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2 Therefore [consequently] whoever resists [stands against] the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.


Opposition to human government is antagonism to God’s plan for national entities.

2 Therefore [consequently] whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God,

Christians who rebel against the state dissent against divine establishment for government. Here the idea is opposition or resistance to government. This person stands against both God and government. God establishes human government so that human beings can live in order and peace instead of unorganized chaos in society.

The word “resists” carries the idea of to arrange in battle against, to oppose oneself against. The idea is civil revolt. The Greek tense indicates that this is a settled attitude against government (perfect tense). The Greek word for “resists” is the opposite of the Greek for “submit” (submit = hupotasso; resists = antitasso).

Also, the Greek for “ordinance” is the root of both previous words—tasso, to order. God is a God of order. Everything in this verse centers on that idea. In the immediate context, the issue is social order from God’s viewpoint. The idea of order in government applies to every kind of state. It is social order that is at the heart of the matter. The Roman Empire was not an ideal government, but the principle of keeping order applied to it.

The “ordinance of God” means that God decreed in eternity past that social order would come by human government. This is a principle of divine establishment. He appointed and divinely designed that principle as a constant. God is sovereign over the secular state.


The principle of divine establishment is the overriding principle but not the exclusive principle.


Romans 13 deals with the cardinal principles of the Christian’s relationship to government. There are exceptions to these principles, and for them we follow different norms found in other scriptural passages.

The context indicates that the state can demand obedience within the limits of the purpose of law and order, which is the central purpose of the divine institution. The Christian constantly lives in tension between God’s principles and what the state demands. We follow Scripture when there is a conflict between the two dynamics (Acts 4:19-20; 5:29).


The Biblical Doctrine of the State: