Romans 13:4
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.

King James Bible
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.

Darby Bible Translation
for it is God's minister to thee for good. But if thou practisest evil, fear; for it bears not the sword in vain; for it is God's minister, an avenger for wrath to him that does evil.

World English Bible
for he is a servant of God to you for good. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid, for he doesn't bear the sword in vain; for he is a servant of God, an avenger for wrath to him who does evil.

Young's Literal Translation
for of God it is a ministrant to thee for good; and if that which is evil thou mayest do, be fearing, for not in vain doth it bear the sword; for of God it is a ministrant, an avenger for wrath to him who is doing that which is evil.

Romans 13:4 Parallel
Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

The minister of God - The "servant" of God he is appointed by God to do his will, and to execute his purposes. "To thee." For your benefit.

For good - That is, to protect you in your rights; to vindicate your name, person, or property; and to guard your liberty, and secure to you the results of your industry. The magistrate is not appointed directly to "reward" people, but they "practically" furnish a reward by protecting and defending them, and securing to them the interests of justice.

If thou do that ... - That is, if any citizen should do evil.

Be afraid - Fear the just vengeance of the laws.

For he beareth not the sword in vain - The "sword" is an instrument of punishment, as well as an emblem of war. Princes were accustomed to wear a sword as an emblem of their authority; and the "sword" was often used for the purpose of "beheading," or otherwise punishing the guilty. The meaning of the apostle is, that he does not wear this badge of authority as an unmeaningful show, but that it will be used to execute the laws. As this is the design of the power intrusted to him, and as he will "exercise" his authority, people should be influenced "by fear" to keep the law, even if there were no better motive.

A revenger ... - In Romans 12:19, vengeance is said to belong to God. Yet he "executes" his vengeance by means of subordinate agents. It belongs to him to take vengeance by direct judgments, by the plague, famine, sickness, or earthquakes; by the appointment of magistrates; or by letting loose the passions of people to prey upon each other. When a magistrate inflicts punishment on the guilty, it is to be regarded as the act of God taking vengeance "by him;" and on this principle only is it right for a judge to condemn a man to death. It is not because one man has by nature any right over the life of another, or because "society" has any right collectively which it has not as individuals; but because "God" gave life, and because he has chosen to take it away when crime is committed by the appointment of magistrates, and not by coming forth himself visibly to execute the laws. Where "human" laws fail, however, he often takes vengeance into his own hands, and by the plague, or some signal judgments, sweeps the guilty into eternity.

To execute wrath - For an explanation of the word "wrath," see the notes at Romans 1:18. It denotes here "punishment," or the just execution of the laws. It may be remarked that this verse is an "incidental" proof of the propriety of "capital punishment." The sword was undoubtedly an instrument for this purpose, and the apostle mentions its use without any remark of "disapprobation." He enjoins subjection to those who "wear the sword," that is, to those who execute the laws "by that;" and evidently intends to speak of the magistrate "with the sword," or in inflicting capital punishment, as having received the appointment of God. The tendency of society now is "not" to too sanguinary laws. It is rather to forget that God has doomed the murderer to death; and though humanity should be consulted in the execution of the laws, yet there is no humanity in suffering the murderer to live to infest society, and endanger many lives, in the place of his own, which was forfeited to justice. Far better that one murderer should die, than that he should be suffered to live, to imbrue his hands perhaps in the blood of many who are innocent. But the authority of God has settled this question Genesis 9:5-6, and it is neither right nor safe for a community to disregard his solemn decisions; see "Blackstone's Commentaries," vol. iv. p. 8, (9.)

Romans 13:4 Parallel Commentaries

Library
Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
Text: Romans 13, 8-10. 8 Owe no man anything, save to love one another: for he that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not covet, and if there be any other commandment, it is summed up in this word, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; love therefore is the fulfilment of the law. CHRISTIAN LOVE AND THE COMMAND TO LOVE. 1. This, like the two
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. II

Love and the Day
'Owe no man anything, 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. 11. And that, knowing the time, that now
Alexander Maclaren—Romans, Corinthians (To II Corinthians, Chap. V)

"If we Say that we have no Sin, we Deceive Ourselves, and the Truth is not in Us. "
1 John i. 8.--"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." "The night is far spent, the day is at hand," Rom. xiii. 12. This life is but as night, even to the godly. There is some light in it,--some star light, but it is mixed with much darkness of ignorance and sin, and so it will be, till the sun arise, and the morning of their translation to heaven come. But though it be called night in one sense, in regard of that perfect glorious perpetual day in heaven,
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

"Therefore, Brethren, we are Debtors, not to the Flesh, to Live after the Flesh,"
Rom. viii. 12.--"Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh," &c. All things in Christianity have a near and strait conjunction. It is so entire and absolute a piece, that if one link be loosed all the chain falls to the ground, and if one be well fastened upon the heart it brings all alongst with it. Some speak of all truths, even in nature, that they are knit so together that any truth may be concluded out of every truth, at least by a long circuit of deduction
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

Romans 13:3
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