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RCCG Miracle Land Dundalk
Thursday, October 29 2020

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai


Paul wrote the book of Romans to Christians, some of whom were Jews, in the capital of the Roman Empire. Claudius, the previous emperor, had expelled the Jews from Rome a few years before because he viewed them as dangerous (Acts 18:2). The Jews hated being under Roman rule. This is similar to the unrest we are experiencing in many countries of the world today. So Paul wanted the Roman Christians to be clear on how they should relate to the civil government. The same applies to us today.

1. Since God has ordained government authority, we must be subject to it (Verses 1-2).

“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.” (NASB)

Paul first lays down a general principle (Vs. 1a), “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities.” Then (Vs. 1b) he explains the reason behind this principle: “For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” He follows this in Vs.2 with a logical conclusion: “Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.”

God has ordained various spheres of authority for the blessing and protection of those under authority: the government, the local church, the family, etc. But due to sin, those in authority are often prone to misuse their authority for their own benefit. But Paul, writing under wicked Nero, does not allow for exceptions. He states categorically (13:1b), “For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” Therefore, every person is to be subject to their civil government.

When Paul says (13:2) that those who disobey government authority “will receive condemnation upon themselves,” he was primarily referring to the judgment that the government brings on law-breakers. In verse 4 he says that the government “bears the sword,” which refers to the authority to punish law-breakers. He also calls it “an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.” These expressions do not refer to God’s eternal wrath, but to a temporal wrath inflicted by the government on evildoers so that it can uphold law and order.

Having said that, when a government commands us to do something that is disobedient to God’s Word, we must resist the government and obey God instead. (Acts 4:19-20, 5:29) “We must obey God rather than men.” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow before Nebuchadnezzar’s idol (Dan.3). In defiance of the king’s edict, Daniel continued to pray (Dan. 6). If the government forces us to abort babies as population control, we should resist. If a government forbids us to gather as believers, we should gather anyway. If the government bans the Bible, we should own and distribute Bibles anyway. If the government commands us not to say anything against homosexual behaviour, we should teach what the Bible says anyway.

2. The Government is to protect law-abiding citizens and punish law-breakers (Verses 3-4).

“For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behaviour, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister 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 minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.” (NASB)

In these verses, Paul presents the general purpose and practice of government: to protect those who do right and to punish those who do wrong. We cannot deny that there have been many exceptions throughout history where corrupt governments punish law-abiding citizens who speak out against the corruption and they reward scoundrels who help keep them in power.

If God’s purpose for civil governments is to protect law-abiding citizens and punish law-breakers, then it follows that we should use civil authorities for protection and due process. Paul himself did this in Philippi, where he was unjustly beaten and imprisoned without a trial, although he was a Roman citizen. When the authorities realized their error and wanted to quietly usher him out of town, Paul wouldn’t stand for it (Acts 16:35-40). He also invoked his Roman citizenship to avoid a scouring and to appeal to Caesar rather than face a kangaroo court (Acts 22:25; 25:11).

This means that if someone is physically or sexually abusing you, you should report it to the proper authorities. If your husband is physically abusive, if he is a church member, let the elders know so that we can implement church discipline; otherwise, call the police. If you have been defrauded by a church member, first attempt to resolve the matter in the church (1 Cor. 6:1-8). If it can’t be resolved, you may have to take your case to secular courts. The purpose of government is to protect law-abiding people and punish evildoers. The highest form of love will be to accept to be defrauded but be wise in the future

3. Be Subject to the government because it is for our good, and it is the right thing to do. (Vs 5)

“Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake.” (NASB)

Paul means that we should be subject to our government not only because we fear punishment if we break the law, but also because we fear God, who knows our hearts. This makes keeping the laws of our land not just a matter of outward compliance, but also of inward obedience to God. With outward compliance, you are honest on your income tax forms because you’re afraid that if you aren’t, you might get caught. With inward obedience, you are honest because you want to have a clear conscience before God

4. Paying taxes and respecting government officials is part of submission (Verses 6-7).

“For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” (NASB)

For the third time Paul mentions that government officials are servants of God, but this time he uses a different word that is sometimes used for those who serve in the temple and also of angels (Heb. 1:7). By saying that they are “servants of God,” Paul wants us to see the importance of submitting to them, paying taxes, and giving them proper honour.

5. Practical Application in living right (Verses 8-10).

“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbour has fulfilled the law. For this, "YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET," and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilment of the law.” (NASB)

Interestingly, Paul starts off with debts in verse 8. “Owe no one anything” The MSG version says: “Don’t run up debts”

Debts create pressure and pressure is unhealthy. The Bible also warns against the dangers of debt. Proverbs 22:7 says, “The borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” Often debt reveals underlying greed that drives us to buy things that we can’t afford. Or it reveals that we love the world and the things that are in the world (1 John 2:15). The only debt we are allowed to run up is love. 1 Cor.13:4-7 tells the characteristics of this love.

In one of our previous studies, we emphasized that the secular moral laws of the world are mostly coined from the ten commandments. In verse 9, we see Paul while discussing being subject to governing authorities cites the ten commandments: “For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,”

As Christians, loving others fulfils God’s law. Paul says this severally in these verses; (Vs. 8, “he who loves his neighbour has fulfilled the law”; (Vs. 9 “it is summed up,”) and a third time in Vs 10, “love is the fulfilment of the law”)


I have observed an amazing truth in how the Lord deals with us in relation to living by the Word and not just being hearers only. He always brings situations our way as a church or as individuals to practice what we preach or what we have heard. Last week we looked at 9 tasks that differentiate us; and in today’s study, we have been presented the opportunity to be different or behave like everyone else. Especially as it relates to the last week’s sad events.

Are we going to hate or love? Curse like the rest of the world or bless? Are we going to repay evil for evil, or overcome evil with good?

It is possible for people to think that we are experiencing a more difficult time than Paul’s time. By the time of Paul’s writing, Nero was the Roman emperor in rule. His reign was associated with tyranny, extravagance and debauchery. During his rule, he murdered his own mother, his first wife, and allegedly, his second wife. In addition, ancient writers claim that he started the great fire of Rome in A.D. 64 so that he could re-build the city centre. Hundreds of people died in the fire and many thousands were left homeless. He then blamed the devastation on the Christian community in the city, initiating the empire's first persecution against the Christians. Paul, writing under this wicked emperor, does not allow for exceptions. He states categorically in verse 1b “For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” Therefore, every person is to be subject to their civil government. Here is what he also told Timothy during the reign of Nero

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NKJV)

Parts of this study was culled from:

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