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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

Romans 13



Other Authors
Verse 1

Every soul

Every man. See on Romans 11:3.

Higher powers ( ἐξουσίαις ὑπερεχούσαις )

Lit., authorities which have themselves over. See on Mark 2:10; see on John 1:12.

The powers that be ( αἱ δὲ οὖσαι )

Lit., the existing. Powers is not in the text, and is supplied from the preceding clause.

Are ordained ( τεταγμέναι εἰσίν )

Perfect tense: Have been ordained, and the ordinance remains in force. See on set under authority, Luke 7:8.

Verse 2

He that resisteth ( ὁ ἀντιτασσόμενος )

Lit., setteth himself in array against. See on 1 Peter 5:5; see on Acts 18:6.

Resisteth ( ἀνθέστηκεν )

Rev., better, withstandeth. See on Romans 9:19.

Ordinance ( διαταγῇ )

From τάσσω toput in place, which appears in the first resisteth. He setteth himself against that which is divinely set.

Damnation ( κρῖμα )

Judicial sentence. Rev., better, judgment.

Verse 4

Beareth ( φορεῖ )

Beareth and weareth. A frequentative form of φέρω tobear.

Sword ( μάχαιραν )

See on Revelation 6:4. Borne as the symbol of the magistrate's right to inflict capital punishment. Thus Ulpian: “They who rule whole provinces have the right of the sword (jus gladii ).” The Emperor Trajan presented to a provincial governor, on starting for his province, a dagger, with the words, “For me. If I deserve it, in me.”

Verse 6

Pay ye tribute ( φόρους τελεῖτε )

Τελεῖτε yepay is, literally, ye accomplish or fulfill carrying the sense of the fulfillment of an obligation. Φόρους tributeis from φέρω tobring something brought. Rev. makes the verb indicative, ye pay.

God's ministers ( λειτουργοὶ Θεοῦ )

See on ministration, Luke 1:23, and see on ministered, Acts 13:2. In Romans 13:4, διάκονος is used for minister. The word here brings out more fully the fact that the ruler, like the priest, discharges a divinely ordained service. Government is thus elevated into the sphere of religion. Hence Rev., ministers of God's service.

Attending continually

The same word as continuing steadfastly in Romans 12:12.

Verse 7

To all

Probably all magistrates, though some explain all men.

Tribute - custom ( φόρον - τέλος )

Tribute on persons: custom on goods.

Verse 8

Another ( τὸν ἕτερον )

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

Verse 9

Thou shalt not commit adultery, etc.

Omit thou shalt not bear false witness. The seventh commandment precedes the sixth, as in Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; James 2:11.

It is briefly comprehended ( ἀνακεφαλαιοῦται )

Only here and Ephesians 1:10. Rev., it is summed up. Ἁνά has the force of again in the sense of recapitulation. Compare Leviticus 19:18. The law is normally a unit in which there is no real separation between the commandments. “Summed up in one word.” The verb is compounded, not with κεφαλή headbut with its derivative κεφάλαιον themain point.

Namely thou shalt love, etc. ( ἐν τῷ ἀγαπήσεις )

The Greek idiom is, it is summed up in the thou shalt love, the whole commandment being taken as a substantive with the definite article.

Neighbor ( τὸν πλησίον )

See on Matthew 5:43.

Verse 11

And that knowing the time - now

Referring to the injunction of Romans 13:8. Knowing, seeing that ye know. The time ( τὸν καιρόν ), the particular season or juncture. Rev., season. See on Matthew 12:1. Now ( ἤδη ), better, already.

Our salvation ( ἡμῶν ἡ σωτηρία )

Others, however, and better, as Rev., construe ἡμῶν ofus (salvation of us, i.e., our ) with nearer, and render salvation is nearer to us. This is favored by the order of the Greek words. The other rendering would lay an unwarranted emphasis on our. The reference is apparently to the Lord's second coming, rather than to future glory.

Verse 12

Is far spent ( προέκοψεν )

The A.V. gives a variety of renderings to this verb. Luke 2:52, increased; Galatians 1:14, profited; 2 Timothy 3:9, proceed; 2 Timothy 3:13, wax. The word originally means to beat forward or lengthen out by hammering. Hence to promote, and intransitively to go forward or proceed.

Let us cast off ( ἀποθώμεθα )

As one puts off the garments of the night. For this use of the simple τίθημι , see on giveth his life, John 10:11.

Verse 13

Honestly ( εὐσχημόνως )

Honest is originally honorable, and so here. Compare Wyclif's version of 1 Corinthians 12:23: “And the members that be unhonest have more honesty; for our honest members have need of none.” From εὐ well σχῆμα fashionSee on Matthew 17:2. Hence becomingly. Compare 1 Corinthians 14:40; 1 Thessalonians 4:12. The word refers more particularly to the outward life, and thus accords with walk, and in the day the time of observation.

Rioting ( κώμοις )

Lit., revellings. See on 1 Peter 4:3.

Drunkenness ( μέθαις )

See on Luke 21:34; see on John 2:10.

Wantonness ( ἀσελγείαις )

See on lasciviousness, Mark 7:22. All these three are plural: riotings, drunkennesses, wantonnesses.

Envying ( ζήλω )

Rev., jealousy. See on James 3:14.

Verse 14

Provision ( πρόνοιαν )

Etymologically akin to take thought for, in 13:17.


In the moral sense: the depraved nature.


Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Romans 13:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

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