Romans 13:8-9 “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The Apostle Paul tells us in the book of Romans that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” An overview of Romans brings to light therefore, that the only way we can have peace with our Creator is by the righteousness of another—Christ, whose obedience is imputed to us when we trust only in Him for salvation. Yet God does not only justify us, or declare us righteous in His sight. God also transforms our heart, and we pursue holiness; not in order to secure a right standing with the Lord, but in gratitude to Him for the right standing He has granted us by grace alone. The outworking of all this is seen in continual transformation by the renewing of our minds, which produces sincere love in our hearts toward others and a willingness to submit to the authorities that the Lord has rightfully established in His world.
In Romans 13:8-9, the Apostle picks up on this idea of obligation when he commands us to “owe no one anything, except to love each other”. He does not mean that Christians are not allowed to go into any kind of financial debt; rather, the point is that the only perpetual obligation that believers have is to love one another. In other words, there is one debt that believers will be repaying from the point of conversion into all eternity, and that is to love the brethren.
Without a doubt, the Apostle leans on the words of Jesus Himself, who said love of God
and neighbor are the two greatest commandments (Matthew 22:34–40). Paul does not mention love for the Lord explicitly in Romans 13:8-9; however, Scripture assumes that true love for neighbor manifests itself only when we have true love for our Creator. The whole law is fulfilled when we love our neighbors; for true love towards our fellow man does not flow except from the love of God, and it is its evidence as it were its effects. The study notices that Paul speaks of love as the fulfillment of the moral law, specifically the Ten Commandments in Romans 13:9. True, biblical love has objective moral content. We cannot justify actions merely because they “feel” loving. Instead, godly love conforms to the Lord’s standards. It does what pleases Him.
The study concludes that as disciples of Christ, we must define love by what the Lord has revealed and not by what happens to “feel” right to us at the moment. Our hearts can deceive us, but God’s Word teaches us only the truth. As we consider our love for others, a desire to act in conformity to the commands of the Lord will show us that what we are experiencing is the godly kind of love that the Lord demands.
Love in Christ.