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Thoughts on Romans 13

Hello there, fellow New Testament readers!

I don’t know if you noticed, but I forgot to put into the reading plan March 9th. That means you get a free day! I hope that helped you if you were a little behind.

So, we finished Romans! I mentioned before that I like this letter. I like it because Paul talks a lot about theology in the first part. (And I like theology!)In other words, he taught the Romans what to believe regarding sin, forgiveness of sin through Christ and how we can be free from sin. However, he also goes into some really practical ways to behave as a Christian. And I love getting practical tools on how to be “Christ like”!

What was a practical tool you came away with after reading Romans?


I was listening to a pastor speak on the idea of submitting to the government (13:1-7). He had a take on those verses that I hadn’t heard before, but his points helped me in my understanding of those passages. After all, who hasn’t read those verse and thought, “Yeah, but what about when bad people are in control? What then? How do you submit to a tyrant?”


Well this is what Paul wrote to the Romans:

“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. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinances of God, and those who resist will bring judgement on themselves.” (13:1-2) “...for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” (13:4b)


It helps to also read 1 Peter to see how Peter talked about submitting to the governing authorities:

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

Both these guys (Paul & Peter) wrote these words during the time of a very wicked ruler, Nero. How could they write that Christians should submit to such a wicked ruler?

Well, let’s look at their statements closely. Paul says the ruler is to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Peter said the rulers were to punish evil doers and praise those who do good. Both are in agreement that the governing authorities are put in place by God to punish the wicked. They are to uphold justice. This is the role of government in society, to punish evil doers, praise those who do good and enforce justice.

Also notice that Paul said that the government is the avenger. Just 6 verses earlier (even though there is a chapter break, it is still in the same train of thought), Paul said, “Beloved, do not avenge yourself, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” Says the Lord (12:19).

So, putting these verses together, in the same train of thought, the government is God’s tool to avenge, that is what the government has been appointed to do. Authorities exist and are appointed by God for this sole purpose. If you resist a police officer who is arresting you for doing wrong, you are literally resisting God himself!!!

With all that, I have come to the new way of understanding 13:1, “For there is no authority except from God,...” meaning, except for the authority given by God, (to avenge evil, enforce justice), there is no authority. In other words, if law enforcement goes beyond punishing evil, i.e., telling you how to raise your children, or forcing abortions as in China, they are not working under the authority God gave them. They are working under the authority man gave them, not the authoriy God gave them. They have no authority other than what God gives.

Have you ever read it that way? Wow!! That was new to me! Anything beyond avenging evil goes beyond what God gave them authority to do. We in America give our law makers authority to create more laws, but those laws are not necessarily under the authority God gave the government to do.

Aha, it is so clear to me now on how to understand chapter 13. I always struggled with that chapter when thinking how Christians should act under evil governments, like Nero or Hitler. Paul and Peter were acknowledging what power the tyrant has and what power he does not have.

Got it! I love learning new things!!


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You did it!!!

You got through the whole New Testament in 4 ½ months!! Congratulations!  Now, don’t lose the good habit you developed of reading every day.  Get into a new plan! I plan on reading Psalms and Proverbs

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