13:1 subject unto the higher powers. See also I Peter 2:13-17. God instituted the system of human government immediately after the great Flood (Genesis 9:6), and has never changed this. Furthermore, God sometimes may, for His own purposes, place even wicked men in positions of power (e.g., Nebuchadnezzar—note Jeremiah 27:5-7; Daniel 4:17). The Apostle Paul himself was imprisoned and finally executed by Emperor Nero, yet he never counseled rebellion or disobedience, except when human laws demand disobedience to God’s laws (Acts 5:29). Note that Romans 13:4 supports the concept of using “the sword” by government when necessary. This would confirm the principle of justified capital punishment first established in Genesis 9:6, as well as the concept of warfare when justified.
13:8 Owe no man any thing. The Christian should pay his debts on time. This does not preclude his borrowing money or using charge accounts, as long as he fulfills the terms of the loan on time. Note the teaching of Jesus, implying His approval of paying interest (Luke 19:23; Matthew 25:27). On the importance of paying one’s debts, note also Matthew 5:25-26.
13:9 adultery. The law has not been abrogated by Christ, but fulfilled by Him and its curse removed (Matthew 5:17; Galatians 3:13; I Corinthians 15:56-57). All of God’s Ten Commandments are repeated, in effect, in the New Testament (see note on Hebrews 4:9 relative to the law of the sabbath, which is sometimes said to be an exception to this). Here the commands of the second table of the law are cited, having to do with our responsibilities to our fellow men.
13:9 this saying, namely. See Matthew 22:37-40, where Jesus applies the commands of Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 as summarizing the first and second tables of the law, respectively (the first table dealing with our responsibility to God). No one can be saved by keeping the law, but one who is saved by grace will love God’s law and diligently seek to obey it.
13:10 fulfilling of the law. True love—for God and man—fulfills Christ’s two great commands (Mark 12:30-31), and thereby fulfills also the ten commandments inscribed by God on the two tables of the law.