Queries about Civil Authority and the Christian’s Responsibility

Paul's Epistle to the Romans[The following are comments by Isaiah Boone Grubbs on Romans 13:1-7.]

1. How are the authorities that exist ordained of God?

The context shows that Paul has reference to the principles of government, no matter what the form may be. Government founded upon principles of right and eternal truth. If there were only one true form, we, as Christians, could live only under that form. We must conform ourselves to the principles of justice and equity no matter what the form of the government under which we live may be.

2. What is the limit of our obedience and subjection to the civil authorities? See Acts 5:28-29 and Daniel 6:7-10.

Wherever Civil Law conflicts with religious duties, the Christian ought to disobey it regardless of consequences. When the apostles were forbidden to teach in the name of Jesus, they paid no heed to the prohibition but filled Jerusalem with the doctrine of Christ, and when they were brought before the authorities to give an account of such violation, “Peter, and the apostles answered and said, We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:28-29). When there was established a royal statute under king Darius that for thirty days no one “shall ask a petition of any god or man” save of Darius; “and when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, (by the king) he went into his house (now his windows were open in his chamber toward Jerusalem); and he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime”—thus ignoring the decree of king Darius. His miraculous deliverance from the den of lions should encourage every Christian to ignore all laws that conflict with Divine Law.

3. How is the civil ruler a “minister of God to thee for good”?

Paul is not talking about men who pervert their offices, but those who enforce justice. If a ruler does not perform his duty he is disobeying civil authority and divine justice.

4. To what state of things do these instructions apply?

Wherever there is a settled form of Government. They would not apply in a state of revolution.


The above post is an excerpt from the book, Paul’s Epistle to the Romans: An Exegetical and Analytical Commentary by Isaiah Boone Grubbs. Follow the link to learn more about the book and purchase your copy today!

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