Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 13:1
“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” – Romans 13:1
We are called to obey civil governing authorities. The reason is that God has established them in their positions. Not that He has determined how they are to act or require of us, but that He has placed the leaders in their positions. Note what it says in Daniel. “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding.” Daniel 2:21. God is very clear here. He is the one who establishes leaders in their positions, and He is the one that removes leaders from their positions. When we look at the world today, it is hard for us to see this clearly. I have asked the question, “Why this man?” However, it is important that we obey ‘where we can’.
I say, ‘where we can’ because there are times when government requires us to do things that are against God’s will. Let’s look at a few times we see this in scriptures. In Acts 4, we see where Peter and John are arrested by the Jewish leadership because they were “teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” Acts 4:2b. This was definitely against the Jewish leadership, however, they continued teaching. When the leadership chose to let them go, they warned them not to teach this anymore. “And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.” Acts 4:18. However, Peter challenged them as follows, “But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19-20. They asked them a rhetorical question; whether they should obey them or God. However, they said that their opinion was not important, for they were going to teach of Jesus as the Son of God. Remember what Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20. They were obeying God rather than the Jewish leadership.
Now, one chapter later, we see the apostles still teaching the message of Christ. Therefore, they arrested and brought Peter and the other apostles to a public prison. During the night, an angel of the Lord came, opened the gates of the prison and set them loose, saying, “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.” Acts 5:20. When morning came the high priest and his associates called the council together and ordered the apostles to them. When the guard did not find them in the prison, they reported back to the council that they were not there. Then someone told them the apostles were in front of the temple teaching the people. The captain of the temple brought them back with no violence. Once there, the high priest said to them, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” Acts 5:28. “But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’” Acts 5:29.
As per the focus verse, we are to obey the civil authorities who are over us. “For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.” Romans 13:3-4. They have the authority to punish those whoever break the laws. However, if the choice is in front of us to either obey the authorities or obey God, we must obey God. And, if obeying the authorities does not disobey God, then we must obey the governmental authority. For in so doing we are obeying God as well. The key here is to obey God at all times.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.