The Book of Romans-Chapter 13

(1) Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities (the next few verses are usually used to teach that believers should be obedient to civil governments, but that interpretation does not fit into the context of what Paul has been talking about in the previous chapters about Gentile responsibilities within a Torah observant lifestyle among other Jews, especially in a synagogue setting. This chapter does not talk about relating to Roman civil authority, or any civil government, but the ruling body within a synagogue which they were under. This fits the context of what Paul has been saying). For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established (ordained) of God (there wasn’t anyone who was Torah observant in Rome that would characterize the Roman government as being “established by God” especially at this time when Emperor Nero was in power, but a synagogue was. The Jewish community saw secular government as empowered by Satan, the real power behind the throne, and that all secular governments will come to an end, and Rome was prophesied in Daniel 2.31-35 to do just that. But, synagogue authority was established to interpret righteousness for the people, to praise those who followed the good way and to discipline those who didn’t, and the Gentiles in Rome were under that authority). (2) Therefore (for that reason) he who resists authority (of the synagogue) has opposed the ordinance of God (and there were five levels of Jewish law. The Torah was instruction and guidance coming from the word itself. The Mitzva’ot were commandments,good works, moral laws about stealing and murder for instance. Next came the Chukim, which were laws that you couldn’t explain like clean and unclean or immersions. Next there were the Mishpatim, which were ordinances, decree’s and social laws and last there were the Edut, the testimonies like prophecies, evidences. The synagogue would come under the Mishpatim, or ordinances); and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.(3) For rulers (this word is often associated with the synagogue authorities-Matt 23.2-4; Luke 8.41; 12.11; 14.1; 18.18; 23.13; 24.20; John 7.26,45; Acts 9.14; 14.5; 26.10-12) are not a cause of fear for good works (good works is “mitzva’ot, the commandments=the rulers of the synagogue were not to feared for good works, but the Roman government was) but for evil (the synagogue authorities could punish what they believed to be evil behavior. Yeshua said that believers would be put out of the synagogue for punishment-John 16.2 and even Paul disciplined many in synagogues-Acts 26.11). Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good (as defined by the Torah) and you will have praise from the same (the synagogue); for it (the synagogue) is a minister of God to you for good (this cannot be said of the government of the Roman empire). But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it (the synagogue) does not bear the sword (synagogues could punish-Acts 22.19; Mark 13.9) for nothing; for it (the synagogue) is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil (as defined by the Torah). (5) Wherefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience sake. (6) For because of this you also pay taxes (a Temple tax was collected by synagogue rulers and paid by Gentiles also, which some did not agree with because they were not even allowed into the Temple to participate in all of the activities there, so this was a sore spot with some of them in Rome. Historians Josephus and Tacitus both verify this tax paid by Gentiles), for rulers are servants of God (you can’t say the Roman rulers were) devoting themselves to this very thing. (7) Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to who custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor (honor in this context is proper moral behavior as defined by the Torah). (8) Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law (Paul wants these Gentile believers to win the praise of the Jewish rulers, giving credence to his ministry among the Gentiles on behalf of Israel and his teaching, hoping many of his Jewish brethren would come to faith in Yeshua). For this, “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (10) Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love is the fulfillment of the Torah (Paul paraphrases Hillel where he said “Do not unto your neighbor that which you would not have him do to you. This is the whole Jewish law. All else is but commentary.”). (11) And this do, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation (the Jewish concept of salvation in the first century was more corporate than personal. Jews expected to be saved from Roman/foreign domination after they had gone through a purification process because of all the transgressions they have done against the covenant of God.The salvation of an individual was seen as tied into the salvation of the entire people. This concept of salvation included rescue from outside enemies, restoration of national ideas, peace among all people, the beginning of the Olam Haba, freedom from Rome, restoration of the Temple and its services and priesthood, living in their own land and the beginning of the new covenant between Israel and the Lord as promised in Jeremiah. This was the context in which Paul spoke of salvation) is nearer to us than we believed. (12) The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light (This armor is the same as the full armor of God that Paul talks about in Ephesians and can also be found in Isa 61.10. It is an allusion to the garments of the High Priest vestments (Exo 28.1-43). It is also related to what a soldier would wear, but the spiritual meaning is this. The concept of a priest in the Tanach is one who engages in spiritual warfare. Num 4.3 says “from thirty years and upward, even to fifty years old, all who enter the service (the Hebrew word for service is “tzava” which means “army, war or warfare”) to do the work (melachah) in the tent of meeting.” The priest was seen as engaging in spiritual warfare as he ministered, and to minster he had to “put on” robes of righteousness). (13) Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. (14) But put on (like a coat to protect you) the Lord Yeshua the Messiah (Yeshua is our High Priest, engaged in spiritual warfare, and by hearing and doing the Torah we are like him and we, too, are engaged in spiritual warfare, and the things of God do not come without battles) and make no provision (target, mark, guard) for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

Posted in Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Understanding the New Testament, Verse-by-Verse Bible Studies

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