Proverbs 27:17

Proverbs 27:17

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Romans 13:1

  Romans 13:1

(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. 
King James Version   Change your email Bible version

In Romans 13, Paul speaks primarily of our response to civil government, and the subject is submission. But the principle holds true for other authorities as well. The principle is given in the first verse: All authority derives from God, and He appoints the existing authorities. A Christian must recognize and live by this principle. All power is from God! If we say it is not, we deny His sovereignty and involvement in His creation. God rules!

Do we see God? The ungodly do not. Psalm 10:4says of the wicked, "God is in none of his thoughts." Conversely, the Christian sees God ruling over everything. Paul insists we are to be subject to authority because of God. Our submissiveness to authority has nothing to do with equality or weakness. Rather, it is an act of faith in God's governance of His creation. Our submission is an act of trust in our God, in His authority, and in the wisdom of His appointments.

The Christian consciously chooses to suffer evil rather than to do evil. Why? He does this, not because he is a masochist, but because he is taking a step in faith to establish peace and prevent conflict by recognizing that two wrongs do not make a right. Evil is not overcome by evil. Echoing Jesus' teaching in Matthew 5:44-48, Paul counsels us to "overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21).

We all agree that abuse of authority is evil—whether that authority is a governor, a king or president, a police officer, or a husband in a family. God has set the husband in authority in the family (I Corinthians 11:1-3). Under the principle taught in Romans 13:1, if the husband is unjust, it is also sinful for the person under that authority to rebel against it. The husband's injustice does not excuse sin on the part of his wife or children. Keeping oneself from rebelling or striking back is not an easy thing to do!

Of course, Scripture says that we ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). If an unjust husband tries to force us to sin, to break God's law, then we have the right not to submit to him. Instead, what do we do? We submit in faith to God, who says we do not have to submit to the unjust husband who is trying to force us to sin. But if he is not causing us to break the law of God, we have to submit.

However, just because God requires that we submit in no way prohibits us from appealing to the unjust husband and, above all, to God for relief or protection. Moreover, Jesus says that if we are persecuted, we are to flee (Matthew 10:2324:15-20John 10:39; etc.). In terms of our relationship with God and growth in His character, it is better to flee and appear weak than to rebelliously sin against an unjust authority. By doing so, we are following God's instruction through Jesus Christ.

— John W. Ritenbaugh

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