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Read Introduction to Romans


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


and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.

Both God and civil government will judge those who break the law. Anarchy is against biblical principle (with certain exceptions). The “judgment” here is punishment from human government, a judicial sentence from authorities in government.


God’s design for government is to maintain the principle of social order.


Those who resist the authority of the state resist what God ordained. They will bring judgment on themselves. Because Christians recognize that God gave the state its authority, they should be the best citizens they can be by accepting the authority of human government. They obey the state where it has legitimate authority. Where government goes astray from its legitimate authority, the believer has no obligation to the state.

Social order is a particular blessing for Christians in that they have the freedom to share the gospel openly. This is a public good. But God’s purpose for government is not unbridled power. His purpose for the state is to establish justice through laws and power.

The right to punish lawbreakers is foundational to an ordered society. This principle presumes there is such a thing as good versus evil. The state must have a clear understanding of what is evil. That understanding rests on objective factors rather than sociological law determined by whatever caprice a given judge might determine as true.

In the United States the constitution is not what a particular justice says it is. Even the Supreme Court cannot determine what the constitution is; rather, it interprets what the constitution means. The law in this case is primary and not some subjective presupposition of reality. Subjective perspective requires subjective viewpoint; this process will never equal justice for all.

Laws in the United States were formed upon Judeo-Christian assumptions, from truth revealed by God. That is the ultimate objective norm whereby we measure things—the absolutes of the Word of God. Otherwise, man is left to the caprice of whatever viewpoint or perspective is prevalent at the time. Citizens are then left to shifting mores and laws, and people cannot count on the direction of a national entity.

Civil disobedience is not addressed in Romans 13. If human rulers put themselves in the place of God, then we know whom to obey. The state has limits within the domain that God has given it. A president cannot make an executive ruling not to evangelize. In this case we “obey God rather than man.”

Ac 5:28-29, 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. 29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,

Civil disobedience is another matter than the overarching principle of obedience to the state. To involve ourselves with mob mentality is not Christian because a mob does not think rationally. Dietrich Bonhoeffer committed this error when he was involved in a plot to murder Hitler. Murder is never rational or biblical. In fact, murder is of the devil. No rationalization can justify a non-biblical stance. Jesus warned Peter against joining a goon squad to fight with the sword (Mt 26:52).

A few years after Paul wrote Romans, Nero launched a persecution against this church at Rome. Many lost their lives. The church was not rebellious against the principle of law and order, but they refused to honor the gods of the empire. There was a greater principle than law and order at stake.  

The Biblical Doctrine of the State: