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Romans 13:1 – subject to the authorities

12-05-2020 - Posted by Andre Piet

Let every soul be subject to the superior authorities, for there is no authority except under God.

In the days when Paul wrote this letter, the infamous Emperor Nero led the Roman Empire. He would become one of the most horrifying dictators in history.

Paul emphasizes subjection to the authorities above us. That is different from obedience. Subordination means: recognize authorities as your superior. Obedience means to do what you are told to do. The latter is sometimes impossible, because above all we have to obey what GOD says (Acts 5:29). But even then that does not change our attitude of subordination. Paul did not preach a revolution. Moreover, governments are not accountable to their nationals. That is democratic, but not yet Biblical. Authorities are accountable to GOD, under whom they are put.

Whether rulers perform their duties with dignity or not is not our business. We can possibly address them to what is right (as Paul also did; Acts 24:24), but they are and always will be our superior. Such an attitude frees us from political agendas and interference. It also means “a quiet and peaceful life” (1Tim.2: 2).