Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Romans 13:4-8
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Romans 13:4, 5
vs4, 5: God put civil government in place to do good for those under its authority. He gave it the right to punish and even execute individuals in order to restrain evil behavior and bring justice. This is the reason believers are conscience-bound to submit, so long as what is asked of them does not violate the Word of God. Jesus gave us this principle when He said, “…render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s” (Mt 22:21). Caesar has the right to govern and demand taxes, and God has the right to demand our worship and our obedience to His Word. If any human government oversteps its authority and requires from us things which belong only to God then we must obey God and suffer whatever persecution results from our decision (Ac 4:16-20; 5:27-29, 40-42; 1Pe 2:18-23).

Monday: Romans 13:6, 7
v6: Paul says we pay taxes to support those who serve in government because they are “ministers of God” (Leitourgoi) who are constantly performing their call to restrain evil and impose justice (v4). v7: This command begins with the same word (render) as Jesus’ command to “render to Caesar…” and the parallel seems intentional. Paul seems to be deliberately elaborating on Jesus’ words when he says, “Render to all men what is due them…” and then lists specific areas such as taxes to the one owed taxes, then, toll to the one owed a toll (a fee for a privilege like using a road or crossing a bridge), then, fear to the one owed fear (submissive obedience in this case), and finally, honor to the one owed honor (showing respect; Ac 23:1-5).

Tuesday: Romans 13:7
v7 (continued): If we have any doubt about Paul’s meaning in this passage (Ro 13:1-7) we need only compare it with his instructions to Titus (Titus 3:1, 2) and Timothy (1Ti 2:1-3), or with a similar statement by Peter (1Pe 2:12-17). Peter went on to explain that Jesus left us with an example of patiently enduring harsh treatment at the hands of unjust authorities, and says we should do likewise (1Pe 2:18-23). Both apostles clearly believe the primary business of Christianity is not to withdraw from society or try to overthrow secular government. They acknowledge the right of secular governments to exist and tell believers how to respond to it properly. They don’t even directly criticize evil institutions such as slavery (Eph 6:5-8, Col 3:22-4:1; 1Ti 6:1, 2; Titus 2:9, 10; Phm 16), not because they approve of them or are indifferent to injustice, but because they want us to avoid taking our focus off the single most important calling of the church which is to rescue lost souls from eternal separation from God.

Wednesday: Romans 13:8
v8: Paul’s instruction on how to function in the midst of a hostile society (Ro 12:9-13:7) has ended, and he now begins a lengthy discussion of what it will look like for the Roman church to love one another as themselves (Ro 13:8-15:12). In this section he will emphasize that it’s urgent that they not allow the temptations of the flesh to lure them into sinning against each other (Ro 13:11-14). He will tell them to stop judging one another’s religious convictions and focus instead on themselves (Ro 14:1-12). He will tell them that the real question they need to ask is “Am I doing something that will injure someone else’s faith?” (Ro 14:13-23). He will tell them that obedience to the law of love causes mature believers to become compassionate and patient with those who are less knowledgeable or have a painful history to overcome (Ro 15:1-6).

Thursday: Romans 13:8
v8 (continued): He will tell them God’s goal for us isn’t agreement on all matters, nor uniformity of behavior, but a harmonious unity of love. And finally, he will tell them that the diversity of the church is God’s plan. Through the prophets, God said he would call Jews and Gentiles and put them together into one worshiping family. Now believers, regardless of their background, are to accept one another as freely and completely as Jesus accepted each of us (Ro 15:7-12). v8 (continued): Having just spoken about rendering to each level of human authority what is “owed” (v7), Paul reuses the word (“owe”) to point us to the permanent debt Christians owe each other.

Friday: Romans 13:8
v8 (continued): He begins by saying, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another…” His first words here are literally, “Owe no one anything…” which seems to be a brief, but clear, word of caution against believers loaning money to each other. Anyone who has done so has probably discovered the negative effect such loans have on relationships. If that is what he means we might assume he would also tell us that if a brother or sister is in such a condition that they would need a loan that it would be better for us to give them what they need rather than loan it (Mt 25:35, 36; Lk 3:11; Ac 2:44, 45; Jas 2:15, 16; 1Jn 3:16-18). And business loans for purposes beyond meeting the practical needs of life tend to bring an unhealthy dynamic into the church.

Saturday: Romans 13:8
v8 (continued): After giving this warning he quickly turns to the fact that we are spiritually indebted to love one another. Jesus placed this debt on us when He explained the meaning of the command to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Lk 10:25-37). He said we must do this, and then intensified our debt to one another, making it far more severe, when He commanded us to love one another as He has loved us (Jn 13:34; 15:12, 17). This means we must be willing to die for each other.

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