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Romans – Lesson 20: Submitting to Government

Scripture Reading: Romans 13:1-14


Civil authority today is oftentimes viewed as something oppressive and evil, not something that we should submit to and respect. Paul was a Roman citizen and used that citizenship for his benefit on a couple of occasions, causing fear in his jailers and avoiding trial by the Jewish leaders. In Romans 13 he speaks about civil authority as something God has ordained and controls, and therefore we should submit to it and show it proper respect.

But what if that authority is no longer based upon the principles of God, but instead upon evil and corruption? Did God ordain such authority? Paul’s answer is that God ordained the position of authority, but the people who are placed in those positions do not necessarily follow those Godly precepts. The problem is not the civil authority, but the people who fraudulently perform those roles. The system should take care of such people eventually.

Because we see so much corruption, we think that we can ignore civil laws and claim that they are no longer applicable to Christians. But the United States was founded upon the Ten Commandments and other Godly precepts, most of which still exist today. We can’t simply throw away the baby with the bathwater, but instead exercise our civil authority to vote into office those who follow our own standards, morals, and principles.

We all need civil authority to protect us from harm, from evil, from wrongdoing, theft, murder, etc. Policemen and firemen are oftentimes overlooked as the heroes that they are because of a few bad apples. We need to teach our children to respect civil authority whenever it is doing what it is supposed to do. Respect the office, not necessarily the officeholder.

Lesson Questions:

  1. What is Paul’s view of authority and those who exercise it? Romans 13:1-5. What should be our attitude toward civil authority? Who ordained the existence, authority, and offices of government?
  2. What are some reasons Paul gives for submitting to those in authority? Romans 13:1-5. What two reasons does Paul give for careful obedience to governmental laws?
  3. Examine the dual responsibility of one in authority? Romans 13:4.
  4. Do you think that it is ever appropriate to resist rather than to submit to the authorities?
  5. Why does Paul admonish us to pay taxes? Romans 13:6.
  6. What is the one thing we will always owe to our fellow man? Romans 13:8. Is there any other debt that we can incur?
  7. In Romans 13:11-14 Paul uses several vivid images to describe “the present time.” How does each one give us a picture of how we should live?
  8. How does Paul admonish the Romans to walk? Romans 13:13.
  9. What does it mean to be clothed with Jesus Christ? Romans 13:14.