Chapter 13

Obedience to Civil Authority


13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God's appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God.


As Christians we are to abide by and uphold Law and order.   To define this, Paul here means something more that governments for we know that not all governments or rulers abide by or follow after God’s word and they change.  Law and order is the principles that God gave for the protection and well-being of humanity.  So he says that it is God alone who has authority and civil authority exists by His permission only (Prov. 8: 15).


13:2 So the person who resists such authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will incur judgment


Whoever resists civil authorities that uphold Law and order as defined by the word of God are challenging God.   This will bring down judgement upon themselves.


13:3 (for rulers cause no fear for good conduct but for bad). Do you desire not to fear authority? Do good and you will receive its commendation,


Those who abide by the law need not fear those who have authority to see that it is kept.   But those who do things that are wrong can expect to be punished for their misdeeds.   If we do not want to fear those in authority then do that which is right and receive commendation that will honour the Lord.


13:4 for it is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be in fear, for it does not bear the sword in vain. It is God's servant to administer retribution on the wrongdoer.


The one who is appointed to see that the law is kept is a servant of God to see that justice is carried out and that wrong doers are punished.   If we break the law then we must expect to pay the penalty for doing so.  


13:5-7 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of the wrath of the authorities but also because of your conscience. For this reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants devoted to governing. Pay everyone what is owed: taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.


Paul has stated clearly that the civil authorities are of God and therefore as Christians we must obey them as a matter of principle so that we might be right before Him.  This is the reason why we should pay taxes so that as servants of God they can be sustained to carry out their duties.   Not only taxes but we are respect and honour those to whom it is due  (Mark 12: 17).


Love fulfils the Law


13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.



We are to owe no one anything but we are indebted to love because of God's love for us.   If we have love for one another then we fulfil the law of God (Gal. 5: 14, James 2: 8).


13:9 For the commandments, "Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet," (and if there is any other commandment) are summed up in this, "Love your neighbor as yourself."


If we love our neighbour we will not rob him of his wife, we will not take his life or steal  his goods, or say any wrong thing about him.  Neither will we desire any evil towards him (Math 7: 12).   These are just a few of the commandments that Paul uses to illustrate his point.   He covers all when he says it is summed up in  the command  "You shall love your neighbour as yourself" (Math. 19: 19).


(note our neighbour is not just the person living next door to us but is in fact everyone)


13:10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.


Love for our neighbour will not seek to do him any harm it is to have a pure motive in doing that which is just and good.   Love meets all the requirements of the law.


Knowing the Time


13:11 And do this because we know the time, that it is already the hour for us to awake from sleep, for our salvation is now nearer than when we became believers.


As believers we are not ignorant of the times (1 Thes. 5: 1 -2).   The return of the Lord Jesus Christ is much nearer now than when we first believed.   Therefore we are toarouse ourselves to the reality of it (Mark 13: 35 - 37) and make certain we are ready for it (Luke 12: 40).


13:12 The night has advanced toward dawn; the day is near. So then we must lay aside the works of darkness, and put on the weapons of light.


Night refers to the present evil age in which we are living in.   It is fast coming to a close.   The day is the day of Christ's return.   Hence we are to put on the "armour of light" (Eph. 6: 13 - 17).   Christ is the light (John 12: 35) and we are to walk in the light of Him.   That is live as He would have us to even as he lived and have no fellowship with darkness (Eph. 5: 11).


13:13 Let us live decently as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in discord and jealousy.


We are to live and conduct ourselves in a way that will glorify God and be acceptable to Him.   Not wasting  our lives in having a "good time" or in drunkenness, immorality, riotous living, fulfilling the desires of the flesh, or in quarrelling and jealousy.  


13:14 Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to arouse its desires.


But rather we are to "put on" Christ.   That is follow after Christ seeking by His grace to live a life according to the example that He gave (Eph. 4: 24).   To stop thinking about how we can satisfy our physical nature.

Romans 13 Bible study


The Pentecostal Bible Commentary

1 Corinthians

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