Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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ROMANS - Chapter 13

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Romans 13

Supplemental Commentary:

II:  MORAL:  The Duties of Christians  12, 1 -- 15, 13 (continued)

13, 1-7:  Obedience.  St. Paul here takes up the obedience of Christians to civil authority.    1.  Higher: said of any civil official in relation to private individuals.  No authority except from God: i.e., legitimate authority exercised for the common good in accordance with the laws of God and man's inalienable rights.  Society derives from the nature of man, and hence from God the author of that nature.  Paul is not here concerned with illegitimate civil rulers.    2.  Condemnation: pronounced by civil authority but ratified by God.    3.  A terror: a cause of fear.    4.  The sword: the symbol of power to punish.  Again in this statement Paul has in view legitimate government.    5.  For conscience' sake: because the authority is derived from God.    6.  This is also why: i.e., for conscience' sake.  Unto this very end: the gathering of taxes for the maintenance of the government.    7.  To all men: in the context, to all who are in a position of authority.  Tribute: levies on real and personal property.  Taxes: import and export duties.

13, 8-10:  Charity a Social Duty.    8 f.  The obligation of fraternal love is a debt that can never be fully paid.  The Law: the ethical element of the Mosaic Law, as regards our neighbor.  The order in which Paul enumerates the commandments is not that of Ex. 20, 13 f; Duet. 5, 17 f.  But ancient manuscripts also vary in this regard.  The Clementine Vulgate, with some support in the codices, adds: "Thou shalt not bear false witness."    10.  Love excludes any desire to injure another and impels one to fulfill his obligations to another.  Thus it reaches the negative and positive purpose of the Law.

13, 11-14:  The Spirit of Christ.    11.  And this do: i.e., the content of the exhortation beginning at 12, 1.  The time: the present life, that in which man works out his salvation.  Sleep: the state of sin and indifference to the concerns of salvation.  Salvation is nearer, etc.: we are nearer to eternal salvation than at the time of our conversion.    12.  The night: the present life; the day: eternal life.  Works of darkness: sinful deeds; armor of light: virtue, especially faith, hope and charity (cf. Eph. 6, 13-17; 1 Thess. 5, 8).    13.  As in the day: when one's actions are observable.    14.  Put on the Lord, etc.: to imitate Christ, to live the life of Christ.  As for the flesh, etc.: this does not forbid reasonable care of the body, but rather such a care of it that leads to sinful desires.  This passage led to the conversion of St. Augustine (Confessions, viii. 12).


Confraternity Bible:

Obedience  1 Let everyone be subject to the higher authorities, for there exists no authority except from God, and those who exist have been appointed by God.  2 Therefore he who resists the authority resists the ordinance of God; and they that resist bring on themselves condemnation.  3 For rulers are a terror not to the good work but to the evil.  Dost thou wish, then, not to fear the authority?  Do what is good and thou wilt have praise from it.  4 For it is God's minister to thee for good.  But if thou dost what is evil, fear, for not without reason does it carry the sword.  For it is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who does evil.  5 Wherefore you must needs be subject, not only because of the wrath, but also for conscience' sake.  6 For this is also why you pay tribute, for they are the ministers of God, serving unto this very end.  7 Render to all men whatever is their due; tribute to whom tribute is due; taxes to whom taxes are due; fear to whom fear is due; honor to whom honor is due.

Charity a Social Duty  8 Owe no man anything except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the Law.  9* For
"Thou shalt not commit adultery;

Thou shalt not kill;

Thou shalt not steal;

Thou shalt not covet";
and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying,
"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." 
10 Love does no evil to a neighbor. Love therefore is the fulfillment of the Law.

The Spirit of Christ  11 And this do, understanding the time, for it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep, because now our salvation is nearer than when we came to believe.  12 The night is far advanced; the day is at hand.  Let us therefore lay aside the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light.  13 Let us walk becomingly as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in debauchery and wantonness, not in strife and jealousy.  14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and as for the flesh, take no thought for its lusts.
__________

*

9: Ex. 20, 13-17; Lev. 19, 18.