Romans chapter 13 Message One
Romans 12:18-19 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
The establishment of government by God –
Genesis 9:5-6 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
I. Dutiful subjects Romans 13:1-7
Introduce with Jesus instruction on the matter –
Matthew 22:17-21 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.
A. Civil government’s authority. Romans 13:1-4
1. Jesus and Government. Note Governor Pilate’s interaction with Jesus –
John 19:10-11 Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.
Jesus had been travelling throughout Israel for over three years and the Roman government had no quarrel with Him at any time. Jesus stood in the government court because of the complaint of the Jewish religious leaders. Pilate had Jesus executed in order to protect his own position as Governor.
John 19:12-13 And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.
2. Paul and government.
Governments generally had no interest in the activities of Christians as long as they were not believed to be dangerous to those in power. At times the Jews complained about the Christians and the government acted to appease them, as in the case of the death of the Apostle James and the arrest of the Apostle Peter by King Herod in Acts 12.
Herod Agrippa I was an Idumean through his grandfather Herod the Great and a grandson of Mariamne the Maccabean princess. He was a favourite of Caligula the Roman Emperor and was anxious to placate his Jewish subjects while retaining the favour of the Romans. So he built theatres and held games for the Romans and Greeks and slew the Christians to please the Jews. Josephus (Ant. XIX. 7, 3) calls him a pleasant vain man scrupulously observing Jewish rites. Here we have for the first time political power (after Pilate) used against the disciples. Robertson
At other times the government aided the church –
a. Intervention –
1). The Governor of Corinth
Paul was brought to the court of the governor in Corinth –
Acts 18:12-16 And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law. And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you: But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters. And he drave them from the judgment seat.
2). The Governor of Palestine.
a). Saved by the Centurion in Jerusalem –
Acts 21:31-33 And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul. Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done.
b). Sent to Governor Felix for trial –
Acts 23:24 And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor.
b. Invention. Emperor Nero called for the arrest and execution of Paul in order to distract the Roman people from accusing Nero of misconduct.
2 Timothy 4:6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
B. Christian’s acceptable compliance.
Romans 13:5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
1. Compliance by fear is normal.
2. Compliance by faith is blessed.
Remember: The believer’s primary allegiance is to God.
Daniel 1:8-12 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs. And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king. Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.
C. Confirmation of subjection.
Follow the instruction of the Lord as noted in the introduction –
Romans 13:6-7 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
Norman Geisler set forth the following guidelines of disobedience –
1. When the government prohibits the worship of God (Exodus 5:1).
2. When it requires the taking of innocent life (Exod 1:15–21).
3. When it demands killing of God’s servants (1 Kings 18:1–4).
4. When it requires the worship of idols (Dan 3:1–7).
5. When it commands prayer to a man (Dan 6:6–9).
6. When it prohibits the propagation of the gospel (Acts 4:17–20).
7. When it demands the worship of a man as God (Rev 13:4, 8).
The best course for believers is to know God’s Word, seek His wisdom, and follow His leadership. Trust Him.