Summary: God states in Romans 13 the picture of Government, our responsibilities and obligations.
In the course of any given week we can hear of stories of corruption. It becomes most distressing when it is from elected officials, for we know that is was our money. From this past week:
In Romans 13, the Apostle Paul, a Roman citizen by birth, is writing to a church located in the very capital of the Roman Empire, the heat and center of government. They were people very aware of the operations of government and the effect on the people. In terms of the audience, a considerable proportion, though probably not the majority-of the membership of the Roman church consisted of Jews. Many of the Jews of that day and age were looking for an opportunity to shake off the yoke of subjection to Rome, and were eager to become politically independent once more, with a king of their own.
Perhaps we can look at the government like many did in the first century and think that we are citizens of heaven (Phil. 3:20) and we should not concern ourselves with them.
• Such is the position of many pacifist groups like the Jehovah’s witnesses, and the Mennonite.
However God states in Romans 13 the picture of Government, our responsibilities and obligations. We can see:
1) Government Appointed 2) Obliged 3) Warning 4) Enforced 5) Obeyed
Government Supported & Honored
1) Government Appointed
Rom 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
This text is the locus classicus, the key text in scripture to determine the role of Christians & Politics or Government.
We must understand who it is talking about before we try to apply it today.
Let is an injunction, a command.
Every person no exceptions.
Which calls us to be subject, which is different that blindly obeying. More of that to follow.
• In it’s broadest context: it applies to anyone who is in a position of authority over us. The authorities are in the plural form, it applies to the authority as a whole.
The specific reference in this text is to elected officials.
Scope: Prime minister, Premiers, Mayors, clerks
Subject: is a military term denoting soldiers arranged in order under the commander and subject to his commands. They are lined up
Please turn to 1 Pt 2
How this looks is the issue for us. The nature of the subjection is in question. Like I alluded to earlier, it is not blind obedience, but a specified duty.
• Just as a soldier who is subject to a commander is obligated to only obey lawful orders and obligated to prevent unlawful actions, so too we must look at our orders.
1Pe 2:13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 1Pe 2:14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 1Pe 2:15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 1Pe 2:16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 1Pe 2:17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
• Notice how this text specified the action (be subject) and to whom (emperor, governors) It is not an exhaustive list but showing the layers of authority.
The same term for being subject is used in Eph 5:21 with our obligation to one another, wives to husbands and in Eph 6 with children to parents.
Without a detailed explanation of these other relationships, just consider what the impact of us not understanding our relationship to Government. What are we showing our families, our children.?
We are not to look at the individuals in themselves, but in the office that they hold.
God has the ability to accomplish His will in spite of and even through less than godly rulers.
Dan 2:20 Daniel answered and said: "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. Dan 2:21 He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;
Please turn to Romans 9
Some object and state:
Rom 6:14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Rom 9:17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." Rom 9:18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. Rom 9:19 You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" Rom 9:20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" Rom 9:21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use? Rom 9:22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, Rom 9:23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—