"THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS" The Christian's Duty To Government (13:1-7) INTRODUCTION 1. Christians are blessed to be citizens of a heavenly kingdom... a. Our citizenship is in heaven - Php 3:20 b. We have been conveyed into the kingdom of God's dear Son
- Co 1:13; Re 1:9 -- As such, we are described as "sojourners and pilgrims" in this world - 1Pe 2:11 2. As "pilgrims", we live and work under the governments of men... a. With a variety of political systems: democracies, kingdoms, dictatorships, etc. b. Offering varying degrees of freedom, responsibilities, etc. -- What is our duty to such governments? 3. The Lord's church began and thrived during the Roman Empire... a. To Christians in the capital city of Rome, Paul wrote of their responsibility b. To Christians dispersed in outlying areas of the Empire, Peter did also -- The Christian's duty to government is made very clear by the apostles [Using Paul's comments in Ro 13:1-7 as our starting point, let's review what our duties are...] I. BE SUBJECT A. THE RULE... 1. Stressed twice by Paul a. "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities" - Ro 13:1 b. "Therefore you must be subject..." - Ro 13:5 2. Peter likewise taught this duty - 1Pe 2:13-14 a. "Therefore submit yourselves..." 1) Submit means "be subject to" 2) Signifying "to place one's self under subjection; to render one's self subordinate" b. We are to submit "to every ordinance of man" 1) The word "ordinance" literally means "a creation" 2) The Greeks and Romans described the appointment of officers as the "creation" of them 3) Thus the expression "ordinance" actually refers: a) Not to a particular law passed by government b) But to the civil government or institution itself c) Cf. "to every human institution" (NASB, NRSV) 4) Note that we are to submit to every human institution (whether it be a monarchy, democracy, totalitarian state,etc.) -- Our responsibility is clear: "Let every soul be subject"
- Ro 13:1 B. THE REASON... 1. Governing authorities that exist have been appointed by God! - Ro 13:1 a. As emphasized in the book of Daniel - Dan 2:20-21; 4:17,25a, 32a b. Even those that are evil, which God often uses for His divine purposes and then replaces - cf. Exo 9:16 (Egypt); Isa 10:5-12 (Assyria) 2. Therefore to resist government means to resist God Himself! - Ro 13:2-4 a. To resist is to bring judgment upon one's self b. For government is a minister of God, designed to avenge evil 3. Peter adds two good reasons - 1Pe 2:15 a. First and foremost, "this is the will of God" 1) Cf. also, "for the Lord's sake" - 1Pe 2:13 2) This will suffice for all true servants of God b. That we may "put to silence the ignorance of foolish men" 1) Because of their allegiance to a heavenly king, Christians are often falsely accused of sedition or treason - e.g., Ac 17:5-8 2) By doing good (e.g., by submitting), we can "silence" (lit., muzzle) ignorant charges -- To avoid wrath and have a good conscience, "you must be subject" - Ro 13:5 C. THE EXCEPTION TO THE RULE... 1. It is not whenever government is oppressive a. Consider the government and conditions when Paul and Peter wrote b. The government was totalitarian, under Nero's evil and despotic rule as emperor c. Under Nero's reign, Christians suffered greatly
- cf. 1 Pe 4:12-13; 5:8-9 d. Paul and Peter were eventually martyred 2. The only exception: we must obey God rather than man! a. As illustrated by Peter and the apostles - Ac 4:18-20; 5: 27-29 b. When government tries to force us to disobey God, we must disobey the government c. Even then, we may break only the particular law designed to force disobedience to God d. We have no authority to break other laws in protest to the unjust law -- When government seeks to stifle our service to God, we must obey God rather than man! [As we return to our text, we note additional duties to government...] II. PAY WHAT IS DUE A. WE ARE TO PAY TAXES... 1. As an act of submission we should pay our taxes - Ro 13:6 2. Also other fees that are due, such as customs - Ro 13:7 -- We may not approve of how the taxes are spent, but I doubt the early Christians approved of how Nero spent the government's money either B. WE ARE TO PAY RESPECT... 1. Fear to whom fear is due - Ro 13:7 a. Such as police officers, judges b. And if you do evil, be afraid! - Ro 13:4 2. Honor to whom honor is due - Ro 13:7; cf. 1Pe 2:17 a. Such as presidents, kings, governors, local leaders b. Out of respect for the office, if not for the man (or woman) -- Our duty is not limited to those whose political or personal behavior we approve [Before we end our study, we should certainly note another duty to government that is ours...] III. PRAY A. FOR KINGS AND ALL IN AUTHORITY... 1. We are to offer supplications, prayers, intercessions - 1Ti 2:1-2 a. Praying for those who lead, not only our country, but those around the world b. Praying that they rule with wisdom, righteousness, and mercy 2. We are to offer thanks - 1Ti 2:1-2 a. Taking time to thank God for those who rule well b. Thanking God for when we live in peace and prosperity, and for protecting us when we do not -- An invaluable contribution Christians can give their country are their prayers B. THAT WE MIGHT LEAD GOOD LIVES... 1. Good in a material sense, to enjoy quiet and peaceful times - cf. 1Th 4:11; He 12:14a 2. Good in a spiritual sense, free to be godly and reverent - cf. He 12:14b -- As God works through the governments of men to bestow peace, prayer should be a priority for those who wish to live in peace CONCLUSION 1. The duties placed on Christians toward their earthly governments are clear and simple... a. Be subject to governing authorities b. Pay what is due in taxes and respect c. Pray for all those in positions of authority 2. Beyond this, our involvement in the affairs of government may fall into the realm of judgment... a. Should we enter politics, serve in law enforcement, enlist in the military? b. Such questions have been debated by Christians for centuries -- One thing is clear, we must obey God rather than man, and avoid becoming entangled with the affairs of this life to the neglect of our service to God (2Ti 2:4) As a Christian, are you faithfully fulfilling your duty to earthly government, while sojourning as a citizen of a heavenly kingdom...?