future of glory which will be unfolded every day in new morning periods, and the meagreness of the Ebionitic idea, which has only a marvellous meteor of the Parousia, on the one hand, far behind it, and, on the other, far before it, while it finds itself placed in a troublous period and an ordinary course of the world. The present age in principle ceased at the death and resurrection of Christ, and the future age is already present in the heart of the Church and in the world’s great crisis of development, though everywhere still externally surrounded by the nocturnal shades of the old age. And because it has been long present in principle, and in power breaks forth every day more gloriously, our full salvation is brought continually nearer, particularly in all the great epochs of the extensive and intensive enlargement of God’s kingdom—all of which are presages of the Parousia, which is infinitely near to religious anticipation, and yet, chronologically, is indeterminably remote. All that must still precede that external Parousia, Paul indicates in Romans 11:0. and 2 Thessalonians 2:0, and John elaborately describes in figures in the Book of Revelation.

5. The very fact that wickedness seeks the veil of night, is a witness for God’s word; and as night is an image of spiritual darkness, and day is an image of spiritual and heavenly light, so are the works of night—sleep, on the one hand, and sinful nocturnal deeds on the other—images of different forms of spiritual corruption, the gross sins, which, indeed, are not only figures, but also phenomena, of spiritual corruptions. On the other hand, the putting on of the day, the armor of the day, have their spiritual meaning. The armor was a very striking figure to the Romans in particular.
6. The two great antitheses of nocturnal life: Lust and strife, pleasure and murder.
7. With the salvation of Christianity to the believer there has also broken for humanity the morning of morality, of good manners, and of true decorum.

8. The 13th verse is an imperishable reminder of Augustine’s conversion (see Conf. Romans 8:12; Romans 8:28).


Romans 13:7. To every one his due! The Christian’s royal motto: 1. In reference to his relation to the civil authority; 2. In his intercourse with every man.

Heubner: The respect which we, as Christians, owe to the civil authorities, is more than the external fulfilment of duty.

Romans 13:8-10. Perseverance in love. It is: 1. In respect to our neighbor a debt, which never can be paid; 2. In respect to the law, it is its fulfilment (Romans 13:8-10).—The debt of love toward our neighbor. 1. It is a very great debt; a. because there are so many creditors; b. because their demands constitute a very important total; c. because it can never be completely cancelled. 2. But it is nevertheless a sweet debt; a. because it is not thoughtlessly paid; b. because it harmonizes with God’s commandment; c. because even the attempt to discharge it makes the heart very happy (Romans 13:8-10).—The debt of love is the only debt of the Christian toward his neighbor which is not only permissible, but even commanded (Romans 13:8).—The commandment of love toward our neighbor as the substance of all the commandments of the second table (Romans 13:9).—Why does love work no ill to the neighbor? 1. Because it proceeds from the root of God’s eternal love for men; 2. Because it will serve God in the neighbor (Romans 13:10).—Love the fulfilment of the law: 1. The truth of this apostolic sentiment; 2. The importance of it (Romans 13:10).

Starke: The heart is known by its behavior, just as the sun is by its beams (Romans 13:9).—Christ’s garden not only produces no injurious trees, but even no useless ones (Romans 13:10).—Hedinger: The eternal debt of love! Be not weary, brethren! He who loves, will be loved in return; though it be not by the thankless world, it will be by God (Romans 13:8).—Let no one excuse himself on the ground of ignorance; let no one say, “Who would know the many commandments and prohibitions?” The whole law is contained in the one word love; Micah 6:8 (Romans 13:9).

Spener: There is one debt which we all owe—to love one another; that is such a debt, that, if we should daily count it up, it would always remain just as great as it had been (Romans 13:8).—Though a thing may sometimes appear to be forbidden, if love requires it, it is not forbidden, but rather commanded; on the other hand, sometimes something may appear to be commanded, but if it is in conflict with love, it is not commanded (Romans 13:10).

Gerlach: The debt of love is never wholly payable; its fulfilment increases the demands made upon it, for it makes love warmer (Romans 13:8).

Lisco: The believer’s holy love fulfils its obligations even toward every body without exception (Romans 13:8-10).—The one requirement of love is divided into two chief commandments, in Matthew 22:37-40.—Heubner: The magnitude of the commandment of love (Romans 13:8-10).—The harmonizing of the Divine should and the human would can only take place by love; by it, compulsion is transformed into freedom (Romans 13:9).—Every wicked thing is invariably an unkindness (Romans 13:10).

Besser: He who shows love to another in order to get clear of him, has not love (Romans 13:8).

Schweizer: Love, the fulfilment of the law, or, love performs what the law cannot obtain. The law does not deliver us: 1. Because it is a multiplicity of commandments and prohibitions, which perplex us; 2. Because it pronounces a curse on every one who transgresses a single point; 3. Because it is presented to us as an external power issuing its commands to us; 4. Because it takes refuge in threats and promises. Christian love is the contrary of all this.

Romans 13:8-10. The Pericope for the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany.—Thym: The royal law of love toward our neighbor: 1. Its great necessity; 2. Its inward nature; 3. Its indescribable blessing.—Harless: Love is the fulfilment of the law. 1. The law, a. which makes love for us an indebtedness; b. and therefore proves it to be our debt. 2. Love, a. which knows no indebtedness except to love; b. and therefore does not come from the law, but from faith.—Heubner: The simplicity of Christian virtue: 1. It proceeds from one spirit of humility and love; 2. All its effects harmonize in one—the manifestation of love.

Romans 13:11-14. The decided breach of believing Christians with darkness: 1. Wherefore should we break off from it? a. because it is time to do it; b. because it is high time. 2. In what should this breach consist? a. in laying off the works of darkness; α. gross, sensual sins; β. subtle, inward sins; b. in putting on the armor of light; a. in walking honestly as in the day; β. in putting on the Lord Jesus Christ (or, α. civil righteousness; β. righteousness of faith).

Luther: Do not torture the body excessively by the intolerable holiness of watching, fasting, and freezing, as the hypocrites do (Romans 13:14).

Starke: I must show outwardly what I am inwardly. Those who are inwardly good, must also have a good form and color (Romans 13:13).—Quesnel: Time passes by, and eternity presses on (Romans 13:11).—Müller: There is many a thing and idea comprised in putting on Christ; our Christianity is not a stagnant existence, but a growth; it is no leap, but a walk (Romans 13:12).—The armor of light well becomes a Christian. We must either clothe ourselves with darkness or with light (Romans 13:12).

Spener: Let us put on the Lord Jesus Christ. But we put Him on once by the belief that we receive, as our possession, His righteousness and merit, which He has imparted to us, and that we shall appear in them alone before God’s throne. We afterward put Him on also by godly imitation, in walking as Christ has walked (Romans 13:14).

Lisco: The one care for the body, in bestowing upon it what is necessary, is natural; the other is sinful, when the lusts and desires of the body are provided for (Romans 13:14).

Heubner: Christian watchfulness (Romans 13:11-14). Christian knowledge of the time. The time of Christianity is a time of salvation (Romans 13:11).—There are many awakening voices: Public services—preachers—every stroke of the bell—the Bible (Romans 13:11).—The Christian is not a night-walker, a nocturnal rioter, but a walker by day (Romans 13:13).—Temperance, chastity, love—three great prime virtues (Romans 13:13).—Schweizer: Blissful joy at the Reformation as a rising light (Sermon on the Anniversary Day of the Reformation).

Romans 13:11-14. The Pericope for the First Sunday of Advent.—Heubner: The call of Christianity is a call to awake from spiritual sleep.—The appeal of Christian watchmen: 1. It is day; the sun is risen! 2. Awake, arise! 3. Be purified to new life! 4. Put on Christ!—Nagel: The awakening voice with which the Church appeals to us on its holydays, tells us: 1. What time it Isaiah 2:0. What it is high time to do.—Kapff: The advent message: 1. As a message of salvation and joy; 2. As a message for penitence and renewal.—Florey: The advent season is a holy morning-time of the heart and life.—Harless: The festal ornament well-pleasing to Christ: 1. A watchful eye, to see the night that covers the earth; 2. An enlightened eye, to behold the day which has come; 3. A willing heart, to do what the day requires.—Petri: What time is it for us? 1. To arise from sleep; 2. To put on the armor of light.—Rautenberg: What belongs to rising from sleep? 1. To open the eyes aright; 2. To put on the right garment; 3. To take up the right armor.—Thym: Paul’s vigorous advent preaching: 1. On the advent time; 2. On the advent duties; 3. On the advent blessing.

[Farindon, on Romans 13:14 : Look into Christ’s wardrobe, and you will find no torn or ragged apparel. Christ had the robe of righteousness, the garment of innocency, the spotless coat of temperance and chastity, and with these He went about doing good. Out of this wardrobe we must make up our wedding garment. We must be conformable to Christ. In the rule of our obedience, we must not wear a garment of our own fancying, an irregular, an unprescribed devotion; in the ends of it, we must glorify God on the earth; and in the parts of it, we must not have a parcel-garment. This garment must fit every part, and be universal.

[Leighton: He that truly loves his neighbor as himself, will be as loth to wrong him as to wrong himself, either in that honor and respect that is due to him, or in his life, or chastity, or goods, or good name, or to lodge so much as an unjust desire or thought, because that is the beginning and conception of real injury. In a word, the great disorder and crookedness of the corrupt heart of man consists in self-love; it is the very root of all sin both against God and man; for no man commits any offence, but it is in some way to profit or please himself. It was a high enormity of self-love that brought forth the very first sin of mankind. That was the bait which took, more than either the color or the taste of the apple—that it was desirable for knowledge.

[John Howe, on Romans 13:10 : Would it not make a happy world, if we all so loved our neighbor: 1. That we would no more hurt him than we would ourselves; 2. Would no more cheat him than we would ourselves; 3. No more oppress and crush him than we would ourselves.—What a spring of mischief and misery in the world would be shut up, dried up, if that proneness to hard, harsh, and frequently unjust thoughts, were, by the workings of such a spirit of love, erased out of the minds and hearts of men!

[Burkitt, on Romans 13:14 : This implies: 1. That the soul of man, since the fall, is in a naked state, destitute of those divine graces of the Holy Spirit which were its original clothing in the day of undefiled innocency; 2. That Jesus Christ is our spiritual clothing; a. in His righteousness, to pardon and justify us, He is our clothing, to cover the guilt of sin out of God’s sight; b. In His grace, to sanctify us, by which He cleanses us from our sins, pollution, and filthiness; c. that Jesus Christ, in order to our spiritual clothing, must be put on by faith: an unapplied Christ justifies none, saves none. It was not sufficient, under the law, that the blood of the sacrifice was shed, but it was also to be sprinkled, in order to the expiation of guilt.

[Doddridge, on Romans 13:14 : By putting on the Lord Jesus: 1. We make the gospel day yet brighter in the eyes of all around us; 2. We anticipate, while here in this world of comparative darkness, the lustre with which we hope, through Christ’s influence and grace, to shine forth in the celestial kingdom of our Father.

[John Wesley: The whole law under which we now are, is fulfilled by love. Faith, working or animated by love, is all that God now requires of man. He has substituted, not sincerity, but love, for angelic perfection.

Very excellent things are spoken of love—it is the essence, the spirit, the life of all virtue. It is not only the first and great command, but all the commands in one.

[Richard Watson, Sermon on the Armor of Light (Romans 13:12): I. What the armor of light is, with which the Apostle exhorts us to invest ourselves. II. Why it has the appellation of “armor of light:” (1) Because of its heavenly origin; (2) Because it is only found where Christianity exists and exerts its proper influence; (3) Because it corresponds to the character of our dispensation, which is a dispensation of light. III. The motives which should induce us, in compliance with the exhortation, to array ourselves with it: (1) From a consideration of the degraded state of man, who is not invested with this armor; (2) The moral elevation which this armor gives to every one who is invested with it; (3) We must either conquer or be conquered.

[Hodge, on Romans 13:14 : All Christian duty is included in putting on the Lord Jesus; in being like Him, having that similarity of temper and conduct which results from being intimately united to Him by the Holy Spirit.—J. F. H.]


Romans 13:7; Romans 13:7.—[Rec., א3. D3. F. L., insert οὖν (Philippi, De Wette); omitted in א1. A. B. D1., by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, Alford, Tregelles, and many others. Dr. Lange thinks the omission favors his view, that a new section should begin here; while Philippi and De Wette think this view of the connection led to the early omission.

Romans 13:9; Romans 13:9.—[The Rec. inserts οὐ ψευδομαρτυρήσεις on insufficient authority (א., versions and fathers). It is omitted in A. B. D. F. L., many cursives, &c.; by Lachmann, and modern editors and commentators without exception. Even Dr. Hodge, who rarely deviates from the Rec., except under overwhelming authority, rejects it. The insertion is at once explained by the Decalogue itself.

Romans 13:9; Romans 13:9.—[B. F. omit ἐν τῷ. It is found in א. A. D. L.; adopted by many editors, bracketted by Lachmann, Alford, Tregelles. It might easily have been omitted as unnecessary, hence to be retained.—Rec., with A. L.: ἐν τούτω̣τῷ λόγω; א. B. D. F., Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, and most: ἐν τῷ λόγω̣ τούτω̣.

Romans 13:9; Romans 13:9.—[א. A. B. D. (Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford, Tregelles): σεαυτόν, instead of έαυτόν (F., fathers, Rec., Meyer, Philippi, &c.). The latter is for the second person, however; and may have been changed, either as a grammatical correction, or from the repetition of the Σ, which precedes. On ἑαυτόν for the second person, see Winer, p. 142.

Romans 13:11; Romans 13:11.—[Dr. Lange’s text reads: Und Solches wissend, wissen wir auch. See the Exeg. Notes on this interpretation, and that given above in brackets.

Romans 13:11; Romans 13:11.—[The subject of the infinitive is omitted in the E. V. The Rec., א3. D. F. L., have ἡμᾶς; א1. A. B. C.: ὑμᾶς. The former is adopted by most editors; Alford, however, having discovered that B. gives the latter, has adopted it. Lachmann, Tischendorf, and most, place ῆδη before ἡμᾶς (so א. A. B. C. D.). Hence: it is already time that we should awake, is the correct rendering.

Romans 13:12; Romans 13:12.—[The Rec. (with א3. C3. D2 3. F. L., and fathers) reads καί before ἐνδυσώμεθα. A. B. C1. D1., versions and fathers: ἐνδ. δέ. א1. omits the conjunction altogether. Lachmann, Tischendorf, De Wette, Alford, Wordsworth, Tregelles, accept δέ, since καί might be substituted on account of the failure to recognize the contrast. Philippi and Meyer accept καί, because δέ might have been inserted from the previous part of the verse, or to correspond with it. No change is required in the E. V., to express the slightly contrastive force of δέ.

Romans 13:13; Romans 13:13.—[Amer. Bible Union, Noyes: becomingly; Five Ang. Clergymen: seemly. The latter is more in keeping with the style of the E. V. 1 Corinthians 14:40 : decently (and in order). Seemly is found in Chaucer in precisely the sense here intended by εὐσχημόνως.

Romans 13:14; Romans 13:14.—[Dr. Lange’s view would be thus expressed: Do not make such provision for the flesh as to satisfy its lusts. Noyes: Think not about satisfying the lusts of the flesh. Alford: Take not (any) forethought for the flesh, to fulfil its lusts. See the Exeg. Notes.—R.]

[24][The mass of commentators supply ἀπαιτοῦντι (so Winer, p. 548), probably because they limit the reference in this verse to magistrates. But Dr. Lange’s view is preferable. “The sentence is elliptical for ὦ τὸν θ. ὀθείλετετούτω τὸν θ.” (Webster and Wilkinson). So E. V., substantially.—R.]

[25][This is required by the context with its frequent imperatives, and also by the subjective negatives. The indicative would require οὐδεζὶ οὐδέν. Of course, the meaning is very wide, including all possible obligations, and not to be limited to a caution against pecuniary indebtedness. Fritzsche, and others, take ὀθείλετε in a different sense in the second clause (a kind of paronomasia): “Owe no man any thing, but ye ought to love one another.” This is quite unnecessary, however.—R.]

[26][Dr. Hodge: “Those virtues and good deeds which men are not ashamed of, because they will bear to be seen.” Too one-sided a conception of the figure. Alford: “The arms belonging to a soldier of light.” The Christian’s clothing as a child of the day is: armor!—R.]

[27][Such as the feasts of Bacchus, and also “the common boisterous carousing of intemperate young men” (Hodge).—R.]

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Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Romans 13". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". 1857-84.