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Romans 13 Unlocked

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John:

Good afternoon everyone. I'm John Anderson, and welcome to the Voice of Reason. I have a very special program lined up today on Romans, Chapter 13. This is an area that causes lots of confusion. What exactly is being said? We are supposed to be studying God's Word to learn the nature and character of God. Unfortunately, most people allow others to tell them what the Bible says. They never bother to check it out for themselves.

This issue of Romans 13 is one that I have meddled with for a number of years. Today's guest, Paul Revere, has helped me come to grips with what was actually being taught in Romans 13.

Paul Revere, it is always good to have you on the program. It has been a long time and I am grateful to have you back. How are you doing my friend?

Paul:

Thank you, John. I really appreciate having the opportunity.

John:

One of the things that caused me to start dealing with Romans, Chapter 13, is that most people think these verses teach unequivocally that all the governments are from God. Therefore, whatever government you are under, you need to just go along with the program. Well, is that really what Romans 13 is teaching?

When I started looking further at the various leaders in the world, I started thinking, "If all of these governments are from God and everybody is supposed to be obeying everything that all these governments say, then it is almost like we've got God being schizophrenic." Here we have an evil dictator that is absolutely crushing people, and over there we have one that is trying to promote God's values. Wherever you go in the world, if you look at the various governments and their leaders, it is really a mess.

Today we are going to systematically walk through Romans, Chapter 13. Most people believe this passage says, "No matter what government you are under, you are under it because that government is put there by God."

Higher Powers

Paul:

Yes, most people believe that Romans 13, verses 1 through 7, says to obey all the governments you find around you.

John:

Let's start off in the very beginning here in Romans 13. It says, "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God."

Paul:

If we take that statement on its surface, it appears to be saying that we are subject to all governments. "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers."

Why didn't Apostle Paul just say, "Let every soul be subject unto the powers"? But he didn't say that. He said, "Be subject unto the higher powers." That verse recognizes that there is a chain of command.

Now the question we have to ask is, "Who wrote Romans 13? When was it written? And why was it written?" We know the writer is Apostle Paul and that he wrote it after he was converted. He used to be a Pharisee. He was a Pharisee of the Pharisees. But then he was struck by light and blinded. When he regained his sight, he was a new creature, born of God. He had a new allegiance. He wrote Romans 13, not to promote Rome, but to promote his new government, the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven. He is a champion for God, not Caesar.

Romans 13:1 says, "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God." Now that sounds like a definition to me, "The powers that be are ordained of God." The higher powers are the ones that God has established or ordained. In the context of Romans 13, Apostle Paul is a "higher power."

Not every power has been set in place by God. Take a look at what God spoke through His prophet Hosea at 8:4, "They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not."

If we check out Romans, Chapter 13, verses 1 through 7, there is no statement in the English or in the Greek that gives us even a clue that Paul is talking about submitting to Rome. Why didn't he just say outright, "Let every soul be subject unto Caesar, since he is God?" That would be clear and concise.

In the first chapter of Romans, Paul tells us whom he is addressing. He is not writing to the people of Rome in general. He is writing specifically to the "beloved of God, called to be saints" (verse 7). His letter is for the people who are called out, the ones who have entered into the Kingdom of God.

John:

If you look at Romans 12, Paul tells us not to be conformed to the world. He talks about the members of the body having different offices. One has the gift of prophecy, another of ministry, another of exhortation. Why would Paul go from dealing with offices within the congregation, to dealing with secular government for seven verses, and then abruptly go back to exhorting the congregation for the rest of Romans 13?

Paul:

Yes, that really caught my eye as I continued reading Romans 13, verses 8, 9 and 10. Let's say Romans 13:1-7 is saying we are to obey Rome and the power of Rome. Why then would Paul go on at verse 8 and say, "Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law"? And then, check out verse 9: "For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

Now, are these the laws that Rome made up or did we hear this from some other source?

John:

I think it is very obvious, Paul is dealing straightforward with the Ten Commandments and he is writing to believers. He is not writing to the secular world. So as we start looking at Romans 13 in a more intelligent, systematic order, we can see what Apostle Paul was intending. And it has nothing to do with civil or secular authority.

Paul:

Notice verse 9 says that "if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." No other laws are needed. Verse 10 goes on: "Love worketh no ill to his neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law." Now why didn't he say, "Obey Caesar and you have fulfilled the law"? Why didn't he recite Roman statutes? Why didn't he come right out and say, "Submit to the revised statutes of Rome"?

No, first he tells us to submit to the higher powers. Then he quotes the law of the higher powers, concluding that love is the fulfilling of the law. This is Kingdom of Heaven talk. It has nothing to do with secular statutes.

Cost of Citizenship

If you take the book of Acts and march all the way down through Revelation, theologians call this the "Church Age." This is where the government of God is being promoted. Now why would Paul, after being blinded by the light and then having his sight restored, go back to the ordinances of Rome? Yes, in a weak moment he tried to claim Roman citizenship, but he eventually works out his own salvation with fear and trembling. He comes to the conclusion that, "Our citizenship is in Heaven" (Philippians 3:20).

Paul writes to the called-out ones who have been raised up as Roman citizens. Now that Jesus has handed down the Government of God, they are given the choice to change their allegiance. And thousands gladly choose God's government and are baptized. But there is a cost for this new allegiance - persecution. Many members of this holy nation are mocked, scourged, imprisoned and stoned.

Paul himself, who wrote Romans, was persecuted for his citizenship. At one point, he was lowered in a basket down a wall and escaped from the hands of the governor (2 Corinthians 11:32-33). Ultimately, the Roman government beheaded him. With Paul being beaten, imprisoned and stoned for preaching the Kingdom of God, he was no friend to the powers of the world.

Are Police Sent by God?

If we go to chapter 13, verse 4, Paul says, "he is the minister of God to thee for good." If you take a look at the word translated "minister," it is the same word that is translated "deacon" in other verses. A deacon is an officer within the Church. So it is the "deacon" who is looking out after your soul.

If you read this verse in a secular bible, such as the Living Bible paraphrase, it says, "The policeman is sent by God to help you." How in the world did they take the word "minister" or "deacon" and come up with an American "policeman"? They used a secular term. You can't do that. That is not an accurate translation. It is not what the Scripture says.

John:

The Greek word translated minister is "diakonos," which, literally translated, as you are pointing out, would be a "deacon." I would find extreme difficulty in believing that the secular world would have "deacons." This is an ecclesiastical term.

Paul:

Yes, very much so. Rome did not have any deacons in their body politic.

Paul would be a hypocrite if he were saying to obey the secular authorities in Romans 13. It is inconsistent with his other writings. For instance, in Romans 12:2, Paul tells us, "Be not conformed to this world." Obeying the secular authorities certainly means conforming to this world.

In 2 Corinthians chapter 6:14-17, Paul says, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers." Of course Rome is made up of nothing but unbelievers. "For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? . . . Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you."

We cannot cut our ties with the world and still be subject to them. And of course at Acts 5:29, is the famous statement, "We ought to obey God rather than men."

John:

Folks, I'm not telling people to go out and rebel against governments, that's not the idea. What I'm endeavoring to do is bring to light an understanding of the scripture. Let's quit trying to make scripture say something that it was never intended to say in the first place.

Reading Bible without Secular Bias

Paul:

For many years the Bible didn't make sense to me. Of course I was raised in the world like everyone else and I was in confusion. Secular schools taught me and everything around me was part of the world system. Even the churches were corporations of the state. When I tried to read the Bible, I viewed it from a worldly standpoint, because that was all I knew.

When they say you can't pray in their schools that ought to be a clue that maybe we don't belong there. Over and over we are told we live in the freest country in the world. Many even believe we are a Christian nation. But that is all a deception. Even Billy Graham admits, "This is not a Christian country. This is a secular country, by the Constitution. It is a place where Christians can live and where Christians have a voice, but, no, this is not a Christian country."

If you believe that this is a Christian nation, then you would need to "obey them that have the rule over you" (Hebrews 13:17). Hebrews 13 sounds similar to Romans 13, but it states even more clearly that the rulers referred to are officers in the congregation, not worldly officials: "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you."

How can we put aside our worldly bias when reading the Bible? First of all, we need to pick a Bible that is an accurate translation, not a paraphrase. A Bible paraphrase rewords the text using secular terms. For example, the Good News Bible, a paraphrase, says at Romans 13: 1: "Everyone must obey the state authorities, because no authority exists without God's permission, and the existing authorities have been put there by God." This is a gross distortion of the original.

Once we have a decent Bible to read, then we need to understand that it is a book dealing with a particular people, a holy nation. These people have separated from the world. They have been called out.

When most people sit down with the Bible they read the words from a secular viewpoint. They really don't know what is being promoted or why the gospel is good news. Oh, they may be glad that Jesus came to save their souls. But they really don't understand how Jesus saves us from this present evil world.

John:

I call that the "half-Gospel." Yes, Christ came and died for our sins. That is an absolutely true statement. But that is only the first half. The other half is that He brought us His Kingdom. At Mark 1:14-15 it says, "Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel."

Jesus Born to be King

Paul:

Jesus Himself told Pilate the reason that He came into the world:

Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice.

(John 18:37)

Here is Jesus declaring that He is a King and that is the reason He came into the world. What is he King of? A country? A nation? He is King of the government of God, also know as the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven. It is a government with no earthly boundaries.

Constitutional Convention

John:

This is where your book, Kingdom of Heaven Unlocked comes in.

Paul:

Yes, it brings into focus and gathers up the Scriptures for you so you don't have to look them up yourself. The book shows how the Kingdom was handed over to the Apostles at Luke 22:29, "I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me." This happened at what is commonly called the "Last Supper." Theologians focus on what they were eating and drinking, but miss what was taking place while they were dining. Jesus and the Apostles were holding a Constitutional Convention, specifically a Constitutional Convention for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus was "passing the baton," of God's government, to the Elect. These are the men who stood by Him in His trials and tribulations. And later these men were also going to die similar deaths as Jesus. And for what cause? For evil-doing? No. For promoting God's government. And the world "hateth" them because He brought God's government to earth - the very government which we have today.

People Want a King

John:

When you go back to 1 Samuel, Chapter 8, you see the people coming to Samuel and saying, "We want a king like everyone else." The people were no longer content to have Jehovah God rule over them. Samuel was displeased that they cried out for a king and he took it before the Lord. The Lord said unto Samuel, "Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them" (1 Samuel 8:6,7).

The Lord's response gives us insight as to what the people today are professing. When the children of Israel asked for a physical king, it meant they were in open rebellion against Jehovah God. As long as a physical, literal king was sitting on the throne, it meant the people were in rebellion.

Paul:

I'm really glad you brought up 1 Samuel, because this brings the Kingdom into focus. In the time of Samuel, the Israelites, by their own freewill, rejected God's government. They said to Samuel, "Make us a king to judge us like all the nations"(1 Samuel 8:5).

Then the Lord advised Samuel to show the people what it would be like if they had a king like the other nations:

This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.

And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.

And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day.

1 Samuel 8:11-18.

Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles."

1 Samuel 8:19-20)

By their own free will the Israelites rejected God's government so they could have an earthly king. They wanted to be like the other nations. Finally, Jesus arrives on the scene and opens the door again. By our free will, we choose God's government. Jesus says, "Hey, the doors have been opened back up for you. I'm going to throw out a life raft. Here, grab onto it and we'll pull you out. By baptism you will be a new creature. You will be in the government of God by your choice."

John:

So during the time of Samuel, we had a Theocracy where God was leading and directing His people through the priest. Yet, the people didn't think that was good enough. And today, God is working through His "priests" if you will. I am not talking about Roman Catholic priests. I am using the word "priest" in the context of the New Testament, that is, ministers of God. And he uses these priests to try to wake His people up and to help them understand that the Kingdom of Heaven is within, that it is an inside job.

Fulfilling the Law

If we actually went with what Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, and your neighbor as yourself," you would fulfill the law. And if you are operating in that context, you are not going to want to go out and steal. You are not going to want to go out and kill and do all those things that go along with it. You understand that you are not of this world, that you are simply passing through it.

Unfortunately, so many people do not understand that simple point. What is it going to take for us to wake up and realize that we are of the Kingdom of God. Those that have been regenerated, or born again, have been married to the Creator of the universe, and that forms a new creation. And that new creature is to work for the spreading and betterment of the Kingdom of God. This is so important to understand. I think Paul Revere has done the best job of anyone to help us understand. Folks, the Bible is not a secular book. It is a spiritual book. Jesus said, "My words are spirit." Imagine that. And you worship God in Spirit and in Truth.

Paul:

What is the entire Bible really about? From the beginning of Genesis all the way to the end of Revelation it is about God's government and God's people in rebellion. It is God trying to recapture his people. And to this very day, God's people are stiff-necked and chasing after foreign gods. There is a place in the Scripture where it says, "There be gods many; and lords many, But to us there is but one God" (1 Corinthians 8:5).

Who is your Authority?

John, Chapter 10, deals with knowing who is the stranger and who is the shepherd. Who do you follow? A stranger and a shepherd could both be an authority. And yet only one is your authority - the other one is not. Let's take a child. Someone says, "Obey your dad!" There are many dads but for that child there is only one Dad. John, Chapter 10, gives us the definition of the One we are to obey. Jesus Himself says, "All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers" (verse 8). So Jesus came to give us life, and He came to give it more abundantly.

Again, in what context is this happening? When I say we are "under the government of God," does that mean we are "lawless"? Does that mean we are anarchists because we can't obey another master? No! In fact, the law can never require the impossible. The law cannot require that I obey two masters. That is an impossibility. Therefore, if I recognize my Father in Heaven, and come under His government, then I expect to be held accountable to His law. I would be in anarchy if I disobeyed the government that I am under.

Many are still waiting for Christ to return to set up His government. But that means that Jesus failed in accomplishing what He said He would do. If Jesus is God, then it is a major indictment against God if he "failed" in His mission. No, He succeeded in His mission. The reason we can't see it is because we are looking for something physical, not for something spiritual. All government is spiritual. There is no government that is physical. Even Caesar's is not physical. Governments exist in the hearts and minds of men and women.

Back on Romans 13, if Paul had been writing about submitting to Rome, then Rome would have had no cause against him. He went before Caesar and appealed to Caesar. Do you know the final outcome? He was beheaded by Rome. Just like Jesus, Paul was accused of sedition. He was killed, as was Jesus, for going against the Roman government.

Today we continue to be persecuted for our loyalty and allegiance to the original inventor of government, which is God Himself.

Founding Fathers Obeyed God not Men

John:

You made a comment on a program we did several months ago that I have used at different times because it strikes a nerve and makes sense. You started by asking, "Can you name our founding fathers?" As Christians, who are our founding fathers? Was it Thomas Jefferson, or George Washington, or Benjamin Franklin? Those are the guys that we automatically think of as our founding fathers. But no, our founding fathers are called Peter, James, John, Paul, Bartholomew - the list goes on. With the exception of Apostle John, they died horrible deaths because they obeyed God, period.

You see, folks, if we are obeying God, if we are living our lives for Him, we don't have to worry about the rest of the stuff out there. You are going to be living a life where God's laws have been written on your heart, and on your mind. As He said in Jeremiah 31, "I will make a new covenant . . . I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people" (verses 31-34). As one of His children, you know the direction to go. Nobody has to tell you what's right or wrong. You know it. That is the difference.

Why do you see laws out there for the secular world, for example, capital punishment? It is because you have people today that are not part of God's world in any shape, form, or fashion. They are simply "brute beasts" as Peter calls them. Jude calls them the same thing. They have to be regulated because they are going to do exactly what their own carnal appetites want. As Jesus said, "Those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies; These are the things which defile a man" (Matthew 15:18-20).

There is a big difference here in the way God's children operate and why. It is because God is working in them. It is no wonder the secular world has all the rules and regulations that go along with it. They don't know God, nor do they understand the things of God. Furthermore, they are not interested.

Paul:

Yes, the people in general have been handed over to a reprobate mind. They cannot see the truth and the truth is not in them. Basically, they have gotten exactly what they deserve. If you go back to Samuel, Chapter 8, you'll see that today the plagues that Samuel predicted have come upon the people who chose to have an earthly king.

Enemies Crown Jesus

Let's take a look at the crowning of our King. John, Chapter 19, is where Pilate took Jesus and scourged him. Pilate was acting in an official capacity for Rome. The Roman soldiers placed a crown of thorns on his head and dressed him in a purple robe. Then they said, "Hail, King of the Jews!" (verse 3) Yes, Rome did this mockingly and even struck Him with their hands. But do you know what took place? Rome crowned our King. Jesus was crowned by His enemies.

Pilate brought Jesus forth and said unto the Jews, "Behold your King!" But the crowd cried out to crucify Him. Pilate asked, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar" (verses 14-15).

Even though Pilate sought to release Him, Jesus was delivered up to be crucified. And as an official act of Rome, Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS (verse 19).

The chief priests were upset that the sign declared Jesus was King of the Jews. They told Pilate, "Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews" (verse 21).

But Pilate would not be persuaded and answered, "What I have written I have written" (verse 22). In so doing, Pilate, as Rome's official representative, confirmed the Kingship of Jesus.

John:

But the Jews said they had no King but Caesar.

Paul:

That's correct.

John:

Paul Revere, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to be with us on the Voice of Reason. We always enjoy it, and thank you so much. In the meantime, ladies and gentlemen, may the Peace of Jesus Christ reign in your hearts.