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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Romans 13

 

 

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Verses 1-7

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

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

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

Romans 13:5. The Christian, "moreover, is subject . . . for conscience' sake."

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


Verses 8-10

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

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

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


Verses 11-14

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

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

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

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Romans 13:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/romans-13.html. 1919.

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