The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans

By G. Campbell Morgan

Chapter 21


i. DEFINITION. Rom 13:1-10

a. THE POWERS. Rom 13:1-7

1. Subjection. Rom 13:1-5

a. The Principle. Rom 13:1-4

To the Powers as of God.

Ordained of God. Rom 13:1-2

For good. Rom 13:3-4 a

For punishment of evil. Rom 13:4 b

b. The Test. Rom 13:5

For Conscience Sake.

2. Contribution. Rom 13:6-7

a. The Cause of Tribute. Rom 13:6

b. The Kind of Tribute. Rom 13:7

b. THE PEOPLE. Rom 13:8-10

1. Obligation. The Individual. Rom 13:8

2. Application. The State. Rom 13:9

a. The Family. Adultery.

b. Personality. Murder.

c. Property. Theft.

d. Society. Coveting.

3. Realization. Rom 13:10

ii. INSPIRATION. Rom 13:11-14

a. THE SEASON. Rom 13:11-12 a

1. Morning.

2. Salvation nearer.

b. THE SAINTS. Rom 13:12-14

1. General. Rom 13:12 b

a. Let us cast off.

b. Let us put on.

2. Particular. Rom 13:13-14

a. The Works of Darkness.

b. The Armour of Light.

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Still dealing with the evidences of submission to the will of God, the apostle turned to the discussion of the attitude of the believer toward the world. That attitude may broadly be described as that of the submissive spirit; and in dealing with it the apostle defined it in relation to the powers, and to the people; finally revealing its inspiration.



The first manifestation of submission toward the outside world is that of obedience to authority. This section was specially necessary for Christians living in Rome at the time of the apostle's writing. Nevertheless he so stated it as to leave clearly in view the abiding principles rather than the local colouring.

It is a plain declaration of the true Christian attitude toward the governing authority, even though that authority is anything but Christian. The powers are declared to be of God. The individual governor is a minister of God for good, an avenger for wrath to them that do evil. The Christian must therefore be subject, for he is supremely to be a revelation of the necessity for, and the value of, government in human affairs. There is evidence of a clear consciousness in the mind of the apostle of the active government of God in the affairs of men; and of the fact that He delegates power and authority in certain directions for the purpose of the cultivation of good, and the restriction and punishment of evil. Therefore the Christian's submission to the will of God is manifested in the world by his obedience to properly constituted authority.

The apostolic statement of the case on the positive side, inferentially reveals the negative side. Subjection on the part of the believer is to be rendered to the power when he is fulfilling the true intent of his calling and office. If he violates that, then it is clearly the duty of the Christian, in loyalty to God, to disobey him. Let us presume that the statement concerning the ruler contained in the text, is reversed in actual experience. If his authority gives evil its opportunity, and hinders good; there must necessarily be a reversal of the attitude of the Christian toward him, because the matter of first importance is always that of loyalty to the will of God. If the ruler is a terror to good works rather than to evil; every Christian man is bound to oppose and defy him at whatever cost. If the ruler whose business it is to avenge evil, neglects the fulfillment of this purpose, then such as are loyal to the will of God are bound to protest, even if necessary at cost to themselves. Paul

The test of obedience is ever to be that of conscience, which in the case of the Christian is not merely that sense of right or wrong which is common to humanity; but the conception of the will of God which is the result of his illumination in Christ.

The expression of subjection to authority is to be that of contribution to the necessities of the commonwealth. The kind of tribute which the Christian is to pay is described as "tribute," that is tax on person and property; "custom," which is toll on goods; "fear," which is obedience to the laws; and "honour," which is the holding in proper esteem of those placed in authority.


The attitude of submission toward the people is as important as that toward the powers. The apostle defined the obligation in a comprehensive statement. It is that of the payment of all just dues, and is enjoined in the declaration of obligation, "Owe no man anything, save to love one another." This is a full and remarkable injunction. To love is to discharge all obligations except that of loving. It is impossible to finish paying the debt of love. In the moment in which a man ceases to owe his neighbour love he will begin to be in debt in some other direction. The constant consciousness of the believer is that love to his neighbour is always due, although it is constantly paid.

To always owe love, is to make it impossible to defraud in matters of purity, of life, of property, and of social relationship. Thus as the apostle declared, "Love therefore is the fulfillment of the law"; and the abandonment of man to the will of God is supremely evidenced to the outside world, not by protestations concerning the attitude, but by living in relation to other men, under the impulse of love.


The apostle next dealt with the perpetual incentive to realization of the abandonment of life to the will of God, both in its inner fact, and its outward manifestation. The opening phrase, "And this," undoubtedly refers, not merely to submission in relative life, but also to simplicity in personal life. Indeed this paragraph may be read in close connection with the injunction which we have described as the final appeal. "And this,'' that is, the abandonment of the whole life to God, expressed in simplicity and submission, is to be realized in the power of the certainty of the consummation.

The passage is a graphic and beautiful picture of the true position of the Christian as expecting the breaking of the day, and the coming of the Lord. The first flush of the dawn is always discernible upon the eastern sky. Salvation in its fullness, is every moment nearer than when the Christian first believed. Darkness is everywhere. The children of darkness are given over to revelling and drunkenness, to chambering and wantonness, to strife and jealousy. The children of God are to cast off all such works, and are to put on the armour of light, which is the Lord Jesus Christ. They are to walk as in the day, even though as yet the night is round about them. Because they ever feel the breath of the morning moving through the darkness, they are to cast off the garments of the night, to clothe themselves with the armour of light, and wait for the coming of the day.

In this exposition of the true meaning of the sacrificed life there is taken into account the threefold fact of redemption as dealt with in the argument concerning salvation in the earlier part of the Epistle. In that argument the apostle showed that in the economy of redemption provision is made for justification, sanctification, and glorification.

The duty of the Christian in the light of justification, is that of sacrifice to the will of God. The spirit presents the body through the renewing of the mind, which is sanctification.

The duty of the believer in the light of sanctification, is that of the outworking in life, and through sacrifice, of the righteousness imparted in justification; which outworking is the prophecy of glorification.

The duty of the Christian in the light of glorification, is that of perpetual recognition of the approach of the fullness of salvation, which recognition must affect all life toward sanctification in the power of justification.