Romans 13:1-7

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

Text: Romans 13:1-7

THE SURRENDERED LIFE

INTRODUCTION:

Romans 12:1-2 calls upon believers to surrender their lives completely to the Lord.

Romans 12:3-8 calls upon believers to use whatever spiritual gifts God has given them in their Christian service, and they are called upon to use them to the fullest extent possible.

Romans 12:9-21 provides a number of practical exhortations to help the believer live the sort of life which would please the Lord and which would also be consistent with being a dedicated Christian.

In Romans 13:1-7 Paul deals with the relationship of dedicated believers to governmental authorities. The believer is to be submissive to governmental authority because he recognizes that God has placed this governmental authority in power. Believers should do nothing wrong which would bring governmental action against them, and they should also seek to maintain a good conscience by obedience to their governments.

In Romans 13:8-14 Paul moves away from the relationship of dedicated believers to governmental authorities to their relationships with others in general. They are to pay their obligations, especially their obligation to love each other, while maintaining a good testimony before all. Believers must become Christlike and allow no opportunity for the old sin nature to defeat them any more.

In Romans 13:1-7 we see the relationship of dedicated believers to governmental authority as well as the relationship of believers toward others in general.

I. BELIEVERS ARE TO BE SUBMISSIVE TO GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORITIES - 13:1A

Romans 13:1 a - Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.

Soul is a part of the whole and is used in reference to the whole. Every soul means every human being.

Be subject unto is translated as a passive. As a passive it means be subjected to, be subordinated to, or be obedient to. It may instead be understood as a middle voice and understood in the sense of let every believer submit himself, every believer must subordinate himself, or every believer must subject himself.

The same term is used in other familiar passages of Scripture:

I Peter 2:13 - Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;

I Peter 2:18 - Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.

I Peter 3:1 - Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives.

Unto the higher powers = unto highly ranked government officials

There may be some real problems with the government you are under.

What if that governmental official is a jerk, or immoral, or a murderer? Remember that the Roman emperors such as Caligula or Nero were not very kind to the Christians.

II. GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORITY COMES FROM GOD - 13:1B

Romans 13:1 b - . . . For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

There is no power but of God = power does not exist except from God.

Power is the same word used previously meaning authority, government, or official.

Powers that be = human authorities, officials, or governments that exist

Are ordained of God is have been appointed by God or have been established in office by God. It has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

God has likewise established other authorities, e.g. the pastor in a church, the husband in the home, the parents, particularly the father, in the home.

III. RESISTING THE AUTHORITY GOD HAS ESTABLISHED IS RESISTING GOD - 13:2A

Romans 13:2 a - Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. . . .

Therefore = for this reason

Whosoever . . . resisteth = the one who is opposing or the one who is resisting.

The power = the human authority, the government, or the official.

Resisteth is not the same term used in this same phrase. Here it is a perfect tense which indicates a settled condition. It means has set himself against, has opposed, has withstood.

The ordinance of God = the direction of God

Thus, to set oneself against a governmental official whom God has appointed is to set oneself in opposition to God.

Might this same principle be applied to other situations e.g. the church to the pastor, the wife to the husband in the home, the children to the parents?

IV. RESISTING THE AUTHORITY GOD HAS ESTABLISHED WILL RESULT IN JUDGMENT - 13:2B

Romans 13:2 b - . . . And they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

They that resist is the same term as the second word translated resisteth. Again its tense indicates a state of being or a settled condition. It indicates that these people have taken up a fixed position against the authority.

Shall receive to themselves = shall get for themselves or shall obtain for themselves.

To the English reader living in the 21st century, damnation suggests condemnation to hell. This is not what Paul meant, however. Damnation is used of a judicial verdict, usually in the unfavorable sense of a sentence of condemnation or condemnation and the subsequent punishment. Hence, it should be understood in the sense of judgment or punishment and refers to a judgment which they will receive in this lifetime directly from the human authorities or governmental officials themselves.

V. RULERS CAUSE FEAR FOR THOSE WHO DO EVIL - 13:3A

Romans 13:3 a - For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. . . .

Rulers refers to governmental authorities or officials.

Rulers are not a terror (i.e. a cause of fear).

To good works indicates that those doing good works do not have reason for terror or fear before governmental officials.

But indicates a strong contrast in the sense of rather.

To the evil indicates that the doing of evil works produces the terror from the rulers because the individual knows that he will be judged by the ruler if or when he is caught.

VI. PAUL'S PRESCRIPTION FOR AVOIDING HAVING TO FEAR THE GOVERNMENT - 13:3B-4

Romans 13:3 b-4 - (3b) . . . Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: (4) For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Wilt thou not be afraid of the power? = Do you wish not to fear the power?

The power is the human authority, the official, or the government. Now no one wants to live in fear of the government. Paul gives his prescription, therefore, to show how one may generally avoid having to fear the government.

Do (i.e. be doing) that which is good and thou shalt have praise (i.e. approval or recognition) of the same (i.e. of the governmental official)

If a person habitually does the thing that is good, he will ordinarily have no problem with the government. By doing good one can normally expect praise or approval from the government rather than judgment.

Romans 13:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

He (i.e. the government official) is the minister of God to thee for good

Minister of God = God's helper, God's servant, or God's agent

To thee = for your benefit

For good = in order that he might do what is right or proper. What he does, therefore, should be beneficial to those under his authority.

But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid indicates a contrast to doing what is good.

Be afraid = fear or become frightened

For he beareth not the sword in vain

Beareth = bears for a considerable time or regularly; hence, it means he does not wear.

The sword = the saber. It is a symbol of the power that authorities have by which they may punish evildoers.

In vain = to no avail, to no purpose. Thus, he wears the sword for a specific purpose, i.e. to enforce the law.

For he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

For = indeed, in fact

He (i.e. the government official) is the minister of God (i.e. God's agent or God's servant

Revenger = an avenger, one who punishes

To execute wrath = for wrath, for anger, for indignation

Upon him that doeth evil = to the one who does what is evil or to the one who does what is bad

V. BELIEVERS MUST BE SUBJECT TO GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORITY BECAUSE IT IS RIGHT - 13:5

Romans 13:5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

Wherefore = therefore, for this reason

Ye must needs be subject = to subject yourselves is a necessary, to be subordinated is a necessity, or to obey is a necessity

Not only for wrath indicates one reason believers should submit themselves to the authority of the governmental official.

But also indicates a strong contrast.

For conscience sake = for the sake of conscience

It is because that government official has been appointed to his position by God, and by obeying the governmental official the believer is actually obeying God. Once again, this assumes the normal situation where obedience to the government requires no disobedience to God.

Should it happen that the government requires disobeying God, then the believer must obey God rather than the government.

VI. PAYING TAXES DEMONSTRATES SUBORDINATION TO GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORITY - 13:6-7

Romans 13:6-7 - (6) For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. (7) Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

For this cause = because of this and refers to the content of verse 5, i.e. for the sake of conscience as well as for the sake of wrath.

Pay ye tribute also = you pay taxes also

For they (i.e. the governmental officials) are God's ministers (are God's servants)

Ministers = servants (a different term from the one used previously.

Attending continually = adhering to, persisting in, busily engaged in, devoted to.

Upon this very thing = suggests the collection of taxes.

Romans 13:7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

Therefore = so, consequently, accordingly, then

Render = when used of taxes = pay

To all = to each one or to everyone

Their dues = their obligations or their duties and means that they are to pay whatever is owed.

Tribute = the tax. They are to pay whatever tax is owed.

To whom tribute is due is to whomever tax is owed.

Custom = indirect tax or duty

To whom custom (is due) is to whomever indirect taxes or duties are due.

Fear = reverence or respect

To whom fear (is due) is to whomever reverence or respect is due.

Honour = suggests price or value; it implies that when one estimates the value or price of something, he gives it its proper honor or reverence.

To whom honour (is due) is to whomever honor or proper reverence is due.

CONCLUSION:

Thus, we see that the believer is to be submissive to governmental authority because he recognizes that God has placed this governmental authority in power. Believers should do nothing wrong which would bring governmental action against them, and they should also seek to maintain a good conscience by obedience to their governments.