2 Chronicles 26:1‐28:27; Romans 13:1‐14; Psalm 23:1‐6; Proverbs 20:11
Submission, Love, and Holiness
In the reading of Romans, we are faced with three significant topics: the Christian and Secular Government, Love and the Law, and Living in the Light of Day.
Although Christians belong to another Kingdom (as Paul has already discussed), the realities of life in this present age place demands upon Christians as well as everyone else to live in submission to civil government (13:1-7). The primary reason for doing so is rooted in the plan of God, Who set up government as one of the three primary institutions for life in this age: (1) the family, (2) the church, and (3) the government. Since civil government is an institution that God has Himself ordained, it should therefore be obeyed. At the same time, there may be instances where a governmental decree or regulation stands contrary to God’s commands. In such instances–and there are several we can cite from Scripture: Midwives, Esther, Daniel, Apostles in Acts, Revelation–believers, out of primary loyalty to their God, must disobey the civil authorities. This should be an exception and not the rule. Paul encourages believers to have an attitude of submission to government in general; at the same time, we must not make an idol out of government and give it the place that only God can occupy–namely, our total and undivided allegiance.
The idea of Romans 13:8-10 relates to the previous one by the concept of “obligation” or necessity, with the point that love is an obligation from which one can never be released. These verses remind us of the “great commandment” of Matthew 22:36-40. Those who love God and others, putting others first above their own concerns, “fulfill the law.” Since laws are designed to offer protection against harm (see the examples in Romans 13:9), and true love harms no one, love fulfills the law’s purpose.
Paul rounds out his general directives to the Roman church by zeroing in on an issue that introduced this section. Christians are to be characterized by a completely new way of life in view of the any-moment return of Christ. Whereas 12:1-2 focuses upon living in light of the new age that has dawned, 13:11-14 emphasizes godly living in light of Christ’s sudden appearance. Believers, by virtue of their understanding of the season–that this present evil age is drawing to a close and the Lord’s return is imminent–should live in a holy manner. The “day” refers to the new era that has dawned in Christ, the “night” refers to the passing of the old era of sin and death. Paul then employs his well known “put off” and “put on” imagery in keeping with the picture of night and day vs. darkness and light.
Submission, love, and holiness characterize a true believer in Christ. While we wait for the Lord’s return, we are to live exemplary lives of Christ-like character in all our dealings
The Rev. Wes Sharp
Holy Cross Episcopal Church