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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
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1 Let every person be subordinate to the higher
authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist
have been established by God.
Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes
what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon
For rulers are not a cause of fear to good
conduct, but to evil. Do you wish to have no fear of authority? Then do what is
good and you will receive approval from it,
for it is a servant of God for your good. But
if you do evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword without purpose; it
is the servant of God to inflict wrath on the evildoer.
Therefore, it is necessary to be subject not
only because of the wrath but also because of conscience.
This is why you also pay taxes, for the
authorities are ministers of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.
Pay to all their dues, taxes to whom taxes are
due, toll to whom toll is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom
honor is due.
2 Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one
another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
The commandments, "You shall not commit
adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,"
and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying,
(namely) "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love
is the fulfillment of the law.
3 And do this because you know the time; it is
the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than
when we first believed;
the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let
us then throw off the works of darkness (and) put on the armor of light;
let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day,
4 not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and
licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no
provision for the desires of the flesh.
1 [1-7] Paul must come to grips with
the problem raised by a message that declares people free from the law. How are
they to relate to Roman authority? The problem was exacerbated by the fact that
imperial protocol was interwoven with devotion to various deities. Paul builds
on the traditional instruction exhibited in ⇒ Wisdom 6:1-3,
according to which kings and magistrates rule by consent of God. From this
perspective, then, believers who render obedience to the governing authorities
are obeying the one who is highest in command. At the same time, it is
recognized that Caesar has the responsibility to make just ordinances and to
commend uprightness; cf ⇒ Wisdom 6:4-21. That Caesar
is not entitled to obedience when such obedience would nullify God's prior
claim to the believers' moral decision becomes clear in the light of the
2 [8-10] When love directs the
Christian's moral decisions, the interest of law in basic concerns, such as
familial relationships, sanctity of life, and security of property, is
safeguarded (⇒ Romans 13:9). Indeed, says Paul, the
same applies to any other commandment (⇒ Romans
13:9), whether one in the Mosaic code or one drawn up by local
magistrates under imperial authority. Love anticipates the purpose of public
legislation, namely, to secure the best interests of the citizenry. Since
Caesar's obligation is to punish the wrongdoer (⇒ Romans
13:4), the Christian who acts in love is free from all legitimate
3 [11-14] These verses provide the
motivation for the love that is encouraged in ⇒ Romans
4  Let us conduct ourselves
properly as in the day: the behavior described in ⇒ Romans
1:29-30 is now to be reversed. Secular moralists were fond of making
references to people who could not wait for nightfall to do their carousing.
Paul says that Christians claim to be people of the new day that will dawn with
the return of Christ. Instead of planning for nighttime behavior they should be
concentrating on conduct that is consonant with avowed interest in the Lord's
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