A Look at Romans 13

April 13, 2020 at 11:30 AM 1 comment

We previously spoke of the fact that experts disagree with the handling of Coronavirus via sheltering in place. However, many Christians are quick to quote or refer to Romans 13 to enforce the belief that we are to obey the government’s rules for our life. With respect to Coronavirus then, there are a plethora of rules/policies that we are expected to obey. With respect to Romans 13, it is helpful to understand the historical context of that epistle. When Paul wrote Romans, there was tremendous upheaval in the world. Respected biblical commentator Adam Clarke (1762 – 1832), offers us insight into the Pauline world at that time.

It is generally allowed that this epistle was written about the year (AD) 58, four or five years after the edict of the Emperor Claudius, by which all the Jews were banished from Rome. And as in those early times the Christians were generally confounded with the Jews, it is likely that both were included in this decree. [1]

Why were Jews banned from the city of Rome? Great question! Overzealous Jews often had a problem with not only Roman authority, but any Gentile authority over Israel. Jews never hesitated to show their disdain for Rome’s influence and government. We know this is the case when we read the Gospels during the life and times of Jesus. Clarke continues, referring to the historian Suetonius.

That the Jews were in general an uneasy and seditious people is clear enough from every part of their own history. They had the most rooted aversion to the heathen government; and it was a maxim with them that the world was given to the Israelites; that they should have supreme rule every where, and that the Gentiles should be their vassals.

Certainly, with the amount of potential seditious Jewish individuals, it is easy to see why Emperor Claudius would have issued the edict as noted above. Removing people from the city of Rome who were thought to be problematic at best and seditious at worse seemed like the logical thing to do at the time.

Clarke quotes other commentators who believed that the reason Paul wrote what he did here in Romans 13 was done for several purposes. First, Paul wanted Christians to be clearly distinct from Jewish Zealots who constantly thought of ways to overthrow the Roman government. Paul wanted Christians to have different attitudes from Jews of his day with respect to Rome. He wanted Christians to stand out as being completely different and certainly far more godly and humble, without an ounce of sedition in them.

But Clarke points to another reason Paul may well have included this brief section about the fact that believers should submit to the governing authorities. It is an interesting point to be sure.

I cannot forbear observing the admirable skill and dexterity with which the apostle has handled the subject. His views in writing are always comprehensive on every point; and he takes into his thoughts and instructions all parties that might probably reap any benefit by them. As Christianity was then growing, and the powers of the world began to take notice of it, it was not unlikely that this letter might fall into the hands of the Roman magistrates.

Normally, letters like the one to Romans were carried along by messenger. It would not be uncommon for Roman soldiers to stop and search messengers and to even confiscate a letter that seemed to question Roman authority and rule. What would happen if this letter to Roman believers find its way into the hands of Roman magistrates? Something very interesting.

…the apostle with a masterly hand, delineates and strongly inculcates the magistrate’s duty; while he is pleading his cause with the subject, and establishing his duty on the most sure and solid ground, he dexterously sides with the magistrate, and vindicates his power against any subject who might have imbibed seditious principles…

Interesting, isn’t it? Paul wrote this such a way as to indirectly assure Roman magistrates and other government officials that Christians should not in any way, shape or form, seek to overthrow Rome. As far as Rome was concerned, anyone Jewish or associated with Jews could very well be problematic or seditious. In other words, Paul was on one hand, indirectly lecturing Roman magistrates of their duties and responsibilities, while on the other hand, teaching his readers (Christians) their duty with respect to governmental authority over them to not be treasonous.

In the opening verses of Romans 13:1-3a, Paul states:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.

Out of these verses, people get the idea that in all things, we should obey the government unless and until it directly violates God’s Word. That’s not what Paul is saying. If we look at today’s Coronavirus situation, what this translates to for many Christians is that we should obey the government in all things and without hesitation when they issue their “edicts” or in our case, executive orders.

Is Paul expecting all Christians to “obey” every dictate put out by the CDC or some other governmental agency? Well, if we take the first few verses of Romans 13 out of their historical context, it can certainly appear that this is what Paul is saying. However, if we allow the Bible to interpret itself, along with providing historical context as provided above, there is more here than meets the eye.

Paul appears to be comparing and contrasting criminal lawlessness (translated to specifically mean sedition against Rome), with obedience to the established law of the land. Paul is frankly telling Christians that they should not be lawless by joining in with those who seek Rome’s overthrow as many Jews in his day did. Paul is saying, “Don’t be seditious!” The law is there to protect society as far as it’s able so that people can live peaceful lives.

In our day and age, the exact same rule applies. Christians are not to act in a treasonous way against the government that the Lord has allowed to come into being. If we disagree with elected officials, there are legal ways (most often through voting), that allow us to have our say.

So Paul is advocating that Christians obey the law by ensuring their words and actions are never seen as seditious. If we consider the many “policies” that are in place now because of Coronavirus, it can almost be maddening. At the same time, there are governors who have gone way beyond their given authority by outlawing the purchases of vegetable seeds, guns/ammo and even the American flag. Certain stores are told to block off specific aisles that sell clothing or shoes. This is ridiculous. People need clothing and shoes. They are essential. So, what do we do there? It’s made even more difficult when police officers hand out citations to those whom they believe are not “sheltering in place.”

Can Christians object to these things? Yes, and we have legal recourse to do so. Suing a government in a court of law is within our purview and rights and in no way can be seen as “sedition.” Each person will have to decide whether or not to pursue that course of action for themselves. While some may see that as being “defiant,” the truth is that if it is a legal course of action, based on rights guaranteed under the Constitution, “defiance” does not enter into the picture.

For instance, churches are not considered essential so they must close. Why can’t Christian leaders sue the government? This is not defiance. It would be defiance to simply ignore the rules in place and gather together in spite of those rules. Using legal channels available to us is not defiance. If the verdict is in favor of government policies, then it is. What is the harm in trying?

But what is also very interesting is what Clarke also points out regarding the way laws are established for every empire or country on earth.

In all nations of the earth there is what may be called a constitution – a plan by which a particular country or state is governed; and this constitution is less or more calculated to promote the interests of the community. The civil governor, whether he be elective or hereditary, agrees to govern according to that constitution.

Every nation has a document that establishes the legal basis for that nation or country. No nation can exist without one. Communist China has one, the UK has one, and of course, the United States has one. What is interesting as well is that the United States is the only nation that is classified as a Constitutional Republic. We are not a Democracy and there is a huge difference, one of the biggest differences is that the USA has an electoral college, which was created to safeguard the people’s votes when voting for the president. It evens the playing field so that New York, California and a few other states do not gain control of the system, which would be unfair for the rest of the country, essentially nullifying their votes.

In every country/empire, leaders would normally publicly vow to uphold the law as delineated in the founding documents. This is no different for America. When a politician is sworn into office, they normally vow to uphold and protect the Constitution (whether a state, the federal, or both). We, the people then rightly believe that they will be truthful to their vow. When they are not, people can and often do remove them from office through the voting process.

…the civil governor, who administers the laws of a state according to its constitution, is the minister of God.

Clarke then notes that if that person – the civil governor (mayor, senator, representative or president) – is an immoral person but actually upholds the law and remains true to his oath to uphold and defend it, then we the people should certainly obey because the laws that he might pass are based on the founding documents and inline with the laws upon which the creation of that empire or nation are based.

However, Clarke is just as adamant in stating that if the civil leader is a very moral man in his personal life, but does not issue laws based on documents that created that empire or nation, we are under no obligation to follow him.

Nothing can justify the opposition of the subjects to the ruler but overt attempts on his part to change the constitution, or to rule contrary to law. When the ruler acts thus he dissolves the compact between him and his people; his authority is no longer binding, because illegal; and it is illegal because he is acting contrary to the laws of that constitution, according to which, on being raised to the supreme power, he promised to govern. This conduct justifies opposition to his government…For his political conduct he is accountable to his people; for his moral conduct he is accountable to God, his conscience, and the ministers of religion.

Paul was a Roman citizen and there were times he used that position to his advantage. When he was being readied for whipping under orders from the Commander in Acts 22, Paul reported in the form of a polite question that he was a Roman citizen. Being a Roman citizen had its perks and one of them was that you could not be whipped without first having a fair trial. In Acts 25, Paul appealed to Caesar. As a Roman citizen, he had every right to do that, so he took advantage of it. I wonder how many Christians in that same situation would simply have allowed themselves to be whipped so as not to appear “defiant”?

Because Paul used the perks associated with his Roman citizenship, it becomes clear that he used legal channels available to him, in his own defense. He did not act in a seditious way! This also opened up greater doors to present the Gospel to kings and leaders as we know and that should always be kept in mind.

With respect to the Coronavirus shutdown and the government rules associated with it, we need to understand a few things. First, we live in a Constitutional Republic, unlike Paul who lived in the Imperialistic Roman Empire where Caesar was seen as “god” and what he decided was the law. Though Roman citizens had some recourse legally, they certainly had nowhere near the amount of legal recourse as do Christians who are citizens of the United States of America.

If we consider the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence, we have many laws that are in our favor. If we disagree with laws that have been passed, we have legal recourse by voting in (or out), those with whom we believe would make good decisions based on the Constitution. We also have the legal recourse of going through the court system to defend our rights.

If I had been born and lived in a different country like Canada, Great Britain, Communist China, or the Philippines, life would be very different for me. However, God has placed me in the United States. I am guaranteed tremendous freedoms to pursue life, liberty and happiness. The federal government is supposed to protect my rights, not squelch them. Though Paul told us our true citizenship is in heaven, he was not afraid to use his Roman citizenship to his advantage at times.

Because of Coronavirus, the president and many governors of individual states are signing executive orders (EOs). EOs are policy that a mayor, governor or president wants governmental agencies to use between governmental agencies. They are not law in the real sense of the word for the public (because they’ve not gone through the bill-to-law process), however, over time, they have taken on the force of law.

Because of Coronavirus, the president and many governors of individual states are signing EOs that ultimately remove our rights. They are shuttering businesses if they are not deemed essential. We are told to remain inside and can only purchase “essentials.”

Romans 13 seems to actually warn Christians of not trying to overthrow the government. It does not appear to me to be a few verses of Scripture that tell us to obey every law (or EO) issued by the government unless it violates the direct Word of God. Paul is instructing readers not to act in a seditious way against Rome (the government). We should do the same but we also have rights that are being unceremoniously set aside under the guise of “keeping us safe.”

For instance, if I were pulled over by law enforcement and told to return to my home to shelter in place. I would likely (and very politely!), tell the officer that I will do so but “under protest.” This puts him/her on notice that I disagree with his/her directive but will comply. I may later opt to pursue a course of action that overturns that directive in a court of law but I would not seek to usurp the authority of that officer. By telling them that I will obey “under protest,” that becomes part of the record for possible use later. Use wisdom and discernment as you proceed.

We will back next time to discuss what you can do to help your immune system. Does staying indoors away from everyone help or harm? Is what you eat and drink creating problems by weakening your immune system?

 

[1] https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/romans-13.html

Entry filed under: Agenda 21, Atheism and religion, christianity, Communism, Cultural Marxism, Demonic, devil worship, Emotional virtue, eternity, Global Elite, Gun Control, Life in America, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Politics, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, Satanism, second coming, Shadow Government, Socialism, Transhumanism, Trilateral Commission.

Are You Afraid, Christian? Part 2 What About Our Immune System?

1 Comment

  • […] Whether these people worship Satan or are simply sold out to those who do (for their own safety and security), is not fully known. But for some reason they keep pushing the world toward unification. The Bible tells us that will happen. It’s a done deal but I’d like to make it hard on them by continuing to place myself under the guarantees of the Constitution (and it’s barely hanging on). To go along with them is to believe their lies and to actually place myself against the Constitution treasonously and Paul speaks against that in Romans 13. […]


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