On Submitting to Governing Authorities

Governing authorities exist because God instituted them. Romans 13:

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. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 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, 4 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. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. 

Therefore, our relationship to government weaves onto our obedience to God.

Because, firstly, governing authorities are God’s creation (John 19:11), and more than that – under His sovereign control. He pushes good into the world through government (even through those you didn’t vote for). So we pray for God to move them according to HIS good will (Proverbs 21:1, Jeremiah 27:5-7). 

Secondly, since they are instituted by God, we must not resist them, in our decisions, actions or attitudes. Is this difficult for you? For grace, you might ask one of the wives in the church how she prays to submit this way to an imperfect husband – because the principle is the same (Eph. 5:24). 

Thirdly: governing authorities are instituted to only be a terror to bad conduct, and not good. Pray that God would cause our government to stay within this boundary. 

Fourth, the standard to which we submit to governing authorities is that we retain a good conscience. This requires great wisdom – James 1:5-8 – because, I don’t have to tell you, our country was founded on resisting its government in order to live in good conscience. 

Lastly, government is deserving of honor, in online comments, in financial decisions, etc. Render unto Caesar . . . because God instituted Caesar.1


1 Are there limits and boundaries to Romans 13? Yes, but it seems most in keeping with Paul’s intent, however, to not describe them here, but in a follow-up article.