Romans 13:7


King James Version (KJV)

Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

American King James Version (AKJV)

Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

American Standard Version (ASV)

Render to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due ; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

Basic English Translation (BBE)

Give to all what is their right: taxes to him whose they are, payment to him whose right it is, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour is to be given.

Webster's Revision

Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

World English Bible

Give therefore to everyone what you owe: taxes to whom taxes are due; customs to whom customs; respect to whom respect; honor to whom honor.

English Revised Version (ERV)

Render to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

Clarke's Romans 13:7 Bible Commentary

Render therefore to all their dues - This is an extensive command. Be rigidly just; withhold neither from the king nor his ministers, nor his officers of justice and revenue, nor from even the lowest of the community, what the laws of God and your country require you to pay.

Tribute to whom tribute - Φορον· This word probably means such taxes as were levied on persons and estates.

Custom to whom custom - Τελος· This word probably means such duties as were laid upon goods, merchandise, etc., on imports and exports; what we commonly call custom. Kypke on this place has quoted some good authorities for the above distinction and signification. Both the words occur in the following quotation from Strabo: Αναγκη γαρ μειουσθαι τα τελη, φορων επιβαλλομενων· It is necessary to lessen the Customs, if Taxes be imposed. Strabo, lib. ii., page 307. See several other examples in Kypke.

Fear to whom fear - It is likely that the word φοβον, which we translate fear, signifies that reverence which produces obedience. Treat all official characters with respect, and be obedient to your superiors.

Honour to whom honor - The word τιμην may here mean that outward respect which the principle reverence, from which it springs, will generally produce. Never behave rudely to any person; but behave respectfully to men in office: if you cannot even respect the man - for an important office may be filled by an unworthy person - respect the office, and the man on account of his office. If a man habituate himself to disrespect official characters, he will soon find himself disposed to pay little respect or obedience to the laws themselves.

Barnes's Romans 13:7 Bible Commentary

Render therefore ... - This injunction is often repeated in the Bible; see the notes at Matthew 22:21; see also Matthew 17:25-27; 1 Peter 2:13-17; Proverbs 24:21. It is one of the most lovely and obvious of the duties of religion. Christianity is not designed to break in upon the proper order of society, but rather to establish and confirm that order. It does not rudely assail existing institutions: but it comes to put them on a proper footing, to diffuse a mild and pure influence over all, and to secure "such" an influence in all the relations of life as shall tend best to promote the happiness of man and the welfare of the community.

Is due - To whom it properly belongs by the law of the land, and according to the ordinance of God. It is represented here as a matter of "debt," as something which is "due" to the ruler; a fair "compensation" to him for the service which he renders us by devoting his time and talents to advance "our" interests, and the welfare of the community. As taxes are a "debt," a matter of strict and just obligation, they should be paid as conscientiously and as cheerfully as any other just debts, however contracted.

Custom - τέλος telos. The word rendered "tribute" means, as has been remarked, the tax which is paid by a tributary prince or dependent people; also the tax imposed on land or real estate. The word here translated "custom" means properly the revenue which is collected on "merchandise," either imported or exported.

Fear - See Romans 13:4. We should stand in awe of those who wear the sword, and who are appointed to execute the laws of the land. Since the execution of their office is suited to excite "fear," we should render to them that reverence which is appropriate to the execution of their function. It means a solicitous anxiety lest we do anything to offend them.

Honour - The difference between this and "fear" is, that this rather denotes "reverence, veneration, respect" for their names, offices, rank, etc. The former is the "fear" which arises from the dread of punishment. Religion gives to people all their just titles, recognizes their rank and function, and seeks to promote due subordination in a community. It was no part of the work of our Saviour, or of his apostles, to quarrel with the mere "titles" of people, or to withhold from them the customary tribute of respect and homage; compare Acts 24:3; Acts 26:25; Luke 1:3; 1 Peter 2:17. In this verse there is summed up the duty which is owed to magistrates. It consists in rendering to them proper honor contributing cheerfully and conscientiously to the necessary expenses of the government; and in yielding obedience to the laws. These are made a part of the duty which we owe to God, and should be considered as enjoined by our religion.

On the subject discussed in these seven verses, the following "principles" seem to be settled by the authority of the Bible, and are now understood,

(1) That government is essential; and its necessity is recognised by God, and it is arranged by his providence. God has never been the patron of anarchy and disorder.

(2) Civil rulers are dependent on God. He has the entire control over them, and can set them up or put them down when he pleases.

(3) the authority of God is superior to that of civil rulers. They have no right to make enactments which interfere with "his" authority.

(4) it is not the business of civil rulers to regulate or control religion. That is a distinct department, with which they have no concern, except to protect it.

(5) the rights of all people are to be preserved. People are to be allowed to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience, and to be protected in those rights, provided they do not violate the peace and order of the community.

(6) Civil rulers have no right to persecute Christians, or to attempt to secure conformity to their views by force. The conscience cannot be compelled; and in the affairs of religion man must be free.

In view of this subject we may remark,

(1) That the doctrines respecting the rights of civil rulers, and the line which is to be drawn between their powers and the rights of conscience, have been slow to be understood. The struggle has been long; and a thousand persecutions have shown the anxiety of the magistrate to rule the conscience, and to control religion. In pagan countries it has been conceded that the civil ruler had a right to control the "religion" of the people: church and state there have been one. The same thing was attempted under Christianity. The magistrate still claimed this right, and attempted to enforce it. Christianity resisted the claim, and asserted the independent and original rights of conscience. A conflict ensued, of course, and the magistrate resorted to persecutions, to "subdue" by force the claims of the new religion and the rights of conscience. Hence, the ten fiery and bloody persecutions of the primitive church. The blood of the early Christians flowed like water; thousands and tens of thousands went to the stake, until Christianity triumphed, and the right of religion to a free exercise was acknowledged throughout the empire.


Wesley's Romans 13:7 Bible Commentary

13:7 To all - Magistrates. Tribute - Taxes on your persons or estates. Custom - For goods exported or imported.Fear - Obedience. Honour - Reverence. All these are due to the supreme power.

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