Submitting to God and those He appointed as rulers of the land is the theme in the following verses of Paul’s letter to the Roman churches. Paul described the way Christians should conduct themselves with each other and among enemies of God, now the apostle instructs us how to submit to authorities.
“1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” (Romans 13:1-2)
Christians are to obey the laws of the land as long as these laws are not contradictory to those of the Sovereign God since no one appointed by Him would expect disciples to part from the law and love of Jesus Christ.
Believers who are forced to disobey governing authorities do so understand they are inviting God’s judgment upon themselves and that of those governing authorities.
“3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” (Romans 13:3-4)
The principle of governing authorities rewarding those who do right is a general one Christians are to abide by. By doing so believers are commended for their works and obedience. On the contrary those who rebel against rulers appointed by God face the wrath of these rulers and God Himself.
“5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.” (Romans 13:5-6)
Here Paul provides Christians with the justification for paying taxes and supporting governing authorities financially. Because they are appointed by God, put in place to rule over the people we are called to submit to rulers as we would God Himself.
“7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” (Romans 13:7)
Calling on Christians to resolve any and all conflicts with rulers, Paul mentions “phoros” or taxes, either property or personal, revenue or “telos”, more closely related to a customs tax involving travel, respect or fear from the Greek “phobos” and honor. Rulers owed these things should be rewarded accordingly.
“8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Romans 13:8-9)
Calling on believers to live according to one golden rule which is to “love others as we do ourselves” Paul reveals Christians should be free of debt to rulers or anyone else thereby fulfilling the law of Jesus Christ according to the gospel.
“10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. 11 And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:10-12)
Attempting to abide by the law leads to destruction but living according to the law of Jesus, which is love, leads to the fulfillment of the law.
Describing the state of mind of his audience as “slumber” or “hupnos” Paul invites us to be diligent as we anxiously await Christ’ return which is at hand. As we prepare for His glorious return Christians should put on the armor of light that is love and the word of God found in the gospel.
“13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (Romans 13:13-14)
Paul summarizes this section of his epistle to the Romans by setting expectations upon believers, that we should resist temptation and the things of this world instead, we should rely on Christ like love and the holy word of God.
Trusting in God and His appointed rulers, settling all debts and loving others as we do ourselves is a path that leads to eternal life. My hope for you is that you will continue on this path as you fulfill God’s perfect plan for your life. Let us pray!
We thank you for your blessings in our lives and for your servant Paul,
We praise you Lord for his wisdom and for his works through this scripture,
We ask you Lord to inspire us to use these verses in our lives
As we grow in you through the teachings of your faithful apostle.
Lord we ask you to strengthen us each day as we endure through battles,
Allow us to praise and love each other through faith in you Jesus,
Shield us from evil through truth, the gospel, salvation and prayer,
Guide us to abide by your word as we spread your gospel to one and all
Becoming examples of faith through our character as we walk the narrow path.
God we pray that you will continue to bless us, to bless our lives and fill us with hope
We ask you Lord to guide our footsteps and lead us to the way everlasting,
Through faith in you Lord we seek salvation and a place with you in heaven
According to your word, your everlasting wisdom and strength.
May your will be done
In our lives, for your life.
We thank you for your love and all you bless us with each day.
This message was written by Daniel St.Pierre