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Romans 13:8 Owe No One Anything

By Chuck Henry
rev. 11/19/2013



Rom 13:8 NKJV

Owe no one anything [KJV: “owe no man anything”] except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.


It has been suggested that “owe no man anything” is a ruling against taking out a loan. Taken by itself, it does indeed sound as if such a doctrine is established.


The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary points out, if this were the case, it would go against the balance of Scripture. The following excerpt was actually taken from the commentary under Matthew 5:42, but it refers to Romans 13:8 —


… Such counsels as “Owe no man anything” (Rom 13:8) are not to be taken absolutely; else the Scripture commendations of the righteous for “lending” to his necessitous brother (Ps. 37:26; 112:5; Luke 6:37*) would have no application.


* This is an exact quote from the source. Evidently, the reference to Luke 6:37 should be to Luke 6:35.


-- Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary (on Mat 5:42), Electronic Database. (c) 1997 by Biblesoft.


As the above remarks show, the notion that Romans 13:8 is a ruling against taking out a loan is not in harmony with scope of Scripture as a whole. To substantiate this, several Scripture quotes are included at the end of this study.


What, then, is the meaning of “owe no many anything” in Romans 13:8? The answer is seen in the context of the statement:


“Owe no one anything except to love one another …”


In other words, the only debt that is to remain outstanding is our debt to love one another. For that obligation is always due! The NIV translation expresses this—


Rom 13:8 NIV

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.


In conclusion, when the phrase “owe no many anything” is lifted out of context, on the surface it does indeed sound as if it establishes doctrine prohibiting taking a loan. However, the correct interpretation is shown when the context of the statement is taken into consideration, along with many other Scriptures having to do with borrowing and lending, shown below.


With that said, one should always bear in mind that “the rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Pro 22:7). Therefore, if one does take out a loan, he should do so with discretion.



Lending / Borrowing in Scripture


Deu 15:1-11

1 At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts.

2 And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the Yahweh’s release.

3 Of a foreigner you may require it; but you shall give up your claim to what is owed by your brother,

4 except when there may be no poor among you; for Yahweh will greatly bless you in the land which Yahweh your Mighty One is giving you to possess as an inheritance;

5 only if you carefully obey the voice of Yahweh your Mighty One, to observe with care all these commandments which I command you today.

6 For Yahweh your Mighty One will bless you just as He promised you; you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow; you shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over you.

7 If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which Yahweh your Mighty One is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother,

8 but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs.

9 Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand, and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to Yahweh against you, and it become sin among you. [i.e. lend even though you might not get it back]

10 You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing Yahweh your Mighty One will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand.

11 For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.




1 Joh 3:16-18

16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of Yahweh abide in him?

18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.


Exo 22:25

If you lend money to any of My people who are poor among you, you shall not be like a moneylender to him; you shall not charge him interest.


Lev 25:35-38

35 If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you.

36 Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your Mighty One, that your brother may live with you.

37 You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit.

38 I am Yahweh your Mighty One, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan and to be your Mighty One.


Deu 23:19-20

19 You shall not charge interest to your brother; interest on money or food or anything that is lent out at interest.

20 To a foreigner you may charge interest, but to your brother you shall not charge interest, that Yahweh your Mighty One may bless you in all to which you set your hand in the land which you are entering to possess.


2Ki 4:1-7

1 A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared Yahweh. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves.

2 So Elisha said to her, What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house? And she said, Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.

3 Then he said, Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors; empty vessels; do not gather just a few.

4 And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.

5 So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out.

6 Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, Bring me another vessel. And he said to her, There is not another vessel. So the oil ceased.

7 Then she came and told the man of Elohim. And he said, Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest.


Notice in particular that this woman’s husband was a son of the prophets and “feared Yahweh,” but yet even when he died, he had outstanding debts.


Psa 37:25-26

25 I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread.

26 He is ever merciful, and lends; and his descendants are blessed.


Psa 41:1-3

1 Blessed is he who considers the poor; Yahweh will deliver him in time of trouble.

2 Yahweh will preserve him and keep him alive, and he will be blessed on the earth; You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies.

3 Yahweh will strengthen him on his bed of illness; You will sustain him on his sickbed.


Psa 112:5

A good man deals graciously and lends; He will guide his affairs with discretion.


Pro 19:17

He who has pity on the poor lends to Yahweh, and He will pay back what he has given.


Pro 29:7

The righteous considers the cause of the poor, but the wicked does not understand such knowledge.


Eze 18:5-9

5 But if a man is just and does what is lawful and right;

6 If he has not eaten on the mountains, nor lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, nor defiled his neighbor’s wife, nor approached a woman during her impurity;

7 If he has not oppressed anyone, but has restored to the debtor his pledge; has robbed no one by violence, but has given his bread to the hungry and covered the naked with clothing;

8 If he has not exacted usury nor taken any increase, but has withdrawn his hand from iniquity and executed true judgment between man and man;

9 If he has walked in My statutes and kept My judgments faithfully; He is just; He shall surely live! Says the Master Yahweh.


Mat 5:42

Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.


Luke 6:30, 35

30 Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.

35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.