In this passage, Paul commands his audience to obey governing authorities, to love their neighbors as themselves, and to live with a recognition of the significance of the time in which they live. He begins by asserting that everyone has an obligation to subject themselves to the governing authorities. The reason for this is that all governing authorities come from God, and all are established by Him. Thus, Paul says, those that resist them are opposing God’s ordinance, or will. Therefore, they will be condemned. However, they will not necessarily be eternally condemned, but condemned by government because Paul immediately says that rulers are only a cause of fear for evil behavior. Therefore, Paul advises those who do not want to be afraid of government to do what is good because government is a servant of God for those who do good to benefit them. However, Paul says, the government does not have a sword, or lethal force, for no reason. Rather, government is a servant of God in executing those who practice evil. Therefore, Paul concludes, it is necessary to subject oneself to government to avoid being executed, and to keep a good conscience. As a result of the second reason, Paul continues, his audience pays taxes because rulers are God’s servants. Finally, Paul commands his audience to give that which is due: taxes, customs, respect, and honor.
In verse 8, Paul continues the idea of owing things by commanding his audience to only owe love to people. The reason that he commands this is that love of neighbor is the fulfillment of the Mosaic Law. Therefore, he says that the command to love one’s neighbor as oneself is the summation of the Mosaic Law. This is the case because love does not cause harm to one’s neighbor.
In verse 11, Paul begins to conclude this passage by reminding his audience that now is the time to be spiritually awake because salvation is continually becoming nearer. In addition, the night, or the present age, is almost over, and the day, or the eternal age, is near. Therefore, Paul commands, Christians are to remove evil deeds from themselves, and to protect themselves with goodness. Thus, Christians are to behave properly, not in excessive indulgence, nor drunkenness, nor in sexual immorality, nor in fighting and envying. Rather, Christians are to become more like Christ, and to not help the evil human nature, or flesh, nor its evil desires.