Jew and Gentile
Restored to Israel
Slaves to Sin
Slaves to God
Life by Faith
Modified from Irving L.
Jensen's excellent work "Jensen's
Survey of the NT"
EVERY PERSON (literally
- soul) BE (present
IN SUBJECTION TO THE GOVERNING AUTHORITIES:
Pasa psuche exousiais huperechousais (PAPFPD) hupotassestho (3SPPM):
(Deuteronomy 17:12; Ephesians 5:21; Titus 3:1; 1Peter 2:13-17; 2Peter
2:10,11; Jude 8)
BEHAVIOR AS GOOD CITIZENS
Deut 17:12 “And the man who acts
presumptuously by not listening to the priest who stands there to serve
the LORD your God, nor to the judge, that man shall die; thus you shall
purge the evil from Israel.
Eph 5:21 and be subject to one another
in the fear of Christ.
Ray Pritchard writes that...
It has been often said that God only
established three institutions--the home, the church, and the state. In so
doing, he gave us explicit instructions on how all three were to operate.
Most Christians know a great deal about what God has to say about the home
and church. We know much less about what God says about the state and how
we should relate to it. (How
to be a Godly Rebel)
In this section Paul tells us how the
citizens of the Kingdom of God are to relate to human kingdoms and
governments, so that we can be the kind of citizens and "lighthouses" (cf
Mt 5:16) God wants us to be.
“Let every soul put himself habitually
in subjection to authorities” (Wuest)
In reading Romans 13 it is important to
keep the historical
in mind. The political situation in
Rome was difficult to say the least. The Roman Emperor Claudius had
earlier expelled the Jews because of a dispute involving a certain
“Chrestus” (i.e., Christ), and though the Jews had returned, the political
situation was still potentially volatile. Moreover, Paul may have also
been concerned about the possible influence of a group of Jews known as
who held a revolutionary attitude toward the government of Rome.
Paul therefore will give practical instructions on how a believer
should live under an unfriendly government. On the other hand Paul does
not directly instruct believers on what we ought to do when a government
departs from the role God has given it and does not specifically explain
what to do when our government is committing a moral wrong (e.g., as in
Nazi Germany). Neither are we told what to do in the midst of revolution.
Furthermore, Paul does not hold up one form of government (theocracy,
monarchy, democracy, dictatorship, etc) over another (e.g., "When Jesus
comes back, He won’t be riding an elephant or a donkey” He’s an
Independent and He has the only vote that counts!). He is speaking in
broad, general terms about all human government anywhere in the world. The
institution of government comes from the hand of God. So keep these thoughts in
mind as you study Romans 13, so that you will avoid the interpretative
danger of trying to read into Paul's treatise something that he did not
(pas) means "all"
without exception. Without the Greek definite
article (as in this verse) pas means "every" (of
every kind and variety), "each and every one", both individually
and collectively. So literally Paul is saying "every soul" which was a Hebraism
(i.e., the Hebrews said "every soul" whereas we would say "every one").
Furthermore, "every soul" is emphatic in the Greek, being strategically
place first in sentence for emphasis!
Paul's point is that there are no exception clauses! This is a universal duty.
Christians included for in fact they ought to be the best citizens of all! A believer's submission
dedication to God nor their citizenship in His Kingdom, does not negate or replace his responsibility to the
secular authorities. As "aliens and strangers" we are charged to be
exemplary subjects to our secular authorities.
Believers then (when Rome ruled with an iron fist)
and now might be tempted to feel that since we are "aliens and strangers" (1Pe
in this present world and are citizens of the Kingdom of God (Kingdom of
Heaven) (see study of
the beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount) (Php
Heb 12:22-note), we do not need to submit to wicked rulers. We
are citizens of heaven, journeying through time on earth. So although heaven
is our home, Spirit filled (controlled) believers must be subject to authorities..
Why? Paul says because that authority is established by God.
is literally soul.
Be in subjection
(4 times in Romans: Ro 8:7-note,
Ro 13:5, cf Jesus' example Lk 2:51, cf also James 4:7-note)
was a military term that meant to line up under, to place or rank under or
to subordinate to. It represented a logistical term which described the
arrangement of military implements on a battlefield for effective warfare.
“To arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a
focuses on function, not essence. In non-military use, it was "a voluntary
attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying
a burden". The central idea is to be under the authority of some
Stated another way submission
means to voluntarily follow the direction of those in authority over you.
Submission is not the same as obedience, though the two are
related. Obedience relates to outward performance, while submission
touches the attitude of the heart toward those who are over you. This
distinction is critical because you may not always be able to obey those
who are over you, but you can always have a heart attitude of submission.
Submission is believing that God
is able to accomplish His will in your life through those He has placed in
authority over you. This definition focuses the attention on God, not on
the person over you.
As Ray Pritchard explains...
We’ll all have to contend at times with
unsaved husbands, mean-spirited parents, cranky bosses, and teachers who
can’t wait for the end of the semester. Sometimes we’ll work for people we
can’t stand. Or live with people who treat us cruelly. Or suffer under a
government that consistently promotes evil. What do you then? Actually,
you have many options. You can rebel. You can fight back. You can suffer
in silence. You can complain to others. You can get angry and try to get
even. You can appeal to the authority over you asking for a redress of
your grievances. The most important thing is the attitude of your heart.
You must submit to the one in authority in the sense that you must believe
that God has put that person in your life for a purpose and that God’s
will is somehow being done in your through that person even if you don’t
see it and don’t understand it. God says, “By me kings reign.” He takes
responsibility for raising up one leader and pulling down another. He
stands behind the ballot box and behind the armies that march and the
navies that sail. He is Unseen Hand at work in the nations of the world.
to be a Godly Rebel)
In Ephesians Paul instructs the
be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
note; Eph 5:24-note)
Note that Paul is addressing the Spirit
controlled man or woman, for ultimately our flesh does not desire to be
subject to any authority. We need the Spirit's empowerment.
Writing to Titus who was
ministering on the isle of Crete which had many rebellious men, empty
talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, Paul
instructed Titus to...
imperative) - keep
reminding them -- they are forgetful would be one implication) them (the
believers) to be subject (hupotasso)
to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every
good deed - (Titus 3:1-note)
Submission (Webster's 1828 writes that
"yield, resign or surrender to the power, will or authority of another")
is an act of faith. When we subject ourselves to an authority, we are
trusting God to direct in our lives and to work out His purposes in His time
Ro 8:28-note). After all, there is a danger in submitting to
authority -- they might take advantage of us! There is but one limitation
to the believer’s obligation under the Lord to willing and complete
submission to civil authority: namely, any law or command that would
require disobedience to God’s Word (eg., see Ex 1:17-20, Acts 4:18-20;
Regardless of the failures of government—many of which are immoral, unjust
& ungodly—Christians are to pray (1Ti 2:1-3)
and live peaceful lives that influence the world by godly, selfless
living, not by protests, sit ins, and marches, much less by rebellion.
Every believer is to be
tense) subject to these various authorities, even if the
authorities are as wicked and depraved as Nero
(A.D. 54–68), the emperor in power when Paul wrote this section. Nero's
reign brought dark days for Christians. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs describes the
scene as follows:
In AD 67, Nero ordered the burning of Rome. The fire
lasted for nine days and when the blame turned to Nero, Nero blamed the
Christians. And Nero came at the Christians with a new vengeance. Nero
contrived all manner of punishments for the Christians that the most
infernal imagination could design. In particular, he had some sewed up in
skins of wild beasts, and then they were attacked by dogs until they
expired; and others dressed in shirts made stiff with wax, were fixed to
stakes, and set on fire in his gardens, in order to illuminate them. This
persecution was general throughout the whole Roman Empire. In the course
of it, St. Paul and St. Peter were martyred.
We must also understand the seriousness with which God takes rebellion to
governing authorities as illustrated by
Korah's refusal to
subject himself to Moses' authority (Nu 16:3,13, 30, 32-35, 41,49). Had not Aaron intervened by making atonement
for the people, the entire congregation of Israel would have been
annihilated (Nu 16:46-48).
(huperecho from hupér
= above, over + écho = have, hold) literally means to hold over
or have above, and figuratively to be superior in rank which explains the
translation as "governing".
On the eve of Nero’s fiery
persecution, Peter gave a similar exhortation to the
believers who resided reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus,
Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, instructing them...
yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a
king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for
the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 (Why? How will believers let their light
shine forth and give their Father glory? Mt 5:16-note,
cf Phil 2:15-note)
of explanation) such is the will of God that by
doing right (see
Good Deeds) you may silence the
ignorance of foolish men. 16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom
as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. 17
imperative) all men;
imperative) the brotherhood,
imperative) God, honor the king. (1Pe 2:13-17-note)
Comment: Note there are 4
commands in this section. Remember that every command is a "marker" if you
will. It is an "opportunity" (actually a necessity) for the believer to
jettison self-reliance and to rely fully on the Holy Spirit's enabling
power, submitting to His lead. The Spirit will give us both the desire and
the power to be able to obey the commands to the glory of the Father. (See
Authorities (authority) (1849)
(exousia) which Vine says evolved "from the meaning of "leave or permission," or
liberty of doing as one pleases, it passed to that of "the ability or
strength with which one is endued," then to that of the "power of
authority," the right to exercise power or "the power of rule or
government," the power of one whose will and commands must be obeyed by
others. Exousia describes
the authority a person has delegated to him from someone else. The person
delegating authority is in a sense acting in and through the person to
whom he has delegated the authority. Thus, exousia means delegated
authority or the power of authority and of the right of that authority.
Exousia describes "the right and the might" (see Ro 9:21-note) or the privilege
and the power. An authority is anyone who has the right to make decisions
that affect your life.
Just a thought to ponder
- Sometimes exousia is used to refer to demonic powers (Eph
6:12-note = "our struggle is...against powers [exousia]). This is interesting in view of the fact that in Daniel
10 we encounter a good
angelic messenger who tells Daniel that "the prince of the kingdom of Persia was
withstanding me for twenty-one days" (Da 10:13-note).
The "prince of the kingdom of Persia" was clearly a demon and the
designation "of Persia" suggests he in some way exerted influence over the
human government of Persia. In any event, God is the one Who is in total
control for even the (created) demons must abide by the Creator's
directions. Just a thought to
Exousia is used 3x in this
chapter (Ro 13:1-3)
Paul well understood
as illustrated by (Acts 26:10, 26:12)
Luther said it well...
A Christian man is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a
Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to everyone.
FOR THERE IS NO AUTHORITY EXCEPT FROM GOD: ou gar estin
(3SPAI) exousia ei me hupo theou:
(Jn 19:10, Jn 19:11, Pr
8:15-16 Da 2:21 Da 4:32 Da 5:18-23)
The Authority behind the authorities is God. This is a lot
easier to preach in America than it would be in China. We like to think
that God is behind governments like America and England, but that He has
nothing to do with governments like China. But recall the evil government
headed by Pilate that unjustly crucified our Lord (Jn 19:11).
Pilate could not have even lifted a finger to crucify Jesus if it were not
permitted by God that he do so. In (Romans 9:17)
to the Paul tells us that God raised up Pharaoh, that wicked, hardhearted
king, and set him on the throne of Egypt. God did that! God made
Nebuchadnezzar ("My servant" Jer 25:9) the most powerful ruler in the world &
used him to punish His own chosen people. Cyrus was also God's
servant, raised up and set on the throne by God (Isa 44:28; 45:1).
All through the OT God represents himself as the
controlling force behind every government on earth, without exception.
Therefore, it isn't man's elections or his revolutions that
determine the governments of earth. We think it is. In Mexico they used to
do it by the process of revolution -- you never could change the
government there without a revolution. But neither 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 Stalin or Mao or any of the others on earth by
the permissive choice of God. If you struggle with that, it is because you
don't see what is behind God's purpose in the world today & that He is
El Elyon, the sovereign Most High God over ALL the earth. The
questioning of why God allows evil comes because we do not realize that
God is not attempting to govern the earth properly -- He is waiting, He is
withholding, He is restraining evil, He is governing to a limited extent,
-- but He is not trying to do the job as He will someday. We've not seen
the end of "His"story ("HISTORY") yet!. Every government that exists is
held in the palm of God's hand. It can only go as far as God wills; it is
under His control; it has been instituted by Him.
God instituted the system of human government immediately after the great
flood when He decreed,
“Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall
be shed” (Ge 9:5-6).
That decree gave authority to men
to judge criminal matters and to punish offenders. (1Pe 2:13-17 Jn 19:11)
Furthermore, God sometimes may, for His own purposes, place even wicked
men in positions of power (Nebuchadnezzar Jer 27:5-7, Da 4:17). The Apostle Paul himself was
imprisoned and finally executed by Emperor Nero, yet he never counseled
rebellion or disobedience.
says, human government is ordained by God for the benefit of society. In
whatever of the many forms it exists, civil authority derives directly
from God. Like marriage, it is a universal institution of God, and, like
marriage, it is valid regardless of place, circumstance, or any other
consideration. God sovereignly created and absolutely controls the
universe, with no exceptions or limitations. Also without exception, the
power that any person, group, or society may possess is divinely delegated
and circumscribed. How well or how poorly that power is used is another
matter. The autocratic, ruthless, and even demonic regimes of Adolph
Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Tse Tung were no exceptions to God’s
command to be subject to civil authority. The Roman empire, sometimes
ruled by Caesars who proclaimed themselves to be gods, was no exception.
The apostate and heretical “Christian” kingdoms of the Middle Ages were no
exceptions. Shaman ruled primitive and animistic tribes of South America
are no exceptions. Scripture however does make exception in those
situations in which obedience to civil authority would require
disobedience to God & to God’s Word (eg, Ex 1:17; Da 3:16-18 6:7,10; Ac 4:19-20;
Richard Halverson the former
chaplain of the United States Senate wrote that...
To be sure, men will abuse and misuse the institution of the State just as
man because of sin has abused and misused every other institution in
history including the Church of Jesus Christ, but this does not mean that
the institution is bad or that it should be forsaken. It simply means that
men are sinners and rebels in God’s world, and this is the way they behave
with good institutions. As a matter of fact, it is because of this very
sin that there must be human government to maintain order in history until
the final and ultimate rule of Jesus Christ is established. Human
government is better than anarchy, and the Christian must recognize the
“divine right” of the State. (Halverson, R: Prologue to Prison: Cowman
Prayer and Politics, a
devotional from Our Daily Bread:
In 1787 a convention was called in the
United States to revise the Articles of Confederation. For weeks delegates
reviewed ancient history and analyzed modern governments, searching for
insights. But nothing suited the infant nation.
Finally, a distinguished gentleman named Benjamin Franklin rose and said,
"In this situation of this assembly, groping as it were in the dark to
find political truth and scarce able to distinguish it when it is
presented to us, how has it happened that we have not hitherto once
thought of humbly applying to the Father of Lights to illuminate our
understandings?" Mr. Franklin believed there was a sovereign God who could
provide guidance to those who sought it.
If ever there was a time to follow that prayerful example, it is now. Paul
said that governments are ordained of God (Rom. 13:1), and that we are to
pray for those in authority over us (1Ti 2:1-2). This prayer principle
also applies to the election of our leaders. We must become informed and
vote prayerfully for those who shape our laws.
Because God has instructed us to do so, we can--indeed we
must--unashamedly and boldly mix prayer with our politics. --D J DeHaan
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
In God we trust, let others trust their rulers,
We trust in God to save us from alarm;
Like broken reeds, the works of man will fail us,
Our God alone can keep us from all harm. --Smith
Whatever makes men good Christians
makes them good citizens.
AND THOSE WHICH EXIST ARE ESTABLISHED BY GOD: ai de ousai (PAPFPN) hupo
theou tetagmenai (RPPFPN) eisin (3PPAI): (1Samuel 2:8;
1Chronicles 28:4,5; Psalms 62:11; Proverbs 8:15,16; Jeremiah 27:5-8; Daniel
2:21; 4:32; Daniel 5:18-23; Matthew 6:13; John 19:11; Revelation 1:5; 17:14;
BY DIVINE ORDER
("Instituted by" = NET, ESV; "put in place" = GWT, "been appointed by" = NJB;
"have been placed there" = NLT) (5021) (tasso)
means to place, to draw up in order, to arrange in place, assign or dispose to a certain position, order or lot or to a particular task.
To ordain or to designate. In relation to a properly assigned authority tasso
means = be instituted, be appointed, be established (as here in Ro 13:1). Tasso
is used in determining a fixed time or course of events (Mt 28:16, Acts 28:23).
Tasso can convey the idea of devoted in some context (1Cor 16:15), of doing
something regularly and devotedly.
Tasso is a root word in a number of
other Greek words - e.g., atakteo = out of line, disorderly, unruly.
Atakteo comes from the verb tassō which is a military term referring to
the act of arranging soldiers in military order in the ranks. When the Greeks
wanted to make a word mean the opposite to what it meant originally, they placed
the letter Alpha as its first letter (a = without + tasso = set in
order). Thus atakteō refers to soldiers marching out of order or quitting
the ranks, thus being disorderly. The word therefore means “deviating
from the prescribed order or rule.” Its original meaning was that of riot or
rebellion. The word is found only in the Thessalonian epistles, in its verb form
in 2Th 3:7, as an adjective in 1Th 5:14-note
(ataktos = unruly = any deviation from the prescribed order or rule of the
Christian life), and as an adverb in 2Th 3:6, 11. (Adapted from Word Study by
Another interesting derivative word is
epitasso - which is translated "commands" in Mark 1:27 (And they were all
amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new
teaching with authority! He commands (epitasso) even the unclean spirits,
and they obey Him.”) Wuest explains that
“Commands” is epitassō, a military
term; the noun form used in the military sense of an “orderly array.” The single
verb tassō was used in classical Greek, “to draw up in order of battle,
array, marshal.” Our Lord has the hosts of Satan under His absolute power at all
times. Unwilling and incorrigible as they are, He can command them at will, and
they obey Him. Satan always
operates on a limited tether. To
the synagogue crowd, the most astonishing thing was that the demons obeyed Him.
Our God Reigns!)
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans
In this verse, the perfect tense
pictures a past completed action with present ongoing effect or result and so could be translated "Have been ordained and the ordinance remains
in force." Wuest translation brings out the perfect tense "the
existing authorities stand permanently ordained by God." Thus human government is a permanent institution brought into
being by God for the regulation of human affairs for He alone is the sovereign
ruler of the universe (Ps 62:11, 103:19, 1Ti 6:15).
Wuest notes that...
The simple verb tassō was used in
classical Greek in a military meaning, “to draw up in order of battle, to form,
array, marshal” both troops or ships. It speaks of soldiers marshaled in
military order under a commanding officer. Thus, it speaks of the subjection of
one individual under or to another.
BDAG says tasso means
(1) To bring about an order of things by
arranging = to arrange, put in place...of an authority structure (Ro 13:1)...in
a person put into a specific position ("to place under authority of another" =
Mt 8:9, Lk 7:8)...be put under someone’s command...assign someone to a (certain)
classification...passive - belong to, be classed among those possessing
("eternal life" in Acts 13:48)...devote oneself to a service (1Cor
(2) To give instructions as to what must be
done = to order, fix, determine, appoint (Acts 15:2, 18:2, 22:10) - "set a
day" (Acts 28:23), designated a mountain to meet (Mt 28;16).
W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and
Other Early Christian Literature
“to appoint,” “to order,” with such nuances
as “to arrange,” “to determine,” “to set in place,” “to establish,” and middle
“to fix for oneself.” (Kittel,
G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. Theological Dictionary of the New
Liddell-Scott summarizes the secular
Greek uses of tasso...
"To arrange, put in order, Herodotus, etc.:
esp. to draw up in order of battle, to form, array, marshal, both of troops and
ships...to fall in, form in order of battle...to post, station, Herodotus...to
serve among the infantry...to appoint to any service, military or civil...to
order one to do a thing...to assign to a class...to appoint, ordain, order,
prescribe...of taxes or payments, to appoint or fix a certain payment...to agree
upon, to settle...to impose punishments... perfect participle passive = fixed,
Tasso - 8x in 8v in NAS -
appointed(2), designated(1), determined(1), devoted(1), established(1), set(1)
Matthew 28:16 But the eleven disciples
proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated.
Luke 7:8 "For I also am a man placed under authority, with soldiers under me;
and I say to this one, 'Go!' and he goes, and to another, 'Come!' and he comes,
and to my slave, 'Do this!' and he does it."
Acts 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and
glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal
Acts 15:2 And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with
them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them
should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue.
Acts 22:10 "And I said, 'What shall I do, Lord?' And the Lord said to me,
'Get up and go on into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.'
Acts 28:23 When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his
lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying
about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both
the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening.
Romans 13:1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing
authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist
are established by God.
1 Corinthians 16:15 Now I urge you, brethren (you know the household of Stephanas, that they were the first fruits of Achaia, and that they
themselves for ministry to the saints),
Tasso - 59x in the non-apocryphal
Septuagint - Ge 3:24; Exod 8:9, 12; 29:43; 1 Sam 20:35; 22:7; 2 Sam 7:11;
20:5; 23:23; 1 Kgs 2:5; 2 Kgs 10:24, 27; 12:17; 1 Chr 16:4, 7; 17:10; 2 Chr
31:2; Esth 3:13; 8:12; Job 14:13; 30:22; 31:24; 36:13; Song 2:4; 6:4, 10; Isa
38:1; Jer 2:15; 3:19; 5:22; 7:30; 10:22; 11:13; 18:16; 19:8; Lam 3:21; Ezek 4:2;
14:4, 7; 16:14; 17:5; 19:5; 20:28; 24:7; 40:4; 44:5; Hos 2:3, 14; Mic 5:1; Hab
1:12; 2:9; 3:19; Zeph 1:14; Hag 1:5; Zech 7:12, 14; 10:3f; Mal 1:3
Gen 3:24 So He drove the man out; and at the
east of the garden of Eden He stationed (Lxx = tasso) the cherubim, and
the flaming sword which turned every direction, to guard the way to the tree of
Habakkuk 1:12 Are You not from everlasting, O
LORD, my God, my Holy One? We will not die. You, O LORD, have appointed
(Lxx = tasso ~ designated) them (Babylonians would "judge" Judah for her sins of
idolatry and failure to keep the Sabbath years for 490 years) to judge; And You,
O Rock, have established them to correct.
Habakkuk 3:19 The Lord GOD is my strength,
And He has made (Lxx = tasso ~ He has appointed or designated) my feet
like hinds' feet, and makes me walk on my high places. For the choir director,
on my stringed instruments.
Haggai 1:5 Now therefore, thus says the LORD
of hosts, "Consider
(Hebrew = sum = to place, put or set; Lxx = tasso in the aorist
imperative = do this - the Greek adds the word "kardia" for heart and so reads
something like "Order
your heart unto your ways") your
Zechariah 7:12 "They made (Lxx =
tasso = they ordered) their hearts like flint so that (term expresses purpose -
always begs question - "What purpose?") they could not hear the law and the
words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former
prophets; therefore great wrath came from the LORD of hosts.
This principle that all authority is from God
is seen in both the Old and New Testament...
He raises the poor from the dust, He lifts
the needy from the ash heap To make them sit with nobles, And inherit a seat of
honor; For the pillars of the earth are the LORD 's, And He set the world on
them. (1Samuel 2:8)
Pr 8:15 “By Me kings reign,
and rulers decree justice.16 “By Me princes rule, and nobles, all
who judge rightly.
“And it is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings
and establishes kings; He gives wisdom
to wise men, and knowledge to men of understanding.
and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be
with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle,
and seven periods of time will pass over you, until you recognize that the
Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on
whomever He wishes.’
"(Speaking of King Nebuchadnezzar Daniel
records this incredible event and the even more incredible result)
(Nebuchadnezzar) as also driven away from mankind, and his heart was made like
that of beasts, and his dwelling place was with the wild donkeys. He was given
grass to eat like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven,
until (a crucial
time phrase) he recognized that the Most
Elyon) God is Ruler over the
realm of mankind, and that He sets over it whomever He wishes." (Daniel 5:21)
Jesus answered (Pilate who claimed to have
authority over Jesus' destiny), "You would have no authority over Me, unless it
had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me up to you has
the greater sin." (John 19:11)
John MacArthur has an excellent comment on this section writing
These seven verses contain the clearest and most specific NT
teaching on the Christian’s responsibility to civil authority. Every
Christian, no matter what form of government he lives 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. This recurring theme of submission to society’s controlling power
is nowhere more forcefully dealt with than here....The monumental miracle
of salvation impacts every relationship associated with the believer’s
First, and most important and obvious, is the effect on
our relationship to God. When we are saved, our initial response should be
to fully present our “bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to
God, which is [our] spiritual service of worship” (Ro 12:1-
next concern is for our having a right relationship with our brothers and
sisters in Christ (Ro 12:3-6-note)
and with non Christians, including even our enemies (Ro 12:17-note Ro
After dealing with those matters, the inspired writer focuses on the
need to have a right relationship to the human governments under which
we live (Romans 13:1-7).
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 struggle that many of their brothers and sisters in
Christ face under regimes that restrict freedom and oppress
We are to be the conscience of the nation through
faithful preaching & godly living, confronting it not with the
political pressure of man’s wisdom—including our own—but with the
spiritual power of God’s Word. Using legislation, adjudication, or
intimidation to achieve a superficial, temporal “Christian morality”
is not our calling—and has no eternal value....the
Christian’s priority [is] of proclaiming the gospel and living a holy life
to demonstrate that God is a saving God.
Both the Old and New
Testament present illustrations of believers whose earthly role placed
them in civil service, and they were useful to God there. Joseph in Egypt
and Daniel in Babylon are the two supreme Old Testament examples. After
Jesus healed the centurion’s servant, He did not advise him to leave the
army (Mt 8:5-13).
Zaccheus was converted, he did not leave his
civil profession but became an honest tax collector (see Lk 19:1-10). Cornelius, another Roman
centurion, was saved through the ministry of
Peter and continued to serve in the army (Ac 10).
And there is no reason to believe that the proconsul Sergius Paulus did
not remain in his high civil office after he was saved
In a message delivered at Oxford University in 1898, the British
theologian Robert L. Ottley observed:
The Old Testament may be studied
. . . as an instructor in social righteousness. It exhibits the moral
government of God as attested in his dealings with nations rather than
with individuals; and it was their consciousness of the action and
presence of God in history that made the prophets preachers, not merely to
their countrymen, but to the world at large....There is indeed
significance in the fact that in spite of their ardent zeal for social
reform they did not as a rule take part in political life or demand
political reforms. They desired...not better institutions but better men.
Henry Alford adds this note...
Alford has a helpful note here. “We may
observe that the apostle here pays no regard to the question of the duty
of Christians in revolutionary movements. His precepts regard an
established power, be it what it may. It, in all matters lawful, we are
bound to obey. But even the parental power does not extend to things
unlawful. If the civil power command us to violate the law of God, we must
obey God before man. If it commands us to disobey the common laws of
humanity, or the sacred institutions of our country, our obedience is due
to the higher and more general law, rather than the lower and particular.
These distinctions must be drawn by the wisdom granted Christians in the
varying circumstances of human affairs: they are all only subordinate
portions of the great duty of obedience to LAW. To obtain, by lawful
means, the removal or alteration of an unjust or unreasonable law, is
another part of this duty: for all powers among men must be in accord with
the highest power, the moral sense. But even where law is hard and
unreasonable, not disobedience, but legitimate protest, is the duty of the