Romans 13

Paul continues with his theme from chapter 12 and the application of righteousness, this time in relation to civil government and our neighbor

Towards Civil Government

Romans 13:1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.

Man has rejected God as Sovereign

1 Samuel 8:1 Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel.

1 Samuel 8:2 The name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba.

1 Samuel 8:3 But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.

1 Samuel 8:4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah,

1 Samuel 8:5 and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.”

1 Samuel 8:6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the LORD.

1 Samuel 8:7 And the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.

God allows good and bad – Why (show man that his way will not work)

That being said: God rules over all – all nations, all people

He differentiates between those called and the rest of the world

Paul is answering to a degree the question of whether we should obey them at all

Within the kingdom there were many civil disputes

As has been the case at other times, before and after

With other people

This is nothing new

To what degree should we be involved in this? Or opposed to it?

Caveat: God’s way, rule and commands FIRST

Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.

Acts 4:14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.

Acts 4:15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves,

Acts 4:16 saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.

Acts 4:17 But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.”

Acts 4:18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

Acts 4:19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.

Acts 4:20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

Acts 4:21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done.

Acts 4:22 For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.

Acts 4:23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.

Acts 5:28 saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!”

Acts 5:29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.

Let every soul [body / life] be subject to the governing authorities…

This includes us too. It could be seen as reasonable not to obey leaders, especially at the time that Paul was writing: Idolatrous and pagan men who had obtained rulership often by evil means and reigned in the same vein. Why should we obey their mishmash of paganism and civil laws when we have committed to following The Lawgiver and His perfect Law?

Example of Daniel not obeying the law of the land that was in contradiction to God’s

There is a time to make a stand and follow your conscience but that is not what Paul is talking about here

Yet Paul, like Jesus Christ subjected Himself to thel Roman rule over Israel: Paul in prison and Jesus Christ from the time of His birth was subject to them and He even subjected Himself in certain ways to the Jewish religious leaders’ extra rules and regulations as we will see later

John 18:35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?”

John 18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”

For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.

Daniel 2:21 And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding.

Daniel 4:17 ‘This decision is by the decree of the watchers, And the sentence by the word of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men.’

Daniel 4:18 “This dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have seen. Now you, Belteshazzar, declare its interpretation, since all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able, for the Spirit of the Holy God is in you.”

Daniel 4:24 this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king:

Daniel 4:25 They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.

Daniel 4:26 “And inasmuch as they gave the command to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be assured to you, after you come to know that Heaven rules.

Daniel 4:28 All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar.

Daniel 4:29 At the end of the twelve months he was walking about the royal palace of Babylon.

Daniel 4:30 The king spoke, saying, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?”

Daniel 4:31 While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you!

For the next seven years he lived as an animal

Daniel 4:34 And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation.

Daniel 4:35 All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, “What have You done?”

Daniel 4:36 At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and splendor returned to me. My counselors and nobles resorted to me, I was restored to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me.

Daniel 4:37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.

Though it is natural (Romans 8:7 carnality) for us to resist God’s rule over us, who can stand against God?

God is very involved in the workings of man especially where we are involved and when it comes to fulfilling prophecy

Romans 13:2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.

Be careful that you do not go against God and what God has put in place for His purposes.

Who does vengeance belong to?

We are committed to suffering wrong for righteousness’ sake

Romans 13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.

Typically governments are there for good reasons. God has allowed them to “preserve order”

We also see that they are not completely effective.

Do what we are supposed to do.

Romans 13:4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.

Minister = diakonos / deacon = servant

But as we see even more clearly, if it isn’t already, this is a minister of government, not church (:6)

God is working in the people of the world, not in the same way, but for His purposes

Sword = capital punishment

Capital punishment is a deterrent

Example of lopping of hands; only foreigners are missing them, the locals know

Man’s way is to react after the fact

God’s way is to be proactive

Matthew 5:21-22

Spirit of the law

Subjugate thoughts before they turn into action; nip it in the bud

Romans 13:5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.

Not only because of what they can do to you, but because of what I have said and what you are to do as a Christian

Example of Jesus Christ and Paul

Even if it comes down to it and we decide to obey God rather than man, we are still to submit to the wrong judgment of man in the sense that we cannot kill them in order to avoid going to jail, we cannot physically fight them to keep from going to jail, we cannot cast dispersions their way on our way to jail…in other words we have to continue to act as a Christian would.

Peter supports all of this

1 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul,

1 Peter 2:12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.

1 Peter 2:13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme,

1 Peter 2:14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.

1 Peter 2:15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—

1 Peter 2:18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.

1 Peter 2:19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.

1 Peter 2:20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.

1 Peter 2:21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:

Matthew 5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

1 Timothy 2:1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,

1 Timothy 2:2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.

1 Timothy 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,

Romans 13:6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing.

This confirms who we are talking about. Taxes are not for the church, but civil government

Matthew 22:15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk.

Matthew 22:16 And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men.

Matthew 22:17 Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?

Matthew 22:18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites?

Matthew 22:19 Show Me the tax money.” So they brought Him a denarius.

Matthew 22:20 And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”

Matthew 22:21 They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Matthew 22:22 When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.

Matthew 17:24 When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?”

Matthew 17:25 He said, “Yes.” And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?”

Matthew 17:26 Peter said to Him, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free.

Matthew 17:27 Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.”

Jesus Christ, because of who He was shouldn’t have had to pay and Peter should have fallen into the sons category. If there was someone who had the right to rebel it would have been Christ.

But rather than argue with a misguided and blinded authority, Jesus Christ submitted and paid the temple, thus setting an example. In the end, they had nothing of which to accuse Him.

Romans 13:7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

Office is to be respected

Is it ostensibly put in place for our protection, bringing lawbreakers to justice and keeping the peace.

In the end, to what degree do we need to be concerned about the civil government that we are under? The answer is to what degree do we believe the God that knows the whereabouts of the sparrows and insignificant number of hairs on your head, is completely involved in fulfilling His plans of prophecy and salvation as He said He would?

To go against the authority that God has put in place is to go against God!

Towards our Neighbor

Paul is going to sum it up in the next three verses, because honestly you could fill a book with all the specific ways that this can be fulfilled.

Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.

We can’t ever fully repay this “debt” obligation because it is always there for us

We accrue a debt that is the penalty of sin which is death. This debt is paid for by Christ. Because of that, we are now indebted to love our fellow man.

That is to show them the same love that we have been shown. To act like a Christian towards them. By doing this we fulfill the law – make it more full – we give the law its full meaning and intent … and pay what we owe.

It is ridiculous to think that loving someone somehow does away with the law.

What most fail to see is the correlation between LOVE and LAW. Paul has been very clear throughout his epistle that the law is NOT done away with as we once again see here.

Now Paul is saying that the love we should be showing to others is the intent and basis of the law.

And in case the reader is left wondering what law we are talking about:

Romans 13:9 For the commandments, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,” “YOU SHALL NOT MURDER,” “YOU SHALL NOT STEAL,” “YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS,” “YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”

These are the Commandments specifically towards our neighbor

Law defines Love

Matthew 22:36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

Matthew 22:37 Jesus said to him, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’

Matthew 22:38 This is the first and great commandment.

Matthew 22:39 And the second is like it: ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’

Matthew 22:40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

ALL of the Law depends on love and everything the Prophets did, said, and wrote in the name of God was based on love.

Romans 13:10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Luke 10:25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

Luke 10:26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?

Luke 10:27 So he answered and said, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND,’ and ‘YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.'”

Luke 10:28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”

Luke 10:29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Luke 10:30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

Luke 10:31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

Luke 10:32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.

Luke 10:33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.

Luke 10:34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

Luke 10:35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’

Luke 10:36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”

Luke 10:37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, Go and do likewise.”

Matthew 25:34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

Matthew 25:35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;

Matthew 25:36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

Matthew 25:37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?

Matthew 25:38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?

Matthew 25:39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’

Matthew 25:40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

Matthew 25:41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:

John 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.

John 15:10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

2 John 1:5 And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another.

2 John 1:6 This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.

1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.

1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

When we understand this, we see the law in a different light. Not a stern taskmaster but a law of liberty and freedom, one that gives us so many opportunities and frees us from the penalties of sin.

Summation of Applying Righteousness

Romans 13:11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.

Romans 13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. [the armor of righteousness (2 Cor 6:7), which is the whole armor of God (Eph 6:11)]

Romans 13:13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.

We are to Watch!   

Definitely closer now than it was when Paul wrote this

1 Thessalonians 5:4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.

1 Thessalonians 5:5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. [So as those who are Christians and know better:]

1 Thessalonians 5:6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. [not drunk, but alert. Being sober is often mentioned in connection with being awake. Not only are we to be awake, we are to be alert and prayerful]

1 Thessalonians 5:7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night.

1 Thessalonians 5:8 But let us who are of the day be sober…

Time is running out for us to accomplish that which we need to. NOW is the time to be doing what we are supposed to be doing

Romans 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Galatians 2:21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”

Galatians 5:24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Galatians 5:16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Galatians 5:17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

This is his summary of these sections on the Application of Righteous

He is encouraging and admonishing the Romans to act righteously now towards everyone

And if we are Christians and have an ear to hear then we will see that the admonition is for us too.