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Jun 14, 2020

Originally Presented: September 7th, 2008

Scripture Reading: Romans 13:1-7

In Romans 13, Paul continues drawing out, in very practical terms, some of the implications of Christianity.  In the first seven verses of the chapter he introduces a new topic, namely the obligation Christians have to be subservient and obedient to their government.

The general command is found in Romans 13:1.  "Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities . . ."  It is helpful to keep in mind that the 'governing authority' under which Paul lived was the idolatrous Roman Empire and Nero, a ruthless, anti-Christian emperor was on the throne.

In the verses which follow, Paul reasons with us as to why we should follow the command of verse 1.  Although governments and authorities do not always do the will of God, they are all appointed by God (Rom 13:1) for the purpose of administering justice (Rom 13:4).  Further, the consequences of disobedience result in the judgment of God (Rom 13:2) and the judgment of the state (Rom 13:4).

There are times, of course, when civil disobedience is the proper response of a Christian to his government.  When an authority commands what God has forbidden or forbids what God has commanded, then not only may a Christian disobey, he must disobey.  There are multiple Biblical illustrations of such civil disobedience.

Interestingly, in spelling out the ramifications of the principle of civil obedience in Romans 13:6,7, Paul mentions taxes twice.  One implication of this passage is that we should pay our taxes honestly.  This is one way to live as an honor to our God.