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A Pause for a Romans 13 Study

Romans 13, John 19, 1 Peter 2

We are going to take a brief pause from the overall flow of this series, to take a look at Romans 13…
This is going to be a straight scripture translation study, which is foundational to understanding of the next couple of articles, and Biblical concepts. First we are going to go through a translation verse by verse, fresh from the Greek, of Romans 13. Following this will be commentary and explanation for understanding what this actually says. Then this will touch on John 19 and 1 Peter 2 in a few verses.

First shown below is a an example of a modern translation, influenced by the KJV translation from the 1500s, by those living under a monarchy, a translation commissioned by the King, James. Next the Greek is shown, with a very literal word-by-word from the Greek. Finally, underlined, is what I believe is a more correct and honest translation of what is actually said in the Greek.

Romans 13

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.

πᾶσα ψυχὴ ἐξουσίαις ὑπερεχούσαις ὑποτασσέσθω οὐ γὰρ ἔστιν ἐξουσία εἰ μὴ ὑπὸ θεοῦ αἱ δὲ οὖσαι ὑπὸ θεοῦ τεταγμέναι εἰσίν
all souls authorities to-hold-over-prominent submit-themselves not for is authority except under God the but(moreover/and)  that-is(being) under God and self-appointed/arranged that-is(being)

Every person is to submit themselves to the authorities having hold over them, for there is no authority except under God, but the authorities which exist are under God, and exist self-arranged.

 

Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.

ὥστε ὁ ἀντιτασσόμενος τῇ ἐξουσίᾳ τῇ τοῦ θεοῦ διαταγῇ ἀνθέστηκεν οἱ δὲ ἀνθεστηκότες ἑαυτοῖς κρίμα λήμψονται
So then whoever will not submit himself to the authority, the of God disposition resist they but themselves sentencing take

So then whoever will not submit himself to the authorities, resists the disposition of God, and themselves will take sentencing.

 

For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same;

οἱ γὰρ ἄρχοντες οὐκ εἰσὶν φόβος τῷ ἀγαθῷ ἔργῳ ἀλλὰ τῷ κακῷ θέλεις δὲ μὴ φοβεῖσθαι τὴν ἐξουσίαν τὸ ἀγαθὸν ποίει καὶ ἕξεις ἔπαινον ἐξ αὐτῆς
the for rulers not are fear/dread/terror the good business but the evil, you-want but not to-fear the/their authority the/this/that good do and you-will-have praise from the-same

For the rulers are not a fear to the good business but the evil. You want to not fear their authority? This good do and you will have praise from the rulers.

 

For it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.

θεοῦ γὰρ διάκονός ἐστιν σοὶ εἰς τὸ ἀγαθόν ἐὰν δὲ τὸ κακὸν ποιῇς φοβοῦ οὐ γὰρ εἰκῇ τὴν μάχαιραν φορεῖ θεοῦ γὰρ διάκονός ἐστιν ἔκδικος εἰς ὀργὴν τῷ τὸ κακὸν πράσσοντι
God for servant are/is you to/into the/this/he/it good if/except but/and/also/now the/this/it evil
you-do/make to-fear not for vainly(without success) the/this/he/it sword to-wear God for servant are/is avenger to/into/among/against punishment the/this/it/those the/this/that evil commit

For you are God’s servant towards this good, except if now this evil you do, be afraid, it is not vainly these wear the sword, the punisher is God’s servant towards punishing those that commit evil.

 

Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.

διὸ ἀνάγκη ὑποτάσσεσθαι οὐ μόνον διὰ τὴν ὀργὴν ἀλλὰ καὶ διὰ τὴν συνείδησιν
wherefore necessary to-submit-yourselves not only through/by/reason this/the punishment but and/also/even through/by/reason this/the conscience.

This is why it is necessary to submit yourselves, not only because of the punishment, but also because of the conscience.

 

For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.

διὰ τοῦτο γὰρ καὶ φόρους τελεῖτε λειτουργοὶ γὰρ θεοῦ εἰσιν εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο προσκαρτεροῦντες
through/by/reason that/this(thing) for and/even/also taxes you-pay servants/ministers for God they-are
to/into/towards the-same this/that(thing) they-to-continue-steadfastly(constant attention to)

For because of this [punishing of those who commit evil] you servants for God pay taxes, these [taxes] are towards giving constant attention to this same thing [punishing of those who commit evil].

 

Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

ἀπόδοτε πᾶσιν τὰς ὀφειλάς τῷ τὸν φόρον τὸν φόρον τῷ τὸ τέλος τὸ τέλος τῷ τὸν φόβον τὸν φόβον τῷ τὴν τιμὴν τὴν τιμήν
Pay-off all your debt  this/your those taxes whom taxes, this/your those custom whom custom, this/your those fear whom fear, this/your those honor whom honor.

Pay off all your debts, your taxes to whom taxes, your custom to whom custom, your fear to whom fear, your honor to whom honor.

 

Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.

μηδενὶ μηδὲν ὀφείλετε εἰ μὴ τὸ ἀλλήλους ἀγαπᾶν ὁ γὰρ ἀγαπῶν τὸν ἕτερον νόμον πεπλήρωκεν
no-one nothing owe except the loving one-another this for loving the other law is-fulfilling

Owe nothing! Nothing except the loving of one another, for loving one another is fulfilling the law.

 

All together this is:
Every person is to submit themselves to the authorities having hold over them, for there is no authority except under God, but the authorities which exist are under God, and exist self-arranged.
So then whoever will not submit himself to the authorities, resists the disposition of God, and themselves will take sentencing. For the rulers are not a fear to the good business but the evil. You want to not fear their authority? This good do and you will have praise from the rulers. For you are God’s servant towards this good, except if now this evil you do, be afraid, it is not vainly these wear the sword, the punisher is God’s servant towards punishing those that commit evil. This is why it is necessary to submit yourselves, not only because of the punishment, but also because of the conscience. For because of this [punishing of those who commit evil] you servants for God pay taxes, these [taxes] are towards giving constant attention to this same thing [punishing of those who commit evil]. Pay off all your debts, your taxes to whom taxes, your custom to whom custom, your fear to whom fear, your honor to whom honor. Owe nothing! Nothing except the loving of one another, for loving one another is fulfilling the law.

With expanded meaning:

A King named James commissioned the KJV, and still today so many modern translations default to it as a standard, no matter how much it’s translation was skewed by translators seeking approval from the King who commissioned it.

Every person is to submit themselves to the authorities having hold over them, for there is no authority except under God, but the authorities which exist are under God, and exist self-arranged.

You are not to obey, but rather to “submit yourself”, to the authorities which have power over you. There is no authority except under God, which means that unless something is in line with God’s will a person has no business to be doing it. However, all the authorities which do exist in the world are in fact under God, because they exist, and He is Almighty and above them. For instance, God reigns, but Satan is still the prince of this world. This does not mean that they are on the same side. Similar, the governments and rulers exist, and are also under God. This also makes note that the authorities of this world exist self-arranged or self-appointed. Which means the people of this world arrange or appoint themselves into systems of power over others, whatever system it may be, good or bad, with consent of the people or not. But no matter what system, God is still above it, and it is under Him. There is nothing that is not under God, as He reigns supreme, and so these authorities that exist (self-arranged) are under God’s power too.

So then whoever will not submit himself to the authorities, resists the disposition of God, and themselves will take sentencing.

The disposition of God refers to God’s “permissive” will, and not his explicit will. We can see that God must be disposed to allow the rulers of this earth to continue on, if they exist, because if God was not so disposed, they would all cease to exist. Therefore their existence is proof positive of God’s disposition to permissively allow whatever authorities to exist which do exist. This does not mean that God ordained them, or established them or approves of all they do. This term “sentencing” refers to worldly courtrooms of the laws of the land. If you break the law of the land, and refuse to submit to the law of the land, then yes, you will receive sentencing, in the courts of the land.

For the rulers are not a fear to the good business but the evil. You want to not fear their authority? This good do and you will have praise from the rulers.

The “good business” refers to business. This term equates very much to the usage of the terms “right and wrong” versus our modern day uses of the terms “good and evil”. The law of the land defines what is right and wrong, and God in the Bible defines what is good and evil. What is right by the law of the land is called “good business” which is referenced again in the phrase “This good do”, which makes clear that the good to do is “good business”, which is what is “right” under the law of the land. And so if you do what the rulers consider as “good business” or right, under the laws of the land, you will not have to fear their authority. Instead you will receive praise from the rulers.

For you are God’s servant towards this good, except if now this evil you do, be afraid, it is not vainly these wear the sword, the punisher is God’s servant towards punishing those that commit evil.

Again, “this good” and “this evil” refer back to “business” under the laws of the land, which is much like we use the terms “right” and “wrong” today. There is what is “right” under the law, and what is “wrong”, and how much this matches what is biblically defined as “Good” and “Evil” varies, even seems to only line up coincidentally by chance at times. Here Paul makes clear that you are actually being God’s servant in doing what is “right” by the law of the land. But if you do “wrong” by the law of the land, then be afraid, as those in power can hurt you. This power they have is not for no reason, but rather for a serious reason. Paul carries on this idea to explain that the authorities have power so that they can punish those who commit actual biblical evil. The evil Paul refers to here is not “this evil (business)” as in “wrong” under the law. Rather Paul refers to actual moral evil, that is really evil.  So here Paul merges 2 ideas, that the punisher has power in order to punish those who do commit biblically defined evil, not just those who do “wrong” by the law of the land.
Note the verse reads “towards punishing” which implies motion towards. This makes clear that in fact the punisher is doing something towards the goal of punishing those who commit evil, his actions show effort towards this punishing those who do evil, but this does not mean that the punisher gets it correct all the time, or in any way defines moral Good and Evil by his actions.
This further explains why it is God’s disposition, or permissive will, to allow these authorities to exist.
They just exist, as they have arranged themselves, not ordained by God, but simply under Him and His power, as all things are. But God let’s them go on, and He is disposed to, as is His disposition, at least for the reason that they do (often) punish those who commit actual Evil (in the sight of God.)
This means that for all earthly rulers do wrong, they usually at least get 1 thing right, which is to punish those who do Evil, at least in part, such as murderers and thieves. Apparently this is better than the anarchy of murderers and thieves running around making amuck free without punishment.
So we should all be able to admit, at least most governments usually do something right, in that they do punish the moral evildoers, to some extent, even if only in part. If this is enough of a valid reason for God to let them stay in existence, then we should also see this as valid.

This is why it is necessary to submit yourselves, not only because of the punishment, but also because of the conscience.

So we need to submit ourselves to these earthly authorities, because quite factually, if we don’t we can or will get punished. But also, another good reason is because of conscience. This may be because of tripping up our own consciences, violating them, and shipwrecking our faith. Or this may refer to putting a stumbling block in the way of another believer, or a lost person, by making them think a Christian is a bad/evil person, because a Christian does not do that which is thought of as right (“this good (business)”)  and instead does what is thought of as wrong (“this evil”); doing what is wrong and not what is right under the laws of the land. Certainly there is much in the New Testament pertaining to how important it is to not violate your own conscience, or the conscience of other people, as it can prove a stumbling block to others, and shipwreck their faith or your faith.

For because of this [punishing of those who commit evil] you servants for God pay taxes, these [taxes] are towards giving constant attention to this same thing [punishing of those who commit evil].

Paul seems to say here that as servants of God we pay taxes so someone will be giving constant attention to punishment of those who commit actual biblical evil. Which implies that we get something out of this, in that Evildoers are punished, so they are not as likely to do evil to us (or others).

Pay off all your debts, your taxes to whom taxes, your custom to whom custom, your fear to whom fear, your honor to whom honor.

As those authorities do the service of punishing evildoers, who do Biblical evil, which is a service which benefits us, this seems to say that taxes are debts which we owe, and so need to pay off, along with customs. We benefit from the service of these authorities in their punishment of evildoers of actual Biblical moral evil, and so therefore we should pay them taxes for the services they have rendered to us. Fear here might be better understood as respect or apprehension of fearful potential, and so we should also pay off all our debts of respect and honor due to earthly authorities.

Owe nothing! Nothing except the loving of one another, for loving one another is fulfilling the law.

Here “owe nothing!” is put as an imperative, which means, do it! Owe nothing! In other words, a debt is being referred to, and we should not owe a debt. Except the loving of one another is still owed, which is implied as owed continually, as this is the fulfilling of the command to love your neighbor as yourself. And this is the fulfillment of the Law.

The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor.
Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.  The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

John 19:11-12

Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power [at all] against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.

Here “given thee” is the word “didomi” which also means “to grant or permit”. So this could also read “permitted thee from above”.

And as God has permitted Pilate to be in power, those who brought Jesus to Pilate, accused as a criminal, falsely accused, those Jews who brought Jesus to Pilate have the greater sin. In other words, in keeping with Romans 13, Pilate was permitted to be in authority in order to punish evildoers. Those who falsely accused Jesus as an evildoer and brought Him to Pilate were the worse sinners, because to some extent Pilate was just trying to do one valid part of his job as a ruler. God allowed Pilate to have the power to punish evildoers, and he was just trying to do this. Those who falsely brought Jesus to Pilate, accusing him of being an evildoer, had the worse sin.

1 Pet 2:12-16

Here I have made corrections from the Greek also, but am showing them in brief, as I focused only on a number of the key words:

Having your behavior admirable among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, by your good business, which they having watched, they may glorify God on the day of investigation. Submit yourselves to all human institutions because of the Lord: whether it be to the king, as higher; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.  For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish people:  As free, but not as pretext for having maliciousness is your liberty, but as the servants of God.

This closely parallels Romans 13. I think especially important in this is the term “human institutions” which is in the KJV as “ordinance of man”. This is misleading as “of man” is an adjective. “Human institutions” is much clearer. And this also clarifies very well that kings and governors, governments, etc. are in fact human institutions. Again, this passage mentions “good business” or what is “right” according to the laws of the land, versus what is morally Good as defined by the Bible. In this passage, it implies that Christians who follow the laws of the land, are observed to do so by the authorities, and so when ignorant people speak against the Christians as evildoers, when the matter is investigated by the authorities of the land, the authorities will glorify God on account of the upright citizens that the Christians are. And in this, the ignorant and foolish persecutors will be silenced. Understood correctly, this makes much more sense, and these are very practical instructions for Christians which give clarity about practical situations and cause and effect of living in this world, dealing with human institutions, of worldly governments and authorities.

Overall between these 3 passages, the meaning is clear that these human institutions of authority are permitted by God, and God finds them to have at least one beneficial reason to exist, so allows them. This beneficial reason is that they often do punish those who commit moral evil, if imperfectly.

But nowhere do these verses say that God has ordained these human institutions, but rather that they are human institutions, instituted by humans, and these institutions are self-arranging. Which means people have made and arranged these institutions themselves. The existence of rulers in authority, of whatever sort of government, is an arrangement of the humans, by the humans, and to some extent for the humans, which is Only permissively permitted by God, Only towards the punishment of those who commit evil. Even in this, the implication is only towards this end of the punishment of moral evildoers, and nothing specifies that human institutions do this perfectly, but rather only that they do this in part, and work towards this goal, however incompletely or imperfectly. No other reason why God permits these human institutions of governments is mentioned, nor validated. And the verses here should be noted to clearly only speak on human institutions of governance, not “authorities” in any more general of a sense.