Online Bible Commentary
Love One Another
Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 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." 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. 11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (NKJV)
The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the Christians in Rome during a three month visit to the church in Corinth, Greece in late 56 and early 57 A.D. The letter is heavy with Christian Doctrine, Christian teaching.
The major doctrinal portion of the letter ends with chapter 11. Going forward, the next section (chapters 12-15:13) takes this doctrine and applies it through practical Christian living.
In this passage, Paul addresses practical Christian living as it relates to loving one another and loving ourselves. In doing so, he uses the Greek word for love most commonly used in the New Testament, agape.
Agape love is the perfect, unconditional, sacrificial word for Christian love. It is the love that God has for man and that man should have for God. It was the love of Job when he said “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” (Job 13:15}.
Paul begins this passage by writing that the only debt we should have in life is the debt to love one another. He writes “Owe no one anything except to love one another” (v. 8a).
His point is that we should love one another, as evidenced by what follows. Paul is not saying that we should not have monetary debt in our lives. A limited amount of debt is necessary, such as debt for a home, utility bills, taxes, etc.
Paul writes “for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (v. 8b). This is a reference to the last five commandments of the Ten Commandments.
Next, he lists the five commandments: “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," (v. 9a).
These five commandments refer to our relationship with others. The first four of the Ten Commandments refer to our relationship with God and the fifth refers to honoring our father and mother.
Next, Paul writes “and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (v. 9b). The “other commandment” could be a reference to the fifth commandment, to honor your father and mother.
Paul considers everyone as our “neighbor”. The meaning is to love one another as you love yourself.
Paul writes “Love does no harm to a neighbor” (v. 10a). He describes agape love as “doing no harm” to others. The Greek word translated “harm” here, means “evil”.
God is good. There is no evil in God. Therefore, there should be no evil in Christians. We should not be involved in evil against other people.
Paul continues this passage with “therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (v. 10b). The Ten Commandments can be summed up with one word, love.
Paul continues “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep” (v. 11a). The words “do this” refer to loving others.
Loving others should not be something we put on our to do list. There is an urgency. Paul is saying our time is limited. He wants this to be a wake-up call.
He writes “for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” (v. 11b). This is a reference to the second coming of Christ. Of course, for each of us, our salvation could come at any time.
“The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” (v. 12). Here Paul continues on the theme of good vs. evil.
Good is represented by the word “light” and evil is represented by the words “night” and “darkness”. Nothing good happens in the darkness.
For the Christian, evil is “far spent”, disappearing, as “the day”, the light, becomes more “at hand” every day. This is a picture of our sanctification as we become more holy day by day.
Paul concludes this passage with two commandments. He writes “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.” (v. 13). We should live our lives “properly”, denying evil, sin, a place in our lives.
The second commandment is to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (v. 14). To “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” is to allow the Holy Spirit, who lives in every Christian, to control our lives, to live through us. In this way, we “make no provision” to “fulfill” sin in our lives.
These two commandments brought about the conversion of Augustine (AD 354-430) to Christianity at the age of 32. Saint Augustine became very influential in the Protestant Reformation and was one of the most prolific scholars of the early church.
Augustine was an avid student of Paul’s writings. Augustine and most church fathers believed that Paul wrote the book of Hebrews.
Christians should love ourselves, because God first loved us. We should love one another in the same way.