ROMAN 13:1-10; Romans 8:18-23




…and God saw that it was good – it is functionally good. Everything functions in accordance with order, design, harmony, and not chaos (Gen ).




For example: a pocket watch is designed and ordered to function effectively. Every part of the watch is subject and submissive to forces that govern its machinery. If each piece were alive, and each had a will of its own, what would happen to the watch as a whole should one piece say, ‘no!’ to its functional order. The watch would begin to malfunction and ultimately fail. God has established the laws of living things, and submission to these laws creates harmony. However, the church, who is the receiver and illustrator of the Divine will in a failing world order, often malfunctions itself; becoming preoccupied with its own will and desire outside of God’s. This is why the Holy Spirit sometimes brings revival, a periodical cleansing and repair of the watch by persecution or purging of the dross. [1]




There will be a time where humanity will experience the goodness of submission to the original created order – the Millennium. [2] At this time the curse on nature will also be reversed:




-The animal kingdom will be at peace.


-Asp will not hurt a child; the wolf will lay with the lamb.


-No child deaths


– The ecology will be healed.


-No more war.




It will be proven categorically that mankind in sin is incurable:




Before Moses’ time there was no stated law of life to restrain man, and what did mankind do, he acted progressively more evil. [3]




Then came the written Law to a nation of mankind, . Even with the written code of Law revealed for their good and welfare, [4] man still rebelled and pursued independence from any imposed authority. [5] The result is painful sorrow in life.




Then came the revelation of the grace through faith in Jesus Christ. [6] What has man done with this gracious revelation? Not only rejection of the Gospel but even treating the offer as an aroma of death has been the result. [7] In this era the world is further deteriorating, socially, morally, and for most of the world economically. [8]




In the Millennium to come there will be imposed Law, [9] and the world will, for the first time, see the value of Law, of true holy Authority; they will have perfect peace and safety and prosperity. [10] However, when the end of that age comes, man will again face freedom of choice; it is here that Satan will seduce mankind again into rebelling against God’s authority. [11] The lie man constantly believes is that freedom from any imposed authority results in happiness. Mankind will then resort to war against the saints. This will be the ultimate destruction of the world, as we know it. Then comes the very new creation. [12] Mankind, without the gracious new creation by the Gospel of Christ, is desperately sick and incurable, and God proves it by the millennium







A centurion recognised the essentials of authority when he said to Jesus, “For I also am a man placed under authority… Lk 7:8a He not only saw his responsibility of submission, but also his authority of position. He saw this paralleled with Christ. In response to this Jesus replied, “I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in . (vs 9).




There are two kinds of authority the Christian is to be conscious about, authority of position and authority of holiness. Position reflects on the responsibility of one who has oversight; to those over us we owe submission (Rom 13:1-7). God requires this submission up to the point where the authority asks one to personally do something that is contrary to the moral law of God; then we may make an appeal, [13] and if that fails to resolve the conflict, we must then rather obey God (Acts 4:19).








ROMANS 13:1-7




God intended government for noble purposes, in failing that mandate; they are then accountable to God. Governments are not accountable to us! We can be their conscience but not their authority, God is! God never gave the Church the mandate to reform governing authorities of the world (they will do what humans without God will do). Even Jesus did not seek to reform the Roman Government of His age; Christ didn’t even seek to reform the Pharisees! Humanity will generally rule the kingdom of this world with their own ideals; we are of another kingdom… John Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.




Jesus even told His own to pay taxes to the very Romans who ruled their land by military might, thus paying the soldiers wages! We cannot dictate to the governments what they should or should not do with our taxes.




The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes. Prov 21:1




For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and He rules over the nations. Ps 22:28




And He changes the times and seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding, Dan 2:21; cf.




VS 2






It is God’s ordinance to have order. The opposite is chaos, which is not God’s design but that of Satan, where rebellion, self-centred pursuit of rights, and demanding independence from any authority are pre-eminent. Therefore anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against the very system God has instituted to maintain order.






They will have the authorities force against them for the sin of disorder, rebellion.




VS 3






What is the good mentioned here? In context, and in conjunction with other texts on submission, means to abide with proper respect of position, order, function and design.




Personal integrity or godliness is best displayed by godly submission to authority.




Jeremiah 29:4-11 .and seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace. (vs 7).




Here in this letter God gives instructions to a people, His people , of how to conduct themselves under the Babylonian authorities. These authorities were the powerful war conquering Babylonians. Should God require less of us?




A very significant portion in the Old Testament parallels this Ro 13 Portion too – Ecc. 8:2-5f. [14] Ray C. Stedman has an excellent exposition of this portion of Scripture in his book on Ecclesiastes; Is That All There Is to Life?; Discovery House; chapter 7. In part he says:




“It is a wise thing to obey the government. Obedience is expected of everyone. But to compel those who would disregard their responsibility [in this matter], government has the right to increase punishment until compliance is obtained. Obedience to the state, the Searcher [Solomon] says, is required as unto God.”



Look how Jesus responded to world authority in John 19:10, 11.




See also Jonathan’s godly attitude to his father Saul’s foolish oath (1 Sam ). God intervened on Jonathan’s behalf through the people. Joseph is an example where God elevates one who has learned godly submission higher than the rebel could attain. King David’s attitude showed understanding of authority in how he responded to Saul (1 Sam 24:6; 1 Sam 26:9, 10, 23). Others as Mordecai and Esther, and even the Apostle Paul (Acts 23:1-5).




VS 4






-Disrespect, disorder, chaos, defiance. This include acts of blatant crime, from where does crime come from if not from a root of disrespect for others and right, no appreciation for an ordered and safe society, applying chaos principles to have one’s own will supreme over the welfare of others. And defiance of any imposed authority on their lives, “I will do what I want.”




For rebellion is the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. 1 Sam 15:23




Matt 5:25-26


25 Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, in order that your opponent may not deliver you to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.


26 “Truly I say to you, you shall not come out of there, until you have paid up the last cent. [15]






Rebellion is Satan’s heart; he rebelled against his role, coveting that which is not his. [16] A form of idolatry is demanding perceived personal rights, idolizing oneself, and seeking to edify individual aspirations without controls. Rebellion: rejection of assigned role, defying responsibility, haughty independence, demanding the freedom to do as we please without negative consequences. That is why there is such a cry to legitimatize homosexuality, pedophilia, drugs, prostitution, abortion, and the persistent demand for medicine to eliminate AIDS, pregnancies, STD’s. These are self-inflicted consequences due to poor lifestyles, etc. – these who lobby for these things are most often trying to eliminate consequences to their personal desires. Homosexuality for example wants a cure for AIDS, not so they will stop dying but to eliminate the consequence that is crimping their chosen life style. Now as the issue is hitting the heterosexual community there is even more pressure! We must seek to alleviate suffering, yes, but what is the prime motivation of most who demand cures, medical, and scientific miracles? Even the desire for sex education is more to teach kids how to ‘do it’ safer.




VS 5






Fear the consequences of disobedience. Authorities do have power to inflict pain so don’t stir the nest unnecessarily.






For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.


1 Pet 2:13-22 (19), see vs 20




This statement doesn’t refer to the suffering experienced by acts of rebellion in the name of a just cause!




A very forceful statement by a renowned and respected Christian authority disagrees with this submission to authority. He says it well but it does not balance with the admonition of the Scriptures. He says:




“It is true that Christians are instructed in Scripture to obey civil laws and those in authority over us. But we are also commanded to “Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to death.”(Prov 24:11)[Translation unknown]



“I believe the higher calling here would be clear if we really believed our own rhetoric…[a higher calling than obedience to Scripture? 2 Tim 3:16]



“…what do you think the response of Christians would be? Would they carefully thumb through Scripture to find justification for their civil disobedience? [If it can’t be found but for this one verse should they not question?] Of course not! The moral issue would be so clear that “trespassing” to prevent the killing would be of no relevance. [It is always relevant to take action in a manner that is not clearly mandated by Scripture]



“The murdering of innocent children would be so abhorrent to what we know of God’s nature that many of us would give our lives to rescue the little ones… [Then why does not God empower Rescuers to be much more successful? Why doesn’t God step in to make up for the failing efforts of the Rescuers? Why didn’t God give a clear mandate to cover this situation?]



“I simply do not understand why some Christian leaders, whom I respect, continue to split hairs over subtle scriptural understandings, wondering whether there is a real difference between Daniel’s civil disobedience and the insignificant act of trespassing by today’s rescuers.” [17]



No disobedience is insignificant in God’s eyes so there must be clear conviction empowered by the scriptures if one is to undertake such action, and in this, the Scripture is not clear. Daniel refused to personally commit an immoral act, notice he didn’t fend for others who did not see the moral dilemma.



See Acts 23:1-5 Paul’s backtracking.




VS 6, 7






And he [Jesus] said to them, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Lk 20:25



Likewise the soldiers asked him [John the Baptist], saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages. Lk 3:14




“If the civil powers command something that God forbids, or forbids something that God commands, we must disobey.” R.C. SPROUL



“All governments do evil, but where does the evil come from? He does not mean that government itself is evil. Government comes from God, according to both the Old and New Testaments. Evil in government arises from the evil in fallen man, living in a fallen world. There is no government, therefore, that does not have evil in it” [18]



But with respect! We are not responsible to make government or individuals of the world obey God! (1 Cor 5:9-13) We are responsible to obey God ourselves! What about the prophets holding kings responsible? They did hold the King accountable as God’s spokesman, but the prophet, in delivering the message, did not incite riot of the people. The prophet left the king accountable to God.




Those who learn a true submissive and servant attitude, God frees more than all the freedom the rebel wants.




“Should we try to make our country a Christian nation? We have to remember that our country, no matter how many Christians live here, is not the present day equivalent of ancient – nor should it be. We should not work to legislate Christianity to be the official state religion nor should we seek to outlaw other religions.” KURT DEHAAN



To pressure governments and people to abide by Christian/biblical law, even if we try it through reasonably peaceful means, makes us no different from the Muslim, who abides by their religion of peace, but that peace being only to people who bend their knee to Allah and acknowledge their Prophet Mohammad. The Muslim who truly abides by the Koran feels he is commanded to bring people and powers under the rule of Allah. There is peace but only under Allah.




In a democracy we may exercise our voice and our vote. Lawful demonstration is even appropriate to declare a point of view. However, I do not find unlawful civil disobedience, violence, force tactics, and the like supported by Scriptural principles. No matter how worthy the cause, other than personal moral convictions, which we ourselves must keep and not impose upon others, our breaking of God’s law of submission will not have Divine sanction.




Where does humanity, aside from enlightenment from God, learn truth about authority? We observe and comprehend authority and submission most profoundly through interaction of and with earthly parents.




The first authority a newborn child inherently clings is to his parents. Aside from a children perspective, we are forced through the interaction of marriage which is the most profound relationship, aside from redemption, in all creation.



Godly character is produced as we learn the lessons God would have us realise through authority. God’s greatest gift is in conforming us to the image of Christ and this requires harsh taskmasters sometimes and situations before the flesh will submit. Without pressure we will never build character.




The degree we rebel against authority is a reflection on our relationship with God and His lordship over our lives. It is easy to submit as long as that authority supports us in our pursuit of personal goals. When authority interferes with our perceived goals toward happiness we become angry. Most of humanity is controlled by fears and guilt that is expressed in anger. The anger varies from secret resentment to outright violence. Much of man’s anger in life is focused in the following statement:




“Anger is generally raised by four things, i.e. heredity, parental upbringing, environment, and circumstances. The angry person resents these things, blames them as responsible for his present condition, and is angry with others and particularly with God that He has not handled these things in a better way!” Geoffry Bingham



Rebellion is a choice from the heart, not created because of circumstance! When people riot in the streets, often humanists proclaim it is a result of being poor or oppressed, this is not entirely so, rebellion is in their hearts already and anger finds a justifiable reason to express itself through violence.




Do we now understand why the Mosaic Law states that a rebellious child was to be stoned? The OT civil Law penalties do not apply to us today; it was a law to a certain people, the Israelite of that time. But the spiritual principle behind the crime and punishment remains the same. This Mosaic Law informs us of God’s attitude toward rebellion, which begins in the family. Cut it off in the bud is God’s directive. Our equivalent today could be the ‘tough love’ approach.




Do we understand now why God says to children in the Ten Commandments, …Honour your father and mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord you God is giving you Ex 20:12 And repeated in the NT …Children obey your parents in the Lord … Eph 6:-3; Col 3:20… Children obey your parents in all thing, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. This is not so much that parents are right but that it is right to obey parents! Many a child’s rebellion is not godly resistance to immoral demands but against any authority infringing on what they consider is their own personal right and authority to decide what is best for themselves.




Luke 2:41-51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth , and was subject to them…. (vs 51)




“Jesus had just expressed to His parents for the first time the [proclamation] of His true identity, by saying, “Didn’t you know I had to be about My Father’s business?” His parents did not understand what He was saying to them. In spite of His consciousness that God was His true Father, and the tension He felt because of His parents’ lack of understanding, Jesus deliberately chose to put Himself under their authority and be obedient to them. One of the central purposes of parental grace is to teach obedience. … A child learning obedience and submission to the authority of parents is being prepared to surrender to the will of God. Such learning is at the heart of real maturity.” DAVID SEAMANDS



The child must be taught to obey! Abraham was commended for commanding his children to keep the way of the Lord (not understanding them) – (Gen ; Deut 32:46; Ps 78:5-7; 1 Tim 3:4). Children need to be lovingly told and taught righteousness much more than being understood. To understand a child is to recognise the most powerful motivation he has is to attain happiness on his own terms.




We must repent of rebellion in our lives. This can be rebellion toward mom, dad, wife or husband, boss at work or church authority. If we as adults have not learned godly submission, then the lesson persists into adulthood. Even when we do have a true image of Jesus Himself, and the correct example of true functioning authority, our sinfulness will still wish to rebel, for our selfish goal is independence from any authority other than self.




Jesus Christ the Son of God submitted to his earthly parents, to secular and religious authorities, which ultimately sent Him to the cross. But He submitted to everything God the Father purposed for Him without rebellion regardless of the pain and cost to his personal rights. Jesus Christ had the right to be treated with dignity by man, He was the Son of God, he did no sin to warrant hate, and He didn’t deserve crucifixion at the hands of the authorities. But through His obedience He became the name above any other name, in heaven, on earth or under the earth. [19]




1 Tim 2:1-4; 1 Pet , 11, 13-22; PP Jude 8,9





[1] 1 Pet 4:17; Ezek 22:18 “Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to Me; they are all bronze, tin, iron, and lead, in the midst of a furnace; they have become dross from silver.


[2] Isa 65:17-25; Ezek 47:8 for example; Isa 35:5, 6; Isa 2:2-4; Micah 4:4


[3] Gen 6:5


[4] Ex 20:1-21; Deut 2:1-14; 5:29


[5] Rom 2:1-16 (vs 7-11)


[6] Jn 1:14, 16, 17


[7] 2 Cor , 16


[8] Revelation chapter 6


[9] Psalm 2


[10] see Things to Come, Pages 487 regarding the Scriptural listing for the following conditions of the Millennium. Peace, joy, holiness, glory, comfort, justice, full knowledge, instruction, removal of natures curse, sickness removed, healing of the deformed, protection, freedom from oppression, long lives, reproduction continues, labour, economic prosperity, increase of natural light, unified language, unified worship, the manifest presence of God, the fullness of the Spirit, all these pertain to earthly living during the 1000 years of reign. This is not the heavenly realm, which is eternal.


[11] Rev 20:7-10 “Pride is seen to prompt this great angel to unholy ambition. With a beclouded mind, he easily repudiates the Creator and displays dissatisfaction with the estate into which he was divinely placed. He proposes by ambition and self promotion to advance his estate to the highest heaven and into the likeness of the Most High.” Lewis Sperry Chafer, vol II, pg 64.


[12] Rev 21; 2 PET 3:10-13


[13] See Gothards Appealing to Authority; -Matt -39; Acts 4:19; Dan 6:12-16




[14] Eccl 8 In the service of a king who is often arbitrary and doeth whatsoever pleaseth him (v. 3 b), the wise action is not to demand one’s way in every matter. When the king commands some unpleasant thing, be not hasty to go out of his sight (v. 3 a). That is, do not impulsively turn your back on what he wants. There is a time and a place for everything (v. 6).(from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1962 by Moody Press)

[15] This reflects on one who has just claim on us, as in vs 23 Matt 5:23 there remember that your brother has something against you,

[16] Ezek 28:11-19; Isa 14:12-17(vs 13,14)


[17] Dr. Dobson, Focus on the Family pub; January ’95, pg 5 – in response to abortion Rescuers tactics. [bracketed comments my additions]


[18] Is that All There is to Life; Ray C. Stedman; Discovery House Publishers; p 120


[19] Heb 5:8,9


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