Romans 13:8-14

Fulfilling the Law Through Love

8 1Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for 2the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
9 For the commandments, 3"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: 4"You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore 5love is the fulfilling of the law.
11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you 6to wake from sleep. 7For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.
12 8The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us 9cast off 10the works of darkness and 11put on the armor of light.
13 12Let us walk properly as in the daytime, 13not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, 14not in quarreling and jealousy.
14 But 15put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, 16to gratify its desires.

Romans 13:8-14 Meaning and Commentary


The principal things contained in this chapter, enjoined the saints, are the duties of subjection to magistrates, love to one another, and to all men, and temperance and chastity in themselves: it begins with duties relating to the civil magistrates, requiring obedience of everyone unto them, Ro 13:1, and that for these reasons, because the civil magistracy, or government, is by divine appointment; wherefore to obey them in things of a civil nature, is to obey God; and to resist them is to resist God; and also because of the pernicious consequence of such resistance, damnation to themselves, Ro 13:2, for the magistrate not only causes terror by penal laws, but he inflicts punishment on delinquents, and is the executioner of God's wrath and vengeance on such, Ro 13:3,4, and likewise because of the profit and advantage to obedient subjects; such not only have the good will and esteem of their rulers, and are commended by them, but are defended and protected in their persons and properties, Ro 13:3,4, moreover, the apostle enforces the necessity of subjection to them, not only in order to avoid punishment, but to answer a good conscience; this duty being according to the light of nature, and the dictates of a natural conscience; which if awake, must be uneasy with a contrary behaviour, Ro 13:5, and for the same reason he urges the payment of tribute to them, as well as on account of the reasonableness of it, taken from magistrates spending their time, and using their talents, in an attendance on the service of the public, Ro 13:6, and which is further confirmed by the general rule of justice and equity, or of doing that which is just and right to everyone, of which particulars are given, Ro 13:7, and then after a general exhortation to pay all sorts of debts owing to superiors, inferiors, or equals, the apostle passes to the debt of love owing to one another, and to all mankind; which is exhorted to on this consideration, that the performance of it is a fulfilling the law, Ro 13:8, which is proved, by showing that the several precepts of the law, of which an enumeration is given, are reducible to, and are included in love to our neighbours as ourselves, Ro 13:9, and since it is the nature of love not to work ill, but to do good to the neighbour, the conclusion follows, that it must be as asserted, that love is the fulfilment of the law, and ought by all means to be attended to, as a principal duty of religion, Ro 13:10, next the apostle proceeds to exhort the saints to a watchful, chaste, sober, and temperate course of life; as being perfectly agreeable to the privileges they enjoyed, to the present condition they were in, and to that future state of happiness they were in expectation of: he exhorts to be watchful and sober, and not indulge sleep and slothfulness, in consideration of the time in which they were, and with which they were acquainted, it being not night, but day; at least the one was wearing off, and the other coming on; the time of life being short, and the day of salvation approaching nearer and nearer, Ro 13:11,12, wherefore such actions should be done, as are agreeable to the day, and not the night, to light, and not darkness; and particularly such works of darkness are dissuaded from, which are contrary to temperance and sobriety, as rioting, and drunkenness; and to chastity, as chambering: and wantonness; and to peace and concord, as strife and envying, which frequently follow upon the former: and the chapter is concluded with an exhortation to faith in Christ, and an imitation of him, expressed in a figurative way by a metaphor, taken from the putting on of garments; and with a dehortation from an immoderate provision for the flesh, so as to promote, excite, and cherish, the lusts of it, Ro 13:13.

Cross References 16

  • 1. [Leviticus 19:13; Proverbs 3:27, 28]
  • 2. ver. 10; [Matthew 22:40; Colossians 3:14]; See John 13:34
  • 3. Matthew 19:18; Cited from Exodus 20:13-17; Deuteronomy 5:17-21
  • 4. Cited from Leviticus 19:18
  • 5. [John 14:15]; See ver. 8
  • 6. 1 Corinthians 15:34; Ephesians 5:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:6
  • 7. [Isaiah 56:1; Luke 21:28]
  • 8. [John 9:4]
  • 9. Colossians 3:8
  • 10. Ephesians 5:11; [John 3:20]
  • 11. 2 Corinthians 6:7; Ephesians 6:11, 13; 1 Thessalonians 5:8
  • 12. 1 Thessalonians 4:12
  • 13. Luke 21:34; Galatians 5:21; 1 Peter 4:3
  • 14. James 3:14, 16
  • 15. Galatians 3:27; [Job 29:14; Psalms 132:9; Luke 24:49; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10]
  • 16. Galatians 5:16; 1 Peter 2:11
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.