Romans 13:8-10 (ESV):

8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

When Paul says "the law" and "any other commandment", is he referring specifically to the 10 commandments (Exodus 20) or to the entire Mosaic Law (613 commandments)?


The entire Torah consists of several parts such as -

  • Largely historical sections like most of Genesis and parts of exodus
  • The giving of the Moral law (Ex 19-23) and its expanded meaning (much of Deuteronomy)
  • The series of copious regulations about the ceremonial law which included the religious calendar, regulations for the priests, regulations for operating the temple/tabernacle, directions for building the tabernacle and its furniture, etc, etc.

The moral law was summarized by the 10 commandments and variously expanded to include others as well. These 10 commandments were also further condensed to just two:

  • Love for God, Deut 6:5
  • Love for your neighbor, Lev 19:18

This was repeated by Jesus in Matt 22:34-40. Even in Lev 19:9-18 we have an expansion of the basic commandment to love your neighbor in all its various ways. Paul repeats this principle in Rom 13:8-10.

The fact that both Jesus (Matt 5, 6, 7), Moses (in Deut - see appendix below) and Paul expanded the 10 commandments into related moral principles shows how pervasive the understanding of the moral code was in NT times. None of the ceremonial laws are treated like this. Further, the NT elsewhere quotes the moral code as one with continuing force such as:

Eph 6:2, 3 quotes Deut 5:16, Ex 20:12; James 2:11 quotes Ex 20:13; Rom 13:9 quotes Ex 20:13-15, 17; Rom 7:7 quotes Ex 20:17; Acts 23:5 quotes Ex 22:28; Heb 9:20 quotes Ex 24:8; 1 Peter 1:16 quotes Lev 19:2; Matt 22:39, James 2:8, Gal 5:14 quotes Lev 19:18; 2 Tim 2:19 quotes Num 16:5; Matt 19:18, 19 quotes Deut 5:16-20; Mark 12:32 quotes Deut 6:4; 2 Cor 13:1 quotes Deut 19:15; Matt 5:31, 19:7 quotes Deut 24:1; 1 Cor 9:9 quotes Deut 25:4; Rom 12:19 quotes Deut 32:35; Heb 10:30 quotes Deut 32:35, 36.

Therefore, there is no question that Paul in Rom 13:8-10 is referencing the moral code of conduct and not the ceremonial laws in the Torah. All the quoted commandments in Rom 13 are from the 10 commandments without exception.

Deuteronomy Expands the Law

The Book of Deuteronomy can be subdivided as follows:

  • Preamble Deut 1:1-5
  • Historical prologue Deut 1:6 – 4:49
  • General stipulations Deut 5 – 11
  • Specific stipulations Deut 12 – 26
  • Blessings and Curses Deut 27 – 28
  • Witnesses Deut 30:15-20
  • Deposition of Text Deut 31:9, 24-26
  • Public reading Deut 31:10-13
  • Lawsuits against vassals Deut 32

The specific stipulations listed above can be broken down more precisely into sections dealing with each of the commandments.

    1. & 2: Deut 12:1 – 31 – Worship
    1. Deut 13:1 – 14:27 – name of God
    1. Deut 14:28 – 16:17 – Sabbath
    1. Deut 16:18 – 18:22 – Authority
    1. Deut 19:1 – 22:8 – Homicide/murder
    1. Deut 22:9 – 23:19 – Adultery
    1. Deut 23:20 – 24:7 – Theft
    1. Deut 24:8 – 25:4 – False Charges
    1. Deut 25:5 – 16 – Coveting

In each section the moral principle is expanded into every-day practical situations with lots of further, but "local" regulations.

  • This is a very useful summary of how the moral laws were understood and applied. Upvoted +1 Apr 6 at 13:20

The law in Paul has three concepts: moral, sometimes liturgical, and sometimes civil law; sure, the most important is the moral law. If you link the verses into the chapter where Paul spoke about the governments and how to live in peace you need to consider that in this point (v8.) He is speaking about moral law in special in relationships with others. Then, in order to live in the best way, you must subject to authorities and have good relations with others.

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    Apr 10 at 3:48

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