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Romans 13:8-10

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Romans 13:8
  • Romans 13:9
  • Romans 13:10

The Apostle Paul writes to the world-renowned believers in Rome, the center of the world at that time, in order to answer a slanderous charge made to them against Paul and his message. Paul’s detractors claim his emphasis on faith overturns the law. Paul says that ” just living by the law” does not achieve personal justice before God, while “just living by faith” does. Paul then demonstrates what a just life looks like: harmonious living with Jesus as the leader. Paul also makes clear the choice a believer has: to walk in faith and the power of the resurrection and experience resurrection life, or walk in sin and unnecessarily experience the negative consequences.


God instituted government, and appoints authorities to serve the purpose of promoting good and punishing evil. When evil is punished by government, that is the wrath of God being executed. As believers, we should look for opportunities to obey the laws of the land, and serve as good examples. To the extent we are or have influence on governmental authority, it is our job to advocate that the government actually do its job properly, to promote good and punish evil.


Love fulfills the law. If we love one another we can live righteously and harmoniously with each other. Jesus said the same thing, that in loving God and one another we fulfill the law. We have an obligation, we owe it to each other, to love one another.

Paul is telling his audience of believers in Rome what righteous, harmonious living through faith looks like. One of the essential aspects of harmonious living is to love on another. Even though Paul just told us to obey the rules of the government, there is a higher law that will always be appropriate, no matter the circumstance. In these verses, Paul is reiterating what Jesus said, that he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. In Matthew 22:33-40, a lawyer asks Jesus what the greatest commandment is. Jesus responds with the two greatest commandments, to love God with all of your heart, soul, and mind—and to love others as you love yourself. Jesus goes on to state that these two commandments cover the entire law. Paul restates this, by showing his audience that if you love your neighbor you will do no wrong to them. You won’t steal, covet, murder, or do any wrong to them if you truly love them. Because of this, Paul makes it clear that living a harmonious life through faith involves loving one another.

Therefore, as we go about obeying the laws of the government, we should be looking to fulfill an even higher law, and that is to love others. That means serving others. In the USA, part of serving others is to exercise good stewardship of our citizenship and see that the government and its laws are done in accordance with the law of man and of God. This can require a lot of sacrifice, but that is service to both God and man.

Paul tells his readers that the only thing we should owe one another is love. The whole letter of Romans has entailed a debate about faith vs. law; what does God care about: us trusting in Him, or us following rules? Paul has demonstrated why it is faith that leads to righteous living, and through living harmoniously with one another in faith. Paul lists some of the most famous parts of the Old Testament Law: You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet, and if there is any other commandment, and he says all these rules can be summed up in this saying, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. If we love one another, we won’t harm each other in all the various ways that humans hurt each other. We’ll be at peace with one another. Love does no wrong to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Paul tells the believers in Galatia the same thing in his letter to them, that the law is fulfilled when we love each other (5:14).

Biblical Text

8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 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; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

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