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Romans 13:3

    Romans 13:3 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Will you then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and you shall have praise of the same:

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    For rulers are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. And wouldest thou have no fear of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise from the same:

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    For rulers are not a cause of fear to the good work but to the evil. If you would have no fear of the authority, do good and you will have praise;

    Webster's Revision

    For rulers are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. And wouldest thou have no fear of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise from the same:

    World English Bible

    For rulers are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Do you desire to have no fear of the authority? Do that which is good, and you will have praise from the same,

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    For rulers are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. And wouldest thou have no fear of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise from the same:

    Clarke's Commentary on Romans 13:3

    For rulers are not a terror to good works - Here the apostle shows the civil magistrate what he should be: he is clothed with great power, but that power is entrusted to him, not for the terror and oppression of the upright man, but to overawe and punish the wicked. It is, in a word, for the benefit of the community, and not for the aggrandizement of himself, that God has entrusted the supreme civil power to any man. If he should use this to wrong, rob, spoil, oppress, and persecute his subjects, he is not only a bad man, but also a bad prince. He infringes on the essential principles of law and equity. Should he persecute his obedient, loyal subjects, on any religious account, this is contrary to all law and right; and his doing so renders him unworthy of their confidence, and they must consider him not as a blessing but a plague. Yet, even in this case, though in our country it would be a breach of the constitution, which allows every man to worship God according to his conscience, the truly pious will not feel that even this would justify rebellion against the prince; they are to suffer patiently, and commend themselves and their cause to him that judgeth righteously. It is an awful thing to rebel, and the cases are extremely rare that can justify rebellion against the constituted authorities. See the doctrine on Romans 13:1.

    Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? - If thou wouldst not live in fear of the civil magistrate, live according to the laws; and thou mayest expect that he will rule according to the laws, and consequently instead of incurring blame thou wilt have praise. This is said on the supposition that the ruler is himself a good man: such the laws suppose him to be; and the apostle, on the general question of obedience and protection, assumes the point that the magistrate is such.

    Barnes' Notes on Romans 13:3

    For rulers - The apostle here speaks of rulers "in general." It may not be "universally" true that they are not a terror to good works, for many of them have "persecuted" the good; but it is generally true that they who are virtuous have nothing to fear from the laws. It is "universally" true that the design of their appointment by God was, not to injure and oppress the good, but to detect and punish the evil. Magistrates, "as such," are not a terror to good works.

    Are not a terror ... - Are not appointed to "punish the good." Their appointment is not to inspire terror in those who are virtuous and peaceable citizens; compare 1 Timothy 1:9.

    But to the evil - Appointed to detect and punish evildoers; and therefore an object of terror to them. The design of the apostle here is evidently to reconcile Christians to submission to the government, from its "utility." It is appointed to protect the good against the evil; to restrain oppression, injustice, and fraud; to bring offenders to justice, and thus promote the peace and harmony of the community. As it is designed to promote order and happiness, it should be submitted to; and so long as "this" object is pursued, and obtained, government should receive the countenance and support of Christians. But if it departs from this principle, and becomes the protector of the evil and the oppressor of the good, the case is reversed, and the obligation to its support must cease.

    Wilt thou not ... - If you do evil by resisting the laws, and in any other manner, will you not fear the power of the government? Fear is "one" of the means by which men are restrained from crime in a community. On many minds it operates with much more power than any other motive. And it is one which a magistrate must make use of to restrain men from evil.

    Do that which is good - Be a virtuous and peaceable citizen; abstain from crime, and yield obedience to all the just laws of the land,

    And thou shalt have praise of the same - Compare 1 Peter 2:14-15. You shall be unmolested and uninjured, and shall receive the commendation of being peaceable and upright citizens. The prospect of that protection, and even of that reputation, is not an unworthy motive to yield obedience to the laws. Every Christian should desire the reputation of being a man seeking the welfare of his country, and the just execution of the laws.

    Wesley's Notes on Romans 13:3

    13:3 For rulers are - In the general, notwithstanding some particular exceptions. A terror to evil works - Only. Wouldest thou then not be afraid - There is one fear which precedes evil actions, and deters from them: this should always remain. There is another fear which follows evil actions: they who do well are free from this.