With the advent of the Coronavirus pandemic and many governments around the world taking historical powers and actions in efforts to combat the pandemic, it has many today question the proper role and limits of civil government. What is rightly the sphere of the government’s God-given authority? Can governments do whatever they please in any sphere of life including education, healthcare, welfare, business, religion, etc.? Or are there limits and who gets to set those limits?
Because of these questions, many Christians, pastors and leaders have turned to the now-famous text of Romans 13 seeking answers. However, there have been many poor and shallow interpretations of this text – often leading to an imbalance of either disregarding the clear commandment to “be subject” or to advocating blind, unlimited submission and obedience to any edict of the civil government. There has also been the legitimate question of “when is civil disobedience warranted for the Christian?” Is it ever right to disobey the government? How do Christians live honourably in these troubling times?
This episode considers some important exegetical considerations when interpreting Romans 13. We will look at some insights from the Greek text as well as from several commentaries to inform how we understand this important passage. However, it is not meant to be a thorough theology of the Christian’s relationship to the State, but rather to deal specifically with issues arising out of the text of Romans 13:1-7.
If you’d like to read the article version of this episode, check it out here: God & Government | Exegetical Considerations on Romans 13:1-7
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