“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” (Romans 13:1-7)
On this election weekend, it is worth reflecting on what Romans teaches us about living rightly under civil authorities – regardless of who you voted for!
From 13vs1, Paul’s instruction here is pretty clear. In vs1, Paul gives a simple command to submit … and he then gives us the rationale behind it. He points us to the order that God has established. Civil authorities are divinely appointed and in v4 they are God’s servants and his agents. God has placed them in authority for the good of all and in order to punish wrongdoers. God’s instituted order is the reason why submitting to civil authority is the right thing to do. Moreover, in vs2, God’s instituted order is the reason why rebelling against it is wrong and will bring judgment. V5 then reinforces Paul’s reasoning.
We ought not just submit and obey because of the law but out of conscience. God has ordained the state to govern as God’s servant. So we as Christians obey the rules of our land AND pay our taxes as Paul then goes on to say in v6. And in v7 we also owe “respect and honour” to those who serve in authority.
Yours in Christ,
Loves Jesus and loves telling people about Him.