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Romans 13:12

ESV 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.
NIV The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
NASB The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let’s rid ourselves of the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
CSB The night is nearly over, and the day is near; so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
NLT The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living.
KJV The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

What does Romans 13:12 mean?

Paul is building a sense of urgency about how Christians should live in this moment. For Paul, of course, the moment was two thousand years ago in human time. For us, the moment continues. As he wrote in the previous verse, our ultimate salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The day of the Lord could come at any time.

Now Paul writes that the night is far gone, and the day is at hand. He describes the moments when the sky turns gray and the birds begin to stir before the sun breaks the horizon. Spiritually, this symbolic moment began when death was defeated at the resurrection of Jesus. The world remains broken by sin, but the clock is ticking. Creation groans along with us as we wait for our adoption to be finalized and the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:22–23).

Because of the nearing daybreak, Paul writes, Christians must throw away any works of darkness, any of the worthless things we have done that belong to the night and not to the day. He will list some of those in the following verse.

Instead, Paul insists, Christians must prepare for the day by putting on the armaments of light. The actual Greek root word used here is hoplon, which is also translated as "weapon" or "tool" in English. Suddenly, Paul has introduced the concept of Christians taking a defensive position against the darkness rather than joining with it. Paul communicates this idea of the Christian life as a battle in several letters. In Ephesians 6:10–17, he describes in detail the spiritual armor Christians are to take on as we stand against the forces of spiritual darkness.

Those in Christ no longer belong to the night. We are people of light, and that must change how we live in this critical moment.
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