Summary: 1) The Principles of Authority (Romans 13:1-2) 2)The Purpose of Authority (Romans 13:3-4) 3)The Problems of Authority (Romans 13:5-7)
In Canada, this is the Victoria Day weekend. Victoria Day is a federal Canadian public holiday celebrated on the last Monday before May 25, in honour of Queen Victoria’s birthday. At a time of civil unrest, from continued reverberations of the 2010 G20 sumit, Vancouver hockey riots, student riots in Quebec, to conflict on provincial and federal legislation, this is a useful time of consider what God calls our relationship with the state to be and why.
Due to the religious freedom that most westerners have enjoyed for many generations, it is difficult for believers living in such countries to fully appreciate the extreme struggle that many of their brothers and sisters in Christ face under regimes that restrict freedom and oppress Christianity .“Holy wars,” such as the Crusades, that are fought in the name of Christianity, are generally and rightly condemned. But historically, Christians have been involved, frequently in the name of their faith, in the forceful overthrow of oppressive and sometimes despotic governments. Democracy and political freedom are commonly identified with Christianity. For such reasons it is difficult for many Christians to be clear, or even objective and honest, about a passage so unambiguously restrictive as Romans 13:1–7.
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. When Paul wrote Romans 13, Nero was Emperor at this time. Christians were killed by dogs by having the hides of beasts attached to them, or they were nailed to crosses or set aflame, and, when the daylight passed away, they were used as nighttime lamps.
Romans 13:1-7 contain the clearest and most specific New Testament teaching on the Christian’s responsibility to civil authority. Every Christian, no matter what form of government they live under, is under command from the Lord to maintain proper and useful submission to that government for the sake of leading a peaceful life and having an effective witness. As such, God declares: 1) The Principles of Authority (Romans 13:1-2) 2)The Purpose of Authority (Romans 13:3-4) 3)The Problems of Authority (Romans 13:5-7) (Briscoe, D. S., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1982). Vol. 29: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Volume 29 : Romans. The Preacher’s Commentary series (230–231). Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc.)
1) The Principles of Authority (Romans 13:1-2)
Romans 13:1-2 [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. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment (ESV)