Rom 13: 1-7 Government and the Christian

Mar 21, 2021 // By:Dave // No Comment

this text combines “religion” and “politics” the two most volatile topics I can think of

what is the christian’s response and responsibility to government on earth (when we have what is called dual citizenship) ?

we are citizens of this country , but also citizens of heaven.

Phil 3:20 

One could read this and say “I’m a christian, I answer to God, not to any man@

we need to know how to balance this “dual allegiance”

some people lean to one side or the other (and various extremes to even ignoring one side of the responsibilities for the other side)

there are those who wish they knew exactly when the rapture would take place just so they can max out their credit cards before they go !

1 pet 2:11-14

1 Every person is to be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.

democracy was not the govt structure at the time this was written.  monarchy was the structure.

Caesar (NERO) was the monarch. 

who was Nero:

  • son of Aggrapina, who was the granddaughter of Augustus Caesar, Nero was Augustuis’ nephew, his mother Aggrapina was a reputed lover of Caligula the present emperor
  • Caligula is was assassinated after only ruling for 4 years, a plot that nero’s mother Aggripina, participated in and was exiled for.
  • when Claudius, the uncle of Caligula, takes power, Aggrapina returns with Nero
  • Nero’s mother,  then remarried when  called back to one of the wealthiest men in the city, Passienus, who then quickly died.
  • aggrapina then worked her way into marrying claudius after the third wife of claudius was executed for plotting against him.
  • Nero marries the daughter of claudius  and is also adopted by claudius.
  • aggrapina poisons claudius within 4 yrs and Nero , then 16-17 becomes emperor
  • will later kill his own mother after a dispute over who he is having an affair with
  • known as the worst emperor Rome ever saw.

his own people said he was corrupt and compulsive … bad combination for a “god”

(there was a senate but only accessible to the rich of Rome) 

Rome ruled it’s provinces by establishing a local authority of that local govt ( for Israel that meant Herod in this case and the sanhedrin)

at this time of writing,

  • Paul is in Corinth, waiting to return a collection of money back to Jerusalem
  • 1/3 to 1/2 of the Roman population was slaves
  • Roman rule was already ramping persecuting christians and insisting that caesar be worshiped as god.
  • immediate ruling authority in israel, was a corrupt king and a corrupt sanhedrin that also wanted to silence christianity
  • jews and christians had just returned to Rome after only being kicked out by claudius for infighting
  • had been invited back by a very unstable new emperor , Nero, who would be desiring to win the confidence of his people by keeping things peaceful

2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.

3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same;

4 for it is a servant of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a servant of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.

5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for the sake of conscience.

6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.

7 Pay to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; respect to whom respect; honor to whom honor.

we are subject to authority over us


ὑποτάσσω, hypotassō, v.  [5679 + 5435]. to align underneath

within 6 years of Paul writing this letter, the great fire of Rome was lit by Nero and the christians were blamed for the fire

and christian persecution rose to a level never seen before.

roman candles were thought up by Nero

so is Paul saying that in a world full of Nero’s we are still to submit ?

now look at verse 2 … sounds like Nero’s authority comes from God
(does this not match up our Lord’s response to Pontius Pilate?)

Rom 9: 17-18  (Exodus 9:16)

NIV – Romans 9:17

(17) For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.

(18a) Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, 

(18b) and he hardens whom he wants to harden.”

NLT – Exodus 9:16

But I have spared you for a purpose–to show you my power and to spread my fame throughout the earth.

Christian Standard Bible – Exodus 9:16

However, I have let you live for this purpose: to show you my power and to make my name known on the whole earth.

God deliberately put this pharaoh over the Jews
(and timed it chronologically so that it was at the peak of Egypts power in the world)

not only that, but back in verse 12 of Exodus 9, God hardens the heart of that Pharaoh 

(locked his mind in place to refuse to set the Hebrews free)

why would God make a man disobey Him ?

for the same reason He raised up that pharaoh to begin with  (raised up means set in authority)

Gen 9   the beginning of human government 

govt is a form of common grace = common blessings for all mankind (rain upon the just and unjust alike, etc)

civil law, law enforcement, military force, are results of govt of common grace

govt exists for 

  1. protect the innocent
  2. punish the criminal

govt is a minister of God  (diakonos)

Govt should be supported (including taxes)

Govt should be honored and respected (which means if we dont like our caesar, we should be praying more than backstabbing)

but let’s take this where faith wants to go …

if govt is a “helper of God” (appointed and raised up by God),

then are we supposed to be thanking God for our govt?

(basically trusting God more than the people he has raised up for His purposes)

what taxes did they pay:

  • poll tax (age 14-65)  just for being alive
  • income tax  10%
  • roads and harbors
  • import tase
  • 10% grain tax (grain), 
  • 20% wine, 
  • fish tax , 
  • cart tax (per wheel on the cart)

on top of that”:

  • 1/3-1/2 roman people were slaves
  • corrupt govt in senate
  • local authority was abusive
  • local religious leaders were corrupt 
  • sects of zealots seeking to assassinate local roman authorities

everyone was waiting for someone to come along and fix all the bad govt

the teachings of the one they waited to rescue them results in what we just read in Roman 13: 1-7 !!

we need to trust God more than people

is there ever a time for civil disobedience ?

verse 5 speaks of subjection to an instrument of God for conscience sake

what about when the local govt is contradicting God ?

(when laws or actions violate God’s word or our conscience)

we are called to submit up to the point where obeying govt means disobeying God

exodus 1  

midwives in egypt disobeyed pharaoh and obeyed God (daniel 3)

nebuchadnezzar    daniel did not eat wrong food, daniel did not pray to idol

darius decreed prayer to no other god , daniel still prays to his god

jewish sanhedrin commands Peter and John to not speak the name of Jesus (acts 4:19-20)

“we must obey God more than man”

a christian should be a good citizen until that definition of “good citizen” means being a bad christian

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