The twelveth Sunday of Pentecost – August 13, 2023

Holy Trinity Church – Tom Mount


Reading: Romans 13:8-14


  • Brief review
  • This section breaks down neatly into two paragraphs dealing with distinctly different issues: vv. 8-10 – loving well, vv. 11-14 – doing good.

Love well

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery (#7),” “You shall not murder (#6),” “You shall not steal (#8),” “You shall not covet (#10),” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.

  1. Paul is restating a tradition that was well known and widely taught in the early church: love is our preeminent ethical duty (e.g., 1 Jn 4:7-12). If we practice loving each other, we fulfil what the OT law intended (Lev 19:18; Mk 12:31).
  2. With the New Covenant, Jesus resituated the locus of love. Lk 22:20; Jn 13:34.
  3. Love is agapao, the verb form of agape. Love is both a predisposition and a determination to seek the good of another as the other (1 Jn 4:8; Matt 5:45; Lk 10:30-35).
  4. Love vs. its imposters: codependence, virtue signaling or mere kindness. Love is tough. Prov 27:6; 1 Thess 5:14.

Do good

11 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desire of the flesh.

  1. “understanding the present time”. Time is kainos. What time period is it? It is the period between our Lord’s advents, his first (atonement for sin) and his second (eradication of sin, judgment of evil and a new creation). It is the “Last days” (Acts 2:17; 2 Tim 3:1-4; 2 Pet 3:3), the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24; cf. Rom 11:25).
  2. “wake from your slumber”. What are the things in our culture that tend to put Christians to sleep? See Rev 3:1-2.
  3. “let us behave decently.” Avoid bad behavior. Paul gives a vice list composed of three pairs of two behaviors each. Other vice lists: Eph 4:28-31; Col 3:5, 8-9.
  4. “clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ”. As believers, we are “in Christ.” He envelopes us, and we are to consciously “wear” him. See Col 3:3,9-10.
  5. “do not think about how to gratify the desire of the flesh”; lit: “make no provision for the flesh” (Matt 18:8-9).


  • Love the one in front of you. Practice loving one person at a time. Ask yourself: “What does love look like in this situation?”
  • Live as though this day were your last. Develop a coram Deo attitude: living before the face of God. Be holy, as he is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).