Returning to Romans 13   Leave a comment

Romans 13 was written at a time when Christians had no political power and were increasingly endangered by persecution.

If you return to previous posts, you’ll see that the Greek words might have meant a more voluntary submission than the usual hard edge connoted by commentators. It’s important to note that “authorities” didn’t just mean government officials. Peter and John ran afoul of temple “authorities” when they were told to stop preaching there and they refused.

The fact is that, from God’s perspective, Christians are not positionally subjected to human governments. We are priests and kings of the Most High God. Like it or not, agree with it or not, He owns everything on this planet, right down to our DNA. He’s just letting us borrow it for now. The time will come when that reality will be all too clear even to those who deny it. And, Christians are His heirs by adoption.

That might give some folks, even faithful Christians, a big head. I suspect Paul, with that history of being Gamalial’s student, heir to a great deal of prestige in the Jewish community, struggled with the temptation of hubris. I think most Christians, if they rolled their human frailty about in the knowledge that we are Christ’s adopted siblings, would be tempted to lord that exulted position over our fellow humans.

So God said we can’t.

Why? Because He knows us and we are who we are, so He says we won’t receive that reward on this planet, which keeps us humble. Humility is good and it follows the example of Christ Who being God stepped down into creepy human flesh to die for us. Even God submitted Himself to His own authority.

So Christians are encouraged to submit to government authorities as an exercise of humility. We learn a great deal about our relationship with God through our relationships with our fellow human beings — including officers of the state.

But that doesn’t mean that Romans 13 says we must submit at all times to all governments under all circumstances.

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