Romans 13 - Armor Of Light

INTRODUCTION: Paul began this chapter with directions for the believers to respect and obey governing authority, and to be very aware of the characteristics of the times in which they were living. He wanted them to remember that they would in essence fulfill the commandments of God regarding interactions if their lives were marked by love to others. Paul said they could accomplish these things if they would "clothe themselves in the armor of light." This chapter of Romans is in my own paraphrase, to some extent in an amplified style, prepared by examining several translations, and with some use of Greek and Hebrew lexicons.

NOTE: Verses in the comments are from the 1769 King James Bible.


A - GOVERNING AUTHORITY IS DESIGNED BY GOD

Romans 13 "1 Every person should genuinely obey the governing jurisdictions over them. For there is no authority but from God; rulers and jurisdictions are determined and appointed by God. 2 Therefore, whoever resists or opposes established authority, stands against the arrangement of God, and they shall take upon themselves condemnation. 3 For rulers are not to be feared for good undertakings, but for wrongful actions. Shouldn't you then be afraid of the authorities? Do that which is good, and you shall have praise from them, 4 for they are the administrators of God to you for good. But if you do that which is illegal or destructive, be afraid, for they don't have weapons of enforcement without purpose; for they are the servants of God, able to avenge to bring punishment upon those who do harmful or evil things."

COMMENTS: God has determined that authority structures will be established for various jurisdictions to provide general services, and to maintain a degree of peaceful order for the people therein. Though many such jurisdictions can be affected by the corrupt nature of ruling individuals, Christians are to honor God by submitting to all applicable authority willingly under most circumstances. God can provide a degree of peace even when conditions are not the most desirable. Proverbs 16 "7 When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him."

Peter and John came under a test about obeying authority after publicly healing a man in the name of Jesus. The Jewish rulers did not want any preaching about Jesus who was crucified. Acts 4 "18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. 21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all [men] glorified God for that which was done. 22 For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed."

Because of the unique circumstances involved, that real life experience for Peter and John wasn't contrary to the principle that Paul gave to the Romans. Peter reinforced in his first letter, the normal attitude and response toward authority for believers. 1 Peter 2 "13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well."


B - ACT FROM LOVE TO FULFILL THE LAW

Romans 13 "5 Therefore you must be subject not only to avoid punishment, but also to have a clear conscience. 6 Because of this, also pay annual taxes for they are God's servants, attending continually upon these things. 7 Pay off therefore whatever is owed: annual taxes to whom they are owed, tolls or other taxes to whom such are owed; fear to who fear; honor to who honor. 8 Don't owe anything to another person, but to love each other, for when you love another you have fulfilled the law. 9 For these commandments require that you shall not: commit adultery, murder, steal, give false testimony, or covet. And if there are any others, all of them are condensed and summarized in the saying that you shall love your neighbor as yourself. 10 Love does not think or act in harmful or injurious ways to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."

COMMENTS: Paul emphasized that believers must have a clear conscience for their actions, and this should relate to all forms of submission to authority. The Lord Jesus gave an answer about paying taxes to the government when he was challenged by some who were not being genuine with their question. Matthew 22 "17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, [ye] hypocrites? 19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. 20 And he saith unto them, Whose [is] this image and superscription? 21 They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. 22 When they had heard [these words], they marvelled, and left him, and went their way."

Paul said we also owe honor and respect to those who hold various positions. But the best attitude we can have is to not owe anything to another person except to love one another, and thus we can fulfill the law. Paul gave a brief summary of the things that must be avoided in order that we might love our neighbor. Then he concluded that love does not think or act in harmful or injurious ways to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Jesus gave a beautiful summary of the law with two major components in their required order. Mark 12 "28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? 29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments [is], Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this [is] the first commandment. 31 And the second [is] like, [namely] this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."


C - CLOTHE YOURSELF WITH THE ARMOR OF LIGHT

Romans 13 "11 And with this: being aware of the events of our day, even now it is the point of time to awaken out of our passive inactivity. For now our salvation is closer than when we first confidently believed. 12 The night is nearly over; a new day approaches. Therefore we should put aside and completely abandon the deeds and actions of ungodliness and immorality, and then we should clothe ourselves with the armor of light. 13 then we should conduct ourselves honestly as in the light of day, not in wild living and drunkenness, not in lust and obscenity, not in bitter conflict and envious resentment. 14 But clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ, and don't make any allowance or opening for the sensual desires of the body to fulfill the lusts thereof."

COMMENTS: As we see the many ways that God is ignored and even blasphemed in our own time period, we need to be more determined to live in the light of the Word of God. Each day of our life brings us closer to the salvation promised to those who believe in the finished work of Christ Jesus. Paul wrote the following in one of his earliest letters. 1 Thessalonians 4 "16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words."

Jesus provides the armor of light for us because he is the light of life. John 8 "12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." And with his provision we don't need to remain in the darkness that characterizes our world. John 12 "46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness." Therefore we need to daily avoid and reject the "deeds of darkness" mentioned by Paul, and live by following the guiding light of God's Word.

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Lord, I am thankful that many people in my lifetime have encouraged me to obey the laws, but I ask you to help me keep a clear conscience before you in all such matters where I might be prone to deviate even in small ways. I know that those in authority have the weaknesses of the flesh, but I want my first concern to be that I honor my God for establishing a means for order in our fallen world. May I believe and trust that "when a man's ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him." If a time ever comes when it seems I should resist the authority over me, I ask that you guide me by your Spirit to have the response that is pleasing to you.

Sometimes I may find it difficult to respect certain individuals who have authority over me, so I ask that you move me by your Spirit to consistently manifest the kind of love that fulfills the law of God. I also ask for your grace in every day situations when someone doesn't arouse in me feelings of brotherly love, because I want to reflect the undeserved love that I have in Christ. Thank you, Lord, for the many scriptures available for me to review as reminders of specific ways in which I should conduct myself to bring honor to your name. May I clothe myself in the "armor of light" that you, my Savior, have provided through my salvation. I want to leave the darkness of this world behind and live in the light of your truth as I look ahead to everlasting light and life. Amen.

Published 8 July 2016