MDB 28: Romans 13

Stephen Nichols

Always an intriguing chapter, Romans 13 challenges us all in the way we relate to government and to the state. We need to remind ourselves of the government in place over Paul and the Christians at Rome while Paul was writing his epistle. That should give us some perspective. 

Paul outlines some basic principles. He stresses submission and obedience to government.  He also reminds us that we need to pay taxes. It's what Paul says at the end of verse 7 that also can at times call us up short. We are to also pay respect and honor, in addition to paying our taxes, to whom respect and honor is due. It does seem, contextually speaking, that the respect and honor is due ex officio. The ESV Study Bible note, thanks Tom Schreiner, puts it directly: "So, too, believers are to honor their leaders, even if they are not fully admirable." 

Paul once again returns to the theme of love.  It seems like back in chapter 12 he was relating the law of love to our role in the church, as it comes on the heels of the discussion of spiritual gifts. Here in chapter 13, he continues applying the law of love to our role in society and in culture, as it comes on the heels of his discussion of the state. Here, too, Paul tells us that we can only live out this law of love because we are new people. We have pit on Christ.  We have come out form the darkness and live in the light. We are new creatures, ordered to live according to the new commandment: To love one another. 

Back in Genesis 43, we see Joseph's love for his brothers. He is strategically demonstrating his love for them, despite all they had done to him. Love, Paul tells us, is the only thing we owe each other (Rom 13:8).

On a side note and speaking of the ESV, for those with the ESV Study Bible, I hope you enjoy "The Temple Mount in the Time of Jesus" illustration. It's amazing.