Submission to the Authorities

Romans 13:2-7 Whosoever therefore resist the power, resist the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Will thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shall have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he bears not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that does evil. Wherefore you must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay you 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. 

‘Whosoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.’ Whoever sets himself against the plan of God in human government resists God. They who resist will be punished. This comes down to breaking the laws that are there to protect and govern us out of rebellious nature.

‘For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil.’ Here Paul shows the duty of civil rulers. It is not to terrorize people of good deeds, but to punish evil people for sins against society.

‘Will thou then not be afraid of the power?’ Obey the laws of civil government and you will have nothing to fear, providing you have rulers that properly enforce the law.

‘He bears not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that does evil.’ God has delegated authority to defend the good and punish evil, even with capital punishment if required.

‘Not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.’ Obey civil laws, not only to escape punishment but to preserve a clear conscience.

‘For this cause pay you tribute also’ – because civil government and law enforcement officers who execute the laws and defend the community are of God and must be supported, pay your share of taxes (13:6-7).

‘Ministers’ [Greek: leitourgos] public servant (13:6; 15:16; Php. 2:25; Heb. 1:7; 8:2). They are God’s servants to carry on civil government for Him. Even if they are ungodly people and yet faithfully carry out civil responsibility they are to be respected, supported and obeyed on duty.

‘Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.’ Withhold nothing from civil government or its lawful officers that is required of you to pay. Pay taxes, customs, fear, and honour to all people over you in public life.