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To Whom is the Apostle Writing?

• LewRockwell.com - Bionic Mosquito

Romans 13: 1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

I have written often on this passage, and others which also speak to the relationship of the governed to the governor.  I have written of it from the view that the common interpretation is incorrect – or at least incomplete.

For example, "governing authorities" does not mean simply those who occupy positions of monopoly authority: the state.  There are many governing authorities – including the Church and the family, and others such as universities, guilds, trade organizations, customers, business associates, etc.

Further, we run into the stumbling block of the authority that demands of us to act against our conscience – against God, if you will.  One cannot read these verses written by St. Paul and reconcile this simplistic understanding with the fact that he defied the authorities unto his death.  (Which, if we are to extend this example, suggests that, ultimately, accepting the possibility of martyrdom is both necessary individually and beneficial as a means to grow the Kingdom.)

But this post won't go through all of this ground – as if the only group St. Paul is writing to is the governed.  Instead, let's review what he is writing to those in authority….

3(a) For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.

This is the role of those in authority – to be a "terror" to (other translations use the phrase "strike fear in" or some version of this) those who act in bad conduct.

3(b) Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,

The ruler is to approve of good conduct – not punish it, not make it illegal, not cancel it.  To approve it.


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