Romans 13 was written while Rome ruled. Rome believed they were all powerful and invincible. Rebellion meant imprisonment and death. Jews and Christians were considered rebels and watched closely. So when Paul begins to teach about civil authority, he had to be very careful what and how he said it.
God ordains civil government. Believers in Christ are subject to these governments. Resisting the government is resisting God. We are to render honor, tribute, fear, and custom to those in authority.
CHRISTIANS SUBJECT TO CIVIL AUTHORITY (13:1-7)
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. 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.5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.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; honor to whom honor.”
We have a choice to make. Our election has just concluded. Are we willing to be subject to our civil authorities whether we agree or not? If not, do we believe God will damn us? Are we willing to pay our taxes and obey the laws of our land? Remember that there are consequences for our failure to follow our government leaders.
Tom Stearns, WASI Chaplain, 907 715-4001