Romans 13

Some people believe that this one verse (Romans 13:1) in the Bible sentences all men to the authority of arbitrary rulers and governments as if all “governments” as institutions of force are of God and that they can do no wrong. Nothing could be farther from the truth and opposed to God’s plan.. Jesus also said in Luke 12:11 And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and (unto) magistrates, and powers (excousia), take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: So, at least it seems clear by this statement that Jesus assumed Christians would be brought before magistrates and powers or authorities as well as religious leaders of the day for one complaint or another. If early Christians were bound to obey the ruling authorities then why did those early Christians have such problems with persecutions? After all freedom of religion was an integral part of Roman Government. Peter does seem to contradict the idea of submission to men or at least absolute submission in Acts 5:29 Then Peter and the (other) apostles answered and said, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.” But Romans was written by Paul who again uses excousia in 1 Corinthians 6:9 when he says: “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power (1850) of any.” Here Paul is saying he will not go under the ‘power’ of any. This seems to be in accordance with Peter who is saying to be under God’s authority and obey it rather than men. Paul helps us this with another statement in 1Corinthians 7:21. “Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.” Paul is encouraging us to get out from underneath authority if we can. I am sure he is not saying to do anything dishonest like don’t pay your taxes or don’t obey the laws of the country you live in. But he is saying to not go under any extra authority and if you can lesson the amount of authority/influence of men you are under then do so. Yes, we may have gone under authority by taking an oath or participating in some mutual welfare program involving our submission or the relinquishment of rights but Jesus clearly advises against this in Matthew 5:34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: And he goes on to say concerning binding oaths that “Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” This is a very strong warning by it self. But this warning is again emphasized in James 5:12 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and (your) nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation. The word ‘fall’ is from pipto meaning ” to descend from a higher place to a lower” and is often used as a ” metaphor to fall under judgment, came under condemnation”. By not going under additional authorities by participation or overt binding commitments we remain free to serve God in a clear unrestricted conscience.

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