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Christians Should Obey the Law

13 All of you must obey the government rulers. No one rules unless God has given him the power to rule. And no one rules now without that power from God. So if anyone is against the government, he is really against what God has commanded. And so he brings punishment on himself. Those who do right do not have to fear the rulers. But people who do wrong must fear them. Do you want to be unafraid of the rulers? Then do what is right, and the ruler will praise you. He is God’s servant to help you. But if you do wrong, then be afraid. The ruler has the power to punish; he is God’s servant to punish those who do wrong. So you must obey the government. You must obey not only because you might be punished, but because you know it is the right thing to do.

And this is also why you pay taxes. Rulers are working for God and give their time to their work. Pay everyone, then, what you owe him. If you owe any kind of tax, pay it. Show respect and honor to them all.

Loving Others

Do not owe people anything. But you will always owe love to each other. The person who loves others has obeyed all the law. The law says, “You must not be guilty of adultery. You must not murder anyone. You must not steal. You must not want to take your neighbor’s things.”[a] All these commands and all others are really only one rule: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”[b] 10 Love never hurts a neighbor. So loving is obeying all the law.

11 I say this because we live in an important time. Yes, it is now time for you to wake up from your sleep. Our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The “night”[c] is almost finished. The “day”[d] is almost here. So we should stop doing things that belong to darkness and take up the weapons used for fighting in the light. 13 Let us live in a right way, as in the daytime. We should not have wild parties or get drunk. There should be no sexual immorality or evil conduct, no fighting or jealousy. 14 But clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. Forget about satisfying your sinful self.

Footnotes

  1. 13:9 “You . . . things.” Quotation from Exodus 20:13–15, 17.
  2. 13:9 “Love . . . yourself.” Quotation from Leviticus 19:18.
  3. 13:12 “night” This is used as a symbol of the sinful world we live in. This world will soon end.
  4. 13:12 “day” This is used as a symbol of the good time that is coming, when we will be with God.

Submission to Governing Authorities

13 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities,(A) for there is no authority except that which God has established.(B) The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted,(C) and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.(D) For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.(E) Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.(F)

This is also why you pay taxes,(G) for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes;(H) if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Love Fulfills the Law

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.(I) The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,”[a](J) and whatever other command there may be, are summed up(K) in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b](L) 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.(M)

The Day Is Near

11 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come(N) for you to wake up from your slumber,(O) because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.(P) So let us put aside the deeds of darkness(Q) and put on the armor(R) of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness,(S) not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.(T) 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ,(U) and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.[c](V)

Footnotes

  1. Romans 13:9 Exodus 20:13-15,17; Deut. 5:17-19,21
  2. Romans 13:9 Lev. 19:18
  3. Romans 13:14 In contexts like this, the Greek word for flesh (sarx) refers to the sinful state of human beings, often presented as a power in opposition to the Spirit.

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