Summary: Message 41 in our exposition of Romans. This message explores what the Bible has to say about Christians and government.
Chico Alliance Church
Pastor David Welch
“Biblical Civics 101” Romans 13:1-7
Last week we explored ten heart and hand checks when responding to difficult people. There are always balancing truths presented in Scripture. There may be times when telling the truth about someone becomes necessary.
Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching. 2 Tim. 4:14-15
Paul warned against the “dogs”, “evil workers”, “false circumcision”. John warned against false prophets.
If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. 2 John 1:10-11
John called attention to a leader who was not living according to the truth.
I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church. 3 John 1:9-10
Some commentators find no connection between this section and the previous or next. Given Paul’s demonstrated pattern thus far, I think the connection is most logical. If one views the whole section from 12-15 as areas needing renewed thinking leading to transformed living, then wise thinking and living regarding our relationship to government seems only one of many crucial areas the affects our life. Besides the fact that a godly response to government is crucial, I don’t think it is accidental that Paul addresses dealing with government after a section that teaches how to deal with difficult people. One of the chief persecutors of Christians making life miserable at that time was the government. The first century Christian faced a hostile government that lied about them. The government openly persecuted, hated, castigated, and even killed the child of God. The Christians were accused of all sorts of perversions: incest, cannibalism, pedophilia, open marriages, adultery, worshipping the head of a donkey, uniting to God through the slaughter and the blood of an infant to name a few. It was believed by much of secular Rome that Christianity was superstitious. It was believed that the followers of Christ were dangerous.
Dr. John MacArthur wrote these words:
“Our Lord was born into a society where political corruption and autocratic rule were common. Merciless tyrants and murderous dictators were everywhere, along with human slavery- the antitheses of democracy. Those were almost unchallenged norms.”
Just in case those in the church failed to specifically apply the ten principles in the last of chapter twelve, Paul offers some specific application related to government. Even though we possess heavenly citizenship and are technically not of this world, we still live in this world and have a responsibility to it.
We look at this passage from the vantage point of three groups.
God -- Government -- Christians
I. God establishes all governments
“For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” 13:1
Paul refers to “authority” one in a position of power over others.
In a parallel passage, Peter expands the reference when he mentions “every human institution whether to a king as one in authority or to governors went by him.” God’s purposes have never been hampered by the type of government in power.
He has used all kinds of governments to accomplish his purposes. In fact the passage is clear that God has specifically ordained every existing government. We may not always understand just how that all plays out in God’s economy but this passage clearly represents God as the supreme authority and we are to properly respond to those he ordains or puts in authority. The one with the power to ordain possesses ultimate rule.
Jesus set Pilate straight.
So Pilate said to Him, "You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?" Jesus answered, "You would have NO authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin." John 19:10-11
Daniel enlightened Nebuchadnezzar
this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king: that you be driven away from mankind and your dwelling place be with the beasts of the field, and you be given grass to eat like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven; and seven periods of time will pass over you, until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes. Daniel 4:24-25