Daily Archives: January 9, 2021

January 9: Reverently Adore God, Part 1 | Matthew Henry’s Method for Prayer

Pray The Bible: Promoting, Encouraging, and Assisting God's People in Biblical Prayer

I must reverently adore God, as a Being transcendently bright and blessed, self-existent and self-sufficient, an infinite and eternal Spirit who has all perfections in himself, and give him the glory of his titles and attributes.

O LORD my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, you cover yourself with light as with a garment; Psalm 104:1-2(ESV) and yet to me you make darkness your canopy, Psalm 18:11(ESV) for I cannot draw up my case because of darkness. Job 37:19(ESV)

This is the message which I have heard of you, and I set my seal to it that it is true: God is light, and in him is no darkness at all; 1 John 1:5(ESV) God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:16(ESV)

You are the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change, and from whom proceeds every good and perfect gift. James 1:17(ESV)

You are the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. 1 Timothy 6:15-16(ESV)

Source: Reverently Adore God, Part 1 (campaign-archive.com)

Society Shaken | Gentle Reformation

By any fair reckoning, this last year has been abnormal – yet the current covid-19 crisis was eclipsed momentarily, earlier this week, by constitutional chaos in D.C. It is not necessary to apportion blame to simply remark that four precious lives were lost in the riot. These tragic fatalities included one ex-military marcher named Ashli Elizabeth Babbitt (a 35-year old San Diego resident), along with Brian D. Sicknick, a capitol police officer, who also perished in the violence. At least 52 other miscreants were arrested for a variety of offences – chiefly, it seems, for breaking curfew orders. If we throw in, for good measure, a rising debt mountain, worrying unemployment figures, a semi-paralysed education system, mass on-demand abortion, coupled with rampant societal moral filth & pollution, we are probably correct in gauging that foundations are quaking if not breaking.

As I read, sang and prayed Psalm 11 in my morning devotions today, I was reminded of David’s action plan recommended by the Spirit. I resolved, by grace, to remember God is fundamentally just: if lawlessness roams the precincts, evildoers stalk the church, or error parades as truth…

The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of men – Psalm 11:4.

Not only that, but I also firmly resolved, by grace, to remind myself, more often, that Yahweh is morally righteous, and his Lawgiving soul hates lawbreaking…

The LORD tests the righteous, but His souls hates the wicked and the one who loves violence – Psalm 11:5.

I also resolved in my heart, more and more, to seek God’s grace to shun all forms of unrighteousness wherever it is found – in my own mind & in media of all forms…

For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold His face – Psalm 11:7.

I made a holy resolution to help myself to regularly set the visionary warning of verse 6 before my heart – the sight of fire & brimstone is a means to ward off sin…

Let Him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup – Psalm 11:6.

I prayed for all immediate members of my household that they would share these growing convictions towards holy, righteous, resolutions – I also ask that none of us would fall prey to a self-congratulatory, sanctimonious, pharisaic, hypocritical, mote-in-the-eye sawdust spotting, finger-pointing, self-righteousness.

Let me give you just FOUR of the many reasons, brothers and sisters, that I believe should rightly motivate us to embrace such righteous convictions and grace-fuelled resolutions:

1st, the troubled days in which we live can easily depress or pollute & we need to renew our focus on righteousness and God our righteous judge – this will bring help, hope & comfort to God’s church.

2nd, it is God’s will that we like He are lovers of law-keeping and righteousness both personal, corporate, domestic, societal and national.

3rd, we have been given such Scriptures (as a means of grace) in order that God by His Holy Spirit will produce a crop of Christ-like moral righteousness in saints.

4th, if the wicked (as we, like the rest, were all once numbered among) deserve such “hot-coals” wrath, it was our Saviour, Jesus, at Calvary, who determined to drink and drain the heat and fury of our deserved fiery, brimstone, cup for us – that we might receive peace & bliss.

By grace, through faith, in Christ, we have, in the Gospel, received God’s alien imputed righteousness as a justification cloak: so, it is my prayer that you would reflect on God our righteous judge – it is His will & wish that His dearly-beloved & called-to-be-holy flock, with all their hearts, embrace His grace-imparted righteousness. May this keep our hearts and proclaim Christ’s peace to precincts that we walk.

Post-Script

But let me add a 5th spur to saintliness: it is given by God in the closing line of this Psalm:

…The upright shall behold His face – Psalm 11:7

This reminds us, further, that we will have to deal with Jesus: it is to the Son to whom God the Father has given all judgment. At very least it implies our just Judge Jesus hears our prayers – he will sort out our case & uphold a righteous cause. Moreover, it indicates, that when we behold Christ’s face at last, the experience of change will totally transform & conform the saints now “made perfect in holiness”. At length our sight of Christ will instil utter bliss and peace – His welcoming smile will usher us into complete, glorious, fullness of life that Calvary bought for us. Soul and body, Jesus’ face will make His own people ecstatically jubilant: every pain of any wrong done will be relieved & long-gone. For unbelievers, however, who embraced law-violating life, the sight of the face of Christ will never, ever, have that sense: instead, God’s Lamb’s frown will burn with hot distaste at their love of unrighteousness: they will call on rocks to hide them from His face whose grace & goodness they despised & rejected.

Source: Society Shaken

January 9 Evening Quotes of the Day

Are Set Prayers Allowed?
Matthew 6:9–13; Luke 11:2–4

Is it lawful to pray in a set form of words? Nothing but very great ignorance can make you really doubt of it. Has God anywhere forbid it? You will say that it is enough that he has not commanded it. I answer that in general he has commanded it to all whose edification it tends to when he commands you that all be done to edification; but he has given no particular command, nor prohibition. No more has he commanded you to pray in English, French, or Latin; nor to sing psalms in this tune or that; nor after this or that version or translation; nor to preach in this method particularly or that; nor always to preach upon a text; nor to use written notes; nor to compose a form of words, and learn them, and preach them after they are composed, with a hundred suchlike, which are undoubtedly lawful; indeed, and needful to some, though not to others. If you make up all your prayer of Scripture sentences, this is to pray in a form of prescribed words, and yet as lawful and fit as any of your own. The psalms are most of them forms of prayer or praise, which the Spirit of God prescribed for the use of the church, and of particular persons.

RICHARD BAXTER

Ritzema, E., & Vince, E. (Eds.). (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Puritans. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

All Rising Is Winding
Genesis 41:37–44; James 5:10

All rising to great place is by a winding stair.

FRANCIS BACON

Ritzema, E. (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Reformation. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Where Is DISCERNMENT?!?! — The Watchman’s Bagpipes

What Is Discernment?

STOP misrepresenting/co-opting Jesus!

The Mediocrity of Christian Men.

Watch out for William Lane Craig’s false teaching about Genesis.

Another popular Christian, Phil Vischer, denies the Genesis creation record.

Hillsong again. Even former members agree with me that it is a cult! It just goes from bad to worse. Don’t forget I’m offering to send you a copy of my full article on Hillsong at no charge.

Some of the most infamous false prophets/false teachers are exposed by the ATHEIST media!

The Ravi Zacharias situation. Very sad to realize how this man had deceived so many people.

An example of all that is wrong with The Gospel Coalition. What “gospel” are they teaching?

This is about as blasphemous and stupid as it gets. But what else can you expect from a United Methodist Church “minister”?

Another “minister” who worships a satanic god; he is anti-Semitic, pro-abortion, pro-same-sex fake marriage, pro-homosexuality an “transgender” in general, says one can’t serve in the military and serve God (what about Israel’s O.T. army raised by God?), is pro-Marxist, anti-white racist and has “credible accusations of spousal and child abuse” against him. He’s a wolf.

It must be true; I saw it on the Internet.

Critical Race Theory is invading the church; it is a horrid teaching.  Stay tuned for Part 2.

Where Is DISCERNMENT?!?! — The Watchman’s Bagpipes

January 9 Evening Verse of the Day

26:8 God raises the dead The source of controversy is Jesus’ death and resurrection (see v. 23). Paul understands it as the fulfillment of what Jews hoped for (see Dan 12:1–4; Ezek 37; Isa 53:10 and note).[1]


26:8 Paul found it inconceivable that he should be condemned for believing in the resurrection—the great hope of the Jewish people (see note on 24:15).[2]


26:8. Paul finally reveals the hope and skillfully personalizes it by relying on King Agrippa’s Jewish background and wisely interweaving King Agrippa into the larger fabric of the nation. The apostle asks, “Why should it be thought incredible (this word occurs elsewhere in the NT only at Luke 9:41; 12:46) by you that God raises the dead?” Paul aligns King Agrippa with the nation, as the plural pronoun you demonstrates.[3]


26:8 This then was Paul’s crime! He believed that God would fulfill His promise to the fathers by raising them from the dead. What was so incredible about this? Paul asked Agrippa and all those who were with him.[4]


26:8 “Why is it considered incredible among you people Paul is speaking to two groups: (1) Agrippa and other Jews present and (2) the Gentiles present, such as Festus.

“if” This is a FIRST CLASS CONDITIONAL sentence which is assumed to be true from the author’s perspective or for his literary purposes.

“God does raise the dead” This phrase speaks of the Jewish hope of a general resurrection, but Paul had Christ’s resurrection specifically in mind (cf. 1 Cor. 15). These Sadducean accusers would be getting very nervous at this point (cf. 23:1–10).[5]


8. “Why do you Jews consider it incredible that God raises the dead?”

The change from the preceding verse (v. 7) to the present verse is abrupt and can be understood only by someone whose heritage is Jewish. The connection between the hope that God will fulfill his promise to the fathers (v. 6) and the fact that God raises the dead (v. 8) would not be evident to a Gentile. Therefore, Paul usually refrained from giving Gentile audiences a detailed exposition of the doctrine of the resurrection. He made an exception in Athens, where he addressed the learned philosophers (17:31–32). But whenever he spoke with Jews, he knew that he had a common basis, namely, God’s promise to the fathers concerning the Messiah and the resurrection from the dead.

Paul’s listeners in the governor’s mansion were military officers and prominent citizens of Caesarea (25:23). We are confident that most of these people were Gentiles, yet among the prominent leaders of Caesarea were Jews. Now Paul directs his attention away from King Agrippa and channels it toward the Jews in his audience. He disregards the Gentiles and candidly asks the Jews who are present: “Why do you Jews consider it incredible that God raises the dead?”

From their Old Testament heritage the Jews knew that God indeed raised people from the dead. They also had to admit that Jesus did the same, as did the apostles by the power Jesus gave them. And last, they knew the Christian teaching that Jesus rose from the grave. The Pharisaic Jews accepted the doctrine of the resurrection, but they refused to believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. If God could bring back to life the son of the widow of Zarephath and the son of the Shunammite woman, would he not be able to raise Jesus?[6]


8. The answer was of course obvious. The point at issue was Paul’s belief in the resurrection. He takes the offensive by asking why it should be thought incredible that God raises the dead. The question is asked in general terms. For Pharisees there should have been no difficulty, since in general they did believe in the resurrection. The Sadducees did not believe in it, but they could well be asked why they regarded it as something that God could not accomplish. But of course, although Paul asks the question in general terms, the real point at issue is the resurrection of Jesus which attested that he was the Messiah: why should that be thought incredible?[7]


8. Why should. I do not doubt but that he proved that both by reason, and also by testimonies of Scripture, which he taught concerning the resurrection and the heavenly life. But for good causes doth he call back those unto whom he speaketh unto the power of God, lest they judge thereof according to their own weak capacity. For nothing can more hardly sink into men’s brains, than that men’s bodies shall be restored when as they be once consumed. Therefore, seeing it is a mystery far surpassing man’s wit, let the faithful remember how far the infinite power of God doth reach, and not what they themselves comprehend; as the same Paul teacheth in the third chapter to the Philippians, (Philip. 3:21.) For when he hath said that our vile bodies shall be made like to the glorious body of Christ, he addeth immediately, “according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself.” But men are for the most part injurious to God, who will not have his arm to reach any farther than their understanding and reason can reach; so that so much as in them lieth they would desire to restrain the greatness of his works (which surpasseth heaven and earth) unto their straits.3 But, on the other side, Paul commandeth us to consider what God is able to do, that being lifted up above the world, we may learn to conceive the faith of the resurrection, not according to the weak capacity of our mind, but according to his omnipotency.[8]


26:8 / But the Messiah had already come. Paul’s distress at the Jews’ blindness to this lies behind the question of this verse (cf. v. 18; 28:26f.). The point of the question has been variously understood. Some see it as a reference to the general resurrection and therefore as an appeal to the Sadducees, some of whom may have been present. Others find here a reference to the instances in the Old Testament in which life was restored (e.g., 1 Kings 17:17–23; 2 Kings 4:18–37), seeing this as the first step in the argument that “there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked” (24:15). It seems best, however, to understand the question as an appeal to the great truth to which Paul was leading, namely, that Jesus, though crucified, had become “the first to rise from the dead” (v. 23) and so had been shown to be the Messiah and the one who had fulfilled all of Israel’s hopes (cf. Rom. 1:4).[9]


[1] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ac 26:8). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ac 26:8). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Valdés, A. S. (2010). The Acts of the Apostles. In R. N. Wilkin (Ed.), The Grace New Testament Commentary (p. 605). Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1659). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[5] Utley, R. J. (2003). Luke the Historian: The Book of Acts (Vol. Volume 3B, p. 271). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.

[6] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 17, pp. 889–890). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[7] Marshall, I. H. (1980). Acts: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 5, p. 412). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[8] Calvin, J., & Beveridge, H. (2010). Commentary upon the Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 2, p. 375). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[9] Williams, D. J. (2011). Acts (p. 416). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

January 9: Do you still have no faith? | Ray Stedman

Master Washing the Feet of a Servant

Mark 4:40c

This is why people become afraid–because they lose faith. Faith is the answer to fear. Faith is always the answer to our fears, regardless of what they are. Jesus put His finger right on it: Do you still have no faith?

Well, evidently they did not. They had forgotten all the things He said to them in the Sermon on the Mount about the extent of God’s care for them: Are you not much more valuable than flowers and birds? God cares for them; will he not much more care for you, O you of little faith? (Matthew 6:30). Here Jesus was in the boat with them; their fate would be His fate; and yet they had forgotten this.

How would these men have acted, do you think, if they had faith? Suppose their faith had been strong–their faith in Him and in God’s care and love–what would they have done? One thing is certain: they would not have wakened Him; they would have let Him rest. He was tired and needed the rest badly. They would have done so because their faith would have reminded them of two great facts: First, the boat will not sink; it cannot sink when the Master of ocean and earth and sky is in it. Second, the storm will not last forever.

A good friend of mine, a handsome young evangelist from another country, told me about all the troubles he and his wife were going through. He was dejected. She was struggling with severe physical problems, ill health arising from asthma and bronchitis, which constantly kept her down. They had gone through years of struggle with this condition of hers already, and it seemed to pull the bottom out of everything he attempted to do. Here they were planning to go back to their own country, and now she was sick again. He came to me discouraged.

I remember turning to this incident in Mark and reciting this story and saying to him, Remember, the boat will not sink, and the storm will not last forever. That is having faith–to remember those facts. He thanked me, we prayed together, and he left. I did not see him for a couple of months; then we ran into each other. I said, How are things going? How is your wife? He said, Oh, not much better. She’s still having terrible struggles. She can’t breathe and can’t take care of the children or the house, and we have a hard time. But I do remember two things: the boat will not sink, and the storm will not last forever! So I prayed with him again.

After a while I received a note from him. He and his family had gone back to their country, and there they had found the answer. A doctor discovered a minor deficiency in his wife’s diet that needed to be remedied. When that was done, the asthma and bronchitis disappeared, and she was in glorious, radiant health, and they were rejoicing together. At the bottom of the page he had written, The boat will not sink, and the storm will not last forever.

I thank You. Lord, that You are here with me to comfort and strengthen me, to reassure me, and to take me through whatever storms may come. I know You are not here to stop the storms from coming, but to take me through them.

Life Application

How would we respond to our fears if we acted on the basis of faith in God’s sovereignty? Today’s circumstances allow us to see our lives from His point of view.

Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.This Daily Devotion was Inspired by one of Ray’s Messages

Why are you Afraid?


Listen to Ray

Mark 4:35-5:20

35That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

39He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

40He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

1They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. 2When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. 4For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

6When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” 8For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!”

9Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.

11A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

14Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. 17Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

18As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolishow much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

New International Version

Source: Daily Devotion: No Faith (Mark 4:35-5:20) (raystedman.org)

January 9: Are You Satisfied? | Truth For Life Daily

I will be their God.Jeremiah 31:33

Christian, here is all you require. To make you happy you want something that shall satisfy you, and is not this enough? If you can pour this promise into your cup, will you not say, with David, “My cup overflows.”1 When this is fulfilled, “I am your God,” are you not possessor of all things? Desire is insatiable as death, but He who fills all in all can fill it. The capacity of our wishes who can measure? But the immeasurable wealth of God can more than overflow it. I ask you if you are not complete when God is yours? Do you want anything but God? Is not His all-sufficiency enough to satisfy you if all else should fail? But you want more than quiet satisfaction; you desire rapturous delight.

Come, soul, here is music fit for heaven in this your portion, for God is the Maker of heaven. Not all the music blown from sweet instruments or drawn from living strings can yield such melody as this sweet promise, “I will be their God.” Here is a deep sea of bliss, a shoreless ocean of delight; come, bathe your spirit in it; swim an age, and you shall find no shore; dive throughout eternity, and you shall find no bottom. “I will be their God.” If this does not make your eyes sparkle, and your heart beat fast with bliss, then assuredly your soul is not in a healthy state.

But you want more than present delights–you crave something concerning which you may exercise hope; and what more can you hope for than the fulfillment of this great promise, “I will be their God”? This is the masterpiece of all the promises; its enjoyment makes a heaven below and will make a heaven above. Dwell in the light of your Lord, and let your soul be always ravished with His love. Get out the marrow and fatness that this portion yields you. Live up to your privileges, and rejoice with unspeakable joy.

Source: Are You Satisfied? (truthforlife.org)

January 9 Afternoon Quotes of the Day

Escape the Devil’s Traps Through Humility
Ephesians 4:1–2; Philippians 2:3; 1 Timothy 3:7; 1 Peter 5:5

I saw all the devil’s traps set upon the earth, and I groaned and said: “Who do you think can pass through them?” And I heard a voice saying: “Humility.”

ANTONY OF EGYPT

Ritzema, E. (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Early Church. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Lazarus’ Resurrection and the Resurrection of Believers
John 3:16; 11:38–44; 1 John 2:25; 5:11

The Lord performed that miracle once for all in the body, which, much more blessedly, He performs every day in the souls of penitents. He restored to Lazarus a life, but it was a temporal life, and one that would die again. He bestows on penitents a life, but one that will remain, world without end.

PETER ABELARD

Ritzema, E., & Brant, R. (Eds.). (2013). 300 quotations for preachers from the Medieval church. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

January 9 Afternoon Verse of the Day

13:1 Paul urged Christians to be submissive and model citizens because God has installed the governing authorities to keep the civil order and punish wrongdoers. Peter gave similar instructions about submission (1Pt 2:13–14, 17). However, submission to authorities is not absolute. Both Jesus and the writer of Acts established this central Christian principle. Jesus said, “Give, then, to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mt 22:21). Peter and the apostles declared that they must obey God rather than humans (Ac 5:29). Any submission to the authorities must pass through the filter of God’s will and call on a believer’s life.

The difficulty here involves discerning God’s will and call in those areas to which Scripture does not speak, which requires determining and applying biblical principles rather than explicit biblical statements. This is the Christian’s crucial duty, for a failure to discern God’s will risks disobeying God and incurring his displeasure. Of course, obeying God against the government may result in incurring the government’s anger—as the NT and subsequent church history well attest—but this puts a Christian in good company (Mt 5:10–12).[1]


13:1 That no authority exists except from God indicates God’s sovereignty over human affairs. It also shows why unwarranted rebellion against government is de facto rebellion against God (v. 2).[2]


13:1 Paul urged Christians to be submissive and model citizens because God has installed the governing authorities to keep the civil order and punish wrongdoers. Peter gave similar instructions about submission (1Pt 2:13–14, 17). However, submission to authorities is not absolute. Both Jesus and the writer of Acts established this central Christian principle. Jesus said, “Give, then, to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mt 22:21). Peter and the apostles declared that they must obey God rather than humans (Ac 5:29). Any submission to the authorities must pass through the filter of God’s will and call on a believer’s life.

The difficulty here involves discerning God’s will and call in those areas to which Scripture does not speak, which requires determining and applying biblical principles rather than explicit biblical statements. This is the Christian’s crucial duty, for a failure to discern God’s will risks disobeying God and incurring his displeasure. Of course, obeying God against the government may result in incurring the government’s anger—as the NT and subsequent church history well attest—but this puts a Christian in good company (Mt 5:10–12).[3]


13:1 governing authorities Refers to human government officials, not spiritual authorities (see Rom 13:3).

be subject Paul wants to ensure that Christians act as good citizens and avoid civic conflicts. This does not mean blind obedience, however. The Bible sometimes depicts people acting against public authorities in order to obey God (e.g., Exod 1:17; Dan 3:10–12; Acts 5:29). See note on 1 Pet 2:13.

authority The Greek word used here, exousia, refers not to an abstract concept, but to the authority exercised by government officials. The ot consistently views God as the ultimate authority over human government (Dan 4:17).[4]


13:1 It is true that those governing authorities that exist have been instituted by God, but sometimes God gives good authorities as a blessing, and sometimes he institutes evil rulers as a means of trial or judgment (2 Chron. 25:20; 32:24–25). On God’s rule over earthly authorities, see Ps. 75:7 and Dan. 2:21. These earthly “authorities” will ultimately be superseded by the rule of Christ (Dan. 2:44; Rev. 22:1–5).[5]


13:1 be in subjection. This Gr. word was used of a soldier’s absolute obedience to his superior officer. Scripture makes one exception to this command: when obedience to civil authority would require disobedience to God’s Word (Ex 1:17; Da 3:16–18; 6:7, 10; see note on Ac 4:19). governing authorities. Every position of civil authority without regard to competency, morality, reasonableness, or any other caveat (1Th 4:11, 12; 1Ti 2:1, 2; Tit 3:1, 2). there is no authority except from God. Since He alone is the sovereign ruler of the universe (Pss 62:11; 103:19; 1Ti 6:15), He has instituted 4 authorities on earth: 1) the government over all citizens; 2) the church over all believers; 3) the parents over all children; and 4) the masters over all employees. established. Human government’s authority derives from and is defined by God. He instituted human government to reward good and to restrain sin in an evil, fallen world.[6]


13:1 — Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.

Joseph submitted to the Egyptian authorities; Daniel submitted to the Babylonian authorities; Mordecai submitted to the Persian authorities; Jesus submitted to the Roman authorities. While none of these regimes were godly, God had authorized them all.[7]


13:1 God, the supreme Sovereign, has ordained (v. 2) that there should be governing authorities. Every believer is to be subject to these various authorities, even if these authorities are evil as Nero (a.d. 54–68), the emperor of Rome who cruelly persecuted Christians. When Paul wrote this letter, Nero was in power. Yet Paul exhorted the Roman believers to submit to Nero’s authority, because that authority was ordained by God Himself, although God may not approve of all acts that a government or leader may do.[8]


13:1 Those who have been justified by faith are obligated to be subject to human government. Actually the obligation applies to everyone, but the apostle here is concerned especially with believers. God established human government after the flood when He decreed, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed” (Gen. 9:6). That decree gave authority to men to judge criminal matters and to punish offenders.

In every ordered society there must be authority and submission to that authority. Otherwise you have a state of anarchy, and you cannot survive indefinitely under anarchy. Any government is better than no government. So God has instituted human government, and no government exists apart from His will. This does not mean that He approves of all that human rulers do. He certainly does not approve of corruption, brutality, and tyranny! But the fact remains that the authorities that exist are appointed by God.

Believers can live victoriously in a democracy, a constitutional monarchy, or even a totalitarian regime. No earthly government is any better than the men who comprise it. That is why none of our governments is perfect. The only ideal government is a beneficent monarchy with the Lord Jesus Christ as King. It is helpful to remember that Paul wrote this section on subjection to human government when the infamous Nero was Emperor. Those were dark days for Christians. Nero blamed them for a fire which destroyed half the city of Rome (and which he himself may have ordered). He caused some believers to be immersed in tar, then ignited as living torches to provide illumination for his orgies. Others were sewn up in animal skins, then thrown to ferocious dogs to be torn to pieces.[9]


13:1. When it came to presenting oneself as a living sacrifice to God, Paul “urged” the Christians to do so (Rom. 12:1). But when it came to submitting oneself to the governing authorities of the land, urging was replaced by commanding: Everyone must submit himself (hupotasso; present passive imperative) to the governing authorities. Why the imperative, the command? Because, in principle (though not always in specifics), to submit to the civil authority is to submit to God. The statement in this command which unlocks its meaning, and which gives Christians ground to accept it and apply it, is this: There is no authority except that which God has established. This is a statement of the overarching sovereignty and rule of God in the affairs of this world. If God has appointed every civil ruler, every governing authority, then why should any Christian fear submitting to that which God has appointed?

Daniel said that God “sets up kings and deposes them” when he praised God in prayer for revealing to him the meaning of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Dan. 2:21). When Daniel conveyed the dream and its meaning to the king, he said plainly, “The God of heaven has given you [Nebuchadnezzar] dominion and power and might and glory … he has made you ruler” (Dan. 2:37–38). Daniel continued illustrating Paul’s point: “After you [Nebuchadnezzar], another kingdom will rise.… Next, a third kingdom … will rule.… Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom” (Dan. 2:39–40). Then, “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed” (Dan. 2:44).

Daniel’s point is conclusive: from Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom to God’s final kingdom, God is in control, setting up and taking down kings to accomplish his perfect will. Later, Nebuchadnezzar recounted another dream he had in which he was told by “holy ones” (angels) that “the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men” (Dan. 4:17). Unfortunately, Nebuchadnezzar was to become a living illustration of his own dream as he was driven from his throne for seven years (Dan. 4:24–27).

What Paul wanted the believers in Rome to understand was that, in the Roman Empire (or any other), “No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt a man. But it is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another” (Ps. 75:6–7). And even after he is in office, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases” (Prov. 21:1). Therefore, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero (those Roman emperors spanning the lifetime of the Roman church up until Paul’s writing) had ascended to power with God’s permission—actually, by his direction (have been established by God)—as have the rulers of today.

As an aside, it should be noted in the name of thoroughness that Paul does not contradict himself between what he says here and in 1 Corinthians 6:1–8. In the latter passage, where Paul commands believers not to air their dirty laundry in front of civil magistrates, he is not encouraging them to bypass the duly constituted legal process for redress of grievance. Rather, he is asking the Corinthian believers, “Why do you have any grievance at all?” This is not a matter of being unwilling to obey the governing authorities. It is a matter of the shameful condition the church was in when they could not find among themselves enough wisdom to settle differences without having to ask for the help of unspiritual, civil judges.

To admit that, with God’s help, in the body of Christ we cannot solve our differences, is to admit defeat. It would be better to suffer the wrong than to admit to the world the inability to solve the dispute (1 Cor. 6:7–8). A private defeat with a believer’s name shamed is better than a public defeat with God’s name shamed.[10]


13:1 “Every person is to be in subjection” This is a PRESENT PASSIVE IMPERATIVE meaning, “continue to be made submissive” (cf. Titus 3:1; 1 Pet. 2:13). “Submit” was a military term used to describe a chain of command. Paul, in context, was addressing all believers (cf. Eph. 5:21), where Paul asserts that believers should be subject to one another.

In our day submission seems like a negative term. It is a word that depicts both a humility and a profound understanding of God’s world and our place in it. Jesus was said to be submissive to (1) His earthly parents (cf. Thess. 2:51) and (2) His heavenly Father (cf. 1 Cor. 15:28). He is our guide in this area!

© “to the governing authorities” Although Paul used this word (exousia) in other contexts to refer to angelic powers, primarily demonic (cf. 8:38; Col. 1:16; 2:10, 15; Eph. 1:21; 3:10; 6:12), here the context demands “civil authorities” (cf. 1 Cor. 2:6, 8; Titus 3:1; 1 Pet. 2:13). The Bible seems to imply that there are angelic authorities behind human governments (Daniel 10 and the LXX of Deut. 32:8 “When the Most High divided the nations, when He separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God.”) But still governing authorities function under God (cf. vv. 1b, 4a, and 6). The word translated “governing” is the term huperexō which means “superior” (cf. 1 Pt. 2:13). See Special Topic: Paul’s Use of “Huper” compounds at 1:30.[11]


1. Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities.

Literally Paul says, “Let every soul …,” but the word “soul,” as here used, means person, human being. The apostle, writing by inspiration, wants everyone to subject himself voluntarily to the then existing governing authorities. In the divine providence the Roman government of Paul’s day was such that within its boundaries compliance with the will of God and wholehearted consecration to him were possible. As Paul puts it:

For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been ordained by God.

The civil magistrates to whom Paul refers, from the emperor down to the rulers of the lowest rank, in the final analysis owed their appointment and right to govern to God. It was by his will and in his providence that they had been appointed to maintain order, encourage well-doing, and punish wrong-doing.[12]


1. Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. ‘The thirteenth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans’, says J. W. Allen, ‘contains what are perhaps the most important words ever written for the history of political thought. Yet’, he continues, ‘it would be a gross mistake to suppose that men, at any time, took their political opinions from St. Paul.’ Some, however, have made a more deliberate effort to do so than others.

The question is raised whether the ‘governing authorities’ here are angelic powers, or human powers, or both angelic and human powers. The general biblical view is that secular power is wielded by ‘the host of heaven, in heaven’ as well as by ‘the kings of the earth, on the earth’ (Isa. 24:21). It is true, moreover, that the plural of exousia (‘authority’) is freely used by Paul to denote angelic powers (cf. 8:38; Eph. 1:21; 3:10; 6:12; Col. 1:16; 2:10, 15). We may compare what he says in 1 Corinthians 2:8 about ‘the rulers (archontes) of this age’ who were responsible for crucifying ‘the Lord of glory’; he appears there to have more than human agents in view. Yet in the present context the ‘authorities’ are best understood as human rulers, who wield ‘the sword’ for the punishment of wickedness and the protection of the good, who therefore have the right to command and receive obedience, and who are to be paid appropriate taxes and other dues, together with fitting respect and honour. Paul’s references elsewhere to angelic powers are very far from suggesting that Christians should be subject to them in any sense; on the contrary, Christians are liberated from their jurisdiction through their union with Christ, for he is the creator and head of all those powers (Col. 1:16; 2:10), and their conqueror when they set themselves in hostility to him and his people (Col. 2:15).

Those that exist have been instituted by God. There is no contradiction between the principle and the argument of 1 Corinthians 6:1–8, where Christians are dissuaded from suing or prosecuting one another in secular law-courts. Recognition of the civil authorities makes no difference to the fact that it is unbecoming for Christians to wash their dirty linen in public. And while civil magistrates or judges are divinely ordained, that ordination carries with it no status in the church: they are ‘men who count for nothing in our community’ (1 Cor. 6:4, neb).[13]


1. Let every soul, &c. Inasmuch as he so carefully handles this subject, in connection with what forms the Christian life, it appears that he was constrained to do so by some great necessity which existed especially in that age, though the preaching of the gospel at all times renders this necessary. There are indeed always some tumultuous spirits who believe that the kingdom of Christ cannot be sufficiently elevated, unless all earthly powers be abolished, and that they cannot enjoy the liberty given by him, except they shake off every yoke of human subjection. This error, however, possessed the minds of the Jews above all others; for it seemed to them disgraceful that the offspring of Abraham, whose kingdom flourished before the Redeemer’s coming, should now, after his appearance, continue in submission to another power. There was also another thing which alienated the Jews no less than the Gentiles from their rulers, because they all not only hated piety, but also persecuted religion with the most hostile feelings. Hence it seemed unreasonable to acknowledge them for legitimate princes and rulers, who were attempting to take away the kingdom from Christ, the only Lord of heaven and earth.

By these reasons, as it is probable, Paul was induced to establish, with greater care than usual, the authority of magistrates, and first he lays down a general precept, which briefly includes what he afterwards says: secondly, he subjoins an exposition and a proof of his precept.

He calls them the higher powers, not the supreme, who possess the chief authority, but such as excel other men. Magistrates are then thus called with regard to their subjects, and not as compared with each other. And it seems indeed to me, that the Apostle intended by this word to take away the frivolous curiosity of men, who are wont often to inquire by what right they who rule have obtained their authority; but it ought to be enough for us, that they do rule; for they have not ascended by their own power into this high station, but have been placed there by the Lord’s hand. And by mentioning every soul, he removes every exception, lest any one should claim an immunity from the common duty of obedience.

For there is no power, &c. The reason why we ought to be subject to magistrates is, because they are constituted by God’s ordination. For since it pleases God thus to govern the world, he who attempts to invert the order of God, and thus to resist God himself, despises his power; since to despise the providence of him who is the founder of civil power, is to carry on war with him. Understand further, that powers are from God, not as pestilence, and famine, and wars, and other visitations for sin, are said to be from him; but because he has appointed them for the legitimate and just government of the world. For though tyrannies and unjust exercise of power, as they are full of disorder, (ἀταξίας,) are not an ordained government; yet the right of government is ordained by God for the wellbeing of mankind. As it is lawful to repel wars and to seek remedies for other evils, hence the Apostle commands us willingly and cheerfully to respect and honour the right and authority of magistrates, as useful to men: for the punishment which God inflicts on men for their sins, we cannot properly call ordinations, but they are the means which he designedly appoints for the preservation of legitimate order.[14]


1 Paul gets right to the point: “Every person is to be submissive to the governing authorities.” In typical OT and Jewish fashion, Paul uses psychē (sometimes translated “soul”—KJV; NKJV) to denote not one “part” of a human being (soul in distinction from body or spirit) but the whole person. The translation “every person” (NRSV; ESV; NASB; CEB) or “everyone” (NIV; CSB; NLT; NJB) is therefore accurate.279 The basis of Paul’s own authority—an apostle of the gospel—as well as the audience of the letter indicates that his immediate reference must be to Christians. But we should probably not limit the reference to Christians. Submission to governing authorities is especially incumbent on Christians who recognize that the God they serve stands behind those authorities, but it is required even for those who do not know this.

“Governing authorities” (see also NRSV; NIV; NASB; NJB) translates a phrase that is central to the interpretation of the paragraph. Like our “authority,” exousia refers broadly in secular and biblical Greek to the possession and exercise of (usually legitimate) power. As an abstract noun, the word usually denotes the concept of authority. Jesus’ well-known words in Matt. 28:18 use the word in a typical way: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” But the word can also have a concrete application, in which case exousia denotes a sphere over which authority is exercised (e.g., a “dominion”; see Luke 23:7) or the being who exercises authority. Paul obviously uses the word in the last sense. The NT refers to two different kinds of beings who exercise authority: a person in authority (usually a governmental “ruler”) and spiritual powers.283 A few scholars have argued that Paul may be referring at least partially to spiritual beings in Rom. 13:1. But this is unlikely. As parallel terms in this context suggest (see “rulers” [archontes] in v. 3), the “authorities” occupy positions in secular government. Paul qualifies them as “governing” in order to indicate that they are in positions of superiority over the believers he is addressing.

Paul calls on believers to “submit” to governing authorities rather than to “obey” them; and Paul’s choice of words may be important to our interpretation and application of Paul’s exhortation. To submit is to recognize one’s subordinate place in a hierarchy, to acknowledge as a general rule that certain people or institutions have authority over us. In addition to governing authorities (see also Tit. 3:1), Paul urges Christians to submit to their spiritual leaders (1 Cor. 16:16) and to “one another” (Eph. 5:21); and he calls on Christian slaves to submit to their masters (Tit. 2:9), Christian prophets to submit to other prophets (1 Cor. 14:32), and Christian wives to submit to their husbands (1 Cor. 14:34 [?]; Eph. 5:24; Col. 3:18; Tit. 2:5). It is this general posture toward government that Paul demands here of Christians. And such a posture will usually demand that we obey what the governing authorities tell us to do. But perhaps our submission to government is compatible with disobedience to government in certain exceptional circumstances. For heading the hierarchy of relations in which Christians find themselves is God; and all subordinate “submissions” must always be measured in relationship to our all-embracing submission to him.289

Verse 1b gives the reason why we are to submit to governing authorities: “there is no authority except by God, and the existing authorities have been appointed291 by God.” In light of exousiai in v. 1a, “authority” will refer to the individual human ruler. Paul’s insistence that no ruler wields power except through God’s appointment reflects standard OT and Jewish teaching. Daniel tells the proud pagan king Nebuchadnezzar that God was teaching him that “the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people” (4:17). Paul’s dependence on this tradition and his all-inclusive language (“there is no authority except”) make clear that he is asserting a universally applicable truth about the ultimate origin of rulers. From a human perspective, rulers come to power through force or heredity or popular choice. But the “transformed mind” recognizes behind every such process the hand of God. Paul brings home this general principle in the last clause of the verse.295 The believers in Rome are to recognize that the specific governmental officials with whom they have dealings—“the ones that now exist,”297 as Paul puts it—are “appointed,” or “ordained,” by God.[15]


1 The teaching that follows is addressed to “everyone” (pasa psychē), i.e., every believer rather than everyone in general, even though government is necessary for society as a whole. Paul could admonish only Christians. What he requires is “submission,” a term that calls for placing oneself under someone else. Here and in v. 5 he seems to avoid using the stronger word “obey” (hypotassō, GK 5718), and the reason is that believers may find it impossible to comply with every demand of the government. A circumstance may arise in which they must choose between obeying God and obeying human authority (Ac 5:29). But even then they must be submissive to the extent that if their Christian convictions do not permit compliance, they will accept the consequences of their refusal.

Those to whom submission must be rendered are called “the governing authorities.” Two different words are used for “authority” in this passage. In v. 1, the word exousiai (GK 2026) is not a specific or technical term; it simply means those who are over others. With respect to the second word, archōn (GK 807; v. 3), we find Josephus using it, as Paul does, with reference to Roman rulers, but specifically to those who ruled in the name of Rome over the Jews in Palestine (J.W. 2.350).

Paul makes a sweeping statement when he says, “There is no authority except that which God has established.” It is true even of Satan that what authority he exercises has been given to him (cf. Lk 4:6). God has ordained this tension between authority and submission: “God has so arranged the world from the beginning—at the creation, by all means, if you like—as to make it possible to render him service within it, and this is why he created superiors and subordinates” (E. Käsemann, “Principles of the Interpretation of Romans 13,” in New Testament Questions of Today [Philadelphia: Fortress, 1961], 208).

It is probably significant that the name of Christ does not appear anywhere in the passage. The thought does not move in the sphere of redemption or the life of the church as such, but in the relationship to the state that God in his wisdom has set up. While Christians have their citizenship in heaven (Php 3:20), they are not on that account excused from responsibility to acknowledge the state as possessing authority from God to govern them. They hold a dual citizenship.[16]


Authority

Romans 13:1

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.

In the fall of 1561 an important conversation took place in Scotland between Queen Mary and the Calvinistic Protestant preacher John Knox.

Mary was a Catholic. She had been educated in Catholic France, and she believed that sovereigns—she herself was one—had absolute power over the consciences of their subjects. Knox was a reformer. For his uncompromising preaching he had been sentenced to serve as a galley slave for nineteen months. After his release, he had studied in Geneva under John Calvin from 1553 to 1559. Then, in the summer of 1560, he had participated in the drafting of the Scottish Confession of Faith that stated that Jesus Christ “is the only Head of His Kirk” (sections 11 and 18). Knox had returned just two years before his celebrated conversation with Queen Mary.

In the interview Mary accused Knox of having wrongly taught the people to receive another religion than their princes allow. “And how can that doctrine be of God, seeing that God commands subjects to obey their princes?” she asked. She was referring to Romans 13:1 and other texts.

Knox answered, “Madam, as right religion took neither [its] origin nor authority from worldly princes, but from the Eternal God alone, so are not subjects bound to frame their religion according to the appetites of their princes.”

He admonished Mary, “God commands queens to be nurses unto his people.”

“Yes, but you are not the church that I will nourish,” she retorted.

Knox replied, “Your will, Madam, is no reason.” In this way the issues of church and state and the proper role and function of the state were framed in Scotland in the sixteenth century. There was no relief in Scotland until Mary’s forced abdication in 1567.

Christians and the State

What is the role of the state in human affairs? How is the state to relate to the church of Jesus Christ? How are Christian people to relate to the government’s authority? It is these questions that Paul raises and answers in the first seven verses of Romans 13.

What a source of controversy they have been! J. C. O’Neill in Paul’s Letter to The Romans wrote, “These seven verses have caused more unhappiness and misery in the Christian East and West than any other seven verses in the New Testament.” That is probably not true. But they have certainly puzzled many and caused unhappiness among some scholars. Some of them, like the one I just quoted, have attempted to eliminate the verses from the letter, reasoning that they are un-Pauline and come rather from a Stoic source. Such persons think the verses have been interpolated, arguing that verse 8 would follow nicely after 12:21, and that there is nothing quite like this section anywhere else in Paul’s writing.

This is true, but that does not mean that Paul did not write it. Furthermore, it can be argued equally well that his discussion of the legitimate authority and proper function of the state is a natural follow-up to the immediately preceding section in which he presented the duty of the Christian to return good for evil, since to do that does not mean that a Christian always has to be victimized by evil persons. It is the state’s duty to restrain and punish evil.

Again, a discussion of the role of the state is natural in a letter to Christians living at the center of the Roman world. Jews were notoriously resistant to all outside authority. They had fomented numerous rebellions, and the greatest one of all, the rebellion that was to be crushed by the Roman general Titus in 70 a.d., was only a decade away from the time Paul wrote this letter. In the sixties Christians were shielded under a law originally promulgated by Julius Caesar, but turmoil was coming. Were the followers of Christ to align themselves with the coming revolution, or were they to be loyal citizens of the all-encompassing Roman empire? If so, what about the lordship of Jesus Christ? Was he King, or was he not? If they were not to be loyal citizens, what was their position regarding Rome to be?

The Starting Point: God Is Sovereign

The starting point of Paul’s argument is found in the reason he gives for his categorical opening statement that “everyone,” not only Christians, “must submit himself to the governing authorities” (Rom. 13:1). Why? The answer is not that you will get into trouble if you don’t, or even that obedience is necessary for maintaining social order. Those are excellent pragmatic reasons that Paul understands and will bring into the discussion in due time, but they are not the reasons he gives at the beginning. What he says in verse 1 is that we must obey the authorities because “there is no authority except that which God has established” and “the authorities that exist have been established by God.”

In other words, the starting point for Paul’s argument is the doctrine of the sovereignty of God, in this case in regard to human rulers. God is sovereign. Therefore, those who exercise authority do so because God has established them in their positions.

We have to take this sovereignty seriously, because it is easy for us to accept God’s being sovereign when we are given Christian rulers or when people of high moral character are elevated to positions of responsibility. But what about evil rulers? What about Nero, the corrupt emperor who was reigning in Rome at the very time Paul was writing this letter? What about rulers who persecuted the church? Or, for that matter, what about such evil leaders as Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Idi Amin, or even elected officials like Richard Nixon, who betrayed our trust and disappointed us?

Romans 13:1 tells us that even these authorities have been established by God, and that we have a legitimate (though not unlimited) responsibility to obey even them.

We have already come across one example of an evil but nevertheless God-established ruler in Romans, though Paul was not specifically thinking about the role of the state when he brought him into his discussion. This example is Pharaoh, the oppressor of the Jews. He worked them as slaves and arrogantly resisted Moses’ demand that he let God’s people go. God judged this arrogance. Egypt was ruined by a series of ten plagues, culminating in the death of all the firstborn children of the country. In the end Pharaoh and his armies were destroyed by drowning in the Red Sea. But evil as this man was, he had nevertheless been put into his position by God, which Paul clearly says.

That is the teaching of Romans 9:17, where Paul quotes God as telling Pharaoh, “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (quoting Exod. 9:16). God raised Pharaoh up so that he might display his wrath in judging him. It was not a desirable appointment, but still it was God who had raised him up simply because God is sovereign in all things.

A second example is Nebuchadnezzar, another arrogant ruler. He thought he was superior to Jehovah because he had been able to conquer Jerusalem, raze the temple, and carry off to Babylon the gold and silver objects that had been used by the Jewish priests in their worship. The first four chapters of Daniel are a record of the struggle that took place as Nebuchadnezzar contended for sovereignty and God worked to humble him and show him that God alone, not Nebuchadnezzar, is the Most High God and ruler of all.

Three times in Daniel 4 the text says that “the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes” (vv. 17, 25, 32): (1) Nebuchadnezzar heard these words in his dream; (2) Daniel recited them to him as the words of God; (3) Nebuchadnezzar heard them from heaven when God uttered his important, symbolic judgment of insanity upon the stiff-necked ruler. This is an important truth, and in the end Nebuchadnezzar seems to have gotten the message, for he confessed:

I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.

His dominion is an eternal dominion;

his kingdom endures from generation to generation.

All the peoples of the earth

are regarded as nothing.

He does as he pleases

with the powers of heaven

and the peoples of the earth.

No one can hold back his hand

or say to him: “What have you done?” …

Everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

Daniel 4:34–35, 37

Another example is Cyrus the Persian, who is also mentioned in Daniel (1:21; 6:28; 10:1). He was an unusually humane ruler, whom God used to bring the Jews back to Jerusalem from Babylon. In Isaiah 45:1 this pagan king is even called the Lord’s “anointed,” which means messiah, the very title given to Jesus as the Messiah of God.

These rulers—Nero, Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus—and all others have been set in their places by God, simply because God is sovereign and, as the Westminster Confession of Faith says, “God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass” (III, 1). There is no ruler anywhere or from any time in history who was not set in his exalted position by God.

Obeying the Sovereign

Of course, the problem for us is not so much that God has established whatever rulers there may be. We can believe that abstractly and either like and approve of our rulers, or not like them and disapprove of them, or perhaps even reject them. The problem is that we are told that it is the duty of Christians to obey those who exercise such authority, and that includes all authorities, not just kings and presidents but also policemen, judges, schoolteachers, bosses, and other such “governing authorities.” We do not want to do that.

Paul is writing about the civil government in Romans 13, but these other authorities come into the picture tangentially because they have governing roles and have been set in place by God.

There are many obvious problems at this point. First, Paul does not answer a lot of our questions. For example, when is a government a legitimate government, and when isn’t it? When is it right to rebel against an unjust or tyrannical government, or isn’t it permitted at all? What about our own American War of Independence? If we had been living then, what side should we have been on, with England or with the colonists? What are we to do when there are rival claimants to the throne? Which one should we obey? Again, at what point does an unjust ruler become legitimate?

Or what about limits? Paul says we are to obey the governing authorities. But does this mean that we are to obey everything they command? What about unjust acts commanded by an evil government? Killing civilians? Lying? Clandestine operations even for such an important branch of government as the CIA? Are there no limits to what must be obeyed?

We are going to explore the limits to the obedience Christians can give a civil government in the next study. But the point I am making here is that the matter of obedience to those in authority cannot be taken lightly, as we are so often inclined to do.

As far as Romans 13:1 is concerned, it would be difficult, probably impossible, for anyone to write a more all-encompassing, absolute, or utterly unqualified statement than the one Paul has given: “Everyone [literally, ‘every soul’] must submit himself to the governing authorities.”

This is written so strongly that Robert Haldane thinks that it requires an obedience to secular rulers that is almost absolute: “Everyone, without exception, is, by the command of God, to be subject to the existing powers, whatever were the means by which they became possessed of the situation in which they stand.… If God has appointed every government that exists in the world, his people are bound to submit to every government under which their lot has been cast.”

Power or Authority?

There are limits, of course, but the place to begin is not with the limits, but by trying to understand the nature of the authority that has been given to civil rulers. The key word is authority, which occurs six times in these verses.

Two Greek words are used of political power that are closely connected but need to be distinguished. The first is kratos, which refers to what we might call “the naked power of rule.” It can be legitimate or illegitimate, as in the case of the devil, who, we are told, has “the power of death” (Heb. 2:14) but who will lose it when Jesus returns. His power will be taken away, and he will be cast into the lake of fire. This word has proved useful in describing the various types of government. For example, we speak of democracy. Dêmos means people, crowd, or public assembly. Kratos means rule. So democracy means rule by the people (or by many people). A plutocracy is a system in which the rich (or aristocrats) rule, because ploutos means wealth.

So when we speak of power (kratos) we recognize that there can be both legitimate and illegitimate power. And, of course, Christians are under no obligation to obey a power that is illegitimate. Just because a man with a gun orders us to do something does not mean that we should do it necessarily. The man has power, but it is illegitimate. What we need is a legitimate power—a policeman—to subdue him.

The other word that is used of political as well as other kinds of power is exousia, which is the word Paul uses in Romans 13. Exousia is a delegated power, power that is given to a person or group of persons by another. Paul uses it in Romans 13 because he wants to make explicit that the authority of the governing powers is from God.

Nevertheless, they are responsible for how they exercise it. That is the important thing. They are responsible to God, precisely because God has given them the power. So here in one word is both the legitimacy and the necessary accountability of human government.

Jesus before Pilate

An important example is Jesus Christ’s trial before Pontius Pilate. Jesus was tried for treason because, as his accusers put it, he “claim[ed] to be a king” (John 19:12). It did not take Pilate long to discover that the kind of kingdom Jesus was talking about was no direct threat to Rome, because it was a kingdom of truth. Jesus told him, “I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:37). After he had heard that, Pilate knew that this was a religious matter and was of no concern to him.

Yet the leaders of the people were still clamoring for Jesus’ death, and it became clear that Pilate was soon going to bow to their wishes. He wanted to help Jesus, but Jesus was not speaking to him. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” (John 19:10).

At this point Jesus replied with one of two classic texts for helping us understand the God-given role of civil government and the right relationship of the church to the state. He answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin” (John 19:11).

The word that is translated power in this verse is the same word that Paul uses in Romans 13, and it is used in exactly the same way. The authority that was given to Pilate was a delegated authority, because it had been given to him by God. It was a true authority. Pilate had the right to try Jesus and render judgment as he thought right. But he was responsible to God for what he did and for how he did it. That is why Jesus was able to remind him, “Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” The sin of the Jewish leaders was greater than the sin of Pilate, because they were sinning against the Scriptures, which pointed to Jesus and were fulfilled by Jesus, and against their consciences, as even Pilate recognized (“It was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him,” Matt. 27:18). Nevertheless, Pilate was also sinning by condemning an innocent man, and he would have to answer to God for it.

Pilate had authority in Christ’s trial. He could decide as he wished. He decided wrongly, but he had authority to make that decision even if it was wrong. This is because his authority was from God, and Jesus did not suggest that it be wrested from him even because he had made so great an error as condemning the Son of God. If nothing else, the example of Jesus before Pilate shows us that for Christians revolution for the sake of revolution alone (“I would rather be king than you”) is wrong.

Indeed, instead of being revolutionaries, Christians are obligated to be the very best citizens possible. We should obey speed limits, pay our taxes honestly, vote in elections, and in all other respects respond with respect and compliance to those who are over us.

To Tell the Truth

Yet this does not mean that Christians are merely to be pliant, lying down in the face of evil and doing nothing to oppose it. Again, we have the example of Jesus. Jesus did not show disrespect to Pilate. He did not warn him that if he failed to rule justly, Jesus’ followers would rise up and do their best to unseat him and the Roman government. Jesus knew what the governor would do, and he accepted it as from God, which it surely was. But Jesus was not silent. He spoke of the truth, which he had been sent to make known, and he reminded Pilate that Pilate was sinning and would therefore one day himself have to answer for it.

That is our role. We speak often today of the separation of church and state, and we should be thankful for that separation. It is a dearly won liberty to have a church free from government interference or control and to have a state free from clerical domination. But the separation of church and state does not mean the separation of God and state. And though we do not rule the state, nor should we, it is nevertheless our duty as Christians to speak out against the civil ruler’s sins and remind the governing authorities that they are ultimately accountable to him from whom their authority comes.

So we are accountable too! We are accountable to speak up. We do not have the power of the sword. That is reserved for the civil authorities, as Paul will show in Romans 13:4. Our weapon is truth, for we are a kingdom of the truth. The truth is stronger than the sword. But woe to us if we do not wield the sword of truth powerfully.[17]


The Standard: Be Subject to Civil Authority

Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. (13:1a)

The basic command is simple and succinct: Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. In the broadest sense, every person applies to every human being, because the principle stated here reflects God’s universal plan for mankind. But Paul is speaking specifically to Christians, declaring, in effect, that Christianity and good citizenship should go together. And, as he will continue to explain, subjection to the governing authorities includes much more than simply obeying civil laws. It also includes genuine honor and respect for government officials as God’s agents for maintaining order and justice in human society.

Because the apostle was writing to the church in Rome, the capital of the empire, some interpreters suggest that he was giving a unique warning to Christians there because of the greater danger to traitors and insurrectionists, real or imagined. Most people did not enjoy the legal protection of presumed innocence, especially in regard to crimes against the state. Long considered a sect of Judaism, with its rebellious inclinations, the church was especially suspect.

But Paul’s arguments here, as well as similar teachings elsewhere in the New Testament, make clear that the principle of subjection to human authority applies to every believer, in whatever part of the world and under whatever form of government. Writing to believers who were “scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1 Pet. 1:1), Peter said, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king” (1 Pet. 2:13–17).

As always, Paul followed his own instruction. After being falsely accused of breaking Roman law, he and Silas were brutally beaten, thrown in prison, and placed in stocks in Philippi. But instead of railing out against the ones who had mistreated them and demanding their rights from the authorities, they spent the first night in jail (until the Lord miraculously delivered them) “praying and singing hymns of praise to God” (Acts 16:25).

Georgi Vins is a Russian pastor who, for many years before the fall of Soviet communism, suffered, along with many others, great persecution for his faith. Yet he recounts that, however severe their repression and mistreatment became, pastors and other Christians determined to obey every law, just or unjust, with the exception of laws that would force them to cease worship or to disobey God’s Word. Following Peter’s admonition, they willingly suffered “for doing what is right,” but not “for doing what is wrong” (1 Pet. 3:17). They would not “suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler,” but would gladly suffer “as a Christian” (4:15–16).

Believers are to be model citizens, known as law abiding not rabble-rousing, obedient rather than rebellious, respectful of government rather than demeaning of it. We must speak against sin, against injustice, against immorality and ungodliness with fearless dedication, but we must do it within the framework of civil law and with respect for civil authorities. We are to be a godly society, doing good and living peaceably within an ungodly society, manifesting our transformed lives so that the saving power of God is seen clearly.

In his significant book Toward a Biblical View of Civil Government, Robert D. Culver writes,

Churchmen whose Christian activism has taken mainly to placarding, marching, protesting, and shouting might well observe the author of these verses [Rom. 13:1–7] and then they might observe him first at prayer, then in counsel with his friends, and, after that, preaching in the homes and marketplaces. When Paul came to be heard by the mighty, it was to defend his action as a preacher (albeit in the streets) of [the] way to heaven. ([Chicago: Moody Press, 1975], p. 262, emphasis in original)

Be in subjection to translates hupotassō, which was often used as a military term referring to soldiers who were ranked under and subject to the absolute authority of a superior officer. The verb here is a passive imperative, meaning first of all that the principle is a command, not an option, and second that the Christian is to willingly place himself under all governing authorities, whoever they may be.

Paul gives no qualification or condition. Every civil authority is to be submitted to willingly. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul teaches “that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Tim. 2:1–2), again with no exception related to the rulers’ competence or incompetence, morality or immorality, cruelty or kindness, or even godliness or ungodliness. He gives the same instruction in his letter to Titus, to whom he wrote, “Remind them [believers under his care] to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be uncontentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men” (Titus 3:1–2). He admonished the Thessalonian Christians “to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you; so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need” (1 Thess. 4:11–12).

During the first several centuries of the church, many Christians were so little involved with the societies in which they lived that sometimes they were considered outsiders in their own communities. They were not unloving, uncaring, or insensitive to others, but they lived very distinct and separated lives. And although they were not pacifists or opposed to civil government, few Christians enlisted in military service or sought government office. The third-century Christian writer Tertullian commented that, under the pagan Roman Empire, Christians were not executed for inflammatory teaching or behavior but for presumed antisocial tendencies. Even though that view was biased, it nevertheless reflected the church’s focus on the kingdom of God rather the kingdoms of man. Sadly, that focus does not characterize most of the church today. Even spiritual and moral battles are often fought by worldly, materialistic means. Many of the “weapons of our warfare are … of the flesh” and ineffective, rather than spiritual and “divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses” (2 Cor. 10:4).

The principle of civil obedience applied in the Old Testament as well. Even while His people were captive in the distant, pagan land of Babylon, the Lord commanded them, “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare” (Jer. 29:7).

As alluded to above, there is but one limitation to the believer’s obligation under the Lord to willing and complete submission to civil authority: namely, any law or command that would require disobedience to God’s Word.

When the pharaoh ordered the Jewish midwives Shiphrah and Puah to kill all male babies when they were born, they “feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live” (Ex. 1:17). Because those women refused to disobey God by committing murder, God honored that civil disobedience and “was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied, and became very mighty” (v. 20). When the four young Jewish men named Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were commanded to eat “from the king’s choice food and from the wine which he drank,” they respectfully refused, because it would have meant defiling themselves by breaking of the Mosaic dietary laws. In order to keep from offending the king, Daniel suggested to the commander that the four of them “ ‘be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be observed in your presence, and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king’s choice food; and deal with your servants according to what you see.’ So he listened to them in this matter and tested them for ten days.” God honored and blessed that faithfulness, “and at the end of ten days their appearance seemed better and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king’s choice food” (Dan. 1:12–15).

It is important to note that, even while refusing to do what God had forbidden, those four faithful men of God showed respect for the human authority they had to disobey. Speaking for the other three as well as for himself, Daniel did not demand deference to their beliefs but respectfully “sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself” (v. 8, emphasis added), and he referred to themselves as the commander’s “servants” (vv. 12–13). In obeying God, they did not self-righteously or disrespectfully malign, contend with, or condemn civil authority.

Two other familiar accounts of justifiable civil disobedience are also recorded in that book. When King Nebuchadnezzar commanded Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to worship his gods and the golden image he had erected, they “answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up’ ” (Dan. 3:16–18). Again God blessed their faithfulness, to the extent that “the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men nor was the hair of their head singed, nor were their trousers damaged, nor had the smell of fire even come upon them” (v. 27).

At the instigation of his commissioners and satraps, who were jealous of Daniel’s royal favor, a later Babylonian king, Darius, issued a decree “that anyone who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, shall be cast into the lions’ den” (Dan. 6:7). Daniel respectfully but firmly refused to obey the decree, and the king reluctantly had him thrown into the lions’ den. Once again, God honored his servant’s faithfulness. “Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he had trusted in his God” (v. 23). Again it is important to note Daniel’s lack of malice and his genuine respect for the human authority his conscience forced him to disobey. After being released unharmed, he said “O king, live forever!” (v. 21).

When the Jewish leaders of Jerusalem warned Peter and John “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18), the apostles replied, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19–20). The Lord had commanded, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15; Matt. 28:19–20), and therefore to obey those human rulers would mean to disobey their divine Ruler, which they would not do. When Peter and John persisted in their evangelization, the Jewish leaders warned them again, “saying, ‘We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.’ But Peter and the apostles answered and said, ‘We must obey God rather than men’ ” (Acts 5:28–29).

Like individual believers, a local church is obligated to observe civil laws such as zoning, building codes, fire safety regulations, and every other law and regulation that would not cause them to disobey God’s Word. A church is only justified in disobeying an ordinance that, for example, would require acceptance of homosexuals into church membership or of hiring them to work on staff.

In most of the world today, even including many former communist lands, Christians seldom face the need to “obey God rather than men.” By far our most common obligation, therefore, is to obey both God and men.

Some years ago, the tax department of the state of California issued a broadly-worded form that required all tax-exempt organizations, including churches, to attest that they did not and would not engage in political activities. A number of local congregations arched their backs, as it were, and refused to sign the affidavit, which resulted in their buildings being boarded up by state officials. Although he had no association with those churches and was not asked by them to intervene, a prominent Christian attorney talked with state officials on the churches’ behalf. He explained that a Christian’s conscience sometimes requires him to take certain positions on moral issues that relate to civil laws, but that those positions come from religious convictions that are based on Scripture, not on political ideology. Appreciating that explanation, the state officials reworded the form in a way that better protected religious rights. Conflicts do not, of course, always work out that favorably, but churches and individual believers should make every effort to explain carefully and respectfully their reasons for wanting a civil law or mandate to be changed that they believe would force them to disobey God.

In most matters we are to respect and obey civil laws and ordinances, and we are to do it ungrudgingly. Even when conscience leaves us no alternative but to disobey human authority, we do so with respect and with willingness to suffer whatever penalties or consequences may result.

Although He sends His own people “out as sheep in the midst of wolves,” our Lord commands us to “be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves” (Matt. 10:16). We are to be alert, cautious, and concerned about what is going on around us and in the world. But that must not be the focus of our attention, and our living in the midst of it must be innocent—free of anxiety, ill will, rancor, and self-righteousness. Men “will deliver you up to the courts, and scourge you in their synagogues,” Jesus continued to warn; “and you shall even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not become anxious about how or what you will speak; for it shall be given you in that hour what you are to speak. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you” (Matt. 10:18–20). Furthermore, “brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all on account of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved” (vv. 21–22).

Persecution is not cause for rebellion but for patient endurance and righteousness. It is not that a Christian should seek persecution or should not try to escape it when possible. Persecution in itself has no spiritual value. Therefore, “whenever they persecute you in this city,” Jesus went on to say, “flee to the next” (v. 23).

Regardless of the failures of government—many of them immoral, unjust, and ungodly—Christians are to pray and live peaceful lives that influence the world by godly, selfless living, not by protests, sit-ins, and marches, much less by rebellion. Like the prophets of the Old Testament, we have both the right and the obligation to confront and oppose the sins and evils of our society, but only in the Lord’s way and power, not the world’s. In this way, says Paul, our living is “good and profitable for men” (Titus 3:8), because it shows them the power of God in salvation. They see what a person saved from sin is like.

The Purpose: God’s Reasons For Our Submitting To Human Authority

For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil. Wherefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. (13:1b–5)

Paul next presents seven reasons why Christians are to submit to human government: Government is by divine decree (v. 1b); resistance to government is rebellion against an institution of God (v. 2a); those who resist will be punished (v. 2 b); government serves to restrain evil (v. 3a); government serves to promote good (vv. 3b–4a); rulers are empowered by God to inflict punishment for disobedience (v. 4b); and government should be obeyed for conscience’s sake (v. 5).

government is by divine decree

For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. (13:1b)

First, Paul says, human government is ordained by God for the benefit of society. In whatever of the many forms it exists, civil authority derives directly from God. Like marriage, it is a universal institution of God, and, like marriage, it is valid regardless of place, circumstance, or any other consideration.

There is no civil authority, Paul says, except from God. No matter what form it takes, no human government at any time in history, at any place on earth, among any people on earth, at any level of society, has ever existed or will ever exist apart from the sovereign authority of God, because all “power belongs to God” (Ps. 62:11). The entire world, everything in heaven and earth, including Satan and his hosts, are subject to their Creator. God sovereignly created and absolutely controls the universe, with no exceptions or limitations. Also without exception, the power that any person, group, or society may possess is divinely delegated and circumscribed. How well or how poorly that power is used is another matter. Paul’s point here is that this power has only one source—God.

Yet, in His sovereign wisdom, God has permitted Satan to have vast but limited power over the world and the affairs of men. Although Satan was not directly responsible for man’s sin at the Fall, it was his seductive enticement that led Adam and Eve to disobey God and thereby commit the first sin, a sin which they bequeathed to all their posterity. Satan does not have power to make men sin, but since that tragic day in the Garden of Eden, he has used every means at his disposal to entice men to indulge their sinful impulses and thereby express their defiance of God. Paul reminded the Ephesian believers that “you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:1–2). In other words, man’s natural propensity to sin is exploited by Satan’s evil wiles.

Consequently, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19), who is “now the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 16:11; 14:30). At His temptation, Jesus did not question Satan’s claim to “all the kingdoms of the world” or his ability to give Jesus “all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish” (Luke 4:6).

From Daniel 10 it is evident that some, if not all, nations are under the charge of a specific demon, or perhaps a group of demons. The context makes clear that “the prince of the kingdom of Persia” (v. 13), who withstood the holy angel (vv. 5–6, 11–12) “for twenty-one days,” was himself supernatural, not human. He was not defeated until “Michael, one of the chief princes” of the holy angels, came to help (v. 13). After predicting the death of the proud and blasphemous king of Babylon (Isa. 14:4), Isaiah addresses one who has “fallen from heaven,” and calls him “star of the morning [Lucifer]” and “son of the dawn” (v. 12). The close association of the human king and the supernatural agent seems to indicate that Satan himself took special charge of that pagan nation.

Although addressed as “the king of Tyre,” the being that Isaiah refers to as having “had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty,” as being in “Eden, the garden of God,” and whom he calls “the anointed cherub” (Ezek. 28:12–14) is clearly supernatural and could only be Satan.

In both the Isaiah and Ezekiel accounts, Satan is closely identified with the kings of the nations involved. It becomes clear that, although human government was instituted by God and fulfills, to some extent, His plan for maintaining order on earth, many governments, if not most, are under the influence of Satan and are a means of promoting and perpetuating satanic activity.

The autocratic, ruthless, and demonic regimes of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Tse Tung were no exceptions to God’s command to be subject to civil authority. The equally ruthless empires of ancient Assyria and Babylon were no exceptions. The Roman empire, sometimes ruled by caesars who proclaimed themselves to be gods, was no exception. The apostate and heretical “Christian” kingdoms of the Middle Ages were no exceptions. Shaman ruled primitive and animistic tribes of South America are no exceptions. There are no exceptions.

That is part of the truth Paul declared before the pagan philosophers in Athens: “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things; and He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation” (Acts 17:24–26).

That is the primary reason we are to submit to human government: it is instituted by the decree of God and is an integral part of His divine plan for fallen mankind.[18]


[1] Klein, W. W. (2017). Romans. In T. Cabal (Ed.), CSB Apologetics Study Bible (p. 1417). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[2] Patterson, P. (2017). Salvation in the Old Testament. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 1801). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[3] Klassen, M., & Klein, W. W. (2017). Romans. In S. McDowell (Ed.), The Apologetics Study Bible for Students (p. 1414). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ro 13:1). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (pp. 2179–2180). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ro 13:1). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[7] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Ro 13:1). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

[8] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1449). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[9] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1732). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[10] Boa, K., & Kruidenier, W. (2000). Romans (Vol. 6, pp. 392–393). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[11] Utley, R. J. (1998). The Gospel according to Paul: Romans (Vol. Volume 5, Ro 13:1). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[12] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (Vol. 12–13, pp. 432–433). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[13] Bruce, F. F. (1985). Romans: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 6, pp. 234–235). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[14] Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans (pp. 477–479). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[15] Moo, D. J. (2018). The Letter to the Romans. (N. B. Stonehouse, F. F. Bruce, G. D. Fee, & J. B. Green, Eds.) (Second Edition, pp. 811–815). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[16] Harrison, E. F., & Hagner, D. A. (2008). Romans. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 195). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[17] Boice, J. M. (1991–). Romans: The New Humanity (Vol. 4, pp. 1639–1646). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

[18] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (Vol. 2, pp. 212–220). Chicago: Moody Press.

Evidence that Pro-Trump Demonstrators at the Capitol Were Infiltrated by Pretenders

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The vast majority of the demonstrators were peaceful as expected but a handful had a mission of violence and destruction of property. It is not yet known who these destroyers were but, because they were among those who carried Trump signs and banners, it was easy for the media to call them Trump supporters. No one questioned the obvious, which was that they might have been agents of Trump’s enemies carrying out a mission to throw public opinion against the President at this critical moment. Predictably, Trump supporters now are being labeled as terrorists. Meanwhile, Republicans used the chaos as an excuse to drop the electoral challenge. This event closely follows the pattern of a color revolution carried out in many nations around the world in the past few decades, led and financed by George Soros and the US Deep State. This time, it is happening in the US.

Vice President Pence certified the Electoral votes at 3:40 am. Later, President Trump announced that there will be a peaceful transition of power on January 20th. -GEG

Situation Update – Trump fighting from secure location, did NOT concede

(Natural News) Intel is coming in today from many sources, and I will likely need to post a separate article to cover it all. Importantly, Trump has not conceded anything, and if you parse the words of his most recent video statement, there is absolutely no concession in it and no naming of Joe Biden […] The post appeared first on DC Clothesline .

Source: Situation Update – Trump fighting from secure location, did NOT concede

Graham: ‘I’m more determined than ever’ to strip big tech of section 230 protections | Sara A. Carter

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announced on Twitter that he has found new motivation to fight big tech and its Section 230 protections. Graham said he “willingly” accepts his fate of a potential banning but that the removal of Trump’s account was a “serious mistake.”

“The Ayatollah can tweet, but Trump can’t. Says a lot about the people who run Twitter,” Graham tweeted.

One of the most effective solutions to stop the discrimination conservatives are seeing increasingly on big tech is strip Section 230 protections—as recently reported by this author on SaraACarter.com.

Graham agrees with this assessment, tweeting “I’m more determined than ever to strip Section 230 protections from Big Tech (Twitter) that let them be immune from lawsuits.”

Section 230 is a small portion of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA)—an act passed with the purpose of preventing minors from accessing sexually explicit materials on the Internet. The CDA itself was an addition to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which sought to expand competitiveness in this groundbreaking internet market. The CDA was added on as an amendment—Title V—months later and thus Section 230 became law.

It allows big tech companies to remove and block content it deems to be “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.” The law’s only boundaries are that removal of speech be done in “good faith.”

Intended to allow internet companies to block harmful content and to avoid consequences for content put out by their users, this section has since been hijacked to pave the consequence-free way for big tech to shadow-ban, silence, and squash conservative thought.

Source: Graham: ‘I’m more determined than ever’ to strip big tech of section 230 protections

Politics: America’s Astonishingly Awful Religion

For almost a year now, our country has been roiling. We’re divided over the coronavirus pandemic, we’re split over matters of racial injustice, and our country is fractured over the 2020 presidential election.

Source: Politics: America’s Astonishingly Awful Religion

Twitter Purge: Conservative Social Media Personalities Report Losing Thousands of Followers

Since Twitter banned President Donald Trump this week, prominent conservative voices on the platform users are reporting that they’ve lost tens of thousands of followers.

Source: Twitter Purge: Conservative Social Media Personalities Report Losing Thousands of Followers

Weekend Snapshot – Top Stories This Week · Jan. 9, 2021

Remove Trump?

Since the pro-Trump mob’s storming of the Capitol, many are calling for his removal.


A Capitol Offense

The storming of our nation’s Capitol building yesterday gave us all a black eye.


Response to DC: A Conservative Roundup

Condemnation from conservative political and thought leaders was swift and unequivocal.


After All That, Congress Confirms Biden’s Electoral Victory

While chaos suddenly erupted in the Capitol in the form of a pro-Trump mob, order was eventually restored.


Schumer Wins Georgia … and America

Disaster strikes as Dems appear to win both Senate seats in the Peach State runoffs.


The Left’s Bulk-Ballot Fraud Strategy Worked

The Democrat’s election strategy is paying big dividends, and this fraud will continue until…


Nancy Pelosi’s Bizarre House Rules

Democrats control the 117th Congress, and they’re intent on pushing that control to the limit.


Wuhan Lab Origin Theory for Coronavirus Gains Traction

“Lab Leak Theory” isn’t as crazy as media and establishment elites initially contended.


Woke Ideology Infects Civics and the Military

The Left is pushing wokeness in places we once thought beyond the reach of social politics.


Buckle Up for a Critical Race Curriculum

Joe Biden’s education secretary has big plans for race-conscious learning nationwide.


‘Canceling’ Humanity Itself

Abortion far outstripped coronavirus as the leading cause of death in 2020.



TODAY’S MEME

For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.

TODAY’S CARTOON

For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“We are falling further away from God and becoming more reliant on ourselves than we ever have in the history of this country. We observe the decay of our social institutions; it’s not hard to see why. Man is not all-knowing: God is. While man can manipulate life’s creation, it is God who creates life, and it would behoove us never to forget it. Men who have ambition and power have one ultimate goal in mind, whether they or we want to admit it or not, and that is to replace God and forget His existence.” —Armstrong Williams

“The Patriot Post” (https://patriotpost.us)

Top Weekly Stories from ChristianNews.net for 01/09/2021

Woman Shot, Killed Storming Capitol Identified as a ‘Strong Supporter of Trump’ and Military Vet by Husband   Jan 06, 2021 09:01 pm
 WASHINGTON (KUSI) — The woman who was shot and killed inside the U.S. Capitol during the protests was from the San Diego area. KUSI News has spoken with her husband. The woman is Ashli Babbit, a 14-year veteran, who served four tours with the U.S. Air Force and was a high level security official throughout her time in service. Continue reading this…Continue reading the story 

United Methodist ‘Pastor’ Opens 117th Congress With Prayer Ending in ‘Amen and a Woman’   Jan 04, 2021 12:39 pm
 WASHINGTON — A Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives and former longtime Methodist minister opened the 117th Congress with a prayer on Sunday that ended with citing the Hindu and Buddhist god Brahma and the seemingly gendered remark “amen and a woman.” “Eternal God, noiselessly we bow before your throne of grace as we leave behind the…Continue reading the story 

Pro-Trump Protester Fatally Shot Inside US Capitol Building   Jan 06, 2021 07:35 pm
 WASHINGTON (Fox News) — Amid chaos at the U.S. Capitol, one woman was shot in the neck and has succumbed to her injuries. Video shows the woman, wearing a Trump flag, falling to the ground and becoming limp after she was shot in the chest. The woman was transported away from the Capitol just before 3 p.m. The shot was fired by a police officer. The victim…Continue reading the story 

Churches, Faith-Based Schools Ask Va. Gov. Not to ‘Force’ Christians to ‘Violate Their Consciences’ or Pay $100K in Fines   Jan 04, 2021 10:43 am
Photo Credit: Michelle Maria/Pixabay RICHMOND, Va. — A number of churches, faith-based schools and businesses have signed an open letter to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, asking him not to enforce the so-called “Virginia Values Act” in a way that attempts to “force” Christians to violate their deeply-held convictions under penalty of law that includes up to…Continue reading the story 

First Century A.D. House With Church Unearthed in Laodicea   Jan 04, 2021 08:40 am
(Hurriyet Daily News) — In Laodicea, which was a metropolitan city in ancient times and was home to one of the seven churches mentioned in the Bible, a church was unearthed inside a house, located adjacent to the northern theater. Speaking to the state-run Anadolu Agency, Professor Celal Şimşek said that works have been continuing to revive the Hellenistic…Continue reading the story 

First Christian Arrested Under New ‘Unlawful Conversion’ Statute in Uttar Pradesh, India   Jan 05, 2021 01:07 pm
Photo Credit: Pllanemad/Wikipedia NEW DELHI (Morning Star News) – A Korean Christian and three nationals of India are in jail in Uttar Pradesh state, accused of fraudulent conversion attempts while distributing food and other aid to people in need due to COVID-19 lockdown, sources said. Under a new “anti-conversion” law that went into effect in Uttar…Continue reading the story 

Rep. Who Ended Prayer With ‘a Woman’ Says it Was Pun to Recognize Record Number of Women in Congress   Jan 07, 2021 10:16 am
WASHINGTON — The Democratic congressman and former United Methodist minister who ended his prayer opening the 117th Congress with “amen and a woman” says that he was only making a pun to recognize the record number of women serving in the legislative body. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, who led St. James United Methodist Church in Kansas City, Missouri from 1972 to…Continue reading the story 

Liberal NY Gov. Cuomo Cites Scripture in Delivering Remarks at Church About State Vaccination Efforts   Jan 05, 2021 05:25 pm
NEW YORK — Liberal Gov. Andrew Cuomo cited two Scriptures on Sunday while delivering virtual remarks about state vaccination efforts from a Baptist church in New York City. “Happy New Year to all. 2020 is over and I say amen,” Cuomo, a Roman Catholic who supports abortion “rights” and same-sex “marriage,” said from Abyssinian Baptist Church. “It was obviously a…Continue reading the story 

Ga. ‘Pastor’ Who Supports Abortion ‘Rights’ Projected Winner of U.S. Senate Seat   Jan 06, 2021 03:43 pm
ATLANTA — A liberal “pastor” in Georgia who has been vocal about his support for the so-called “right” to abortion has been projected as winner of a seat in the United States Senate, currently beating incumbent Kelly Loeffler by over 54,000 votes in a runoff election with 98% of the precincts being counted. According to the Associated Press, the current tally…Continue reading the story 

Christian Persecution Likely to Rise in India and China in 2021   Jan 02, 2021 12:34 pm
(Release International) — Christian persecution in 2021 is set to rise in India and China, forecasts Release International, which has just published its annual Persecution Trends survey. Release International supports persecuted Christians around the world. “Our partners tell us that attacks are on the rise under Communism in China, Islam in Iran and Malaysia,…Continue reading the story 

The All-Out Assault on Conservative Thought Has Just Begun | PJ Media

SPLC website screenshot of its 2019 “hate map.”
After the white nationalist riots in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and others renewed their demands for the suppression of conservative speech on social media. After Trump’s supporters breached the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Big Tech companies clamped down on President Donald Trump and many of his supporters. Incoming President Joe Biden has said he plans to pass a law against domestic terrorism.

While conservatives rightly denounced the violence this week, this response bodes ill for conservative speech not just on social media, but in the public square and even in private organizations.

In the aftermath of the Capitol riots, Twitter suspended President Donald Trump’s account for the first time and Facebook permanently banned the president. After Trump deleted the tweets Twitter had flagged and had his account restored, Twitter proceeded to ban him entirely on Friday, and then it banned the official President of the United States (POTUS) account.

Facebook throttled the great Rush Limbaugh, notifying him that his “Page has reduced distribution and other restrictions because of repeated sharing of false news.” Limbaugh left Twitter in protest after the platform banned Trump. Apple and Google attacked Parler, claiming that the new haven for conservatives had allowed people to plan the violence of the Capitol riots on its platform.

House Democrats filed articles of impeachment that explicitly blame President Trump for the Capitol riots, even though he never told his supporters to invade the Capitol. While the president’s exaggerated rhetoric inflamed the rioters, Democrats repeatedly did the same thing this summer. Before and after Black Lives Matter protests devolved into destructive and deadly riots, Democratic officials repeatedly claimed America suffers from “systemic racism” and institutionalized “white supremacy.”

Columbus’ Proposed Police Witch Hunt Will Send Chills Down Your Spine

Big Tech did not remove House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s accounts when she called for “uprisings” against the Trump administration. Facebook and Twitter did not target Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez when she claimed that allegedly marginalized groups have “no choice but to riot.” These platforms did not act against Kamala Harris when she said the riots “should not” stop.

This week, Joe Biden condemned the Capitol rioters, saying, “What we witnessed yesterday was not dissent, it was not disorder, it was not protest. It was chaos. They weren’t protesters, don’t dare call them protesters. They were a riotous mob, insurrectionists, domestic terrorists. It’s that basic, it’s that simple.”

Yet he refused to speak in those terms when Black Lives Matter and antifa militants were throwing Molotov cocktails at federal buildings, setting up “autonomous zones,” and burning down cities. Instead, he condemned Trump for holding up a Bible at a church — without mentioning the fact that that very church had been set on fire the night before.

Despite this hypocrisy, Biden’s speech on Thursday proved instructive. Biden used the Capitol riots to condemn Trump’s entire presidency, accusing Trump of having “unleashed an all-out assault on our institutions of our democracy from the outset.” Biden twisted Trump’s actions into an attack on “democracy.” He claimed Trump’s originalist judges were a ploy to undermine impartial justice — when they were truly the exact opposite. Biden claimed Trump’s complaints about the Obama administration spying on his campaign were merely an “attack” on America’s “intelligence services.” Biden said Trump’s complaints about media bias constituted an attack on the “free press,” when the Obama administration actually attacked the free press.

Despite the fact that leftist violence has wracked American cities for years (remember Ferguson and the shooting of police officers in Dallas in 2016?), Biden seized on the Capitol riots as evidence that everything the Right had been saying the past four years was a blatant and destructive lie.

This reminded me of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a once-noble civil rights organization that has become a far-left smear factory. The SPLC weaponizes its history suing white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan into bankruptcy and monitoring them through its Klanwatch program to silence conservative thought. It brands mainstream conservative organizations “hate groups,” listing them along with the KKK on a “hate map.” This “hate map” inspired a deranged man to target the Family Research Council (FRC) for a mass shooting in 2012.

Doubling Down on Division: Joe Biden Uses Capitol Riot to Demonize Trump’s Entire Presidency

The Trump administration has worked with conservative organizations the SPLC falsely smears as “hate groups,” and the SPLC has made hay of this fact. Its latest “hate group” report — published last March — mentioned Trump no fewer than 66 times. Yet the SPLC carried water for antifa during the riots this summer.

The SPLC has repeatedly pressured Big Tech to clamp down on conservative “hate groups,” suggesting this is the right way to fight white supremacist terrorismAmazon has excluded mainstream conservative Christian nonprofits from its charity program, Amazon Smile.

After Charlottesville, the SPLC raked in cash with big donations from Apple and JPMorgan. CNN even shared the SPLC “hate map” on its website and Twitter account, effectively endorsing the false accusations.

Not surprisingly, the SPLC has already seized the moment after the Capitol riots.

“One of the powerful lessons we must take away from this week’s coup attempt by President Trump and his supporters is that 2021 is not a time for half measures in the fight against hate and extremism,” Margaret Huang, the SPLC’s president and CEO, said in a statement on Friday. “This violence is bolstered by the infrastructure of white nationalist movements that the Southern Poverty Law Center has been tracking and fighting for decades.”

She warned that the Capitol riots will become “a recruitment tool for white nationalist movements” and “hate groups.” She claimed that “the violence in Washington was predictable and preventable,” citing the SPLC’s list of “hate groups” — specifically the increase in the number of white nationalist hate groups. (Since the SPLC does not explain how large specific “hate groups” are, the number of such “groups” is arguably meaningless. Some “hate groups” consist of merely one person.)

Prominent leftists are likely to celebrate the SPLC as the harbinger of this violence, and the SPLC does do some important work monitoring white nationalists. Unfortunately, the group also smears conservative and Christian groups because they defend biblical sexuality, oppose illegal immigration, and warn about the threat of radical Islamist terrorism. Even fellow liberals have condemned the SPLC’s “anti-LGBT hate group” accusation against Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a conservative Christian law firm that has won multiple Supreme Court cases.

The SPLC also has skeletons in its closet. In 2019, the SPLC fired its co-founder, had its president step down, and had a prominent member of the board distance herself. The scandal broke out due to accusations of (decades-old) racial discrimination and sexual harassment. Amid the scandal, former employees came forward to expose the “con” of exaggerating hate to bilk donors.

Despite all this, the SPLC still enjoys considerable sway among Big Tech, corporate America, the legacy media, and the Democratic Party. When Attorney General Dana Nessel (D-Mich.) announced a new “hate crimes” unit, she specifically cited the SPLC’s list of “hate groups” in the state. Kamala Harris, soon to become vice president, has repeatedly cited the SPLC in attacking Trump’s judicial and administration nominees.

This makes it all the more ominous that Biden has said he plans to prioritize passing a law against domestic terrorism. Domestic terrorism is indeed a serious problem in America, but Biden’s egregious and blatant double standard on the Capitol riots and antifa, along with his party’s growing alliance with the SPLC, suggests he may use such a law to silence conservative dissent while going soft on far-left rioters.

Conservative Christians should pay close attention to this threat. Biden, like the SPLC, has long championed LGBT activism, and in 2018 at an LGBT activist group, he attacked people who have “tried to define family” in the U.S. as “the dregs of society.” At the CNN LGBT town hall in October 2019, Biden called for a kind of terror watchlist to monitor organizations that oppose same-sex marriage and transgender identity. Biden firmly supports the Equality Act, which would outlaw discrimination against LGBT people. While Americans do not support discrimination, laws like this have been weaponized to punish Christians for refusing to celebrate same-sex weddings.

Buckle up, conservatives. The Biden administration represents a serious threat to conservative thought in the public square, and now Democrats have both houses of Congress to ram their agenda through.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

Source: The All-Out Assault on Conservative Thought Has Just Begun