13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God [granted by His permission and sanction], and those which exist have been put in place by God.2 Therefore whoever [a]resists [governmental] authority resists the ordinance of God. And those who have resisted it will bring judgment (civil penalty) on themselves.3 For [civil] authorities are not a source of fear for [people of] good behavior, but for [those who do] evil. Do you want to be unafraid of authority? Do what is good and you will receive approval and commendation.4 For he is God’s servant to you for good. But if you do wrong, [you should] be afraid; for he does not carry the [executioner’s] sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an avenger who brings punishment on the wrongdoer.5 Therefore one must be subject [to civil authorities], not only to escape the punishment [that comes with wrongdoing], but also as a matter of principle [knowing what is right before God].6 For this same reason you pay taxes, for civil authorities are God’s servants, devoting themselves to governance.7 Pay to all what is due: tax to whom tax is due, customs to whom customs, respect to whom respect, honor to whom honor.
8 [b]Owe nothing to anyone except to [c]love and seek the best for one another; for he who [unselfishly] loves his neighbor has fulfilled the [essence of the] law [relating to one’s fellowman].9 The commandments, “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 statement: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor [it never hurts anyone]. Therefore [unselfish] love is the fulfillment of the Law.
11 Do this, knowing that this is a critical time. It is already the hour for you to awaken from your sleep [of spiritual complacency]; for our salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed [in Christ].12 The night [this present evil age] is almost gone and the day [of Christ’s return] is almost here. So let us fling away the works of darkness and put on the [full] armor of light.13 Let us conduct ourselves properly and honorably as in the [light of] day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and irresponsibility, not in quarreling and jealousy.14 But clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for [nor even think about gratifying] the flesh in regard to its improper desires.
Romans 13:2An exception to this is recorded in Acts 5:27-29. See especially v 29.
Romans 13:8Debt is generally to be avoided, but Paul probably is addressing debt to individuals with whom one has a personal relationship.
Romans 13:8The key to understanding this and other statements about love is to know that this love (the Greek word agape) is not so much a matter of emotion as it is of doing things for the benefit of another person, that is, having an unselfish concern for another and a willingness to seek the best for other believers.
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