Romans 13:1-2 – What is the relationship between the believer and the government? Which is supreme, the church or the state? God expects the genuine believer to do what is right as a citizen of earth. We are called to be subject to civil authorities (Romans 13:1).
We are told that government is ordained by God to promote good and restrain evil and to provide benefits through taxes (Romans 13:6-7). As believers we are called to be subject to civil authorities. The government has authority only within the civil realm. When the laws of civil government conflict with the commandments of God, then Believers must say, “we ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
But the Believer is to obey all civil matters not conflicting with the commands of God. The reason is that government is ordained by God. It is God’s will that government exist and that persons have the authority to rule within the state. There are three institutions ordained by God: the family, the church, and the government. Rulers are answerable and will give an account to God.
The point of this passage is not the rulers of government but rather the believer and his duty to the state. We can do little about how the authorities in government conduct their affairs we can do a great deal about our behavior. Keep in mind that Nero was ruling as the emperor when God led Paul to give these instructions. We are not to resist the government because resistance equals resisting the ordinance of God.
Christianity must not become confused with a political movement. Yeshua has nothing to do with insurrection, rebellion, or civil disobedience. When rulers begin to rule immorally then the believer is to obey God and not man. World leaders are in the hands of God and are playing their part under God’s sovereignty.
This means that God is working in the affairs of world leaders. He holds the world in His hands. (Proverbs 21:1) The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases. A believer who resists the authorities will be condemned (1 Peter 2:13-14).
Romans 13:3– Government is ordained by God to promote good and to restrain evil. The power of evil is so strong that when men are without law evil runs unchecked. (1 Timothy 1:9-10). Rulers are the ministers of God for good, they maintain order that Believers might be free to worship.
Even wicked regimes were a deterrent to murder, theft, and other crimes. In Muslim nations, severe punishment has been a deterrent to such crimes. Prisons were common in the pagan lands of biblical times but there is little record of their being used in ancient Israel. Criminals lost their lives or worked to pay for assessed damages. Prison served no good purpose. Today prisons are breeding grounds for crime because prisoners are not able to make restitution for their crimes which has the ability to restore dignity.
(Ecclesiastes 8:11) When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong.
Romans 13:6-7 Government is ordained to provide benefits through taxes. Rulers are God’s ministers who are appointed by God to minister by providing certain benefits for the citizens. They provide justice, protection, and services. Government keeps the world from diving into chaos. It is not perfect peace but far better than the chaos when there is no government.
Yeshua paid taxes (Matthew 17:24,27) and advised others to do so indirectly (Matthew 22:21). We are not only to pay taxes but whatever tribute is due men within the society that they are living in. Why did Paul stress submission to civil authorities and the paying of taxes? The Jewish people were consistently rebellious. Judea was constantly boiling with cries for insurrection.
Chief of all were the Zealots who were convinced that there was no king but God; and that no tribute should be paid to anyone except God. They believed that God would not help and bless them unless they fought to rid themselves of their oppressors. They were known as the sicari or dagger-bearers.
They were nationalists sworn to terrorist methods and not only against the Roman government; they also wrecked the houses, burned crops and assassinated their own kinsmen who served the Roman government. Paul’s main view was that the Roman Empire was the divinely ordained instrument to save the world from chaos. It was the pax Romana, the Roman peace, that gave the freedom of Paul to do his evangelistic work.
Romans 13:8-10 -The previous passage dealt with what might be called a man’s public debts. Now Paul focuses his attention to private debts. “Owe nothing to anyone.” There were some who twisted the petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” into a reason for claiming release from all money obligations.
Paul had to remind his people that our faith is not an excuse for denying our obligations to our fellow men; but rather a reason for fulfilling them to the utmost. He goes on to speak of the one debt that a man must pay every day, and owing every day, the debt to love each other. The reality is that if a man honestly seeks to fulfill this debt of love, he will automatically keep all the commandments.
He will not commit adultery, in real love there is respect and restraint which delivers from sin. He will not kill, for love never seeks to destroy, but rather to build up. He will never steal, for love is always more concerned with giving than with getting. Love forbids bearing false witness against one’s neighbor which refers to any kind of lying.
There is slander: thinking something bad about a person and sharing it; misrepresenting something about someone; tearing down the reputation and life of a person by spreading bad news about them (Psalm 101:5; Proverbs 10:18). Here is rumor or gossip spreading little or big stories (1 Timothy 5:13;1 Peter 4:15;Leviticus 19:16;Proverbs 11:13).
God has left little or no room for us to discuss bad news with others for it is impossible to discuss bad news about someone and not bear some false witness. To some degree bad news is always blown up and added to misunderstood and incomplete. (Philippians 4:8) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.
Furthermore love forbids covetousness. The word “covet” means to crave and desire. This command condemns not only the act of sin, but the desire to sin. This command strikes at the heart of what we are within our hearts. Desires and cravings are natural it is our human nature to crave what others have. We might not crave exactly what they have; that is, we might not wish to steal their possessions, but we crave to have possessions like they have. God is calling us not to covet what our neighbors have because it is evil.
Why? Because it causes us to focus our attention, energy, and efforts. our lives on securing more and more. We neglect God and the needs of others. Love focuses on others rather than things. Love sums up all the commandments (Galatians 5:13-14).
Romans 13:11-12 We are called to be alert that time is limited and our opportunities are brief. The time to obey is now. If that admonition was urgent during Paul’s day, how much more urgent is it today!
Every generation has had its skeptics who ask, “Where is the Messianic age? (2 Peter 3:4). The reference here is not chronological time rather referring to an era, epoch, or age Yeshua uses this concept to call the Pharisees to wake up (Matthew 16:1-3).
Paul is referring here to the imminent return of the Messiah for the Church. He calls the church to wake up and not be inactive in the things of God. For God in fact is building an ark and the ark today is the Church the invisible Body of Believers that at any moment could be raptured from the face of the earth. The salvation that is becoming nearer refers to our glorification. Justification refers to our righteousness that happens once and saves the believer from the penalty of sin.
Sanctification is the process of our growth in maturity as believers while glorification refers to our ultimate perfection as children of God. Every day we live, we are one day closer to the coming of our Lord and the final events in God’s redemptive plan we are to live as the disciples were called to live by the two angels in Acts 1:7ff. When Paul tells us that the night is almost gone, and the day is at hand he means that man’s time of spiritual unbelief and rebellion is about to end because God’s time of judgment is about to begin. Night is a reference to the kingdom of darkness and day refers to the light of the Lord’s presence and Kingdom (1 Thessalonians 5:1-8).
We are called in light of this to arms for the battle is at hand. Laying aside carries the idea of forsaking the deeds of darkness which are all those sins in which we may indulge. The Lord is grieved by all sin, but the sins of His own children bring special grief to “the Holy Spirit of God, by whom [we] were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). Paul goes on in Ephesians to call us to “lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit” (Ephesians 4:22).
We are to take off the party clothes that we wear while mingling with the world and are called to put on the armor of of light. God’s light protects us in our battle against Satan’s powers of darkness. The armor of light is “the full armor of God (Ephesians. 6:11 ff).
Since we are children of light and have the Lord’s armor of light, we should behave properly as in the day. I believe this means we are to live as though we are in heavenly places which is in the full glory of the Light of God. It means to live in a way that pleases God. It is to live honestly before God and before men.
Romans 13:11-13 When Paul tells us that the night is almost gone, and the day is at hand he means that man’s time of spiritual unbelief and rebellion is about to end because God’s time of judgment is about to begin. Night is a reference to the kingdom of darkness and day refers to the light of the Lord’s presence and Kingdom (1 Thessalonians 5:1-8). We are called in light of that truth to arms for the battle is at hand. Laying aside carries the idea of forsaking the deeds of darkness which are all those sins in which we may find ourselves.
The Lord is grieved by all sin, but the sins of His own children bring special grief to “the Holy Spirit of God, by whom we were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). Paul goes on in Ephesians to call us to “lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit” (Ephesians 4:22). We are to take off the party clothes that we wear while mingling with the world and are called to put on the armor of light.
God’s light protects us in our battle against Satan’s powers of darkness. The armor of light is “the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:11 ff). Since we are children of light and have the Lord’s armor of light, we should behave properly as in the day. I believe this means we are to live as though we are in heavenly places which is in the full glory of the Light of God. It means to live in a way that pleases God, to live honestly before Him and men.
Paul now mentions a number of specific sins that reflect spiritual darkness rather than
light. The first is orgies or carousing, a term often used of a military or athletic victory celebration. These kinds of parties turned into drunkenness and immorality and so it came to be understood as sexual orgies, and sometimes even rioting.
The second sin mentioned here is drunkenness which referred to daily drinking and intoxication. The next two sins mentioned are sexual immorality and debauchery which is defined as behavior completely lacking in moral restraint, usually with the implication of sexual licentiousness – ‘licentious behavior, extreme immorality.’ It carries the basic meaning of shameless excess and the absence of restraint.
Dissension speaks of conflict, bickering, petty disagreements; it speaks of an attitude that fights to always have its own way even if will bring harm to yourself or others. Jealousy is connected with selfish ambition in James 3:14,16.
Romans 13:14 – On the other hand we are told again that to clothe ourselves with Messiah. This means as our clothing He touches us, protects us, and covers us. We need to look on what He would look, and listen to what He would listen, to talk as He would talk (Philippians 2:5;Colossians 3:1-3). Scripture lists seven things that we are to put on or clothe ourselves:
1.The Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49).
2. Clothed with the Lord Jesus Christ (here and Galatians 3:27).
5. We are to be clothed with the nature of God (Colossians 3:12).
6. The armour of light and of God here and in Ephesians 6:11f) and we are
7. To be clothed with love (Colossians 3:14).