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.
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.Romans 13:1, 6-7
In a world where the government is placing more and more restrictions on its citizens, it might be helpful to be reminded of Paul’s words to the earliest followers of Christ. The Christians of the first century were not exactly popular in their culture. So why would Paul encourage the believers to be “subject to the governing authorities”?
The answer is in the sovereignty of God who has placed those in authority. We are expected to follow the laws of the land. As verses six and seven tell us, we are to pay our taxes. We are to respect the laws of the land. We are to honor those in authority.
He’s not saying we necessarily agree with them in all things and given the state of today’s encroachments now, you might ask, do we honor authorities in all things at all times?
I believe the Scripture is clear on this. There is a time for disobedience to tyrannical rulers. What if, Moses’ parents did obey Pharoah’s command which demanded the death of their newborn? When Peter and John were commanded to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, they answered with the question as to whether it is better to obey man or God, but what if they relented and did not tell others about Christ?
Here’s a more current example. Last year, when churches were closed, one prominent pastor refused. John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church in the Los Angeles area continued to meet, saying that the government had no right to infringe on the church’s ability to gather for worship –
MacArthur’s church prevailed and the government was ordered to pay $800,000 in legal fees. Even if you don’t win in court, there are areas where authorities may push us into a corner and ask for compromise in our Faith. We are to stand firm just as those believers in the first century did.
I think a question to ask might be – Am I focusing on obeying God or am I using my Faith as a reason to oppose authority?