Romans 13: Submitting to Authorities
The sergeant glares at a delinquent recruit whose face is now only inches away.
"That's an order!" he barks. "Do you understand?"
"Yes, sir," replies the recruit.
"I can't hear you!" shouts the sergeant.
"YES, SIR," screams the recruit, who has just had his first lesson in military authority.
For many people the word authority conjures up images like the one just described. Those in authority are viewed as oppressors, and too often the impression is correct. Paul was no stranger to the abuses of authority. He had experienced much persecution at the hands of civil and religious authorities all around the Mediterranean. In light of this, Paul's view of authority may be surprising.
Warming Up to God
What comes into your mind when you hear the word authority? Why?
Discovering the Word
- What is Paul's view of authority and those who exercise it (vv. 1-5)?
- How would Paul's view of governing authorities apply to wicked and perverse rulers such as Nero or Hitler?
- What are some reasons Paul gives for submitting to those in authority (vv. 1-5)?
- In verse 8 Paul says, "Let no debt remain outstanding." Does this mean Christians should never incur any type of debts (mortgage, car and so on)?
- In verses 11-14 Paul uses several vivid images to describe "the present time." How does each one give us a picture of how we should (or shouldn't) live?
Applying the Word
- In verses 6-7 Paul suggests some practical ways we should submit to those in authority. What other examples can you think of?
- Do you think it is ever appropriate to resist rather than to submit to the authorities? Explain.
- Think back over this chapter. In what ways do you need to "clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ"?
Responding in Prayer
Submission does not come to us naturally. Pray that you will learn to submit.