June 27, 2022

Government Submission

Government Submission


Government Submission (Romans 13:1-2)

Romans 13:1

Historical context Paul wrote the book of Romans in AD 57, 57 years after Christ.

  • The Romans were still ruling over the land of Israel.
  • Nero is the Roman emperor at this time.
    • And we know from history that Nero was one of the most brutal emperors.
  • Many ancient scholars and historians, including Tacitus think there was a serious tax revolt happening at the time.
    • So Paul may have been writing this to address that tax revolt.
    • After all Jesus told us to pay taxes in Mark 12:17 “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.”
  • There may also have been a violent anti-Roman Jewish zealot movement happening at the time.
  • And despite all of that. Paul gives this strong exhortation to be subject to governing authorities.

Theology We never develop Theology from just one verse in isolation.

  • So, are there other verses in scripture that say the same thing or agree with this statement from Paul?
  • 1 Peter 2: 13-17 Peter and Paul are in agreement on this.
  • What that means is we can’t just dismiss this passage from Romans 13 as an anomaly

Grammar and language

  • The verse starts by saying “let everyone… In The Greek it is the word, “Soul.” “Let every soul.”
    • Quote: (Douglas Moo) “In typical OT and Jewish fashion, Paul uses “soul” to denote not one part of a human being but the whole person.”
    • So, this exhortation to subject ourselves applies to our whole being.
    • Similar to what Jesus says in Matt 22:37 on how we are to love God.
  • The verse then continues with “be subject to”
    • Most scholars agree that this could be understood as “submit to.”
    • We are to submit our whole being to the governing authorities.
      • This idea of submission is common to Paul’s Theology.
    • What gets really interesting here is the verb is in the passive form.
    • The action of the verb happens to the subject with no volition on the part of the subject.
      • If God gives us the strength to be subject, that certainly is interesting and something we probably need to press into.
    • The verse then continues with governing authorities.
      • Scholars agree that this refers to secular government.
    • The verse continues with Paul saying the same thing two different ways for emphasis.
      • Something of a meta narrative.

Verse 2  is pretty self-explanatory and there is not unique grammar to look at.

Preliminary conclusions:

So, let’s draw some preliminary conclusions.

  1. All secular government authorities are put there by God
  2. We are called to submit to them with our whole being
  3. God gives us the strength to do that.

Biblical example this 1 Samuel 24:4-12