PASSAGE: "Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet' and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires" (Romans 13:8-14).
COMMENT: The first part of this passage is a clear statement of the teaching of Jesus Christ as Paul understood it. The purpose of Jewish law had been to keep us under control until we were spiritually ready to hear the message of Jesus. Once we know ourselves to be One with the Christ, there is no need for the law. We will naturally live according to the one divine law of God. That law, in its simplest essence, is love. If we treat others with love—treat others as we would have them treat us—then we will fulfill the dictates of the law, not out of fearful obedience, but out of loving creativity.
The second part reflects Paul's belief that Jesus had foretold an end of the world that was imminent. Since he had never met Jesus, and there were no written records of his ministry at the time, he was apparently relying on oral reports in his assumption that a Day of Judgment would be happening within his lifetime. This assumption caused much trouble as time passed, believers died, and the promised Day didn't arrive. Indeed, it has caused many scholars through the years—Albert Schweitzer being a prime example—to decide that Jesus was a failed prophet because his prediction did not occur.
Metaphysically we understand that it is "full- time now" for each of us individually, according to our personal spiritual awareness and willingness. Once we come to believe in our own divine nature, it is up to us to bring that new understanding into expression in our lives. We do that by allowing that new Christ awareness to guide us in all things. We "put on the Lord Jesus Christ" by following his example, becoming as fully the Christ in expression as he was. Then our every choice will be a choice made in love, and the day of spiritual light and joy will truly be ours to experience.