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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Romans 13:8

Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another - In the preceding verses the apostle has been showing the duty, reverence, and obedience, which all Christians, from the highest to the lowest, owe to the civil magistrate; whether he be emperor, king, proconsul, or other state officer; here he shows them their duty to each other: but this is widely different from that which they owe to the civil government: to the first they owe subjection, reverence, obedience, and tribute; to the latter they owe nothing but mutual love, and those offices which necessarily spring from it. Therefore, the apostle says, Owe no man; as if he had said: Ye owe to your fellow brethren nothing but mutual love, and this is what the law of God requires, and in this the law is fulfilled. Ye are not bound in obedience to them as to the civil magistrate; for to him ye must needs be subject, not merely for fear of punishment, but for conscience sake: but to these ye are bound by love; and by that love especially which utterly prevents you from doing any thing by which a brother may sustain any kind of injury.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/romans-13.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Owe no man anything - Be not “in debt” to anyone. In the previous verse the apostle had been discoursing of the duty which we owe to magistrates. He had particularly enjoined on Christians to pay to “them” their just dues. From this command to discharge fully this obligation, the transition was natural to the subject of debts “in general,” and to an injunction not to be indebted to “any one.” This law is enjoined in this place:

(1)Because it is a part of our duty as good citizens; and,

(2)Because it is a part of that law which teaches us to love our neighbor, and to “do no injury to him,” Romans 13:10.

The interpretation of this command is to be taken with this limitation, that we are not to be indebted to him so as to “injure” him, or to work “ill” to him.

This rule, together with the other rules of Christianity, would propose a remedy for all the evils of bad debts in the following manner.

(1) it would teach people to be “industrious,” and this would commonly prevent the “necessity” of contracting debts.

(2) it would make them “frugal, economical,” and “humble” in their views and manner of life.

(3) it would teach them to bring up their families in habits of industry. The Bible often enjoins that; see the note at Romans 12:11; compare Philemon 4:8; Proverbs 24:30-34; 1 Thessalonians 4:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:10; Ephesians 4:25.

(4) Religion would produce sober, chastened views of the end of life, of the great design of living; and would take off the affections from the splendor, gaiety, and extravagances which lead often to the contraction of debts; 1 Thessalonians 5:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:8; 1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 4:7; Titus 2:12; 1 Peter 3:3, 1 Peter 3:5; 1 Timothy 2:9.

(5) Religion would put a period to the “vices” and unlawful desires which now prompt people to contract debts.

(6) it would make them “honest” in paying them. It would make them conscientious, prompt, friends of truth, and disposed to keep their promises.

But to love one another - Love is a debt which “can” never be discharged. We should feel that we “owe” this to all people, and though by acts of kindness we may be constantly discharging it, yet we should feel that it can “never” be fully met while there is opportunity to do good.

For he that loveth … - In what way this is done is stated in Romans 13:10. The law in relation to our neighbor is there said to be simply that we do no “ill” to him. Love to him would prompt to no injury. It would seek to do him good, and would thus fulfil all the purposes of justice and truth which we owe to him. In order to illustrate this, the apostle, in the next verse, runs over the laws of the Ten Commandments in relation to our neighbor, and shows that all those laws proceed on the principle that we are to “love” him, and that love would prompt to them all.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/romans-13.html. 1870.

Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans

Oweno man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

Owe no man anything. — In the beginning of the former verse the Apostle commands Christians to render to all their dues, which includes debts of money as well as of respect. Here he forbids them to owe any man anything, that is, to withhold from any man what is his due. This duty is imperative, and requires to be particularly specified; and in this way the Apostle follows out the precept he had given in the preceding verse.

Christians ought to attend most scrupulously to this injunction. It is a great injury to men, and a reproach to Christianity, when the servants of God neglect this duty. It is a virtual breach of the eighth commandment, although it may not bring on them the same obloquy. But to love one another. — Love is here beautifully represented as a debt that is never paid. It is a debt that ever remains due. Christians ought not only to love one another continually, but to abound in love more and more.

The more they pay of this debt, the richer will they be in the thing that is paid. For he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. — Here love is urged, on the ground that it is fulfillment of the law in all its precepts. The whole law is grounded on love to God and love to man. This cannot be violated without the breach of law; and if there is love, it will influence to the observance of all God’s commandments. If there were perfect love, there would be a perfect observance of the law. But no man loveth another in the perfection that the law requires; therefore no man perfectly keeps the law. Love, then, is the fulfillment of the law, being the thing which it demands, and all that it demands in respect to both God and man.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Haldane, Robert. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". "Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans and Hebrews". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hal/romans-13.html. 1835.

The Biblical Illustrator

Romans 13:8

Owe no man anything.

Owe no man anything

This precept may signify either to leave not our debts unpaid, or never get into debt. It may be looked to as a repetition of “Render unto all their dues” (debitum, debt). Be in no man’s books. If he be an individual with whom you are dealing, pay when you buy. Or if it be the government, pay the tax when it becomes due. The injunction in this latter or more rigorous meaning of it is far from being generally adhered to. Perhaps it may not at all times suit the conveniences or even the possibilities of business, that each single transaction should be a ready-money transaction. Perhaps even in the matters of family expenditure it might save trouble to pay at certain terms. There can be no doubt, however, that in the first interpretation of it, it is a matter of absolute and universal obligation. Though we cannot just say that a man should never get into debt, we can feel no hesitation in saying that, once in, he should labour most strenuously to get out of it. For--

1. In the world of trade one cannot be insensible to the dire mischief that ensues from the spirit of unwarrantable speculation. The adventurer who trades beyond his means is often actuated by a passion as intense and as criminal as the gamester. But it is not the injury alone which is done to his own character that is to be deprecated, nor the ruin that bankruptcy brings upon his own family. Over and above these evils there is a far heavier disaster to the working classes, gathered in hundreds around the mushroom establishment, and then thrown adrift in utter destitution on society. This frenzy of men hasting to be rich, like fever in the body natural, is a truly sore distemper in the body politic.

2. If they who trade beyond their means thus fall to be denounced, they who spend beyond their means, and so run themselves into debt, merit the same condemnation. We can imagine nothing more glaringly unprincipled and selfish than the conduct of those who, to uphold their place in the fashionable world, build or adorn or entertain at the expense of tradesmen, whom they hurry on to beggary with themselves.

3. But there is another and more interesting application of this precept, one which, if fully carried out, would tell more beneficially than any other on the greatest happiness of the greatest number, viz., that men in humble life should learn to find their way from the pawn office to the savings bank--so that, instead of debtors to the one, they should become depositors in the other. That it is not so is far more due to the want of management than to the want of means; and it needs but the kindness and trouble of a few benevolent attentions to put many on the way of it. (T. Chalmers, D.D.)

Debt

I. Is a common and serious evil.

1. It robs the creditor of his right, and often involves him in serious perplexity and trouble.

2. It robs the debtor of his independence, and not unfrequently of his moral principle.

II. Is, when voluntarily incurred, a breach of Christian consistency. It implies--

1. A defective morality.

2. A want of love to our neighbour.

3. A blinded conscience.

III. Should be carefully avoided.

1. By living within our income.

2. By cutting off all unnecessary expenses.

3. By incurring no liabilities which we have not a reasonable prospect of meeting.

4. By the utmost economy. (J. Lyth, D.D.)

The guilt and folly of being in debt

I. The propriety of the direction in the text.

1. To be in debt will expose us to defraud others of their just due.

2. Is injurious to the general interests of society.

3. Involves whole families in suffering.

4. Subjects us to great sacrifices.

5. Is prejudicial to our improvement in useful knowledge.

6. Is unfavourable to religion.

7. Is in direct opposition to God’s command.

II. Some considerations to aid a strict compliance with it.

1. Debt, however long foreborne, will one day be required.

2. Remember the worth of time.

3. Avoid luxury.

4. Never exceed your income.

5. Never despise honest labour.

6. Avoid depending on speculation and artifice.

7. Never neglect the duties of religion. (J. W. Cannon, M.A.)

Owe no man anything

I. The most likely means of paying what we owe.

1. The first mean is diligence in business. Make no unnecessary delay, nor set about it with a slack or unskilful hand.

2. The second mean is frugality, or the avoiding of expense whenever it can properly be avoided.

3. A third mean is exactness. “Put all in writing,” says the son of Sirac, “that thou givest out or receivest in.” Punctual payment is material. The last effect of exactness is to ensure the payment of what we owe at death. It is the concluding evidence of an honest man to leave his affairs in order.

II. The sacrifices which must sometimes be made to justice.

1. One must sometimes bear the reproach of selfishness in order to pay debt or keep out of it.

2. Fashion must often be quitted for the sake of justice. In order to perceive and obey this call, consult your own understanding. What is the consequence of being unfashionable? I am censured, and ridiculed, and despised. But what is the consequence of being unjust? My own heart condemns me.

3. Vainglory must be checked for the sake of justice. The pleasure in sumptuous possessions is slight, “beholding them with the eye.” If they be unpaid, looking at them calls up the painful remembrance.

4. Generosity must be checked when it would encroach on justice. The parting with money inconsiderately, so far from being approved, is become a proverbial folly. Some make a flash of affected generosity who are not very scrupulous in paying what they owe, nor about fraudulent courses provided they be gainful.

5. Compassion must be bounded by justice. We are required to do justly and to love mercy. Let the love of mercy be cherished, and, when justice permits, let its dictates be obeyed. Still it is the part of a wise man to examine the claims that are made on his compassion. By rejecting false ones he can indulge compassion with more effect, and it partakes more of the nature of virtue.

6. Friendship may prompt a man to involve himself by loan or suretyship.

7. The dictates of natural affection must be checked when they encroach on justice. Let a man reveal to his family his real circumstances, and establish an order conformed to them.

8. Pleasures innocent in themselves may prove too costly. From that moment they cease to be innocent.

9. An immoderate desire of wealth leads to injustice. What is the consequence, for example, of adventuring in trade beyond what your capital admits of and justifies?

10. Sloth must be conquered. It is fatal to justice as well as to every other virtue. “The slothful is brother to him that is a great waster.” He is equally exposed to poverty, and to all the temptations the poor are under, to be unjust.

11. False shame must be combated.

12. Restitution is the last sacrifice to be made to justice. There are two cases, the case of things found, and of things acquired unjustly.

III. Such are the sacrifices to be made to justice. They are costly; but the blessings are in proportion great.

1. To be out of debt is accounted a part of happiness.

2. Peace at the latter end is the portion of the upright. The pleasures of iniquity are but for a moment. The splendour of extravagance fades. To live and die an honest man is a worthy object of ambition. (S. Charters.)

Avoidance of debt

Owe no man anything. Keep out of debt. Avoid it as you would avoid war, pestilence, and famine. Hate it with a perfect hatred. Dig potatoes, break stones, peddle in tinwares, do anything that is honest and useful, rather than run into debt. As you value comfort, quiet, and independence, keep out of debt. As you value good digestion, a healthy appetite, a placid temper, a smooth pillow, pleasant dreams and happy wakings, keep out of debt. Debt is the hardest of all taskmasters; the most cruel of all oppressors. It is as a millstone about the neck. It is an incumbus on the heart. It spreads a cloud over the whole firmament of man’s being. It eclipses the sun; it blots out the stars; it dims and defaces the beautiful blue sky. It breaks the harmony of nature, and turns to dissonance all the voices of its melody. Ii furrows the forehead with premature wrinkles; it plucks the eye of its light. It drags the nobleness and kindness out of the port and bearing of a man; it takes the soul out of his laugh, and all stateliness and freedom from his walk. Come not, then, under its crushing dominion. But to love one another.

Honesty and love

I. Honesty gives every one his due.

II. Love does more, it gives itself, and thus fulfils the whole law. (J. Lyth, D.D.)

Honest dealing and mutual love

These two things are closer together than we are wont to imagine. Said a foremost physician not long ago, when asked how far the facility with which American constitutions break down was occasioned by overwork, “It is not overwork either on the part of the people who work with their brains, or with their hands. The most fruitful source of physical derangement and mental and nervous disorders are pecuniary embarrassments and family dissensions.” The two things lie close together. The father, crowded beyond endurance by the strain to maintain a scale of living long ago pitched too high, the mother consciously degraded by the domestic dishonesty that draws money for marketing and spends it for dress; the sons and daughters taught prodigality by example, and upbraided for it in speech--what can come to such a home but embittered feeling? How can love reign in a household where mutual confidence and sacrifices, where the traits that inspire respect and kindle affection are wanting? Not to pay one’s debts is as sure and as short a road as can be found to the extinction of confidence, the destruction of respect, and the death of love. Where now shall we look for a corrective? I answer, in a higher ideal of the true wealth and welfare of the nation, and so of the individuals who severally compose it. It was Epictetus who said, long ago, “You will confer the greatest benefit upon your city, not by raising the roofs, but by exalting the souls of your fellow-citizens, for it is better that great souls should live in small habitations than that abject slaves should burrow in great houses.” Let us then pay every debt but the debt which we can never wholly pay, whether to God or our neighbour, which is the debt of love. But let us gladly own that debt, and be busy every day of our lives in making at least some small payment in account. As we gather about the family board let us remember the homeless and unbefriended, and be sure that we have done something to make sunshine in their hearts, no matter what gloom may reign without. (Bp.H. C. Potter.)

The debt of Christian love

I. The affectionate exhortation. This calls upon us to endeavour to be always out of debt, while always in debt. Some, indeed, read the text as a doctrinal statement. “Ye owe no man anything but to love one another”; all that I would inculcate is reducible to this: obey the law of love to others, in all its branches, and then you will “render to all their dues.” But there is sufficient reason to interpret our text according to our present translation. Thus interpreted--

1. It does not mean--Ye sin if ye ever contract debt, or do not discharge it the moment it is contracted. On this principle, commerce would be almost annihilated; many a conscience would be continually fettered; and the precept itself would be found impracticable. But it insists on the punctual and conscientious payment of all lawful debts, which indeed is required by common honesty. “The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again.” “Woe unto him,… that useth his neighbour’s service without wages, and giveth him not for his work.”

2. But it means more. Ye owe duties to every one, and these you are to fulfil. In every relationship of life you have dues to render, and all your various duties to man result from your supreme duty to God. You are a debtor first and above all to God Himself, owing Him ten thousand talents and more, and having nothing wherewith to pay. That debt Christ has paid for you. Believe ye this? Then God, for Christ’s sake, has freely forgiven you. From being His debtors as to guilt, ye become His debtors as to gratitude, and this debt He would have you pay in charity to all mankind. Would ye, then, be honest in the full Christian sense? “Owe no man anything.” Be ever discharging the obligations under which God has graciously laid you, to love Him, and to love your brother also.

3. And yet ye must ever be in debt. We can never do enough in serving God and benefiting man. When all pecuniary debts are paid, this debt of love to one another remains, and is still binding.

4. But whence our means of paying this great debt of love? By having the love of God continually shed abroad in the heart. The more we receive, the more we are in debt to God; and hence the more we do, the more we may do in carrying out love to God and man, in all the relationships of life.

II. The comprehensive motive. “For he that loveth another, hath fulfilled the law.” “But we are not under the law, but under grace.” True, but for what object? “That we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” Thus is the believer not without law to God, but under the law to Christ. All whom the Spirit leads to Christ for pardon, He forgives freely, and then consigns them back to the training of the Holy Spirit, who writes the law of God upon the heart, and enables them to write it out in the life. And that law is love; “love is the fulfilling of the law.” None obey the law of God as those who look to Christ as “the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” (J. Hambleton, M.A.)

The debt of love to our neighbour

I. This is a debt which every man owes. There are relations in which men seem slow to recognise dues and obligations. They recognise the relation between the ordinary creditor and debtor, master and servant, as well as the obligations founded upon it. They forget that the very existence of certain relations involves a corresponding obligation, whether we have voluntarily assumed them or not. The child enters into relations with its parents without any act of its own; and yet the child is bound to render filial honour, obedience, and love. The highest relation man can have is to God. This exists before the act of any recognition on the part of the creature; but it imposes certain obligations which the creature is bound to meet. In the preceding verses Paul speaks of the relation of the subject to the ruler; the citizen to the state. Our birth introduces us to the rights of citizenship, but we are born to duties just as much as to rights; and as long as we remain under the protection of the State, we are bound to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, just as we are bound to render unto God the things that are God’s; and that, as Paul informs us, “for conscience’ sake.” The debts we owe the State are just as binding as any debts we voluntarily contract. And these dues (Romans 13:7) lead Paul to speak of that greatest debt, loving one another. Although you may say with a feeling of independence and superiority, “I do not owe a dollar to any man,”here is a debt you owe to every man. “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God”; and the same spirit spoke through Cain--“Am I my brother’s keeper?” The atheist denies his relation to God and the obligation which it involves; the spirit of selfishness refuses to recognise its relation to its neighbour; but the Spirit of Christ teaches a different lesson. It is not left to my choice or caprices--it is a debt. I owe it not to a select number of men, but to every man, for every man is my neighbour. According to Paul this debt is love (Matthew 22:36-38).

II. What are we to do with this debt?

1. We must pay this debt as every other. The Lord is not satisfied with our recognition of the duty, for He says, “Thou shalt love.” We must pay it--

2. And yet this is the one great debt which we are always to owe. Love is the inexhaustible fountain out of which all words and deeds of kindness flow. That fountain must ever remain open and full. Without such a fountain all the streamlets would fail. Let a man love, and he will strive to render unto all their dues, and to owe no man anything. The absence of love makes cruel creditors and unprincipled debtors. Love is indeed “the fulfilment of the law,” and the unfulfilled law everywhere reveals the absence of love. By the law is the knowledge of sin, and of this great sin, too, that we owe this great debt of love, and have become great debtors by not paying it. But the law is also “our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ.” We shall never be able to pay this greatest of all debts until we have become the pardoned debtors of our Heavenly Father. The love of God begets our love. He alone can enable us to be diligent in paying a debt that can never be entirely paid off. (G. F. Krotel, D.D.)

The debt of love

1. As private persons, in your mutual traffic with one another, it will necessarily happen that, whatever your stations in life are, you must incur debts, and stand accountable to one another for certain goods and commodities received, for labour done, or for money borrowed. When St. Paul therefore directs you to owe no man anything, he only means that you are not to incur debts wantonly, nor keep in debt needlessly. But there is one debt which, he says, you can never discharge. This debt is the debt of Christian love.

2. Examine into the reasons on which it is founded, and why this exertion of Christian love is a debt of that kind, which can never be paid so fully as to absolve us from any further payment of it.

3. On these three reasons we build this conclusion that the debt of charity or benevolence to our neighbour is a debt which we must take all opportunities of paying him, and of which we must only close the payment when death closes our eyes. May we not assure ourselves that a soul actuated by so Divine a principle here on earth, must, of all other things, be best prepared to participate the joys of heaven? (W. Mason, M.A.)

Heaven’s cure for the plagues of sin

I. The nature of love. There are two kinds of affection that have this title. One is an approbation and affection for a character that pleases us; the other is an ardent good-will towards beings capable of happiness. Both of these affections are exercises of the Divine mind. And both of them are enjoined upon man. God and angels and all holy beings we are obligated to look upon with complacency, and towards all men we are bound to exercise good-will. We may wish well to all men, and still be willing to see the convict imprisoned and executed. This the good of the civil community demands, and this benevolence assents to, nay, even requires.

II. How this affection will operate. Here the path of our thoughts is plain. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour. It will neither kill, nor steal, nor covet, nor defraud, nor witness falsely. It will lead to the discharge of every debt but one, and that one the debt of love; it will delight to owe and pay, and still owe for ever. Those whom we love we wish happy; and in proportion to the strength of that affection will be the energy exerted to accomplish that object. If to be calm and content will render them happy, we shall be reluctant to ruffle their temper or move their envy. If to be rich, and respected, and wise will make them happy, we shall wish their success in business, their increased respectability, and their advance in knowledge. If health, and ease, and long life, and domestic friendship will add to their enjoyments, we shall wish them all these; and what we wish for them we shall be willing, if in our power, to do for them. But if only the grace of God can make them blessed, it will be our strongest wish and our most ardent prayer that God would sanctify them.

III. The duty of benevolence. And here I would premise that the good-will which I urge is to be exercised toward friend and foe. It is a pure and disinterested affection, hence is the offspring of a heavenly temper. I would urge it upon myself and my fellow-men--

1. By the example of God. How constant and how varied are the operations of the Divine benevolence! Life and health, and food and raiment are His gifts, and are bestowed on His friends and His foes. Now the whole Bible just urges upon every man this same expanded benevolence. You are required to be a worker together with God.

2. We are urged to the same duty by the command of God. God does not exhibit His example before us, and leave it to our option whether we will do like Him. “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” And the Scriptures teach us what the effect of this love will be. It will lead to an affectionate deportment and a readiness to serve each other. It begets a spirit of forbearance, of truth, of unanimity, of self-denial, of meekness, and forgiveness.

3. Benevolence affords its possessor a permanent and high enjoyment. It is, in its nature, a sweet and calm affection, has its origin in heaven, and exerts a sanctifying influence upon every other exercise of the soul. If I know that I love my fellow-men, I am conscious that I feel as God does, and as He commands me to feel. I see, in that case, the image of my Creator in my heart. Hence it begets joy and hope. But this is not all; a benevolent heart makes all the happiness it sees its own, and thus widens, indefinitely, the sphere of its enjoyment. It has a real pleasure in another’s joy, and still does not diminish the good on which it feeds and thrives.

IV. The happiness it communicates to others. I would then urge all the believers and the unbelievers to love their fellow-men, from the fact that by putting forth this affection you can create a world of happiness. In the first place, look about you and see what need there is of more happiness than at present exists, what abundant opportunity there is for your exertion. You cannot be ignorant that you live in a ruined world, where, if you are disposed to be kind, you can find abundant employment. You can find misery in almost every shape and shade. Would it not be desirable to apply a remedy if you might to this complicated malady? Be willing, then, to practise the benevolence required, and the remedy is applied and the cure effected. Can you quit the world peaceably till what you can do has been done, to fertilise the moral waste over which you expect so soon to cast a lingering, dying look?

V. The dying love of Christ. It was in the cure of this very same distress that He came in the flesh and died on the tree. Enter, then, upon the work of making your fellow-men happy, and you are in the very vineyard where the Lord Jesus laboured. He has already rescued from the ruins of the apostasy a great multitude that no man can number. The work is going on, and He invites your co-operation. Remarks:

1. In the want of this benevolence, how strong is the proof we have that men are wholly depraved!

2. We see the necessity that men should be renewed. Place selfish hearts in heaven and they would there be as fruitful as elsewhere in misery.

3. How pleasant is the prospect of a millennium! Then the benevolence we contemplate will become general. Men will be employed in rendering each other happy. (D. A. Clark.)

Love a debt to our neighbour

I. Exceedingly great. Because--

1. The creditors are so many.

2. Its liabilities are so numerous.

3. It can never be fully discharged.

II. Unspeakably sweet. Because--

1. Not lightly incurred.

2. It helps us to discharge all others.

3. It harmonises with God’s love.

4. Every attempt to discharge it is a source of plea-sure. (J. Lyth, D.D.)

Love a debt due to all men

I. A great debt.

1. As due to so many--all men.

2. Requiring so much to pay it--sometimes our life (1 John 3:16).

II. A lasting debt. Though always being paid, yet never discharged. The more that is paid the more is felt to be due. The principle is deepened and made more active by the practice.

III. A pleasant debt (Philippians 2:1). Every payment of it gladdens and enlarges the heart.

IV. An honourable debt.

1. Necessary to our moral nature.

2. It makes us Godlike and Christlike (Ephesians 4:32; Eph_5:1-2; 1 John 4:8). (T. Robinson, D.D.)


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Romans 13:8". The Biblical Illustrator. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/romans-13.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

Owe no man anything, save to love one another: for he that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law.

Greathouse understood the first clause here as the negative statement of the first clause in Romans 13:7, thus referring it to the obligations of custom, tribute, honor, etc. He said:

This means, do not continue in a state of owing any of the obligations referred to in Romans 13:7, but fulfill them and discharge them. There is only one debt of which you can never get rid - the debt of love.[3]

The discharge of all debts and the keeping of all commandments is summed up in the one word of a man's loving others as he loves himself. This applies to all commandments of a social or man-ward nature. There are other commands which spring out of the love of God, this dual direction of human obligation being demonstrated in the fact of there having been two tables of the Decalogue. Paul made this nice distinction by quoting only man-ward obligations in his next statement.

ENDNOTE:

[3] William M. Greathouse, Beacon Bible Commentary (Kansas City, Missouri: Beacon Hill Press, 1969), p. 253.


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/romans-13.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Owe no man anything,.... From the payment of dues to magistrates the apostle proceeds to a general exhortation to discharge all sorts of debts; as not to owe the civil magistrate any thing, but render to him his dues, so to owe nothing to any other man, but make good all obligations whatever, as of a civil, so of a natural kind. There are debts arising from the natural and civil relations subsisting among men, which should be discharged; as of the husband to the wife, the wife to the husband; parents to their children, children to their parents; masters to their servants, servants to their masters; one brother, friend, and neighbour, to another. Moreover, pecuniary debts may be here intended, such as are come into by borrowing, buying, commerce, and contracts; which though they cannot be avoided in carrying on worldly business, yet men ought to make conscience of paying them as soon as they are able: many an honest man may be in debt, and by one providence or another be disabled from payment, which is a grief of mind to him; but for men industriously to run into debt, and take no care to pay, but live upon the property and substance of others, is scandalous to them as men, and greatly unbecoming professors of religion, and brings great reproach upon the Gospel of Christ.

But to love one another. This is the only debt never to be wholly discharged; for though it should be always paying, yet ought always to be looked upon as owing. Saints ought to love one another as such; to this they are obliged by the new commandment of Christ, by the love of God, and Christ unto them, by the relations they stand in to one another, as the children of God, brethren, and members of the same body; and which is necessary to keep them and the churches of Christ together, it being the bond of perfectness by which they are knit to one another; and for their comfort and honour, as well as to show the truth and reality of their profession. This debt should be always paying; saints should be continually serving one another in love, praying for each other, bearing one another's burdens, forbearing each other, and doing all good offices in things temporal and spiritual that lie in their power, and yet always owing; the obligation to it always remains. Christ's commandment is a new one, always new, and will never be antiquated; his and his Father's love always continue, and the relations believers stand in to each other are ever the same; and therefore love will be always paying, and always owing in heaven to all eternity. But what the apostle seems chiefly to respect, is love to one another as men, love to one another, to the neighbour, as the following verses show. Love is a debt we owe to every man, as a man, being all made of one blood, and in the image of God; so that not only such as are of the same family, live in the same neighbourhood, and belong to the same nation, but even all the individuals of mankind, yea, our very enemies are to share in our love; and as we have an opportunity and ability, are to show it by doing them good.

For he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law; that is, not who loves some one particular person, but every other person besides himself, even his neighbour, in the largest sense of the word, including all mankind, and that as himself; such an one has fulfilled the law, the law of the decalogue; that part of it particularly which relates to the neighbour; the second table of the law, as the next verse shows: though since there is no true love of our neighbour without the love of God, nor no true love of God without the love of our neighbour; and since these two involve each other, and include the whole law, it may be understood of fulfilling every part of it, that is, of doing it; for fulfilling the law means doing it, or acting according to it; and so far as a man loves, so far he fulfils, that is, does it: but this is not, nor can it be done perfectly, which is evident, partly from the impotency of man, who is weak and without strength, yea, dead in sin, and unable to do any thing of himself; and partly from the extensiveness of the law, which reaches to the thoughts and desires of the heart, as well as to words and actions; as also from the imperfection of love, for neither love to God, nor love to one another, either as men or Christians, is perfect; and consequently the fulfilling of the law by it is not perfect: hence this passage yields nothing in favour of the doctrine of justification by works; since the best works are imperfect, even those that spring from love, for love itself is imperfect; and are not done as they are, in a man's own strength, and without the Spirit and grace of God. Christ only has fulfilled the law perfectly, both as to parts and degrees; and to him only should we look for a justifying righteousness.


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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/romans-13.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

9 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: 10 for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the g law.

(9) He shows how very few judgments need to be executed, that is, if we so order our life as no man may justly require anything from us, besides only that which we owe one to another, by the perpetual law of charity.

(10) He commends charity as a concise statement of the whole law.

(g) Has not only done one commandment, but performed generally that which the law commands.


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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/romans-13.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Owe no man anything, but to love one another — “Acquit yourselves of all obligations except love, which is a debt that must remain ever due” [Hodge].

for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law — for the law itself is but love in manifold action, regarded as matter of duty.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/romans-13.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

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.


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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)

Bibliography
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/romans-13.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Another ( τὸν ἕτερον )

Lit., the other, or the different one, the word emphasizing more strongly the distinction between the two parties. Rev., his neighbor.


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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/romans-13.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

From our duty to magistrates he passes on to general duties.

To love one another — An eternal debt, which can never be sufficiently discharged; but yet if this be rightly performed, it discharges all the rest.

For he that loveth another — As he ought.

Hath fulfilled the whole law — Toward his neighbour.


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Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/romans-13.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

8.To no one owe ye, etc. There are those who think that this was not said without a taunt, as though Paul was answering the objection of those who contended that Christians were burdened in having other precepts than that of love enjoined them. And indeed I do not deny, but that it may be taken ironically, as though he conceded to those who allowed no other law but that of love, what they required, but in another sense. And yet I prefer to take the words simply as they are; for I think that Paul meant to refer the precept respecting the power of magistrates to the law of love, lest it should seem to any one too feeble; as though he had said, — “When I require you to obey princes, I require nothing more than what all the faithful ought to do, as demanded by the law of love: for if ye wish well to the good, (and not to wish this is inhuman,) ye ought to strive, that the laws and judgments may prevail, that the administrators of the laws may have an obedient people, so that through them peace may be secured to all.” He then who introduces anarchy, violates love; for what immediately follows anarchy, is the confusion of all things. (408)

For he who loves another, etc. Paul’s design is to reduce all the precepts of the law to love, so that we may know that we then rightly obey the commandments, when we observe the law of love, and when we refuse to undergo no burden in order to keep it. He thus fully confirms what he has commanded respecting obedience to magistrates, in which consists no small portion of love.

But some are here impeded, and they cannot well extricate themselves from this difficulty, — that Paul teaches us that the law is fulfilled when we love our neighbor, for no mention is here made of what is due to God, which ought not by any means to have been omitted. But Paul refers not to the whole law, but speaks only of what the law requires from us as to our neighbor. And it is doubtless true, that the whole law is fulfilled when we love our neighbors; for true love towards man does not flow except from the love of God, and it is its evidence, and as it were its effects. But Paul records here only the precepts of the second table, and of these only he speaks, as though he had said, — “He who loves his neighbor as himself, performs his duty towards the whole world.” Puerile then is the gloss of the Sophists, who attempt to elicit from this passage what may favor justification by works: for Paul declares not what men do or do not, but he speaks hypothetically of that which you will find nowhere accomplished. And when we say, that men are not justified by works, we deny not that the keeping of the law is true righteousness: but as no one performs it, and never has performed it, we say, that all are excluded from it, and that hence the only refuge is in the grace of Christ.


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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/romans-13.html. 1840-57.

Vv. 8. "Owe no man anything, save to love one another; for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law."

The expression anything and no man clearly indicate a transition to the private sphere. Most commentators think that Paul here returns to the duty of love; Meyer, for example, says at the beginning of Romans 13:8-14 : "Exhortation to love and to Christian conduct in general." As if the apostle were in the habit of thus resuming without cause a subject already treated, and as if, wishing to describe the task of love, he could have contented himself with saying, as he does in Romans 13:10 : "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor!" No, the apostle does not wander from his subject: the duty of justice. Only he is not ignorant that there is no perfectly sure pledge for the exercise of this duty except love. This is what leads him to speak again of love, and what explains at the same time the purely negative form he uses: "not to do wrong," an expression which is the formula of justice, much more than that of love. Love is therefore not mentioned here except as the solid support of justice.

The believer should keep no other debt in his life than that which a man can never discharge, the debt which is renewed and even grows in proportion as it is discharged: that of loving. In fact, the task of love is infinite. The more active love is, the more it sees its task enlarge; for, inventive as it is, it is ever discovering new objects for its activity. This debt the believer therefore carries with him throughout all his life (chap. 12). But he can bear no other debt against him; and loving thus, he finds that in the very act he has fulfilled all the obligations belonging to the domain of justice, and which the law could have imposed.

How could it have occurred to the mind of Hofmann to refer the words τὸν ἕτερον, the other, to νόμον, the law: "He that loveth hath fulfilled the other law"—that is to say, the rest of the law, what the law contains other than the commandment of love? Love is not in the law a commandment side by side with all the rest; it is itself the essence of the law.

The perfect πεπλήρωκεν, hath fulfilled, denotes that in the one act of loving there is virtually contained the fulfilment of all the duties prescribed by the law. For a man does not offend, or kill, or calumniate, or rob those whom he loves. Such is the idea developed in the two following verses.


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Bibliography
Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". "Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsc/romans-13.html.

Scofield's Reference Notes

Owe

See Leviticus 19:13; Proverbs 22:7.


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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Romans 13:8". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/romans-13.html. 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

Ver. 8. Owe no man, &c.] The Persians reckoned these two for very great sins: 1. To be in debt. 2. To tell a lie; the latter being often the fruit of the former. (Xenophon, Gell. xii. 1.) By the 12 tables of Rome, he that owed much, and could not pay, was to be cut in pieces, and every creditor was to have a piece of him according to the debt. (Acts and Mon.) When Archbishop Cranmer discerned the storm which afterwards fell upon him in Queen Mary’s days, he took express order for the payment of all his debts; which when it was done, a most joyful man was he; that having set his affairs in order with men, he might consecrate himself more freely to God. (Mr Wilkins’ Debt Book.) Let us therefore (saith a reverend man) be thus far indulgent to ourselves, as to shake off the deadly yoke of bills and obligations, which mancipate the most free and ingenuous spirit, and dry up the very fountains of liberality. Yea, they so put a man out of aim that he cannot set his state in order, but lives and dies entangled and puzzled with cares and snares; and after a tedious and laborious life passed in a circle of fretting thoughts, he leaves at last, instead of better patrimony, a world of intricate troubles to his posterity and to his sureties; which cannot be managed by those who understand them not, but to great disadvantage. We read of a certain Italian gentleman, who being asked how old he was? answered, that he was in health; and to another that asked how rich he was? answered, that he was not in debt: q.d. He is young enough that is in health, and rich enough that is not in debt.

But to love one another] This is that desperate debt that a man cannot discharge himself from, but must ever be paying, and yet ever owing. As we say of thanks, Gratiae habendae et agendae, thanks must be given, and yet held as still due; so must this debt of love.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/romans-13.html. 1865-1868.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Our apostle having finished his exhortation to duty towards our superiors, comes now to enforce the duties which we owe unto our neighbours; the first of which is, to render and pay to every one what is due unto him. Moral duties are mutual debts which we owe one to another; one of which namely, that of love, we can never fully discharge, but must be ever paying, yet always owing: Owe nothing to any man but love, implying that must be always owing.

The truth is, this debt of love is so far from a possibility of being paid on earth, that it is due in heaven to God, angels, and saints; There abideth charity, 1 Corinthians 13:13. All other debts may be paid whilst we live; but this of love cannot be satisfied while we live.

Observe next, The argument, reason, or motive, to excite unto this duty, and that is drawn from the excellency of this grace of love: He that loveth, hath fulfilled the law; that is, he that loveth his neighbour as he should and ought to do, in deed and in truth, out of a pure heart fervently, he hath fulfilled the law, that is, the law relating to his neighbour, the duties of the second table are fulfilled by him.


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Bibliography
Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/romans-13.html. 1700-1703.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

8.] ὀφείλετε is not indic. (as Koppe, Reiche, al.), which would require οὐδενὶ οὐδέν,—and would be inconsistent with the ὀφειλαί just mentioned,—but imperative: ‘Pay all other debts: be indebted in the matter of love alone.’ This debt increases the more, the more it is paid: because the practice of love makes the principle of love deeper and more active. Aug(116), Ep. 192 (62), ad Cœlest. vol. ii. p. 868, says: “Redditur enim (caritas), cum impenditur, debetur autem etiam si reddita fuerit; quia nullum est tempus quando impendenda jam non sit. Nec cum redditur amittitur, sed potius reddendo multiplicatur.”

πεπλήρωκεν, hath (in the act) fulfilled: compare the perfects, John 3:18; ch. Romans 14:23. νόμον is not the Christian law, but the Mosaic law of the decalogue. “This recommendation of Love has, as also the similar one, Galatians 5:23, κατὰ τῶν τοιούτων οὐκ ἔστιν νόμος,—an apologetic reference to the upholders of the law, and depends on this evident axiom,—‘He who practises Love, the higher duty, has, even before he does this, fulfilled the law, the lower.’ ” De Wette.


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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/romans-13.html. 1863-1878.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Romans 13:8. ΄ηδενὶ μηδὲν ὀφείλετε] negatively the same thing, only generally referred to the relation to everybody—and therewith Paul returns to the general duty of Christians—which was before said positively in Romans 13:7 : ἀπόδοτε πᾶσι τὰς ὀφειλάς. By this very parallel, and decisively by the subjective negations, ὀφείλετε is determined to be imperative: “Leave toward no one any obligation unfulfilled, reciprocal love excepted,” wherein you neither can, nor moreover are expected, ever fully to discharge your obligation. The inexhaustibility of the duty of love, the claims of which are not discharged, but renewed and accumulated with fulfilment, is expressed. Comp. Origen, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Augustine, Beza, Grotius, Wetstein, Bengel (“amare debitum immortale”), and many others, including Tholuck, Rückert, Reithmayr, de Wette, Philippi, Ewald, Umbreit, Hofmann. The point lies in the fact that, while ὀφείλετε applies to those external performances to which one is bound (“obligatio civilis,” Melanchthon), in the case of the ἀγαπᾶν it means the higher moral obligation, in virtue of which with the quotidie solvere is connected the semper debere (Origen). The objections of Reiche to the imperative rendering quite overlook the fact, that with εἰ μὴ τὸ ἀλλήλ. ἀγ. the ὀφείλετε again to be supplied is to be taken not objectively (remain owing mutual love!), but subjectively, namely, from the consciousness of the impossibility of discharging the debt of love. But Reiche’s own view (so also Schrader, following Heumann, Semler, Koppe, Rosenmüller, Böhme, Flatt, and by way of suggestion, Erasmus), that ὀφ. is indicative: “all your obligations come back to love,” is decidedly incorrect, for οὐ must then have been used, as e.g. in Plato’s testament (Diogenes Laert. iii. 43): ἀφείλω δʼ οὐδενὶ οὐδέν. The passages adduced on the other hand by Reiche from Wetstein are not in point, because they have μή with a participle or infinitive. Fritzsche (comp. Baumgarten-Crusius and Krehl): Be owing no one anything; only “mutuum amorem vos hominibus debere censete.” Thereby the whole thoughtfulness, the delicate enamel of the passage, is obliterated, and withal there is imported an idea (censete) which is not there.

γὰρ ἀγαπ. κ. τ. λ.] A summons to unceasing compliance with the command of love having been contained in the preceding εἰ μὴ τὸ ἀλλήλους ἀγαπᾶν, Paul now gives the ground of this summons by setting forth the high moral dignity and significance of love, which is nothing less than the fulfilment of the law. Comp. Galatians 5:14; Matthew 22:34 ff.

τὸν ἕτερον] belongs to ἀγαπῶν: the other, with whom the loving subject has to do (comp. Romans 2:1; Romans 2:21; 1 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Corinthians 6:1; 1 Corinthians 14:17; James 4:12, et al.). Incorrectly Hofmann holds that it belongs to νό΄ον: the further, the remaining law. For the usage of ἕτερος and ἄλλος in the sense of otherwise existing (see thereon Krüger, Xen. Anab. i. 4. 2; Nägelsbach, z. Ilias, p. 250 f.) is here quite inapplicable; Paul must at least have written καὶ τὰς ἕτερας ἐντολάς (comp. also Luke 23:32; Plato, Rep. p. 357 C, and Stallbaum in loc.). But most intelligibly and simply he would have written τὸν πάντα νόμον, as in Galatians 5:14. It is impossible to explain the singular ἕτερος collectively (with an irrelevant appeal to Rost, § 98, B. 3. 5); ἕτερος νόμος could only be another (second) law (comp. Romans 7:23), and ἕτερος ν., therefore, the definite other of two; Kühner, II. 1, p. 548.

πεπλήρωκε] present of the completed action, as in Romans 2:25; in and with the loving there has taken place (comp. on Galatians 5:14) what the Mosaic law prescribes (namely, in respect of duties towards one’s neighbour, see Romans 13:9-10; inasmuch as he who loves does not commit adultery, does not kill, does not steal, does not covet, etc.). But though love is the fulfilment of the law, it is nevertheless not the subjective cause of justification, because all human fulfilment of the law, even love, is incomplete, and only the complete fulfilment of the law would be our righteousness. Rightly Melanchthon: “Dilectio est impletio legis, item est justitia, si id intelligatur de idea, non de tali dilectione, qualis est in hac vita.”


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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/romans-13.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Romans 13:8. ΄ηδενὶ, to no man) From our duties to magistrates, he proceeds to general duties, such as we owe to one another.— ὀφείλετε, owe) a new part of the exhortation begins here.— ἀγαπᾷν, to love) a never-ending debt. Song of Solomon 8:7, at end of ver. If you will continue to love, you will owe nothing, for love is the fulfilling of the law. To love is liberty.


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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/romans-13.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Having treated of special duties belonging to superiors, he now comes to that which is more general, and belongs to all.

Owe no man any thing; neither your superiors, nor your equals and inferiors; render and pay to every person what is due to him, let his rank and quality be what it will.

But to love one another: q.d. Only there is one debt that yon can never fully discharge; that you must be ever paying, yet ever owing; and that is love.

For he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law: this is a reason why we should love one another, and be still paying that debt; and it is taken from the excellency of love:

he that loveth another (i.e. he that doth it in deed and in truth) hath fullfilled the law; he means, the second table of the law, as the next verse showeth; he hath done what is required therein.


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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Romans 13:8". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/romans-13.html. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Owe no man any thing; discharge, at the proper time, all just obligations.

But to love; love to men will lead you to fulfill towards them all your duties.


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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". "Family Bible New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/romans-13.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

8. μηδενὶ μηδὲν. The repetition of the negative gives a strong emphasis to the injunction. ὀφείλετε in pres. = remain under debt to no man in any matter, except in love.

εἰ μὴ τὸ ἀλλήλους ἀγαπᾷν. ἀλλὴλους must be given as wide a reference as μηδενὶ; love is a permanent debt (pres. infin.) that can never be fully discharged; cf. Aug. Ep. cxcii. 1 (qu. Lid.) “semper autem debeo caritatem quae sola etiam reddita detinet redditorem.” This sums up all the teaching of Romans 12:3 to Romans 13:7.

ὁ γὰρ ἀγαπῶν κ.τ.λ. This is the only way of fulfilling law, and this does fulfil it.

τὸν ἔτερον. Apparently used by S. Paul to give the widest possible extension to the principle: anyone with whom a man is brought into relation: it avoids vagueness (not πάντας ἀνθρώπους or τοὺς ἄλλους) by its individual note and bars all casuistry as to ‘the neighbour’; cf. Luke 10:29. It is grammatically possible to take τὸν ἕτερον with νόμον (cf. Hort on James 2:8 ad fin.); but the phrase would be strained, and the context (ἀλλήλουςτὸν πλησίον) is against it.

νόμον πεπλήρωκεν. Cf. Matthew 5:17 : supra Romans 8:4; Galatians 5:14 and subst. Romans 13:10. νόμος is quite general, though as the next verse shows the Decalogue is the crucial instance. πεπλ. perfect, has by that continuing act fulfilled and does fulfil, not abolished or done away.


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"Commentary on Romans 13:8". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/romans-13.html. 1896.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

8. Owe no man—From the payment of government dues the apostle makes transition to the universal due of love, required by and lying as basis of the divine law, toward all our fellow men. The emphasis, therefore, does not rest upon this clause as if the apostle forbade the credit system in trade; but it is rather the transit to the duty of ever recognizing and ever paying the debt of love.

Any thing—This does not forbid contracts to pay at a future time, but a violation of the contract, or the violation of any obligation to pay when justly due. We must avail ourselves of no technicality of law to avoid what is equitably due. In short, we must obey the golden rule in the moneyed transactions of life. The law of equitable love must underlie our business dealings.

Love—This is a debt which though forever paid is forever due. It is a vessel which even though forever full forever needs filling.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/romans-13.html. 1874-1909.

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

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.


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Godbey, William. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/romans-13.html.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘Owe no man anything, except to love one another, for he who loves his neighbour has fulfilled the law.’

Having spoken of the Christian’s debt to the state Paul now turns to the question of the Christian’s debt to all men. ‘Owe no man anything’ is not saying that we should not enter into debt on a considered basis, but rather that we should pay our dues. We are not to be dilatory in fulfilling our obligations. But he then points out that there is one debt which we are to owe and which is continual, and that is our debt to love one another. As regards this debt we can never call ‘time’. And the reason for that is that love is the fulfilment of the Law. In other words, if we truly love we will automatically fulfil the requirements of the Law as regards our attitude towards others, for we will desire the very best for them. Note Paul’s indication that we are to fulfil God’s Law in terms of its deepest meaning. But it is as the consequence of our love for Christ and for God, not in order somehow to obtain merit by doing so.


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Bibliography
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/romans-13.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The NASB translation "Owe nothing to anyone" is misleading because it contradicts Jesus" teaching to loan to those who want to borrow from you ( Matthew 5:42). He implied that borrowing is not always wrong. The New Testament does not forbid borrowing, only the practice of charging exorbitant interest on loans and failing to pay debts ( Matthew 25:27; Luke 19:23). There are two kinds of debts: those with the lender"s consent and those without his consent. It is the second type to which Paul apparently referred here. The NIV"s "Let no debt remain outstanding" avoids the problem and gives the correct interpretation.

"Christians are to leave no debts, no obligations to their fellowmen, undischarged." [Note: Cranfield, 2:673.]

Some Christians who have trouble controlling their indebtedness have found motivation for cutting up their credit cards in this verse, but Paul did not say that all borrowing is wrong.

We do have a debt that continues forever. It is our obligation to seek the welfare of our fellow human beings (cf. Romans 8:4). The Mosaic Law required the same thing ( Leviticus 19:18, cf. Matthew 22:39), but it provided no internal power to love. In Christ we have the indwelling Holy Spirit who produces love within us as a fruit of His life ( Galatians 5:22-23).

"This is not a prohibition against a proper use of credit; it is an underscoring of a Christian"s obligation to express divine love in all interpersonal relationships." [Note: Witmer, " Romans ," p491.]


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/romans-13.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Romans 13:8. Owe no man anything. On the connection of thought, see above. The clause is undoubtedly imperative, and the meaning is very wide, including all possible obligations to every human being, and not to be limited to a caution against pecuniary indebtedness.

Save to love one another. This is an exception which is not an exception. ‘Owe’ in the first clause refers to external obligations, but from the nature of the case the obligation referred to in the second clause is a moral one, the apprehension of which will grow with exercise. The more we love, the more we will feel the claims of love. This obligation can never be paid; hence here we must ‘owe,’ but we must here most faithfully attempt to discharge our obligations.

For he that loveth. This clause shows that the previous one was a command to love, irrespective of our inability to discharge the growing sense of obligation.

Another, lit, ‘the other,’ the other one who is loved, in the given case.

Hath fulfilled the law. ‘In and with the loving there has taken place what the Mosaic law prescribes, namely, in respect of duties towards one’s neighbor’ (Meyer). Love is more than a performance of the single precepts of the law, it is the essence of the law itself. ‘It reaches those lesser courtesies and sympathies which cannot be digested into a code and reduced to rule, it adds the flesh which fills it, and the life which actuates it’ (Webster and Wilkinson). The context (Romans 13:9-10) plainly shows that the Mosaic law is meant, while the whole Epistle excludes any idea of justification as based on this fulfilment. The Apostle is writing to those who love because they are justified.


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Bibliography
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/romans-13.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Romans 13:8. εἰ μὴ τὸ ἀλλήλους ἀγαπᾷν = except mutual love. This is the debitum immortale of Bengel; hoc enim et quotidie solvere et semper debere expedit nobis (Origen). γὰρ ἀγαπῶν τὸν ἕτερον: he who loves his neighbour, the other with whom he has to do. Cf. Romans 2:1; Romans 2:21 (Weiss). νόμον πεπλήρωκεν = has done all that law requires. From what follows it is clear that Paul is thinking of the Mosaic law; it was virtually the only thing in the world to which he could apply the word νόμος, or which he could use to illustrate that word. The relation of chaps. 12 and 13 to the Gospels makes it very credible that Paul had here in his mind the words of our Lord in Matthew 22:34 ff.


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Bibliography
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/romans-13.html. 1897-1910.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

-9

But that you love one another. This is a debt, says St. John Chrysostom, which we are always to be paying, and yet always remains, and is to be paid again. --- He that loveth his neighbour, hath fulfilled the law. Nay, he that loves his neighbour, as he ought, loves him for God's sake, and so complies with the other great precept of loving God: and upon these two precepts (as Christ himself taught us, Matthew xxii. 40.) depends the whole law and the prophets. (Witham)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/romans-13.html. 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

Romans 13:8 Owe no man anything, save to love one another: for he that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law.

"Owe no man anything"-"Leave no debt unpaid" (Wey).

Points to Note:

1. Sadly some have taken this expression to mean that the Christian can never take out a loan or charge something on a credit card, that one must pay cash for everything.

2. Actually the verse is teaching that Christians are not permitted to assume debts we cannot pay. There"s nothing wrong with honest debt. (Philemon 1:17-18) This means that we pay the debt when it is "due". We pay the bills on time, pay the house payment within the agreed time period, etc..

"There is a foolish idea abroad that money given into Church treasuries is more appreciated by God than the paying of honest debts. This isn"t true! In God"s name pay the honest and wise debts you have contracted with your fellow man...We"re doing God no favors if we drive the unforgiven creditor to believe that God approves of thieves as long as they contribute to some Church budget. Spend your money wisely; live within your means.." (McGuiggan p. 385)

"save to love one another"-this is a debt that Christians continually have, we can never fully pay off this debt. Too many have the attitude that the world owes them. Rather, God says, "you owe others".

"for he that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law"-"the Law"s horizontal aim was the right treatment of our fellow-man." (McGuiggan p. 386)


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Bibliography
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/romans-13.html. 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

no man = no one. Greek. medeis.

but = if (App-118) not (App-105).

love. App-135.

another = the other. App-124.

fulfilled. See Romans 1:29. App-125.

the. Omit.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/romans-13.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another. Love is the only debt which can never be paid off, for it is always due:

For he that loveth another , [ ton (Greek #3588) heteron (Greek #2087)] - literally, 'the other,' in relation to himself; his "neighbour" (as Romans 13:9; Luke 10:29; Luke 10:36),

Hath fulfilled the law - for the law itself is nothing but an injunction to manifest love in all relationships and all circumstances.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/romans-13.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(8) Owe no man anything.—The word for “owe” in this verse corresponds to that for “dues” in the last. The transition of the thought is something of this kind. When you have paid all your other debts, taxes, and customs, and reverence, and whatever else you may owe, there will still be one debt unpaid—the universal debt of love. Love must still remain the root and spring of all your actions. No other law is needed besides.

Another.—Literally, the other—that is to say, his neighbour, the person with whom in any given instance he has to deal.

We naturally compare with this passage Matthew 22:39-40; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8. It shows how thoroughly the spirit of the Founder of Christianity descended upon His followers, that the same teaching should appear with equal prominence in such opposite quarters. The focusing, as it were, of all morality in this brief compass is one of the great gifts of Christianity to the world. No doubt similar sayings existed before, and that by our Lord Himself was quoted from the Old Testament, but there it was in effect overlaid with ceremonial rules and regulations, and in other moralists it was put forward rather as a philosophical theorem than as a practical basis of morals. In Christianity it is taken as the lever which is to move the world; nor is it possible to find for human life, amid all the intricate mazes of conduct, any other principle that should be at once as simple, as powerful, and as profound.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/romans-13.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
Owe
7; Deuteronomy 24:14,15; Proverbs 3:27,28; Matthew 7:12; 22:39,40
for
10; Galatians 5:14; Colossians 3:14; 1 Timothy 1:5; James 2:8

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/romans-13.html.

Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another, etc. That is, acquit yourselves of all obligations, except love, which is a debt that must remain ever due. This is the common, and considering the context, which abounds with commands, the most natural interpretation of this passage. Others, however, take the verb ( ὀφείλετε) as in the indicative, instead of the imperative mood, and understand the passage thus: ‘Ye owe no man any thing but love, (which includes all other duties,) for he that loves another fulfills the law.' This gives a good sense, when this verse is taken by itself; but viewed in connection with those which precede and follow, the common interpretation is much more natural. Besides, "the indicative would require οὐδενὶ οὐδέν, and not μηδενὶ μηδέν. The use of the subjective negative shows that a command is intended." Meyer. The idea which a cursory reader might be disposed to attach to these words, in considering them as a direction not to contract pecuniary debts, is not properly expressed by them; although the prohibition, in its spirit, includes the incurring of such obligations, when we have not the certain prospect of discharging them. The command, however, is, ‘Acquit yourselves of all obligations, tribute, custom, fear, honor, or whatever else you may owe, but remember that the debt of love is still unpaid, and always must remain so; for love includes all duty, since he that loves another fulfills the law.'‹69› He that loveth another hath fulfilled ( πεπλήρωκε) the law. It is already done. That is, all the law contemplated, in its specific commands relating to our social duties, is attained when we love our neighbor as ourselves.


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Hodge, Charles. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hdg/romans-13.html.

The Bible Study New Testament

Be in debt to no one. Some think this means a Christian should not use credit or borrow money. But most see it continuing the thought of Romans 13:7, and understand it to mean: "Pay every just claim, not only to government, but to everyone. The debt of love, though fully paid, is still always owed!" Has obeyed the Law. "Has obeyed" implies that obedience is already completed in the simple act of love.


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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Romans 13:8". "The Bible Study New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/romans-13.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

: Owe no man anything, save to love one another: for he that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law.

This verse has troubled numerous Christians. Many have read this passage and concluded that all forms of credit are wrong. Those holding to this view have reasoned, "If we use credit we owe someone. Since owing (opheilo) someone is wrong, credit is wrong." This has been especially troubling for those who needed to borrow money for large purchases like houses, cars, and college. If we consider a parallel passage (God's people in some respects are in the lending business, Matthew 5:42), the conclusion commonly drawn by people must be rejected.

There is a connection between the word "render" in verse7 (a word meaning repayment of debts of obligations) and "owe no man anything" (verse8). When joined together these two verses mean all debts must be paid. Instead of condemning credit or borrowing, Paul told Christians to make good on their debts. This is true for our tax obligations as well as personal bills. As long as we are a "good debtor" (we pay the bills when they come due), God is pleased. Additional proof that using credit is right may be found in Philemon 1:17-18. Paul had an "account" (a "credit line"). Since this was permissible for Paul, it is acceptable for us.

A practical illustration of what Paul wrote may be drawn from the automobile industry. Suppose a car is financed for a four-year period and the payments are due on the20th of every month. If the payment is made by the20th of the month, does the Christian owe anything? The creditor, having received the monthly payment, would say nothing more is owed for that month; payment has been made. It is only when payments are not made that people owe in the sense of Romans 13:8. When people fail to meet their financial obligations, this failure is sin. This sin is a form of theft. Not making car payments is tantamount to stealing a vehicle from a car dealer.

One of the debts we cannot pay (or repay) is "love" (8a). We are to "love our neighbor" and this is a perpetual debt. Our neighbors are the people Jesus described in Luke 10:29-37. Other useful cross-references are John 13:34-35; 1 Corinthians 16:14; Ephesians 5:2; Colossians 3:14; 1 John 3:14; 1 John 3:23; 1 John 4:7; 1 John 4:11; 1 John 4:21. Our debt of love may be described as "invincible good will, unconquerable benevolence" (McGuiggan quoting E.S. Jones, p376). McGuiggan (p377) also noted that "Love checks no pedigree or social record before acting. It is absolutely class and color blind. It doesn't check the breath for liquor or the skin for puncture marks. It doesn't find the long-haired boy obnoxious or the gaudy clothes intolerable." When verses7,8 are considered together, a contrast is seen. Paul emphasized "mutual love as the highest and most comprehensive obligation, which supersedes all other obligations-even those mentioned in v7" (Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament, 2:552). If we have the right kind of love, everything else will flow from that.

When we love our neighbor we "fulfill the law." Paul made this same point in Galatians 5:14. When Paul described loving others, he used the word agape (this term is found in both Romans 13:8 and Galatians 5:14). Both of these passages also have the word "fulfilled" (in each passage the term fulfilled is in the perfect tense). The combination of love, fulfill, and law means agape love allows us to meet all the demands and requirements of the law. The perfect tense tells us that having the right kind of love makes our obedience to God complete. Those who truly love are those who obey the laws and requirements under which they live ( John 14:15).

Even the Old Testament demonstrates the blending of love and law. Those under the Law of Moses were obligated to have this type of love ( Leviticus 19:18). However, this love did not release the Hebrews from keeping the other commandments such as the Sabbath day, honoring one's parents, tithing, etc. The New Testament obligates Christians to love others as well as carry out other responsibilities ( Romans 12:9-21). Love is the fulfillment of the law because it motivates us to carry out all the Christian responsibilities found in Scripture.


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Bibliography
Price, Brad "Commentary on Romans 13:8". "Living By Faith: Commentary on Romans". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bpc/romans-13.html.

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