Relating to Authorities

What is your relationship to authority? How should we act towards the authorities that are over us? What if they are bad or abusive? These and other questions like it will be addressed in this message as we look to the words of God from Romans chapter 13.

Romans:The Glory of the Gospel Part 32

Relating to Authorities – Romans13:1-7

Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – June 10th, 2018



  • We are in the section of the book where Paul is giving us instructions as to how we are to live our lives as Christians.He starts this section by teaching us that we are to live as “living sacrifices,” as ones who live their lives as a service to God. Each one of us has been gifted by God to serve as body of Christ for the building up of the church and to bring the message of the Gospels to all people everywhere.
  • We are taught to love each other, the world, and our enemies as well as how to specifically interact with each category of people. In all things, we are to endeavor to live at peace with people, blessing others and overcoming evil with good. After establishing these things, Paul turns to our relationship as Christians to the governing authorities in the nations in which we live.


Be subject to authority


Rom 13:1-3 ESV

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.


  • The perfect plan of God is to obey and put ourselves under our governing authorities. Why?  Because God has given them this authority.


Matt 28:18-19 ESV

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.


John 19:10-11a ESV

So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.


  • If we resist the authorities, we resist the authority God has appointed. And if you resist the authorities, you will incur judgment (from the authorities).


Do what is good


Rom 13:3-5 ESV

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.


  • Obey the law and you will not have to fear the consequences. (stealing, speeding, trespassing, etc.)  We are to be people who do good . . .  this is the golden rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you). We are to do good and be a blessing to all those around us.
  • Now if we do wrong, the governing authorities have the right and power to punish the wrongdoer. (And we also don’t do what is unlawful because of the fear of being caught but more importantly because of our conscience)
  • The authorities have been given their position by God and they are called by God to serve people for their good. This is what they are to be doing. In a perfect system, this is what should be happening . . . and I know what you are thinking: What if it does not work this way? What if the authorities are the ones who are doing wrong? What then are we to do? Here is the reason when it is righteous to stand against authorities:
    • When they are breaking God’s laws
      • Example of Mordecai and Esther (See the book of Esther)
      • Example of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the golden image (See Daniel chapter 3)
      • Example of Daniel and the lion’s den (See Daniel chapter 6)
      • Example of Peter and the Apostles (See Acts chapter 5)

Acts 5:27-30 ESV

And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.


Acts 5:40-42 ESV

and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

  • Example of the American Revolution – Declaration of Independence (formed their own government)
  • Nazi Germany
  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Smuggling Bibles
  • Mark of the Beast
  • In all these things, know that if you are standing up against the authorities you may have to pay the price. Be prepared and be able to accept the consequences of your refusal / disobedience. (John the Baptist was beheaded while Peter was freed). Remember that every person will be accountable for how they use the authority given them.


Pay to all what is owed


Rom 13:6 ESV

For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 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.


  • Pay to all what is owed to them . . . taxes, revenue, respect and honor.
  • Jesus was asked a question that was intended to trap him:


Matt 22:17-21 ESV

Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites?  19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius.  20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?”  21 They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”


  • The government stamps its likeness and inscription on things that they are rightly theirs. God has stamped His image on things, and they are rightly His. Always remember that we, as Christians, answer to a higher power.



  • Be subject to authority, do what is good, do what is godly, pay all to what you owe them, including money, respect and honor.