Summary: Apostle Paul preached the gospel in such a way that the gospel was heard in every places. But he did not resist the authorities. If they wanted them to put them into prison, he let them. He didn’t shout, “That’s against human freedom.” No, he didn’t. Inst

Submit to the Authorities

Romans 13:1-7


Last week we focused our attention on verse 1b. In that verse we have seen three (3) implications that solidify our understanding why we have to submit to governing authorities.

Let’s review it again.

1. It implies the truth that man did not create government. God did.

In 2 Chronicles 20:6, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in Heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.”

What is clear from this passage is that it does not matter whether a government exists because a king has appointed his son to rule, or a tribal chief has defeated his rivals, or a people have voted for their candidate—all authority is there because God put it there. All authorities: good or bad. Remember when Pontius Pilate, speaking to Jesus before he died, urged Jesus to listen carefully to his words and threatened him saying, "Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?" And Jesus said, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above" (John 19:10-11).

2. God determines who rules in these governments.

In Daniel 2:21 we read, “[God] removes kings and sets up kings.” So it says here that they are all under His control. God puts them in office and he takes them out of office. Under his sovereign rule God does whatever He pleases.

3. God determines the times of their ruling.

"The Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whom he wishes..." (Daniel 4:17).

In Isaiah 40:23-24 we read, “Who brings princess to nought, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing. Scarcely are they planned, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows upon them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

All of this is simply confirmation of the statement that government is of God. Therefore, it isn’t man’s elections or his revolutions that determine the governments of earth. We think it is.

Elections nor revolutions determine who sits in the seats of power -- it is God who does so. These things are only the instruments by which he works his will; and the revelation of Scripture is that God puts in power the men of his choosing, whether they be good or evil, whether they are beneficent rulers or tyrants like Hitler or Krushchev, or any of the others on earth.

Submit to Authorities even it means Death (v.2)

Paul suggests in verse 2 that the problem is not how God is running his universe, but how we are responding to it: We are in rebellion. "Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves." If we are angrily shaking our fist at God, he will deal with us. He has the right to condemn rebellion against him, and he will bring us into judgment.

The concept of submission is not slavish obedience to the governing authorities or being mindlessly controlled by them. Submission is an attitude, a stance of the heart if you will, in which we are predisposed to let God, through government and other authority structures, put limits on where we can go, what we can do, and how we can spend our resources. We have already decided ahead of time that we are not God, he is; and that we will approach institutions of governmental power essentially with a bent knee. That is the starting point.

Of course, where human authority itself resists the direct command of God it is proper to rebuke it, and, if necessary, to disobey it. We have an example of this in the incident in Acts when the authorities commanded the apostles not to preach in the name of the Lord Jesus. Peter said, "Whether to obey God or man, you judge. You are God’s servants. You are in a position of authority. Now you tell us, which should we obey, God or man? -- for we cannot but speak in the name of the one by whom we were called, Jesus Christ," {cf, Acts 4:19-20}. They went out, then, and filled Jerusalem with their doctrine, and ceased not to preach and to teach everywhere that Jesus was the Christ {cf, Acts 4:19-31}. Here human government had overstepped its proper authority.

In being subject to governing authorities, there may be orders that we feel we can’t obey. Suppose I lived under the dictatorial government and was told not only to stop preaching Jesus Christ but to kill anyone who does preach Christ. What should I do in that situation? All I can do is to submit myself to governing authorities and let them put me in firing squad or in gas chamber.

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