What Does Romans 13 Really Teach?

Romans 13 is perhaps one of the most mis-represented and misunderstood passages to be found in the entire Bible. This sad state of affairs is not accidental; public schools, hand in glove with misguided preachers who have been co-opted into government-obligated 501-c-3 corporations, have brainwashed you and your children to "see" this passage in a particular way.


Let's start by reading the text of verse one:


"Let every soul to the higher authorities be subject, for there is no authority except from God, and the authorities existing are appointed by God," - Romans 13:1 (Young's Literal Translation)


I've quoted from the YLT version because virtually all "modern translations" have corrupted the rendering of this text, replacing the phrase "higher authorities" with "governing authorities" or its equivalent. How can we be sure this is a corruption? Within this verse itself we are clearly instructed that "every soul" - in plain English, each and every human being! - is to be in subjection to the "higher authorities." Consequently, "higher authorites" cannot properly be viewed merely as civil government, but (as is explained as the passage goes on) the "higher authorites" are a heirarchy, or chain of command, that stems from none other than God and the Word of God through which He has expressed Himself.



Perhaps a paraphrase might help to make this clearer:


"Let each and every last human being align themselves under God and His Word, because there is no other source of legitimate authority! For any authority to have legitimacy, it must derive all its validity from God who decrees what is law and what is not. Insofar as an authority is aligned with God's authority, it is properly exercising authority. Insofar as it departs from God's express authority, it is of none authority."



Now let's look at the next verse:


"Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment." - Romans 13:2 (YLT)



And just who is the "whoever" of this verse? No, it isn't just the pew sitter - refer back to verse one! It is "every soul!" I care not whether you are the lowest gutter sweep, or the President of the United States! God is no respecter of persons! When anyone resists the only authentic authority, i.e. the authority of God and His Word, they are no longer due our obedience or our respect. Not only must every soul (including office-holders in government at every level) submit to the "higher authorities" of God and His Word, they are under God's condemnation and judgement if they do not. What are the consequences of this observation?



While we must align ourselves with and submit to legitimately exercised authority that is in submission to God and His Word, not only are we not obligated to obey anyone who has departed from God's law, but we can be confident that they are under God's judgement, and therefore they are to be resisted. As Thomas Jefferson once clearly expressed this principle, "Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God."


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