Unlimited: Rebelling Against Authority
Aug 29, 2023 426
Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves (Romans 13:2).
This is a fascinating statement from Paul, who modelled his life on a man who had technically been crucified as a rebel against the Roman Empire.
What has God instituted? He has instituted that social order should be provided for by the government. In that sense, he has established human governments (v.1.)
The verb “rebels” (“resists”, NASB) has the idea of civil revolt, or in an extreme sense, military revolt. The perfect tense of the Greek word tells us that it refers to a settled attitude against the government.
Although they disobeyed the government on these issues, they did not rebel against the government
When you stand against the government, you are standing against God, because God has instituted the government.
As you study the Biblical examples of disobedience to earthly government you will find two general principles. The first one is the principle of worshipping false gods. In this sense, see the stories in Daniel 3 & 6.
The second principle is focused on preaching the Gospel. The apostles continued preaching the Gospel even when the ruling council of the nation had commanded them to stop (Acts 4.) The apostle Paul faced the same dilemma. It is noteworthy that although they disobeyed the government on these issues, they did not rebel against the government, but rather meekly submitted themselves to it in every other aspect, and in terms of the punishment they received.
At different times in history, and in different circumstances, the Bible’s teaching about how we are to relate to governments has been difficult to apply. There is an element of conscience involved as well. Where do you draw the line? How do you justify your position in terms of the specific principles taught in the Bible about how we are to relate to government?