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Romans 13:14

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Put ye on the Lord Jesus - This is in reference to what is said, Romans 13:13; : Let us put on decent garments - let us make a different profession, unite with other company, and maintain that profession by a suitable conduct. Putting on, or being clothed with Jesus Christ, signifies receiving and believing the Gospel; and consequently taking its maxims for the government of life, having the mind that was in Christ. The ancient Jews frequently use the phrase putting on the shechinah, or Divine majesty, to signify the soul's being clothed with immortality, and rendered fit for glory.

To be clothed with a person is a Greek phrase, signifying to assume the interests of another - to enter into his views, to imitate him, and be wholly on his side. St. Chrysostom particularly mentions this as a common phrase, ὁ δεινα τον δεινα ενεδυσατο, such a one hath put on such a one; i.e. he closely follows and imitates him. So Dionysius Hal., Antiq., lib. xi., page 689, speaking of Appius and the rest of the Decemviri, says: ουκετι μετριαζοντες, αλλα τον Ταρκυνιον εκεινον ενδυομενοι, They were no longer the servants of Tarquin, but they Clothed Themselves with Him - they imitated and aped him in every thing. Eusebius, in his life of Constantine, says the same of his sons, they put on their father - they seemed to enter into his spirit and views, and to imitate him in all things. The mode of speech itself is taken from the custom of stage players: they assumed the name and garments of the person whose character they were to act, and endeavored as closely as possible to imitate him in their spirit, words, and actions. See many pertinent examples in Kypke.

And make not provision for the flesh - By flesh we are here to understand, not only the body, but all the irregular appetites and passions which led to the abominations already recited. No provision should be made for the encouragement and gratification of such a principle as this.

To fulfill the lusts thereof - Εις επιθυμιας, in reference to its lusts; such as the κωμοι, κοιται, μεθαι, and ασελγειαι, rioting, drunkenness, prostitutions, and uncleanness, mentioned, Romans 13:13, to make provision for which the Gentiles lived and labored, and bought and sold, and schemed and planned; for it was the whole business of their life to gratify the sinful lusts of the flesh. Their philosophers taught them little else; and the whole circle of their deities, as well as the whole scheme of their religion, served only to excite and inflame such passions, and produce such practices.

    I. In these four last verses there is a fine metaphor, and it is continued and well sustained in every expression.

  • The apostle considers the state of the Gentiles under the notion of night, a time of darkness and a time of evil practices.
  • That this night is nearly at an end, the night is far spent.
  • He considers the Gospel as now visiting the Gentiles, and the light of a glorious day about to shine forth on them.
  • He calls those to awake who were in a stupid, senseless state concerning all spiritual and moral good; and those who were employed in the vilest practices that could debase and degrade mankind.
  • He orders them to cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor ὁπλα, the habiliments of light - of righteousness: to cease to do evil; to learn to do well. Here is an allusion to laying aside their night clothes, and putting on their day clothes.
  • He exhorts them to this that they may walk honestly, decently habited; and not spend their time, waste their substance, destroy their lives, and ruin their souls in such iniquitous practices as those which he immediately specifies.
  • That they might not mistake his meaning concerning the decent clothing which he exhorts them to walk in, he immediately explains himself by the use of a common form of speech, and says, still following his metaphor, Put on the Lord Jesus Christ - receive his doctrine, copy his example, and seek the things which belong to another life; for the Gentiles thought of little else than making provision for the flesh or body, to gratify its animal desires and propensities.
  • II. These last verses have been rendered famous in the Christian Church for more than 1400 years, as being the instrument of the conversion of St. Augustine. It is well known that this man was at first a Manichean, in which doctrine he continued till the 32nd year of his age. He had frequent conferences and controversies on the Christian religion with several friends who were Christians; and with his mother Monica, who was incessant in her prayers and tears for his conversion. She was greatly comforted by the assurance given her by St. Ambrose, bishop of Milan, where her son Augustine was then professor of rhetoric: that a child of so many prayers and fears could not perish. He frequently heard St. Ambrose preach, and was affected, not only by his eloquence, but by the important subjects which he discussed; but still could not abandon his Manicheanism. Walking one day in a garden with his friend Alypius, who it appears had been reading a copy of St. Paul's epistle to the Romans, and had left it on a bank near which they then were, (though some say that Augustine was then alone), he thought he heard a musical voice calling out distinctly, Tolle Et Lege! Tolle Et Lege! take up and read! take up and read! He looked down, saw the book, took it up, and hastily opening it, the first words that met his eye were these - Μη κωμοις και μεθαις, etc., Not in rioting and drunkenness, etc., but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ. He felt the import and power of the words, and immediately resolved to become a follower of Christ: he in consequence instantly embraced Christianity; and afterwards boldly professed and wrote largely in its defense, and became one of the most eminent of all the Latin fathers. Such is the substance of the story handed down to us from antiquity concerning the conversion of St. Augustine. He was made bishop of Hippo in Africa, in the year 395, and died in that city, Aug. 28th, 430, at the very time that it was besieged by the Vandals.

      III. After what I have said in the notes, I need add nothing on the great political question of subordination to the civil powers; and of the propriety and expediency of submitting to every ordinance of man for the Lords sake. I need only observe, that it is in things civil this obedience is enjoined; in things religious, God alone is to be obeyed. Should the civil power attempt to usurp the place of the Almighty, and forge a new creed, or prescribe rites and ceremonies not authorized by the word of God, no Christian is bound to obey. Yet even in this case, as I have already noted, no Christian is authorized to rebel against the civil power; he must bear the persecution, and, if needs be, seal the truth with his blood, and thus become a martyr of the Lord Jesus. This has been the invariable practice of the genuine Church of Christ. They committed their cause to him who judgeth righteously. See farther on this subject on Matthew 22:20; (note), etc.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    But put ye on - Compare Galatians 3:17. The word rendered “put ye on” is the same used in Romans 13:12, and is commonly employed in reference to “clothing” or “apparel.” The phrase to “put on” a person, which seems a harsh expression in our language, was one not infrequently used by Greek writers, and means to imbibe his principles, to imitate his example, to copy his spirit, to become like him. Thus, in Dionysius Halicarnassus the expression occurs, “having put on or clothed themselves with Tarquin;” i. e., they imitated the example and morals of Tarquin. So Lucian says, “having put on Pythagoras;” having received him as a teacher and guide. So the Greek writers speak of putting on Plato, Socrates, etc. meaning to take them as instructors, to follow them as disciples. (See Schleusner.) Thus, to put on the Lord Jesus means to take him as a pattern and guide, to imitate his example, to obey his precepts, to become like him, etc. In “all” respects the Lord Jesus was unlike what had been specified in the previous verse. He was temperate, chaste, pure, peaceable, and meek; and to “put him on” was to imitate him in these respects; Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22; Isaiah 53:9; 1 John 3:5.

    And make not provision - The word “provision” here is what is used to denote “provident care,” or preparation for future needs. It means that we should not make it an object to gratify our lusts, or study to do this by laying up anything beforehand with reference to this design.

    For the flesh - The word “flesh” is used here evidently to denote the corrupt propensities of the body, or those which he had specified in Romans 13:13.

    To fulfil the lusts thereof - With reference to its corrupt desires. The gratification of the flesh was the main object among the Romans. Living in luxury and licentiousness, they made it their great object of study to multiply and prolong the means of licentious indulgence. In respect to this, Christians were to be a separate people, and to show that they were influenced by a higher and purer desire than this grovelling propensity to minister to sensual gratification. It is right, it is a Christian duty, to labor to make provision for all the real needs of life. But the real wants are few; and with a heart disposed to be pure and temperate, the necessary wants of life are easily satisfied; and the mind may be devoted to higher and purer purposes.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    Four things are here taught, as a Christian's directory for his day's work. When to awake; Now; and to awake out of the sleep of carnal security, sloth, and negligence; out of the sleep of spiritual death, and out of the sleep of spiritual deadness. Considering the time; a busy time; a perilous time. Also the salvation nigh at hand. Let us mind our way, and mend our pace, we are nearer our journey's end. Also to make ourselves ready. The night is far spent, the day is at hand; therefore it is time to dress ourselves. Observe what we must put off; clothes worn in the night. Cast off the sinful works of darkness. Observe what we must put on; how we should dress our souls. Put on the armour of light. A Christian must reckon himself undressed, if unarmed. The graces of the Spirit are this armour, to secure the soul from Satan's temptations, and the assaults of this present evil world. Put on Christ; that includes all. Put on righteousness of Christ, for justification. Put on the Spirit and grace of Christ, for sanctification. The Lord Jesus Christ must be put on as Lord to rule you as Jesus to save you; and in both, as Christ anointed and appointed by the Father to this ruling, saving work. And how to walk. When we are up and ready, we are not to sit still, but to appear abroad; let us walk. Christianity teaches us how to walk so as to please God, who ever sees us. Walk honestly as in the day; avoiding the works of darkness. Where there are riot and drunkenness, there usually are chambering and wantonness, and strife and envy. Solomon puts these all together, Pr 23:29-35. See what provision to make. Our great care must be to provide for our souls: but must we take no care about our bodies? Yes; but two things are forbidden. Perplexing ourselves with anxious, encumbering care; and indulging ourselves in irregular desires. Natural wants are to be answered, but evil appetites must be checked and denied. To ask meat for our necessities, is our duty, we are taught to pray for daily bread; but to ask meat for our lusts, is provoking God, Ps 78:18.
    Ellen G. White
    SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW), 1081

    11. See EGW on Mark 12:30. 6BC 1081.1

    12. See EGW on Nehemiah 2:4. 6BC 1081.2

    17 (2 Corinthians 8:21; 1 Peter 2:12). The Honest Are His Jewels Forever—Truthfulness and frankness should be ever cherished by all who claim to be followers of Christ. God and the right should be the motto. Deal honestly and righteously in this present evil world. Some will be honest when they see that honesty will not endanger their worldly interests, but all who act from this principle will have their names blotted out of the book of life. 6BC 1081.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Fundamentals of Christian Education, 290

    When those who have reached the years of youth and manhood see no difference between our schools and the colleges of the world, and have no preference as to which they attend, though error is taught by precept and example in the schools of the world, then there is need of closely examining the reasons that lead to such a conclusion. Our institutions of learning may swing into worldly conformity. Step by step they may advance to the world; but they are prisoners of hope, and God will correct and enlighten them, and bring them back to their upright position of distinction from the world. I am watching with intense interest, hoping to see our schools thoroughly imbued with the spirit of true and undefiled religion. When the students are thus imbued, they will see that there is a great work to be done in the lines in which Christ worked, and the time they have given to amusements will be given up to doing earnest missionary work. They will endeavor to do good to all about them, to lift up souls that are bowed down in discouragement, and to enlighten those who are in the darkness of error. They will put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.—The Review and Herald, January 9, 1894. FE 290.1

    Jesus died for mankind, and in giving His life He exalted humanity in the scale of moral value with God. The Son of the infinite God clothed His divinity with humanity, and submitted to the death of the cross, that He might become a steppingstone by which humanity might meet with divinity. He made it possible for man to become a partaker of the divine nature, and escape the corruptions that are in the world through lust. Christ is continually working to uplift and ennoble man, and He requires that every soul whom He has redeemed from hopeless misery, shall co-operate with Him in the great work of saving the lost. We are not to lay snares and make secret plans to draw souls into temptation. FE 291.1

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    Ellen G. White
    The Adventist Home, 127-8

    When the wife yields her body and mind to the control of her husband, being passive to his will in all things, sacrificing her conscience, her dignity, and even her identity, she loses the opportunity of exerting that mighty influence for good which she should possess to elevate her husband. She could soften his stern nature, and her sanctifying influence could be exerted in a manner to refine and purify, leading him to strive earnestly to govern his passions and be more spiritually minded, that they might be partakers together of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. The power of influence can be great to lead the mind to high and noble themes, above the low, sensual indulgences for which the heart unrenewed by grace naturally seeks. If the wife feels that in order to please her husband she must come down to his standard, when animal passion is the principal basis of his love and controls his actions, she displeases God; for she fails to exert a sanctifying influence upon her husband. If she feels that she must submit to his animal passions without a word of remonstrance, she does not understand her duty to him nor to her God.18 AH 127.1

    Our Bodies a Purchased Possession—The lower passions have their seat in the body and work through it. The words “flesh” or “fleshly” or “carnal lusts” embrace the lower, corrupt nature; the flesh of itself cannot act contrary to the will of God. We are commanded to crucify the flesh, with the affections and lusts. How shall we do it? Shall we inflict pain on the body? No; but put to death the temptation to sin. The corrupt thought is to be expelled. Every thought is to be brought into captivity to Jesus Christ. All animal propensities are to be subjected to the higher powers of the soul. The love of God must reign supreme; Christ must occupy an undivided throne. Our bodies are to be regarded as His purchased possession. The members of the body are to become the instruments of righteousness.19 AH 127.2

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 171

    The apostle says, “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” Let every soul heed these words, and know that the Lord Jesus will accept of no compromise. In accepting and retaining workers who persist in retaining their imperfections of character, and do not give full proof of their ministry, the standard has been greatly lowered. There are many in responsible positions who do not heed the injunction of the apostle, but make provision for fulfilling the lust of the flesh. Unless the worker puts on the Lord Jesus Christ and finds in Him wisdom, sanctification, and redemption, how can he represent the religion of Jesus? All his efficiency, all his reward, is found in Christ. There must be evidence on the part of those who take the solemn position of shepherds that they have, without reservation, dedicated themselves to the work. They must take Christ as their personal Saviour. Why is it that those who have been long engaged in the ministry do not grow in grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus? I have been shown that they gratify their selfish propensities and do only such things as agree with their tastes and ideas. They make provision for indulgence in pride and sensuality and carry out their selfish ambitions and plans. They are full of self-esteem. But although their evil propensities may seem to them as precious as the right hand or the right eye, they must be separated from the worker, or he cannot be acceptable before God. Hands are laid upon men to ordain them for the ministry before they are thoroughly examined as to their qualifications for the sacred work; but how much better would it be to make thorough work before accepting them as ministers, than to have to go through this rigid examination after they have become established in their position and have put their mold upon the work. TM 171.1

    The following quotation shows what true consecration will do, and this is what we should require of our workers: TM 172.1

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