Part II Romans 13:1-7 is one of the most Misunderstood Scriptures

A Fresh Look:

Let us take a fresh look at Romans 13:1-5 as it should be understood. First, we have to realize we are subject to the sovereignty of God, never man. (Revelation 21:6) Then we need to understand who the lord of this world is and his method, mission, and who we are fighting against. In John 8:44 Jesus defines Satan’s method is to lie, “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” In Revelation 12:9 it explains how Satan began and his mission, “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called… Satan, who leads the whole world astray.” In Ephesians 2:2 (NASB) Paul describes Satan as the, “… the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.Then in John 12:31 (NASB) Jesus defined Satan as “…the ruler of this world...” Then Ephesians 6:12 (GNV) defines who we are battling against, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, and against the worldly governors, the princes of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness, which are in the high places.”


We Christians can clearly see that we are fighting “against the worldly governors,” “the ruler of this world,” who are influencing people to lead the whole world astray through lies and deception. Then we must ask what worldly vehicle Satan used to steal, kill and destroy Christians from the beginning of time. (John 10:10) If we look at the Bible we see how God fearing people stood against oppressive monarchies, kings, and despotism all called governing authorities.  A few of these God fearing Medal of Honor winners, are Joseph, Moses, Saul, David, King Solomon, Elijah, and Daniel, John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, Paul, and John. Then let’s look at modern evil governments, between the Germans, Russians and Japanese all anti-Christ governing authorities during the period leading up to World War II and after. They killed over 200 million people. Then let’s look at the Muslim Theocracy of ISIS that has killed hundreds of thousands of Christians and others in Iraq and Syria in recent years.


Peter even defined evil authorities in 2 Peter 2:19, “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.” This is the opposite of Christ’s liberty, which comes from God. In Luke 4:18 (NKJV), Christ confirms this; “The Spirit of the Lord… He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and… to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” Christ arms Christians with the promises of liberty if they will implant themselves into the governing authorities in which they live to “have (spiritual dominion through Christ) over … every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26 NKJV)

Thankfully, God has also blessed us with the ability of self-defense against the tyrannical authorities. Jesus describes self-defense in Matthew 24:43 (NKJV) “But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.” Then in Matthew 5:9 Christ defined our tactics as; “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” When the word of God became flesh Christians were charged to be peacemakers. Peacemakers make peace by being involved. They insert God’s word into evil to bring light to the conflict so peace is possible. We know from reading the word of truth that if we are not at the table within governmental authorities, it is very possible, we are on the menu. Esther was able to determine her people were on the menu because she was in a position of influence. Esther had to risk her life to become a peacemaker within the Kings principality, so evil was exposed. Peacemakers are the best self-defense tactic because they prevent conflict and war.


Christians are peacemakers. Nonetheless, in the event that Gods people are pushed to the limit when their very lives are threatened by various authorities, they can approach God and humbly seek His aid while standing in self-defense to defend themselves against the “the princes of the darkness of this world.” This darkness will most likely be governing authorities of one sort or another. Active self-defense is confirmed in the following scriptures: 2 Samuel 10:12 we are to, “Be of good courage, and let us be strong for our people…” In Nehemiah 4:13-14, 20-21 we “Therefore… positioned men behind the lower parts of the wall, with their swords, their spears, and their bows.” In Zechariah 9:8 God said, “No more shall an oppressor pass through them, for now I have seen with My eyes.” Let’s hope this never happens.


Did God consent and establish anti-Christ Governments on earth? The answer is God wants governing authorities to enforce civil order not lawlessness, anarchy, and wickedness. “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.” (1 Corinthians 14:33 NIV) God even confirmed He doesn’t set up evil governments in Hosea 8:4, “They set up kings without my consent; they choose princes without my approval."  Then God rose up leaders to overthrow tyrannical governments, Moses, Ehud, Jephthah, Samson, and Deborah. Hebrews 11:32-34 says, “For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises... became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”


Then Romans 13:1 does not mean all worldly authorities have been established by God. No, Paul was instructing the Saints to honor the Godly institution of government that God Himself created.  In Exodus 18:21(NKJV) God gives Moses the concept of government and how He wanted it organized. “Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.” Notice this is not a dictatorship, it is a representative theocracy built on Gods law, similar to America’s representative government built on the rule of law.


Then the obvious question: How can Christians subject themselves to governing authorities, when these governing authorities were not established by God? The answer is we are supposed to be good stewards of laws as it says in 1 Peter 2:16 (NASB) to “Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bond slaves of God.” Then we are to be the example for others to see and follow (Romans 13:6-7) but “we must (always) obey God rather than men.”

When the true meaning of Romans 13:1-7 is revealed, we understand Paul was writing, “To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints.” (Romans 1:7) He was not writing to the general population of Rome. He was specifically addressing the body of Christ in Rome. Then in Romans 13:1, Paul was not advocating that Christians totally obey the governing authorities of the secular state of Rome. In Matthew 4:10 Jesus defines who we obey, “Then Jesus said to Satan, ‘Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’”  First we obey God and then in Hebrews 13:7 (NKJV) it gives us a clear understanding that we also obey those who God appointed, “Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.” However, Christians we obey the laws of the state to a particular point.


Since Paul was addressing the body of Christ in Rome it is logical that he would instruct them in Romans 13:1-5 to submit to God’s concept of government and those who are approved by God. What truly points to this truth is written in Romans 13:3. It states unlike worldly rulers, God’s “rulers are not a terror to good works but to evil.”  But, the environment at the time was the opposite. Nero was Caesar, a self-appointed god, who was feeding Christians to lions as a terror to good works.


Then finally Romans 13:5 states, “Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.” The defined exception here is conscience. Conscience is defined as an aptitude, faculty or judgment that assists in distinguishing right from wrong. For Christians that conscience is defined in the book of truth we call the bible. In Acts 5:29 Peter defined the point where we distinguish between governmental authorities and Christ’s righteousness when he and the other apostles replied: “we must obey God rather than men!” Therefore, to obey government should be understood as “so far as lawfully we may: for if unlawful things be commanded us, we must answer as Peter taught, “we must obey God rather than men.” (Notes 1599 Geneva Bible) This means what the state calls legal, is not always lawful under God. Therefore, Christians are to follow what is lawful under God and to be subject to the authorities that God has established. When it comes to worldly institutions or governments, we submit so far as lawful under God.



God created the righteous concept of the institution of government and directed the people to create a representative government to honor Gods laws and prevent disorder and anarchy. The caution is Christians “… must (always) obey God rather than men.”  Therefore what is legal under man is not always lawful under God. Today, what is unlawful under God in America are abortion, gay marriage, political corruption, pornography, restricted prayer, and even the display of the Ten Commandments, etc. etc. Nothing made legal by government, which is unlawful under God do Christians condone, hide or fail to expose. We are not silent, apathetic, struck down or delayed in our representation of Christ as ambassadors to the world. This is our appointed time to be the light and salt that speaks the word of God into the world. We have no fellowship with darkness, but we shrewdly expose it. (Paraphrased from Ephesians 5:11) We expose it by putting on the full armor of God to be Christ’s Ambassadors into the world so we may speak boldly, as we ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:10-20)  Confidently representing Christ as, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6) Why because, “Jesus said…, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)


David Howard Foxhole Ministry