The Primacy of Love, Romans 13:8-14

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law . . . . Love is the fulfillment of the law.” – Romans 13:8-10

Is Paul being extreme in calling “love for others” a debt? Especially when we feel slighted, or our love isn’t returned?


But all the best rationalizations for not loving others—even the most difficult people—drown in the outpouring of Christ’s lavish love upon us.

God’s Unconditional Love

In this section, Paul reminds believers of the following:

  • We are to follow Christ’s example of loving others.
  • No limit can be placed on this obligation to love since Christ’s love is infinitely greater than our love.
  • We will always be indebted to Christ.
  • Imitating God’s love fulfills the Law because it does no harm to neighbors, and goes beyond human legal requirements (James 2:8-9; 4:11; 1 Peter 2:16-17).

Believers conduct is rooted in the hope of Christ’s return and our ultimate makeover (transformation).

Paul also reminds us of the following in verses 11-14:

  • “Understand the present time . . . . Wake up . . . because our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.”
  • “Put away the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
  • Behave respectably.
  • Clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Abstain from thinking about how to gratify the sinful nature.
How do we clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ?

The NIV Life Application Study Bible suggests: c72ece94c71ad68e781622546700b81f“First we identify with Christ by being baptized (Galatians 3:27). This shows our solidarity with other Christians and with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Second, we exemplify the qualities Jesus showed while He was here on earth (love, humility, truth, service . . . . see Ephesians 4:24-32; Colossians 3:10-17).”

So What?

We have nothing to lose and everything to gain when we choose to love others. So let’s go ahead and walk in God’s light!


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