Responsibilities Toward Those in Authority
Verse 1 – Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
God is sovereign and over human affairs. When we revel against the government, we are really rebelling against God. Paul is not speaking here of going against God’s laws which we never do.
Verse 2 – Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
Those who rise up against the government itself, who seek anarchy and confusion, and who opposes the regular execution of the laws of the land is what Paul is talking about. However, those laws shall not be such as to violate the rights of conscience, or oppose the laws of God.
Think about how blessed we are that live in the USA; how we have a constitution that governs us; voting rights; and choice of religion. If we don’t like the laws, we can change them by whom we elect to be our leaders.
Verse 3 – For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.
Paul is speaking in general. It may not be universally true, which we know it’s not, that they are not a terror to good works, for many persecute those for trying to do good, but it is generally true that those who obey the law, have no fear of those in authority, unless the rulers are corrupt.
Verse 4 – For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he who does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.
Are there people in authority who are unjust and evil, yes, but Paul is talking about obey those who are just in their ruling, and those under them have nothing to fear, if they do what is right.
Verse 5 – Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience sake.
A good citizen yields obedience because it is the will of God and a Christian makes it a part of life to obey the laws of the land.
Verse 6 – For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very things.
Verse 7 – Render therefore to all their due; taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
If those in government and leadership are corrupt, because God appointed them, He will give them what they deserve. Our obligation as Christians is to pay our taxes so the government can run.
Responsible Towards Our Neighbors
Verse 8 – Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
Verse 9 – For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment; are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
People who focus on the welfare of others, rarely suffer low self-esteem or depression. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you and you won’t be stealing, lying, or committing adultery to your neighbors. Plain and simple. Do good to those in need.
Verse 10 – Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
How easy it is to excuse our indifference to others merely because we have no legal obligation to help them. But Jesus doesn’t leave loopholes in the law of love. When we go that extra mile to help someone, you just might have been what they were praying for.
Verse 11 – And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.
All the requirements of the law toward our neighbor may be met by two things; one is by love; the other is by remembering that we are nearer to eternity than we have ever been. This will prompt us to honesty, truth, and peace.
Verse 12 – The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast of the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
Verse 13 – Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in licentiousness and lewdness, not in strife and envy.
Verse 14 – But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lust.
As Christians, we walk in the “light.” We put on the attributes that Christ has commanded for His followers. Self-gratification leads to all kinds of lust to the flesh; envy, strife, lewdness, licentiousness, and drunkenness. We are told to “Awake” and pay attention to what we are doing, because Jesus is coming back for a church without spot or wrinkle!