Menu Close Menu

A Bible Study of The Scripture

Lesson 9 - Review The Three Interpretations of Romans 13:1-7

In Chapter one we reviewed briefly three different interpretations of Romans 13:1-7 which were summarized as:

  • As Christians we must obey governing authorities completely as they are chosen by God.
  • As Christians we must obey governing authorities completely unless we are individually commanded to do something opposed to God’s Word as they are chosen by God.
  • As Christians it is our duty to submit to governing authorities when they are in compliance with God’s Word, when they are not we have no duty to obey.

This presents a conflict in interpretation of Romans 13:1-7. The three interpretations are not compatible and present a conflict. To resolve our lack of understanding we looked to the Scripture and documented historical records to answer four questions.

Does the Scripture show that God chooses all magistrates and ordains their authority over us?

The answer to this question was No. Hosea 8:3-4 clearly informed us that God did not chose all magistrates. Further the Scripture in Deuteronomy and I Samuel inform us of our duty to select men that meet the requirements given by God and that we will be judged corporately on how we fulfill our duty.

The Scripture we studied show that the first two interpretations above are in conflict with the Scripture. The third interpretation is not in conflict.

Did the apostles contradict their own words?

Historical records show that all but John and Judas were murdered for disobedience to civil authorities. The first interpretation would imply that the apostles contradicted their own inspired words and is false teaching.

Does God’s Word command us to obedience in all cases?

The answer to this question was No. The Scripture contains many examples of disobedience to civil authorities being Blessed by the Lord. The first interpretation is in conflict with many passages in the Bible. The second interpretation is also in conflict with Scripture. We studied Joshua 2:3-7, Matthew 2:8-15, 2 Chronicles 26:16-21 and Ester 4:11 & 5:1-2 which are in conflict with the second interpretation.

The third interpretation was not in conflict with any of the Scripture we studied.

Did our Founding Fathers deliberately violate God’s Word?

Based upon these modern interpretations our country would have been founded in disobedience to God. The first and second interpretation would imply that our Colonial forefathers were in disobedience to God in obtaining independence from England. Our Colonial forefathers believed that they were following God’s Word.

The underlying Biblical foundation stated by our Colonial forefathers was a failure of the king of England to honor his compact (a Biblical covenant). We studied references in the Scripture on Biblical covenants and confirmed the Biblical foundation. We also studied later statements by our Colonial forefathers that it was their belief that they were not in rebellion, but were acting in Biblically justified self defense.

The first and second interpretations do not take in account any recognition of the Biblical covenant between magistrate and God nor magistrate and the people. Nor do they teach us our duty or that the people can be judged corporately by God for failure to perform their duty. The first and second interpretations are either incomplete or in conflict with Scripture.

The third interpretation does recognize both the convenantt between the magistrate and God and the covenant between the magistrate and the people who remain God’s people.

The conclusion of the Bible study to this point indicates that the modern interpretations are incorrect and we will now look at Romans 13:1-7 (and other New Testament) passages on civil government in detail based upon the third interpretation.

To fully understand Romans 13:1-7 we need to cover or refresh on four Biblical foundations.

Foundation 1: God is Sovereign

As the Creator there should be no question that God is Sovereign and is the ruler of the universe. Genesis 1:1:

Verse

King James Version

English Standard Version (ESV)

1

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

God, the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit, created the heavens and the earth. As the creator, all belongs to God. As the Creator all men are subject to God. This includes kings, princes or lesser magistrates.

John 1:3

Verse

King James Version

English Standard Version (ESV)

3

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

The Gospel of John reveals out that everything made was made through Jesus.

Matthew 28:18

Verse

King James Version

English Standard Version (ESV)

18

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

And Jesus came and said to them, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me

God is Sovereign and all power and authority on earth was given to Jesus. All authority granted to man in any capacity is derived from and subject to Jesus. There is no authority except that derived from Jesus.

Foundation 2: All institutions of man are subject to God.

Civil government is an institution, like the family and church, established by God to order man and is subject to God.

Proverbs 8:15-16

Verse

King James Version

English Standard Version (ESV)

15

By me kings reign, and princes decree justice.

By me kings reign, and rulers decree what is just;

16

16By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.

by me princes rule, and nobles, all who govern justly.[

All earthly authorities are subject to the authority derived from God.

Psalm 75:6-7

Verse

King James Version

English Standard Version (ESV)

6

For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south.

For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,

7

But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.

but it is God who executes judgment,  putting down one and lifting up another.

As Sovereign, God can raise and put down kings.

Daniel 2:20-21

Verse

King James Version

English Standard Version (ESV)

20

Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:

Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,  to whom belong wisdom and might.

21

And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding

He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding

Foundation 3: Civil Government has limitations on the authority derived from God.

God has established civil government to order man. But just as a church or a family can be in disobedience to God so can civil government. Scripture is very clear that civil government has limitations on its Biblical authority. Just as man lives in disobedience to God until he receives salvation by God’s Grace, the same applies to civil government.

Psalm 2

Verse

King James Version

English Standard Version (ESV)

1

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?

2

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,

The kings of the earth set themselves,  and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,

3

Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. 

“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”

4

He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision. 

He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.

5

Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. 

Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,

6

6Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.

As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

7

I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 

I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.

8

Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.

9

Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. 

You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.”

10

Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.

Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.

11

Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

12

Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Warning that the kings of the earth, of the world take counsel against the Lord. The reference to bands are God’s limitations on civil government. These limitations represent being subject to God and earthly kings and want to place themselves above God.

Hosea 5:10-11

Verse

King James Version

English Standard Version (ESV)

10

The princes of Judah were like them that remove the bound: therefore I will pour out my wrath upon them like water.

The princes of Judah have become like those who move the landmark; upon them I will pour out my wrath like water.

11

Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked after the commandment.

Ephraim is oppressed, crushed in judgment, because he was determined to go after filth.

Remove the bound or landmark (ESV) references not a physical boundary but the bands in Psalm 2. They are moving the boundary that God has places on civil government away from worship of God to worship of the world. Note that through the prophet Hosea the people of the Northern Kingdom were warned that they would be held accountable for the actions of their kings if they condoned them. They were judged corporately.

Next week we will look at the Fourth Foundation - Requirements for magistrate

 

 

 

Next: Lesson 9 - Lesson 10: God’s (Biblical) Requirements for magistrates

Custom Flashlight Power Bank

Custom Flashlight Power Bank

Join Us on Facebook