Paul's Epistle to the Romans

 (46) Responsibilities Toward Higher Powers
Romans 13:1-7



1 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.
2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
3 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:
4 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.
5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

Personal Note: Americans are divided in their feelings about President Obama; some agree with his programs while others express hatred for these programs and for the man. I have not made up my mind yet, but I believe that this study will, at the very least, reveal what God’s word has to say about the current situation. I want to see things the same way Jesus does. I hope that my loved ones will also see eye-to-eye with the Bible; after all, it is the authority in these matters.

 Almighty and infinity Heavenly Father;
I pray that your kingdom will come to earth and will be like your heavenly kingdom. Thank you for the Bible for it tells me that you love me and that Jesus died for me. It tells me that you are awesome and wise. Help me to understand and apply your Word correctly.
I pray in the name of my Lord and Savior; Jesus Christ. Amen.



As we begin to study chapter 13, we still are talking about the service of the sons of God. We are going to see that the believer has citizenship in heaven, but he is also a citizen in the world down here, which gives him a twofold responsibility. If there is a conflict between the two, our first responsibility is to our Lord in heaven.

God has established human government because people are sinners and must be controlled. Governmental authority comes from God, so you must respect the office even if you cannot respect the officer. I remember when I was in the Marine Corps; we were told to salute the uniform, not the person. Believe me, there were some officers that I disliked, but this principal made saluting them much easier.

When one receives the righteousness of Christ and begins to live out that righteousness, it not only produces a transformed life, but also a life of subjection. It was inevitable that Paul would have to say something with regard to the believer’s relationship to the state. The men and women of the first century were vitally interested in their position before the Roman Empire. Jesus was questioned in Mark 12 by the Jewish leaders concerning His attitude toward the Roman government. The Corinthian Jews dragged Paul before Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia, and charged him with spreading a religion that was illegal in the empire [1](Acts 18:12–13). Paul’s opponents at Thessalonica went to the civil magistrates and accused the Christians of subversion to the state [2](Acts 17:6–7 ). The fear of punishment is not the highest motivation for obedience, but it is better than having chaos. The question of religion versus state was very much on the minds of those of the first century.

The passage begins with an injunction to be in subjection to the higher powers. While this warning was important in every country, it would have been especially significant in Rome, where the government would rigorously suppress any religion which tended to run counter to that of the state, and especially Christianity, for Christians were largely regarded as a Jewish sect, and would be suspected of having a revolutionary tendency. There was also a danger, no doubt, that Christians might entertain wrong notions of the kingdom of Christ and its present relation to the kingdoms of this world. To Jews, conscious of the covenant relationship of their nation to God, there was a natural repugnance to submit to heathen rulers.



1 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.

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.
Even though governments are generally carried on by nonbelievers, the teaching of the Lord Jesus [3](Mark 12:17 ), the teaching here of the Apostle Paul, and the historic position of the church (see the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XXIII, Section IV) has always been that the believer must live under the law, governed by a magistrate. The reason, “For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” There is no governmental authority except that which is ordained of God. It is God who establishes kings and dethrones kings (see Daniel 4; see also Proverbs 21:1). This truth was strikingly illustrated by Jesus at His trial before Pilate. In his anger Pilate said, “Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?” Jesus put this magistrate in his place when He answered, “Thou couldst have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above” (John 19:10–11). Since all power comes from God, the believer is to be subject to that power. It is true that all the kingdoms of the world belong to Satan and that injustices and corruption abound in all governments; yet God is still in control.

In the first seven verses of this chapter, the apostle discusses the subject of the duty which Christians owe to civil government; a subject which is extremely important, and at the same time exceedingly difficult. There is no doubt that he had in mind the specific situation of the Christians at Rome; but the subject was of so much importance that he gives it a general application, and states the great principles on which all Christians are to act. The circumstances which made this discussion proper and important were the following:
1) The Christian religion was designed to extend throughout the world. Yet it envisioned the development of a kingdom amid other kingdoms, an empire amid other empires. Christians professed supreme allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ; he was their Lawgiver, their Sovereign, and their Judge. It became, therefore, a question of great importance and difficulty, what kind of allegiance they were to render to earthly magistrates.
2) The kingdoms of the world were at that time pagan Kingdoms. The laws were made by pagans, and were adapted to the large number of heathens. Those kingdoms had by and large been founded in conquest, and blood, and oppression. Many of the monarchs were blood-stained warriors; were unprincipled men; and were polluted in their private, and oppressive in their public character. Whether Christians were to acknowledge the laws of such kingdoms, and of such men, was a serious question, and one which naturally occurred very early. It would also occur very soon, in circumstances that would be very disturbing and trying. Soon the hands of these magistrates were to be raised against Christians in the fiery scenes of persecution; and the duty and extent of submission to them became a matter of very serious contemplation.
3) Many of the early Christians were Jewish converts. Yet the Jews had long been under Roman oppression, and had borne the foreign yoke with great uneasiness. They regarded the whole heathen governmental system as founded in a system of idolatry; as opposed to God and his kingdom; and as abomination in his sight. With these feelings they had become Christians; and it was natural that their former sentiments would exert an influence on them after their conversion. How far they should submit, if at all, to heathen magistrates, was a question of deep interest; and there was danger that the Jewish converts might prove to be disorderly and rebellious citizens of the empire.
4) Nor was the case much different with the Gentile converts. They would naturally look with hatred on the system of idolatry which they had just forsaken. They would regard all unbelievers as opposed to God. They would denounce the religion of the pagans as an abomination; and since that religion was interwoven with the civil institutions, there was also the danger that they might denounce the [5]government  altogether, and be regarded as opposed to the laws of the land.
5) There were cases where it was right to resist the laws. The Christian religion clearly taught this; and, in cases like these, it was essential for Christians to take a stand. When the laws interfered with a Christian’s conscience; when they commanded the worship of idols, or any moral wrong, then it was their duty to refuse to submit. Yet, in what cases was this to be done, where was the line to be drawn, was a question of deep importance, and one which was not easily settled. It is quite probable, however, that the main danger was, that the early Christians would err by refusing submission, even when it was proper, rather than in undue conformity to idolatrous rites and ceremonies.
6) In the changes which were to occur in human governments, there would be a question of deep interest, “what part Christians should take, and how should they go about yielding to the various laws which might spring up among the nations. The word “submit” denotes that kind of submission which soldiers render to their officers. It implies subordination; a willingness to occupy our proper place, to yield to the authority of those over us. The word as it is used here does not designate the extent of the submission, but merely speaks of it in general. The general principle will be seen to be, that we are to obey in all things which are not contrary to the law of God

The expression every soul is often used as equivalent to every one.

The term higher powers is commonly understood to refer to those in authority, without taking into consideration their rank, or their character. Here, it undoubtedly refers to the Roman political leaders; that would include the top echelon, and the Emperor, himself. Today, and for you and I, the supreme authority may be the Constitution of the United States or the holder of the office of president. There is definitely a struggle for power going on between president Obama and those who hold a strict interpretation of the Constitution.

We are to be answerable not only to the president, but to all who have authority over us. The word powers or authorities is used for those who are invested with power ([6]Luke 12:11, 12 ; [7]Ephesians 1:21 ). The Greek word for power is exousia which denotes, firstly, freedom to do anything, and then authority to carry it out. Rulers hold, from God, freedom to act, regardless of how much they may abuse their authority.

The word rendered higher, is applied to anyone who has more authority than we do. In [8]1 Peter 2:13, it is applied to the king as supreme, i.e. superior to all other magistrates. But here one class of magistrates is not being compared with another, that is, good verses bad magistrates. Obedience is not commanded on the ground of the personal merit of those in authority, but on the ground of their official position.

During the apostolic age, teaching the duty of obedience to civil magistrates received emphasis, as if it was a necessity. This necessity arose in part from the fact that a large portion of the converts to Christianity had been Jews, and they were extremely reluctant to submit to the heathen authorities. This unwillingness arose from the established impression among them that this subjection was unlawful, or at least highly derogatory of their character as the people of God, who had lived under a theocracy for thousands of years. In Deuteronomy 17:15 it is said, “Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose; one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee; thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.” There was another question, that was often discussed among them; “Is it lawful to pay tribute unto Caesar, or not?” A question which the great majority were at least secretly inclined to answer in the negative. Another source of the restlessness of the Jews under their Roman masters was the idea which they held of the nature of the Messiah’s kingdom. Since they expected a worldly Prince, whose kingdom would be of this world, they were ready to rise in rebellion at the call of every one who cried, “I am Christ.” The history of the Jews during this period shows that they hated the Roman government. They were continually breaking out into demonstrations and minor rebellions, which led to their expulsion from Rome, and, finally, to the total destruction of Jerusalem (that occurred in AD 70). It is therefore not a surprise, that converts from among such a people would need the command, “Be subject to the higher powers.”

Those who have been justified by faith are obligated to be subject to human government. Actually, the obligation applies to everyone, but here the apostle is concerned especially with believers. God established human government after the flood when He decreed, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed” (Gen. 9:6). That decree gave authority to men to judge criminal matters and to punish offenders.

In every organized society there must be authority and submission to that authority. Otherwise you have a state of anarchy, and you cannot survive indefinitely under anarchy. Any government is better than no government. So God has instituted human government, and no government exists apart from His will. This does not mean that He approves of all that human rulers do. He certainly does not approve of corruption, brutality, and tyranny! But the fact remains that the authorities that exist are appointed by God.

Believers can live victoriously in a democracy, a constitutional monarchy, or even a totalitarian regime. No earthly government is any better than the men who are its citizens. That is why none of our governments is perfect. The only ideal government is a benevolent, monarchy with the Lord Jesus Christ as King. It is helpful to remember that Paul wrote this section on subjection to human government when the infamous Nero was Emperor. Those were dark days for Christians. Nero blamed them for a fire which destroyed half the city of Rome (and which he himself may have ordered). He caused some believers to be immersed in tar, and then ignited as living torches to provide illumination for his orgies. Others were sewn up in animal skins, and then thrown to ferocious dogs to be torn to pieces.

This phrase, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers” implies in a quiet, subtle way that our subjection must be free and voluntary, sincere and enthusiastic. The subjection of our soul is required here, and it includes inward honor [9](1 Peter 2:17) and outward reverence and respect, both in speaking to them and in speaking of them-obedience to their commands in things lawful and honest, and in those other things where our conscience will not allow us to cooperate, we must patiently subject ourselves to the penalty for refusing to submit.

There is no power but of God. He is the source of all authority, and he has appointed human governments for the welfare of man. The existing government over us is to be regarded as a divine arrangement.

For there is no power but of God:
But of God is the apostle’s assertion that governments exist by God’s permission, or appointment; those in office had obtained their power by divine intervention. God often claims and asserts that He sets up one, and puts down another, [10]Psalms 75:7, [11]Daniel 2:21.

For there is no power but of God—this is the first of the two great reasons for being subject to rulers. Civil authority is derived from God, who possesses absolute supremacy, a supremacy which no adverse power can hinder or thwart. Whatever form of government is in place you can be certain of this, it was started by divine providence and is maintained by the Lord (See [12]Daniel 4:25, 34, 35).

Christians, therefore, are to be subject to God; they are to honor God by honoring the plan which he has instituted for the government of mankind. It might be that those in power had not secured their office honestly; that they had not secured it according to the election laws, but by oppression and lies; but Christians were not to come into office that way. The government was established by the Almighty, and they were not to seek to overturn it.

All of us have exercised authority over other men at some time in our lives. This is a very broad proposition. All authority is of God. No man has any rightful power over other men, which is not derived from God. All human power is delegated and personal discretion is not part of it. This is true of parents, of judges, and of church officers. This, however, is not all the passage means. It not only asserts that all government authority is derived from God, but that every law officer, judge, justice, public officer, judicial officer, justice of the peace, and official has been granted authority by the Almighty.

We are to obey magistrates, because they derive their authority from God. Not only is human government a divine institution, but the form in which that government exists, and the persons by whom its functions are exercised, are determined by his providence. All magistrates of whatever grade are to be regarded as acting by divine appointment; not that God designates the individuals, but since it is his will that there should be magistrates, every person, who is in point of fact clothed with authority, is to be regarded as having a claim to obedience, founded on the will of God. In like manner, the authority of parents over their children, of husbands over their wives, of masters over their servants, is of God’s ordination. There is no limitation to the command in this verse, so far as the objects of obedience are concerned, although there is as to the extent of the obedience itself. That is, we are to obey all that is in actual authority over us, whether their authority is legitimate or seized, whether they are just or unjust. The actual reigning emperor was to be obeyed by the Roman Christians, whatever they might think of his right to the scepter. But if he transcended his authority, and required them to worship idols, they were to obey God rather than man. This is the limitation to all human authority.

Whenever obedience to man is inconsistent with obedience to God, then disobedience becomes a duty.

It is because God is the origin of power, and the supreme Governor of the universe, that he has the authority to delegate to whomsoever he will; and though in many cases the president himself may not be of God, yet civil government is managed by him; for without this there could be no society, no security, no private property; all would be confusion and anarchy, and the habitable world would soon be depopulated. In ancient times, God, in a special manner, on many occasions appointed the individual who was to govern; and he accordingly governed by a Divine right, as in the case of Moses, Joshua, the Hebrew judges, and several of the Israelitish kings. After those times, and to the present day, he places men in high positions by controlled providence. In all nations of the earth there is what may be called a constitution—a plan by which a particular country or state is governed; and this constitution is more or less calculated to promote the interests of the community. The civil governor, whether he is elected or inherits his position, agrees to govern according to that constitution. Therefore, we may take into account that there is a written agreement between the governor and the governed, and in such a case, the potentate may be considered as coming to the supreme authority by way of God's providence; and since civil government is of God, who is the fountain of law, order, and regularity, the civil governor, who administers the laws of a state according to its constitution, is the minister of God.

But today it is frequently asked: If the president (Obama) is an immoral or wasteful man, doesn’t he prove himself to be unworthy of his high office, and shouldn’t he be removed from that office? I answer, No: if he rules according to the constitution, nothing can justify rebellion against his authority. He may be crooked in his own private life; he may be an immoral man, and disgrace himself by some improper conduct: but if he rules according to the law; if he makes no attempt to change the constitution, or break the contract between him and the people; there is, therefore, no legal ground for opposition to his civil authority, and every act against him is not only rebellion in the worst sense of the word, but is unlawful and absolutely sinful.

Nothing can justify the opposition of the subjects to the ruler but overt attempts on his part to change the constitution, or to rule contrary to law. When the ruler acts that way, he dissolves the pact between him and his people; his authority is no longer binding, because it is illegal; and it is illegal because he is acting contrary to the laws of that constitution, according to which, on the day he took the “oath of office”, he promised to govern. This conduct justifies opposition to his government; but I contend that no personal misconduct by the president, no immorality in his own life, while he governs according to law, can justify either rebellion against him or contempt of his authority. For his political conduct he is accountable to his people; for his moral conduct he is accountable to God, and his conscience. A president may be a good moral man, and yet a weak, and indeed a bad and dangerous one. He may be a bad man, and stained with vice in his private life, and yet be a good leader. SAUL was a good moral man, but a bad prince, because he endeavored to act contrary to the Israelitish constitution: he changed some essential parts of that constitution; he was therefore lawfully removed from office.

Now, to conclude this part of the argument: I wish above all to show the utter unlawfulness of rebellion against a president, who, though he may be incorrect in his moral conduct, yet rules according to the laws; and the additional blessing of having a president, who, while his political conduct is regulated by the principles of the constitution, has his heart and life regulated by the dictates of eternal truth, as contained in that revelation which came from God.

the powers that be are ordained of God.
The powers that be.
That is, all the civil magistracies that exist; including those who have the rule over nations, by whatever means they may have attained to it. This is equally true at all times that the powers that exist, exist by the permission and providence of God.

Are ordained of God. This word ordained refers to the order which exists in a military company or army. God places them in order, assigns them their location, changes and directs them as he pleases. This does not mean that he originates or causes the evil dispositions of rulers, but that he directs and controls their appointment. By this we are not to infer:
1. that he approves of their conduct; or,
2. that what they do is always right; or,
3. that it is always our duty to submit to them. But if their requirements are opposed to the law of God, we are to obey God rather than man, [13]Acts 4:19, [14]5:29. God is the One who has entrusted them with power; and he has the authority to remove them when he pleases. If they abuse their power, however, they do it at their peril; and when they are so abused that they do it, the obligation to obey them ceases. It could not be and never was a question, whether they should obey a magistrate when he commanded them to do a thing that was plainly contrary to the law of God. But the question was, whether they should obey a heathen magistrate at all. This question the apostle answers in the affirmative, because God had made government necessary, and because it was established and planned by his providence. It is also probable that the apostle had another object in view. At the time in which he wrote this epistle, the Roman Empire was agitated with civil discord. One emperor followed another in rapid succession. The throne was often seized, not by right, but by crime. Different claimants would rise, and their claims would excite controversy. The object of the apostle was to prevent Christians from entering into those disputes, and from taking an active part in a political controversy. Besides, the throne had been commandeered by the reigning emperors, and there was a prevalent disposition to rebel against a tyrannical government. Claudius had been put to death by poison; Caligula in a violent manner; Nero was a tyrant; and, amidst these agitations, and crimes, and revolutions, the apostle wished to guard Christians from taking an active part in political affairs.

2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

It follows that the person who seeks to break down his government is fighting the law of God, and will be apt to receive punishment, because their resistance reflects upon him. They will come under the lash of the law, and will find the higher powers to be too high to be trampled upon; all civil governments are fair when they dish out punishment for treason and rebellion. This verse implies that the citizens of all countries should be loyal and submit to the forms of government over them. It does not imply, however, that we should obey wicked magistrates when they command us to disobey God. (See [15]Acts 4:19). To unlawfully and unethically resist government brings the judgment (not damnation) of God upon the believer. As a general rule, God condemns all civil disobedience toward the lawfully-existent government. There is an exception, of course. A Christian is not required to obey if the government orders him to sin or to compromise his loyalty to Jesus Christ [16](Acts 5:29). No government has a right to command a person’s conscience. So there are times when a believer must, by obeying God, incur the wrath of man. In such cases he must be prepared to pay the penalty without unwarranted complaining. Under no circumstances should he rebel against the government or join in an attempt to overthrow it.

In the Bible magistrates are called gods [17](Ps. 82:6 ), because they bear the image of God’s authority. And those who reject their power reflect poorly upon God himself. Magistrates are also called God’s ministers (See verses 4 and 6). Additionally, magistrates are in a peculiar manner God’s servant. Although they are lords to us, they are servants to God; they have work to do for him, and are responsible to him. In the administration of the government, the resolution of quarrels, the protecting of the innocent, making things right for those who have been mistreated, the punishing of lawbreakers—in these things magistrates act as God’s ministers. So the resisting of any magistrate in the discharge of these duties amounts to resisting an ordinance of God.

Today, we apply the word damnation exclusively to the punishment of hell. But this is not necessarily the meaning of the word which is used here, (κριμα). It often simply denotes punishment, (see [18]Romans 3:8; [19]1 Corinthians 11:29, [20]Galatians 5:10 ). In this place the word implies guilt or criminality in resisting the ordinance of God, and affirms that the man that does it will be punished. Whether the apostle means that he shall be punished by God, or by the magistrate, is not quite clear. Probably the latter, however, is intended. (See verse 4). But it is also true, that such resistance shall result in the displeasure of God, and be punished by him.

3 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:

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil.
This verse is not to be connected with the second, but with the first, because it assigns an additional reason for the duty we owe to those who govern us. Magistrates are to be obeyed, because it is the will of God, and because they are selected by God to suppress evil and promote good. There is a ground, therefore, in the very nature of their office, for why they should not be resisted. This is the general rule. Of course there have been occasional exceptions, when some human monster has been endowed with absolute power, but the principle is true. It is not the law-abiding, but the lawless, which fear the law. Rulers as a class are a blessing. There was an exception a few years later when Nero developed his fiendish hate of all that was good.

But to the evil.

Magistrates are appointed by God to detect and punish evil-doers; and therefore, they are an object of terror to them. The intention of the apostle here is, evidently, to reconcile Christians to the principal of submission to the government. It exists to protect the good against the evil; to restrain oppression, injustice, and fraud; to bring offenders to justice, and thus promote the peace and harmony of the community. Since it was God’s plan to promote order and happiness, it should be submitted to; and so long as this object is pursued, and obtained, government should receive the tolerance and support of Christians. But if it departs from this principle, and becomes the protector of the evil and the oppressor of the good, the case is reversed, and the obligation to support the government must cease.

For rulers are not a terror to good works—here the apostle shows the civil magistrate what he should be: he is clothed with great power, but that power is entrusted to him, not for the terror and oppression of the upright man, but to intimidate and punish the wicked. It is, in a word, for the benefit of the community, and not for the aggrandizement of himself, that God has entrusted the supreme civil power to any man. If he should use this to wrong, rob, spoil, oppress, and persecute his subjects, he is not only a bad man, but also a bad prince. He infringes on the essential principles of law and justice. Should he persecute his obedient, loyal subjects, on any religious account, this is contrary to all law and right; and his doing so renders him unworthy of their confidence, and they must consider him not as a blessing but a plague. Yet, even in this case, though in our country it would be a breach of the constitution, which allows every man to worship God according to his conscience, the truly pious will not feel that even this would justify rebellion against the prince; they are to suffer patiently, and commend themselves and their cause to him that judgeth righteously. It is an awful thing to rebel, and the cases are extremely rare that can justify rebellion against the constituted authorities. See the doctrine on Romans 13:1.

Since God’s purpose in ordaining government in the days of Noah was to restrain wickedness and promote virtue, we are to be in subjection to any government which fulfills this purpose. However, the Declaration of Independence was composed to rebuke George III’s government for punishing virtue while at the same time rewarding wickedness.

Christians are never under subjection to injustice or a government of wickedness. Rulers are to be established to be a terror to evil and to promote the good. That is the basic principle of good government. Consequently, we are to respect any government which does so and reject any government which does not.

Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power?
Government is not an evil to be feared, except by evil doers. Seeing that magistrates are appointed for the punishment of evil, the way to avoid suffering from their authority is not to resist it, but to do that which is good. Paul is speaking of the legitimate propose of government, not of the abuse of power by wicked men.

The office of the magistrate was designed to be a terror to evil works and evil workers. They have the sword; not only the sword of war, but the sword of justice. Many will not be restrained from doing the most terrible things, because of the power of sin and corruption over their lives. They have a low opinion of the law of God and never give a thought of the wrath to come. All that prevents them from doing anything wicked that they desire is the fear of worldly punishments. That's why laws with penalties [21](1 Tim. 1:9) must be set up in Christian nations, and such laws must not be contradictory to, the gospel.

The apostle is speaking of rulers in general. It may not be universally true that they are not a terror to good works, for many of them have persecuted the good; but it is generally true that they who are virtuous have nothing to fear from the laws. It is universally true, that the reason for their appointment by God was not to injure and oppress the good, but to detect and punish the evil. Magistrates are not a terror to good works. As a rule, people who do what is right do not need to fear the authorities. It is only those who break the law who have to fear punishment. So if anyone wants to enjoy a life free from tickets, fines, trials, and imprisonments, the thing to do is to be a law-abiding citizen. Then he will win the approval of the authorities, not their disapproval.

If you do evil by resisting the laws, will you not fear the power of the government? Fear is one of the means by which men are restrained from crime in a community. On many minds it operates with much more power than any other motive. And it is one which a magistrate must make use of to restrain men from evil. Over every man hangs the sobering prospect that he will be answerable to God for his civil behavior and will be punished by him for civil misdemeanors.

If you do not want to live in fear of the civil magistrate, live according to the laws; and you may expect that he will rule according to the laws, and consequently instead of incurring blame you will receive praise. I can say this based on the supposition that the ruler is a good man. The laws were made to be applied by good men who are fair and impartial.

do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
Those that keep the laws will have the approval and protection of the civil powers. "Do that which is good, and you will not have a reason to be afraid of the higher powers, which, although they can be terrible, they only discipline those , who by their own sin make themselves opposed to the laws that are designed to govern their lives.” This is the intention of the magistrate, and therefore we must, for conscience’ sake, be subject to it, like we would be to a constitution designed for the public good, to which all private interests must give way. But, it is a pity when men reject the law and cause harm to those who are trying to do well. And that is the way it is, when the vilest men are rewarded or promoted [22](Ps. 12:1, 8 ); and yet even then the blessing and benefit of a common protection under the law, and a face of government and order, are such that it is our duty to submit to persecution for well-doing, and to take it patiently. Never did a sovereign ruler pervert the actions of government like Nero did, and yet Paul appealed to him, and under him had the protection of the law. A bad government is better than none at all.


4 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.

For he is the minister of God to thee for good.
Magistrates or rulers are not appointed for their own honor or benefit, but for the benefit of society, and, therefore, while those who are in authority are there on this account we who are in subjection ought to obey them. Those who are in subjection are taught, what those in power are so apt to forget, that they are the servants of the people as well as the servants of God, and that the welfare of society is the only legitimate objective which they as rulers are at liberty to pursue.

The ruler, the guardian of order and the preserver of peace is, as a rule, a blessing. He beareth not the sword in vain. Not only did the magistrate wear the sword, but one was borne before him in public processions as an emblem of his right to use it in the interests of order and justice.

But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid;
Just as one part of the design of government is to protect the good, so the other is to punish the wicked. The existence of this delegated authority is, therefore, a reason why men should refrain from the commission of evil. But if you do it anyway, (do that which is evil), be afraid. A sword was actually worn by emperors and magistrates, as an emblem of their power of life and death; hence the metaphorical use of the phrase here. There is an intimation of the rights of capital punishment, though what is in view is the carrying out of any form of judicial sentence.

for he beareth not the sword in vain:
He beareth not the sword in vain, i.e. it is not futile and pointless that he is empowered with the authority to punish. His power to do so is delegated to him for the defense and encouragement of the good, and the punishment of the wicked; and he has authority to use capital punishment, when the law so requires.

The reference is not to the dagger worn by the Roman emperors as a sign of office. The sword is an instrument of punishment, as well as a symbol of war. Princes were accustomed to wearing a sword as an emblem of their authority; and the sword was often used for the purpose of beheading, or otherwise punishing the guilty. In the New Testament, the word sword always means sword, which for past ages was the symbol of authority, and especially of the right to decide life and death.

What the apostle means is that he does not wear this badge of authority as an unmeaning show, but that it will be used to influence those who are non-Christian to enter the Christian faith. As this is the aim of the power entrusted to him, and as he will exercise his authority, men should be influenced by fear to keep the law, even if there were no better motive. Since the common method of inflicting capital punishment was by decapitation with a sword, that instrument is mentioned as the symbol of the right of punishment, and, many infer from this passage, of the right of capital punishment.

for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
The minister of God.
The servant of God; He is appointed by God to do his will, and to execute his purposes.

A revenger. In Romans 12:19, vengeance is said to belong to God. Yet he executes his vengeance by means of subordinate agents. It belongs to him to take vengeance by direct judgments, by the plague, famine, sickness, or earthquakes; by the appointment of magistrates; or by letting loose the passions of men to prey upon each other. When a magistrate inflicts punishment on the guilty, it is to be regarded as the act of God taking vengeance by him; and on this principle only is it right for a judge to condemn a man to death. It is not because one man has by nature any right over the life of another, or because society has any right collectively which it has not as individuals; but because God gave life, and because he has chosen to take it away when crime is committed, by the appointment of magistrates, and not by coming forth himself visibly to execute the laws. Where human laws fail, however, he often takes vengeance into his own hands; and by the plague, or some signal judgments, sweeps the guilty into eternity.

To execute wrath. For an explanation of the word wrath, see [24]Romans 1:18. It is used here to denote punishment, or the just execution of the laws. Many Bible scholars think this verse is proof of the correctness of capital punishment. The sword was undoubtedly an instrument for this purpose, and the apostle mentions its use without any mention of disapproval. He commands subjection to those who wear the sword; and evidently he intends to speak of the magistrate with the sword, or of inflicting capital punishment, as having received the authority to do so from God. The tendency of society now is not to have ruthless laws. It is rather to forget that God has doomed the murderer to death; and though humanity should be consulted in the execution of the laws, yet there is no humanity in allowing the murderer to live to infest society, and endanger many lives, in addition to his own, which was forfeited for the sake of staining his hands perhaps in the blood of many who are innocent. But the authority of God has settled this question, [25](Genesis 9:5, 6) and it is neither right nor safe for a community to disregard his solemn decisions.

5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

There are two reasons for obedience to the civil ruler: (1) If one fails to obey him, he will be a subject of his wrath (judgment) and be punished. (2) It is God's will that we should obey our civil rulers. Therefore, conscience should be a motive.

Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. That is, subjection to magistrates is not only a civil duty enforced by strict statutes, but also a religious duty, and part of our obedience to God.
The Christian always lives with tension between the two competing claims of obedience to the state and obedience to God. The state has a right to demand our respect and conformity. Thus, we are to be in subjection to those in authority over us, not only out of fear and respect, but also out of a good conscience before God. However, the believer does not dare to blindly bow to the state if his conscience is offended by the wickedness of the state. There may be times when “we ought to obey God rather than men” ([26]Acts 5:29; [27]Acts 4:19). Since the state and its magistrate are not infallible, the believer may at times have to conscientiously object to what the state requires that is in direct contradiction to the law of God.

Wherefore ye must needs be subject,
There is a necessity that you submit to the higher authorities, not only to escape their wrath, on account of the punishment which will be inflicted on evil doers, but also for conscience' sake; not only to avoid punishment, but also to preserve a clear conscience. The Lord has designed and implemented civil government for our benefit, that is, for the support, defense, and happiness of society. Those who transgress its laws, not only expose themselves to the penalties assigned by the statutes, but also to guilt in their own consciences, because they sin against God. Here are two powerful motives to prevent the infringement of the laws and to enforce obedience.
1.  The dread of punishment; this weighs heavily with the ungodly.
2.  The keeping of a good conscience, which weighs powerfully with every person who fears God.
These two motives should be taught both among believers and unbelievers. The first is external, the execution of judgment on the part of the ruler; the latter is internal, a matter of conscience toward God and the recognition of the ruler’s right.

not only for wrath,
Not only on account of the fear of punishment; or the fact that wrath will be executed on evil doers.
but also for conscience sake.
We must obey civil authorities as a matter of conscience, or of duty to God, because he has initiated it, and made it necessary and proper. A good citizen yields obedience because it is the will of God; and a Christian makes it a part of his religion to maintain and obey the just laws of the land. See [28]Matthew 22:21 and compare it to Ecclesiastes 8:2, “I counsel thee to keep the king’s commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God.

We can show our devotion to God by our reverence for God's authority. The commands of the magistrate, in general, should be considered a divine ordinance; regardless of the form of government—from an unchecked dictatorship such as flourished when this was written, under the Emperor Nero—to a pure democracy. The inalienable right of all subjects to endeavor to alter or improve the form of government under which they live is left untouched here. But since Christians were constantly charged with turning the world upside down, and since there certainly were elements enough in Christianity of moral and social revolution to give plausibility to the charge, and tempt noble spirits, crushed under misgovernment, to take redress into their own hands, it was of special importance that the pacific, submissive, loyal spirit of those Christians who resided at the great seat of political power, should furnish a visible refutation of this charge.


6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

For for this cause pay ye (“ye pay” is better) tribute also:
The taxes gathered from the Roman provinces were called tribute. Because the rulers are God's ministers, his agents to attend to necessary duties, it is right that they should be supported. This verse may be connected to the ending phrase of the preceding verse, therefore, it would sound like this “but also for conscience sake ye should pay tribute also.” But it is better still to consider this clause as containing an inference of the nature and design of civil government. Since civil government is constituted for the benefit of society, for the punishment of evil doers and for the praise of those that do well, you should cheerfully pay the contributions necessary for its support.

The Romans made all conquered provinces pay this tribute; and it would become a question of whether it was right to recognize this claim, and submit to it. This question would be agitated by the Jews and by Jewish Christians. But on the principle which the apostle had laid down, [29]Romans 12:1, 20,  it was right to do it, and was demanded by the very purposes of government. In a larger sense, the word tribute means any tax paid.

Because civil government is a design of God, and the ministers of state must at considerable expense  provide for the safety and defense of the community, it is necessary that those in whose behalf these expenses are incurred should defray that expense; and hence nothing can be more reasonable than an impartial and moderate taxation, by which the expenses of the state may be defrayed, and the various officers, whether civil or military, who are employed for the service of the public, be adequately remunerated. All this is just and right, but there is no insinuation in the apostle's words on behalf of an extravagant and oppressive taxation, for the support of unprincipled and unnecessary wars; or the pensioning of corrupt or useless men. The taxes are to be paid for the support of those who are God's ministers—the necessary civil officers, from the king downwards, who are attending CONTINUALLY on this very thing. And let the reader observe, that by God's ministers are not meant here the ministers of religion, but the civil officers in all departments of the state.

For this cause. Rulers are appointed by God; for the sake of conscience, and in order to secure the implementation of the laws. Since they are selected by God, the tribute which is needful for their support becomes an act of homage to God, an act performed in obedience to his will, and acceptable to him.

for they are God’s ministers,
We owe the government not only obedience but financial support by paying taxes. It is to our advantage to live in a society of law and order, with police and fire protection, so we must be willing to bear our share of the cost. Government officials are giving their time and talents in carrying out God’s will for the maintenance of a stable society, so they are entitled to support.

They, not the tax-gatherers, but the rulers, are the ones due the tribute. Magistrates are not only appointed for the public good, but they are the ministers of God, and consequently it is his will that we should contribute whatever is necessary to enable them to discharge their duty.

The word rendered ministers, means public servants, men selected for any public work, civil or religious. Ministers is used in Scripture in a general sense, for servants or ministers, [30]Romans 15:16; [31]Hebrews 1:7 ; [32]8:2. The words in this clause may refer to tax-gathering. The magistrates are divinely commissioned, or authorized to collect tribute. This is necessary for the support of government; and government being a divine institution, God, in ordaining the outcome, has thereby ordained the means. It is because magistrates, in the collection of taxes, act as the executive officers of God, that we are bound to pay them.  By being in subjection to them, and paying tribute, we show our appreciation for the ordinance of God, and that is another way we honor Him. But, placing all that aside, they discharge functions which are the ordinance of God.

attending continually upon this very thing.
This very thing
has been taken by some to refer to the collection of taxes, by others to the service of God. Probably both are to be considered, for they are regarded as definitely connected.

As they attend to this, and devote their time and talents to it, it is appropriate that they should receive suitable support. It becomes, then, a duty for the people to contribute cheerfully to the necessary expenses of the government. However, if those taxes are unjust and oppressive, they, like other evils, are to be submitted to, until a remedy can be found in a proper way.

7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

Render therefore to all their dues:
The fact that believers are citizens of heaven [32](Phil. 3:20) does not exempt them from responsibility to human government. They must pay whatever taxes are levied on their income, their real estate, and their personal property. They must pay required customs on merchandise being transported from one country to another. They must demonstrate a respectful fear of displeasing those who are charged with enforcing the laws. And they must show honor for the names and offices of all civil servants (even if they can’t always respect their personal lives).

In this connection, Christians should never join in speaking in a derogatory way of the President or the Prime Minister. Even in the heat of a political campaign they should refuse to join in the verbal abuse that is heaped upon the head of state. It is written, “You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people” (Acts 23:5)

With this verse, Paul enlarges the scope of his contention; from magistrates the apostle now comes to other officials and from them to men related to us by whatever tie. This has become an extensive command: Be rigidly just; withhold neither from the king nor his ministers, nor his officers of justice and revenue, nor from even the lowest of the community, what the laws of God and your country require you to pay.

[34]tribute  to whom tribute is due;
In [35]Mark 22:17 and [36]Luke 20:22, the word [34]tribute may be interpreted as denoting the capitation tax which the Romans imposed on the Jewish people. It may, however, be legitimately regarded as denoting any tax whatever imposed by a foreign power on the people of Israel. The "tribute money" shown to our Lord (Mat 22:19 ) was the denarius, bearing Caesar's superscription. It was the tax paid by every Jew to the Romans.

Is due. To whom it properly belongs by the law of the land, and according to the ordinance of God. It is represented here as a matter of debt, as something which is due to the ruler; a fair compensation to him for the service which he renders us by devoting his time and talents to advance our interests, and the welfare of the community. As taxes are a debt, a matter of strict and just obligation, they should be paid as conscientiously and as cheerfully as any other just debts, however contracted.

custom to whom custom;
custom was a commercial tax; a toll on goods, similar to the modern tariff. It was usually collected at the gates of cities on all goods entering. See [38]Matt 9:9.
fear to whom fear;
The type of fear that the apostle speaks of is respect for superiors which produces obedience. Treat all official characters with respect, and be obedient to your superiors. We should stand in awe of those who wear the sword (law enforcement), and who are appointed to execute the laws of the land. As the execution of their office is fitted to excite fear, we should render to them that reverence which is appropriate to the execution of their office. It means, a considerate anxiety lest we do anything to offend them.

honour to whom honour.
One definition of the word honor is the respect due to persons of distinction. Never behave rudely to any person; but behave respectfully to men in office: if you cannot respect the man—because an important office may be filled by an unworthy person—respect the office, and the man on account of his office. If a man accustom himself to disrespect official characters, he will soon find himself of a mind to pay little respect or obedience to the laws themselves.

The difference between honor and fear is that the former denotes reverence, veneration, respect for their names, offices, rank, etc; whereas fear arises from the dread of punishment. Religion gives to men all their just titles, recognizes their rank and office, and seeks to promote due subordination in a community. It was no part of the work of our Savior, or of his apostles, to quarrel with the mere titles of men, or to withhold from them the customary tribute of respect and homage [39](1 Peter 2:17 ). In this verse, there is summed up the duty which is owed to magistrates. It consists in rendering to them proper honor; contributing cheerfully and conscientiously to the necessary expenses of the government, and in yielding obedience to the laws. These are made a part of the duty which we owe to God, and should be considered as directed by our religion.


On the subject discussed in these seven verses, the following principles seem to be settled by the authority of the Bible, and are now understood:
1. That government is essential; and its necessity is recognized by God, and it is arranged by His Providence. God has never been the patron of anarchy and disorder.
2. Civil rulers are dependent on God. He has the entire control over them, and can set them up or put them down when He pleases.
3. The authority of God is superior to that of civil rulers. They have no right to do or say anything which interferes with His authority.
4. It is not the business of civil rulers to regulate or control religion. That is a distinct area, with which they have no concern, except to protect it.
5. The rights of all men are to be preserved. Men are to be allowed to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience, and to be protected in those rights, provided they do not violate the peace and order of the community
6. Civil rulers have no right to persecute Christians, or to attempt to secure conformity to their views by force. The conscience can not be compelled; and in the affairs of religion man must be free. In view of this subject we may remark,
a. that the doctrines respecting the rights of civil rulers and the line which is to be drawn between their powers and the rights of conscience have been slow to be understood. The struggle has been long; and a thousand persecutions have shown the anxiety of the magistrate to rule the conscience, and to control religion. In pagan countries it has been conceded that the civil ruler had a right to control the religion of the people: church and state there have been one. The same thing was attempted under Christianity, during mid-evil times, however the magistrates still claimed their right to govern, and attempted to enforce it. Christianity resisted the claim, and asserted the independent and original rights of conscience. A conflict ensued, of course, and the magistrate resorted to persecutions, to subdue by force the claims of the new religion, and the rights of conscience. Hence the ten fiery and bloody persecutions of the primitive church. The blood of the early Christians flowed like water; thousands and tens of thousands went to the stake, until Christianity triumphed, and the right of religion to a free exercise was acknowledged throughout the empire.
b. It is matter of devout thanksgiving that the subject is now settled, and the principle is now understood. In our own land there exists the happy and bright illustration of the true principle on this great subject. The rights of conscience are regarded, and the laws peacefully obeyed. The civil ruler understands his area; and Christians yield a cheerful and cordial obedience to the laws. The church and state move on in their own spheres, united only in the purpose to make men happy and good; and divided only as they relate to different departments; and contemplate, the one, the rights of civil society-the other, the interests of eternity. Here, every man worships God according to his own views of duty; and, at the same time, here is rendered the most cordial and peaceful obedience to the laws of the land. Thanks should be rendered without ceasing to the God of our fathers for the wondrous train of events by which brought us to this clear and full understanding which we now have of the different departments pertaining to the church and the state.

In the light of all the Bible has to say about government, we can now answer the question, “What should our attitude be toward president Obama and his programs?”
 First: We should respect the office of president, always.
 Second: We should not make fun of him or speak in harsh terms of the man.
 Third: We should support all of his programs, as long as they do not conflict with God’s
            will as expressed in Scripture. 
 Forth: We should be obedient to bad laws and programs until such a time as they can be
           changed by the appropriate legal means.
 Fifth: His personal life and beliefs cannot be used as an excuse for disobedience.

_____________________special notes_____________________

[1](Acts 18:12-13) “And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.” It was probably toward the end of Paul’s stay in Corinth that Gallio was appointed proconsul of Achaia (approximately A.D. 51). Thinking the new proconsul would be friendly to them, the Jews brought Paul before him at the judgment seat (bēma) in the marketplace at Corinth. The accusation was that Paul was persuading them to worship God contrary to the Jewish law. Before the apostle had an opportunity to testify, Gallio dismissed the matter with utter contempt. He told the Jews that this was strictly a matter of their own law and not one that came under his jurisdiction.
[2](Acts 17:6–7) And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.
[3](Mark 12:17) “And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.” They had paid their Roman taxes, though reluctantly, but had disregarded the claims of God on their lives. The coin had Caesar’s image on it, and therefore belonged to Caesar. Man has God’s image on him—God created man in His own image (Gen. 1:26, 27)—and therefore belongs to God.
[4](Proverbs 21:1) “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” Just as a channel or canal directs the flow of water, so the LORD rules and overrules a king’s thoughts and actions. This is an encouragement to Christians under oppressive governments or to missionaries taking the gospel to hostile lands.
[5]GOVERNMENT—earthly authority; those who rule over others in order to keep society stable and orderly. Only God is the sovereign ruler of all. When human governments exalt themselves above God, they go beyond their legitimate function in society. In Bible times God exercised government through many persons and institutions.
[6](Luke 12:11, 12) “And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.” It was inevitable that the disciples would be brought before governmental authorities for trial. The Lord Jesus told them that it was unnecessary for them to rehearse in advance what they should say. The Holy Spirit would put the proper words in their mouths whenever it was necessary. This does not mean that servants of the Lord should not spend time in prayer and study before preaching the gospel or teaching the Word of God. It should not be used as an excuse for laziness! However, it is a definite promise from the Lord that those who are placed on trial for their witness for Christ will be given special help from the Holy Spirit. And it is a general promise to all God’s people that if they walk in the Spirit, they will be given the suitable words to speak in the crisis moments of life. 
[7](Ephesians 1:21) “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:” The Lord Jesus is superior to every ruler or authority, human or angelic, now and forever. 
[8](1 Peter 2:13) “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;” Human governments are instituted by God [9](Rom. 13:1). Rulers are God’s servants (Rom. 13:4). Even if the rulers are not believers, they are still God’s men officially. Even if they are dictators and tyrants, their rule is better than no rule at all. The complete absence of rule is anarchy, and no society can continue under anarchy. So any government is better than no government at all. Order is better than chaos. Believers should submit to every human institution for the Lord’s sake.
[9](1 Peter 2:17) Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
[10](Psalms 75:7) But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.
[11](Daniel 2:21) And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: 
[12](Daniel 4:24, 34, 35) That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
…And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? 
[13](Acts 4:19) But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.
[14](Acts 5:29) Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
[15](Acts 4:19) But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.
[16](Acts 5:29) Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
[17](Psalms 82:6) “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.” But even though these men have held lofty positions, they must not forget that great men die, just as common men do. Even God’s representatives in judgment must one day die and face judgment themselves (Heb 9:27).
[18](Romans 3:8) “And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.” Damnation, or better condemnation, is executed on all those who, in light of their unfaithfulness, turn God’s faithfulness into lasciviousness and license. 
[19](1 Corinthians 11:29) “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” Coming to the table with the wrong attitude and the wrong approach may cause a man to eat and drink damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. Damnation (Gr krima) is best rendered “judgment.” The kinds of judgment the apostle has in mind are enumerated in the following verse. “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. (1 Corinthians 11:30).
[20](Galatians 5:10) “I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.”  The one continually agitating, disquieting, and disturbing your faith, shall bear his judgment. He cannot escape; God will judge him. Whosoever he be.
[21](1 Timothy 1:9) “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,” A righteous man, “a saved person” is not under the law but grace. He is not lawless but the controlling force is the Holy Spirit and the grace of God (Gal 3:1–5; Tit 2:11ff.). 
[22](Psalms 12:1,8) “Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men… The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.”
[23]AUTHORITY—the power or right to do something, particularly to give orders and see that they are followed. The word “authority” as used in the Bible usually means a person’s right to do certain things because of the position or office held by that person. This word emphasizes the legality and right, more than the physical strength, needed to do something.
[24](Romans 1:18) “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;" God’s attitude toward the sin of mankind is not one of tolerance. He does not simply hold man accountable for what may be reasonably expected of him in view of man’s nature as a sinner. If God did, His holiness and purity would be soiled by complicity with our guilt. God hates man’s sin. His wrath is a holy aversion to all that is evil. Wrath is as essential to divine righteousness as love and mercy are. God could not be free from wrath unless He was also free from all concern about His moral universe.
[25](Genesis 9:5, 6) “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. 6Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” Here the institution of civil government is established. God has invested in mankind the right to govern itself; it is one of our inalienable rights. Those who are set in authority over us are to be a terror to evil works (Rom 13:3); and those who disobey the God-ordained powers of human government are liable for punishment because “… the minister of God … beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” (Rom 13:4). “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” This divinely established statute of capital punishment is nowhere abrogated in Scripture and is as valid today as it was in the days of Noah.

“Homicide (which in a sense is always fratricide, v. 5) demands a punishment that matches the crime. The justification for capital punishment, here established, is the nobility of human life, which is made in the image of God”. It is not instituted primarily as a deterrent for crime, but as a strong reminder of the uniqueness of man, created in the image of God.
[26](Acts 5:29) “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”  Peter is not so much advocating open defiance against the state as he is absolute dependence upon God.
[27](Acts 4:19) But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. 
[28](Matthew 22.21) "They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” The Lord means that we are to give the civil magistrates all that is due to them, so long as it does not interfere with the honor due to God.
[29](Romans 12:1, 20) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service…Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
[30](Romans 15:16) “That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.” Paul asserts that the reason for his writing the way he has is the grace of God has made him an officiating-priest (Gr leitourgos) to preach the gospel as a priestly service 
[31](Hebrews 1:7) And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire
[32](Hebrews 8:2) A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.
[33](Philippians 3:20) “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:” Our citizenship is in heaven. Heaven is the Christian’s home; he is only temporarily in this world. The church is really a colony of heaven: our names are enrolled in heaven; we are under heaven’s government; we share heaven’s glory; we enjoy heaven’s honor. Heavenly conduct should mark the Christian.
[34](tribute) Tribute is described by Easton’s Illustrated Dictionary as a tax imposed by a king on his subjects (2Sa 20:24; 1Ki 4:6; Rom 13:6). In Mat 17:24-27 the word denotes the temple rate (the "didrachma," the "half-shekel," as rendered by the R.V.) which was required to be paid for the support of the temple by every Jew above twenty years of age (Ex 30:12; 2Ki 12:4; 2Ch 24:6, 9). It was not a civil but a religious tax.
[35](Mark 12:17) And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marveled at him.
[36](Luke 20:22) Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no? 
[37](Matthew 22:19) Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny
[38](Matthew 9:9) And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. 
[39](1 Peter 2:17) Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

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