Lesson 86 - Chapter 13 verses 1-7

Lesson 86 - Chapter 13 verses 1-7

Verse 1

Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.

Being a Christian does not exclude the believer from the responsibility to authority under the Laws of Divine Establishment.  Neither anarchy nor revolution is ever condoned or sanctioned by the Word of God.  When Paul wrote the words of Romans 13 a degenerate ruler by the name of Nero sat on the throne of the Roman Empire. Yet, in Romans 13, Paul does not advocate revolution against Nero.  In other words, revolution is forbidden by the Word of God.  What doctrine cannot solve is not solvable!  Even slaves in the Roman Empire were commanded not to revolt, because the Gospel and doctrine provided the freedom necessary to live out their lives to the glory of Jesus Christ.  God’s plan for Christian slaves in the Roman Empire was not hindered by their status of slavery.  Civil government is necessary under the Laws of Divine Establishment.

Church and state must be kept separate, and the authorities of church and state must always be separated.   The authority of state is found in the Laws of Divine Establishment, while the authority of the church is delegated through spiritual gifts sovereignly bestowed by the Holy Spirit.

Verse 2

Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinances of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.

God is not the author of confusion. There must be order and authority in the human race for its survival.  Governmental authorities are seen here as officers of divine institutions with authority from God.  Human government is a permanent divine institution and is designed by God to be a guarantee of individual privacy, property and freedom.  Civil authority, law and order are designed to protect human freedom, which are establishment ordinances from God.  All believers who oppose establishment ordinances and institutions of God receive discipline from God; individually or collectively as a nation. 

Verse 3-4

For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil.  Do you want to have no fear of authority?  Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good.  But if you do what is evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword for nothing: for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil.

Restraint in society demands law enforcement.  The Bible advocates capital punishment as the means of controlling crime.  Only with capital punishment can human government function to guarantee the freedom, the privacy, and the property of its citizens.  Legislation and law enforcement are useless without the bite of capital punishment.  Fear of capital punishment is a basic principle in the orderly function of the Laws of Divine Establishment.  Capital punishment is administered by the judicial authorities of the government, regardless of the form of government.  It is a legitimate government as long as capital punishment is directed toward evil and not the function of good.

Order in the human race through delegated authority and the function of the Laws of Divine Establishment makes it possible for both evangelism and spiritual growth.  Civil authority is therefore the servant of God designed for the purpose of freedom, privacy, property, evangelism, spiritual advance to maturity as part of the tactical victory of the Angelic Conflict.           The issue in the political realm is not whether the authority is a believer or an unbeliever, but whether the individual follows the Laws of Divine Establishment.  Many unbelievers understand freedom better than believers and many unbelievers are better guardians of freedom than believers.  It is a Christian duty and a part of the Royal Family Honor Code to respect civil authority and obey the ruler or rulers of the nation.  Without civil authority the believer could not advance to maturity.  The word “minister” used here is for a civil servant, a person who has the authority delegated from God under the Laws of Divine Establishment.

We are not here to be upset or to be crusading about the circumstances of life; we are here to advance to maturity.  Divine establishment is designed to encapsulate our advance to maturity.  The answer to a bad government which does not fulfil the laws of divine establishment is for the believer to keep on taking in doctrine and advance to maturity.  Remember that Jesus Christ controls history.  A large pivot of mature believers changes both internal (national prosperity and blessing from God) and external (influences from corrupt nations and takeover from an enemy) history of a nation.

Verse 5

Wherefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience sake.

No one can be properly oriented to life without being oriented to divine establishment authority.  Fear of punishment from civil authority is the primary restraint of crime (because of wrath).  The sin nature can be restrained by fear of punishment.  Where there is no fear of punishment the sin nature is free to carry out its evil deeds to the fullest.

The conscience is the residence for every norm and standard you have ever had or ever will have.  The conscience operates based on your norms and standards.  Your conscience can become callous if your norms and standards are based on human viewpoint with regard to respect for authority.  On the other hand, if your norms and standards are based on divine viewpoint your conscience will be clear.

Verse 6

For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God devoting themselves to this very thing.

By paying taxes Christians are participating in the Laws of Divine Establishment.  They are doing the will of God with regard to this matter.  They are supporting law and order instead of revolution, violence and anarchy; all of which are evil.  Believers are to support the authority which provides privacy, property, profit, prosperity, and protection of government.

The payment of taxes is a Christian’s duty to the nation.  They support and sustain the authority necessary for a specific freedom: the freedom to evangelize, the freedom to advance to maturity, the freedom to send out missionaries, and that freedom which provides a haven for the Jews who are scattered.  Government is ordained of God to protect human freedom, human privacy and human property.  Therefore, the government serves God with regard to divine establishment principles.

Verse 7

Render to all what is due them; tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

This is a general statement with regard to Christian responsibility to civil government.  Four categories of obligation are listed as far as civil government is concerned.  There are many others, these are merely representative.

If you owe the government taxes, you should pay them because of conscience sake not because of fear of punishment.  Custom is a reference to additional taxes such as sales tax, duties, etc.  Fear in this case means respect.   Respect for governmental authority.  You may not respect the person or persons, but you are to respect the office or authority of the office as a believer.  Honor is a reference to those in governmental positions who are honest, honorable servants of the people.  The point is that as believers we are to set the example of respect for authority in our society whether it is deserved or not.

Without authority the human race would be in such a chaotic condition that it would rival the days of Noah and the Flood.  The ultimate authority, of course, is God, but He has given mankind these divine establishment laws and a government entity to enforce them so that we can live happy, productive lives in an atmosphere of freedom.  Believers and unbelievers alike can enjoy their lives on earth if they adhere, either consciously or unconsciously, to the principles of divine establishment.  The difference is that believers have the power of the Holy Spirit and their eternal destination is Heaven.  Therefore, believers have no excuse for living a life of inferiority and yet we see it everyday.  Why?  The reason is volition.  When unbelievers choose to reject truth, they simply reap what they sow.  However, in the case of believers, they not only reap what they sow, they are also under divine discipline for the rejection of God’s authority.  Often,  unbelievers who apply divine establishment principles are much better people and exhibit more of the character of Jesus Christ (without knowing it, of course) than believers who have rejected the authority of God (Bible doctrine).