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Being Subject to Authorities


Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. 2Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; 4for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. 6For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. 7Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.

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Ro 13:1-14. Same Subject ContinuedPolitical and Social RelationsMotives.

1, 2. Let every soul—every man of you

be subject unto the higher powers—or, "submit himself to the authorities that are above him."

For there is no power—"no authority"

but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God—"have been ordained of God."

2. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power—"So that he that setteth himself against the authority."

resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation—or, "condemnation," according to the old sense of that word; that is, not from the magistrate, but from God, whose authority in the magistrate's is resisted.

3, 4. For rulers are not a terror to good works—"to the good work," as the true reading appears to be

but to the evil.

4. he beareth not the sword in vain—that is, the symbol of the magistrate's authority to punish.

5. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath—for fear of the magistrate's vengeance.

but also for conscience' sake—from reverence for God's authority. It is of Magistracy in general, considered as a divine ordinance, that this is spoken: and the statement applies equally to all forms of government, from an unchecked despotism—such as flourished when this was written, under the Emperor Nero—to a pure democracy. The inalienable right of all subjects to endeavor to alter or improve the form of government under which they live is left untouched here. But since Christians were constantly charged with turning the world upside down, and since there certainly were elements enough in Christianity of moral and social revolution to give plausibility to the charge, and tempt noble spirits, crushed under misgovernment, to take redress into their own hands, it was of special importance that the pacific, submissive, loyal spirit of those Christians who resided at the great seat of political power, should furnish a visible refutation of this charge.

6, 7. For, for this cause pay ye—rather, "ye pay"

tribute also—that is, "This is the reason why ye pay the contributions requisite for maintaining the civil government."

for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing—"to this very thing."

7. Render therefore to all their dues—From magistrates the apostle now comes to other officials, and from them to men related to us by whatever tie.

tribute—land tax.

custom—mercantile tax.

fear—reverence for superiors.

honour—the respect due to persons of distinction.