Service to Government: Submission

Paul’s discussion about governments is particularly interesting when you remember that he lived under the Roman Empire, a corrupt government that supported idolatry.

Governments exist because of God (Romans 13:1-2)

Paul gives a list of reasons why everyone is required to be in subjection to their governments. The first reason is that all authority comes from God; therefore, the authority that a government has comes from God (Daniel 2:21; 4:32; John 19:11). Even the wisdom rulers need to govern comes from God (Proverbs 8:15-16).

Once you realize that governments are there because God wants them for His reasons, you realize that opposing government is equivalent to opposing God and bring about condemnation. Instead, we are to give rulers honor (I Peter 2:17; I Timothy 2:1-2).

Class Discussion:

  1. Why would God want an evil government in power?

Governments serve a purpose (Romans 13:3-4)

Another reason we are to submit to the government is that government serves a useful purpose, even the evil governments. God gave governments the job of punishing the wicked. If we are doing what is righteous, then we have no need to fear the government (I Peter 2:13-16). Laws exist to tell the wicked what they should not do (I Timothy 1:9).

Therefore, governments exist to enforce the laws on behalf of God. If that enforcement requires a death penalty, then a government has the right to enforce the law (Genesis 9:5-6).

Class Discussion:

  1. Are there exceptions to the rule that governments are a terror to evil and not the good?
  2. How can governments be an avenger when Paul just said in Romans 12:19 not to take vengeance?

Christians are to be subjection to government (Romans 13:5-7)

Not only are we to obey governments out of fear of punishment, but we are also to obey for the sake of our conscience. In other words, we obey because we know it is the right thing to do (I Peter 2:19; Ecclesiastes 8:2; Titus 3:1-2).

We pay taxes because the government is authorized by God, it punishes the wicked, and because it is the right thing to do. The role government plays cannot be done without cost (Matthew 22:21). Taxes are real estate taxes. Customs are taxes on goods.

We also owed those in government fear, not wishing to cause them to get mad at you. Honor is also owed because we know they are in their positions because of God.

Class Discussion:

  1. Is there a time when it is right to resist a government? (Acts 4:19; 5:29)
  2. Was the American Revolution just?
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