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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Series A

Romans 13:8-10

Rev. Wayne Dobratz

Americans are drowning in a sea of red ink. We often see commercials for companies that help people to consolidate their debts and get their heads above water. Preachers on Christian radio station sometimes take today’s text out of context. "Owe no man anything" is often taken to mean one should never have debts. But that’s not what Paul means here. The subject of debt isn’t about your credit card balance. What the Bible says about debt concerns itself with two things:

I. The debt that is already paid. Jesus paid our debt to justice once and for all. (John 19:30) When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. The word for "It is finished" is the Greek teleoo, which means "to finish, to end, perform the last act which completes a process, to accomplish." It was what merchants of the day wrote at the bottom of a bill when a debt was satisfied–tetelestai–it is completed.

Since Jesus paid it in full, it is a debt we no longer need pay. It was the adding on of extra charges that so enraged Martin Luther that he began the Protestant Reformation.

Adam Clarke: "This is life eternal–the salvation purchased by Christ and given to them who believe. This is true because the life of man was forfeited to divine justice and the sacrifice of Christ redeemed him from that death."


II. The Debt that a Christian is to pay everyday. (Rom 13:8) Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.

This debt is due each day, text vv.8-10; Cf. Matt. 22:37-40; Gal. 5:13-14; I Tim. 1:5; Lk. 10:27

John MacArthur: "Loving others is a debt we can never pay in full. Christ has given us so much love that we are eternally in debt. ...Completely apart from financial considerations, all believers have the constant obligation to love one another. The Church father Origen said: ‘The debt of love remains with us permanently and never leaves us. This is a debt which we pay everyday and forever owe.’ And by our Lord’s gracious provision, it is a debt we will always have the resources to pay and which, the more we pay toward it, the more willing and joyous the payment will be.

A new commandment I give you, Jesus said, that you love one another, even as I have loved you. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)





You may have heard your Father talking to himself right after he sees the mail: "Bills, Bills, Bills! How will we ever pay all these Bills?" He’s talking about how much money your family owes for electricity, for natural gas or fuel oil, for dozens of other things that you need to live.

I’m glad to tell you that the biggest Bill of all was paid in full once and for all and that your Dad or Mom will never have to worry about this Bill. It was the Bill that came due because we all have sinned. Jesus paid that Bill for us. I know it was a Bill because when Jesus died, he said IT IS FINISHED; that meant the Bill was paid in full.

But there’s one more Bill that needs to be paid, but your Dad or Mom will never get anything in the mail about it. Paul wrote in Today’s Epistle: Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law.

Jesus paid the Bill for your sins because He loved you so very much. Now He tells us that we have this Bill to pay for as long as we live: LOVE ONE ANOTHER. That’s a Bill we will want to pay, because God loved us so much that He sent His One and Only Son to pay the Bill of our sins. Now pay the Bill of love; spread the Good News of Jesus paying the Debt of sin. Pay your Bill of love by loving your neighbor for as long as you live.


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This page was revised on: Monday, November 13, 2006 10:40:29 AM