Romans 13:6
For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
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(6) Ministers.—The words thus translated here and in Romans 13:4 are not the same, but both are words commonly used in the New Testament of a sacred office; that in Romans 13:4 is the original of our word “deacon,” that used in this verse is (in another form) the original of our word “liturgy.” The choice of such terms harmonises with the conception which is presented in this chapter of the divine origin and character of the state system.

Romans 13:6. For this cause pay ye tribute also — Not only in token of the duty and subjection you owe them, but because they are the ministers (officers) of God — For the public good; attending continually on this very thing — Giving the whole of their time, care, and labour to it. “The phrase, λειτουργοι Θεου, rendered ministers of God, signifies ministers appointed by God in behalf of the people. The thing to which the magistrates attend, or ought to attend continually, is the good of the people; which they should promote by restraining evil-doers, distributing justice, and repelling the attacks of foreign enemies. Now these things they cannot do, unless taxes are paid to them.”

13:1-7 The grace of the gospel teaches us submission and quiet, where pride and the carnal mind only see causes for murmuring and discontent. Whatever the persons in authority over us themselves may be, yet the just power they have, must be submitted to and obeyed. In the general course of human affairs, rulers are not a terror to honest, quiet, and good subjects, but to evil-doers. Such is the power of sin and corruption, that many will be kept back from crimes only by the fear of punishment. Thou hast the benefit of the government, therefore do what thou canst to preserve it, and nothing to disturb it. This directs private persons to behave quietly and peaceably where God has set them, 1Ti 2:1,2. Christians must not use any trick or fraud. All smuggling, dealing in contraband goods, withholding or evading duties, is rebellion against the express command of God. Thus honest neighbours are robbed, who will have to pay the more; and the crimes of smugglers, and others who join with them, are abetted. It is painful that some professors of the gospel should countenance such dishonest practices. The lesson here taught it becomes all Christians to learn and practise, that the godly in the land will always be found the quiet and the peaceable in the land, whatever others are.For this cause - Because they are appointed by God; for the sake of conscience, and in order to secure the execution of the laws. As they are appointed by God, the tribute which is needful for their support becomes an act of homage to God, an act performed in obedience to his will, and acceptable to him.

Tribute also - Not only be subject Romans 13:5, but pay what may be necessary to support the government. "Tribute" properly denotes the "tax," or annual compensation, which was paid by one province or nation to a superior, as the price of protection, or as an acknowledgment of subjection. The Romans made all conquered provinces pay this "tribute;" and it would become a question whether it was "right" to acknowledge this claim, and submit to it. Especially would this question be agitated by the Jews and by Jewish Christians. But on the principle which the apostle had laid down Romans 13:1-2, it was right to do it, and was demanded by the very purposes of government. In a larger sense, the word "tribute" means any tax paid on land or personal estate for the support of the government.

For they are God's ministers - His servants; or they are appointed by him. As the government is "his" appointment, we should contribute to its support as a matter of conscience, because we thus do honor to the arrangement of God. It may be observed here, also, that the fact that civil rulers are the ministers of God, invests their character with great sacredness, and should impress upon "them" the duty of seeking to do his will, as well as on others the duty of submitting to them.

Attending continually - As they attend to this, and devote their time and talents to it, it is proper that they should receive a suitable support. It becomes then a duty for the people to contribute cheerfully to the necessary expenses of the government. If those taxes should be unjust and oppressive, yet, like other evils, they are to be submitted to, until a remedy can be found in a proper way.

6, 7. For, for this cause pay ye—rather, "ye pay"

tribute also—that is, "This is the reason why ye pay the contributions requisite for maintaining the civil government."

for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing—"to this very thing."

For this cause, i.e. in token, or in testimony, of that subjection you owe to magistracy,

pay ye tribute: the word is plural in the original, and thereby is intended all taxes and burdens, which are legally and customarily imposed.

For they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing: this is a reason why tribute should be paid to rulers; but it is for the support of their authority, and a due recompence for their great care and industry. When he says, they attend

continually upon this very thing, the meaning is not, they attend always upon the receiving of tribute; but it is to be understood of the duty of magistrates, which is, to be continually promoting the good and welfare of their subjects; to encourage the good, and punish the evil-doer, which is the very thing he had been before speaking of.

For, for this cause pay you tribute also,.... To show that we are subject to the higher powers, and as a proof and evidence of our subjection to them, we do and ought to pay tribute to them, to support them in their office and dignity; and this is done not for fear of trouble, of distress on goods and estate, or imprisonment of person, but for conscience sake: payment of taxes is not a mere matter of prudence, and done to avoid dangerous consequence, but is and ought to be a case of conscience; whatever is anyone's due, and of right belongs to him, conscience dictates it ought to be paid him; as therefore it tells a man, that whatever is God's should be rendered to him, so whatever is Caesar's, should be given him; and indeed to do otherwise, to refuse to pay tribute, or by any fraudulent means to deprive the civil magistrate of his due, is not only to do an injury to him, but to the whole body politic, which has a greater concern therein than he himself; and such a person forfeits all right and claim to his protection:

for they are God's ministers. This is another reason why tribute should be paid them, not only to testify subjection to them, and keep conscience clear, but because they are called unto, and put into this high office by God; for promotion to such honour and high places comes not from east, west, north, or south; but is by the providence of God, who puts down, and sets up at pleasure; they are his vicegerents, they act under him, are in his stead, and represent his majesty; and therefore, in some sort, what is done to them is done to him:

attending continually upon this very thing; not of laying, collecting, and receiving tribute, but of service and ministry under God, for the welfare of their subjects; for rightly to administer the office of magistracy requires great pains, care, diligence, and assiduity; and as great wisdom and thoughtfulness in making laws for the good of the body, so a diligent constant concern to put them in execution, to secure the lives of subjects from cut throats and murderers, and their properties and estates from thieves and robbers; and they are not only obliged diligently to attend to such service at home, but to keep a good lookout abroad, and penetrate into, and watch the designs of foreign enemies, to defend from their invasions, and fight for their country; that the inhabitants thereof may live peaceable and quiet lives, enjoying their respective rights and privileges; and since therefore civil government is a business of so much care, and since our rulers are so solicitous, and constantly concerned for our good, and which cannot be done without great expense, as well as diligence, we ought cheerfully to pay tribute to them.

{8} For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

(8) He sums up the main thing, in which consists the obedience of subjects.

Romans 13:6. For on this account you pay taxes—this is the confirmation of Romans 13:5, from the actually subsisting payment of taxes; γάρ retains its sense assigning a reason, and the emphatic διὰ τοῦτο (from this ground) is exactly in accordance with the context: ὅτι οὐ μόνον διὰ τὴν ὀργὴν, ἀλλὰ καὶ διὰ τὴν συνείδησιν ἀνάγκη ἐστιν ὑποτάσσεσθαι. At the basis of the argument lies the view, that the existing relation of tax-paying is a result of the necessity indicated in Romans 13:5, and consequently the confirmation of it. If διὰ τοῦτο be referred to Romans 13:1-4 : “ut magistratus Dei mandatu homines maleficos puniant, proborum saluti prospiciant,” Fritzsche (comp. Calvin, Tholuck, de Wette, Borger), Romans 13:5 is arbitrarily passed over. It follows, moreover, from our passage, that the refusal of taxes is the practical rejection of the necessity stated in Romans 13:5. Others take τελεῖτε as imperative (Heumann, Morus, Tholuck, Klee, Reiche, Köllner, Hofmann). Against this the γάρ, which might certainly be taken with the imperative (see on Romans 6:19), is not indeed decisive; but Paul himself gives by his οὖν, Romans 13:7, the plain indication that he is passing for the first time in Romans 13:7 to the language of summons, which he now also introduces, not with the present, but with the aorist.

καί] also denotes the relation corresponding to Romans 13:5. It is not “a downward climax” (Hofmann: “even this most external performance of subjection”), of which there is no indication at all either in the text or in the thing itself. The latter is, on the contrary, the immediate practical voucher most accordant with the experience of every subject.

τελεῖτε] Paul does not in this appeal to his readers’ own recognition of what was said in Romans 13:5 (the summons in Romans 13:7 is opposed to this), but to what subsists as matter of fact.

λειτουργοὶ γὰρ Θεοῦ κ.τ.λ.] justifies the fundamental statement, expressed by διὰ τοῦτο, of the actual bearing of the payment of taxes: for they are ministering servants of God, persevering in activity on this very behalf (on no other). The thought in Romans 13:4, that the magistracy is Θεοῦ διάκονος, is here by way of climax more precisely defined through λειτουργοί (which is therefore prefixed with emphasis) according to the official sacredness of this relation of service, and that conformably to the Christian view of the magisterial calling. Accordingly, those who rule, in so far as they serve the divine counsel and will, and employ their strength and activity to this end, are to be regarded as persons whose administration has the character of a divinely consecrated sacrificial service, a priestly nature (Romans 15:16; Php 2:17, et al.). This renders the proposition the more appropriate for confirmation of the διὰ τοῦτο κ.τ.λ., which is a specifically religious one.

λειτουργοὶ Θεοῦ is predicate, and the subject is understood of itself from the context: they, namely magisterial persons (οἱ ἄρχοντες). Incorrectly as regards linguistic usage, Reiche, Köllner, Olshausen take προσκαρτ. to be the subject, in which case certainly the article before the participle would be quite indispensable (Reiche erroneously appeals to Matthew 20:16; Matthew 22:14).

εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο] Telic direction not of λειτουργ. (Hofmann), but of προσκαρτ.: for this very object, by which is meant not the administration of tax-paying (Olshausen, Philippi, and older interpreters), but the just mentioned λειτουργεῖν τῷ Θεῷ, in which vocation, so characteristically sacred, the magistracy is continually and assiduously active, and the subject gives to it the means of being so, namely, taxes. Thus the payment of taxes is placed by Paul under the highest point of view of a religious conscientious duty, so that by means of it the divine vocation of the magistracy to provide a constantly active sacrificial cultus of God is promoted and facilitated. If εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο was to be referred to the administration of taxes, this would not indeed be “nonsensical” (Hofmann), but the emphatic mode of expression αὐτὸ τοῦτο would be without due motive, nor could we easily perceive why Paul should have selected the verb προσκαρτ., which expresses the moral notion perseverare. The reference of it to the nearest great thought, λειτουργοὶ κ.τ.λ., excludes, the more weighty and appropriate that it is, any other reference, even that of Hofmann, that αὐτὸ τοῦτο points back to the same proposition as διὰ τοῦτο.

Instead of εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο, Paul might have said αὐτῷ τούτῳ (Romans 12:12); he has, however, conceived προσκαρτ. absolutely, and given with εἰς the definition of its aim. Comp. on the absolute προσκατερεῖν, Numbers 13:20; Xen. Hell. vii. 5, 14.

6. The passage assumes, of course, that where human law, or its minister, contradicts Divine precepts, (as when a Christian is commanded to do wrong,) then obedience to the Higher Authority must take precedence. Christian officials, for instance, under a despot must not plot against him, but also must not do wrong for him.

6. for this cause] i.e. because of “the conscience” that they are God’s appointed agency, and act in His name when they demand contributions for the public revenues, which are a vital part of the machinery of civil order.

tribute] taxes.

attending continually] persevering in, “devoting themselves to.” Same word as e.g. Romans 12:12, (“continuing instant.”) The word points to government as the life-work of the governor; a thing not of pride or privilege so much as of incessant duty.

upon this very thing] Better, with a view to this very thing; i.e., probably, “with a view to the service of God.” The governor may not consciously “serve God” in his office; but in his office he does a work which is “the ordinance of God,” and must be recognized as such by Christian subjects.—To refer the words “this very thing” to taxes, or tax-gathering, is to limit what is evidently a solemn summary clause, and greatly to lessen its intended weight.

Romans 13:6. Λειτουργοὶ, ministers) The ministry and the magistracy are adorned with the same titles. So Romans 13:4, διάκονος, comp. Isaiah 44:28; Jeremiah 25:9.—προσκαρτεροῦντες, [attending continually] persevering) O that all men would do so rightly.

Verse 6. - For for this cause ye pay (so, rather than, as in the Authorized Version, pay ye. The γὰρ suggests this interpretation. So in the Vulgate, ideo enim et tributa praestatis. The Christians, we may suppose, did pay all legal dues and taxes; it was a recognized principle that they were bound to do so; perhaps because of Christ himself having settled the question in his dictum about the tribute-money (Matthew 22:21). And what the apostle means may be that the same principle on which they paid their taxes extended to all legal requirements) tribute also: for they (i.e. the officers who exact tribute) are God's ministers (not, as in ver. 4, διακόνοι, but λειτουργοὶ. This word, with its correlatives, is used in the New Testament especially with reference to the ceremonial services of the temple, and to their counterpart in Christian devotion; but not exclusively so (see Romans 15:27; Philippians 2:25). In classical Greek it denotes peculiarly persons performing public duties, or works of public use. This well-known use of the word may have suggested it here, the apostle meaning to say that such as in any such way served the state were in fact serving God), attending continually upon this very thing; i.e. on λειτουργία for God. Romans 13:6Pay ye tribute (φόρους τελεῖτε)

Τελεῖτε ye pay is, literally, ye accomplish or fulfill carrying the sense of the fulfillment of an obligation. Φόρους tribute is from φέρω to bring something brought. Rev. makes the verb indicative, ye pay.

God's ministers (λειτουργοὶ Θεοῦ)

See on ministration, Luke 1:23, and see on ministered, Acts 13:2. In Romans 13:4, διάκονος is used for minister. The word here brings out more fully the fact that the ruler, like the priest, discharges a divinely ordained service. Government is thus elevated into the sphere of religion. Hence Rev., ministers of God's service.

Attending continually

The same word as continuing steadfastly in Romans 12:12.

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