Romans 13:8-9 Commentary

 

 

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ROMANS 13:8-9 COMMENTARY

Romans 13:8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: Medeni meden opheilete (2PPAM) ei me to allelous agapan (PAN) o gar agapon (PAPMSN) ton heteron nomon pepleroken (3SRAI)
Amplified: Keep out of debt and owe no man anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor [who practices loving others] has fulfilled the Law [relating to one’s fellowmen, meeting all its requirements].
(Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Phillips: Keep out of debt altogether, except the perpetual debt of love which we owe to one another. The man who loves his neighbor has obeyed the whole Law in regard to his neighbour. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: Stop owing even one person even one thing, except to be loving one another; for the one who is loving another, has fulfilled the law. (
Eerdmans

REFERENCES

Henry Alford
Albert Barnes
Wayne Barber
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Wayne Barber
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Joseph Beet
Brian Bell
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Biblical Illustrator
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John Dummelow
Theodore Epp
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Scott Grant
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Richard Halverson
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Charles Hodge
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Romans 13 Commentary
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Romans 13:6-7 Responsibilities Under Grace 10

Romans 13:8-9 Responsibilities Under Grace 11
Romans 13 Commentary
Romans 13 Commentary
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Romans 13:8-14 Notes

Romans 13 More than 50 Pages
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Romans 13:8-10 Loving the Least

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Romans 13:1-10 The Believer's Secular Duty
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Romans 13:1-7 Should Christians Endorse War?
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Romans 13:1-7 The Christian and Civil Government

Romans 13:8-14 Love, Law, and the Last Days

Romans 13 - Expositor's Greek Testament
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Romans 13:1-10 The Believer as a Member of the State
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Romans 13:1-14 The Christian and the State.
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Romans 13:8-10  You Are In Debt

Romans 12:1-15:33 The Gospel and its Responsibilities
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Tackling the Tough Questions About the Christian and Government
Romans 13:1-5 Obeying Civil Authorities

Romans 13:1 The Christian's Responsibility to Government 1 -Study Guide

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Romans 13:1-3a The Christian's Responsibility to Government 2 - Study Guide

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Romans Commentary - Through the Bible -  Mp3's by chapter/verse
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Romans 13:1-7 Commentary (Cambridge)
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Romans 13:7-14 love is a Fulfilling of the Law, Part 2
Romans 13:7-14 love is a Fulfilling of the Law, Part 3

Romans 13:8-10 loving One Another Fulfills the Law
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Romans 12-16: Inductive Bible Studies

ROMANS ROAD
to RIGHTEOUSNESS
Romans
1
:18-3:20
Romans
3:21-5:21
Romans
6:1-8:39
Romans
9:1-11:36
Romans
12:1-16:27
SIN SALVATION SANCTIFICATION SOVEREIGNTY SERVICE
NEED
FOR
SALVATION
WAY
OF
SALVATION
LIFE
OF
SALVATION
SCOPE
OF
SALVATION
SERVICE
OF
SALVATION
God's Holiness
In
Condemning
Sin
God's Grace
In
Justifying
Sinners
God's Power
In
Sanctifying
Believers
God's Sovereignty
In
Saving
Jew and Gentile
Gods Glory
The
Object of
Service
Deadliness
of Sin
Design
of Grace
Demonstration of Salvation
Power Given Promises Fulfilled Paths Pursued
Righteousness
Needed
Righteousness
Credited
Righteousness
Demonstrated
Righteousness
Restored to Israel
Righteousness
Applied
God's Righteousness
IN LAW
God's Righteousness
IMPUTED
God's Righteousness
OBEYED
God's Righteousness
IN ELECTION
God's Righteousness
DISPLAYED
Slaves to Sin Slaves to God Slaves Serving God
Doctrine Duty
Life by Faith Service by Faith

Modified from Irving L. Jensen's excellent work "Jensen's Survey of the NT"

OWE NOTHING TO ANYONE: Medeni meden opheilete (2PPAM): (Mt 5:42-note , Mt 5:44, 45-notes) (Deuteronomy 24:14,15; Proverbs 3:27,28; Mt 7:12-note; Matthew 22:39,40)

Owe nothing to anyone - "Let no debt remain outstanding" (NIV). "Pay your debts as they come due." (GWT)

Owe (3784) (opheilo from ophelos = profit, an increase) means to owe, and conveys the basic meaning of owing a debt and then of having a strong obligation which can be a moral obligation and personal duty. In this verse opheilo indicates a necessity, owing to the nature of the matter under consideration. In other words, Jesus was obligated (as it were) to do this in order that He might become our High Priest!

The tense is Jesus' command to owe (nothing) is present imperative which when coupled with the negative Greek particle me forbids the continuance of an action already going on. That is, do not continue owing a person. Stop being in debt. Pay your debts.

The connection with (Ro 13:7-note) is between due (opheile) and owe (opheilo) is this verse.

The only thing we are allowed to continually owe is divine love which is produced in the heart of the surrendered saint by the Holy Spirit (Ro 5:5-note Ro 8:4-note, Gal 5:16-note, Gal 5:22-note), a love that is self-sacrificial, reflecting a decision of the will & not based on one's feelings, a love which gives of itself for the benefit or highest good of the person loved (Jn 3:16 is our example).

All of us are debtors to God’s grace. As He has shown us love, we need to extend love to those around us with whom we live and work—even those who tax and govern us.

We owed a debt we could not pay.
Jesus paid a debt He did not owe.

(Jn 19:30-
note)

J. Hudson Taylor (click for biography), (“God’s work, done in God’s way, will receive God’s supply.”) the godly missionary to China, would never incur a debt, basing his conviction on this verse.

Charles Spurgeon, the great Baptist preacher, had the same conviction. However, the Bible does not forbid borrowing or legal financial transactions that involve interest.

Basically, the first part of this verse means “Pay your bills on time.” The admonition here is not to get into arrears (overdue accounts). However Paul is not giving a prohibition against borrowing money, which Scripture permits and regulates (Ex 22:25; Lev 25:35, 36, 37; Deut 15:7, 8, 9; Neh 5:7; Ps 15:5; 37:21, 26; Ezek 22:12; Mt 5:42; Lk 6:34).

Paul’s point is that all our financial obligations must be paid when they are due. [Deut 23:19, 20; 24:10, 11, 12, 13]. But in addition there are certain principles which should guide us in this area. We should not contract debts for nonessentials. We should not go into debt when there is no hope of repaying. We should avoid buying on the installment plan, incurring exorbitant interest charges. We should avoid borrowing to buy a product that depreciates in value. In general, we should practice financial responsibility by living modestly and within our means, always remembering that the borrower is slave to the lender (Pr 22:7).

EXCEPT TO (continually) LOVE ONE ANOTHER: ei me to allelous agapan (PAN): (Jn 13:34, 35 1Jn 3:18)

Love one another - Francis Schaeffer explains that...

All men are our neighbours, and we are to love them as ourselves. We are to do this on the basis of creation, even if they are not redeemed, for all men have value because they are made in the image of God. Therefore they are to be loved even at great cost.

Love (25) (agapao see related study of noun agape) means to love unconditionally and sacrificially as God Himself loves sinful men (John 3:16), the way He loves the Son (John 3:35, 15:9, 17:23, 24). This verb as used in the Scripture (and here by Jesus) expresses the purest, noblest form of love, which is volitional (personal choice), is not motivated by the recipient's superficial appearance, by one's emotional attraction, or by a sentimental relationship.

This quality of love is not just a feeling but ultimately can be known only by the actions it prompts in the one who displays agape love. For example, God gives the supreme example of this love in the sending of His only Son (see 1 John 4:9, 10) to die for undeserving sinners. Obviously then, agapao is not the love of complacency nor is it a love that is dawn out by some excellency in its recipients (e.g., as shown in Ro 5:8 [note]). This type of love was perfectly present in and modeled by Jesus when He lived among men (Ep 5:2-note).

As J C Ryle explained...

Love should be the silver thread that runs through all your conduct.

From these brief notes it is clear that to love one another (whether they are "lovable" or not) requires self denial. In other words agape is a selfless love that thinks of others before it thinks of self.  It follows that the only way one can truly love...another (with this quality of love) is by divine enablement, which Paul explains is the fruit of His Spirit in Ga 5:22 (note).

On the one hand he encourages us to get out of debt—“Let no debt remain outstanding,” (NIV rendering) while on the other hand he tells us we have an ongoing debt of love!

 

The Christian is always a love-debtor, no matter how much love he or she gives.

 

Love is a debt one can never fully discharge.

 

Matthew Henry wrote that...

Brotherly love is the badge of Christ's disciples.

D L Moody echoed Henry's sentiment declaring that...

A man may be a good doctor without loving his patients; a good lawyer without loving his clients; a good geologist without loving science; but he cannot be a good Christian without love.

One another  (240) (allelon) means each other and speaks of a mutuality or sharing of sentiments between two persons or groups of persons. Allelon is a reciprocal pronoun which denotes that the encouragement and edification is to be a mutual beneficial activity. As each submits, encourages, loves, etc, the other members benefit. This is the God's description and prescription for a body of believers.

One another is a common NT phrase (especially in Paul's letters) with most uses relating to the building up of the body of Christ. As such the "one anothers" in the NT would make an excellent Sunday School study (or topical sermon series), taking time to meditate on each occurrence, asking whether it is being practiced (in the Spirit-note) in your local church and seeking to excel still more (cp Php 1:9, 10, 11 -notes; 1Th 3:12-note, 1Th 4:1-note, 1Th 4:10-note). Below is a list  of the NT uses of one another (be sure to check the context for the most accurate interpretation).

Ro 12:10, 16; 13:8; 14:13, 19; 15:5, 7, 14; 16:16; 1Co 6:7; 7:5; 11:33; 12:25; 16:20; 2Co 13:12; Ga 5:13, 15, 26; Ep 4:2, 25, 32; 5:19, 21; Php 2:3; Col 3:9, 13, 16; 1Th 3:12; 4:9, 18; 5:11, 13, 15; 2 Th 1:3; Heb 3:13; 10:24, 25; James 4:11; 5:9, 16; 1Pe 1:22; 4:8, 9, 10; 5:5, 14; 1Jn 1:7; 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11, 12; 2Jn 1:5

Most often "one another" in the NT refers to relationships between believers but in this verse clearly this "one another" refers to any & every person without exception (Gal 6:10, 1Th 3:12) and in context equates with one's "neighbor" (see discussion of "neighbor" below).

We need to exhibit the love of Christ to everyone around us while we have the opportunity. (see study of opportunity or kairos below)

Here's a good exercise to consider: Every time we meet someone we ought to say to ourselves,

I need to show him or her the love of Christ. I have a great and wonderful debt to pay.

If you have ever had a personal debt, be it ever so small, you know that the first thing that enters your mind when you see that person is that you “owe” them. We need to truly see ourselves as spiritual debtors (Ro 1:14-note).

Because of the "revelation" in Ro 1-11, believers now have a "responsibility" & are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh (Ro 8:12-note).

As F B Meyer expressed it...

Whatever of outward service or obedience we render to God or man, if love is withheld, the law is not fulfilled.

When we go to church, town, work, shopping, school—wherever we go, whoever we meet, we owe love. This is our debt—loving others as we love ourselves!.

An early church father wrote

The debt of charity is permanent & we are never quit of it; for we must pay it daily & yet always owe it.

Paul (& Christ's) radical teaching commands but also enables the production of a profound commitment to love among the followers of Christ -- this is a love the world cannot believe but by which they will know we are His disciples (Jn 13:34, 35). The truly radical nature of this love was that the Master’s commandment called them to love as Christ loved them with a sacrificial love, the kind of love that even reaches out to those who wish us harm (as Jesus had done to Judas just moments before he gave the command).

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It Pays Better - What kind of lifestyle do you believe in and live? Is it one of focused selfishness, or one of lovingly seeking to meet the needs of others? (Romans 13:8).

One popular and influential novelist of our day espouses a godless philosophy that is totally self-centered. The hero of one of her early novels says,

"The word we must never be spoken . . . . I see the face of a god, and I raise this god over the earth, . . . who will grant them joy and peace and pride. This god, this one word: I."

What are the results of living entirely for ourselves and not loving our neighbors? Such a lifestyle may bring pride, and according to the author of the quote above, pride is the sum of all the virtues. Yet ruthless self-concern doesn't bring joy, nor does a self-centered lifestyle bring peace. One discerning reviewer made this statement about the selfish novelist: "She seems to be one of the unhappiest persons who ever lived."

God's Word sets forth the precise opposite of such a self-centered philosophy of life. The guiding principle for abundant living is that we love our neighbor as we love ourselves (v.9). What do we experience when we live such a lifestyle? "Righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Ro 14:17-
note). A life of love—it definitely pays better! —V C Grounds (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Love is giving for the world's needs,
Love is sharing as the Spirit leads,
Love is caring when the world cries,
Love is compassion with Christlike eyes. —Brandt

Love is the door through which we pass from selfishness to service.

FOR HE WHO LOVES HIS NEIGHBOR HAS FULFILLED THE LAW: ho gar agapon (PAPMSN) ton heteron nomon pepleroken (3SRAI): (study "good Samaritan" Lk 10:29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36,37) (Mt 22:39 Mk 12:31) (Ro 12:10; Galatians 5:14; Col 3:14-note; 1Timothy 1:5; James 2:8)

For - term of explanation  - Should always prompt inquiry into what is being explained.

 

Loves (25) (agapao from agape) is in the  present tense meaning to continually, unconditionally, sacrificially love. Such a love like an artesian well (Spirit empowered) flows out of the person's lifestyle.
 

In doing this the believer will actually perform the righteousness to which the law could only point. Love, not mere external conformity to rules, is the essence of the Law (Gal 5:14).

 

Calvin wrote

"Paul's design is to reduce all the precepts of the law to love, so that we may know we are duly obeying the commandments when we are maintaining love."

Kent Hughes asks...

"How does loving one’s neighbor fulfill the Law? The Ten Commandments contain two divisions, sometimes called the two tablets. The first division gives us vertical, God ward commands such as, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex 20:3). The second division contains horizontal commands which pertain to human relationships. Each of the divisions can be summed up with a single comprehensive commandment, just as Christ explained in Mt 22:37, 38, 39, 40 (Mk 12:30, 31) when he was asked which is the great commandment. Keep both the vertical and the horizontal commandments and you will keep the whole Law! Here in his letter to the Romans, Paul is assuming that his readers have a vertical love for God, but do they have a horizontal love for others? If so, they are fulfilling God’s Law. When we love our neighbors we will refrain from breaking the horizontal relational commands. (in Ro 13:9 1Jn 4:20) (Hughes, R. K. Romans: Righteousness from heaven. Preaching the Word. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books)

 

Romans 13:9 For this, "YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET," and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF."  (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: to gar ou moicheuseis (2SFAI) , ou phoneuseis(2SFAI) , ou klepseis, ouk epithumeseie(2SFAI) , kai ei tis hetera entole, en to logo touto anakephalaioutai (3SPPI) (en to): agapeseis (2SFAI) ton plesion sou os seauton.
Amplified
: The commandments, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet (have an evil desire), and any other commandment, are summed up in the single command, You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. [Exod. 20:13-17; Lev 19:18]
(Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Phillips:  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 all other commandments are summed up in this one saying: 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself'. Love hurts nobody: therefore love is the answer to the Law's commands. (
Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: For this, You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and if there is any commandment of a different nature, in this word it is summed up, in this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (
Eerdmans

FOR THIS YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY: to gar ou moicheuseis (2SFAI): (Exodus 20:12-17; Deuteronomy 5:16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21; Matthew 19:18,19; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20)

For - The preposition "for" brings out the logical connection.

Paul proceeds to cite 4 of the 10 commandments to show that if one loves, these commandments will be fulfilled. Paul has just said that loving one's neighbor fulfills the Law & now he reiterates with 4 laws relating to our neighbor as found in the second half of the 10 commandments, concluding with the "key" (coveting) that is involved in the other three (Ro 7:7-note ).

In the original giving of the 10 commandments murder preceded adultery but here Paul places the "7th" commandment adultery ahead of the "6th", murder. 

Barclay commenting on adultery as a failure to discharge the debt of love writes

"When two people allow their physical passions to sweep them away, the reason is, not that they love each other too much, but that they love each other too little; in real love there is at once respect & restraint which saves from sin".  (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press)

Adultery (3431) (moicheuo from moichós = an adulterer) is used of one unfaithful to marriage vows. This was a figure of speech in the OT and was synonymous with unfaithfulness to God especially manifest by idolatry.

Related Resource - Solomon's warnings and preventatives against sexual immorality and adultery - See exposition of Pr 5:1-23, Pr 6:20-35 and Pr 7:1-27 (Notes = Proverbs 5:1-14;   Proverbs 5:15-23; Proverbs 6:20-35; Proverbs 7:1-27)

Jesus broadened the meaning of adultery to include not just acts but thoughts, explaining

You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY' but I say to you, that everyone who looks (blepo) on a woman to lust (epithumeo) for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.  And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear (aorist imperative - Do it immediately!) it out, and throw (aorist imperative - Do it immediately!) it from you; for (term of explanation) it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off (aorist imperative - Do it immediately!), and throw (aorist imperative - Do it immediately!) it from you; for (term of explanation) it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell." (Mt 5:27-30-note)

Paul used moicheuo in (Ro 2:22-note) in his prosecution of the Jews who knew the Law but were not backing up with their life what they were saying with their lips, writing to them

"You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?"

YOU SHALL NOT MURDER YOU SHALL NOT STEAL YOU SHALL NOT COVET: ou phoneuseis (2SFAI) ou klepseis ouk epithumeseie (2SFAI):

Exodus 20:13 (Dt 5:17) "You shall not murder."

Murder (5407) (phoneuo) means to  kill a man unjustly. Webster (modern version) says that murder is the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought. (See topic Murder) In the OT passages (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17) the Hebrew word for "murder" refers to pre-meditated, deliberate, intentional murder not accidental killing.

The 1828 Webster's Dictionary defines murder as "he act of unlawfully killing a human being with premeditated malice, by a person of sound mind. To constitute murder in law, the person killing another must be of sound mind or in possession of his reason, and the act must be done with malice prepense, aforethought or premeditated; but malice may be implied, as well as express."

Moses records God's decree after the flood...

And surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man's brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man. (Genesis 9:5,6)

Ryrie comments that...

Homicide (which in a sense is always fratricide [killing a "brother"]) demands a punishment that matches the crime. The justification for capital punishment, here established, is the nobility of human life, which is made in the image of God. Thus murder shows contempt for God as well as for one's fellow man. See Ro 13:4-note, where government is given the power of life or death. (The Ryrie Study Bible: New American Standard Translation: 1995. Moody Publishers)

Before you say this one surely doesn't apply to me, note that Jesus explains that to the Jews (and to us) that

You have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.' "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell." (Mt 5:21-22 - note)

Steal  (2813) (klepto)  (our English kleptomaniac) Paul had used this term once before describing the "religious" Jews in (Ro 2:21-note). If you love your neighbor you won’t take from him.

Covet (1937) (epithumeo  from epi = upon or intensification + thumos = passions) (See also noun epithumia) literally means to fix the desire upon and thus is a graphic word picture. Furthermore, prefix preposition epi- expresses motion toward an object!

Sometimes epithumeo is used in a "good" sense as in (Lk 22:15, Acts 20:33, 1Co 10:6, 1Ti 3:1, Heb 6:11-note, 1Pe 1:12-note) but that is obviously not how Paul is using it in this verse.

It is interesting to note that coveting underlies all the other sins dealt with in the specific commandments which Paul quotes. Why? Because coveting or a strong desire for something that is not mine leads to committing adultery (desiring another's wife), murder  (desiring another's life), and stealing (desiring another's goods)!

When your neighbor drives up in a new automobile, how do you feel about it? Sometimes we say, “I wish we had the car and they had one just like it.” What we really mean is that we would rather have that car than see them have it.

Paul is saying that our love for our neighbor is revealed in what we do rather than in what we say. He is not putting the Christian back under the Law; he is saying that love manifests itself in not committing adultery, not killing, not stealing, not coveting. You can talk about love all you want to, but if you commit these acts against your neighbor, you have no love for him and you are breaking the law (not fulfilling the law).

Clearly Paul is making reference to desiring something one should not desire a meaning  also seen James' question...

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?  You lust (epithumeo) and do not have; so (term of conclusion) you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that (term expressing purpose) you may spend it on your pleasures. (James 4:1-3)

Paul writes that

the flesh sets its desire (present tense = continually = this is a lifelong war!) against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for (term of explanation - what is Paul explaining?) these are in opposition to one another, so that (term expressing purpose)  you may not do the things that you please (Thelo - wish, want, desire - present tense = continually want)." (Gal 5:17-note) .

Paul uses epithumeo to illustrate the purpose of the law (and the power of our fallen flesh), asking the rhetorical question...

What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, "YOU SHALL NOT COVET." (Ro 7:7-note)

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Love Your Neighbor - When Jesus commanded the rich young ruler to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 19:19), what did He mean by the words "as yourself"? And what did the apostle Paul mean when he repeated those words in Romans 13:9?

The statement by our Lord and by Paul is not a command to love ourselves more; it's a recognition that most of us already look after our own welfare in reasonable ways. That is, we love ourselves enough to feed and clothe ourselves, to keep a roof over our heads, and to avoid being cheated or injured. In practice, we should love our neighbor at least that much.

But there's more. In John 15:12, Jesus also commanded His disciples to love one another just as He had loved them. He used the Greek word agape, which signifies an active love that is unconditional, self-sacrificial, and for the good of others. This love is often more of a decision than an emotion. Author David Walls wrote,

"We cannot command feelings, but we can command an active determination of our will."

Even when we don't feel love for someone, if we choose to show love our feelings will usually follow. Let's take the initiative to love our neighbor every day. —J E Yoder (see also What Is Real Love?) (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Lord, teach us the lesson of loving,
To love as You showed us the way;
Then help us to love one another—
For this we most earnestly pray
. —Anon.

True love is an action,
not just a feeling.

AND IF THERE IS ANY OTHER COMMANDMENT IT IS SUMMED UP IN THIS SAYING YOU SHALL LOVE  YOUR NEIGHBOR  AS YOURSELF: kai ei tis hetera entole, en to logo touto anakephalaioutai (3SPPI) (en to): agapeseis (2SFAI) ton plesion sou os seauton: (Leviticus 19:18,34; Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Galatians 5:13; James 2:8, 9, 10)

LOVE IS THE CONSUMMATION
OF THE COMMANDMENTS

Summed up (346) (anakephalaiomai from aná = again + kephalaióo = sum up, recapitulate) means to bring something to a head or bring together under one head or in literary terms under one heading. This word is used only here and in (Ep 1:10 - note)

Rienecker adds

This is a rhetorical term used of the summing up of a speech or argument and hence of including a large number of separate details under one head.

Paul is saying in essence that the command to love is the category heading and all the other commands are listed under love as part of it or expressions of it. Paul says the law of love brings to a head all the law.

Keep both the vertical (relationship to God) and the horizontal (man to man) commandments and you will keep the whole Law! Here in his letter to the Romans, Paul is assuming that his readers have a vertical love for God (Ro 5:5-note for God has poured out His love within their hearts), but do they have a horizontal love for others? If so, they are fulfilling God’s Law. When we love our neighbors we will refrain from breaking the horizontal relational commands-- from adultery, murder, stealing, coveting. When you love your neighbor you will regard his life as inviolable. When you love your neighbor you will respect his ownership of property.

There is a sense in which love for our neighbor is a more obvious measure of where we stand with God than our love for God Himself. We can easily convince others that we love God, but it is far more difficult to feign love for our neighbors! They are not fooled as easily on that score, and neither are we. Thus our love for others provides a helpful measure of our spiritual state.

Who is our neighbor? Remember that our "neighbor" is anyone "near" (Greek word for neighbor is plesion (4139) which is derived from word meaning "near"!), and thus is anyone we encounter in our life who needs our help. Love is the inevitable response of the heart in which God's love has been poured by the Holy Spirit (Ro 5:5-note).

It is easy to "love" in an abstract way, but Paul wants his readers to love the people they actually meet day by day (with all their faults). Love is something that takes effect in the home, in the marketplace, in the workshop, on the village green, wherever people are met. God's love manifests itself through the loving acts of His children. Where it is absent, any claim to a family relationship is merely pretense.

THE MOST QUOTED
OLD TESTAMENT VERSE

Paul's quote is from Leviticus 19:18 and is the single most quoted verse in the NT (Nine times - see Mt 5:43, Mt 19:19, Mt 22:39; Mark 12:31, Mark 12:33; Lk 10:27, Ro 13:9; Gal. 5:14; James 2:8). Sadly this verse is also one of the most inaccurately interpreted and inappropriately applied verses by many in the church, where it is frequently used as justification for we should love ourselves ("self-love"). This is NOT a command to love ourselves but to the contrary is a recognition that we (as depraved sinners) have no difficulty whatsoever in loving ourselves -- and because this is a fact that any mirror would readily attest to, Paul commands us to love others just as genuinely and sincerely as we love ourselves. Luther wrote "because of the defect of his nature, man loves himself above everything else".

Hendrickson adds

"it is a certain thing that a person will love himself, and it is also certain that he will do so in spite of the fact that the self he loves has many faults!" (Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. New Testament Commentary Set, 12 Volumes. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House)

This commandment from (Leviticus 19:18 is the one commandment that expresses all that the Law enjoins (or summarizes in one law all the prior commands - no adultery, murder, stealing or coveting, etc) and to obey this one is to fulfill the Law.

How is this humanly possible? It's not -- it is IMpossible and is only HIMpossible! (Ro 8:4-note, Gal 5:16-note, etc) We must jettison self-reliance, yield to the Spirit and experience Spirit-reliance. Only the Holy Spirit can enable holy actions. Only a supernatural Source and empower a supernatural life.

It's the Spirit of Christ's enabling power and it is our responsibility as Spirit controlled believers who are no longer our own. Genuine agape love is Spirit enabled self-less not self-love.

DOWNLOAD InstaVerse for free. It is an easy to install and simple to use Bible Verse pop up tool that allows you to read cross references in context and in the Version you prefer. Only the  KJV is free with this download but you can also download a free copy of Bible Explorer which in turn offers free Bibles that work with InstaVerse, including  the excellent, literal translation, the English Standard Version (ESV). Other popular versions are available for purchase. When you hold the mouse pointer over a Scripture reference anywhere on the Web (as well as offline in Word for Windows, email, etc) the passage pops up immediately. InstaVerse can be disabled if the popups become distractive. This utility really does work and makes it easy to read the actual passage in context and not just the chapter and verse reference.

 

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Romans 13:10
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Romans 13:11
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Last Updated July, 2013

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