Class Notes: 11/5/2008
Rom 13:1-3 The believer's responsibility to civil government
Last time we just got started on the next series of mandates that are found in Rom 13:1-8 address the believer's responsibility to legitimate government.
Since there are no chapter breaks in the original they are also in the context of Rom 12:1-2; that show that the believer’s adherence to these mandates is enabled by the Mercies of God (Grace) and is part of their "reasonable or logical service" that is enabled by the transformation that occurs in the believer's thinking that comes from their continuous persistent PMA of Bible Doctrine that results in their performing the will of God.
These verses discuss the relationship between church and state and the relations between the individual believer and the various functions of government.
The passages are written with the general assumption that the government is functioning properly under the laws of divine establishment.
Rom 13:1; every person, believer and unbeliever, is commanded to be subject to the authority of the national entity. There is no authority except from God: those which exist are established by God. This establishes the national entity as a Divine institution under the laws of Divine Establishment.
The word translated "be subject" is the third person singular present passive imperative of the Greek word "hypotasso"
TDNT Volume 8 pages 40 and 41 says the following regarding "hupotasso"
For a material understanding of the verb in the NT its considerable range of meaning should be noted, especially in the middle voice.
Originally it is a hierarchical term which stresses the relation to superiors. But one should note that the subordination expressed may be either compulsory or voluntary.
In the former case the main idea may be that of either power or conquest on the one side or lack of freedom on the other.
In the NT the verb does not immediately carry with it the thought of obedience,
It does not mean so much "to obey" though this may result from self-subordination or to do the will of someone but rather to lose or surrender one's own rights or will.
The key to understanding this word is to recognize that it has to do with one’s position under legitimate authority in rank or order in a hierarchy rather simply obedience.
Obedience may or may not result, but believers are still under the authority of the civil authorities and rightly or wrongly those in authority have the power to discipline or punish those under their authority John 19:9-11;
Paul is stating the believer's duty to government when it functions properly within the laws of divine establishment. No Christian is to be a law unto himself. No individual is exempt from the duties of citizenship.
This teaching was especially important for the believers at Rome because the church there was formed around a central core of Jews, whose Old Testament heritage gave them the idea that they were a law unto themselves, and they were unwilling to render allegiance to any Gentile government.
They looked down upon the Gentiles and considered themselves superior to the nations among whom they lived and who had conquered them.
In 1Pet 2:11-15; Peter addresses this same issue specifically to the Jewish believers who were scattered throughout the Roman empire.
The government of the Roman Empire at the time was one of the best in history. The Pax Romana was at its height. But the excellent government of Augustus and Tiberius began to degenerate under Caligula, Claudius and Nero.
At the time, most of the persecution of the Christians came from the Jewish leaders. There was some persecution by Gentiles in some of the provinces such as in Phillipi as described in Acts 16:18-31; but Rome was peaceful and Paul was still free.
When false rumors about believers in TLJC began to circulate, Paul and Peter were united in telling believers to obey the magistrates who were ordained of God. Titus 3:1;
No one is above the law. In normal circumstances when believers behave, as they should, there should be no difficulty because the magistrates are not opposed to good citizens; only to evil citizens. Rom 13:5
Believers must realize that not only are they a new spiritual species in Christ Jesus and a citizen of Heaven, but they are still a human being in a society of human beings, and they must fulfill the responsibilities of that earthly citizenship.
The believer is to understand the first and great commandment, that they are to render to God the things that are God's, that is, " to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength" and they are also to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; that is," to love your neighbor as yourself".
The command to "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's." do not set before the believer two systems of ethics or two ways of life. What it does is establish them in the highest code of living in the political realm as well as in the spiritual.
God commands believers to submit to the civil government and obey it as long as they are enforcing the principles of morality that are established in the laws of divine establishment.
Believers are to endeavor live as a law-abiding citizens, working in whatever employment that they have and doing all things as unto the Lord because Civil government is of divine origin. Rom 13:1c; "All authority is established by God"
"By me kings reign, and princes decree justice" Prov. 8:15;
God's word tells us that civil government is not only legitimate, but honorable. and that submission to lawful government is the duty of every citizen.
To resist it, is to reject the ordinance of God Rom. 13:3, 4; Titus 3:1; 1Pet 2:13-14;
Paul instructs Timothy that prayer, intercession, thanksgivings are to be made for those in government in order that believers may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 1Tim 2:1,2;
We are commanded to submit to and pray even for bad rulers, and endure in patience and humility till God exercises his judgment. The punishment of evildoers belongs only to God and to the magistrates.
Scripture shows us that God punishes his people's negative volition by wicked rulers, and then punishes the wicked rulers by other rulers that are generally also evil.
For example, Judah>>>Babylon>>>Meades and Persians
This is the principle found in 2Cor 13:8; and Psa 76:10a;
Believers are to suffer in submission to authority rather than rebel although it is perfectly legitimate to move away if possible. Matt 10:23a; Matt 23:32c;
This is what the Jewish believers did in the early part of the church age. It is also why many of the early immigrants to North America moved from Northern Europe.
So while submission is a mandate, and obedience is the expected normal response in the majority of circumstances, obedience is conditional.
If the government's mandate is in violation of God's mandate the believer should "obey God rather than man” and be willing to suffer whatever punishment the governmental authority determines is appropriate for that disobedience while at the same time committing the injustice of the authority to the supreme court of heaven for review using the faith rest drill Luke 23:33-34; Acts 7:59-60;
The word of God specifically establishes the very limited conditions where an individual believer may disobey the civil authorities and the only situation specifically addressed in the Bible is where the authorities in Judea made a mandate against the preaching of the Gospel.
In this case, the believer is to obey God and not human authority in matters connected with the preaching of the Gospel.
This is demonstrated in the Book of the Acts. The disciples had been arrested for preaching Jesus and the resurrection. The Jewish authorities examined them, and since their miracle power was evident, the leaders in private council commanded them not to preach the Gospel. Acts 4:18-20;
After they were released, the apostles went right back to preaching the Gospel, and were subsequently re-arrested and thrown into prison. God sent an angel who freed them and ordered them to preach. When the rulers discovered this, they arrested them again. Acts 5:27-32;
The enraged rulers would have killed them except for the wise counsel of Gamaliel so they simply beat the apostles and set them free, but they continued to disregard their order kept on preaching. Acts 5:42;
These passages establish with absolute clarity that the mandate in scripture to present the Gospel takes precedence over any prohibition against it that government may impose.
In proclaiming the Gospel, believers are to be "wise as serpents and innocent as doves” Matt 10:16-23; NET Rom 16:19; since the believer's only authorized offensive weapon is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
There are over 50 countries on the earth today that prohibit the preaching of the Gospel. Believers in these countries understand that they are at personal risk when they obey the mandate to "Obey God rather than man" and it often costs them their liberty and occasionally costs them their lives.
Rom 13:2; Under normal circumstances believers are to obey the civil government because they have been given their authority by God for the protection of civil liberty, for the restraint of evil, for the establishment of order and the prevention of anarchy.
God is not the author of confusion. 1Cor 14:33; There must be order in the human race, if it is to survive. Under Divine Establishment, national entities are compartments of order in the devil's world.
For those who commit crimes, the actual source of the punishment is not really the judicial system but the criminal who simply received the appropriate "judgment on themselves" from God. The judicial system is simply acting as the agent of God.
"Rulers" refers to God's delegated authority under nationalism, or the government, which administers justice. When this was written Nero was the emperor of Rome. Paul is not approving Nero personally; He was approving the principle of authority that is delegated to national government.
"Good behavior" describes the existence of a common law, which parallels the Biblical Truth found in the Word of God.
"The evil" is crime, which is the violation of that common law. The believer in the national entity has the responsibility to obey the laws of the land that are compatible with and parallel to the Word of God.
This does not include obedience to international organizations such as the United Nations that are anti-Biblical. It does include participation in civic affairs, such as voting, jury duty as well as participation in the defense of the nation.
If the believer is called into military service, the believer is to serve with all of their might as unto the Lord and be the best soldier possible in the defense of freedom.
If called to jury duty, the believer is to be the most conscientious juror. Believers have a responsibility to the State, and the believers that are citizens of that state should be the best citizens.
The word translated "do" in the phrase "do what is good" is the second person singular present active imperative of the Greek word "poieo" and it's object is the Greek word "agathos" that refers to divine good production, referring to Christian service or deeds performed by the believer who is filled with the Holy Spirit.
These are the only deeds or works that are accepted by God.
Anything that is accomplished apart from the filling of the Spirit is human good that is evil and worthless to God.
So, this is a mandate for the believer to keep on functioning in the production of divine good from inside the PPOG rather than functioning in evil inside the kosmic system.
Last time we saw that evil was invented by satan when he sought to be independent from God. Isa 14:13-14;
In this case, the evil is something that the established civil government opposes because it contradicts divine establishment principles and results in civil punishment.
Governmental authorities are not a cause of fear for moral function but for evil function.
Believers under the control of the OSN are no different than unbelievers and they may commit crimes that result in their being punished by the civil government.
Believers may also function in criminal evil when they get involved in Christian activism and try to force their ideas of morality on others by taking the law into their own hands rather than allowing God the Holy Spirit to do his work of conviction.
This kind of activism was what Peter referred to in 1Pet 2:16;
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