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God's Plan for Civil Government – Part 6 - Obey Government or Submit To Government?

In January through April of 2012 I led a Bible Study on the Bible and Civil Government. It lasted 13 weeks. These lessons are being posted on a website:

The Lessons are a bit long for people to read on facebook, so the lessons are being posted on facebook in shorter pieces.

God's Plan for Civil Government # 6

From Part # 4: Thus if we do not obey our civil government authorities we are being disobedient to God. Conversely - if we obey these authorities we are being obedient to God. Are these commentaries and sermons by some of the most well known leaders of our time correct? This is one thing we will look into by testing this concept against Scripture.

A look at the actual Greek word used that was translated "obey" in modern translations:

The chart below lists Romans 13:1 in several recent Bible translation dated 1991 or later. The Greek word translated in these newer Bible translations as some form of "obey" is also used in Ephesians 5:22 for a wife's role with her husband. Note the difference in how this same Greek Word is translated in Romans 13:1 and Ephesians 5:22.

The following Greek interlineal uses Strong's numbers to identify each Greek word in the original text. The word of interest is G5293

Romans 13:1

  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.

Ephesians 5:22

  22 G1135 Wives G5293 , submit yourselves [G5732]   G2398 unto your own G435 husbands G5613 , as G2962 unto the Lord.

Strong's Concordance number G5293 is the same Greek word in both verses and has the following definition(s):

to subordinate; reflexively, to obey


1) to arrange under, to subordinate
2) to subject, put in subjection
3) to subject one's self, obey
4) to submit to one's control
5) to yield to one's admonition or advice
6) to obey, be subject

Older translations (such as KJV) use the same terms for our relationship to civil government as a wife to her husband - "submit" – newer translations seem to use a stronger term "obey" for our relationship to civil government than for the wife/husband relationship.

 In addition – increasingly it is explicitly stated that ALL who hold positions of authority are chosen by God -- in many of these translations.

One of the most pronounced translations is the New International Readers version. For the same Greek word, for government we are to "obey completely" while wives should "follow the lead."

Has God's Word changed in our country since the early 1990s or has our country changed?



Romans 13:1

Ephesians 5:22

New Century Version


All of you must yield to the government rulers. No one rules unless God has given him the power to rule, and no one rules now without that power from God.

Wives, yield to your husbands, as you do to the Lord,

Good News Translation


Everyone must obey state authorities, because no authority exists without God's permission, and the existing authorities have been put there by God.

Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as to the Lord.

GOD'S WORD Translation


Every person should obey the government in power. No government would exist if it hadn't been established by God. The governments which exist have been put in place by God.

Wives, place yourselves under your husbands' authority as you have placed yourselves under the Lord's authority.

Complete Jewish Bible


Everyone is to obey the governing authorities. For there is no authority that is not from God, and the existing authorities have been placed where they are by God

Wives should submit to their husbands as they do to the Lord;

International Reader's Version


All of you must be willing to obey completely those who rule over you. There are no authorities except the ones God has chosen. Those who now rule have been chosen by God.

Wives, follow the lead of your husbands as you follow the Lord.

New Living Translation


Obey the government, for God is the one who put it there. All governments have been placed in power by God.

You wives will submit to your husbands as you do to the Lord.

In these recent translations we see an emphasis on "obey" as opposed to "subject" or "submit." In other words as our government turns away from God, Christians are increasingly being told to give it their obedience in ever stronger terms.

In addition the newer translations and a majority of the commentaries or sermons that I have heard or can find with an internet search state that God has "chosen" all civil government authorities as justification that we are to obey them.

Has it always been this way? This question will be answered in next part.

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