King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Romans 13

The duty of subjection to governors. (1-7) Exhortations to mutual love. (8-10) To temperance and sobriety. (11-14)

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The duty of subjection to governors

1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. 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 revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

Exhortations to mutual love

8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

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 briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

To temperance and sobriety

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.

12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.

14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Let every soul, or every one, be subject, &c.[1] The Jews were apt to think themselves not subject to temporal princes, as to taxes, &c. and lest Christians should misconstrue their Christian liberty, he here teacheth them that every one (even priests and bishops, says S. Chrys.) must be subject and obedient to princes, even to heathens, as they were at that time, as to laws that regard the policy of the civil government, honouring them, obeying them, and their laws, as it is the will of God, because the power they act by is from God. So that to resist them, is to resist God. And every Christian must obey them even for conscience-sake. S. Chrys. takes notice that S. Paul does not say that there is no prince but from God, but only that there is no power but from God, meaning no lawful power, and speaking of true and just laws. See hom. xxiii. Wi.

Ver. 8-9. But that you love one another. This is a debt, says S. Chrys. which we are always to be paying, and yet always remains, and is to be paid again. — He that loveth his neighbour, hath fulfilled the law. Nay, he that loves his neighbour, as he ought, loves him for God’s sake, and so complies with the other great precept of loving God: and upon these two precepts (as Christ himself taught us, Matt. xxii. 40.) depends the whole law and the prophets. Wi.

Ver. 10. Love of the neighbour worketh no evil.[2] This, by the Latin, is the true construction; and not, love worketh no evil to the neighbour, as it might be translated from the Greek. Wi.

Ver. 11. Now our salvation is nearer than when we believed. Some will have the sense to be, that our salvation is now nearer, when the gospel is preached, and Christ offers us his graces, than when we believed the Messias was to come. Others expound it, that the more our life is spent, we come nearer to the judgment of God, and to the salvation promised in heaven. Wi.

Ver. 12. The night is passed. That is, the night of sin and infidelity, in which you lived, before you began to serve Christ. Wi. — S. Paul is here addressing himself to Gentile converts. Before your conversion, you were in the darkness of infidelity: this time is past; now is the day, when the gospel has dissipated the darkness of idolatry, ignorance, and sin. Let us lay aside the works of darkness, by flying from sin, which hates the light, and seeks always to conceal itself; and let us put on the armour of light, the shield of faith, the breast-plate of justice, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit. Calmet.

Ver. 13. Let us walk honestly as in the day. As men are accustomed to do in the light, without being afraid that their works come to light. — Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering,[3] not in beds and impurities, not in immodest disorders. Wi. — The night of the present life full of darkness, of ignorance, and of sin, is already far advanced; and the day of eternity approaches: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness. V.

Ver. 14. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ. To put on, is a metaphor used in the Scripture; as when it is said, put on the new man, &c. And make not provision for the flesh in its concupiscenses. That is, do not take care, nor pamper and indulge you appetite in eating and drinking, so as to increase your disorderly inclinations, but keep them in due subjection. Wi. — The apostle does not forbid all care of the body, since he himself says in the epistle to the Ephesians, v. “No one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it.” But he forbids that care of the flesh, by which the desires and concupiscences of the flesh are strengthened and encouraged. This those are guilty of, who are always indulging in delights and voluptuousness. Estius. — Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, that is, enter into his sentiments, imitate his virtues, and indulge not the flesh in its inordinate desires.

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[1] V. 1. Non est potestas, exousia, nisi a Deo. S. Chrys. om. kg. p. 189. ouk eipen, ou gar estin archon ei me upo tou theou, alla peri tou pragmatos dialegetai legon, ou gar estin exousia.

[2] V. 10. Dilectio proximi malum non operatur, i.e. dilectio non operatur malum proximi, vel proximo, e agape to plesion kakon ouk ergazetai.

[3] V. 13. Non in cubilibus, me koitais, which may signify beds, chambers, or immodest actions.