This is what God gave me today in his word:
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. (Romans 13:1)
There is no authority except from God? Paul must be wrong on the point, just look at the countries around the world! Corruption is everywhere, even in the USA, and yet Paul says God created these horrible governments (governing authorities)? What about the Nazis? Did God institute the Nazis? Hitler? And more importantly, are we really to obey such ‘governments’?
First, is Paul’s statement really all inclusive?
Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (Romans 13:2)
According to this passage, it’s clear that we should obey any government, because after all, God is the one who set it up. However, if we look at Acts:
27 The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”
29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! (Acts 5:27-29)
We see according to this verse that we are to obey God, rather than man. So now, which is it? Is the scripture contradicting itself now? No, it’s not. This is because yes, we are to obey the government no matter “who” set it up, because we know God in reality is the founder. However, if the government tells us to, for example, become Buddhist, we are to disobey. But this still seems to be a contradiction of scripture.
Second, is the scripture contradicting itself? … Because that’s what it seems like at the moment.
For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (Romans 13:3-4)
To quickly use (and slightly change) an example from carm.org on this subject:
The law tells us not to murder, it also says to obey your parents. But what if your parent’s tell you to murder? Obviously, we shouldn’t obey them then, but why? After all, we’re supposed to obey our parents… Because what they’re saying doesn’t line up with the rest of scripture. If what a government is saying doesn’t line up with what scripture tells us to do, we shouldn’t obey them.
But what exactly is Paul’s whole point? Just to give us (and the Romans) some helpful information about obeying the government? Something else maybe?
Third, what is Paul’s point? … To simply give some day-to-day instruction, or something else?
The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Romans 13:12-14)
He’s telling them, and us, to “put off darkness”, but he’s also telling us how to do that, that means obeying the government. But it’s more than that, “putting of darkness”, as Paul now clarifies, also means putting something on; it means putting Jesus on.
Paul’s point isn’t so much focused in particular on our obedience to the government as it is on our obeying, focusing on, and over all giving glory to Jesus in everything we do.
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)
You are Loved!