Understanding Romans 13:1-7
How are we going to overcome Romans 13?
What was Apostle Paul really saying?
The best way to bring understanding on Romans 13 is to ask, "Who was apostle Paul writing to at Rome?"
The answer is found at Romans 1:7: Paul was writing to all those in Rome who are "beloved of God, called to be saints." He was not writing to the general population at Rome. He was specifically addressing the "called out ones," the Body of Christ.
If apostle Paul was advocating obedience to secular authorities, then Caesar would have no cause against him. Why would Caesar have Paul beheaded if he was promoting obedience to Rome?
The world loves its own. If Paul belonged to Caesar, Caesar would not want to kill his own. If Paul was promoting "be subject to Caesar," then Paul would be Caesar's friend. You would not kill your own. You don't destroy the very instrument that advertises for you.
The truth is that Apostle Paul was beheaded for promoting a rival government known as the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven. Already this new government was turning the world upside down. Caesar had Paul killed to help stop this threat to Rome's power.
If Romans 13 does not mean "obey the State," what does it mean? Romans 13 means, "Remember them which have the rule over you," as you will also find at Hebrews 13:7. Since Paul was addressing the saints at Rome, it is logical that he would instruct them to submit to those who look after their souls. It is a reminder to be obedient to the authorities God has placed over His people. For they are truly the "ministers of God to thee for good." Unlike worldly rulers, God's ministers are not a terror to good works but to the evil. Therefore, "do that which is good and thou shalt have praise of the same."
Powers Not Ordained By God
Romans 13 is probably the most devastating thing to a Christian in the hands of the ungodly. It sounds so convincing to obey those who appear to be in power. For too long, secular governments have used Romans 13 as a club to beat Christians into obedience to them. Just because a group maintains power through their guns and jails, does not mean God put them there.
God said there are powers not ordained by Him at Hosea 8:4, "They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not."
God didn't put them in power over the righteous. That's Satan's idea. The righteous don't need worldly, filthy authorities, which are no authorities at all. Do you think that they can instruct the righteous? They themselves steal. They themselves are perverts. And they presume to instruct the righteous? I don't think so.
Secular Governments Persecuted Paul
Apostle Paul had many troubles with worldly rulers. He was given 39 stripes five times by the Jews, beaten with rods three times, in perils by his own countrymen and by the heathen, and frequently in prison. (See 2 Corinthians 11:23-26). In Damascus the governor kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to apprehend Paul. "And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands," wrote Paul at 2 Corinthians 11:32. That is the same Paul that wrote Romans 13. He was forced to flee from the civil authorities, those "powers that be" that people say are ordained of God. Sorry folks, this does not compute. When Paul says, "the powers that be," he is saying the powers that be powers, are ordained of God. In other words, the only true powers are those that God ordains.
The crux of the matter is this, Does Paul in Romans 13:1-7 argue that the civil government of this world has legitimate authority over the people of God? We believe that the obedient, called-out people of God are not bound to obey manmade civil governments. God's people are answerable to God above all else and are bound by His commands. At the same time, God's people are not to use their liberty as a cloak to do evil, to foment rebellion or waste time trying to influence the politics of the governments of this world. Furthermore, we believe Paul in Romans 13:1-7 is referring to the spiritual leaders of the Body of Christ, not the civil authorities of this world.
If Paul is saying, "Obey the civil authorities," then he has a conflict in his life. Is Paul promoting Caesar or separating from Caesar? If Paul is promoting Caesar, there is no way I want Paul in my Bible. He can't work for Caesar and Jesus Christ. Caesar already has his writings, they are called "revised statutes" or the "law of the land." You can have them if you want. I would rather have God's Word. Actually that which is called the "law of the land," is the law of the devil. The term is used in the U.S. Constitution, where men claim that their laws are the supreme law of the land (See U.S. Constitution, Article VI).
Supreme Law of the Land
"Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:36-40). Do you know what that represents to a Christian? These two commands are the Supreme Law of the Land. If you believe that something else is the supreme law of the land for a Christian, someone has deceived you. It was a thief who drew you away from the true Supreme Law of the Land (see John 10:8).
If you have the two great commandments, how much allegiance do you have left for the worldly rulers of this dark age? Let me tell you, you have ZERO allegiance to Satan and his agents. All your time is spent "loving God" and "loving neighbor," and there is no room left over for obeying Satan and his minions.
And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. 1 John 5:19
Submitting to the King of Heaven
As true followers of Jesus, we are led by the Spirit and our lives reflect the fact that we belong to another kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven. Our stay on earth is only transitory. As citizens of Heaven, we are bound to submit and pledge allegiance to the King of Heaven and His government over us. We are not bound to obey the government of some nation just because we happen to be living within their so-called "borders."
Remember, "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof" (1 Corinthians 10:26). Yet there is a pack of thieves out there who have divided up the earth and perverts are ruling over it. And they are doing it at the egging on of Satan himself.
Romans 13 has been wrongly interpreted by ruling secular governments to mean a Christian must submit to them. This misinterpretation forms a powerful weapon to neutralize and misdirect the power of God's Kingdom.
As the followers of Jesus Christ, we belong to another Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom has its own government, its own laws, and its own leaders. Apostle Paul was not commanding us in Romans 13 to submit to the civil authorities of the kingdoms of this world. He was commanding us to submit to the authority of God's leaders who oversee the "called-out ones."
It is a fallacy that Paul was commanding Christians at Rome to submit to the secular government. It is time that Christ's followers renounce their allegiance to the ever-changing governments of men. They must set an example that there is a higher and more perfect form of government, the Kingdom of Heaven.
Of course there will be consequences. Jesus was brought to Pilate to be crucified on charges of "perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King" (Luke 23:2). We, too, must be willing to sacrifice even our very lives to proclaim God's sovereign rulership over us.
Loyalty and Obedience to Christ
When we boldly declare that we belong to God's Kingdom, we are left with no choice but to trust God for His provision in the face of a hostile world. We quickly learn that our safety is in our obedience. To trust in carnal weapons and physical force is vanity. We serve a living God. He is well able to make a way for us regardless of how much the modern day Nebuchadnezzar's rage and threaten to destroy us.
Christians are in no way bound by the Scriptures to obey and support the manmade governments of this world. We are bound to live peaceably with all men to the greatest degree possible. Yet our loyalty, allegiance, and obedience must always be found at the feet of Christ. Our goal is to see souls brought to Christ. The more fully we separate from the world and consecrate ourselves to God, the more power we will have to infiltrate the hearts and minds of men with a living example of the Gospel. The world must see that God does have a people on this earth, and that His power dwells in their midst. Let us commit ourselves to His kingdom and be His people.
Warning: Beware of the Living Bible and the Good News Bible. They are merely Bible paraphrases, not translations. The wording is not true to the original Hebrew and Greek. The scriptures are perverted to support secular Christianity.
King James Bible (Translation)
1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
Living Bible (Paraphrase)
1 Obey the government, for God is the one who has put it there. There is no government anywhere that God has not placed in power.
2 So those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow.
3 For the policeman does not frighten people who are doing right; but those doing evil will always fear him. So if you don't want to be afraid, keep the laws and you will get along well.
4 The policeman is sent by God to help you. But if you are doing something wrong, of course you should be afraid, for he will have you punished. He is sent by God for that very purpose.
5 Obey the laws, then, for two reasons: first, to keep from being punished, and second, just because you know you should.
6 Pay your taxes too, for these same two reasons. For government workers need to be paid so that they can keep on doing God's work, serving you.
7 Pay everyone whatever he ought to have: pay your taxes and import duties gladly, obey those over you, and give honor and respect to all those to whom it is due.
The Trump Card 1Peter 2:13By Nekeisha Alexis-Manners
When Romans 13 is interpreted against its traditional meaning, 1 Peter 2 v. 13 is usually used by supporters of obedience to the government as a trump card. As a result, I included a short analysis of 1 Peter to illustrate how it reinforces this "new" interpretation of Romans 13, rather than contradicts it.
There are several similarities between 1 Peter and Romans 13. Like Paul, Peter is writing to the church at a time when they are undergoing persecution by the governing authorities. Peter tells the people that, in this time, they should not conform (v.14 - same as Romans 12 v.2), stresses the importance of keeping their faith (v.7-8 - same as Romans 12 v. 11-13) and encourages them to love (v.22, ch. 2 v.17 - same as Romans 12 v.9). Much of the first chapter is spent congratulating the church because they are maintaining their faith in Christ "though now for a while . . . you have been grieved by various trials" (v.6), and urges them to continue persisting. It is in this spirit that we go into second chapter of Peter.
In order to understand 1 Peter 2 v. 13, it is critical that one understands the verses 11-25. In this section of the chapter, Peter's main focus is to instruct the people to do good in the face of evil, just as Romans 12 14-21 does. Peter is echoing Paul's command to overcome the evil they are facing with good. Peter states in ch. 2 v. 12 that they should do good works so that evildoers will observe them and they should glorify God when it is their time to be persecuted. The purpose for doing this is not to show obedience to the government, but to expose their hypocrisy and to "silence the ignorance of foolish and ignorant men" (v. 15). [Take note here: Peter is calling the government ignorant and foolish!] By abstaining from any wrongdoing against Christ's commands and not resisting any suffering that comes their way, their actions will be "commendable before God" (v. 21). By doing good, their persecutors will not be able to justify the violence they are using against innocent people in the same way that those who killed Christ and caused him to suffer will not. The heart of what Peter is trying to convey to the church can be found in ch. 2 v. 19-21 — not in v. 13. His command is not obey the government. He is stressing what Paul said and what Jesus commanded on the sermon on the mount - Blessed are the you when they revile you and persecute you and speak evil against you for my name's sake. In fact, v. 23 in 1 Peter ch. 2 is a direct reference to that.
The same problem of misinterpreting the word "submit" is also the reason for a misunderstanding of Peter. As I have said before, the word does not mean to obey, so the assertion that "submit" here is different from the true meaning of "submit" in Romans makes little sense. Peter is telling the church to willingly take part in the persecution that comes their way. Like Romans 13, 1 Peter is not a call to obedience to government. It is a call to follow Christ's footsteps by not resisting suffering for the name of God.