Summary: God has established the authorities that exist and that Christians should submit themselves to their authority. Paul gives several reasons why we should submit to the governing authorities, some of them practical, some of them moral or spiritually driven,
The Benefits of Submission
Romans 13:1-7 1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Intro: Throughout history there have been numerous leaders and rulers in the various nations, regions, and communities. Some of those leaders were good and kind and brought good to the people under their care. Others have been wicked, selfish, cruel people who seemed to have contributed nothing admirable or worthwhile. We think of some of the infamous leaders like Emperor Nero or Hitler and find it very hard to believe that God had anything to do with them being in authority for any good purpose.
-However, Paul essentially makes that claim in the verses we are looking at today. Emperor Nero was in power when Paul wrote the book of Romans. His reign began peaceably, but was later marked with such atrocities as the murder of his own mother, possibly a wife or two, and many Jews and Christians (some set aflame as human torches to light his gardens). Paul himself and perhaps Peter are thought to have been martyred under the order of Nero. So Paul knew all about wicked rulers, but still wrote what he wrote in this 13th chapter of Romans. Most of the Emperors were involved in homosexuality and their lives were laden with every conceivable sin. Still, Paul writes that God has established the authorities that exist and that Christians should submit themselves to their authority. Paul gives several reasons why we should submit to the governing authorities, some of them practical, some of them moral or spiritually driven.
-Let’s go ahead and take a look at them today.
Why Submit to the governing authorities?
1. Because God has established them
Romans 13:1-2 1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted….
-Paul shows that this submission is something we each should take action on ourselves. Everyone must submit himself…. The failure to do so is the equivalent of rebellion against God, since God Himself has established those who are in authority. To refuse to submit to the established authority is really a refusal to submit to God and the plan that He has instituted.
-To whom was Paul referring when he wrote this? Caesar, Herod, other governing authorities- Paul showed respect and deference to all rulers he faced. One exception was the poser high priest who was so corrupt, yet posed as a spiritual leader. Yet Paul still respected the office of high priest, but took issue with the unlawful actions of one who was supposed to be an exemplary spiritual leader in Israel (see Acts 23:1-5).
-Peter weighs in with similar words regarding our response to govt. 1 Peter 2:13-17 13 Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. 17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.
-Part of the setting of Romans we need to be aware of was the propensity for Jews to get caught up in revolution against the Roman govt. Part of Paul’s approach here may be to discourage believers from getting pulled into a futile rebellion or a war that cannot be won. The Jewish Revolt failed miserably, resulting in the fall of Jerusalem. Yet, Paul does not qualify the strong words he uses in our text.