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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament
Romans 13

 

 

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Verses 1-7

CIVIL LOYALTY

1-7. Christianity is not calculated to bring upon the earth civil war and revolution, but on the contrary, it is the herald of peace, of “peace on earth and good will to men.” Nero, the Roman Emperor, who sat upon the throne of the world and ruled millions of people in Paul’s day, was the most wicked, incarnate devil whose atrocious crimes have ever blackened the historic page. He filled Rome with innocent blood, ruthlessly slaying all the mighty men of state whose rivalry he suspected, murdering all his consanguinity and not even sparing his own mother. When I was there, my guide pointed me out the old tower on which Nero sat, played his fiddle and sang the destruction of Troy while an ocean of flame rolled over mighty Rome six days and seven nights, himself having ordered the conflagration, as all believed, but evading responsibility by charging it on the Christians, ordering the execution of the entire body. Pursuant to his cruel and bloody edict, Paul was beheaded, Peter crucified, and a general effort made to feed them all to the lions in the Coliseum, burning them at the stake and ruthlessly murdering them in every conceivable way. Even under this kind of government Paul enjoins non-resistance to authority, rendering faithful obedience to all civil officers, as the ministers of God, for such they are permissively and providentially if not volitionally and mandatorily, whenever we can do so conscientiously; on the contrary, patiently and unresistingly suffering persecution for Christ’s sake in whatsoever may accrue to us by way of retribution administered on their part, because of our delinquency, and, as they construe it, disobedience and even rebellion.


Verse 8

KEEP OUT OF DEBT

8. “Owe no man anything, except to love one another with divine love, for he that loveth another with divine love bath fulfilled the law.” It is bad enough for worldly people to involve themselves in indebtedness, as they make this world their finale, and expect to live here and pay their debts. God’s people having already come out of the world, and when sanctified had the world taken out of them, therefore they should not complicate themselves with worldly business beyond the necessary transaction of the fleeting day, as we are looking for our Lord every hour to call us hence. If you are already in debt, cast your care on the Lord, doing your best in His good providence to pay, but live happy and free as a bird of paradise, assured that if the Lord calls you away before you are able to pay all your debts, if in His sight you are really doing your best, He takes the will for the deed and counts them paid.


Verse 9-10

DIVINE LOVE IS THE FULFILLING OF THE LAW

9, 10. “For thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not covet, and if there be any other commandment it is fulfilled in this word, namely, thou shalt love thy neighbor with divine love as thyself. Divine love worketh no evil to his neighbor; therefore, divine love is the fulfilling of the law.” The solution of all this is plain and easy. Christian perfection is not of work, but grace, i. e., perfect love. God rewarded David for building the temple, though he did not build it. Why? Because his will was good to do it, but God kept him in other business, reserving the building of the temple for his son Solomon. Perfect love puts you where you say “yes” to the will of God and “no” to the devil all the time. While we abide in these tenements of clay, we are disqualified by infirmities to render a perfect obedience. Hence, our perfection which God requires is simply that of love, which delights to serve God on earth like the angels in heaven, despite a thousand failures through physical and mental infirmities. God seeing the heart, takes the will for the deed, receiving this heart perfection in lieu of perfect work.


Verse 11

GOD’S BRIGHT DAY AND SATAN’S DARK NIGHT

11. “And knowing this time that it is already the hour when we should wake out of sleep: for our salvation is nearer than when we believed.


Verse 12

12. “The night is far spent and the day draweth nigh. Therefore let us lay aside the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.


Verse 13

13. “Let us walk circumspectly as in the day; not in revelries and drunkenness, not in debaucheries and impurities, not in strife and jealousy, but put you on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the lusts of the flesh.” “Salvation” (Romans 13:11) is in the final sense, involving glorification of spirit, soul and body. Justification is primary salvation, sanctification full salvation, and glorification final salvation. The apostle and his saintly contemporaries were on the constant lookout for the Lord to return and translate them to heaven, soul, mind and body all simultaneously glorified. The first day in the divine calendar was Eden blooming in its glory. This halcyon day went into dark eclipse when humanity fell, so remaining to the present day, Satan’s dreary night intervening and throwing its dark shadows over the whole earth, foreboding doom and damnation already about six thousand awful years, chronicling the fate of multiplied millions, amid the darkness deceived by the devil and plunged into hell. Glory to God, the star gleams of God’s millennial day, already heralded by the Holiness Movement, the bright morning stars shining in every land, are already bespangling every sky with the hallowed effulgence in Aurora splendors anticipating the glorious Son of Righteousness rising upon this dark world with healing in His wings, bringing back the Eden beauties, again to girdle the globe with the delectable splendors of God’s millennial day. If in Paul’s time Satan’s night “was far spent” and God’s millennial day drawing nigh, oh how pre-eminently true it is now, since we are eighteen hundred years nearer to the glorious fulfillment of this inspiring Pauline prophecy. If it was pertinent then for them to “awake out of sleep” and regale themselves for translation, amid the retreat of Satan’s night and the glorious dawn of God’s millennial day, how infinitely more so is it now pertinent that we all awake, wash and dress and look out for our coming King! The preparation now as then is entire sanctification, expurgatory of all the debris of inbred sin, clothing us with the Lord Jesus Christ, so that people see, not our bodies, but our clothes, and utterly lose sight of us, and oblivious to our personalities, see Jesus only whithersoever we go.

 


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Romans 13:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/romans-13.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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