“Owe no one anything” — Romans 13:8.

This is a very interesting text. Some have used it to teach that a believer should not borrow, because the Apostle Paul said to “owe no one anything.” But that’s just reading out of context, remember, always check the antecedent and succedent texts to understand the context.


Observe the antecedent text:


1 Let every soul be SUBJECT to the GOVERNING AUTHORITIES. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must BE SUBJECT, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.


We see that Paul is discussing the relationship between believers and the Government (civic duties). He instructs that we be subject to and obey them.  Note particularly, the succedent verses verse;


6 For because of this you also PAY TAXES, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their DUE: TAXES to whom TAXES are due, CUSTOMS to whom CUSTOMS, FEAR to whom fear, HONOR to whom honor.


He is referring especially to the paying of taxes to the Government! Verse 7 calls it their due. That’s the word “opheilé” (ὀφειλή) in the Greek. It means debt, what is owed. That is, to the Government, what we owe them is our submission, particularly in the area of taxes. It is from this that vs. 8 flows;


8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.


“No one” and “anything” there is within a context— owe NO GOVERNMENT their TAXES.


“…Except to love one another.”


That is, after you have paid all that you owe to the civic rulers, there is still one debt that you can never pay, one thing you will ALWAYS have to keep doing — loving one another. You can pay off your physical debts, but love is a CONTINUOUS responsibility you owe to God and other Saints. Love is a debt which can never be discharged. We must always feel that we “owe” this to all people. And although by our acts of kindness we may be constantly discharging it, yet we should be well aware that it can never be fully met — there will ALWAYS BE opportunities to do good. Paul is saying, “never think doing good to others ever stops!”


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2020.


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