J.B. Phillips New Testament
The Christian and the civil law
13 1-2 Every Christian ought to obey the civil authorities, for all legitimate authority is derived from God’s authority, and the existing authority is appointed under God. To oppose authority then is to oppose God, and such opposition is bound to be punished.
3-4 The honest citizen has no need to fear the keepers of law and order, but the dishonest man will always be nervous of them. If you want to avoid this anxiety just lead a law-abiding life, and all that can come your way is a word of approval. The officer is God’s servant for your protection. But if you are leading a wicked life you have reason to be alarmed. The “power of the law” which is vested in every legitimate officer, is no empty phrase. He is, in fact, divinely appointed to inflict God’s punishment upon evil-doers.
5-7 You should, therefore, obey the authorities, not simply because it is the safest, but because it is the right thing to do. It is right, too, for you to pay taxes for the civil authorities are appointed by God for the good purposes of public order and well-being. Give everyone his legitimate due, whether it be rates, or taxes, or reverence, or respect!
To love others is the highest conduct
8-10 Keep out of debt altogether, except the perpetual debt of love which we owe to one another. The man who loves his neighbour has obeyed the whole Law in regard to his neighbour. 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.
Wake up and live!
11-14 Why all this stress on behaviour? Because, as I think you have realised, the present time is of the highest importance—it is time to wake up to reality. Every day brings God’s salvation nearer. The night is nearly over, the day has almost dawned. Let us therefore fling away the things that men do in the dark, let us arm ourselves for the fight of the day! Let us live cleanly, as in the daylight, not in the “delights” of getting drunk or playing with sex, nor yet in quarrelling or jealousies. Let us be Christ’s men from head to foot, and give no chances to the flesh to have its fling.