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Romans 13 Authority, Love, and the Christian Life

Summary

Paul gives the general principle that people are to submit to governing authorities. God has established authorities in life, and his authority in the political sphere works out through the governing power. Paul does not mention exceptions, such as if a law is contrary to Scripture or to the Constitution of a nation or to the accepted common law. The established authority is directed to punish evil and to promote good; it is given for good. Paul gives two reasons for why we submit to governing authorities: fear of punishment if one disobeys, and to motivate correct submission by appealing to conscience. Taxes are paid to make it possible for the authority to punish evil and promote good (Romans 13.1-7). Along with owing submission to governing powers, believers owe love to one another. Love fulfills God’s moral standard for the way people are to treat one another (Romans 13.8-10). Paul then makes a logical and expected conclusion to his instructions about political authority and love. Since our anticipated salvation is closer than it was when we believed, we should behave properly—we are people of light, not darkness. To do this we need to put on the character of the Lord Jesus Christ, and not allow our flesh to dominate us (Romans 13.11-14).

Outline

  1. Romans 13:1-7. God delegates authority to certain people and God designed this authority for good, to punish evil doers and promote good.
  2. Romans 13:8-10. Believers owe love to each other and those who love do no harm and also fulfill God’s moral standard to each other.
  3. Romans 13:11-14. Our anticipated salvation is closer than it was when we believed and we should behave properly by putting on the character of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Select doctrines

  1. Governing authority
  2. Spiritual and human freedom
  3. Godly love
  4. Love neighbor as yourself
  5. Spiritual growth
  6. Spiritual maturity