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Date Posted: 02:30:02 02/15/05 Tue
Author: Mike K.
Subject: Romans 13

Looking for opinions, interpretations and objections here regarding Romans chapter 13, the first verse:

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.

In context:
Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 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. 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. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing.

Paul is being absolute here in Verse 1. "no authority not established by God".

People used this verse in the Third Reich to preach submission to Hitler, even to an extent where good Christians participated in all the inhumane cruelties of the terror regime.

Some people say "submit only means to bear with it".
Others say "true submission includes a decision of heart, which means active participation"
Again, others say "Submission requires not only outward acceptance, but also inward appreciation."

The deeper you'd dig, the closer you get to the Christians engaging in Nazi terror.

Now, Paul really says "no authority not from God", which is open to interpretation.

On the one hand, people can argue "If it isn't from God, that's not really authority, and since people like Saddam don't come from God's appointment, it means that they have no authority."
The crux to this form of argument is that Matthew 4 teaches us that Satan holds the kingdoms of this earth and gives authority to whomever he chooses, which would mean "there is no government authority coming from God, so Paul is talking about an empty set, essentially just wasting paper."

Even in democratic countries, it is not by God's anointing how rulers are appointed, but by mass elections, where probably a majority of people aren't even regenerated believers, as such, godless tools of Satan.

The other argumentation is, like mentioned earlier "If it's authority, it comes from God, and since governments HAVE authority, they come from God".
The crux there is, however, that it means people like Saddam and Hitler also have authority from God and as such, rebelling against them or to even suggest they should be removed from power would be a rebellion against the Lord God, who brought them into that position in the first place.

There's of course also the faction of people who say "That applied at that time, but not today", but there's multiple problems involved, because not only it questions the transtemporal veracity of the Bible, but also assumes that the rulers at that time were somehow better than today, when thinking of despots like Nero pushes that argument out of the window quickly.

Now, I'm looking for your opinions on that matter and a few more comments or other interpretations would be welcome as well.

In Christ,
Mike K.

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