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Brand New Alex Cora Fan @pcarenza
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Here's a little bit of exigesis of Romans 13, *in context* with the surrounding passages.
In order to understand the context of Romans 12, you have to go back to the previous passages - this is important, as it changes the command from a general order to a Christian exhortation.
Romans 12:14-21(ESV):
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
These passages didn't have the chapter/verse connotation in the original text; this was, of course. a letter from Paul to the church in Rome. If you look at this passage from chapter 12 and then continue on to chapter 13, a sense of continuity is provided, and is thus:
If the Christian is not to seek personal vengeance, it does not take away the government’s authority to punish wrongdoers, or our responsibility to heed the law. There were a lot of NASTY Caesars in Pauls day, when he wrote this, including Nero.
It then follows that God appoints leaders not only to bless, but also to judge. It is my personal belief that this country is in a time of judgment and reckoning, and many (as currently) will be led astray and follow paths of wickedness and deceit.
Satan makes the proverbial hay during these times of disillusionment. During times of crisis (recall the 'Flight 93 election'), he will present a flawed solution under the guise of a political savior, making God's appointment equal to God's approval. These are NOT the same.
There is one notable exception to Romans 13. An example of it can be found in Acts 4, where Peter and John gathered before the rulers in Jerusalem. They were accused of preaching the resurrection of Christ and were called to give testimony.
Here's what came of it, starting in verse 18:
So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge,
for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened.
Certainly, if man's laws attempt to force something in contradiction to God's law, we are commanded to obey God before men. This is where I otherwise might go off on a minor tangent and assert my support of religious liberty.
Government serves its function in God’s plan of accounting for and checking man's sinful tendencies. When a government fails to do this consistently, it opens itself up to God’s judgment and correction.
When a Christian obeys the laws of the state, it should never be blind subservience. The conscience and a deep understanding of God's Word must be used appropriately.
Some reminders:
1. We ourselves are aliens in this world... this is not our eternal home.
2. We swear allegiance to Jesus Christ, first and foremost.
3. Our desires should not be shaped by this world but by a higher purpose.
Indeed -
None of the rulers of this age understood the wisdom of God; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. - 1 Corinthians 2:8
Here's what I conclude.
1. The responsibility of kings is equal to their calling by God. Even wicked kings should acknowledge from whom they derive power.
2. The ruling authorities have no authority (and indeed never did) over Christ.
3. Romans 13 was written in the context of Christians, and under the premise of good government that correctly differentiates between good and evil.
4. The commands in this chapter are NOT absolute - they wholly depend on whether the law itself upholds good or evil.
Again, this is ONLY applicable if governments do what God commands -punish only evil and reward only good.
5. This does not mean all authority should be obeyed! We don't have to search hard in the bible to find righteous people resisting evil government: Daniel, Moses, Elijah....
Remember - Just punishment only follows wrongdoing. Unjust punishment itself is evil.
Also: No man can serve two masters. /x
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