Here is a Bible study with commentaries and a summary for Romans chapter 13.
Romans 13: 1-2 “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist were instituted by God. That is why anyone who resists authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will face judgment. “
Paul is clear on what God’s expectations are for believers in the world. From verse one he says that all authority comes from God and when we resist authority we resist God Himself because the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Anyone who resists the authorities will incur God’s judgment, either on the Day of Judgment or today with law enforcement authorities.
Who is Paul talking about here?
Who were the authorities that existed then?
Does exceeding the speed limit resist God’s authority?
Where does all authority come from?
Are there any exceptions for resisting those appointed by God (Acts 5:29)?
What does the “judgment of God” look like on offenders in this society?
Romans 13: 3-5 “For rulers are not a terror for good behavior, but for bad behavior. Would you not be afraid of the one in authority? So do what is right, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not carry the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who executes the wrath of God on the evildoer. One must therefore be submissive, not only to avoid the wrath of God, but also for the good of one’s conscience.
So being obedient, submissive, and a loyal citizen and worker is not an option. It is an order. When you see the blue lights flashing behind you and you are not breaking the law, then “you are not afraid” at all. But if you are, then you will be really scared. Likewise, God has placed people in society and in the church as He pleases. Some churches have a deacon and an elder and every church should have a pastor, but they act with authority for the good of the body of Christ just as God has placed in authority over us those who protect and serve as law enforcement officials, firefighters, and emergency services. We must obey the law at work, in public, and yes, in private, for these men and women are the agents of God and it is God who has placed each in his position of authority, as he pleased, not us. It’s by His purpose and His purpose. Be a law-abiding citizen and you have nothing to fear.
What would it look like in a society without law enforcement (authorities)?
Who does the man or the woman of the police really work for?
How are “rulers a terror for good works?” “
Why should we obey our leaders for our “conscience”?
How would God show His anger if we break the law?
Romans 13: 6-7 “For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, dealing with this very thing. Pay everyone what is owed to them: taxes to whom tax is due, income to whom income is due, respect to whom we owe respect, honor to whom honor is due.
Clearly, Paul is saying that we are to esteem those in authority, show them respect and honor because it is their right granted by God. He doesn’t say give them the honor if they deserve it. Do you think that when Paul wrote this, Nero deserved to be honored? They were probably using taxes to pay for an occupying army! This clearly shows that we must obey the law and pay our taxes like Jesus said “give back to Caesar what is Caesar” (Mark 12:17) but also to pay customs (which means “fees” or money), fear those in authority and honor all men and women.
Are there any exceptions to non-payment of taxes?
What does it mean to give everyone their due?
It doesn’t matter who is in the job?
Who does the honor go to?
Romans 13: 8-10 “Do not owe anything to anyone except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. Because the commandments “You will not commit adultery, you will not kill, you will not steal, you will not covet”, and all other commandments are summed up in this saying: “You will love your neighbor as yourself. Love does not hurt a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
It doesn’t mean that we can’t get a loan for a car or a house, but we don’t have to own anyone except to love them. Love is the fulfillment of the law, but not a means of being saved by the law. To love our neighbor well, we must treat him as we treat ourselves. Do we sometimes go without food, clothing or shelter? If we have the means, we must love our neighbor, but not only with words but in our actions. To love is a verb. It’s not just what you say… it’s even more what you do.
Does that mean we should never get a loan?
What debt does Paul seem to write about?
Did Jesus consider hatred to be a murder of the heart (Mt 5: 21-22)?
Is gossip the same as “bearing false witness?”
When we gossip about others, are we breaking the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves?
Why is love “the fulfillment of the law?”
Romans 13: 11-13 “Also, you know the hour when the hour has come for you to wake up from your sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we believed. The night is far away; the day is near. So let’s cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly like the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarrels and jealousy.
The apostle Paul, like most members of the early church, may have believed that Jesus would return very soon, hence Paul’s statement that “the day is near.” He worried that we were living as Jesus was coming back today because he could, but that means getting rid of all those old sins we walked in like drunkenness, sexual immorality, jealousy and arguing. . It is not at all fit for a Christian.
What does Paul mean by “to wake up?” “
What day is at hand?
Why is our salvation nearer now than the day we were saved?
What does Paul mean by writing that the night is far away?
What are the “works of darkness? “
What does it mean to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ?
How not to take provisions for the flesh?
How different would the world be if Christians took to heart these commandments to be a good neighbor, citizen, employer / employee, and another member of the Body of Christ? So indeed it would be said of all of us, collectively, that “Those who turned the world upside down have come here also” (Acts 17: 6). Maybe he should read that we put the world the right way because that’s how God originally intended us to live, at least until the fall in the Garden ruined him.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is the pastor of Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the senior editor of What Christians Want To Know, whose mission is to equip, encourage and energize Christians and answer questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.