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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Romans 13

Verses 1-7

Romans 13:1-7 . Order and Loyalty.— On the turbulence of Roman Jews, see Introd. § 3 .

Romans 13:1 f. “ Let every soul be subordinate to superior authorities,” a general maxim, with two reasons given: that “ authority is of Divine institution” ( cf. John 19:11, Psalms 82:6, etc.), and that “ the existing authorities” (of the Empire) “ are ordained by God, so that he who is insubordinate resists the ordinance of God and resisters will incur judgment.” There is a play on the idea of order.— In later and worse times Paul maintained the same attitude toward civil government; see 1 Timothy 2:1 ff., Titus 3:1, also 1 Peter 2:13-17 ( cf. pp. 774 f.).

Romans 13:3 f. “ The state-rulers” are “ ministers of God’ s avenging anger” ( cf. Romans 12:19, Romans 1:18).

Romans 13:5 . The Christian, “ moreover, is subject . . . for conscience’ sake.”

Romans 13:6 f. “ On the same account taxes, direct or indirect, must be paid” ( cf. Matthew 22:21), and along with them “ fear and honour wherever due.” The state-servants “ are sacred-ministers (same word as in Romans 15:16; Romans 15:27) of God” for the maintenance of civil society. Paul’ s urgency points to symptoms of Anarchism, as well as Antinomianism ( cf. Romans 6:1).

Verses 8-10

Romans 13:8-10 . The All-comprising Law.

Romans 13:8 . Taxes are debts, and the Christian must “ owe nothing to anybody”— except the infinite “ debt of love!” “ Whoso loves his neighbour, has fulfilled law” ( mg.) , meeting the supreme and comprehensive obligation; see Matthew 22:39 f.

Romans 13:9 f. proves this in detail: “ every command is summed up in” the well-known law of Jesus. “ Love is law’ s fulfilment” : the stress lies on fulfilment; nothing is so dutiful as love.

Verses 11-14

Romans 13:11-14 . Watching for the Day.

Romans 13:11-12 a . “ And this (do)”— the punctual payment of love’ s debts— as men “ aware of the crisis. . . . It is the hour of waking: the night has far advanced,” etc. Between these sentences intervenes Romans 13:11 b: “ now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” The older Roman Christians (see e.g. Romans 16:7), like Paul, had long watched for Christ’ s great day ( 1 Corinthians 1:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:2, etc.). “ Salvation” ( cf. Romans 5:10), beginning with justification, extends to the redemption of the body (see Romans 3:24, Romans 8:23; cf. Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 1:14, etc.).

Romans 13:12 b Romans 13:14 sounds the reveillé . “ The works of darkness” are the night-raiment to be exchanged for “ the weapons of light” ( cf. Ephesians 5:8-11)— the armour for the day’ s battle (see 1 Thessalonians 5:8, Ephesians 6:13 ff.) The thought of a final struggle attending the Messiah’ s advent pervaded contemporary Apocalyptic: see Daniel 11, Enoch 90 : 16 , etc.; cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:5-12, Revelation 16:13-16. The warrior must have no part in the foulness and quarrelsomeness of night-revellers ( Romans 13:13; cf. Revelation 19:14). “ Putting on” his Captain’ s character ( cf. Romans 8:29, Galatians 3:27), he “ forgoes all planning for sensual gratification.”

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Romans 13". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.