What does Romans 13:12 mean?
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.
NKJV: The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
Romans 13:8–14 describes the Christian obligation to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. To do this is to fulfill the law of Moses, because love itself never hurts anyone. The time has come for believers to cast off any works of darkness, including drunkenness, immorality, and jealousy. Instead, we should live as people who walk in the light, taking on the spiritual armor of light and Christ Himself.
Chapter Summary:
Romans 13 tackles three big areas that living-sacrifice Christians must address. First, since God puts every human authority in place to serve His purposes, Christians must submit to them; this idea comes with a particular context. Second, we must love our neighbors as ourselves. Third, we are called to live as people of the light and throw off works of darkness like drunkenness, sexual immorality, and jealousy. We are to take on the armor of light against the darkness and, in fact, take on Christ Himself instead of serving our own desires.
Chapter Context:
The prior chapter described the ideas of becoming a living sacrifice for Christ and being transformed by that relationship. In chapter 12, Paul gives certain applications of what this looks like for Christians who have received God's great mercy. Paul instructs believers to live in submission to human authorities in government because God has put them there for His purposes. Loving our neighbors as we love ourselves is the ongoing obligation of every Christian. Finally, we must throw off any works of darkness we have been taking part in and take defensive positions against the darkness in spiritual armor of light. The time has come to take on Christ and stop arranging our lives to serve our own desires.
Book Summary:
The book of Romans is the New Testament's longest, most structured, and most detailed description of Christian theology. Paul lays out the core of the gospel message: salvation by grace alone through faith alone. His intent is to explain the good news of Jesus Christ in accurate and clear terms. As part of this effort, Paul addresses the conflicts between law and grace, between Jews and Gentiles, and between sin and righteousness. As is common in his writing, Paul closes out his letter with a series of practical applications.
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