Romans 13:8
Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) Owe no man anything.—The word for “owe” in this verse corresponds to that for “dues” in the last. The transition of the thought is something of this kind. When you have paid all your other debts, taxes, and customs, and reverence, and whatever else you may owe, there will still be one debt unpaid—the universal debt of love. Love must still remain the root and spring of all your actions. No other law is needed besides.

Another.—Literally, the other—that is to say, his neighbour, the person with whom in any given instance he has to deal.

We naturally compare with this passage Matthew 22:39-40; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8. It shows how thoroughly the spirit of the Founder of Christianity descended upon His followers, that the same teaching should appear with equal prominence in such opposite quarters. The focusing, as it were, of all morality in this brief compass is one of the great gifts of Christianity to the world. No doubt similar sayings existed before, and that by our Lord Himself was quoted from the Old Testament, but there it was in effect overlaid with ceremonial rules and regulations, and in other moralists it was put forward rather as a philosophical theorem than as a practical basis of morals. In Christianity it is taken as the lever which is to move the world; nor is it possible to find for human life, amid all the intricate mazes of conduct, any other principle that should be at once as simple, as powerful, and as profound.

Romans

LOVE AND THE DAY

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 13:8-10. Here, from our duty to magistrates, he passes on to general duties. Owe no man any thing — Endeavour to manage your affairs with that economy and prudent attention that you may, as soon as possible, balance accounts with all who have any demands upon you, except it be with respect to that debt, which, while you pay, you will nevertheless still owe, namely, to love one another; an eternal debt, which can never be sufficiently discharged. But yet, if this be rightly performed, it, in a sense, discharges all the rest. For he that loveth another — As he ought; hath fulfilled the law — Of the second table. The word ετερον, another, here used, is a more general word than πλησιον, neighbour, in the next verse, and comprehends our very enemies; according to the sublime morality enjoined by Christ. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, &c. — All these precepts, prohibiting sins frequently committed, comprehend also the contrary duties, due to our fellow-creatures; and if there be any other more particular commandment — Respecting them, as there are many in the law; it is briefly comprehended — Ανακεφαλαιουται, it is summed up in this saying — In this one general and most excellent precept, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself — Thou shalt learn to put thyself, as it were, in his place, and to act toward him as, in a supposed change of circumstances, thou wouldest reasonably desire him to act toward thee. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour — Nay, wherever that noble principle governs the heart, it will put men upon doing all they can for the good of others. Therefore love is the fulfilling of the law — For the same love which restrains a man from doing evil to any, will incite him, as he has ability and opportunity, to do good to all.

13:8-10 Christians must avoid useless expense, and be careful not to contract any debts they have not the power to discharge. They are also to stand aloof from all venturesome speculations and rash engagements, and whatever may expose them to the danger of not rendering to all their due. Do not keep in any one's debt. Give every one his own. Do not spend that on yourselves, which you owe to others. But many who are very sensible of the trouble, think little of the sin, of being in debt. Love to others includes all the duties of the second table. The last five of the ten commandments are all summed up in this royal law, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself; with the same sincerity that thou lovest thyself, though not in the same measure and degree. He that loves his neighbour as himself, will desire the welfare of his neighbour. On this is built that golden rule, of doing as we would be done by. Love is a living, active principle of obedience to the whole law. Let us not only avoid injuries to the persons, connexions, property, and characters of men; but do no kind or degree of evil to any man, and study to be useful in every station of life.Owe no man anything - Be not "in debt" to anyone. In the previous verse the apostle had been discoursing of the duty which we owe to magistrates. He had particularly enjoined on Christians to pay to "them" their just dues. From this command to discharge fully this obligation, the transition was natural to the subject of debts "in general," and to an injunction not to be indebted to "any one." This law is enjoined in this place:

(1) Because it is a part of our duty as good citizens; and,

(2) Because it is a part of that law which teaches us to love our neighbor, and to "do no injury to him," Romans 13:10.

The interpretation of this command is to be taken with this limitation, that we are not to be indebted to him so as to "injure" him, or to work "ill" to him.

This rule, together with the other rules of Christianity, would propose a remedy for all the evils of bad debts in the following manner.

(1) it would teach people to be "industrious," and this would commonly prevent the "necessity" of contracting debts.

(2) it would make them "frugal, economical," and "humble" in their views and manner of life.

(3) it would teach them to bring up their families in habits of industry. The Bible often enjoins that; see the note at Romans 12:11; compare Philippians 4:8; Proverbs 24:30-34; 1 Thessalonians 4:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:10; Ephesians 4:25.

(4) Religion would produce sober, chastened views of the end of life, of the great design of living; and would take off the affections from the splendor, gaiety, and extravagances which lead often to the contraction of debts; 1 Thessalonians 5:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:8; 1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 4:7; Titus 2:12; 1 Peter 3:3, 1 Peter 3:5; 1 Timothy 2:9.

(5) Religion would put a period to the "vices" and unlawful desires which now prompt people to contract debts.

(6) it would make them "honest" in paying them. It would make them conscientious, prompt, friends of truth, and disposed to keep their promises.

But to love one another - Love is a debt which "can" never be discharged. We should feel that we "owe" this to all people, and though by acts of kindness we may be constantly discharging it, yet we should feel that it can "never" be fully met while there is opportunity to do good.

For he that loveth ... - In what way this is done is stated in Romans 13:10. The law in relation to our neighbor is there said to be simply that we do no "ill" to him. Love to him would prompt to no injury. It would seek to do him good, and would thus fulfil all the purposes of justice and truth which we owe to him. In order to illustrate this, the apostle, in the next verse, runs over the laws of the Ten Commandments in relation to our neighbor, and shows that all those laws proceed on the principle that we are to "love" him, and that love would prompt to them all.

8. Owe no man anything, but to love one another—"Acquit yourselves of all obligations except love, which is a debt that must remain ever due" [Hodge].

for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law—for the law itself is but love in manifold action, regarded as matter of duty.

Having treated of special duties belonging to superiors, he now comes to that which is more general, and belongs to all.

Owe no man any thing; neither your superiors, nor your equals and inferiors; render and pay to every person what is due to him, let his rank and quality be what it will.

But to love one another: q.d. Only there is one debt that yon can never fully discharge; that you must be ever paying, yet ever owing; and that is love.

For he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law: this is a reason why we should love one another, and be still paying that debt; and it is taken from the excellency of love:

he that loveth another (i.e. he that doth it in deed and in truth) hath fullfilled the law; he means, the second table of the law, as the next verse showeth; he hath done what is required therein.

Owe no man anything,.... From the payment of dues to magistrates the apostle proceeds to a general exhortation to discharge all sorts of debts; as not to owe the civil magistrate any thing, but render to him his dues, so to owe nothing to any other man, but make good all obligations whatever, as of a civil, so of a natural kind. There are debts arising from the natural and civil relations subsisting among men, which should be discharged; as of the husband to the wife, the wife to the husband; parents to their children, children to their parents; masters to their servants, servants to their masters; one brother, friend, and neighbour, to another. Moreover, pecuniary debts may be here intended, such as are come into by borrowing, buying, commerce, and contracts; which though they cannot be avoided in carrying on worldly business, yet men ought to make conscience of paying them as soon as they are able: many an honest man may be in debt, and by one providence or another be disabled from payment, which is a grief of mind to him; but for men industriously to run into debt, and take no care to pay, but live upon the property and substance of others, is scandalous to them as men, and greatly unbecoming professors of religion, and brings great reproach upon the Gospel of Christ.

But to love one another. This is the only debt never to be wholly discharged; for though it should be always paying, yet ought always to be looked upon as owing. Saints ought to love one another as such; to this they are obliged by the new commandment of Christ, by the love of God, and Christ unto them, by the relations they stand in to one another, as the children of God, brethren, and members of the same body; and which is necessary to keep them and the churches of Christ together, it being the bond of perfectness by which they are knit to one another; and for their comfort and honour, as well as to show the truth and reality of their profession. This debt should be always paying; saints should be continually serving one another in love, praying for each other, bearing one another's burdens, forbearing each other, and doing all good offices in things temporal and spiritual that lie in their power, and yet always owing; the obligation to it always remains. Christ's commandment is a new one, always new, and will never be antiquated; his and his Father's love always continue, and the relations believers stand in to each other are ever the same; and therefore love will be always paying, and always owing in heaven to all eternity. But what the apostle seems chiefly to respect, is love to one another as men, love to one another, to the neighbour, as the following verses show. Love is a debt we owe to every man, as a man, being all made of one blood, and in the image of God; so that not only such as are of the same family, live in the same neighbourhood, and belong to the same nation, but even all the individuals of mankind, yea, our very enemies are to share in our love; and as we have an opportunity and ability, are to show it by doing them good.

For he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law; that is, not who loves some one particular person, but every other person besides himself, even his neighbour, in the largest sense of the word, including all mankind, and that as himself; such an one has fulfilled the law, the law of the decalogue; that part of it particularly which relates to the neighbour; the second table of the law, as the next verse shows: though since there is no true love of our neighbour without the love of God, nor no true love of God without the love of our neighbour; and since these two involve each other, and include the whole law, it may be understood of fulfilling every part of it, that is, of doing it; for fulfilling the law means doing it, or acting according to it; and so far as a man loves, so far he fulfils, that is, does it: but this is not, nor can it be done perfectly, which is evident, partly from the impotency of man, who is weak and without strength, yea, dead in sin, and unable to do any thing of himself; and partly from the extensiveness of the law, which reaches to the thoughts and desires of the heart, as well as to words and actions; as also from the imperfection of love, for neither love to God, nor love to one another, either as men or Christians, is perfect; and consequently the fulfilling of the law by it is not perfect: hence this passage yields nothing in favour of the doctrine of justification by works; since the best works are imperfect, even those that spring from love, for love itself is imperfect; and are not done as they are, in a man's own strength, and without the Spirit and grace of God. Christ only has fulfilled the law perfectly, both as to parts and degrees; and to him only should we look for a justifying righteousness.

{9} Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: {10} for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the {g} law.

(9) He shows how very few judgments need to be executed, that is, if we so order our life as no man may justly require anything from us, besides only that which we owe one to another, by the perpetual law of charity.

(10) He commends charity as a concise statement of the whole law.

(g) Has not only done one commandment, but performed generally that which the law commands.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 13:8. Μηδενὶ μηδὲν ὀφείλετε] negatively the same thing, only generally referred to the relation to everybody—and therewith Paul returns to the general duty of Christians—which was before said positively in Romans 13:7 : ἀπόδοτε πᾶσι τὰς ὀφειλάς. By this very parallel, and decisively by the subjective negations, ὀφείλετε is determined to be imperative: “Leave toward no one any obligation unfulfilled, reciprocal love excepted,” wherein you neither can, nor moreover are expected, ever fully to discharge your obligation. The inexhaustibility of the duty of love, the claims of which are not discharged, but renewed and accumulated with fulfilment, is expressed. Comp. Origen, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Augustine, Beza, Grotius, Wetstein, Bengel (“amare debitum immortale”), and many others, including Tholuck, Rückert, Reithmayr, de Wette, Philippi, Ewald, Umbreit, Hofmann. The point lies in the fact that, while ὀφείλετε applies to those external performances to which one is bound (“obligatio civilis,” Melanchthon), in the case of the ἀγαπᾶν it means the higher moral obligation, in virtue of which with the quotidie solvere is connected the semper debere (Origen). The objections of Reiche to the imperative rendering quite overlook the fact, that with εἰ μὴ τὸ ἀλλήλ. ἀγ. the ὀφείλετε again to be supplied is to be taken not objectively (remain owing mutual love!), but subjectively, namely, from the consciousness of the impossibility of discharging the debt of love. But Reiche’s own view (so also Schrader, following Heumann, Semler, Koppe, Rosenmüller, Böhme, Flatt, and by way of suggestion, Erasmus), that ὀφ. is indicative: “all your obligations come back to love,” is decidedly incorrect, for οὐ must then have been used, as e.g. in Plato’s testament (Diogenes Laert. iii. 43): ἀφείλω δʼ οὐδενὶ οὐδέν. The passages adduced on the other hand by Reiche from Wetstein are not in point, because they have μή with a participle or infinitive. Fritzsche (comp. Baumgarten-Crusius and Krehl): Be owing no one anything; only “mutuum amorem vos hominibus debere censete.” Thereby the whole thoughtfulness, the delicate enamel of the passage, is obliterated, and withal there is imported an idea (censete) which is not there.

ὁ γὰρ ἀγαπ. κ.τ.λ.] A summons to unceasing compliance with the command of love having been contained in the preceding εἰ μὴ τὸ ἀλλήλους ἀγαπᾶν, Paul now gives the ground of this summons by setting forth the high moral dignity and significance of love, which is nothing less than the fulfilment of the law. Comp. Galatians 5:14; Matthew 22:34 ff.

τὸν ἕτερον] belongs to ἀγαπῶν: the other, with whom the loving subject has to do (comp. Romans 2:1; Romans 2:21; 1 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Corinthians 6:1; 1 Corinthians 14:17; Jam 4:12, et al.). Incorrectly Hofmann holds that it belongs to ΝΌΜΟΝ: the further, the remaining law. For the usage of ἕτερος and ἌΛΛΟς in the sense of otherwise existing (see thereon Krüger, Xen. Anab. i. 4. 2; Nägelsbach, z. Ilias, p. 250 f.) is here quite inapplicable; Paul must at least have written καὶ τὰς ἕτερας ἐντολάς (comp. also Luke 23:32; Plato, Rep. p. 357 C, and Stallbaum in loc.). But most intelligibly and simply he would have written τὸν πάντα νόμον, as in Galatians 5:14. It is impossible to explain the singular ὁ ἕτερος collectively (with an irrelevant appeal to Rost, § 98, B. 3. 5); ἕτερος νόμος could only be another (second) law (comp. Romans 7:23), and ὁ ἕτερος ν., therefore, the definite other of two; Kühner, II. 1, p. 548.

πεπλήρωκε] present of the completed action, as in Romans 2:25; in and with the loving there has taken place (comp. on Galatians 5:14) what the Mosaic law prescribes (namely, in respect of duties towards one’s neighbour, see Romans 13:9-10; inasmuch as he who loves does not commit adultery, does not kill, does not steal, does not covet, etc.). But though love is the fulfilment of the law, it is nevertheless not the subjective cause of justification, because all human fulfilment of the law, even love, is incomplete, and only the complete fulfilment of the law would be our righteousness. Rightly Melanchthon: “Dilectio est impletio legis, item est justitia, si id intelligatur de idea, non de tali dilectione, qualis est in hac vita.”

Romans 13:8-14. General exhortation, to love (Romans 13:8-10), and to a Christian walk generally (Romans 13:11-14).

Romans 13:8. εἰ μὴ τὸ ἀλλήλους ἀγαπᾷν = except mutual love. This is the debitum immortale of Bengel; hoc enim et quotidie solvere et semper debere expedit nobis (Origen). ὁ γὰρ ἀγαπῶν τὸν ἕτερον: he who loves his neighbour, the other with whom he has to do. Cf. Romans 2:1; Romans 2:21 (Weiss). νόμον πεπλήρωκεν = has done all that law requires. From what follows it is clear that Paul is thinking of the Mosaic law; it was virtually the only thing in the world to which he could apply the word νόμος, or which he could use to illustrate that word. The relation of chaps. 12 and 13 to the Gospels makes it very credible that Paul had here in his mind the words of our Lord in Matthew 22:34 ff.

8. It is manifest how indispensable to the early growth of the Christian Church these precepts of obedience were. Though their truth is for all generations, whatever may be the phases of political speculation or popular feeling, it was a truth of special and urgent necessity then. But for these principles, humanly speaking, society would have been convulsed, and then left with its evils intensified; and the Church would have perished.

See further, Appendix J.

the higher powers] Lit. supreme (i.e. ruling) authorities. The word rendered “higher” is the same as that rendered “supreme,” 1 Peter 2:13. The context here shews that the idea is not (as in 1 Peter 2:13) supremacy over other authorities, but a more general one, superior position as regards the subject.

there is no power but of God: the powers, &c.] More lit. there is no authority except authority derived from God; but the existing authorities have been appointed by God. The first clause emphasizes the absolute inalienable Supremacy of God; the second emphasizes the fact that this Supreme Ruler actually has constituted subordinate authorities on earth, and that these authorities are to be known in each case by their de facto existence, and to be obeyed by Christians as God’s present order. It is instructive to remember that Roman imperialism, under Nero, was God’s present order for St Paul and his first readers.

Whosoever—resisteth] Same word as James 5:6; where the possible reference is to the non-resistance of the Just One Himself, when, by an awful abuse of authority, He was “condemned and killed.”

resisteth] withstandeth; and so just below, they that withstand. The verb is different from that rendered “resist” just above. The difference is noteworthy only as shewing the special reference of the words “they that withstand,” which thus, plainly, must refer to “the ordinance of God;” and the passage may be thus paraphrased: “those who resist civil authority withstand God’s ordinance; and those who withstand God’s ordinance will (by inevitable consequence) bring on themselves God’s condemnation.”

themselves] Emphatic in the Gr. They will be their own victims.

damnation] judgment. Same word as Romans 2:2-3, Romans 3:8, Romans 5:16; 1 Corinthians 11:29. Here the reference is to the Divine judgment-seat. See last note but one.

8–10. Christian practice: Love the best guarantee for the rights and interests of others, in general

8. Owe no man any thing] The special precept here beautifully expands into the general. Not rulers only but all men, (and here particularly, no doubt, all Christians; see next note;) are to receive “their dues.”

The precept, in its particular application to money-debts, no doubt counsels immediate payment where possible and desirable. Its spirit, however, obliges the Christian only to a watchful avoidance of a state of debt, by careful restriction of expenses within means; and a thoughtful care for the interests of the creditor, to whom deferred payment may be a serious loss. See Proverbs 3:27-28.—But it is obvious that the “owing” here is not of money only but of every kind of “due” from man to man.

but to love one another] This does not mean that “love” is to be an unpaid debt in the sense in which a repudiated or neglected bill is unpaid. It is to be a perpetual payment; one which in the nature of things can never be paid off, and which will therefore be ever recurring as a new demand for the same happy expenditure.—The phrase “love one another” shews that St Paul has the Christian community specially in view here. They were, indeed, quite as truly bound to “love their enemies;” but the love in the two cases was not exactly of the same quality. The love of benevolence is not to be confused with the love of endearment.—For such special entreaties to Christian love see e.g. John 13:34; John 15:12; John 15:17; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 Peter 2:17; 1 John 3:14; and particularly, as a strictly parallel passage here, Galatians 5:13-14.

loveth another] Lit. loveth the other; the other of the two parties necessary to intercourse.

hath fulfilled] The perfect tense conveys the thought that such “love” at once attains the fulfilment (as regards principle and will) of the precepts of the “Second Table.” It does not move from one to another by laborious steps, but leaps, as it were, to entire obedience. By its very nature “it has obeyed,” ipso facto, all the demands.

It is obvious that St Paul is not concerned here with the fact of the actual incompleteness of the obedience of even the holiest Christian. He has to state the principle; he takes the ideal, at which all sincere effort will aim.

It is obvious also that by “the Law” here he means only that part of the Divine Law which affects “the neighbour.” The “first and great commandment” (see Matthew 22:37-38,) is not here in view.

Romans 13:8. Μηδενὶ, to no man) From our duties to magistrates, he proceeds to general duties, such as we owe to one another.—ὀφείλετε, owe) a new part of the exhortation begins here.—ἀγαπᾷν, to love) a never-ending debt. Song of Solomon 8:7, at end of ver. If you will continue to love, you will owe nothing, for love is the fulfilling of the law. To love is liberty.

Verses 8-10. - From specific admonitions on this subject, the apostle passes naturally to the principle which, in these regards as well as others, should inspire all our dealings with our fellow-men. Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another (literally, the other, meaning the same as his neighbour) hath fulfilled law. Νόμον here is anarthrous, denoting law in general, not the Mosaic Law in particular, though the instances of transgression that follow are from the Decalogue. The idea of the passage is but a carrying out of our Lord's saying, Matthew 22:39, 40. We find it also in Galatians 5:14 more shortly expressed. 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 (or, summed up) in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of law. Romans 13:8Another (τὸν ἕτερον)

Lit., the other, or the different one, the word emphasizing more strongly the distinction between the two parties. Rev., his neighbor.

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