Romans 13 –Did God Hand His Authority Over to the State?

The Bible gives much instruction on how to live, and it sets the standard to live by. When we try to understand the Bible, to learn how we are to conduct our lives, Christians sometimes isolate a few scriptures and wrongly interpret them. Many forget to look at the Bible from the circumstances in which it is written. They forget to do as in 2 Timothy 2:15, where Paul admonishes us to “Be diligent…, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Then in Acts 20:27 Luke cautions us, “…proclaim… the whole will of God.” The Bible is the reliable word of God, the book of knowledge and the truth we can count on to the ends of the earth.


There is one chapter of scripture that needs to be rightly divided and compared to the whole will of God. These passages are widely misunderstood for various reasons and this is Romans 13:1 – 7. On the evil side of dividing the word of truth, the anti-Christian political principalities and some religions want to isolate these scriptures separating them from the rest of the Bible. They hope to convince true Christians not to speak the word of God in the political sphere and to do exactly what secular governments order them to do, even if it is unlawful. Sadly, seculars have been largely successful and seem to know better than Christians the power the spoken word of God because they fear it.  


On the other side there are Christians who misinterpret these Scriptures and conclude Christians have to be subservient and obey civil government. These Christians, in my experience, are generally in two camps. One is founded in cowardice; they try to find scriptures to enable them not to represent Christ in the public square. The second group are those who truly do not understand these scriptures, but wrongly conclude they have to be totally subservient to civil government. This is a clear and present danger to the Christian Culture in America today, and must be overcome.


Christians many times misinterpret the beginning of Romans wrongly. They believe governing authorities in Romans include secular governing authorities. Paul in the beginning of Romans 13 wrote, 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.  The question is who are the governing authorities? In Malachi 3:18 it states “… again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.” Then to believe Romans 13 is all governing authorities, one must conclude that God has handed His authority over to the state.

The definition of state is a politically organized body of people under a single secular entity. If Christians believe this, where do they draw the line between good and evil?  They would fail to understand that if this is true, Christians are totally subject to the state and cannot rebel against it. Then the state defines the standard by which Christians have to live. This takes God out of the picture, and replaces Him with governing authorities.


The 10 Commandants would have to become multiple choices. “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal,” becomes you shall not unless government says it is okay. Then the line between good and evil can be moved to anywhere the government requires. Killing disabled children or the elderly is okay as long as the state says we shall.

America today has organized state funded killing of the unborn and so called same sex marriage. What is the next evil Christians have accept, “to be subject to the governing authorities?” Should our pastor’s teach the body of Christ they must be subject to these governing authorities?


History teaches us about the true evil that results from this type of biblical fallacy. We only have to look back at the state of Germany under fascism during WWII. Germans failed to influence their government, and their government systematically killed and incinerated over 12 million men, women, and children. Hitler called this the final solution.


A True Look:

Let us take a True look at Romans 13:1-5 as it should be understood. First, we have to realize we are subject to the sovereignty of God, never man. (Revelation 21:6) Then we need to understand who the lord of this world is and his method, mission, and who we are fighting against. In John 8:44 Jesus defines Satan’s method is to lie, “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” In Revelation 12:9 it explains how Satan began and his mission, “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called… Satan, who leads the whole world astray.” In Ephesians 2:2, Paul describes Satan as the, “… the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.Then in John 12:31, Jesus defined Satan as “…the ruler of this world...” Then Ephesians 6:12[i] defines who Christians are battling against, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, and against the worldly governors, the princes of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness, which are in the high places.”


Christians can clearly see that we are fighting “against the worldly governors,” “the ruler of this world,” who are influencing people to lead the whole world astray through lies and deception. Then we must ask what worldly vehicle has Satan used to steal, kill and destroy Christians from the beginning of time. (John 10:10) The vehicle he used was government. Reading the Bible we see how God fearing people stood against oppressive monarchies, kings, and despotism and all the governing authorities from the beginning.  

Then consider every prophet in the Old and New Testament spoke against the political governments of their day. A few of these, God fearing Medal of Honor winners, are Joseph, Moses, Saul, David, King Solomon, Elijah, and Daniel, John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, Paul, and John. Then let’s look at modern evil governments leading up to World War II and after. The Germans, Russians, and Japanese, all were anti-Christ governing authorities. Combined they killed over 200 million people. Now consider the Muslim Theocracy of ISIS that has killed hundreds of thousands of Christians and others in Iraq and Syria in recent years. Should Christians tell everyone they must be subject to these governing authorities, because they believe Romans 13 says so?


Peter even defined evil authorities in 2 Peter 2:19, “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.” This is the opposite of Christ’s liberty. In Luke 4:18, Christ confirms; “The Spirit of the Lord… He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and… to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” Christ arms Christians with the promises of liberty if they will implant themselves into the governing authorities in which they live to “have (spiritual dominion through Christ) over … every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26)


When the true meaning of Romans 13 is revealed, we understand Paul was writing, “To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints.” (Romans 1:7) He was not writing to the general population. He was specifically addressing the body of Christ in Rome. Also, Paul was not advocating Christians totally obey the governing authorities of the secular state of Rome. Paul would have known that in Matthew 4:10 Jesus defines who we obey, “Then Jesus said to Satan, ‘Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’”  


Then finally Romans 13:5 states, “Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.” THIS DEFINES THE EXCEPTION, IT IS CONSCIENCE. Conscience is defined as an aptitude, faculty or judgment that assists in distinguishing right from wrong. For Christians that conscience is defined in the Bible in Acts 5:29. This is where Peter distinguishes between governmental authorities and Christ’s righteousness when he and the other apostles replied: “we must obey God rather than men!” Obeying government should always be understood as “so far as lawfully we may: for if unlawful things be commanded us, we must answer as Peter taught, “we must obey God rather than men.” (Notes 1599 Geneva Bible)


Conclusion:

God created the righteous concept of the institution of government and directed the people to create a representative government to honor Gods laws and prevent disorder and anarchy. The caution is Christians “… must (always) obey God rather than men.”  Therefore what is legal under man is not always lawful under God. Today, what is unlawful under God in America are abortion, gay marriage, political corruption, pornography, restricted prayer, and even prohibiting the display of the Ten Commandments, etc. etc.

Nothing made legal by government that is unlawful under God do Christians condone, hide, or fail to expose. We are never silent, apathetic, struck down or delayed in our representation of Christ as His Ambassadors to the world.

Today is our appointed time to be the light and salt that speaks the word of God into the world. We are commanded to have no fellowship with darkness, but rather expose it. (Ephesians 5:11) Confidently representing Christ as, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6)

“Jesus said…, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)


This is the way I see it, and I’m sticking to it!


David Howard Foxhole Ministry April 10, 2020