Romans 13:1-14 • Helping each other submit

1 Peter 2:11–17 - Peter delivering a similar message


11 Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and exiles to abstain from sinful desires that wage war against the soul. 12 Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that when they slander you as evildoers, they will observe your good works and will glorify God on the day he visits. 13 Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the emperor as the supreme authority 14 or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good. 15 For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. 16 Submit as free people, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but as God’s slaves. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brothers and sisters. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 


Romans 13:1–7 - Paul's words from our text

13 Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God. So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you want to be unafraid of the one in authority? Do what is good, and you will have its approval. For it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For it is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong. Therefore, you must submit, not only because of wrath but also because of your conscience. And for this reason you pay taxes, since the authorities are God’s servants, continually attending to these tasks. Pay your obligations to everyone: taxes to those you owe taxes, tolls to those you owe tolls, respect to those you owe respect, and honor to those you owe honor. 


Acts 18:1–4 - Paul addressing governmental issues is likely because of the Chrestus Affair, many in Rome were converting to Christianity and the emperor out of concern expelled the Jews from Rome.

18 After this, he left Athens and went to Corinth, where he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul came to them, and since they were of the same occupation, tentmakers by trade, he stayed with them and worked. He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and tried to persuade both Jews and Greeks. 

Acts 5:27–33 - This was Peter's answer to the governing body of Jews that crucified Jesus. The context of Peter going against them was a command from the Lord to be witnesses to the nations of who Jesus was.

27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, 28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. 29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. 31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and eforgiveness of sins. 32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. 33 When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them. 

Acts 1:8 - The command from the Lord.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 


Romans 13:8-14 - Paul's words following the commands to obey government

LOVE, OUR PRIMARY DUTY

Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not covet;, and any other commandment, are summed up by this commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself., 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law. 

PUT ON CHRIST

11 Besides this, since you know the time, it is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, because now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over, and the day is near; so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk with decency, as in the daytime: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires. 


As far as Paul's letter, I am with Scot McKnight on the context of the passage. I believe that Paul is continuing his conversation from chapter 12. This is not an isolated, misplaced portion of scripture, but rather a timely part of the conversation with regard to context of what the Jews and Gentiles in the church were up against.


Some of my thoughts:


If Paul is encouraging the paying of taxes and we know that the Jews were struggling with this, then I believe he is suggesting that the best way to accomplish the work of the gospel is through civil obedience and organizational help from the body of Christ.


His goal has been clear, to bring two people groups together under the name of Jesus.

Here Paul says to them...

11 Besides this, since you know the time, it is already the hour Time is short, make these efforts with one another:


1. Make sure your mission is gospel centered.

  • Therefore, you must submit, not only because of wrath but also because of your conscience.
  • Use the gospel filter to determine what your yes's and no's should be

2. Make sure your priorities are in God's order

  • Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law
  • It seems to me that obedience is always the first priority.
  • In my estimation, Paul is saying to the ones that this doesn't affect as badly, help out and give to the others so they can also obey.

3. Make sure you reflect Jesus and His Life

  • 1:3 Let us walk with decency, as in the daytime: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires. 
  • The point of being a witness (Acts 1:8) is to prove that darkness is defeated. We need to ensure that we are representing Jesus in every opportunity that the Lord gives us, even when it is difficult and not convenient.