Romans 13 - Wake Up
Romans 13 is the famous teaching on the relationship between Christians & the government, but don't miss the wakeup call at the end.
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Romans 13 (ESV)
1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.
For there is no authority
except from God,
and those that exist have been instituted by God.
whoever resists the authorities
resists what God has appointed,
and those who resist will incur judgment.
3 For rulers are not a terror
to good conduct,
but to bad.
Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority?
Then do what is good,
and you will receive his approval,
4 for he is God’s servant for your good.
But if you do wrong,
for he does not bear the sword in vain.
For he is the servant of God,
who carries out God’s wrath
on the wrongdoer.
5 Therefore one must be in subjection,
not only to avoid God’s wrath
but also for the sake of conscience.
6 For because of this you also pay taxes,
for the authorities are ministers of God,
attending to this very thing.
7 Pay to all what is owed to them:
taxes to whom taxes are owed,
revenue to whom revenue is owed,
respect to whom respect is owed,
honor to whom honor is owed.
8 Owe no one anything,
except to love each other,
for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
9 For the commandments,
“You shall not commit adultery,
You shall not murder,
You shall not steal,
You shall not covet,”
and any other commandment,
are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
does no wrong to a neighbor;
therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
11 Besides this you know the time,
that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep.
For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.
12 The night is far gone;
the day is at hand.
So then let us
cast off the works of darkness
and put on the armor of light.
13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime,
not in orgies and drunkenness,
not in sexual immorality and sensuality,
not in quarreling and jealousy.
put on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
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Romans 13 Summary
This is the famous passage calling Christians to submit to the government, but like every other passage in the Bible, it's important to understand it in the context it was written: the heading for chapter 13 actually comes in the last verse of chapter 12: overcome evil with good.
Even though the government may often seem like it's operating far outside the scope of God's will, God may actually be permitting it to do so for His purposes (8:28). God used the ungodly governments of the Egyptians, Canaanites, Persians, and even the Romans to carry out His will in the past, so it's not unprecedented for Him to be using our present governments even if we do not understand how.
We also read this passage understanding that even the most powerful earthly government must itself ultimately submit to God's higher authority (v1, 2), and that you are never obligated to submit to the government when doing so would compromise your ability to submit to God's law.
Because this passage is so often associated with the Christian's relationship to the government, a key teaching that has nothing to do with the government near the end of the chapter often gets missed:
the hour has come for you to wake from your slumber (v11)
Paul's not just referring to sleepy teenagers who don't want to get up. He uses the word hypnos, from which we get hypnotized to describe people who are going through all of life's functions oblivious to the massive truths of the gospel.
Since you know the truth, stop wandering through life hypnotized by the world's empty attractions. Rather, as Paul continues in v12,
cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light.