Discernment

Bible & Government II: He Will Commend You?

In Romans 13, Paul summarizes the roles of citizenry and government, and makes a statement so absurd, it defies belief that we have missed it for so long.

For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. ~ Romans 13:3

What in the world is Paul saying here? The slightest survey of human history shows governments punishing (not commending) those who do right. Consider our modern era. Leftist and Islamist governments outlaw not only what is right, but the very guidebook of determining what is right, the Bible. Hitler’s National Socialists outlawed it. Lenin’s Union of Soviet Socialist Republics outlawed it. It is outlawed in Islamist nations today. Yet, I am to believe that Paul was instructing all Christendom, through all ages, to blindly obey these Satanic governments?!?! This verse sticks out like a sore thumb, and begs to be scrutinized. Here is the verse in context:

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. ~ Romans 13:1-7

Let’s look at the first two sentences.

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. ~ Romans 13:1

No problem here. In Deuteronomy, Moses confirms that gentile nations are indeed established by God, with the Jewish nation as the primary cloth in God’s tapestry of nations.

When the Most High gave the nations [gentiles] their inheritance, when he divided all mankind [after the Tower of Babel], he set up boundaries [national borders, nations] for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel. ~ Deuteronomy 32:8

So, Moses confirms that God himself creates the nations. And drilling down even further, Jesus himself tells us that the very power of individual governing officials comes from God.

Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. ~ John 19:10-11

Nations are created by God– no problem there. Power is granted to individual rulers by God– no problem there. Now we come to verse 3.

For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. ~ Romans 13:3

Houston, we have a problem. John the Baptist did “what is right,” but Herod beheaded him. Jesus did “what is right,” but Pilate crucified him. Rulers routinely punish -not commend – those who do right. This blows Romans 13:3 out of the water the way it is commonly taught, which is as a lesson on good citizenship only, not good governing. In other words, we are taught to simply submit to the governing authorities because they will commend us for doing what is right. But the examples of John the Baptist, Jesus, and martyrs all over the Leftist and Islamist worlds show us that this commonly-taught paradigm crumbles at the slightest scrutiny.

Romans 13:3 clearly does not describe worldly government. Rather, it describes Godly government. It is a template (or “proof” edition) for Godly government. Paul is familiarizing Christians with the “proof” version of Godly government, so they will know a fake when they see it.

U.S. coin proof set

Treatment of true Christians is always (ALWAYS!!!) the “proof” test for Godly government. Hostility toward true Christians equals a Satanic government. Period. This perfectly explains Paul’s words in Romans 13:3, which are completely absurd otherwise. The more a government “commends” and encourages the freedoms necessary to honor the God of the Bible in word and deed, the more influenced that government is by God. The more a government takes away the freedoms necessary to honor the God of the Bible in word and deed, the more influenced that government is by Satan.

When you see crosses being removed by court order, and military chaplains not allowed to pray in the name of Jesus, and the Bible being forbidden in public schools, you are seeing a society giving itself over to Satanic influence, rather than Godly influence. In this fallen world, no government will be 100% inspired by God. There are always demonic influences, but the degree to which Christians are free to practice their faith is the degree to which a society is more influenced by God or by Satan.

Paul was writing to the church in Rome. He was explaining to them God’s design for citizenry and government. However, if Paul’s letter had been intercepted by Roman officials, and had contained the slightest criticism of Roman brutality, or the slightest suggestion that Christians obey God’s law over Rome’s law, it would have meant doom for Paul and the Christians. Therefore, Paul speaks in code. He gives a message within a message. Just look at the flowery language he uses to describe the empire that crucified the Messiah and occupied Israel!!!

Romans 13:3 Flowers

Flowers by wikipedia. Bible verse and sarcasm by alwaysproventrue.com.

Puh-leeze!

Let’s take a look at doing “what is right” in our modern world. For example, let’s consider evangelization. Is spreading the Gospel commended by rulers in this world? No. It is punished. Rulers routinely imprison or execute people for evangelizing. If you don’t believe me, go to Iran or North Korea and try it.

This idea that rulers commend what is right is absurd. Clearly, Paul is communicating a message implicitly, because communicating it explicitly was too dangerous. What Paul did was brilliant. He hid his message in plain sight. He communicated to the Christians in Rome what Godly government looks like, therefore communicating to them that the Roman Empire was evil. At the same time, any Roman official intercepting the letter would read government being referred to in flowery terms, and would be completely disarmed. Paul was a Christian sheep among the pagan wolves of the Roman Empire, and he outsmarted them by using the advice Jesus gave in Matthew 10:16.

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. ~ Matthew 10:16

Paul was innocent as a dove because his letter did not tell a single lie, yet he was shrewd as a snake because his letter communicated two different messages to two different groups of people. To Christians, Paul communicated that the Roman Empire was evil. To the Roman Empire, Paul communicated that the Christians were non-threatening. Genius.

In this post, I showed that Romans 13:3 (as it is commonly taught) does not pass the common sense test. To compare what Romans 13:3 says about government to the reality of government in this world is to see a huge red flag. And now that we see this red flag, we can investigate it further by using the Bible to interpret the Bible. In my next post, I will show the two Biblical lenses through which Romans 13:3 (and indeed, the entire 13th Chapter of Romans) must be viewed to be properly understood.

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