Chapter 13: Government Systems
This chapter is the shortest one that we’ve had, so far… only fourteen verses. Which means it’s short and sweet. Which is very nice, I must say. That’s not to say there isn’t a lot here. Shall we?
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. Romans 13: 1
This is pretty cut and dried. It says you obey the law/rulers. God put them in charge for a reason. If He didn’t want them there, they wouldn’t *BE* there. Which you know is true. His ways are higher than our ways.
Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. Romans 13:2
Here’s what it says: Resisting rulers ► Resisting God ► Damnation.
Now… I’m an American. We have kind of a mindset that we’re born into, over here, and that’s that rulers are subject to the people, and if they’re crap, we throw them out on their hineys. ‘A well-armed militia’, etc. You know what I’m talking about. Our founding fathers, for pity’s sakes, resisted the power of England and that’s how we won freedom. Everyone knows the story. Everyone embraces that mindset, over here. And by the way, it’s UNSCRIPTURAL. Was it wrong for us to have rebelled against England? I’m torn. It wasn’t really the power over the United States. France had a hold here, too… and the colonists had their own powers. It’s got a lot of gray area. The American in me screams, “FIGHT FOR FREEDOM!! LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL!”
Okay… now let’s look at a few other instances, though. Moses’ Israelite nation in Egypt. They were enslaved, they were oppressed, they outnumbered the Egyptians. Did they rise up and fight for freedom? Did they rebel and resist? They didn’t. Pharoah was in charge and was oppressing them for a reason… so Yehovah’s power could be demonstrated to Israel, so that they would trust in Him, turn to Him, follow Him, and come out on HIS terms, with HIS delivery.
Let’s look at one more instance… Jewish people in Nazi Germany. The Jews outnumbered the Nazis in the camps. Did they resist? Did they fight, rise up and push back against the regime? They didn’t. Hitler was put in place and attempted genocide for a reason – because Yehovah wanted to remind the world that the Jews are HIS people, and that you cannot wipe them out. While the other ancient Middle Eastern people groups have gone, while other tribes have come and gone… Israel has remained.
So I guess my question is… by rebelling against England, did the American’s take a victory out of God’s hands? Did they resist God in doing so? Did they show that they didn’t trust Ha’Shem to liberate them… so they had to do it, themselves? Would God have helped those who called on Him, if they had turned to Him instead of doing it themselves? Food for thought.
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: Romans 13:3
Let’s be honest. MOST of the rules that we have adhere to are to protect people, to catch evil people before they bring bad things down on good folk. True, in our day and age, there are fast becoming more nonsense rules and red tape… and the reason for that is to make money (for them, naturally). But that’s not our problem. As long as you do good, you’ve got nothing to fear. I will admit, that my heart knows this, but my head rebels HUGELY. I don’t like the lack of justice I see. It’s a personal struggle.
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. Romans 13:4-5
Scripture says that God uses rulers to punish evil. We’ve seen this a LOT in the Old Testament stories… where Asa disobeys/distrusts God, so He sends armies to plague Asa. When Reheboam disobeyed God and did evil, Egypt came up and plundered Israel. When Israel was taking captive to Babylon, it was for the SAME amount of time that they didn’t allow the land to rest… so God used Babylon to give His promised land the ‘rest’ that Israel didn’t! Can you think of any other examples?
For 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. Romans 13:6-7
Ah, the topic of taxes. We ALL know it’s outrageous, what they tax us for. Heck, I pay school tax… and I choose not to send my kids to their schools!!! And they STILL make me pay for their sub-standard system!! You don’t want to get me started about taxes. But Scripture says to pay taxes. So I pay taxes. I hate it, but I do it. And not because I want to… because it says to. We dutifully obey. While praying for a rapture… so that taxes won’t be an ISSUE, anymore. ((Although I have to be honest: Gov’t gives me a child tax credit every year for each of our five children. I take that child tax credit and put it away, and use it to pay for our taxes. So technically, the gov’t is paying my taxes. So Yehovah has kind of blessed us in our obedience. The principle of the thing grinds me, but because Ha’Shem understands that, He provides. So there’s a silver lining even to the tax cloud.))
Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8
Now we’re switching gears from the physical (or earthly) government stuff to the spiritual (or heavenly) government. While we should not physically owe the gov’t on earth taxes/obedience… on the flip side, we shouldn’t owe our fellow man love/nurturing. And here I go again, defining love for you, because one of my BIGGEST pet peeves is that people talk about this vague thing they think is love, when what they’re really talking about is luvvv.
You want to know what the definition of love is? Turn in your Bible to Mark 12:30. It says to love, and then tells you what that entails: nurturing others Relationally, spiritually, intellectually, and physically. Heart, soul, mind, strength. It’s not a warm n’ fuzzy feeling, it’s encouraging growth. If you aren’t nurturing people, you owe them a debt, according to Romans. That’s (frankly) the purpose of this site – I’m trying to nurture people intellectually and spiritually. My Facebook is for relational nurturing. Physical? You’re on your own – I’m too far away.
For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:9-10
Here’s something really fun. Of the ‘Ten Commandments’, FIVE of them are listed, here. Why only five? Well, if you’ll turn to Exodus 20 and take a look at the first ten of the 613 commandments, you’ll see that obedience to the first five is directed at Yehovah, and obedience to the last five is directed toward mankind. Do you see that? ((Yes, I know you think ‘Honor thy father and mother’ is man-directed, but the rest of it clarifies that this is about a right relationship with God, even MORE than with man.)) So Paul is giving the five out of ten that we are to do for man. He also wraps up this section by quoting Mark 12:31, which follows the ‘definition of love’ verse. And I should probably add that you love your neighbor AS YOURSELF… which means you have to nurture yourself in those four areas BEFORE you’re able to nurture others that way. I’ve written about this, before. A lot.
And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Romans 13:11-12a
Aw, dagnabbit! I forgot to highlight the verse in my journal! ((Well, pretend they’re highlighted, I’ll do that when I’m done typing this up.)) This section is called “TIME IS NEAR!!” Make a little list of all the different ways Paul says this. I think he’s excited about it. Do you think he’s excited about it? *I* am excited about it. Which got me to thinking… it’s been almost 2000 years since this was written. That… doesn’t seem near, Paul. But he’s not talking about the end, he’s talking about the time in our OWN lives. It makes a difference. But this announcement is to spur us to action. We have only a little while before our light (let your light so shine in the darkness? Matthew 5:16?) goes out here on earth, so wake up now! Do the following! And then Paul gives us a list of to-dos… a-Gain:
Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. Romans 13:12-13
You know what to do: Make a list, take a look at it. Note the following:
1. It doesn’t say to put on the Ephesians 6 armor. It says to put on the armor of light. Please don’t decide what Paul means for him.
2. As in the day is a reference to visibility – you can see it. It’s public.
3. Fighting is a waste of time and energy. Drunk is not kewl. The Bible says so. Hot promiscuous sex is also a negative. Get a life, get a wife. (1 Corinthians 7:9) Strife would be what we today call ‘drama’. Get it OUT of your life… it’s just going to distract you and make you miserable. Envy is pretty self-explanatory and pointless… and has to do with materialism.
GEEZ… is it me, or is this list more for OUR day than Paul’s? Or is it like Solomon says, ‘There’s nothing new under the sun’? Probably. He *was* the wisest man, ever. He would know.
But put ye on the [Messiah Yeshua], and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. Romans 13:14
We are to be like (put on) Messiah – to live like Christ. Because once you give yourself over to God by way of the Son? You have important things to do.