Romans 13: Bible Study, Commentary and Summary

Romans 13: Bible Study, Commentary and Summary May 26, 2016

Here is a Bible study with commentary and a summary over Romans chapter 13.

Romans 13:1-2 “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”

Paul is clear about what God’s expectations are for believers in the world. Starting in verse one he says that every authority is from God and when we resist authority, we are resisting God Himself because the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Anyone that resists the authorities will incur God’s judgment, either in the Day of Judgment or in the present day with law enforcement authorities.

Who is Paul talking about here?

Who were the authorities that existed then?

Is breaking the speed limit resisting God’s authority?

Where does all authority come from?

Are there any exceptions for resisting those appointed by God (Acts 5:29)?

What does “God’s judgment” on lawbreakers look like in this society?

Romans 13:3-5 “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, 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 bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.”

So being obedient, submissive, and a faithful citizen and worker is not an option. It is a command. When you see the blue lights flashing behind you and you’re not breaking the law, then “you have no fear” at all. But if you are, then you will fear indeed. In the same way, God has placed people in the society and in church as it pleases Him. Some churches have a deacon and an elder and every church should have a pastor, but they are acting in authority for the good of the body of Christ just as God has placed in authority over us those who protect and service like law enforcement, firefighters, and emergency services. We must obey the law while at work, in public, and yes, in private, because these men and women are God’s agents and it is God Who has placed each person in their position authority, as it pleased Him, not us. It is by His design and His purpose. Be a law-abiding citizen and you’ve got nothing to fear.

What would it be like in society with no law enforcement (authorities)?

Who does the man or woman in law enforcement really work for?

How are “rulers a terror to good works?”

Why should we obey our rulers for our “conscience’ sake?”

How would God display His wrath if we break the law?


Romans 13:6-7 “For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”

Clearly, Paul is saying that we are to esteem those in authority, showing them respect and honor because that is their God-granted right. It doesn’t say give them honor if they deserve it. Do you think when Paul wrote this that Nero deserved honor? They were probably using the taxes to pay for an occupying army! This clearly shows we are to obey the law and pay our taxes as Jesus said “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” (Mark 12:17) but also pay customs (which word meant “fees” or money), fear those in authority, and honor to all men and women.

Are there any exceptions to not paying taxes?

What does it mean “render to all their due?”

Does it matter who is in office?

To whom is honor due?

Romans 13:8-10 “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For 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 word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”

This doesn’t mean we can’t get a loan for a car or a house but we are to own no one anything but to love them. Love is the fulfillment of the law but not a way to be saved by the law. To love our neighbor properly, we need to treat them the way that we treat ourselves. Do we ever deprive ourselves of food, clothing or shelter? If we have means, we are to love our neighbor but not with words alone but in our deeds. Love is a verb. It’s not just what you say…it is even more so what you do.

Does this mean that we should never get a loan?

What debt does Paul seem to writing about?

Did Jesus see hate as murdering of the heart (Matt 5:21-22)?

Is gossip the same thing as “bearing false witness?”

When we gossip about others, are we breaking the commandment to love our neighbor as ourself?

Why is love “the fulfillment of the law?”

Romans 13:11-13 “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.”

The Apostle Paul, like most of the early church, may have believed that Jesus was going to return very soon, thus Paul’s statement that “the day is at hand.” He was concerned that we live like Jesus is coming back today, for He could, but this means to cast off all of these old sins that we used to walk in like drunkenness, sexual immorality, jealously, and arguing. That is not becoming of a Christian at all.

What does Paul mean by “waking up?”

What day is it which is at hand?

Why is our salvation nearer now than the day we were saved?

What does Paul mean by writing the night is far spent?

What are the “works of darkness?”

What does it mean by “put on the Lord Jesus Christ?”

How can we not make any provisions for the flesh?


How different would the world be if Christians took to heart these commands to be a good neighbor, citizen, employer/employee, and fellow member of the Body of Christ? Then indeed, it would be said of us all, collectively, that “These that have turned the world upside down are come here also” (Acts 17:6). Maybe it should read we have turned the world right side up because that’s the way God originally intended for us to live, at least until the fall in the Garden ruined it.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address 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.

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