Tuesday, 26 November 2013
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. Romans 13:1
Paul now begins a new chapter and a new direction of thought. His statement in verse 1 is clear and concise. It is prescriptive in nature, meaning it is a prescribed directive; not a “wish” but a command. The second half of the verse will explain the first half. Afterwards, he will give obvious conclusions based on his comment here. Verse 1 begins with, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities.”
God’s people are in this world, here and now. Though we belong to a higher rule and authority which exists, it is a spiritual kingdom at this point. Until Christ returns and sets up His kingdom here on earth, He has appointed us to live within His spiritual kingdom while at the same time living under human authorities.
Because of this, we are directed to “be subject to the governing authorities.” This means that we are to be obedient to the laws of the land, whatever they may be. But there is an obvious conclusion that we can make. If we are under the rule of Christ, the highest authority that exists, and a governing authority under which we live issues a rule which is contrary to the precepts of the Bible, then we must disobey that rule of the lower government.
This is no different than how individual states are set up under the overarching federal rule. If America, for example, has a set law, and a state issues an order which violates the federal law, then we must obey the federal law over the state law. The same is true with our obligation to God. This precept is seen explicitly exercised by the apostles who faced the high priest and council in Jerusalem. When they were given a directive contrary to what God would have them do, their answer was that, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29.
However, supposing that the government under which we live has issued nothing contrary to our duties to God, we are expected to be in submission to them. And the reason is given, “For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” Time and again, the Bible notes that it is God who sets up kingdoms and brings them low. He directs the course of nations according to an infinitely wise plan. He also directs where we will be born and live out our years (Acts 17:26-28). Therefore, because He has established these things, we are bound under them and are expected to be in adherence to what He has ordained.
Life application: Regardless of where you live and whether you agree with the policies of your governing authorities or not, you are expected to be obedient to them. The exception is that you are never to violate your obligations to God in order to adhere to what a human government has ordained. And how can you know when such a violation of God’s rule is directed? By knowing your Bible. Read your Bible.
Heavenly Father, I know that my highest allegiance is to You. Help me to be strong in the face of persecution if it comes my way, and help me to be obedient to Your rule above all else. Grant me the fortitude to work against evil at all levels and to never compromise my adherence to Your word and obedience to the faith I have placed in my Lord Jesus. Amen.