Romans Chapter 13

January 24, 2013

This Preaching in Shorts Bible study is on Romans. Each chapter is read verse by verse with the major points highlighted and discussed.

You can listen to the study by clicking here

In Romans 13 Paul talks about how Christians are to relate to the government and people outside the church.

Romans 13:1-14 (NIV)
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. 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. 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. 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. 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.” 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. 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 13:1-14

We are to live at peace with the government as long as the government allows you to live in accordance with basic Christian beliefs. There are three main interpretations of what that looks like:

(1) Some Christians believe that the state is so corrupt that Christians should have as little to do with it as possible. Although they should be good citizens as long as they can do so without compromising their beliefs, they should not work for the government, vote in elections, or serve in the military.

(2) Others believe that God has given the state authority in certain areas and the church authority in others. Christians can be loyal to both and can work for either. They should not, however, confuse the two. In this view, church and state are concerned with two totally different spheres—the spiritual and the physical—and thus complement each other but do not work together.

(3) Still others believe that Christians have a responsibility to make the state better. They can do this politically, by electing Christian or other high-principled leaders. They can also do this morally, by serving as an influence for good in society. In this view, church and state ideally work together for the good of all.

None of these views advocate rebelling against or refusing to obey the government’s laws or regulations unless those laws clearly require you to violate the moral standards revealed by God. Wherever we find ourselves, we must be responsible citizens, as well as responsible Christians.

I believe that we can summarize the chapter by saying that we need to pray diligently for those in authority over us and we need to live by trying to do the next right thing. How do we know what the next right thing is in the context of Romans 13?

a) Is it respectful

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.

Show proper respect to everyone. Everyone. See the beauty of people’s potential. Treat them with respect. Treat everyone the way you want to be treated. This is golden rule stuff. Is what you are about to do respectful of others.

b) Is it loving

8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.

We have discussed that our love for God and one another is one of our greatest witnesses to the world that God is God and cares about them. Is what we are about to do “loving”.

c) Is it Godly

14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Knowing that we are in Christ, is the action we are about to take one that would please God?

d) Is it legal

5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

We talk all the time about how we justify and rationalize (tell rational lies) about doing things that we are not supposed to do. Is what you are about to do legal? Not, what your opinion is on the matter, just is it legal.

On another note, just because something is legal doesn’t mean it is Godly. God’s right and wrongs trump man’s right and wrongs.

But, the life of a disciple is even more than just not doing what is wrong, it is about becoming the person that God created and called us to be. That is where real life is found and what makes living as His disciples so important.

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