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Resistance to Tyranny is Obedience to God Examining the true meaning of Romans 13

Bryan Rebenstorf / JonesReport.com | December 21, 2007

As Paul Watson reported in his August 16, 2007 article on PrisonPlanet.com Feds Train Clergy To "Quell Dissent" During Martial Law, the thirteenth chapter of Paul’s epistle to the Romans is being cynically employed by treasonous clergymen to demand the unquestioning obedience of American Christians to the State.

However, it is clear to any thinking person that the New Testament text need not be understood in this way. When comparing Romans 13 with other Biblical passages and the Constitution, it becomes readily apparent that absolute loyalty to the government no matter what is not the intention of the Apostle Paul. But first, let us examine the passage itself.

Romans 13:1-7 (King James Version)
1 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.
2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

Now, those such as the federally trained Clergy Response Teams, who teach and support the idea that government is always to be obeyed, are declaring that no government should ever be opposed by its people. This means that Germans should not have opposed the murderous Nazis, and that Russians should not have opposed the Communists in charge of the tyrannical Soviet Union. It would also imply that our forefathers were wrong in declaring their obedience from Great Britain and in fighting the Revolutionary War. Wars and ‘regime change’ of any kind should be totally illegal and out of the question if we are to understand that all governments are sacrosanct, holy institutions ordained by God which are incapable of doing wrong. But we know this is not the case. Governments are administered by men who are just as capable of evil as any other. In fact, history shows that corruption and criminality are many times more likely to exist within the halls of power than amongst the common citizenry. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights were written by the Founding Fathers with a fundamental distrust of government in mind.

Truly, if we take the misinterpretation of Romans 13 to its fullest extent, then, in the future, Christians should bow down to the Anti-Christ and accept the Mark of the Beast. Because, after all, the Anti-Christ will be a government leader. Nevermind that Revelation chapter thirteen mentions that the beast is empowered by the dragon (i.e. Satan, in verse 2).

In Chuck Baldwin’s article, Romans Chapter 13, he states:

“All human authority is limited in nature. No man has unlimited authority over the lives of other men. (Lordship and Sovereignty is the exclusive domain of Jesus Christ.) By the same token, a civil magistrate has authority in civil matters, but his authority is limited and defined. Observe that Romans Chapter 13 clearly limits the authority of civil government by strictly defining its purpose: "For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil . . . For he is the minister of God to thee for good . . . for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." Notice that civil government must not be a "terror to good works." It has no power or authority to terrorize good works or good people. God never gave it that authority. And any government that oversteps that divine boundary has no divine authority or protection.”

Furthermore, the Bible is replete with the resistance of God’s people to the tyranny, deception, and unlawful behavior of political and religious authorities. Below is just one example.

Acts 5:27-28 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. How are we to obey God if we do not resist tyranny and evil?

Ephesians 6:11-13 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

But some might point to a part of Jesus Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew: 5:38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 5:39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Here Jesus seems to be referring to personal dealings with individual people in terms of refraining from wrath and vengeance toward perceived insults and offenses. It is an instruction to love our enemies, to repay evil with good.

However, Jesus certainly resisted the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders verbally on several occasions. And his overturning of the moneychangers tables at the Temple was an overt act of defiance toward the ruling powers of the day. (For an online commentary of the Matthew 5:38-45 passage, see bibletools.org.)

Let us also put the lie to the idea that good Christian patriots should trust their government implicitly:

Psalm 118:8-9 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes."
Psalm 146:3
Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.

As Christians we are not called to be sheep herded by men. To us, there should be only one Good Shepherd. We should receive our ultimate guidance and direction from the word of God, not so-called ‘pastors’ and pulpiteers brainwashed by seminaries and often corrupted by their positions of influence. If a minister’s teachings adhere to the Bible, fine. If not, reject his lies and seek the truth. We Christians are called individually to be priests and kings, sons and daughters of God, workmen that need not be ashamed.

As American citizens, we have a duty to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and to insure that we leave an intact Republic to future generations. Abraham Lincoln stated in his Gettysburg Address: "...that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the Earth.”

If we agree with Lincoln that the United States is home to a government of, by, and for the people, we should agree that the government is not the ultimate authority in this nations. The United States, according to the Constitution, is supposed to be representative republic, not an empire or a monarchy. Now let’s take another look at Romans 13 in light of this.

“Let every soul [elected representative and government official] be subject unto the higher powers [of the people]. For there is no power [of the people] but of God: the powers [of the people] that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power [of the people], resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers [American citizens] are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power [of the people]? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he [the American citizen] is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword [2nd Amendment] in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.”

See Chuck Baldwin’s article Romans 13 (linked to above) which makes a similar argument, replacing the word “powers” with “the Constitution” instead. 

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