Romans 13:1-14 Friday 28 February 2014


Romans 13 continues Paul's guidance to believers in Rome on howto live. He begins with advice on how Christians should relate topolitical rulers (verses 1-7), instructing "every person [to] besubject to the governing authorities" (v. 1). The passage hashistorically been (mis)used to quash legitimate protest, and soneeds to sit alongside other biblical texts concerning politicalrulers. Paul offers here not a full-blown theology of the state,but some key principles, including a call to honour thoseauthorities that do exist. It may be that certain Christians inRome thought that following Jesus as Lord meant that they needn'tpay their taxes, but Paul encourages them to do so (verses 6-7).Political authorities still have a legitimate role within God'sworld.

Verses 8-10 picks up the notion of debt from verse 7 toemphasise that the only debt that always remains is that of lovingone another, which is - as Paul explains - is the real fulfilmentof the law. This does not mean that particular rules have no place,but rather that love sustains and explains particular guidance. Theechoes of Jesus' teaching here are clear (Matthew 22:36-40).

The chapter ends with a reminder to those in Rome that the agethey live in is one between the first coming of Christ and theirfuture salvation (verses 11-14). Christians need to live not ascitizens of darkness who remain in unbelief, but as members of thecoming kingdom. Paul refers to a number of practices that believersshould reject, including drunkenness, licentiousness (sexualimmorality) and jealousy (verse 13). To live with the "armour oflight" (v. 12), believers should "put on the Lord Jesus Christ" (v.14) - being conscious of living in him and for him.

To Ponder

  • In what ways should we show 'honour' to our governingauthorities in the United Kingdom (or wherever you live)today?
  • How can we keep love central in the way that we live asfollowers of Jesus?
  • How might we retain a perspective on life that reflects thetime in which we live - between Christ's first coming and futuresalvation?  

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