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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Romans 13

Verse 1

Every soul (πασα πσυχηpāsa psuchē). As in Romans 2:9; Acts 2:43. A Hebraism for πας αντρωποςpās anthrōpos (every man).

To the higher powers (εχουσιαις υπερεχουσαιςexousiais huperechousais). Abstract for concrete. See note on Mark 2:10 for εχουσιαexousia υπερεχωHuperechō is an old verb to have or hold over, to be above or supreme, as in 1 Peter 2:13.

Except by God (ει μη υπο τεουei mē hupo theou). So the best MSS. rather than απο τεουapo theou (from God). God is the author of order, not anarchy.

The powers that be (αι ουσαιhai ousai). “The existing authorities” (supply εχουσιαιexousiai). Art ordained (τεταγμεναι εισινtetagmenai eisin). Periphrastic perfect passive indicative of τασσωtassō “stand ordained by God.” Paul is not arguing for the divine right of kings or for any special form of government, but for government and order. Nor does he oppose here revolution for a change of government, but he does oppose all lawlessness and disorder.

Verse 2

He that resisteth (ο αντιτασσομενοςho antitassomenos). Present middle articular participle of αντιτασσωantitassō old verb to range in battle against as in Acts 18:6, “he that lines himself up against.”

Withstandeth (αντεστηκενanthestēken). Perfect active indicative of αντιστημιanthistēmi and intransitive, “has taken his stand against.”

The ordinance of God (τηι του τεου διαταγηιtēi tou theou diatagēi). Late word, but common in papyri (Deissmann, Light, etc., p. 89), in N.T. only here and Acts 7:53. Note repetition of root of τασσωtassō

To themselves (εαυτοιςheautois). Dative of disadvantage. See Mark 12:40 for “shall receive a judgment” (κρινα λημπσονταιkrina lēmpsontai). Future middle of λαμβανωlambanō f0).

Verse 3

A terror (ποβοςphobos). This meaning in Isaiah 8:13. Paul does not approve all that rulers do, but he is speaking generally of the ideal before rulers. Nero was Emperor at this time.

From the same (εχ αυτηςex autēs). “From it” (εχουσιαexousia personified in Romans 13:4).

Verse 4

A minister of God (τεου διακονοςtheou diakonos). General sense of διακονοςdiakonos Of course even Nero was God‘s minister “to thee (σοιsoi ethical dative) for good (εις το αγατονeis to agathon for the good).” That is the ideal, the goal.

Beareth (πορειphorei). Present active indicative of πορεωphoreō old frequentative form of περωpherō to bear, to wear.

But if thou do (εαν δε ποιηιςean de poiēis). Condition of third class, εανean and present active subjunctive of ποιεωpoieō “if thou continue to do.”

Sword (μαχαιρανmachairan). Symbol of authority as to-day policemen carry clubs or pistols. “The Emperor Trajan presented to a provincial governor on starting for his province, a dagger, with the words, ‹For me. If I deserve it, in me‘” (Vincent).

An avenger (εκδικοςekdikos). Old adjective from εκek and δικηdikē (right), “outside of penalty,” unjust, then in later Greek “exacting penalty from one,” in N.T. only here and 1 Thessalonians 4:6.

Verse 5

Ye must needs (αναγκηanagkē). “There is necessity,” both because of the law and because of conscience, because it is right (Romans 2:15; Romans 9:1).

Verse 6

Ye pay (τελειτεteleite). Present active indicative (not imperative) of τελεωteleō to fulfil.

Tribute (πορουςphorous). Old word from περωpherō to bring, especially the annual tax on lands, etc. (Luke 20:22; Luke 23:1). Paying taxes recognizes authority over us.

Ministers of God‘s service (λειτουργοι τεουleitourgoi theou). Late word for public servant (unused λειτοςleitos from Attic λεωςleōs people, and εργωergō to work). Often used of military servants, servants of the king, and temple servants (Hebrews 8:2). Paul uses it also of himself as Christ‘s λειτουργοςleitourgos (Romans 15:16) and of Epaphroditus as a minister to him (Philippians 2:25). See τεου διακονοςtheou diakonos in Romans 13:4.

Attending continually (προσκαρτερουντεςproskarterountes). Present active participle of the late verb προσκαρτερεωproskartereō (προςpros and καρτερεωkartereō from καρτοςkartos or κρατοςkratos strength) to persevere. See note on Acts 2:42 and note on Acts 8:13.

Verse 7

Dues (οπειλαςopheilas). Debts, from οπειλωopheilō to owe. Often so in the papyri, though not in Greek authors. In N.T. only here, Matthew 18:32; 1 Corinthians 7:3. Paying debts needs emphasis today, even for ministers.

To whom tribute is due (τωι τον πορονtōi ton phoron). We must supply a participle with the article τωιtōi like απαιτουντιapaitounti (“to the one asking tribute”). So with the other words (to whom custom, τωι το τελος απαιτουντιtōi to telos apaitounti to whom fear, τωι τον ποβον απαιτουντιtōi ton phobon apaitounti to whom honour, τωι την τιμην απαιτουντιtōi tēn timēn apaitounti). ΠοροςPhoros is the tribute paid to a subject nation (Luke 20:22), while τελοςtelos is tax for support of civil government (Matthew 17:25).

Verse 8

Save to love one another (ει μη το αλληλους αγαπαινei mē to allēlous agapāin). “Except the loving one another.” This articular infinitive is in the accusative case the object of οπειλετεopheilete and partitive apposition with μηδενmēden (nothing). This debt can never be paid off, but we should keep the interest paid up.

His neighbour (τον ετερονton heteron). “The other man,” “the second man.” “Just as in the relations of man and God πιστιςpistis has been substituted for νομοςnomos so between man and man αγαπηagapē takes the place of definite legal relations” (Sanday and Headlam). See Matthew 22:37-40 for the words of Jesus on this subject. Love is the only solution of our social relations and national problems.

Verse 9

For this (το γαρto gar). For the article (τοto) pointing to a sentence see note on Romans 8:26, here to the quotation. The order of the commandments here is like that in Luke 18:20; James 2:11 and in B for Deuteronomy 5, but different from that of the Hebrew in Ex 20; Deuteronomy 5. The use of ουou with the volitive future in prohibitions in place of μηmē and the imperative or subjunctive is a regular Greek idiom.

And if there be any other (και ει τις ετεραkai ei tis hetera). Paul does not attempt to give them all.

It is summed up (ανακεπαλαιουταιanakephalaioutai). Present passive indicative of ανακεπαλαιοωanakephalaioō late literary word or “rhetorical term” (ανα κεπαλαιονanaκεπαλαιονkephalaion head or chief as in Hebrews 8:1). Not in the papyri, but εν τωιkephalaion quite common for sum or summary. In N.T. only here and Ephesians 1:10.

Namely (το γαρen tōi). See βασιλικος νομοςto gar at the beginning of the verse, though omitted by B F. The quotation is from Leviticus 19:18. Quoted in Matthew 5:43; Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8 it is called τον πλησιον σουbasilikos nomos (royal law).

Thy neighbour (Πλησιονton plēsion sou). Plēsion is an adverb and with the article it means “the one near thee.” See note on Matthew 5:43.

Verse 10

The fulfilment of the law (πληρωμα νομουplērōma nomou). “The filling up or complement of the law” like πεπληρωκενpeplērōken (perfect active indicative of πληροωplēroō stands filled up) in Romans 13:8. See note on 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 for the fuller exposition of this verse.

Verse 11

And this (και τουτοkai touto). Either nominative absolute or accusative of general reference, a common idiom for “and that too” (1 Corinthians 6:6, 1 Corinthians 6:8, etc.).

Knowing (ειδοτεςeidotes). Second perfect active participle, nominative plural without a principal verb. Either we must supply a verb like ποιησωμενpoiēsōmen (let us do it) or ποιησατεpoiēsate (do ye do it) or treat it as an independent participle as in Romans 12:10.

The season (τον καιρονton kairon). The critical period, not χρονοςchronos (time in general).

High time (ωραhōra). Like our the “hour” has come, etc. MSS. vary between ημαςhēmas (us) and υμαςhumās (you), accusative of general reference with εγερτηναιegerthēnai (first aorist passive infinitive of εγειρωegeirō to awake, to wake up), “to be waked up out of sleep” (εχ υπνουex hupnou).

Nearer to us (εγγυτερον ημωνegguteron hēmōn). Probably so, though ημωνhēmōn can be taken equally well with η σωτηριαhē sōtēria (our salvation is nearer). Final salvation, Paul means, whether it comes by the second coming of Christ as they all hoped or by death. It is true of us all.

Verse 12

Is far spent (προεκοπσενproekopsen). First aorist active indicative of προκοπτωprokoptō to cut forward, to advance, old word for making progress. See note on Luke 2:52; note on Galatians 1:14; note on 2 Timothy 2:16; and note on 2 Timothy 3:9.

Is at hand (ηγγικενēggiken). Perfect active indicative, “has drawn nigh.” Vivid picture for day-break.

Let us therefore cast off (αποτωμετα ουνapothōmetha oun). Aorist middle subjunctive (volitive) of αποτιτημιapotithēmi to put off from oneself “the works of darkness” (τα εργα του σκοτουςta erga tou skotous) as we do our night-clothes.

Let us put on (ενδυσωμεταendusōmetha). Aorist middle subjunctive (volitive) of ενδυωenduō to put on. For this same contrast between putting off (αποτιτημιapotithēmi and απεκδυωapekduō) and putting on (ενδυωenduō) see note on Colossians 3:8-12.

The armour of light (τα οπλα του ποτοςta hopla tou photos). The weapons of light, that belong to the light (to the day time). For the metaphor of the Christian armour see note on 1 Thessalonians 5:8; 2 Corinthians 6:7; Romans 6:13; Ephesians 6:13.

Verse 13

Honestly (ευσχημονωςeuschēmonōs). Paul is fond of the metaphor “walk” (περιπατεωperipateō), 33 times though not in the Pastoral Epistles. This old adverb (from ευσχημωνeuschēmōn graceful) occurs also in 1 Thessalonians 4:12; 1 Corinthians 14:40. The English word “honest” means honourable (Latin honor) and so decent. Wycliffe translates 1 Corinthians 12:23 by “unhonest,” “honesty,” “honest” for “less honourable, honour, honourable.”

Not in revelling (μη κωμοιςmē kōmois). Plural “revellings.” See Galatians 5:21.

Drunkenness (methais). Plural again, “drunkennesses.” See Galatians 5:21.

In chambering (koitais). Plural also. See Romans 9:10.

Wantonness (μεταιςaselgeiais). Plural likewise. See 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19.

Not in strife and jealousy (mē eridi kai zēlōi). Singular here, but some MSS. have the plural like the previous words. Quarrelling and jealousy go with the other vices (Shedd).

Verse 14

Put ye on (ενδυσαστεendusasthe). The same metaphor as in Romans 13:12. The Lord Jesus Christ is the garment that we all need. See note on Galatians 3:27 with baptism as the symbol.

Provision (προνοιανpronoian). Old word for forethought (from προνοοςpronoos). In N.T. only here and Acts 24:2.

For the flesh (της σαρκοςtēs sarkos). Objective genitive.

To fulfil the lusts thereof (εις επιτυμιαςeis epithumias). “For lusts.” No verb.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Romans 13". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.