Romans 13.1–7 & Civil Authority Resource?

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Puddin’ | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, Oct 31 2020 6:28 AM

Note: I’m NOT attempting to discuss theology in these passages, but I‘m searching for a specific type of resource & feel it may help to provide a little background.  I have to be brief so I’ll dive right in:

I assume that by now many of you have seen the American (mostly Southern) pastors who are refusing to comply w. the CDC & state governors concerning COVID-19 precautions in the media.  They have been posting YouTube videos appealing to Romans 13.1–7 as supposed biblical support for obeying the ministry claiming that “those verses are not referring to civil government/authorities, but rather to the NT ministry“ (and yes that is a direct quote from the main pastor leading the charge).  Of course, they’re exclusively using the KJV to arrive at this interpretation.  

Without being specific, suffice it to say that I know the lead pastor very-very-very well (whom you’ve likely seen in the news this year).  I have been avoiding the fray, but also clarifying to the church I pastor that these pastors are completely misunderstanding Romans 13.  Things have really taken a nasty turn in the last 2-3 weeks.  These pastors have now resorted to lambasting other pastors who have been having midweek services online through FB Live Stream saying that we’re, umm, let’s just say less than manly (I kid you not).

This is where Logos enters the scenario.  In the last couple of weeks several pastors have called & asked me if I would offer an exegetical rejoinder on their podcast toward these pastors who are stirring up so much strife via their gross misrepresentations of ROM 13.1–7.  I am looking for a source through Logos that deals w. this issue specifically & exegetically.  Yes, I do already have approx. 8 meticulous exegetical resources on Romans—but the podcast is in a few days now and, while I will certainly try to wade through as much as I can beforehand, it sure would be much quicker if there was a source that deals directly w. this unit of the text.

Thank you in advance—and I hope I haven’t violated forum policy.  Again, I am not at all attempting to covertly discuss this issue theologically.  I just thought that a little background would clarify a little better what kind of resource I’m looking for.  God bless☺️.

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Jack Caviness | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Oct 31 2020 9:45 AM

The technical commentaries I consulted spent a good bit of ink arguing that the passage was genuine Pauline before dealing with the text itself. When he finally got to the text, Moo did a good job in the original NICNT. That discussion began on page 794. I did not consult the revised edition, so I could not give a page number, but the discussion is likely very similar.

It would seem that verses 4 and 6 would rule out church authorities: they do not have the authority to execute capital punishment, nor do they collect taxes. HTH

BTW—I am a Southern US pastor, and I have not heard of these…

EDIT: If you have Master's Seminary Journal Volume 10, Number 1 (Spring 1999), there is a good article by Paul Feinberg beginning on page 86.

Posts 226
Kevin Clemens | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Oct 31 2020 10:40 AM

I'm not sure if it is exactly what you're looking for, but in chapter 2 of his recent book Reading While Black, Esau McCaulley provides an exegesis of Rom 13:1-7 in service of developing a theology of policing. I found it a robust discussion.

Posts 4839
SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Oct 31 2020 3:16 PM

Re: Romans 9:1-17

I consulted the Navarre NT commentary, which cross-referenced Proverbs 8:15-16. The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible also references 1 Peter 2:13-17. Both passages (and whatever commentaries you have on them) may be helpful to you.

In total, I have checked more than 60 commentaries on this passage--Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox; contemporary, modern, Reformation, medieval, and patristic. Every single one of these commentaries understands Romans 9:1-7 as referring to subjection to civil authorities who are then responsible to God from whom their power derives. I'm actually surprised that there's so much agreement on this matter from such an extremely diverse set of exegetes. Amazing what one can learn by accident using Verbum/Logos!

Of note, the UBS Handbook on Romans does at least mention the existence of an opposing view: "Recently some interpreters have taken authorities to indicate the invisible angelic powers that lie behind the visible state powers. It is true that the word is used elsewhere by Paul in such a sense, but his attitude toward angelic authority elsewhere intimates that he understands these powers to be more nearly demonic than working for good. Historically, scholars have understood this phrase as a reference to the state authorities of Paul’s day (specifically, the Roman government), and there is no valid reason for departing from this view-point." [Barclay Moon Newman and Eugene Albert Nida, A Handbook on Paul’s Letter to the Romans, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1973), 244.]

“I want you to know how the people should behave in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” - 1 Timothy 3:15 (EOB:NT).

Posts 375
Puddin’ | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Oct 31 2020 11:49 PM

Thank you much.  Really excellent points & resources.  I am checking into every one of these.

Oh, and, yeah, I have been thinking the same thing regarding resources that would support a reference to church government in these passages—they must be in 3 Timothy, 2 Jude, or, the ultimate & most popular authority:  The-Book-Of-I-Say-It 😳🕺🏼.

Thank you again.

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David Thomas | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Nov 1 2020 2:33 AM

There is an interesting thread on Twitter by Owen Strachan (@ostrachan) dated October 24, 2020 where he claims "Mt 22:21 is the cornerstone text of limited government"

Making Disciples!  Logos Ecosystem = Logos8 on Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (Win10), Android app on tablet, FSB on iPhone, [deprecated] Windows App, Proclaim,, FaithlifeTV via Connect subscription.

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