Romans 13:13
Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
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(13) Honestly.Decorously, becomingly, as men do when their actions are seen.

It is interesting to know that this verse, happening to catch the eye of St. Augustine, had a great effect in leading to his baptism and change of life.



Romans 13:8 - Romans 13:14

The two paragraphs of this passage are but slightly connected. The first inculcates the obligation of universal love; and the second begins by suggesting, as a motive for the discharge of that duty, the near approach of ‘the day.’ The light of that dawn draws Paul’s eyes and leads him to wider exhortations on Christian purity as befitting the children of light.

I. Romans 13:8 - Romans 13:10 set forth the obligation of a love which embraces all men, and comprehends all duties to them.

The Apostle has just been laying down the general exhortation, ‘Pay every man his due’ and applying it especially to the Christian’s relation to civic rulers. He repeats it in a negative form, and bases on it the obligation of loving every man. That love is further represented as the sum and substance of the law. Thus Paul brings together two thoughts which are often dealt with as mutually exclusive,-namely, love and law. He does not talk sentimentalisms about the beauty of charity and the like, but lays it down, as a ‘hard and fast rule,’ that we are bound to love every man with whom we come in contact; or, as the Greek has it, ‘the other.’

That is the first plain truth taught here. Love is not an emotion which we may indulge or not, as we please. It is not to select its objects according to our estimate of their lovableness or goodness. But we are bound to love, and that all round, without distinction of beautiful or ugly, good or bad. ‘A hard saying; who can hear it?’ Every man is our creditor for that debt. He does not get his due from us unless he gets love. Note, further, that the debt of love is never discharged. After all payments it still remains owing. There is no paying in full of all demands, and, as Bengel says, it is an undying debt. We are apt to weary of expending love, especially on unworthy recipients, and to think that we have wiped off all claims, and it may often be true that our obligations to others compel us to cease helping one; but if we laid Paul’s words to heart, our patience would be longer-breathed, and we should not be so soon ready to shut hearts and purses against even unthankful suitors.

Further, Paul here teaches us that this debt {debitum, ‘duty’ } of love includes all duties. It is the fulfilling of the law, inasmuch as it will secure the conduct which the law prescribes. The Mosaic law itself indicates this, since it recapitulates the various commandments of the second table, in the one precept of love to our neighbour {Leviticus 19:18}. Law enjoins but has no power to get its injunctions executed. Love enables and inclines to do all that law prescribes, and to avoid all that it prohibits. The multiplicity of duties is melted into unity; and that unity, when it comes into act, unfolds into whatsoever things are lovely and of good report. Love is the mother tincture which, variously diluted and manipulated, yields all potent and fragrant draughts. It is the white light which the prism of daily life resolves into its component colours.

But Paul seems to limit the action of love here to negative doing no ill. That is simply because the commandments are mostly negative, and that they are is a sad token of the lovelessness natural to us all. But do we love ourselves only negatively, or are we satisfied with doing ourselves no harm? That stringent pattern of love to others not only prescribes degree, but manner. It teaches that true love to men is not weak indulgence, but must sometimes chastise, and thwart, and always must seek their good, and not merely their gratification.

Whoever will honestly seek to apply that negative precept of working no ill to others, will find it positive enough. We harm men when we fail to help them. If we can do them a kindness, and do it not, we do them ill. Non-activity for good is activity for evil. Surely, nothing can be plainer than the bearing of this teaching on the Christian duty as to intoxicants. If by using these a Christian puts a stumbling-block in the way of a weak will, then he is working ill to his neighbour, and that argues absence of love, and that is dishonest, shirking payment of a plain debt.

II. The great stimulus to love and to all purity is set forth as being the near approach-of the day {Romans 13:11 - Romans 13:14}.

‘The day,’ in Paul’s writing, has usually the sense of the great day of the Lord’s return, and may have that meaning here; for, as Jesus has told us, ‘it is not for’ even inspired Apostles ‘to know the times or the seasons,’ and it is no dishonour to apostolic inspiration to assign to it the limits which the Lord has assigned.

But, whether we take this as the meaning of the phrase, or regard it simply as pointing to the time of death as the dawning of heaven’s day, the weight of the motive is unaffected. The language is vividly picturesque. The darkness is thinning, and the blackness turning grey. Light begins to stir and whisper. A band of soldiers lies asleep, and, as the twilight begins to dawn, the bugle call summons them to awake, to throw off their night-gear,-namely, the works congenial to darkness,-and to brace on their armour of light. Light may here be regarded as the material of which the glistering armour is made; but, more probably, the expression means weapons appropriate to the light.

Such being the general picture, we note the fact which underlies the whole representation; namely, that every life is a definite whole which has a fixed end. Jesus said, ‘We must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night cometh.’ Paul uses the opposite metaphors in these verses. But, though the two sayings are opposite in form, they are identical in substance. In both, the predominant thought is that of the rapidly diminishing space of earthly life, and the complete unlikeness to it of the future. We stand like men on a sandbank with an incoming tide, and every wash of the waves eats away its edges, and presently it will yield below our feet. We forget this for the most part, and perhaps it is not well that it should be ever present; but that it should never be present is madness and sore loss.

Paul, in his intense moral earnestness, in Romans 13:13, bids us regard ourselves as already in ‘the day,’ and shape our conduct as if it shone around us and all things were made manifest by its light. The sins to be put off are very gross and palpable. They are for the most part sins of flesh, such as even these Roman Christians had to be warned against, and such as need to be manifested by the light even now among many professing Christian communities.

But Paul has one more word to say. If he stopped without it, he would have said little to help men who are crying out, ‘How am I to strip off this clinging evil, which seems my skin rather than my clothing? How am I to put on that flashing panoply?’ There is but one way,-put on the Lord Jesus Christ. If we commit ourselves to Him by faith, and front our temptations in His strength, and thus, as it were, wrap ourselves in Him, He will be to us dress and armour, strength and righteousness. Our old self will fall away, and we shall take no forethought for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Romans 13:13. Let us walk honestly — Greek, ευσχημονως, decently, or in a manner becoming those to whom the glorious light of the gospel has appeared: as in the day — Namely, of gospel light, already shining about us, which requires that we conduct ourselves with great wisdom, and exemplary holiness; not in rioting — Greek, κωμοις, a word derived from Comos, the god of feasting and revelling; that is, feasting with lascivious songs, accompanied with music. “These revellings among the heathen were performed in honour of Bacchus, the god of wine, who, on that account, was named Κωμαστης, Comastes, and were acted in the night-time, for the most part without arms. However, the actors in these revellings were sometimes armed, and insulted those whom they happened to meet. The youth among the heathen, especially in cities, when they were enamoured, used, after they had got themselves drunk, to run about the streets by night, having crowns made of the branches and leaves of trees upon their heads, and torches in their hands, with musical instruments of various kinds, upon which some of them played soft airs, while others accompanied them with their voice, and danced in the most lascivious manner. These indecencies they acted commonly before the house in which their mistress lived, then knocked at the door, and sometimes brake in. Hence, in the book of Wisdom, they are called, chap. Romans 14:23, εμμανεις κωμους, mad revellings.” From all this it appears with what propriety the apostle joins μεθαι, drunkenness, and the other vices here mentioned, together, and opposes τα οπλα του φωτος, the instruments, or weapons of light, to these nocturnal dresses and revellings. See Macknight. Not in chambering — In fornication, adultery, and fleshly lusts. The original expression, κοιταις, is interpreted by Leigh, of lying long in bed. “I will not defend that sense of the word,” says Dr. Doddridge; “but I will here record the observation which I have found of great use to myself, and to which, I may say, that the production of this work, and most of my other writings, is owing; namely, that the difference between rising at five and at seven o’clock in the morning, for the space of forty years, supposing a man to go to bed at the same hour of the night, is nearly equivalent to the addition of ten years to a man’s life; of which, (supposing the two hours in question to be so spent,) eight hours every day should be employed in study and devotion.” And wantonness Ασελγειαις, lasciviousness, any kind of uncleanness, or lewd practices. In vices, alas! such as those here censured by the apostle, many, even professing Christians, are wasting and polluting the hours which nature has destined to necessary repose. Not in strife and envying — In contention about riches, or honours, or opinions; or envying the prosperity of others.

13:11-14 Four things are here taught, as a Christian's directory for his day's work. When to awake; Now; and to awake out of the sleep of carnal security, sloth, and negligence; out of the sleep of spiritual death, and out of the sleep of spiritual deadness. Considering the time; a busy time; a perilous time. Also the salvation nigh at hand. Let us mind our way, and mend our pace, we are nearer our journey's end. Also to make ourselves ready. The night is far spent, the day is at hand; therefore it is time to dress ourselves. Observe what we must put off; clothes worn in the night. Cast off the sinful works of darkness. Observe what we must put on; how we should dress our souls. Put on the armour of light. A Christian must reckon himself undressed, if unarmed. The graces of the Spirit are this armour, to secure the soul from Satan's temptations, and the assaults of this present evil world. Put on Christ; that includes all. Put on righteousness of Christ, for justification. Put on the Spirit and grace of Christ, for sanctification. The Lord Jesus Christ must be put on as Lord to rule you as Jesus to save you; and in both, as Christ anointed and appointed by the Father to this ruling, saving work. And how to walk. When we are up and ready, we are not to sit still, but to appear abroad; let us walk. Christianity teaches us how to walk so as to please God, who ever sees us. Walk honestly as in the day; avoiding the works of darkness. Where there are riot and drunkenness, there usually are chambering and wantonness, and strife and envy. Solomon puts these all together, Pr 23:29-35. See what provision to make. Our great care must be to provide for our souls: but must we take no care about our bodies? Yes; but two things are forbidden. Perplexing ourselves with anxious, encumbering care; and indulging ourselves in irregular desires. Natural wants are to be answered, but evil appetites must be checked and denied. To ask meat for our necessities, is our duty, we are taught to pray for daily bread; but to ask meat for our lusts, is provoking God, Ps 78:18.Let us walk - To "walk" is an expression denoting "to live;" let us "live," or "conduct," etc.

Honestly - The word used here means rather in a "decent' or "becoming" manner; in a manner "appropriate" to those who are the children of light.

As in the day - As if all our actions were seen and known. People by day, or in open light, live decently; their foul and wicked deeds are done in the night. The apostle exhorts Christians to live as if all their conduct were seen, and they had nothing which they wished to conceal.

In rioting - Revelling; denoting the licentious conduct, the noisy and obstreperous mirth, the scenes of disorder and sensuality, which attend luxurious living.

Drunkenness - Rioting and drunkenness constitute the "first" class of sins from which he would keep them. It is scarcely necessary to add that these were common crimes among the pagan.

In chambering - "Lewd, immodest behavior." (Webster.) The Greek word includes illicit indulgences of all kinds, adultery, etc. The words chambering and wantonness constitute the "second" class of crimes from which the apostle exhorts Christians to abstain. That these were common crimes among the pagan, it is not necessary to say; see the Romans 1 notes; also Ephesians 5:12 note. It is not possible, nor would it be proper, to describe the scenes of licentious indulgence of which all pagans are guilty. Since Christians were to be a special people, therefore the apostle enjoins on them purity and holiness of life.

Not in strife - Strife and envying are the "third" class of sins from which the apostle exhorts them. The word "strife" means "contention, disputes, litigations." The exhortation is that they should live in peace.

Envying - Greek, Zeal. It denotes any intense, vehement, "fervid" passion. It is not improperly rendered here by envying. These vices are properly introduced in connection with the others. They usually accompany each other. Quarrels and contentions come out of scenes of drunkenness and debauchery. But for such scenes, there would be little contention, and the world would be comparatively at peace.

13. Let us walk honestly—"becomingly," "seemingly"

as in the day—"Men choose the night for their revels, but our night is past, for we are all the children of the light and of the day (1Th 5:5): let us therefore only do what is fit to be exposed to the light of such a day."

not in rioting and drunkenness—varied forms of intemperance; denoting revels in general, usually ending in intoxication.

not in chambering and wantonness—varied forms of impurity; the one pointing to definite acts, the other more general.

not in strife and envying—varied forms of that venomous feeling between man and man which reverses the law of love.

Let its walk honestly, as in the day: q.d. Let us behave ourselves decently, and with a holy shamefacedness, as becomes those to whom the grace of God, and the glorious light of the gospel, hath appeared. This honest walking is expressed by three adverbs in Titus 2:12; i.e. soberly, righteously, godly. He enumerates divers vices, which are contrary to this honest walking, and he sets them down by pairs. He makes three pairs of them: the first is

rioting and drunkenness; by which he means intemperance, or excess in eating and drinking: see Luke 21:34. The second is

chambering and wantonness; by which he means actual uncleanness, and all lustful and lascivious dalliances: see Galatians 5:19 Ephesians 5:3 Colossians 3:5 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5,7 1 Peter 4:3. The third pair is

strife and envying. All these vices are twisted and connected: intemperance causeth uncleanness, and both cause contention and emulation, Proverbs 23:29,30. The famous St. Augustine confesseth, that he was converted by reading and pondering this text.

Let us walk honestly as in the day,.... Being under the day of the Gospel dispensation, and the day of grace having dawned, and the daystar of spiritual light and knowledge being risen in our hearts, and we being exposed to the view of all men in broad daylight, ought not to lie down and sleep, but to arise and be active, and walk decently with the armour of light on us, as becomes the Gospel of Christ; not naked and unclothed, which would expose us and the Gospel to shame and contempt:

not in rioting; the Syriac and Arabic versions read, "in singing", or "songs"; meaning lewd ones, sung at riotous feasts and banquets, made not for refreshment, but for pleasure and debauchery, what the Romans (i) call "comessations"; feasts after supper in the night season, and design all sorts of nocturnal revels: "Comus", the word here used, is with the Heathens the god of feasts, perhaps the same with "Chemosh", the god of the Moabites, 1 Kings 11:33.

And drunkenness; which always attended such unseasonable and immoderate festivals:

not in chambering; in unlawful copulations, fornication, adultery, and all the defilements of the bed:

and wantonness; lasciviousness, unnatural lusts, as sodomy, &c.

not in strife and envying; contention and quarrels, which are usually the consequences of luxury and uncleanness.

(i) Seutonius in Vita Vitell. c. 13.

Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
Romans 13:13. Ὡς ἐν ἡμέρᾳ] as one walks in the day (when one avoids everything unbecoming). This in a moral sense, Paul desires, should be the ruling principle of the Christian, who sees the day already dawning (Romans 13:12).

εὐσχημόνως] becomingly, 1 Thessalonians 4:12; 1 Corinthians 7:35; 1 Corinthians 14:40. It is moral decorum of conduct.

κώμοις κ.τ.λ.] The datives are explained from the notion of the way and manner in which the περιπατεῖν, i.e. the inner and outward conduct of life, ought not to take place (Kühner, II. 1, p. 382), namely, not with revellings (κώμοις; see respecting this, on Galatians 5:21; Welker in Jacobs, Philostr. i. 2, p. 202 ff.) and carousals (comp. Galatians 5:21), etc. The local view (Philippi) is less in keeping with the particulars mentioned, and that of dativus commodi (Fritzsche, comp. van Hengel) less befits the figurative verb.

κοίταις] congressibus venereis (comp. on Romans 9:10), Wis 3:13, and see Kypke, II. p. 185.

ἀσελγείαις] wantonnesses (especially of lust). See Tittmann, Synon. p. 151. On the sense of the plural, see Lucian, Amor. 21: ἵνα μηδὲν ἀγνοῇ μέρος ἀσελγείας.

ζήλῳ] jealousy (1 Corinthians 1:11; 1 Corinthians 3:3); neither anger (Fritzsche, Philippi, and others), which is not denoted by ζῆλος (not even in 1 Corinthians 3:2; 2 Corinthians 12:20; Galatians 5:20), nor envy (Photius, Luther, and others), which is less in accordance with the preceding (κοίτ. κ. ἀσελγ.), whilst strife and jealousy follow in the train of the practice of lust.

The three particulars adduced stand in the internal connection of cause and effect.

Romans 13:13. ὡς ἐν ἡμέρᾳ: as one walks in the day, so let us walk εὐσχημόνως. The same adverb is found with the same verb in 1 Thessalonians 4:2 : A.V. in both places “honestly”. The meaning is rather “in seemly fashion,” “becomingly”; in 1 Corinthians 14:40 it is rendered “decently,” where also regard for decorum (the aesthetic side of morality) is in view. κῶμοι and μέθαι are again found conjoined in Galatians 5:21; ἔρις and ζῆλος in Galatians 5:20 and 1 Corinthians 3:3. W. and H. following . put ἔρισι καὶ ζήλοις in margin; the plurals in this case as in the others would indicate the various acts or manifestations of excess, whether in self-indulgence or self-will.

13. honestly] Margin, decently, i.e. becomingly; with the true decorum of a life of obedience to the will of God.

as in the day] Here again the metaphor slightly varies its point. The Gr. is, nearly lit., as by day; “as men walk by day.” The Christian is thus bidden to think of himself as in the daylight; with light on him and around him. This is probably here the “light” of 1 John 1:7; the light of the knowledge of the Holy One, and of His felt presence. (See Psalm 139:12.) Such “light” is the dawning of that Day in which “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is;” and this accords with the imagery of Romans 13:12.

rioting] Cp. Galatians 5:21; 1 Peter 4:3.

drunkenness] The Gr. (as in Gal. and 1 Pet. just quoted) is plural; drinking-bouts.

chambering] Again plural: indulgences of lustful pleasure.

wantonness] Again plural: the varieties of lascivious sin are suggested.

Such warnings as these, addressed to the justified and believing, not to a mass of merely conventional Christians, are indications of the immense force of moral corruption in the heathen world out of which the Christians had lately come, and which everywhere surrounded them. But they also indicate the permanent fact that the most sincere Christian, in the happiest times, is never—in his own strength—invulnerable even by gross temptation.

not in strife and envying] Sins of the temper are here classed with lusts of the flesh; as often. See e.g. Galatians 5:19-20.

Romans 13:13.[141] Εὐσχημόνως) with good clothing (honestly, Engl. Vers., in the archaic sense, = becomingly; in becoming attire).—κώμοις καὶ μέθαις, not in riotings and drunkenness) as to ourselves. κῶμος, feasting, a lascivious banquet, with dancing and various disorderly acts.—Wis 14:23; 2Ma 6:4.—κοίταις καὶ ἀσελγείαις, in chamberings and wantonness) accompanied with others.—ἔριδι καὶ ζήλῳ, in strife and envying) directed against others. In Romans 13:13-14, there is a chiasmus:[142] α. not in riotingβ. not in strife and envying: γ. but put on, in love [opposed to strife, and inseparable from Christ], the Lord Jesus Christ—δ. and—not—for the lusts. β and γ correspond, α and δ.

[141] Ὠς ἐν ἡμέρᾳ, as in the day) See that you bear yourself so now, as you would desire to be seen to be at the last day.—V. g.

[142] See Appendix.

Verses 13, 14. - As in the day, let us walk honestly (in the sense which honeste bears in Latin of decently, becomingly, with de. serum. The word εὐσχημόνως occurs also in 1 Thessalonians 4:12; 1 Corinthians 7:35: 14:40. It denotes here a walk of life the entire opposite of ἀσχημοσύνη (ch. 1:27), and of the things done in secret of which it is a shame to speak; cf. Ephesians 5:11, 12); not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying (rather, jealousy, denoting jealous wrath, cf. Acts 13:45). But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ. The figure of a new investment being renewed from ver. 12, it is here Christ himself who is to be put on. So also Galatians 3:27. For the idea implied, cf. Ephesians 4:23, 24; Colossians 3:12; ch. 8:9, 10; 1 Corinthians 6:15, 17. "Induere autem Christum hic significat virtute Spiritus ejus undique nos muniri, qua idonei ad omnes sanctitatis partes reddamur. Sic enim instauratur in nobis imago Dei, quae unicum est animae ornamentum" (Calvin). It may be observed that in Galatians 3:27 Christians are said to have already put on Christ in their baptism; here they are exhorted still to do so. There is no real contradiction; they are but exhorted to realize in actual life the meaning of their baptism. And make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof (literally, unto lusts).

Romans 13:13Honestly (εὐσχημόνως)

Honest is originally honorable, and so here. Compare Wyclif's version of 1 Corinthians 12:23 : "And the members that be unhonest have more honesty; for our honest members have need of none." From εὐ well, σχῆμα fashion. See on Matthew 17:2. Hence becomingly. Compare 1 Corinthians 14:40; 1 Thessalonians 4:12. The word refers more particularly to the outward life, and thus accords with walk, and in the day the time of observation.

Rioting (κώμοις)

Lit., revellings. See on 1 Peter 4:3.

Drunkenness (μέθαις)

See on Luke 21:34; see on John 2:10.

Wantonness (ἀσελγείαις)

See on lasciviousness, Mark 7:22. All these three are plural: riotings, drunkennesses, wantonnesses.

Envying (ζήλω)

Rev., jealousy. See on James 3:14.

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