Be Subject to Government
1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God [granted by His permission and sanction], and those which exist have been put in place by God.(A) 2 Therefore whoever (a)resists [governmental] authority resists the ordinance of God. And those who have resisted it will bring judgment (civil penalty) on themselves. 3 For [civil] authorities are not a source of fear for [people of] good behavior, but for [those who do] evil. Do you want to be unafraid of authority? Do what is good and you will receive approval and commendation. 4 For he is God’s servant to you for good. But if you do wrong, [you should] be afraid; for he does not carry the [executioner’s] sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an avenger who brings punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be subject [to civil authorities], not only to escape the punishment [that comes with wrongdoing], but also as a matter of principle [knowing what is right before God]. 6 For this same reason you pay taxes, for civil authorities are God’s servants, devoting themselves to governance. 7 Pay to all what is due: tax to whom tax is due, customs to whom customs, respect to whom respect, honor to whom honor.
8 (b)Owe nothing to anyone except to (c)love and seek the best for one another; for he who [unselfishly] loves his neighbor has fulfilled the [essence of the] law [relating to one’s fellowman].(B) 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,” and any other commandment are summed up in this statement: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”(C) 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor [it never hurts anyone]. Therefore [unselfish] love is the fulfillment of the Law.
11 Do this, knowing that this is a critical time. It is already the hour for you to awaken from your sleep [of spiritual complacency]; for our salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed [in Christ]. 12 The night [this present evil age] is almost gone and the day [of Christ’s return] is almost here. So let us fling away the works of darkness and put on the [full] armor of light. 13 Let us conduct ourselves properly and honorably as in the [light of] day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and irresponsibility, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for [nor even think about gratifying] the flesh in regard to its improper desires.
a. Romans 13:2: An exception to this is recorded in Acts 5:27-29. See especially v 29.
b. Romans 13:8: Debt is generally to be avoided, but Paul probably is addressing debt to individuals with whom one has a personal relationship.
c. Romans 13:8: The key to understanding this and other statements about love is to know that this love (the Greek word agape) is not so much a matter of emotion as it is of doing things for the benefit of another person, that is, having an unselfish concern for another and a willingness to seek the best for other believers.