Journal – September 20, 2020
20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
THE CIVIL MAGISTRATE
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
In our 1689 Confession regarding Civil Government, we read 1. As the world’s supreme Lord and King, God has instituted civil governments and has set up civil authorities, subject to Himself, to rule over communities for His own glory and the public good. For these purposes to be achieved He has given them the power of life and death, both for the safety and encouragement of all men of good behavior, and for the punishment of the wicked.
Vs. 1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. The Apostle Paul is writing to the church in Rome, which has a mixed congregation of Jews and Gentiles, the timeframe is when Nero was the corrupt Roman Emperor. Paul knew of the rebellious attitude that was prevalent in the Jews in Rome and he tells everyone let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. He means there is to be only one set of laws—they include, Greek pas everyone. Be subject, the Greek is hupotasso, a military term meaning to rank under or submit themselves, indicating the recognition of our subordination to the authorities. The governing Greek huperecho to hold over anything, as being superior. authorities exousia the power of authority. The civil government exists to maintain order and safety for the citizens living under their power of authority. For there is no authority except from God. When Paul says the authority comes from God—they derive their origin, right and power from God. Now the politicians here in America that speak of separation of church and state, taken from a letter and not the constitution, must not know they were appointed to their office by Almighty God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Some Christians cry out against bad leaders, why is God letting so and so do this, the wisdom of God appoints these leaders, it is for our sanctification, the leaders will give an answer for the manner in which they discharged their God given duties, I know what you are thinking, why is all this murder, theft and destruction allowed to go on in our cities? God is not settling all debts in September 2020, it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
VS. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. Paul is writing to Christians in the church of Rome and reminding them not to resist the ordnance of God. They are living in a city where the powers that be are very corrupt; and they do not need to bring judgment upon themselves by disobeying civil magistrates. The apostle reminds them that God has established this system of order for their own good and well-being. Morality for a nation comes from the people and not the government; therefore, the greatest asset a nation can have is God-fearing Christians living in obedience to God’s revealed will set forth here. Now then we need to ask is there ever a time in which Christians cannot recognize the authority of the government? Yes, Christians have a God-given duty to evangelize and when any governor, mayor or council tries to close the churches under the pretext of preventing the spread of COVID-19, or anything else, he/she has overstepped his/her authority. Do we attack such a government? No, our Lord left wordfor us to live by, all authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20). When the authorities attempted to stop Peter and John from preaching the Lord Jesus Christ, they replied whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. (Acts 4:19-20).
Vs. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. Paul continues, for rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil, validating the judgment of the rulers performing the duties of the office to which God appointed them and the punishment, Greek phobos means fear to those who work evil. When rioters have the support of evil rulers, they do not have the fear of punishment they normally would have without this support. In Seattle, Washington this past Labor Day, police finally exercised their God-given authority and fired rubber bullets and tear gas at the rioters, the riot ended as they fled the scene, and 22 were arrested. If this had happened at the outset there would have been no riots as the fear of punishment was inflicted. Do you want to be unafraid of authority? The 1st Amendment to our Constitution provides ‘the right of the people peaceably to assemble,’ no mention is made of burning, looting, murder and rape. Obey that and you will have praise; do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. The Greek epainos that is translated praise means approbation commendation or praise; it does not mean that those doing well will have a meritorious award, instead they are approved.
Vs. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. The chief purpose of magisterial authority is: For he is God’s minister to you for good. The word translated minister is from the Greek diakonia which means a servant, attendant, minister, or deacon. (Our pastor is God’s under shepherd, a minister, for Dominion Baptist Church.) The magisterial authority is God’s servant to us for good, whether they know it or not. The apostle is speaking of good and evil works, and the magistrate is to be concerned with the sin that takes place which violates the order for which he was appointed to maintain and promote. The next clause, but if you do evil, be afraid of course the opposite of this is he is there for your good if you do well. Now to those who practice evil, for he does not bear the sword in vain. The sword is speaking of capital punishment, but it also is to cause terror in regard to the type of punishment it can inflict. Today, our police are armed with a side arm, taser, pepper spray, hand cuffs, and baton to subdue the criminal and to protect themselves. Todays officer of the law deserves respect, for he is God’s minister(servant) an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. They should not be put in harm’s way without the tools and the authority to use them.
Vs. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. When the apostle writes we must be subject for conscience sake, the Greek suneidesis, translated conscience means knowing, “; a co-knowledge (with oneself), the witness born to one’s conduct by conscience, that faculty by which we apprehend the will of God, as that which is to govern our lives”; hence the sense of guiltiness before God; that process of thought which distinguishes what it considers morally good or bad, commending the good, condemning the bad, so prompting us to do the former, and avoid the latter. (Vines complete expository dictionary)
Vs. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. The Greek leitourgos translated ministers meant at first one who discharged a public office at his own expense, now it means a public servant discharging functions which are the ordinance of God. The term ministers in verse 6 is different from the term used in verse 4 but it does not indicate a less dignified kind of ministry; this designation enhances the dignity attached to the ministry of rulers. In the administration associated with taxes there is no depreciation of their office. Here it is implied that the purposes taxes are collected is to pay for the magistrates and the equipment they need to perform their duties. John Calvin wrote: “Rulers should remember that all they receive from the people is public property, and not a means of satisfying private lust and luxury.” I will add, not for the purpose of building a fence around the mayor’s house to protect her, because she won’t allow the police to do their God given duty—protect the citizens.
Vs. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. This is to be understood of the obligations we owe to those in authority in the state. This is not merely taxes, but the verse includes debts of great respect towards officials for their manner of performing their assigned duties, including the honor that should be shown to these ministers. Paul says to render therefore to all their due, to me this includes justice, which is the foundation of a free and just society.The citizens should know the actions of individuals they vote for and remove those unqualified to serve.
Catechism Question 38
Q: What is Sanctification?
A: Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin and live unto righteousness.
2 Thessalonians 2:13
13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the LORD, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: