Pastor Steve Ellison
Romans 13 is part of a larger passage that spans Romans 12-16 which deals with the Christian’s relationship to God, other believers, and unbelievers. At first glance it appears that Romans 13 is teaching Christians about our relationship with civil authorities. Certainly it does have much to say in that regard; however, it seems the main point is really about our relationship to The Authority, God Himself. How we as Christians relate to human authorities is a great indication of how we are relating to God who is the real Authority. All other authority is simply delegated from Him. Romans 13 provides a very accurate measuring rod with which we can evaluate our relationship to God.
Romans 13:1-2 makes it very clear that no one is exempted from this measuring, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.”NASU Note the absolutes: “Every person”, “no authority”, “those which exist”, “whoever”, “will receive”. I don’t like this any better than you do, in fact my flesh screams about it. I am afflicted with the same disease that you are, which is a case of “you can’t tell me what to do”. If someone orders me to do the very thing that I had already planned to do because that thing suited me and gave me pleasure, incredible as it is, I am still very likely to rebel or at the very least experience real rebellion in my heart. You and I simply do not like to be told what to do. This act of submitting to authority is so very hard for fallen mankind and yet is one of the ways that God has given to us to measure our relationship to Him.
These two verses exempt no one from the jurisdiction of governing authorities. These two verses do not offer any exemptions for any governing authorities. Let me remind you of the cruelty and tyranny under which the original recipients of this letter lived. If they were expected to submit to their governing authorities, then certainly I am expected to as well. Romans 12:2 tells me that when I resist authority, I have opposed the ordinance of God. That word “resist” is a terribly inclusive word. I would have trouble if verse two condemned me for disobeying authority. However, the verse condemns me for “resisting” authority. That means I am in trouble for doing less than actual disobedience. I suppose that “resisting” also enters into the realm of the heart and mind. Now, there is no chance that I am not guilty.
Surely this passage of Scripture must be taken in light the rest of the Bible. Surely there are other passages which indicate disobedience to the authorities is acceptable or even demanded. However, the parameters are very narrow. The command of government must be in clear opposition to God’s law. Also, the consistent result of disobeying authority in the Bible is that the person has to accept the consequences of that disobedience. I must admit that in light of these parameters, most if not all of my resistance to authority has not been righteous. Romans 13 has much more to say about this subject. I encourage you to read it and meditate upon what it is calling you to do. It will likely be difficult, even painful, but it will strengthen your relationship to God. … ..………..firstname.lastname@example.org