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Home > Commentaries > Geneva Study Bible > Romans > Chapter 13
The 1599 Geneva Study Bible
13:1 Let 1 every a soul be subject unto the higher 2 powers. 3 For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are b ordained of God.
(1) Now he distinctly shows what subjects owe to their magistrates, that is, obedience: from which he shows that no man is free: and the obedience we owe is such that it is not only due to the highest magistrate himself, but also even to the lowest, who has any office under him.
13:3 4 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. 5 Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
(a) Indeed, though an apostle, though an evangelist, though a prophet; Chrysostom. Therefore the tyranny of the pope over all kingdoms must be thrown down to the ground. (2) A reason taken from the nature of the thing itself: for to what purpose are they placed in higher degree, but in order that the inferiors should be subject to them? (3) Another argument of great force: because God is author of this order: so that those who are rebels ought to know that they make war with God himself: and because of this they purchase for themselves great misery and calamity.
(b) Be distributed: for some are greater, some smaller.
(4) The third argument, taken from the reason for which they were made, which is that they are to be most profitable: because God by this means preserves the good and bridles the wicked: by which words the magistrates themselves are put in mind of that duty which they owe to their subjects. (5) An excellent way to bear this yoke, not only without grief, but also with great profit.
13:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. 6 But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a c revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil.
(6) God has armed the magistrate even with an avenging sword.
13:5 7 Wherefore [ye] must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but d also for conscience sake.
(c) By whom God avenges the wicked.
(7) The conclusion: we must obey the magistrate, not only for fear of punishment, but much more because (although the magistrate has no power over the conscience of man, yet seeing he is Godís minister) he cannot be resisted by any good conscience.
13:6 8 For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are Godís ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
(d) So far as we lawfully may: for if unlawful things are commanded to us, we must answer as Peter teaches us, "It is better to obey God than men."
(8) He sums up the main thing, in which consists the obedience of subjects.
13:7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute [is due]; custom to whom custom; fear to whom e fear; honour to whom f honour.
(e) Obedience, and that from the heart.
13:8 9 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: 10 for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the g law.
(f) Reverence, which (as we have reason) we must give to the magistrate.
(9) He shows how very few judgments need to be executed, that is, if we so order our life as no man may justly require anything from us, besides only that which we owe one to another, by the perpetual law of charity.
13:9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if [there be] any other commandment, it is h briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
(10) He commends charity as a concise statement of the whole law.
(g) Has not only done one commandment, but performed generally that which the law commands.
(h) For the whole law commands nothing else but that we love God and our neighbour. But seeing that Paul speaks here of the duties we owe one to another, we must restrain this word "law" to the second table of the ten commandments.
13:11 11 And that, knowing the time, that now [it is] high time to awake out of sleep: for now [is] our salvation nearer than when we believed.
13:12 The night is far spent, the day is i at hand: let us therefore cast off the works k of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
(11) An application taken from the circumstances of the time: which also itself puts us in mind of our duty, seeing that this remains, after which the darkness of ignorance and wicked affections by the knowledge of Godís truth is driven out of us, that we order our life according to that certain and sure rule of all righteousness and honesty, being fully grounded upon the power of the Spirit of Christ.
(i) In other places we are said to be in the light, but yet so that it does not yet appear what we are, for as yet we see but as it were in the twilight.
13:14 But l put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to [fulfil] the lusts [thereof].
(k) That kind of life which those lead that flee the light.
(l) To put on Christ is to possess Christ, to have him in us, and us in him.
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Bibliography InformationBeza, Theodore. "Commentary on Romans 13". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". <http://www.biblestudytools.net/Commentaries/GenevaStudyBible/