How to Study the Bible

How to Study the Bible

Nicole Unice

Romans Week Thirteen: Love Does No Harm to a Neighbor

November 29, 2021   ●   24 min

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Questions We Ask Every Time We Read the Bible:

1. What do the verses say?
2. What's the backstory? What's the context?
3. What does it mean? What are the principles of this passage?
4. What does it mean for me?

1. What do the verses say? (We’ll be looking at two verses in particular)

Romans 13:1
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

Romans 13:10
Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

2. What’s the backstory? What’s the context?

Before we get to our own authorities, we’ve got to ask what it would have first meant to the first hearers of Paul’s letter. The civil rulers were most likely all pagan. Christians might have been tempted to ignore their civil leaders because of the corruption that influenced their government. The Christians of that day would have been looking for guidance on how to live as oppressed people under a morally bankrupt government. There is no doubt that the morality of the Roman Empire was darker than the morality of today.

3. How do we wrestle through principles together?

(Remember the principle test: principles are timeless, transcend culture, and are harmonious throughout scripture).

4. What does it mean for me?

Rather than a heart of violence or a critical spirit, what does it look like for me to say “love does no harm to my neighbor?”

Think about the fact that Jesus deliberately came into the world during a morally dark time but did not come to overthrow the authorities of the day. What might that teach you about how to live today?

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Episode Image Credit: GettyAleksei Morozov
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