We begin this week looking at Romans 13:1-8
It is the will of G-d that every believer submits to the government – regardless of which government it is. However, although submitting to the government is the ideal, it is not always possible. In the Bible, there are many examples of G-dly individuals who did not submit to their governments. This was due to the government’s decrees conflicting with the Word and truth of G-d. As we draw closer to the last days, many governments are going to become increasingly hostile to the truth of G-d. There will be greater conflict between what the Word of G-d commands us to do and what governments order us to do. The believing community need to be aware of this so that we can be prepared to suffer and get ourselves ready to be persecuted.
v1: Every soul: Every human being.
- Subject to: When we submit to the (general) authorities who are over us it is honouring to G-d. No authority is perfect, but when a government is enforcing that which is good then it is our responsibility to ensure that we are in submission to it.
- Governing (higher) authorities: Referring to the governments.
v2: Note: This is the principle: G-d establishes governments. It is His will for us to (generally) submit to these authorities as they are servants of G-d, executing justice.
- Bring judgment on themselves: Those who rebel, and resist authority, are punished.
v3: Rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil: Paul is talking about governments who punish evil (punish that which is against the will of G-d) and reward or praise that which is good (that which is according to the will of G-d). These kinds of governments (those who punish evil and reward good) are the ones that we are absolutely required to submit to.
- Praise from the same: Meaning: If we do not want to fear the authorities then we need to do good.
v5: Not only because of wrath: We don’t only submit out of a fear of punishment.
- But also for conscience sake: G-d has given each individual a conscience. Through that conscience G-d speaks to us. Through the conscience, generally speaking, we learn what is right and what is wrong. The indwelling Holy Spirit is far superior to our consciences, but for those who have not yet come to faith the conscience is a good starting point for agreeing with G-d.
v6: Pay taxes: We have a financial obligation to our governments.
- G-d’s ministers: They are G-d’s servants. Paul is not talking about any government, but he is speaking specifically about those governments that consistently reward good and punish evil – those governments that are not in conflict with G-d’s Word. These governments protect people, support justice, etc. We are not called to submit to governments that are hostile to G-d – those governments that punish good and reward evil. These kinds of governments we are called to stand against (example: Daniel etc). We are not called to submit to ungodly governmental decrees, but we are called to remain faithful to G-d.
v7: Note: This verse makes it very clear that we should not be a debtor to anyone. We need to humbly, obediently and submissively render to others what they deserve.
v8: Love one another: Lev 19:18 (see also Gal 5:13-14). Throughout the Scripture this is the foundational commandment that G-d gives to us. When we love G-d, we demonstrate this love by loving our neighbours.