I had difficulty with this passage. The obvious question that arises is “Do we obey government authorities at all times, or are there times when we do not. The passage really does not speak to the latter. What the passage does do is affirm the sovereignty of God. God is in control. He is in control even when it seems like things are out of control. This is one of the great great promises in Scripture that I constantly remind myself (and others) of. You will often hear me say two things when I am talking with people who are going through tough times. “1) God is in control, and 2) The joy of the Lord is your strength.” I can almost hear Paul counseling his Roman friends saying these same things as they are enduring difficult days under the rule of the caesars in Rome.
Never forget these. Because sometimes when life seems particularly cruel and when your authorities are making life difficult for you – the truth of these statements will sustain you as walk diligently by faith through the darkness.
That being said, here are a few things that others have said about this passage;
Martin Luther said it well…
A Christian man is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to everyone.
Richard Halverson, the former chaplain of the United States Senate, wrote that…
To be sure, men will abuse and misuse the institution of the State just as man because of sin has abused and misused every other institution in history including the Church of Jesus Christ, but this does not mean that the institution is bad or that it should be forsaken. It simply means that men are sinners and rebels in God’s world, and this is the way they behave with good institutions. As a matter of fact, it is because of this very sin that there must be human government to maintain order in history until the final and ultimate rule of Jesus Christ is established. Human government is better than anarchy, and the Christian must recognize the “divine right” of the State.
Next Week’s Passage: Romans 13:8-14
Memory Verses: Romans 8:1-31