Romans - Lesson 51

Romans 13:1-14

By studying Romans 13:1-14, you gain insights into the balance between submission to governing authorities and obedience to God. You'll understand the contextual significance of Paul's exhortation to Roman Christians, addressing their potential disregard for governmental authority while emphasizing the broader theme of God's sovereignty over institutions. You'll also explore the complexities of submission, recognizing when to obey authorities and when to prioritize fidelity to God's commands. Finally, the lesson highlights the importance of humility, unity, and love in the Christian life, situated within the framework of God's ongoing work in the world.

Lesson 51
Watching Now
Romans 13:1-14

V. The Transforming Power of the Gospel: Christian Conduct (12:1-15:13)

A. The Heart of the Matter: Total Transformation (12:1-2)

B. Humility and Mutual Service (12:3-8)

C. Love and Its Manifestations (12:9-21)

D. The Christian and Secular Rulers (13:1-7)

E. Love and the Law (13:8-10)

F. Living in Light of the Day (13:11-14)

G. A Plea for Unity (14:1-15:13)

  • This lesson offers a deep dive into Paul's Letter to the Romans, revealing its pastoral aims, Paul's intentions to visit Spain, Jerusalem, and Rome, and its relevance to early Christian dynamics and theological inquiries about the Law in Christ's time.
  • This lesson offers a fresh view of Paul's theology, focusing on Romans. It emphasizes the first-century context, highlighting Gentile inclusion and unity in Christ, challenging traditional views. Gain insights into Paul's message and its relevance today.
  • Explore the book of Romans for modern faith conflicts: balance tradition with contemporary practices, learn from history, and grasp Paul's ministry and Gospel's complexities.
  • Follow along with Dr. Moo as he begins a thorough review of Romans 1:2-5. You will learn how Paul emphasizes Jesus' earthly life, resurrection, and his appointment as the Son of God in power. This lesson examines the interconnectedness of faith and obedience, underscoring that while faith initiates salvation, genuine faith inherently entails obedience to Christ as Lord, maintaining a balanced Christian life.
  • By delving into Romans 1:16-17, you'll understand the Gospel extends beyond individual salvation, encompassing God's reign over creation and His establishment of justice. The Gospel challenges worldly powers, offering hope and transformation to all who embrace it.
  • Listen along as the class discusses questions and answers revolving around Romans 1:16-17.
  • In Romans 1:18-28, you learn that all people are held accountable by God, having knowledge of Him through natural revelation but some turn away. This passage highlights the manifestation of God's wrath against sin, the exchange of truth for falsehoods, and the absence of excuses for humanity's actions, ultimately emphasizing God's fair judgment.
  • Listen in as the class and Dr. Moo discuss aspects of Romans 1:18-28.
  • The lesson discusses Romans 2:1-11, it highlights the use of the diatribe device and the transition from focusing on Gentiles to Jews. It underscores the Jewish belief in their special status and their potential misunderstanding of God's judgment. The lesson reviews the focus of the text on key themes such as judgment, righteousness, and the relationship between faith and good deeds.
  • In this lesson, you'll review the significance of the Law, notably the Law of Moses, in God's judgment. Paul stresses that mere knowledge of the Law isn't sufficient for righteousness; obedience is key. The primary message is that salvation ultimately relies on God's grace and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as human efforts and consciences alone cannot secure salvation. This lesson highlights the importance of understanding these concepts in interactions with people of different religious beliefs.
  • The key takeaway in this lesson is that while being a Jew comes with a great heritage, it doesn't guarantee salvation. Obedience to God's law is crucial, and reliance on religious heritage or rituals won't save you. The lesson emphasizes the universal human condition of being under the power of sin, and people cannot be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the Law or by the works of the Law. Only through faith in Christ are we made righteous.
  • This lesson explores the New Perspective on Paul, emphasizing that the Law was for Jewish covenant status, not just salvation. It promotes a holistic faith view, balancing vertical and horizontal aspects, Spirit-led obedience, and 1st-century Judaism diversity, enriching Pauline teachings in the church.
  • In exploring Romans 3:21-26, you'll gain insights into the relationship between righteousness, faith, and salvation. Paul highlights God's righteousness, which is accessible to all through faith in Jesus Christ. By weaving together themes of righteousness, faith, and inclusivity, Paul challenges conventional Jewish and Gentile perspectives, emphasizing the continuity of God's salvation plan while underscoring the centrality of faith in Christ for all believers.
  • In this lesson, you will gain insights into the potential challenge in translating Romans 3:23-24, particularly the term "all" and its connection to the debate on universalism in evangelicalism. Dr. Moo stresses the importance of coherence in biblical interpretation and explores the themes of God's righteousness, faith, and grace in justification. The lesson reviews the cultural background of redemption, drawing parallels with the Greco-Roman slave market and emphasizing the need to understand both the problem of sin and the Gospel solution.
  • Embarking on this lesson, you'll gain insight into the historical development and contemporary challenges surrounding the doctrine of justification. Through exploring classic Reformation principles and contemporary reassessments, you'll understand the tensions between Protestant and Roman Catholic perspectives, particularly regarding the infusion of righteousness and the role of grace.
  • The lesson explores the intricate connection between faith and works, justification, and sanctification in contemporary theological discourse. It delineates divergent views on justification, with scholars like Piper advocating for the preservation of biblical distinctions amidst modern theological trends. The lesson examines key questions regarding the meaning, basis, time, and means of justification.
  • Students in Dr. Moo's class ask multiple questions about justification.
  • By studying Romans 3:27-4:25, you gain insight into Paul's theology, where faith, exemplified by Abraham's righteousness, transcends works and ethnicity, emphasizing the universal scope of salvation through Christ.
  • Hear the questions the students ask regarding Romans 3:27–4:25. And discover Dr. Moo's answers to the questions posed.
  • In Romans 5 – 8, you gain insights into profound theological concepts like justification, identity in Christ, and the tension between present reality and future hope, guiding you to embrace your changed identity and hope for future transformation amidst life's trials.
  • Students as deep questions about Romans 5-8. Hear what Dr. Moo presents as answers to their questions.
  • Through Romans 5:1-11, you'll review the contrast between the Old and New Realms, understanding the essence of living in grace, finding hope amid suffering, and experiencing the assurance of eternal security rooted in Christ's sacrifice and God's love poured into believers' hearts by the Holy Spirit.
  • In Romans 5:12-21, Paul contrasts Adam's sin with Christ's redemptive grace, emphasizing humanity's hope and victory over death through union with Christ, while various interpretations of original sin underscore the universal need for redemption and Christ's pivotal role in restoring humanity to God.
  • Listen to the thorough questions the students ask regarding Romans 5:12-21.
  • The students ask excellent questions of Dr. Moo in this insightful discussion on Romans 6:1-14.
  • Through this lesson, you will gain a deeper understanding of the theological implications of Christ's death and resurrection as explained in Romans 6. You will explore different interpretations of Paul's language regarding the old self and the new self, considering the implications for the Christian life. Ultimately, you will be challenged to recognize your identity in Christ and to actively live according to that identity, rejecting the slavery of sin and embracing servitude to God.
  • Hear the questions the students ask of Dr. Moo regarding Romans 6:1-23.
  • In diving into Romans 7, you'll explore the Law's role in Christian life. Paul's discourse clarifies the distinction between law and gospel, emphasizing the Torah's significance in understanding divine commandments.
  • Class discussion on Romans 7:1-6
  • In Romans 7:7-12, Paul explores the Law's role in intensifying sin and contrasts it with Christ's liberation. His narrative prompts reflection on individual experience and collective identity, enriching understanding of Christian faith.
  • The class discusses the previous lesson on Romans 7:7-12.
  • This lesson covers interpretations of Romans 7:13-25; whether Paul's description is of pre- or post-conversion struggle with the Law.
  • In Romans 8:1-22, discover the Spirit's transformative power over sin, leading to a life free from condemnation, intimacy with God, and anticipation of future glory amid present sufferings.
  • Explore the theological insights on environmental stewardship, emphasizing Christian responsibility in light of Romans 8:19-22.
  • Gain insights into Romans 8:23-27, understanding destined glory despite present suffering. The Spirit intercedes, bridging current and promised futures, offering assurance amid weakness.
  • Romans 8:28 offers profound insights into the nature of God's providence and the believer's journey of faith. Beyond its surface meaning, the verse challenges misconceptions about 'good' and underscores the transformative power of God's grace. It invites believers to trust in God's unfailing love amidst life's trials, anchoring their hope in the assurance of His sovereign care and redemptive purposes.
  • Romans 9:1-5 highlights Paul's profound concern for Israel's salvation and the theological complexities surrounding God's promises. Reviewing salvation history, you'll learn that God's offer of salvation for both Jew and Gentile, fits within the Old Testament narrative.
  • Paul discusses Israel's role in God's plan, emphasizing grace over race. He illustrates divine choices and sovereignty, sparking debates on salvation.
  • Discover diverse views on election, Israel's struggle with faith, and the significance of overcoming theological narrowness in Romans 9:30-10:21. Gain insights into law versus faith in attaining righteousness and the importance of engaging deeply with Scripture for a comprehensive understanding.
  • Gain insights into faith versus works, Christ as the culmination of the Law, and the inclusivity of righteousness through Him. Embrace unity in Christ, transcending cultural divisions, and embodying love and holiness.
  • Gain insight into contrasting righteousness by law vs. faith in Romans 10:5-13. Accessibility of salvation through Christ bridges Old and New Testament teachings, emphasizing unity and continuity.
  • Gain insights into Romans 10:14-21, emphasizing faith, preaching, and Israel's reception of the message. Dr. Moo highlights Paul's use of Old Testament quotes and God's ongoing relationship with Israel, revealing the significance of faith and salvation.
  • Gain insight into Romans 11:11-15. Paul discusses Jewish rejection, Gentile salvation, and Jewish inclusion, aiming to provoke Jewish envy. The phrase "life from the dead" hints at spiritual renewal or future resurrection.
  • Gain insights into the Olive Tree analogy in Romans 11:16-24. Understand humility, faithfulness, and the purpose of warning passages in Scripture.
  • Discover the mystery of Israel's salvation in Romans 11:25-32. Paul reveals unity of Jews and Gentiles, challenging arrogance and emphasizing God's inclusive love.
  • Gain deeper understanding of Christian-Jewish ties, navigate theological challenges, address Israel-Palestine tensions, and embrace God's inclusive grace.
  • Gain deep insights into Romans 12:1-2: True worship extends beyond rituals, urging sacrificial living and transformation in response to God's mercy.
  • In Romans 12:3-8, Paul stresses humility, unity, and diverse gifts within the body of Christ, urging faithful stewardship for the edification of the body of Christ.
  • Gain insights into love's complexity in Romans 12:9-21. Paul urges sincere affection, alludes to Jesus' teachings, and prompts contemplation on love and judgment.
  • Gain insights into balancing submission to authorities with obedience to God. Understand the context of Paul's exhortation to Roman Christians and the complexities of submission, emphasizing humility, unity, and love in the Christian life within God's sovereignty.

Dr. Douglas Moo, from Wheaton College Graduate School, offers an exegetical examination of the book of Romans. This course was recorded during a D.Min. seminar at the Carolina Graduate School of Divinity in May 2012.

Please note that the audio mp3 file numbers on downloaded files are two greater than each lecture number beginning with number 15.

Dr. Douglas Moo 
Romans 13:1-14  
Lesson Transcript


Romans 13:1-14

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.


A. Governing Authorities and Marriage: 

We begin in chapter 13:1-7 with this famous passage about our obligation to governing authorities. First question, why does that passage come here? Why suddenly this passage in this context? 

We talked about an authority and submission issue 

Dr. Moo: 
The Roman Christians may have had a tendency to think too much of themselves and think that they didn’t have to listen to the government. This was a problem that we see the New Testament apostles facing at various times in the early church; the sense that believers had of being liberated from this world. We belong to Christ and we are now people of the Spirit. 

This often led very often in the early church to an overreaction in which nothing in this world became significant for believers anymore, including the government. We see this surfacing in several places in the New Testament text in which Paul and the other apostles have to say you must not be of this world, you can’t take your values from this world, but don’t think that everything in this world is an evil thing that you should have nothing to do with. 

There is such a thing as common grace; God is still doing things in the world that He is supportive of. He has put some structures in place that are designed for our good to create orderly situations and Christians need to continue to recognize those. Government is one of those and marriage is another. 

There are a couple of places in the letters of Paul where he deals with people who were saying marriage was a bad thing. It was something that involves this world and we would be better off with not having anything to do with marriage or sex because those are evil things. Paul has to come along and say that these are things that God created for our good so don’t despise marriage. Not everyone has to be married but on the other hand, don’t think that it is a bad thing to be married. This is a structure that God has put in place by His common grace for the good of human beings generally including His people, the church. 

He gives a balanced view in Philippians, second chapter, that is in absolute agreement, I think. A balanced view on life itself: “do nothing out of selfish ambition and vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” And then he uses Christ. 

Dr. Moo: 
That passage is a really good parallel to a lot of things that Paul has been saying in this part of Romans. because it is some of the same language. Don’t think highly of yourself, don’t think you’re so important. This creates disunity in the church as well.

We were talking at the end of chapter 12, that he shoots some things here and there, mixes in a lot of stuff, there is no clear outline.  If he would have stuck the first sentences of chapter 13 in with that, and then went on to something else, we would have said okay.  Instead, he develops that in a pretty significant paragraph, and now we have something pretty big to deal with, especially as you consider the context of their situation. But I guess you could say that about a lot of things; why develop this and not that?  

Dr. Moo: 
That is the question that sometimes we ask and we can’t answer. Sometimes we can guess at some answers. What are some other answers here? Why is Paul dealing with this here? 

Verse 21, do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good… even the governing authorities, for instance? 

Or would you go back farther to verse 19, “never avenge yourselves, leave it to the wrath of God.” The context of the Jews being expelled, then coming back to the city. There is definitely a governmental aspect to this situation.

Dr. Moo: 
In verse 19 – I think(student) you have hit on an important point here –  you don’t have to take revenge, let God do that. One of the points Paul emphasizes in 13:1-7 is the way God has appointed rulers to punish evil. There could be a connection there as well in which Paul is saying that you can let God handle the punishment of evil, you don’t have to take it on yourselves. One of the ways God is doing that now is by the government. He has appointed government, among other reasons, to have that function at the current time. Let the government do its work.

Two ways you can handle it would be to heap coals on their head by doing good to them, and then trust the government to take care of it. 

I assume it follows along the theme of chapters 9 through 11, in which he is saying all this Jew and Gentile thing makes sense in God’s understanding. And so, too the government makes sense in God’s understanding. There is a theme there.  


B. Submit to Governing Authorities: 

Let’s look at the paragraph. I suggest a basic outline of what is going on in the paragraph. In verse 1, “be subject to the governing authorities,” repeated pretty much similarly in verse 5. Both times Paul explains why we are to submit, talking about the appointment of God, God’s appointing of the authorities. It is also talking about the way government functions to punish evil and reward good. (Dr. Moo misspoke when he said, ‘punish good, reward evil.’) So, for practical reasons, submit to the authorities because you don’t want to receive punishment but instead you want to receive commendation. 

In a general way it’s clear that Paul is saying the same thing again: we are to submit to governing authorities not only because of possible punishment but also because it is a matter of conscience. You recognize how God has worked to Himself appoint these authorities. 

What Paul says then in verse 1 is fairly standard biblical teaching: be subject to the governing authorities. Why? Because there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Throughout the Bible, there is a sense that in God’s sovereign rule over this world, He is the one behind the governing authorities that exist. He puts them in place and He takes them out of their positions again. This isn’t any kind of new teaching here. 

The reaction that we are to have to this fact then is to submit. That is the key word we have again in verse 1 and then again in verse 5: submit to the governing authorities. Paul explains that we are to submit, not only because we realize God has appointed them but also because we want to avoid punishment. You see this in verse 3 where Paul says that rulers hold no terror for those who do right but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and then you will be commended.

I think there be a bit of naivete here. (unable to hear) … causing all kinds of harm to Christians who had only done what was right. It is interesting that he is stressing it in this way.


C. What About the Unjust Rulers: 

I think (student) makes a good point here. When we read that verse here and Paul goes on to say similar things in the context, there should be a sense in which we ask how Paul can say this so blandly? How can he make that general point? He is serving a Lord unjustly crucified by Romans. He is part of a people who has suffered persecution again and again, unfairly and unjustly from pagan rulers. How can Paul here make such a general statement? 

I think is what good reading of the scriptural text should do. It should be a reading that is critical in the best sense of the word in which we should pause and wonder why things are said the way they are, particularly if they don’t seem to make sense at first sight. 

I was worried over that myself, but the thing I’m more stumped over. There’s like a page and a half where he acknowledges these are the things he doesn’t cover. When I went through that and actually read that to my congregation, I said let’s acknowledge he doesn’t cover this or that, let’s get it off the table and quit worrying about it, and deal with exactly and precisely what he is talking about.  I think we have a tendency to bring in too many “yeah, but’s.”

Dr. Moo: 
I’m sympathetic to that, but only to a degree. There is no question that in a lot of the teaching on Romans 13 that I hear, the bulk of the time is spent on trying to get out what the text is saying rather than to deal with what it is saying. On the other hand, it does seem that it is appropriate when we come to a passage like this to ask why Paul puts it this way in terms of what he is trying to communicate here. Why does he only look at one side of the government here? Why doesn’t he acknowledge the many, many exceptions in one way, but in other ways very run-of-the-mill situations with governing authorities who often maybe even persistently, reward evil and punish good? I think that a careful sensitive reading will surface those kinds of issues. This is not trying to bring in what Paul doesn’t say, but to do justice to what he does say which begs certain questions. 

Do you think that part of it might be that Paul has such a sense of the time that he had, that he says stay calm for now so that God can do His work?

Dr. Moo: 
It is possible that he is looking at things in light of that – for him –imminent end. The idea of imminence doesn’t come up much in Romans but which is certainly a basic kind of New Testament perspective on things. We have talked about the already and not yet. From the perspective of the New Testament, the already has taken place and the not yet could take place at any time. I don’t think Paul himself says that he knows when the end events are going to happen. But he does clearly live under the sense that this is the next step in God’s program and it could happen at any time. These end events could begin unfolding at any moment. That could be part of it as well.


D. God Used Unjust Rulers to Judge His People: 

Now let me come back to the text for a moment and recognize that what we have here is a part of a consistent biblical theme about the sovereignty of God in appointing authorities (governing authorities) and the appropriate response of God’s people to that situation; that appropriate response being submission or obedience; doing what governing authorities tell us to do. 

This is fairly consistent biblical teaching about the way God is using government to rule His world, and even as we see in the Old Testament at times, God uses governing authorities to judge His people. It’s not that the governing authorities under God sovereignty will always reward God’s people. God uses governing authorities as He did in the Babylonian exile and Assyrian exile to judge His own people. God certainly is working in those ways.

Will we deal with the institution or the individual when it comes to this authority?

Dr. Moo: 
Great question and issue here. When you just look at what Paul said, he is talking about the actual authorities. Verse 1, Let everyone be subject to governing authorities. There is no authority; the authorities that exist; rulers in verse 3; verse 4, the one in authority, with also rulers again being mentioned. They are God’s servants. Submit to the authorities in verse 5. Throughout this text, Paul is talking about the actual people doing the ruling. He never talks specifically about the institution. 

That creates issues in trying to figure out how we move from this passage to what we might call a ‘political theology’ which is largely an untapped area particularly for evangelicals. A political theology is building from the Bible and reflection on the Bible in a theological way as to how we are to understand the process of politics and government. This is where many Christians have a very superficial approach to the whole issue, on both sides of the political spectrum and from various angles. 

It is one of these matters where we have various Old and New Testament texts that talk about the issue from a certain angle. But there is no text that sort of gives us a rounded exposition of what government is, how it is to function, and how Christians are to respond to, respect, and understand their place in government in the political world. There is a great need to develop that.


E. We Must Obey God Rather than Men: 

Sticking to this text for a moment. The point where we would need to begin if I am preaching this text, is to recognize the way in which in His sovereignty, God is using government providentially to order the world and to establish a means of rewarding good and punishing evil. The Christian response to government then should be the response of submission, of obedience, of recognizing government as a continuing legitimate institution used under divine authority. 

It may be that some of the Roman Christians were saying that now that they were Christians, they were governed by God and didn’t need to have anything to do with the government anymore. Government has nothing to do with us because we are in the spiritual realm. We aren’t subject to the government anymore. But Paul is saying, no; you do have responsibility under those governing authorities because God has appointed them and using them. 

Having said that however, in the interest of doing fair holistic biblical exposition, we also need to recognize places in Scripture where Christians are commanded to disobey the government. The Book of Revelation is full of these instances obviously in which faithfulness to God is measured by our willingness to stand against the anti-Christ, the beast, and his requirements. The famous words of Peter and John in the Book of Acts come to mind as well: we must obey God rather than men. 

From a broader Biblical standpoint, the question becomes if I am preaching Romans 13:1-7, I need to respect what this text is saying and talk about a government appointed by God and the need to submit to it. But I also need to indicate where the exceptions to this are. Otherwise, I haven’t preached the text in its biblical context effectively. 

The way in which people find reasons to find exceptions to what Paul is saying here is first the point that we talked about a little bit, why does Paul in describe governing authorities in this very positive, almost naïve, fashion? One thing that Paul might be doing here is saying how a government is ideally supposed to function under God. This is what God has appointed governing authorities to do. Maybe, this doesn’t become explicit so we have to be cautious about this, but maybe he is saying to submit as governing authorities do function in this way. But if, as it says in the Book of Revelation, government takes a form in which it is consistently rewarding evil and punishing good, perhaps that submission isn’t required at that point.

A second matter is to understand this word, submit. A lot of us will be familiar with the word in terms of the marriage relationship. It is used a number of times to talk about the wife submitting to the husband. So, the parallel is obviously with Christians and governing authorities. The point is that the word submit is a kind of general word that talks about recognizing our obligation to respect and follow the lead of somebody else. So, Paul says that wives are to submit to their husbands, they are to recognize that God has providentially ordered marriage in such a way, that the husband is what Paul calls the head in the relationship and wives are to submit, to recognize the husband’s role in leadership in that relationship. This is just as Christians are to recognize their place generally in respect to governing authorities. 

The point in both of these submission relationships is that implicit in all of this is that all of this is governed ultimately by God who governs both of these relationships. So, when a Christian wife is called by her husband to submit in a certain way that is contrary to what God is calling her to do, she has the right to obey God rather than her husband. But somewhat paradoxically even as she continues to recognize her submission to her husband; that she doesn’t try to overthrow her husband’s role. She doesn’t try to say that her husband is no longer her head with the whole submission relationship put aside. No, she says while recognizing that this structure is still in place, at this point, I have to follow God rather than my husband.

I’m sure a lot of us have counseled wives in that situation. I was asked to come and preach in a church one time because they were all in a mess, debating and fighting each other because one of the elders of the church, in reading these passages about submission, counseled a Christian woman in the church who was being asked by her husband to enter into a sexual relationship with himself and another woman at the same time. The elder counseled this Christian wife that she must submit to her husband. The church was up in arms about that. We recognize those situations in which, without doubting the biblical requirement of submission, nevertheless the wife follows God rather than her husband.

There might be an analogous situation here it seems to me with the Christian and governing authorities. When governing authorities require us to do something contrary which is plainly against the will of God, we say as Peter and John said, we have to obey God rather than that human authority. But again, paradoxically in continuing to recognize our submission to the governing authorities; we are still standing under them as a general principle that doesn’t get erased or thrown out because of that particular situation.


F. The Day of the Lord: 

Verses 8-10 comes back to love. You can see why someone like Käsemann would say let’s take 1-7 out of the equation. Paul is talking about love at the end of chapter 12, here he is talking about love in 13:8-10 again. You can see that Paul does return to love. He emphasizes this also in Galatians 5 saying that love is absolutely central to the will of God for us as it is in itself the fulfillment of the law. Whatever the Law is intending to accomplish for us, Paul says following the command of love will take care of those things. 

He wraps up this part of his admonition to us in verses 11-14 returning to what he started in 12:1-2, don’t be conformed to this age. Paul is reminding us of where we are located again. So, in 13:11-14, he is also wanted to remind us that we are people who have already entered into this new life. Our salvation is nearer now that when we first believed. Salvation for Paul is often something that is future, as it is here. But the day is already dawning. 

There is a double allusion here. There is a simple metaphor of day verses night and nighttime verses darkness which is widely used in the ancient world. Nighttime is associated with evil deeds; daytime associated with the light, with good deeds. There may also be a reference to the Day of the Lord. When Paul says to live as in the day in verse 13 not in carousing and drunkenness, etc., part of that idea is to behave because you are people who now experience the Day of the Lord. God’s intervention to save his people, to judge His enemies, that has started, you are in the already of the day that has dawned but not yet been brought to completion.