Romans 13:1-2

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Romans 13:1
  • Romans 13:2

The Apostle Paul writes to the world-renowned believers in Rome, the center of the world at that time, in order to answer a slanderous charge made to them against Paul and his message. Paul’s detractors claim his emphasis on faith overturns the law. Paul says that ” just living by the law” does not achieve personal justice before God, while “just living by faith” does. Paul then demonstrates what a just life looks like: harmonious living with Jesus as the leader. Paul also makes clear the choice a believer has: to walk in faith and the power of the resurrection and experience resurrection life, or walk in sin and unnecessarily experience the negative consequences.

God instituted government, and appoints authorities to serve the purpose of promoting good and punishing evil. When evil is punished by government, that is the wrath of God being executed. As believers, we should look for opportunities to obey the laws of the land, and serve as good examples. To the extent we are or have influence on governmental authority, it is our job to advocate that the government actually do its job properly, to promote good and punish evil.

As Christians, we should obey the laws of our earthly government. The existing authorities were put there by God. If we break the law, we are defying God, and we’re not exempt from punishment.


At this point in his letter to the Roman believers, Paul is explaining what righteous living by faith looks like. Part of righteous living is to obey the law of the land. Paul has been battling competing Jewish “authorities” who want believers to follow the Old Testament Law. Paul has soundly discredited the idea that after Christ we are still under the law. Here, however, he emphasizes the need to obey human laws and human governments, every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. Why? Because, according to Paul, there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. If living righteously (harmoniously) is accomplished by living by faith (as the theme verse of Romans says, in 1:17), we must be obedient to God’s design, whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God. If we disobey our government, we’re disobeying God, and and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves, they will be punished for it. It’s God’s will that we submit to authority.

In the United States the ultimate authority for government is vested in the citizens, according to the US Constitution. That means God has appointed us as citizens to exercise authority properly, as service to Him and to others.

Biblical Text

1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.

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