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A Bible Study of The Scripture

MeWe Bible Study Part 24 from Lesson 11: Another Look at Romans 13:1-7

This week we will revisit Romans 13:1-7 in detail. The King James Version with Strong’s Concordance will be used to look at this passage written by the Apostle Paul using the original Greek. For those who want to study this further there is a very easy to use Greek Interline and Strong’s Concordance at:

Romans 13:1-7 


King James Version


Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God


Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.


For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:


For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.


Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.


For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.


Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

King James Version with Strong’s Concordance. (The formatting did not print well. In the online version the Concordance numbers are above the English words.)

Romans 13:1 - KJV_Strongs

  1 G3956 Let every G5590 soul G5293 be subject [G5732]   G5242 unto the higher [G5723]   G1849 powers G1063 . For G2076 there is [G5748]   G3756 no G1849 power G1508 but G575 of G2316 God G1161 : G1849 the powers G5607 that be [G5752]   G1526 are [G5748]   G5021 ordained [G5772]   G5259 of G2316 God.

Let every soul. The actual Greek is every soul, the “let” is associated with “let be subject”. “Every” of course means all of us inclusive, everyone. The use of the Greek for soul in the context of Romans references the spiritual aspect of man. The usage of “every” means that this passage applied to civil authorities also.

Be subject. This is the same Greek word hupotassō as used to describe the relationship between a husband and wife (Example: Ephesians 5:22). hupotassōiIs a combination of two Greek words, the second is tasso which means: to arrange in an orderly manner. It is one of conditional submission, not absolute. See Lesson 1.  In Lessons 3 through 5 we studied Scripture that demonstrated  the conditional submission.

Higher powers. The Greek term is exousia which literally means power or authority. Note that in verse 3 the Apostle Paul used the Greek word arcontez which means magistrate, prince or ruler. So in verse 1 exousia is used three times. Paul in many cases used repetition for emphasis. So the “higher powers”, “powers” and “the powers” in verse 1 are referring to authority or power of position, not the physical men. Every soul – including rulers who also have a soul - is subject to only God. Rulers are subject to God, their covenant with God and their covenant with the God’s people. The people are subject to God and to their covenant with their rulers. Each of these are “higher powers.”

For there is no power but of God. The literal translation is “There is no authority except from God.” This simply states that authority comes from God. God is sovereign (Lesson 8) – all worldly authority is either derived from God or is usurped and in rebellion to God.

The powers that be are ordained of God. Ordained is the Greek word tasso which means “to arrange in an orderly manner, i.e. assign or dispose (to a certain position or lot)”. So this phrase means that authority or power comes from God.  This is consistent with God gave us three institutions to order mankind; the family, the church and civil government. The authority of the family is conditional and limited by God. The authority of the church is conditional and limited by God. The authority of civil government is conditional and limited by God. The Scripture does not teach that an exception to obedience to God was granted to civil authorities. In Lesson 8 we studied Psalm 2 which demonstrated that while governing authorities may try to ignore God’s limits on their authority they will fail.

Verse 1, does not command us to obey any and all commands of civil authorities, but gives the framework in which civil government was created by God. All authority (power) comes from God. Everyone’s – people and rulers alike – are subject to these higher powers or authority. The Scripture we have covered includes the following: everyone is subject to God’s commands or God’s Word, rulers are subject to their covenant with both the people and with God, the people are subject to their covenant with their rulers.

Romans 13:2 KJV_Strongs(i)

  2 G5620 Whosoever therefore G498 resisteth [G5734]   G1849 the power G436 , resisteth [G5758]   G1296 the ordinance G2316 of God G1161 : and G436 they that resist [G5761]   G2983 shall receive [G5695]   G1438 to themselves G2917 damnation.

Therefore: Grammatical back reference. “Therefore” bases this verse on the preceding verse.

The power: Once again this is the Greek word exousia, not a word such as arcontez which would mean the ruler or magistrate. From verse 1 exousia is authority established by God, not man. Man may choose the ruler, in fact the Scripture shows that in some or many cases man does in fact chose the ruler. The ruler may ignore God’s limit on authority (Psalm 2) but the authority can not be changed by man. So this phrase applies to two situations: 1) man who rebels against God’s authority being properly executed by a magistrate OR a magistrate who rebels against God’s authority by either doing evil or ignoring the limitations established by God. In both cases both the ruled and the ruler are also bound by the limitations of active covenants.

Ordinance of God: in this phrase ordinance is the Greek word diatage which means “arrangement, i.e. institution”. So this phrase does not reference resisting the authority or power of man, but resisting the arrangement or institution of God. This applies to rulers (magistrate) as well as the people.

They that resist shall receive to themselves damnation: The literal translation is “and they that resist to themselves judgement shall receive.” This is consistent with the Scripture in that those who resist God’s Word and Commands will receive Judgement. Verses 1 and 2 are very similar to Psalm 2.

Next: MeWe Bible Study Part 25 from Lesson 11:

Another Look at Romans 13:1-7

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