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. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 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. (Romans 13:1-7)1

Reason #10
If Romans 13 is About Secular Government, the Apostle Paul Contradicts  the Apostle Peter

 

The elders … I exhort…. Feed the flock of God … taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock…. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder…. (1 Peter 5:1-5)

The Apostle Peter begins this chapter much the same as the Apostle Paul begins Romans 13. Both Apostles are discussing biblically qualified authorities—that is, elders or overseers—some of whom would serve as judges in Romans 13 ecclesias. Both Paul and Peter likewise require submission to these ministers of God who represent Yahweh2 and His law. This is in contrast to resistance to those who are but mere powers:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil; as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith…. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

Peter provides us with a clear distinction regarding our responses to both God-ordained authorities and God-established powers. Only the former is due our allegiance.

Vigilance

Verse 8 begins with Peter charging his readers to be vigilant. The opposite is denounced by Yahweh as resting on one’s lees:

…I will search Jerusalem … and punish the men that are settled on their lees. (Zephaniah 1:12)

The reason for Yahweh’s displeasure is explained by the Prophet Zechariah:

I am very angry with the nations who are at ease; for while I was only a little angry, they furthered the disaster. (Zechariah 1:15, NASB)

Although not actively engaged in waging war against God and His kingdom, their neglect in promoting the kingdom or in engaging the enemy contributed to advancing the cause of Yahweh’s adversaries.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised to discover Edmund Burke’s famous quotation—“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”—was inspired by Zechariah 1:15.

We are to be vigilant watchman, ready to sound the alarm and take appropriate action against any assault upon the truth:

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:3-4)

Where the King James translated asélgeian as “lasciviousness,” the New American Standard Bible translates it as “licentiousness.” In his 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster defined “licentiousness” as “excessive indulgence of liberty; contempt of the just restraints of law….”3 By their rejection of His law, antinomians4 turn Yahweh’s grace into licentiousness; they are humanists dressed in Christian attire. Without Yahweh’s moral compass, every man is a law unto himself.

Jude’s warning applies to anyone whose antinomianism turns Yahweh’s grace or anything else into an occasion for lawlessness. The teaching that Romans 13 is about secular government facilitates lawlessness on the societal level. If Paul is advocating indiscriminate submission to government that’s spurned Yahweh as its sovereign and thus His law as society’s standard, he would be culpable for advancing antinomianism in the worst possible way.

Damnable doctrines

The Greek word krima translated “condemnation” in Jude 1:4 is also found in Romans 13, translated “damnation”:

Let every soul be subject unto the higher authorities. For there is no authority but of God: the authorities that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the authority, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. (Romans 12:1-2)

Whatever Paul is teaching is a matter of damnation for those who get it wrong. Are those who teach Romans 13 is about secular government prepared to say resisting the powers of secular government—government that’s repudiated Yahweh as its sovereign and His law as supreme—will bring damnation upon those who resist those same powers?

The only thing that makes sense of Paul’s warning of damnation is that he’s instead describing a biblical civil body politic—an ecclesia governed by biblically qualified judges representing Yahweh. To resist their authority amounts to contempt of Yahweh’s court of law. Such contempt is condemned as a capital crime:

And thou shalt come unto … the judge that shall be in those days, and inquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment: And thou shalt do according to the sentence … and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee: According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall shew thee, to the right hand, nor to the left. And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto … the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel. And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously. (Deuteronomy 17:9-13)

We need to be vigilant against any sedition opposed to Yahweh’s law order, including the damnable teaching that Romans 13 is about secular government.

Roaring, devouring lions

In 1 Peter 5:8, Peter does not command us to submit to but to resist the devil. If the devil here is meant to be taken literally, resisting Satan would demand we also resist his representatives here on earth, especially those in influential positions in government. This would put Peter at odds with either Paul in Romans 13 or with those who believe we’re obligated to submit to or even just content ourselves with secular government.

But what if Peter’s not referring to Satan but to some other adversary?

The Hebrew and Greek words satan should have never been transliterated5 but instead translated6 “adversary” in all instances, allowing the context to determine what adversary the author has in mind.7 The same is true with the Greek word diabolos. It should have been translated “slanderer” or “false accuser,” as in 1 Timothy 3:11 and 2 Timothy 3:3. The word diabolos does not mean devil. It means one who slanders or libels others and should have been consistently translated so as to reflect this.

Remove the hybrid word “devil”8 so as not to be unduly influenced and it’s clear Peter has someone else in mind.

The word “adversary” in 1 Peter 5:8 is derived from the Greek word antidikos. It literally means “an opponent (in a lawsuit).”9 This false accuser is depicted by Peter as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. If we allow the Bible to be its own commentary, it’s explicit as to whom such terminology applies?

As a roaring lion … so is a wicked ruler over the poor people. (Proverbs 28:15)

Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones. (Jeremiah 50:17)

They [Sennacherib and Nebuchadrezzar] shall roar together like lions…. (Jeremiah 51:38)

David, Solomon, Jeremiah, and Zephaniah all equate oppressive tyrants with roaring, devouring lions.10 Hence, we understand Peter was not depicting some mystical unseen entity but instead a despot who falsely accused Christians, opposed them at law, and had them executed. What false accuser at the time Peter wrote his first epistle both falsely accused Christians and was intent on destroying them? None other than Nero, who, among other things, falsely accused Christians of burning down Rome and who murdered Christians at his pleasure.

Peter was not warning Christians of some unseen demon of darkness but of that devil Nero and others like him. Peter not only warned Christians regarding Nero, he also charged them to resist him:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the [false accuser]; as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith…. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

This is precisely what the disciples were accused of doing in Acts 17:

[T]hey [“lewd fellows of the baser sort”] drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city [intending to criminally incriminate them at law], crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also … and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another King, one Jesus. (Acts 17:6-7)

One resists a despot by declaring allegiance to another King and obeying his laws, rather than the usurper’s, anywhere the two are opposed to each other.

Unless you’re determined to pit Peter against Paul, this effectively counters the teaching that Romans 13 or 1 Peter 2 are about secular government. We are obliged to find peace with such powers wherever we can, per Romans 12:18. We are not obligated to either submit to or content ourselves with such biblically adverse, seditious powers.

Paul is not in conflict with Peter because Paul does not teach submission to Nero or to any secular government in Romans 13. Instead, he depicts a biblical ecclesia, a civil body politic like those established by the Puritans in 17th-century America, which were a blessing to the righteous and a terror to the wicked.

Resistance, not rebellion

To what degree we resist depends upon to what extent secular governments (when in power) have rebelled against our King. For example, nearly all governments view murder as a crime. There is, therefore, no need for resistance in such instances. However, not all governments deem murder a capital crime. Therefore, Christians should resist their violation of Yahweh’s mandatory death penalty for murderers.11

Nevertheless, it is not for us to rebel. Ours is to submit to our King. This, in turn, requires we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, which, in turn, means eventually establishing His government here on earth as it is in heaven.12 Those who labor to this end will, at times, inevitably be accused of rebellion and sedition against the powers that be, as the disciples were in Acts 4, 5, and 17. Our response should begin with:

[A] pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. (Titus 2:7-8)

If those in power persist in calling it rebellion, then:

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. (1 Peter 4:12-16)

The United States Constitutional Republic

Not all secular rulers are of the same disposition as Nero—roaring, devouring lions who falsely accuse the righteous of doing evil—but today’s Constitutional Republic is of that very same nature. It’s a diabolos government that falsely accuses the righteous of doing evil. This is essentially the same as depicted in Isaiah 5:

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!…. Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! …because they have cast away the law of Yahweh of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 5:20-24)

Such governments revile good as evil and legitimize evil as good. Case in point: the Constitutional Republic, which, among other similar atrocities, legalizes sodomite unions as marriages in violation of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 and that, in turn, prosecutes Christians who in their businesses refuse to accommodate this abomination.

The estimated 3,800 infants per day butchered in their mothers’ wombs since Roe v. Wade (sanctioned and financed by today’s American secular government) also testify to the Constitutional Republic’s diabolos nature. I doubt Nero was responsible for murdering anywhere near 58 million and counting innocent lives.

Not all secular powers are as bad as Nero, but today’s American secular powers are and should therefore be exposed and reproved per Ephesians 5:11 and resisted according to 1 Peter 5:8-9.

But that’s not enough. That’s not all that’s required of us regarding such despotic governments. Don’t forget our duty as Christians includes seeking first Yahweh’s kingdom and His righteousness12 and therefore doing all we can toward establishing His government based upon His moral law here on earth as it is in heaven.13 Thus, reproof and resistance are not enough. Our responsibility includes overcoming evil with good14 everywhere we can:

We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself. (Dietrich Bonhoffer)

Eventually, this must also include overcoming secular government with biblical government—that is, Paul’s Romans 13 government established under the authority of ministers of God.

Stay tuned for Part 12.

 

Related posts:

Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government: A Revolutionary Commentary on Roams 13:1-7

Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant

A Biblical Constitution: A Scriptural Replacement for Secular Government

 

1. Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government: A Revolutionary Commentary on Roams 13:1-7

2. YHWH, the English transliteration of the Tetragrammaton, is most often pronounced Yahweh. It is the principal Hebrew name of the God of the Bible and was inspired to appear nearly 7,000 times in the Old Testament. It was unlawfully deleted by the English translators. In obedience to the Third Commandment and the many Scriptures that charge us to proclaim, swear by, praise, extol, call upon, bless, glorify, and hold fast to His name, we have chosen to memorialize His name here in this document and in our lives. For a more thorough explanation concerning important reasons for using the sacred name of God, see “The Third Commandment.”

3. Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language, s.v. “licentiousness” (1828; reprint ed. San Francisco, CA: The Foundation for American Christian Education, 1967).

4. Antinomianism: The teaching that Yahweh’s triune moral law (His Ten Commandments and their respective statutes and judgments) has been replaced by Yahweh’s grace and is no longer applicable under the New Covenant.

Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant counteracts this heretical teaching.

5. Transliteration commutes the letters of a word from one language to another. Personal names are almost always transliterated, whereas other words are almost always translated.

6. Translation commutes the meaning of a word from one language to another.

7. The Hebrew and Greek words satan are used to describe many adversaries in the Bible: men, the angel of Yahweh, even Yahweh Himself, etc. Listen to audio series “Spooks: Are They For Real?,” beginning at http://www.missiontoisrael.org/tapelist.php#T199.

8. “Devil” is neither a transliteration, nor a translation of diabolos.

9. James Strong, antidikos, “Greek Dictionary of the New Testament,” The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990) p. 13.

10. Psalm 14:4, 17:9-12; Proverbs 19:12, 20:12, 28:15; Jeremiah 50:17, 51:38; and Zephaniah 3:3.

11. Genesis 9:5-6; Exodus 21:14; Leviticus 24:17; Numbers 35:31-33, etc.

12. “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven…. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness….” (Matthew 6:10, 33)

13.  Biblical Constitution: A Scriptural Replacement for Secular Government

See also series of ten online books on each of the Ten Commandments and their respective statutes, and judgments, beginning with Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

14. “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)

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. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 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. (Romans 13:1-7)1

Reason #9
Romans 13 Depicts GodOrdained Authorities Who are Due Tribute, Custom, Fear, and Honor

For he is the minister of God to thee for good … a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil…. 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. (Romans 13:4-7)

The Greek word opheile translated “dues” involves a debt owed to another party. Many government officials demand tribute and custom. This does not mean it’s due them.

Honor to whom honor is due

Any government due tribute and custom would also be due fear and honor. To owe any one of these is to owe them all. To think that honor is due any and all governments that levy taxes on its subjects is preposterous. For example, today’s government uses a portion of the taxes it confiscates to subsidize infanticide2 and sodomy. Are we to believe Paul intends such a government to be honored?

But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. (Romans 2:5-8, NASB)

How much more so those who inflict unrighteousness upon others by edict?

He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to Yahweh.3 (Proverbs 17:15)

What Solomon describes is the inevitable corollary of governments not based upon Yahweh’s perfect law of liberty. As such, they are not due the things enumerated by Paul.

If Yahweh honors those known for their good deeds and renders wrath upon those who are known for their evil deeds, why would He command us to render honor, etc., upon governments that render evil to the righteous? For example, governments that promote and finance infanticide, sodomy, transgenderism, etc., or that simply refuse to fear and honor Yahweh as sovereign? Is honor and reverence, etc., due such despots? Does God expect us to render honor and reverence to those to whom He will render wrath and indignation?

Paul’s statement “for this cause” eliminates anyone who is not due tribute, custom, fear, and honor. He explicitly declares that these things are owed the authorities he describes because they are about the business of doing good to the righteous and restraining the wicked—not just randomly, but continually. This is what enjoins Christians to render them tribute, custom, fear, and honor.

Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:7-10)

In Verse 5, Paul declares Holy Spirit conviction as the motivation for submission to the government he describes. In Verses 8-10, he declares Yahweh’s law of love as our motivation for paying what’s due such a government. Does love obligate us to render tribute, custom, fear, and honor to government that has repudiated Yahweh and His law? If not, then Paul’s depiction has nothing to do with secular government established upon fickle finite man’s surrogate edicts, governed by biblically seditious powers.

Someone may insist government is to be honored only when it’s honorable. Indeed! This alone eliminates secular government in Romans 13. Romans 13:1-2 applies only to biblical governments because only governments established upon Yahweh’s sovereignty and law are continually honorable.

Tribute to whom tribute is due

Puritan Pastor Jonathan Mayhew delineated between God’s ministers and mere powers:

Here [in Romans 13:7] the apostle argues the duty of paying taxes from this consideration, that those who perform the duty of rulers are continually attending upon the public welfare. But how does this argument conclude for paying taxes to such princes as are continually endeavoring to ruin the public, and especially when such payment would facilitate and promote this wicked design.4

Paul delineates God-ordained authorities as ministers of God who attend continually upon serving Yahweh. It is relatively easy to find biblical precedent in both Old and New Testaments for what Romans 13 indicates is due authorities that represent Yahweh:

[T]hou shalt keep the feast of weeks unto Yahweh thy God with a tribute of a freewill offering of thine hand, which thou shalt give unto Yahweh thy God, according as Yahweh thy God hath blessed thee. (Deuteronomy 16:10)

Kingdom laborers are to be supported with tithes and freewill offerings. King Hezekiah understood that such men were due support:

Moreover he commanded the people that dwelt in Jerusalem to give the portion [firstfruits, increase, and the tithe, Verse 5] of the priests and the Levites [who often served as judges], that they might be encouraged in [devote themselves to, NASB] the law of Yahweh. (2 Chronicles 31:4)

When Paul wrote “for this cause” we are to pay tribute, he was referring to biblical taxes (tithes and freewill offerings) for the upkeep of God’s ministers:

Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? … For it is written in the law of Moses [in Deuteronomy 25:4], Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn…. [H]e that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal [material, NASB] things? If others be partakers of this power [exousia, authority] over you, are not we rather? … Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel [of the kingdom, Matthew 24:14] should live of the gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:7-14)

The law of Yahweh ordains that such men as Paul and Barnabas—God-established authorities and ministers of God—are due monetary considerations:

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of [and therefore due] his reward. (1 Timothy 5:17-18)

The Greek word time, translated “honor” in the phrase “double honor,” is the same word translated “honor” in Romans 13:7 in the phrase “honor to whom honor is due.” In these last two passages, Paul is referring to elders, God-ordained authorities, servants of God, kingdom laborers like those appointed as judges by Moses and like the priest Ezra who served as a judge:

And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers…. And let them judge the people at all seasons…. (Exodus 18:20-22)

For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of Yahweh, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments. (Ezra 7:10)

Such representatives of Yahweh are due tribute, etc.

Fear to whom fear is due

Not only is the fear of Yahweh the beginning of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding,5 it’s the leading statute of the First Commandment:

[T]hese are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which Yahweh your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them … all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged. …Thou shalt fear Yahweh thy God…. Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you [gods who are nothing more than images representing the people themselves performing their own will by edict]…. And Yahweh commanded us … to fear Yahweh our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive…. (Deuteronomy 6:1-24)

“Thou shalt have no other gods before [Yahweh]” relies first upon “Thou shall not fear anyone but Yahweh” and those who represent Him. For example, parents are not only to be loved, honored, and obeyed, they are also to be feared:

Yahweh spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them…. Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father…. (Leviticus 19:1,3)

Godly parents are to be feared because they are God-ordained representatives of Yahweh. The same is true for civil authorities. To render fear, or godly reverence, to government that has repudiated Yahweh as its sovereign is not only counter to what Paul is teaching in Romans 13, it is a violation of the First Commandment.

The government Paul depicts in Romans 13 is not secular but a biblical civil body politic whose laborers are due tribute, custom, fear, and honor.

Rendering to Caesar

Invariably someone will object that Jesus declared we’re to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. This is especially relevant since both Romans 13 and Mark 12 use the word “render”:

And … certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, [said unto Jesus in order] to catch him in his words. …Master, … Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it. And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s. And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him. (Mark 12:13-17)

If the statement “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” is to be taken at face value, there would be little reason for Christ’s antagonists to marvel at it.

If we’re to correctly interpret Jesus’ response, we must not overlook that He was responding to the Pharisees and Herodians who intended to entrap him with their question. One might therefore expect Jesus’ response to be similar to other incidents in which He turned the tables on people with disingenuous motives, ensnaring them with their words.

Caesar: A Flesh and Blood Roman Dictator

Today the term “Caesar” is often used to represent government in general. However, at the time Christ made this statement, Caesar was a flesh and blood Roman dictator. Therefore to correctly discern Jesus’ response, we must ask ourselves: What exactly belonged to Caesar that didn’t belong to God? Did the bodies, souls, and spirits of man belong to Caesar? Did the people’s lands and other possessions belong to this Roman Emperor? Did reverence, honor, and obedience belong to this tyrant?

Caesar, of course, would have insisted all of these things belonged to him. However, we’re concerned with Caesar’s due, not merely what he laid claim to.

What about taxes? Romans 13:7 informs us to “render … to all their dues, tribute (tax, NASB) to whom tribute is due.” In Verse 6, Paul indicated all of these things are due to God’s ministers. Did Caesar qualify as one of the servants of God described by Paul in Verses 3 and 4—a terror to the wicked and a blessing to the righteous? Even people who maintain Romans 13 is about secular government are averse to identifying Caesar as one of God’s ministers. Why? Because Caesar was precisely the opposite.

These questions are extremely important because Caesar’s disposition is crucial in determining what was due him. The Ahabs, Jezebels, and Caesars of this world should get what is due them. But are such powers due what Paul listed in Romans 13, or are they due something else altogether? It’s a safe bet Jason and his Christian brethren did not believe Caesar was due the things enumerated by Paul:

[T]hey [“lewd fellows of the baser sort”] drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city [intending to criminally incriminate them], crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also … and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another King, one Jesus. (Acts 17:6-7)

It is unfathomable that Jason and his brethren turned around and vindicated Caesar by teaching Christians were obligated to honor him.

Biblical taxes

The government described by Paul is a biblical government,6 established upon the moral laws of Yahweh.7 Therefore, the taxes Paul declares due to God’s ministers—judges and other kingdom laborers—are biblical taxes for the maintenance of kingdom affairs. Are we to believe Jesus and Paul were suggesting Christians are obligated to pay kingdom taxes—tithes and offerings—to Caesar who strove to destroy the kingdom of God?

What belongs to Yahweh and what belongs to Caesar? The answer to the first question answers the second question. Yahweh is sovereign and reigns over and owns everything:

The earth is Yahweh’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell theirin. (Psalm 24:1)

What does this leave for Caesar? Even Caesar didn’t belong to Caesar.

Trapping the Trappers

Jesus’ retort to the scheming Pharisees and Herodians was merely another example of His trapping them with their own words. In this instance, He was forcing them to choose their God, Yahweh or Caesar.

When interpreted correctly, Romans 13:1-4 proves that, apart from areas where his law agreed with Yahweh’s law, Caesar was not a legitimate authority except over those like the Pharisees and Herodians who chose him above Yahweh:

When Pilate … brought Jesus forth … he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priest answered, We have no king but Caesar. Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified…. (John 19:13-16)

“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” was never meant to be instruction to everyone, but only to those who forsake Yahweh’s authority. Consequently, there is no precedent in Yahweh’s law for the things enumerated by Paul as being due secular government. Neither does Jesus’ “Render to Caesar” declaration demonstrate secular government in Romans 13. It does just the opposite.

Stay tuned for Part 11.

 

Related posts:

Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government: A Revolutionary Commentary on Roams 13:1-7

Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant

A Biblical Constitution: A Scriptural Replacement for Secular Government

 

1. Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government: A Revolutionary Commentary on Roams 13:1-7

2. The battle against this atrocity begins with identifying it correctly. By calling it “abortion,” we’ve acquiesced to the opposition’s terminology. Look up “abortion” and “miscarriage” in any dictionary. A miscarriage is an abortion. What doctors (and parents) do to infants in the womb is infanticide. Had Roe v. Wade been waged over infanticide rather than abortion, it would have never made it to the court room. In fact, by employing the word “abortion,” Roe v. Wade was won before it ever got to court.

The Greek word brephos employed in the New Testament for infants already born is the same word used for infants in the womb (Luke 2:12 and Luke 1:41), without specifying the precise moment they became a brephos. Therefore, our only option is to then accept that they became such at conception. Thus, intentionally killing a brephos at any point is “brephocide” or, more properly, infanticide.

3. YHWH, the English transliteration of the Tetragrammaton, is most often pronounced Yahweh. It is the principal Hebrew name of the God of the Bible and was inspired to appear nearly 7,000 times in the Old Testament. It was unlawfully deleted by the English translators. In obedience to the Third Commandment and the many Scriptures that charge us to proclaim, swear by, praise, extol, call upon, bless, glorify, and hold fast to His name, we have chosen to memorialize His name here in this document and in our lives. For a more thorough explanation concerning important reasons for using the sacred name of God, see “The Third Commandment.”

4. Jonathan Mayhew, “A Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers,” quoted by John Wingate Thornton, The Pulpit of the American Revolution: Political Sermons of the Period of 1776 (New York, NY: Da Capo Press, 1970) p. 77.

5. Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7, 9:10.

6.  A Biblical Constitution: A Scriptural Replacement for Secular Government

See also series of ten online books on each of the Ten Commandments and their respective statutes, and judgments, beginning with Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

7. Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant

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. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 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. (Romans 13:1-7)1

Reason #8
Romans 13 is Not About Secular Government Because Paul Appeals to Our Christian Conscience for Submission

Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. (Romans 13:5)

What makes a secular government secular is its rejection of Yahweh2 as its sovereign and thus His laws as supreme. This is the government some people declare Christians are to submit to from a Holy Spirit-convicted conscience.

[G]rieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)

Is the Holy Spirit grieved when Christians fail to submit to government established upon rejection of Christ as King? That’s what we are compelled to believe if Romans 13 is about secular government.

The Reason

The reason the Apostle Paul appeals to Christians’ conscience is because to submit to God-ordained authorities, ministers of God committed to continually being such—as demonstrated by the laws they implement and enforce—is to submit to God Himself. Conscience-motivated submission is the catalyst for all subordinates and their God-ordained authority: wives to their husbands, children to their parents, servants to their masters, and kingdom citizens to their civil magistrates.

If conscience-motivated submission is required to secular government, then it’s also required for all other usurpers who might replace one’s husband, parents, or master.

God-ordained civil authorities stand in the place of God when adjudicating on His behalf:

And he [King Jehoshaphat] set judges in the land throughout all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city, and said to the judges, Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for Yahweh, who is with you in the judgment…. And he charged them, saying, Thus shall ye do in the fear of Yahweh, faithfully, and with a perfect heart. (2 Chronicles 19:5-9)

For the criminally-disposed person, submission to the government depicted by Paul is enforced by judges who execute Yahweh’s civil sanctions. For the citizen who lives to do his King’s bidding, submission is engendered by love for His King and from a Holy Spirit-quickened conscience.

Nowhere does Paul appeal to the Christian conscience for the sake of anything secular, as alleged by those who maintain Romans 13 is about secular government:

Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God…. Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:7, 17)

Grieving the Spirit entails promoting that which is evil:

Quench not the Spirit…. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21)

Those who have not seared their conscience are equipped by the Holy Spirit to discern good and evil, including biblical authorities and secular powers. To fail to discriminate between these two polar opposite forms of government is tantamount to a Christian endorsement of government corruption:

Therefore the law is slacked, and [righteous] judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about [surround, NASB] the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth. (Habakkuk 1:4)

No vacuums

There are no vacuums when it comes to ethics and law. Consequently, government is never neutral. It either serves God or is opposed to Him. It’s either righteous or unrighteous, determined by whether its laws are based upon Yahweh’s unchanging morality.3

Secular governments are not all equally wicked. Nevertheless, this does not change the fact that regardless how good a secular government may otherwise appear, it remains evil, if for no other reason than because of its rejection of Yahweh as its sovereign.

Case in point: the 18th-century Constitutional Republic. The United States government today cannot hold a candle to the government first framed in 1787. Someone may, therefore, contend that Christians would have done well to submit to the government originally framed by the Constitutional Republic’s founders. However, it was indiscriminate Christian submission to that very government that’s responsible for what America is enduring today, including government-financed infanticide,4 government-legalized sodomite “marriages,” government-approved transgender bathrooms, and government-sanctioned polytheism.

There’s hardly an Article or Amendment in the Constitution that’s not antithetical, if not seditious, to Yahweh’s sovereignty and morality.5 These sins of commission aside, every single problem America faces today can be traced back to the founders’ sins of omission—that is, the framers’ failure to expressly establish government on Yahweh’s moral law as its standard for society. For example, Exodus 21:22-236 would have largely eliminated infanticide, Leviticus 20:137 would have prevented today’s homosexual agenda, Deuteronomy 22:58 would have precluded today’s transgender bathrooms, and Exodus 34:13-159 would have averted the Muslim invasion.10

America today is reaping the whirlwind resulting from the wind sown by the 18th-century founders:

[B]ecause they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law … they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind…. (Hosea 8:1,7)

Had 18th-century Christians rejected the secular Republican form of government created from Enlightenment traditions (no matter how good or innocuous it appeared at the time), we wouldn’t today be reaping their whirlwind in thousands of different ways. This whirlwind will only intensify until we repent of our complicity in our American forbears’ sins against Yahweh.

Reynolds v. the United States (1879)

It didn’t take long for this allegedly neutral government to formally become overtly anti-Christian in what is perhaps the most important case ever adjudicated by the Supreme Court. A mere one hundred years after the adoption of the Bill of Rights, Reynolds v. the United States (1879) addressed the Mormon Church’s claim that polygamy was a right afforded them under Amendment 1. Because most Americans find polygamy repugnant, the magnitude of Supreme Court Justice Morrison Waite’s decision is lost on them:

Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices. Suppose one believed that human sacrifices were a necessary part of religious worship, would it be seriously contended that the civil government under which he lived could not interfere to prevent a sacrifice?… So here, as a law of the organization of society under the exclusive dominion of the United States, it is provided that plural marriages shall not be allowed. Can a man excuse his practices to the contrary because of his religious belief? To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land.11

Contrary to Matthew 7:21-2712 and James 1:22-25,13 the Supreme Court ruled that a man’s actions can be severed and isolated from his faith and thereby judged illegal according to the Constitution and its supplemental edicts. This precedent paved the way for any Christian14 action based upon a Biblical conviction—such as preaching against sodomy—to be arbitrarily outlawed in the same fashion. Had the framers established Yahweh’s unchanging law and its predetermined immutable morality as the supreme law of the land, polygamy and human sacrifice (and all other issues) would have fallen under its jurisdiction and thereby determined to be either lawful or unlawful.

It only took a hundred years for this ostensibly innocuous government to officially strip Christians of their dominion responsibility15 and send them cowering to their church buildings, transforming what was Christendom in the 1600s into mere four-walled Christianity today.

Consequently, to argue for a secular government in Romans 13 is to argue we are obligated to submit to that which is evil from a Holy Spirit-convicted conscience. It is instead unconscionable to think Paul would advance such theology.

Paul does appeal to our Christian conscience to submit to the government he depicts, a government under the supervision and direction of God-ordained authorities who attend continually upon doing good to the righteous and either bringing the unrighteous to judgment or deterring them from their wicked predispositions.

Stay tuned for Part 10.

 

Related posts:

Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government: A Revolutionary Commentary on Roams 13:1-7

Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant

A Biblical Constitution: A Scriptural Replacement for Secular Government

 

1. Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government: A Revolutionary Commentary on Roams 13:1-7

2.YHWH, the English transliteration of the Tetragrammaton, is most often pronounced Yahweh. It is the principal Hebrew name of the God of the Bible and was inspired to appear nearly 7,000 times in the Old Testament. It was unlawfully deleted by the English translators. In obedience to the Third Commandment and the many Scriptures that charge us to proclaim, swear by, praise, extol, call upon, bless, glorify, and hold fast to His name, we have chosen to memorialize His name here in this document and in our lives. For a more thorough explanation concerning important reasons for using the sacred name of God, see “The Third Commandment.”

3. A Biblical Constitution: A Scriptural Replacement for Secular Government

See also series of ten online books on each of the Ten Commandments and their respective statutes, and judgments, beginning with Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

4. The battle against this atrocity begins with identifying it correctly. By calling it “abortion,” we’ve acquiesced to the opposition’s terminology. Look up “abortion” and “miscarriage” in any dictionary. A miscarriage is an abortion. What doctors (and parents) do to infants in the womb is infanticide. Had Roe v. Wade been waged over infanticide rather than abortion, it would have never made it to the court room. In fact, by employing the word “abortion,” Roe v. Wade was won before it ever got to court.

The Greek word brephos employed in the New Testament for infants already born is the same word used for infants in the womb (Luke 2:12 and Luke 1:41), without specifying the precise moment they became a brephos. Therefore, our only option is to then accept that they became such at conception. Thus, intentionally killing a brephos at any point is “brephocide” or, more properly, infanticide.

5. Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective

6. “If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life.” (Exodus 21:22-23)

7. “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13)

8. “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto Yahweh thy God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5)

9. “[Y]e shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves. For thou shall worship no other god: for Yahweh, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Lest thou … go a whoring after their gods….” (Exodus 34:13-15)

10. I use the Muslims as only an example. The same pertains to any non-Christian religion and its adherents, including Judaism, Hinduism, etc.

11. Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1879)

12. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven…. therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:21-27)

13. “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves…. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” (James 1:22-25)

14. This is not to say The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka the Mormons) is Christian. It is not Christian, but rather a cult masquerading as Christian.

15. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)

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. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 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. (Romans 13:1-7)1

 

Reason #7
If Romans 13 is About Secular Government Paul Contradicts Himself in 1 Corinthians 6 and 2 Corinthians 6

For he is the minister of Goda revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. …they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. (Romans 13:4-6)

Imposing biblical law

It’s not uncommon to hear both non-Christians and Christians alike assert that righteous men cannot impose biblical law on nonbelievers. Why not? To do so does not force conversion on anyone, which is an impossibility to begin with. Were the 17th-century Christian Colonials in violation of scripture for establishing biblical governments under the authority of God’s ministers?2

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1835: “They [the 17th-century Christian Colonials] exercised the rights of sovereignty; they named their magistrates, concluded peace or declared war, made police regulations, and enacted laws as if their allegiance was due only to God. Nothing can be more curious and, at the same time more instructive, than the legislation of that period; it is there that the solution of the great social problem which the United States now presents to the world is to be found [in perfect fulfillment of Deuteronomy 4:5-8,3 demonstrating the continuing veracity of Yahweh’s moral law and its accompanying blessings, per Deuteronomy 28:1-14].

“Amongst these documents we shall notice, as especially characteristic, the code of laws promulgated by the little State of Connecticut in 1650. The legislators of Connecticut begin with the penal laws, and … they borrow their provisions from the text of Holy Writ … copied verbatim from the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy.…”4

John Clark Ridpath, History of the United States, 1874: “In June of 1639 the leading men of New Haven held a convention in a barn, and formally adopted the Bible as the constitution of the State. Everything was strictly conformed to the religious standard. The government was called the House of Wisdom…. None but church members were admitted to the rights of citizenship.”5

William Holmes McGuffey, McGuffeys Sixth Eclectic Reader, 1879: “Their form of government was as strictly theocratical insomuch that it would be difficult to say where there was any civil authority among them distinct from ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Whenever a few of them settled a town, they immediately gathered themselves into a church; and their elders were magistrates, and their code of laws was the Pentateuch…. God was their King; and they regarded him as truly and literally so….”6

Many contemporary Christians scorn the very suggestion that Christians should hold dominion over society by means of Yahweh’s7 moral law. The vacuum created by Christians’ dereliction of duty has not been left unfilled.

Like a trampled spring and a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked. (Proverbs 25:26, NASB)

Is society better off under the rule of non-Christians, who invariably revile good as evil and legitimize evil as good?8 Many Christians seem to think so. With such defeatist theology, no wonder contemporary Christianity finds itself trampled under the foot of man:

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. (Matthew 5:13)

People who claim righteous law cannot be required of unrighteous people are at odds with the Apostle Paul in Romans 13, 1 Timothy 1,9 1 Corinthians 6, and 2 Corinthians 10,10 and the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 2.11 All five of these passages depict righteous men—ministers of God—imposing Yahweh’s law on the unrighteous. For example:

Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? … Know ye not that we shall judge … things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church [ecclesia]. (1 Corinthians 6:1-4)12

Does the Apostle Paul contradict himself?

If Paul, in Romans 13, is promoting Christian submission to secular government under the jurisdiction of non-Christians, he’s in conflict with himself in 1 Corinthians 6 where he reprimands the Corinthians for going to non-Christian courts of law to settle their disputes.

If, in Romans 13, Paul is promoting a secular government that would allow for both Christians and non-Christians to serve together, he would be in conflict with himself in 2 Corinthians 6 where he condemns such unequal yoking:

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. (2 Corinthians 6:14-17)

As important as Paul’s directive is for personal relationships, how much more crucial that it be applied to those who govern others? The ramifications are much greater.

Paul reiterates essentially the same prohibition to the Christians in Ephesus:

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. (Ephesians 5:11)

To unequally yoke non-Christians and Christians in civil leadership is a recipe for disaster. One needs to look no further than the today’s Constitutional Republic:

Can two walk together, except they be agreed? (Amos 3:3)

Do not be deceived. “Bad company corrupts good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33, NASB)

Yoking Christians and non-Christians in civil leadership is not only a bad idea, it makes the Christians complicit in the sins of their non-Christian colleagues:

For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist…. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your [personal, State, White, Senate, or] house [of Representatives], neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. (2 John 1:7-11)

Complicity is also enforced upon those who help elect non-Christians to public office:

Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thus share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin. (1 Timothy 5:22, NASB)

Segregated leadership

It is incumbent upon anyone who teaches Romans 13 is about secular government to also insist that civil leadership in such a government be limited to non-Christians, lest they pit Paul against himself.

In light of Paul’s charge against unequal yoking, both sides of this issue must promote a segregated leadership in the government they allege Paul is writing about. If Romans 13 is about biblical government, it eliminates non-Christians from civil leadership. (See again Ridpath’s and McGuffey’s quotations above.) If Romans 13 is about secular government, it eliminates Christians from civil leadership.

If the latter is true, Paul was advocating a secular government ruled solely by non-Christians. Can you imagine where this would lead? All secular governments based upon man’s capricious edicts and ruled by non-Christians eventually end up on the precipice of moral depravity and destruction. How can anyone think this is what Paul was promoting?

And when they [lewd fellows of the baser sort] found them [the Apostle and Paul and his companions] not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. (Acts 17:6-7)

To turn the world upside down (what is in reality right side up) will never occur by tolerating its secular governments. To turn the world right side up begins by exposing any and all secular governments for their sedition against the King of kings and eventually by replacing them with the biblical government depicted by Paul.13

Stay tuned for Part 9.

 

Related posts:

Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government: A Revolutionary Commentary on Roams 13:1-7

Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant

A Biblical Constitution: A Scriptural Replacement for Secular Government

 

1. Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government: A Revolutionary Commentary on Roams 13:1-7

2. For more regarding the 17th-century Colonial governments established upon Yahweh’s moral law under the authority of ministers of God, see Chapter 3 “The Preamble: WE THE PEOPLE vs. YAHWEH” of Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective.

3. “Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as Yahweh my God commanded me…. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as Yahweh our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?” (Deuteronomy 4:5-8)

4. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 2 vols. (New York: NY: The Colonial Press, 1899) vol. 1, pp. 36-37.

5. John Clark Ridpath, History of the United States, 4 vols. (New York, NY: The American Book Company, 1874) vol. 1, p. 181.

6. William Holmes McGuffey, McGuffey’s Sixth Eclectic Reader (New York, NY: American Book Company, 1879) p. 225.

7. YHWH, the English transliteration of the Tetragrammaton, is most often pronounced Yahweh. It is the principal Hebrew name of the God of the Bible and was inspired to appear nearly 7,000 times in the Old Testament. It was unlawfully deleted by the English translators. In obedience to the Third Commandment and the many Scriptures that charge us to proclaim, swear by, praise, extol, call upon, bless, glorify, and hold fast to His name, we have chosen to memorialize His name here in this document and in our lives. For a more thorough explanation concerning important reasons for using the sacred name of God, see “The Third Commandment.”

8. “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)

See blog article “Right, Left, and Center: Who Gets to Decide?

9. “But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.” (1 Timothy 5:8-11)

10. “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.” (2 Corinthians 10:5-6, NASB)

11. “[G]overnors … sent … for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.” (1 Peter 2:14)

12. Lord willing, I will address the timing of the biblical government the Apostles Paul and Peter depict in Romans 13, 1 Corinthians 6, 2 Corinthians 10, 1 Timothy 1, and 1 Peter 2 in a future installment of this series.

13. A Biblical Constitution: A Scriptural Replacement for Secular Government

See also series of ten online books on each of the Ten Commandments and their respective statutes, and judgments, beginning with Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

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. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 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. (Romans 13:1-7)1

Reason #6
Romans 13 is About Ministers of God Who are Continually  a Terror to the Wicked and a Blessing to the Righteous

For he is the minister of God to thee for good … a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake … for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. (Romans 13:4-6)

The government depicted by the Apostle Paul is not one that rarely or even occasionally fulfills its mandate. Rather, it fulfills the mandate during the entire time of its existence.

James Strong defines the Greek word proskarterio translated “attending continually”:

[T]o be earnest towards, to persevere, be constantly diligent….2

The New American Standard Bible translates proskarterio as “devoting themselves to this very thing”—that is, to doing good to the righteous and constraining the wicked. This is only possible from a government devoted to Yahweh’s3 immutable moral law.4 This eliminates any possibility Paul is referring to government that’s not devoted to Yahweh and His law (aka a secular government).

Woe to them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed; to turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless! (Isaiah 10:1-2)

The best one can hope for from a secular government, based upon finite man’s fickle edicts, is that it occasionally punishes the wicked and does good to the righteous. Without Yahweh’s immutable law as his standard, it is impossible for man to sustain righteous government on any consistent basis. This helps illustrate why Yahweh’s law order is imperative under the New Covenant.5

The following illustrates the inherent volatile nature of man’s ever-changing standard and why secular government can never be counted on to do what’s right:

Two people could have walked down any U.S. street in 1930—one with a bottle of whiskey under his arm and one with a bar of gold in his pocket, and the one with the whiskey would have been a criminal whereas the one with the bar of gold would have been considered a good law abiding citizen. If the same thing happened in any U.S. city in 1970, the one with the whiskey would be the law abiding citizen and the one with the gold bar would be the criminal.6

In a mere forty-year period, man’s standard had completely reversed itself. The same transposition of ethics has occurred innumerable times under all governments based upon the traditions of man.

Moreover, whenever a biblical government ceases to perform in the fashion Paul details, it ceases to be the government depicted in Romans 13. It has ceased to uphold what made it a biblical government—that is, its devotion to Yahweh’s law. It then becomes a secular government, based upon man’s capricious edicts—the polar opposite of the government described in Romans 13.

Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?… Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, … in vain they do worship me, teaching [and, in many instances, legislating] for doctrines the commandments of men. (Matthew 15:6-9)

There are no moral vacuums. Thus, there are no constitutions or procedural manuals void of their own inherent ethics. These procedural ethics are either moral or immoral depending upon whether or not they’re established upon Yahweh’s moral law.7 Government either promotes Yahweh’s morality as reflected in His triune moral law8 or it promotes finite man’s immorality as reflected in man’s surrogate edicts.9 Unless government is established to perform Yahweh’s will and persists in the same, it is not the government to which Paul declares we’re obligated to submit ourselves.

Stay tuned for Part 8.

 

Related posts:

Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government: A Revolutionary Commentary on Roams 13:1-7

Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant

A Biblical Constitution: A Scriptural Replacement for Secular Government

 

1. Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government: A Revolutionary Commentary on Roams 13:1-7

2.  James Strong, “Dictionary of the Greek Testament,” The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, s.v. “proskarterio” (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990) p. 61.

3. YHWH, the English transliteration of the Tetragrammaton, is most often pronounced Yahweh. It is the principal Hebrew name of the God of the Bible and was inspired to appear nearly 7,000 times in the Old Testament. It was unlawfully deleted by the English translators. In obedience to the Third Commandment and the many Scriptures that charge us to proclaim, swear by, praise, extol, call upon, bless, glorify, and hold fast to His name, we have chosen to memorialize His name here in this document and in our lives. For a more thorough explanation concerning important reasons for using the sacred name of God, see “The Third Commandment.”

4. A Biblical Constitution: A Scriptural Replacement for Secular Government

5. For more on how Yahweh’s moral law applies and should be implemented today, see Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant.

See also series of ten online books on each of the Ten Commandments and their respective statutes, and judgments, beginning with Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

6. W.W. Turner, The Amazing Story of the British Sovereign (Nashville, TN: 1970) p. 4.

7. A Biblical Constitution: A Scriptural Replacement for Secular Government

8. “[H]e [Yahweh] declared unto you his covenant [law], which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments…. And Yahweh commanded me [Moses] at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go over to possess it.” (Deuteronomy 4:13-14)

9. The United States Constitution is a perfect example of a procedural manual rife with man-made decrees, which, in turn, created a secular government. See Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective, in which every Article and Amendment is examined by the Bible.

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. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 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. (Romans 13:1-7)1

Reason #5
Romans 13 is About Ministers of God Who Do Good to the Righteous

The Apostle Paul identifies the rulers he’s writing about in Romans 13 as authorities rather than powers and as ministers of God who are a terror to the wicked. Paul is even more explicit in that he also characterizes these same civil leaders as those who do good to the righteous.

For he is the minister of God to thee for good … a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. (Romans 13:4)

Consistent vs. sporadic fulfillment

Paul is not describing what such authorities are supposed to be, but instead what they are:

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn. (Proverb 29:2)

With secular government, this is the exception not the rule:

…[Yahweh’s] law is slacked, and judgment [justice, NASB] doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth. …their judgment and their dignity [authority, NASB] shall proceed of themselves. (Habakkuk 1:4, 7)

The best we can hope for from a secular government is that they would do good to the righteous sporadically whenever they happen to enforce a biblical law. Thus, at whatever point a government ceases to do good to the righteous, it ceases to be the government described by Paul.

Doing good by punishing the wicked

One of the ways a government does good to the righteous is by executing Yahweh’s2 prescribed civil sanctions on the wicked, which, in turn, results in a safe, peaceful, and robust society:

But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil. (Proverbs 1:33)

How much more so when government does the same?

Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king’s son. He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment [justice, NASB]…. He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth. In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. (Psalm 72:1-2, 6-7)

Converting sinners

The government advanced by Paul—which results in God’s manifold blessings on the society it governs3—also aids in the conversion of sinners to Christ:

Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as Yahweh my God commanded me…. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as Yahweh our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? (Deuteronomy 4:5-8)

The law of Yahweh is perfect, converting the soul…. (Psalm 1:9:7)

[F]or when thy [civil] judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. (Isaiah 26:9)

This will never be said of secular government.

Praying for government

The government depicted in Psalm 72 is the same as what Paul charged Timothy to pray for:

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

Those who maintain that Paul advocates secular government must, in turn, teach that we’re obligated to thank God for government that is often the opposite of Paul’s description in Romans 13—government that by its rejection of Yahweh’s perfect law of liberty4 alone jeopardizes the peace and security of those it governs.

In Psalm 19, King David depicts Yahweh’s moral law as perfect, sure, right, pure, and altogether righteous.5 It provides mankind with the most rewarding, prosperous, and peaceful of societies, governed by the least abusive and intrusive of civil leaders.

Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven. (Psalm 85:10-11)

Our prayers for a quiet, peaceful, and honest society are largely for naught unless they culminate in a biblical government established upon Yahweh’s triune moral law,6 administered by biblically qualified judges:

Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers…. And let them judge the people at all seasons…. (Exodus 18:21-22)

In addition to the qualifications above, such men are to represent Yahweh rather than other men. They are to write out their own copy of Yahweh’s law, study it daily, and scrupulously observe it. They are also to seek righteousness, declare only the truth, render impartial judgment, shun bribes, and abhor dishonest gain.7 In short, they are to be ministers of God for our good:

Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment…. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. (Isaiah 32:1, 17-18)

Do the qualifications for God’s ministers no longer concern Him? Did Paul forget about these qualifications? Of course not! Instead, Paul is merely reinstating those same instructions for godly government under the New Covenant. He depicts a government instituted, executed, and maintained by God-established, biblically qualified authorities—particularly judges—for the deterrent and punishment of the wicked and for the good of the god-fearing man.

The Apostle Peters Validation

As one would expect, the Apostle Peter depicts the same Romans 13 government:

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. (1 Peter 2:13-14)

Peter proclaims that the submission due to this government is “for the Lord’s sake.” Submission to governments that repudiate Yahweh and reject His law cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be described as “for the Lord’s sake.” Instead, this phrase is reminiscent of King Jehoshaphat’s declaration to the biblically qualified judges he restored:

And he set judges in the land throughout all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city, and said to the judges, Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for Yahweh [i.e., for the Lord’s sake], who is with you in the judgment. Wherefore now let the fear of Yahweh be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with Yahweh our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts. (2 Chronicles 19:5-7)

Jehoshaphat understood the judges he appointed would judge on for Yahweh’s sake. Thus, he warned them of their responsibility to adjudicate Yahweh’s law, which would result in the punishment of the wicked and the praise of those who do good.

Neither Paul nor Peter advocated secular powers that only do random good to the righteous (if at all). Instead, they depicted the same authorities as did Jethro in Exodus 18 and King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 19. They did not advocate secular government but instead a biblical government, presided over by biblically qualified judges who serve on behalf of Yahweh to the good and praise of those who likewise serve Him.

Stay tuned for Part 7.

 

Related posts:

Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government: A Revolutionary Commentary on Roams 13:1-7

Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant

A Biblical Constitution: A Scriptural Replacement for Secular Government

 

1. Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government: A Revolutionary Commentary on Roams 13:1-7

2. YHWH, the English transliteration of the Tetragrammaton, is most often pronounced Yahweh. It is the principal Hebrew name of the God of the Bible and was inspired to appear nearly 7,000 times in the Old Testament. It was unlawfully deleted by the English translators. In obedience to the Third Commandment and the many Scriptures that charge us to proclaim, swear by, praise, extol, call upon, bless, glorify, and hold fast to His name, we have chosen to memorialize His name here in this document and in our lives. For a more thorough explanation concerning important reasons for using the sacred name of God, see “The Third Commandment.”

3. See Deuteronomy 28:1-14.

4. See Psalm 19:7-11, 119:44-45, and James 2:12.

5.“The law of Yahweh is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of Yahweh is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of Yahweh are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of Yahweh is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of Yahweh is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of Yahweh are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.” (Psalm 19:7-11)

6. For more on how Yahweh’s moral law applies and should be implemented today, see Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant.

See also A Biblical Constitution: A Scriptural Replacement for Secular Government.

See also series of ten online books on each of the Ten Commandments and their respective statutes, and judgments, beginning with Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

7. See Exodus 18:19-21; Deuteronomy 1:16-17, 17:18-19; Ezra 7:10; and Ecclesiastes 19:5-7.

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. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 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. (Romans 13:1-7)1

Reason #4
Romans 13 is About Ministers of God Who Are  a Terror to Evil

Not only does the Apostle Paul identify the rulers he’s writing about in Romans 13 as authorities rather than powers and as ministers of God, but he also distinguishes them as those who are a terror to the wicked.

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil … if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. (Romans 13:3-4)

Paul is not describing what such a government is supposed to be but instead what it is. This cannot be said about secular government. One can only hope that secular government would occasionally fulfill the description provided by Paul. Only governments based upon Yahweh’s2 juridical system, which are executing His civil judgments upon the wicked, will be a terror to evil on a consistent basis.

The righteous need not fear such godly authorities. The 1st-century Christians were terrorized by Nero. Consequently, neither he, nor any comparable secular  ruler today, fits Paul’s depiction. Ministers of God are a terror only to the wicked.

Kakos

The Greek word kakos translated “evil” in Verses 3 and 4 is the same word Paul contrasts with Yahweh’s law earlier in Romans:

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing…. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil [kakos] which I would not, that I do. …it is … sin that dwelleth in me. …when I would do good, evil [kakos] is present with me. [But] I delight in the law of God…. (Romans 7:18-22)

Kakos is evil because it’s a violation of Yahweh’s law:

Nay, I had not known sin [evil], but by the law…. (Romans 7:7)

Evil is evil because Yahweh determines it so. Man, on the other hand, is known for doing what is right in his own eyes,3 which culminates in his calling evil good and good evil.4 Consequently, man makes legal what Yahweh has made unlawful, just as he makes illegal what Yahweh has made lawful. This ultimately results in Christians being persecuted for observing Yahweh’s law over the edicts of secular government:

And when [after imprisoning them] they had brought them [the Apostles], they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name?…. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:27-29)

And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city [intending to criminally incriminate them], crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also … and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. (Acts 17:6-7)

Paul again contrasts kakos with Yahweh’s law in the three verses immediately following our text:

[H]e that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill [kakos] to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)

Only God defines who and what is evil. Any attempt by man to do what only Yahweh can do amounts to the same sin Adam and Eve committed in the garden: a usurpation of Yahweh’s place as God. What does this say about secular government—which provides its own definitions for what constitutes evil? What does this say about those who contend that Paul is promoting submission to such governments?

How does God define what is evil?

Whosoever committeth sin [or, doeth evil] transgresseth also the law: for sin [evil] is the transgression of the law. (1 John 3:4)

The evildoers in Romans 13:3-4 are violators of Yahweh’s moral law, not man’s surrogate edicts. Thus, the avenger who executes the wrath of God (i.e., Yahweh’s prescribed civil sanctions upon evildoers) is not just any Tom, Dick, or Harry who claims power over others and who defines evil and its judgment on his own terms. Instead, the avenger is a God-ordained authority, a judge like those depicted in Exodus 18:

Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers…. And let them judge the people at all seasons…. (Exodus 18:21-22)

Old Testament precedent

Yahweh’s civil sanctions are not only intended to chasten convicted lawbreakers, but also to deter those whose predisposition to evil would otherwise go unchecked:

Smite a scorner, and the simple [naive, NASB] will beware…. (Proverbs 19:25)

The deterrent effect upon the wicked, which is explicit in Paul’s phrase “be afraid” in Verse 3, is not unique to Paul, as it would be if he were advocating the same response for the same reason toward a secular government. As with nearly everything Paul wrote, Verses 3 and 4 were inspired by Yahweh’s law:

Thou shalt not consent unto him [one who evangelized for a god other than Yahweh] … neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him…. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from Yahweh thy God…. And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you. (Deuteronomy 13:8-11)

And the man that … will not hearken unto … the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel. And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously. (Deuteronomy 17:12-13)

[I[f the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you. And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. (Deuteronomy 19:18-21)5

The principle objective of Yahweh’s civil judgments under the jurisdiction of God-ordained authorities is to elicit fear in the general population6, who might otherwise be inclined to act wickedly. This is precisely Paul’s point.

One cannot read Paul’s epistles without being struck by his repeated appeals to Yahweh’s law as the authority for what he wrote. Romans 13:3-4 is no exception. To apply this to secular government is to deny the connection between what Paul wrote and Yahweh’s law as his authority.

Reason to fear

The righteous do not need to fear God-ordained authorities. However, they often need to fear those who are merely powers established by God for the judgment of the wicked. The righteous remnant often suffers with the wicked at such times. It would seem this was the motivation for Habakkuk’s prayer:

O Yahweh, … in wrath remember mercy. (Habakkuk 3:2)

Because such powers do not meet Paul’s criteria and are, in fact, often the opposite, they cannot be the civil leaders he’s endorsing. Such powers are never lauded as God’s ministers but are instead condemned by Yahweh:

He that justifieth the wicked, and that condemeth the just, even they both are an abomination to Yahweh. (Proverbs 17:15)

Justifying the wicked and condemning the just is the inevitability of secular government. Such governments are not to be tolerated by those who serve the King of kings. They are, instead, to be exposed:

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. (Ephesians 5:11)

To what end? That Yahweh’s righteous foundations under the authority of Christ’s kingship might be restored. In other words, that evil government might be replaced with good government, under the jurisdiction of such godly authorities as depicted by Paul. Who wouldn’t want such a government? And yet Christians are often tragically at the forefront in opposing biblical government.7

Silence

Because Romans 13:3 clearly depicts a biblical government that is a terror to evil, Verse 3 is usually met with silence by those who claim Romans 13 is about secular government. Silence is pretty much their only option because they know secular government seldom fits Paul’s description of “terrorizing the wicked.”

Secular rulers have rejected Yahweh’s sovereignty and thus His law, including His civil sanctions. It is, therefore, impossible to conclude that such governments are a terror to the wicked, as determined by the very laws spurned by such governments.

Stay tuned for Part 6.

 

Related posts:

Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government: A Revolutionary Commentary on Roams 13:1-7

Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant

A Biblical Constitution: A Scriptural Replacement for Secular Government

 

1. Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government: A Revolutionary Commentary on Roams 13:1

2. YHWH, the English transliteration of the Tetragrammaton, is most often pronounced Yahweh. It is the principal Hebrew name of the God of the Bible and was inspired to appear nearly 7,000 times in the Old Testament. It was unlawfully deleted by the English translators. In obedience to the Third Commandment and the many Scriptures that charge us to proclaim, swear by, praise, extol, call upon, bless, glorify, and hold fast to His name, we have chosen to memorialize His name here in this document and in our lives. For a more thorough explanation concerning important reasons for using the sacred name of God, see “The Third Commandment.”

3. “In those days … every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25)

4. “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”(Isaiah 5:20)

5. See also Deuteronomy 21:19-21, Proverbs 19:25, and 21:11.

6. According to Matthew 7:13-14, the majority of the general population are in the broad way leading to destruction and are therefore not inherently inclined toward living their lives according to the ethics of the small-gate and narrow-way folks. Consequently, they often need external stimulus to live their lives by Yahweh’s law. Thus, Yahweh’s judgments. See 1 Timothy 1:8-11.

7. For more on how Yahweh’s moral law applies and should be implemented today, see Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant.

See also A Biblical Constitution: A Scriptural Replacement for Secular Government.

See also series of ten online books on each of the Ten Commandments and their respective statutes, and judgments, beginning with Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

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. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 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. (Romans 13:1-7)1

Reason #3
Romans 13 is About  Ministers of God

Not only does the Apostle Paul identify the rulers he’s writing about in Romans 13 as authorities rather than powers, he further identifies them as ministers, or servants, of God. In fact, he does so not once, not twice, but three times in four verses.

It’s important to note that the term “minister(s) of God” is used only two other times in the New Testament:

But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in afflictions, in necessities, [and in] distresses…. (2 Corinthians 6:4)

Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we … sent Timothy, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith. (1 Thessalonians 3:1-2)

In these passages where Paul is explicit to whom he’s referring, he uses the term “minister of God” to describe himself and other kingdom laborers such as Timothy. This term is never used in either the Old or New Testament to depict anyone other than those whom we would naturally think of when reading the term: Moses, Joshua, David, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in the Old Testament, and Paul, Timothy, and other kingdom laborers in the New Testament.

Isaiah prophesied that it was the priests of Yahweh who would serve as ministers of God during the New Covenant:

[Y]e shall be named the Priests of Yahweh: men shall call you the Ministers of our God…. (Isaiah 61:6)

Romans 13 is a fulfillment of this prophecy. There is no biblical authority whatsoever for applying the term “minister(s) of God” to secular powers.

Ministers of the gospel of the kingdom

Someone might protest that the ministers of God in the previous two passages are ministers of the gospel, not civil leaders. But is this necessarily true? Could there be more to the gospel and more to God’s ministers than is commonly understood? There is certainly more to ekklesia (poorly translated “church”) than is normally recognized. Ekklesia is principally a political term representing the entire life of a Christian community, not just what takes place inside the four walls of our contemporary church buildings.

When people hear the word “gospel,” they usually think of the gospel of Christ or the gospel of salvation. Praise God, it’s first and foremost both of these. However, the gospel encompasses much more than what is initially accomplished in salvation. It’s also depicted as “the gospel of the kingdom” in Matthew 4:23, 9:35, 24:14, and Mark 1:14.

If it is the gospel of the kingdom, it must also be the gospel of the King’s law—as depicted by Paul in 1 Timothy 1:

But we know that the law is good, if a man uses it lawfully; knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murders of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust. (1 Timothy 1:8-11)

The Kings law in the hands of the Kings men

Unlike many contemporary Christians’ view of our Sovereign’s law, Paul identifies the law of Yahweh2 as “good.” How could it be otherwise? God’s law reflects His righteousness and is the principle means of establishing His will on earth in our personal lives, our families, our churches, and in society. Christ’s blood-atoning sacrifice and resurrection is Yahweh’s means for imputing His righteousness to the remnant. Yahweh’s moral law is His means of establishing His righteous will on earth.3

When added to Paul’s witness in Romans 7, this is the fifth time Paul declares, among other things, that Yahweh’s law is good:

Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.that which is good…? …by that which is good…. For we know that the law is spiritual … I consent unto the law that it is good. (Romans 7:12-16)

Paul was merely reiterating what had been previously acknowledged by Nehemiah and King David:

Thou [Yahweh] camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments. (Nehemiah 9:13)

The law of Yahweh is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of Yahweh is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of Yahweh  are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of Yahweh  is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of Yahweh is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of Yahweh  are true and righteous altogether. (Psalm 19:7-9)

As can be seen from the foregoing, all of Yahweh’s triune moral law is good—His commandments, His statutes, and His civil judgments.

Every viable, dynamic law is composed of these three integral components.4 Consequently, to identify any one of the three components as good is to automatically include the other two components as good as well.

To eliminate any one of these three components is to cripple the law. The Ten Commandments are explained by their respective statutes. The Commandments and statutes are enforced by their respective judgments. (We cannot sever the judgments from the rest of the moral law as many alleged theonomists are tragically inclined to do.)

In 1 Timothy 1, Paul is specifically addressing the civil sanctions of Yahweh’s law that are used to either punish convicted criminals or to deter would-be criminals. Paul identifies these civil sanctions as good. In Romans 13, he identifies good government, which is a terror to the wicked, as being under the authority of God’s ministers. This is accomplished with Yahweh’s altogether righteous civil sanctions.

Who is most likely to lawfully employ Yahweh’s civil judgments for the good of the populace: God-established unrighteous powers or God-ordained righteous authorities?

The civil sanctions Paul identifies as part of the gospel of the kingdom actually are for the righteous man, elders (like Paul and Timothy), some of whom are called to be judges in a Christian civil body politic. Such judges would be described as ministers of God for good. To identify anyone else with the same terminology is to force upon Romans 13 what is found nowhere else in the Bible.

Yahwehs good judgments

Not everyone agrees with Paul that Yahweh’s civil judgments are good. But how much better are Yahweh’s civil sanctions in the hands of godly authorities than the capricious judgments of the unrighteous, who are best described in Isaiah 5:20 as those who call evil good and good evil? Verse 24 explains that the reason for this is because such men “cast away the law of Yahweh of hosts,” including His civil judgments.

There are no vacuums when it comes to law. Anyone not promoting Yahweh’s civil sanctions are defaulting to man’s fickle judgments. They are defaulting to unrighteous men who impose unrighteous decrees.

Whoever renders judgments holds dominion in society. That Yahweh intends for the judgments to be in the hands of His people is unmistakable:

Let … a twoedged sword [be] in their hand; to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye Yah. (Psalm 149:6-9)….

Failing to distinguish between godly and ungodly governments [such as with those who declare Romans 13 is about secular government] is not only unbiblical, it is a recipe for disaster:

Therefore the law is slacked, and [righteous] judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about [surround, NASB] the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth. (Habakkuk 1:4)

Christians’ aversion to Yahweh’s judgments is one of the prime reasons Christians have lost dominion. Those who define criminal behavior and dispense judgment clearly rule society. Antinomians’ aversion to Yahweh’s judgments can only mean they believe man’s judgments are superior to Yahweh’s and that non-Christians are more competent to dispense judgment than Christians, which in turn means most modern Christians do not believe “…the judgments of Yahweh are true and righteous altogether” (Psalm 19:9). They also do not believe “the law of Yahweh is perfect” (Psalm 19:7) because any law void of its judgments is an imperfect law, lacking one third of its indispensable components. Abolishing a Commandment’s judgment guts the Commandment the judgment enforces….

People opposed to Yahweh’s judgments prefer crime over judgment, criminals over victims, and man’s law—at least man’s judgments—over Yahweh’s. Put another way, these same people would prefer people be murdered, kidnapped, raped, and plundered rather than claim responsibility for administering Yahweh’s righteous judgments:

The robbery of the wicked shall destroy them; because they refuse to do judgment. (Proverbs 21:7)

Despite most pronomians’ strong belief in capital punishment, they ironically relinquish to the heathen the determination for what should and should not be capital offenses. History indicates their dereliction of duty may one day result in the deaths of their children or grandchildren for proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Savior, as in the waning days of Rome’s Caesars.5

All rulers are ministers of God, conditionally

Someone is also likely to protest that Paul’s use of the term “minister of God” applies to all rulers because Yahweh has used even despots such as Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar for His purposes. But men like Nebuchadnezzar can be described as servants of God only in the broadest sense of the term.

Nebuchadnezzar did Yahweh’s bidding and was thus Yahweh’s servant in that bidding. However, Yahweh’s sovereignty in using even the worst of men for His purposes has no bearing whatsoever on Paul’s intention with the phrase “minister of God” in Romans 13. This is apparent in Verses 3 and 4, in which Paul is explicit regarding the type of civil rulers to whom he’s referring.

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil…. For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. (Romans 13:3-4)

Paul’s portrayal does not depict God-established powers, such as Nebuchadnezzar or Caesar, but instead God-ordained authorities. He is particularly talking about ministers of God—Christian judges administering Yahweh’s civil sanctions.

Stay tuned for Part 5.

 

Related posts:

Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government: A Revolutionary Commentary on Roams 13:1-7

Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant

A Biblical Constitution: A Scriptural Replacement for Secular Government

 

1. Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government: A Revolutionary Commentary on Roams 13:1-7

2. YHWH, the English transliteration of the Tetragrammaton, is most often pronounced Yahweh. It is the principal Hebrew name of the God of the Bible and was inspired to appear nearly 7,000 times in the Old Testament. It was unlawfully deleted by the English translators. In obedience to the Third Commandment and the many Scriptures that charge us to proclaim, swear by, praise, extol, call upon, bless, glorify, and hold fast to His name, we have chosen to memorialize His name here in this document and in our lives. For a more thorough explanation concerning important reasons for using the sacred name of God, see “The Third Commandment.”

3. For more on how Yahweh’s moral law applies and should be implemented today, see Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant.

See also A Biblical Constitution: A Scriptural Replacement for Secular Government.

See also series of ten online books on each of the Ten Commandments and their respective statutes, and judgments, beginning with Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

4. “[H]e [Yahweh] declared unto you his covenant [law], which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments…. And Yahweh commanded me [Moses] at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go over to possess it.” (Deuteronomy 4:13-14)

“[T]hese are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which Yahweh your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them….” (Deuteronomy 6:1)

5. Chapter 17 “Amendment 8: Bail, Fines, and Cruel and Unusual Punishments” of Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective.

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. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 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. (Romans 13:1-7)1

Reason #2
Romans 13 is About GodOrdained Authorities
Not
GodEstablished Powers

 

Yahwehs sovereignty

As Creator, Yahweh2 is sovereign over His entire creation. Therefore, the righteous and unrighteous alike rule by His design:

For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. (Psalm 75:6-7)

This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it [even] the basest [lowliest, NASB] of men. (Daniel 4:17)

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…. (John 19:10-11)

Question: To what end does Yahweh establish rulers who are not only base but often wicked?

Answer: To whatever end Yahweh intends.

Although Yahweh’s reasons are not always self-apparent, such men (and women) are often put in positions of power for the purpose of judging an ungodly people:

The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low. …he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail. Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee … because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of Yahweh thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee. (Deuteronomy 28:43-45)

Neither have our kings, our princes, our priests, nor our fathers, kept thy [Yahweh’s] law, nor hearkened unto thy commandments and thy testimonies, wherewith thou didst testify against them. For they have not served thee in their kingdom, and in thy great goodness that thou gavest them, and in the large and fat land which thou gavest before them…. Behold, [as a consequence] we are servants [slaves, NASB] this day, and for the land that thou gavest unto our fathers … we are servants in it: And it yieldeth much increase unto the kings whom thou hast set over us because of our sins: also they have dominion over our bodies, and over our cattle, at their pleasure, and we are in great distress. (Nehemiah 9:34-37)

As such, they are not God-ordained authorities that Christians are obligated to submit to but merely God-established powers:

And because of all this we make a sure covenant, and write it; and our princes, Levites, and priests, seal unto it…. And the rest of the people, …  all they that had separated themselves from the people of the lands unto the law of God…. They … entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God’s law … and to observe and do all the commandments of Yahweh our Lord, and his judgments and his statutes. (Nehemiah 9:38, 10:28-29)

Christians are constrained to submit to such powers but only so far as the powers are themselves submitted to God, as evidenced in the laws they enforce. Romans 12:18 requires we be at peace with all men so much as it depends upon us. Thus, when ruled by such powers, it behooves Christians to also submit to any regulation not opposed to Yahweh’s sovereignty and law, even when it’s not promoting the same. Traffic laws are one example. Biblical precedent is found in the following verse, in which Christians are charged with submitting to the unjust demand of carrying a Romans soldier’s pack:

And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. (Matthew 5:41)

This, however, is all superfluous. Romans 13 is not depicting powers established by Yahweh for judgment but instead God-ordained authorities established as a blessing to people who look to Him as sovereign and thus His law as supreme.

The glaring difference between authorities and powers can be seen in the following: A child’s father is his God-established authority. If a stranger usurps that authority by taking control of the child, the stranger does not become the child’s authority. He is, instead, but a mere power over the child, until the child’s God-established authority is reinstated.

Exousia vs. Dunamis

Part of the confusion regarding Romans 13 is because the King James translators chose the word “power” instead of “authority” to describe those the Apostle Paul had in mind. Had Paul intended any Tom, Dick, or Harry claiming power over others, he would have likely employed the Greek word dunamis or some other Greek word meaning powers. Instead, he used the word exousia, meaning authority.

Behold, I have given you [Christ’s disciples] authority [exousia] to tread upon serpents and scorpions [Christ’s enemies] , and over all the power [dunamis] of the enemy…. (Luke 10:19, NASB)

This is not to say exousia is never used for those who are otherwise only god-established powers. For example, Pilate was not one of the authorities Paul depicted in Romans 13 as a blessing to the righteous. He was instead a God-established power. Pilate, nonetheless, had authority to otherwise accomplish Yahweh’s purpose for good:

[T]hen saith Pilate unto him, … Knowest thou not that I have power [exousia, authority] to crucify thee, and have power [authority] to release thee? Jesus answered, thou couldest have no power [authority] at all against me, except it were given thee from above. (John 19:10-11)

Pilate’s authority to crucify Christ was given him by Yahweh for accomplishing what had to be done to secure our salvation. Therefore in that act Pilate was ordained for a blessing. However, that one act alone did not make him a God-ordained authority for overall blessing of those whom he ruled over. That can only be accomplished by a civil leader who restores, upholds, and maintains Yahweh’s righteous foundations by implementing and executing Yahweh’s triune moral law.

The difference between these two types of leaders is best delineated by Paul himself in Verses 3 and 4, which will be addressed, Lord willing, in Part 5 of this series. The Prophet Hosea also sheds light on the difference between God-ordained authorities and God-established powers:

[H]e shall come as an eagle against the house of Yahweh, because they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law…. Israel hath cast off the thing that is good: the enemy shall pursue him. They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not. (Hosea 8:1-4)

Disobedient Israelites rebelled against Yahweh’s law and, in so doing, set up kings Yahweh did not know. Are we to believe the omniscient God actually did not know what these rebellious Israelites were up to? Of course He did. Did Hosea not recognize Yahweh’s sovereignty over even the worst of rulers? Of course he did. Hosea was merely indicating these rulers were set in positions of power, and, as such, Yahweh did not “know” them in the same intimate and favorable fashion He does those who are authorities on His behalf.

Two different governments

No government exists without Yahweh allowing it to exist. However, there are two different types of government for two different types of people. Nations that look to Yahweh as sovereign and thus His law as supreme are blessed with just and righteous authorities, per Romans 13:1-4.

Nations that reject Yahweh as sovereign and thus look to their own laws as supreme are visited with oppressive powers to either bring them into submission or to judge them. The Prophet Isaiah provides an example of the latter type of government power:

Woe to the … the drunkards of Ephraim [principal tribe of the House of Israel], whose glorious beauty is a fading flower…. Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one [probably referring to Sennacherib, king of Assyria, responsible for taking the House of Israel into captivity], which … shall cast down to the earth…. The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet. (Isaiah 28:1-3)

Verse 3 depicts the same consequence Christ pronounced in His sermon on the mount:

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. (Matthew 5:13)

All governments not based upon Yahweh’s perfect, right, pure, true, and altogether righteous law3 are tramplers to one degree or another. Trampling is inherent in the very nature of such government powers:

No man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.4

The thief [including the Messianic State] cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy…. (John 10:10)

This, as contrasted with Yahweh’s authorities:

Behold, a king [a God-established authority] will reign righteously, and princes will rule justly…. And the work of righteousness will be peace, and the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever. (Isaiah 32:1, 17)

According to Isaiah, powers who trample you under foot are a judgment upon those who reject Yahweh, His law, and His authorities. It should be self-evident that such governments are not a blessing to those they govern, as must be maintained by those who teach Romans 13 is about secular government. This trampling is what occurs, not when good has overcome evil, but when evil has overcome good.

Christians are required to submit to God-ordained authorities who overcome evil with Yahweh’s moral law, per Romans 13:1-4. They are not required to submit to God-established powers who are generally known for overcoming good with evil. Ezra provides biblical precedent at a time when the Persian King Artaxerxes was still a power over the two-tribed southern house of Judah:

Then sent the king an answer…. Give ye now commandment to cause these men to cease, and that this city [Jerusalem] be not built…. Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews [Judahites], and made them to cease by force and power. Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem.

Then the prophets, Haggai … and Zechariah … prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel…. Then rose up Zerubbabel … and Jeshua … and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them…. [T]he eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, that they [their adversaries, including Kin Artaxerxes] could not cause them to cease….

Then asked we [Tatnai, Shetharboznai, and the Apharsachites] those [Judahite] elders, and said … Who commanded you to build this house, and to make up these walls? We asked their names also, to certify thee [King Artaxerxes], that we might write the names of the men that were the chief of them. And thus they returned us answer, saying, We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and build the house [of God]…. (Ezra 4:17-24, 5:1-5, 9-11)

These Judahite elders and prophets were operating as authorities of the King of kings. They understood that Yahweh’s authority trumped King Artaxerxes’ power.

Yahwehs kingdom purposes are never thwarted

Yahweh’s sovereign purpose is accomplished even when a government opposed to Christ’s kingship is in power:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of Yahweh of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Christ’s kingdom5 increases during both times of justice and judgment. In Psalm 110:2, King David informs us that Christ reigns even in the midst of His enemies.

In Romans 13, Paul provides us an example of Christ’s reign in times of justice. Hosea provides a graphic example of the latter:

Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked after the commandment [of men]. (Hosea 5:11)

“[T]he Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return [to Yahweh]. (Hosea 11:5)

Two different types of government for two different types of people, much the same as in the blessings and curses in Deuteronomy 28. These two polar opposite governments are witnessed time and again in the Bible. However, they are never grouped together under the same terms—especially terms such as those used by Paul in Romans 13.

In Romans 13, Paul is depicting a righteous government, resulting from Christians who have overcome evil with good by means of Yahweh’s moral law,6 per Romans 12:21. In their quest to restore godly foundations, they are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ for the subduing of strongholds established upon unrighteous foundations, per 2 Corinthians 10:3-6.

 

Stay tuned for Part 4.

 

Related posts:

Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government: A Revolutionary Commentary on Roams 13:1-7

Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant

A Biblical Constitution: A Scriptural Replacement for Secular Government

 

1. Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government: A Revolutionary Commentary on Roams 13:1-7

2. YHWH, the English transliteration of the Tetragrammaton, is most often pronounced Yahweh. It is the principal Hebrew name of the God of the Bible and was inspired to appear nearly 7,000 times in the Old Testament. It was unlawfully deleted by the English translators. In obedience to the Third Commandment and the many Scriptures that charge us to proclaim, swear by, praise, extol, call upon, bless, glorify, and hold fast to His name, we have chosen to memorialize His name here in this document and in our lives. For a more thorough explanation concerning important reasons for using the sacred name of God, see “The Third Commandment.”

3. “The law of Yahweh is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of Yahweh is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of Yahweh are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of Yahweh is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of Yahweh is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of Yahweh  are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.” (Psalm 19:7-11)

4. Gideon J. Tucker, New York Surrogate Reports (New York, NY: New York Surrogate, 1866), p. 249, quoted in Suzy Platt, ed., Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (New York: NY: Barnes & Noble, 1992) p. 198.

5. Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant

6. See series of ten online books on each of the Ten Commandments and their respective statutes, and judgments, beginning with Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

See also A Biblical Constitution: A Scriptural Replacement for Secular Government

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. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 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. (Romans 13:1-7)1

 Reason #1
Romans 12 Does Not Allow for Such an Interpretation

The chapter subdivision between Romans 12 and Romans 13 did not exist in Paul’s original Epistle to the Romans. Remove this helpful and yet arbitrary subdivision and let the Epistle flow naturally from one thought to another as intended by Paul and much of the confusion regarding Romans 13 dissipates.

Internal and external transformation

Romans 12 begins with a call to internal transformation and ends with a charge to external transformation—that is, a personal transformation that should lead to a societal transformation:

 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)

This is where it begins: surrender to Yahweh,2 resulting in personal transformation, separation from the world, and performance of the will of God. Performing God’s will is accomplished in advancing His kingdom and His righteousness, and thus His moral law at all levels of society:

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven…. But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:10, 33)

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven…. And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity [anomian, lawlessness]. (Matthew 7:21, 23)

We begin with Christ as Lord and Savior which, in turn, manifests itself in Christ as King. Maturation in Christ should be evidenced by a transformation of our respective spheres of influence.

 When I was young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.

 Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could have indeed changed the world. (Author Unknown)

 It’s this kind of societal impact that’s assumed in the last verse of Romans 12:

 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)

Overcome! Not lay down and be trampled upon, not tolerate. But overcome, as in subdue.

Is there any area of life Yahweh does not intend for His servants to subdue on His behalf by overcoming evil with good? Is it only our personal lives in which He intends for this to be accomplished? Or does the same apply to our families and all of society, including government? The answer to these questions is apparent in Yahweh’s all-encompassing sovereignty over His entire creation. Because Yahweh is creator, He is sovereign over the entire universe, time without end:

[H]is kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation. (Daniel 4:3)

To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. (Jude 1:25)

 Yahweh never abdicated His throne. He is as much King now as He was at creation. And those who look to Him as King have a responsibility to advance His kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.3 There is nowhere in heaven Yahweh does not reign, nowhere His kingdom cannot be found, and nowhere His laws are not intact. This is His will for earth as well, but He has left the task of fully establishing His kingdom on earth to His subjects:

 Ye are blessed of Yahweh which made heaven and earth. The heaven, even the heavens, are Yahweh’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men. (Psalm 115:15-16)

The entire Bible can be summed up as paradise enjoyed, paradise lost, and paradise restored. Under the New Covenant, “paradise restored” occurs under the kingship of Christ by means of His servants overcoming evil with good in their personal lives, their families, and ultimately society as a whole. Anything less is a dereliction of duty.

Romans 12:21: A synopsis of 2 Corinthians 10:36

“Overcoming evil with good” is a synopsis of the following dominion mandate. Note especially the words “all” and “every”:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6, NASB)

Every lofty thing,” “every thought,” and “all disobedience”—what’s left? When every high thing raised against the knowledge of God has been destroyed, when every thought has been taken captive to Christ, and all disobedience is being punished, good will have overcome evil. Until then, our work here on earth is unfinished.

For those who think this charge has “only” to do with our hearts and minds, bear in mind that when hearts and minds are conquered, everything else is likewise subdued. In taking every thought captive unto Christ (internal transformation), all unrighteous foundations are likewise torn down and replaced with Yahweh’s righteous foundations (external transformation).

Arbitrary or specific goodness

As ambassadors of the King of kings, we’re charged with subduing evil with good. How is this accomplished? Is the good Paul refers to arbitrary or is it specific?

As our Creator, Yahweh is the only one with the jurisdiction to determine what is good and what is evil. His parameters on what constitutes good and evil are explicit in the Ten Commandments and their respective statutes and judgments?4 This canon provides us the specifics as to how we are to overcome evil with good.

Overcoming evil with good certainly includes what Paul depicts in the four verses immediately preceding Romans 12:21. It also includes what’s implicit in the four verses immediately following Romans 12:21:

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. (Romans 13:3-4)

This is a clear depiction of overcoming evil with good with Yahweh’s commandments, statutes, and judgments.

Here in America

This societal transformation occurred right here in America at the hands of the 17th-century Colonials:

The Portsmouth, Rhode Island, Compact, 1638: We whose names are underwritten do hereby solemnly in the presence of Jehovah incorporate ourselves into a Bodie Politick and as He shall help, will submit our persons, lives and estates unto our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, and to all those perfect and most absolute laws of His given in His Holy Word of truth, to be guided and judged thereby.

Fundamental Agreement of the Colony of New Haven, Connecticut, 1639: Agreement; We all agree that the scriptures hold forth a perfect rule for the direction and government of all men in duties which they are to perform to God and to man, as well in families and commonwealth as in matters of the church; so likewise in all public officers which concern civil order, as choice of magistrates and officers, making and repealing laws, dividing allotments of inheritance, and all things of like nature, we will, all of us, be ordered by the rules which the scripture holds forth; and we agree that such persons may be entrusted with such matters of government as are described in Exodus 18:21 and Deuteronomy 1:13 with Deuteronomy 17:15 and 1 Corinthians 6:1, 6 & 7….5

If Romans 13 is about secular government that Christians are obliged to content themselves with, what were the Puritans doing establishing biblical governments here in America? The Puritans understood Romans 13 has nothing to do with secular government. Rather than saltless four-walled Christianity, good for nothing but to be trampled under the foot of man (evil overcoming good),6 the Puritans were practicing biblical Christendom (good overcoming evil).

Consequently, Romans 12:21 alone demands that Paul is not referring to secular governments to be tolerated as such. Instead, Romans 13 clearly depicts a Christian civil body politic that has fulfilled the dominion mandate of Romans 12:21 and 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 by overcoming evil with good, as depicted in Romans 13:3-4.

Stay tuned for Part 3.

 

Related Posts:

Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government: A Revolutionary Commentary on Roams 13:1-7

Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant

A Biblical Constitution: A Scriptural Replacement for Secular Government

 

End notes:

1. Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government: A Revolutionary Commentary on Roams 13:1-7

2. YHWH, the English transliteration of the Tetragrammaton, is most often pronounced Yahweh. It is the principal Hebrew name of the God of the Bible and was inspired to appear nearly 7,000 times in the Old Testament. It was unlawfully deleted by the English translators. In obedience to the Third Commandment and the many Scriptures that charge us to proclaim, swear by, praise, extol, call upon, bless, glorify, and hold fast to His name, we have chosen to memorialize His name here in this document and in our lives. For a more thorough explanation concerning important reasons for using the sacred name of God, see “The Third Commandment.”

3. Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant

4. See series of ten online books on each of the Ten Commandments and their respective statutes, and judgments, beginning with Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

See also A Biblical Constitution: A Scriptural Replacement for Secular Government.

5. For more regarding the 17th-century Colonial governments of, by, and for God established upon His moral law, see Chapter 3 “The Preamble: WE THE PEOPLE vs. YAHWEH” of Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective.

6. “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” (Matthew 5:13)