Romans Chapter 13
My study system:
- Names of God/Jesus/Holy Spirit (I underline these in purple)
- Christian commandments and tips and advice on how to live as a follower of Christ. (I put a green star in the margin and use green parenthesis.)
- Sins and actions not worthy of believers (here I make an upside down triangle in the margin in black and also use parenthesis in the text.)
- References to the passion of the Christ, His sacrifice and any references that have to do with salvation (I mark a red cross in the margin and use red parenthesis).
- God’s love and mercy and grace (pink heart of course and also pink parenthesis)
- Future events and promises, things that we won’t know “for sure” until we die (open blue arrow and blue parenthesis
And this is how that system played out for me with Chapter 13:
My overall impression:
Chapter 13 is again instruction from Paul to believers, this time to be in subjection (submit themselves to) to governing authorities because these authorities are from God. If we truly believe God’s will be done…then no matter how much we may not like those governing over us, we still must be in subjection to them because they were appointed by God. We must remember that God’s ways are not our ways, so we may not understand the “why?” of who He has appointed to govern. This goes back to when Jesus was asked whether or not it was right to pay taxes to Caesar and He answered render to Caesar what is Caesars and render to God what is God’s. As believers we are to follow 2 main commandments, the first being to Love God with all our hearts and minds and souls, and the 2nd to Love our neighbors as ourselves. We are told over and over again the Scriptures that with these 2 commandments all other laws are fulfilled. I love that thought because it supports Jesus telling us that that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. It all comes down to whether or not we trust God.
Paul was again consistent in the terms he used to refer to God in all His forms. “Theos” was used when the title of “God” appears in the text referencing the Triune God. “Kurios” when we see the title “Lord” referencing God-the Messiah.
So I went back and read it again looking for advice, tips, instruction etc.
- vs 1 opens right up with – Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. It doesn’t get more direct than that does it? Paul starts out with a direct statement and then explains the “why”. We don’t have any wiggle room here to argue the point. Even the “worst” (this is subjective and subject to opinions) world leaders were appointed by God and as we are not God, nor will we ever be, so we do not understand His ways or His reasons when it comes to the “big picture”. Every time I read a political article online I go to the comment section and see the reactions of various people. Invariably there are 3 groups: those who are for, those who are against, and those who don’t really care but like to point out faults in the other two groups. (laughs) Anyway, many times it is believers that hit the hardest on particular world leaders and believers should really be the last people to put in their two-cents knowing that God has a plan and a reason for every appointed ruler.
- Vs 3 – Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; Seems like common sense advice to me. Don’t break the laws of the land you are in and you pretty much don’t have to fear the rulers. Break the laws and answer to the authorities right? Yes, there are some governments that persecute believers just because we believe in Christ, but there still should be no “fear” for believers because even if the worst happens and they lose their lives they will be with Christ. Paul said for me to live is Christ, to die is gain…it’s a win/win situation ultimately. No one wants to die before their time but if your eyes are heavenward as they should be, there are way worse ways to die on this earth than to die for the cause of Christ! At least the death of your body would stand for something and mean something. Certainly those persecuted feel “fear” on many levels but it is not a “fear” without blessed hope.
- Vs 8 – 10 – 8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 For this, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
If we follow “Love your neighbor as yourself” everything falls into place with the law. This one commandment covers many. Always put others ahead of yourself. Think of others first, not after the fact. Be a servant to others, rather than be served.
- Vs 14 – But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. Paul reminds believers that the time is nearer than they believed. Whenever there are references about the “timing” of Christ’s return, we need to remember that what we think of as short term or long term is different than how God thinks of time. We all want to believe that Christ’s return will come in our own lifetimes but our lifetimes are so short, just a blink of an eye in comparison to eternity. In fact, we cannot even fathom what “eternity” is or anything. Scripture tells us that no one knows the hour but God. He is the only one who knows the right time. We must be ready for Christ’s return. We must remain vigilant and keep working with the Holy Spirit to effect changes in us. We don’t want to be caught unaware when He returns like a thief in the night.
Then I went through and read again to look for actions not cool for believers:
- vs 2 –Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. This is also pretty direct and for some a harsh condemnation. Read through some of the comments on political articles online and then think of this statement! Ouch! The word “ordinance” is another word for “arrangement”. The word “resists” is the same as “opposed” so you could use them interchangeably in this verse. Both are “Anthistemi”.
- Vs 13 – Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. There are several places that reference the daytime for “good” and the nighttime for “evil”. It is natural for those not wanting to be seen, being convicted by their consciences, to do evil things under cover of darkness. Jealousy is an interesting word because it really has 2 sides, a good side and a bad one. The word is “Zelos” and in reference to “good” is defined as excitement of mind, ardor, fervor of spirit, zeal, ardor in embracing, pursuing, defending anything, zeal in behalf of, for a person or thing. In reference to the “bad” side of “Zelos” the fierceness of indignation, punitive zeal, an envious and contentious rivalry, jealousy. The OT refers to God as a jealous God but this type of jealousy clearly falls into the “good” category of defending etc. So, we really have to study some of these terms more in depth to prevent misunderstandings.
Looking at Christ’s works and our salvation now:
- vs 11-12 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Paul just referenced loving your neighbor as yourself and then goes into the explanation…do this, knowing the time… This is a warning of pure hope! Paul is warning believers to get themselves right with God, get ready for the time is soon…but it is a warning filled with the blessed hope! This breeds excitement and hope and joy and an urgency that every single believer on earth needs to be filled with until Christ returns.
Love of God verses…these verses made me feel good 🙂
- vs 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Wasn’t it also said that Christ was the fulfillment of the law? That means that Christ (God) truly is love. Hallelujah!
Future events, promises .. things we won’t know til later:
- vs 11-12 These verses talk about the night being almost gone… referencing the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ.