Romans 13:11–14—Paul’s metaphorical conclusion: wake up, cast off, walk, put on.
With these final verses of chapter 13, Paul brings his general exhortations in this epistle to an end. Next he will address a problem that threatened the mutual acceptance of believers in Rome before offering his closing thoughts and greetings.
These verses refer back to some of the epistle’s key themes, and they also encapsulate the Christian life. Paul mixes colorful metaphors in a call to leave behind the worldly lifestyle of our past and live in the light of our future, awaiting the promised return of Christ. Salvation is progressing to a culmination, and we are to live in hope of its final phase.
“There is a temporal urgency about the gospel,” says RC Sproul. Paul exhorts us to do our part in this present moment with vigilance and diligence.
We need to know who we are. Identity drives conduct. We are to clothe ourselves with Christ and conform our behavior to our holy garb. We are to live now in the manner consistent with the new age when the Lord returns in his kingdom.
12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.
14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
Something else noteworthy about these verses is their perspective in comparison with the opening two verses of chapter 12. Urging us there to sacrifice our bodies to God and not conform to the world, Paul based his appeal on “the mercies of God” —what God has done for us through Christ’s sacrifice. Now in these closing verses of chapter 13 Paul bases his appeal to abandon worldliness on our expectation of the climax of salvation. Whereas the chapter 12 passage looks backward to what God has already given us, this one looks forward to our promised future.
Whether we look back to what God has done or ahead to what he will do, we find motivation for the holy lifestyle required of God’s people. We are to live in light of both the gifts of the past and the glories of the future.
We will examine these verses in more detail ahead.