The Believer’s Civil Duty: The True Meaning of Romans 13
Romans 13 is widely used to deceive Christians into obeying unrighteous laws and giving support to tyrannical governments. Such interpretations, however, actually contradict Scripture. YAHUAH has never commanded anyone to obey human law in violation of divine law.
William Shakespeare was inarguably the greatest writer the English language has ever had. He contributed more phrases and sayings to the language than any other individual before or since. In the four hundred years since his death, his writings have so influenced the common tongue that people quote him without even realizing they are.
One of Shakespeare’s phrases that is widely paraphrased is: “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.” The devil quoting Scripture is one of the most successful ways he deceives. A lie is only as strong as the amount of truth with which it is entwined. Combining lies with Scripture is an extremely effective way to deceive the sincere of heart.
When the devil tempted the Saviour in the Wilderness, he quoted Psalm 91:11-12. YAHUSHA was not deceived, however, because in quoting Scripture, Lucifer had left out a key phrase, thus twisting the meaning of the text. This is how the devil quotes Scripture! It is either misquoted or an incorrect interpretation is given to it.
It is important for believers to be alert to this devilish device for it is being widely used by governments and organized religion to garner support and conformity to unbiblical practices.
Scripture warns of a worldwide entity at the end of time that shall exercise despotic power over all. Believers have long stood as a bulwark against the encroachments of evil. Therefore, the devil has sought a way to beguile them into remaining passive in the face of wrong. At the same time, he twists and justifies their inaction as obedience to Yah. He has found the perfect solution through a misinterpretation and mistranslation of Romans 13:1-7:
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of YAHUAH: the powers that be are ordained of Yah.
Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of YAHUAH: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
For he is the minister of YAHUAH to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of YAHUAH, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are Yah’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
Without a doubt, the Monarch of the Universe is the King of kings and Master of masters. “He removes kings and sets up kings.”
(Daniel 2:21) Because “YAHUAH is the judge, He puts down one and exalts another.” (Psalm 75:7) Thus, all earthly authorities are in power by permission of YAHUAH. However, this does not mean that they are servants of the Most High and should be obeyed as such. Most earthly powers work to advance Satan’s kingdom, not YAHUAH’s. Therefore, it is only when their laws or regulations are in harmony with the divine law that it is the believer’s duty to submit to them.
It is a misinterpretation to use Romans 13 to force compliance with unrighteous laws. Scripture is full of examples where men of Yah risked their lives defying human law in order to stay faithful to the divine law.
When a vain king erected a golden image on the plain of Dura and commanded all to bow down and worship it, the three worthies risked their lives to remain faithful to YAHUAH. They boldly declared: “Let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your elohiym (gods), nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” (See Daniel 3.)
Several decades later, Daniel faced a similar situation. When a law was passed regulating worship, Daniel calmly went about his business without altering his normal practices in any way. The cost for his actions was high: “They brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions.” (Daniel 6:16) The government had overstepped it’s authority when it made a decree that no one could pray to any elohiym (god) save the king for a month. Daniel knew this. So, although he was very highly placed in the government, he remained faithful to the divine law rather than comply with the human law.
Daniel’s act of defiance against human law met with approval of YAHUAH. When the king opened the lion’s den and asked if Daniel were still alive, Daniel’s reply clearly establishes the principle that obedience to the divine law always takes precedence over obedience to human law. “O king, live forever! My ELOAH sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you.” (Daniel 6:21, 22)
My ELOAH. Daniel was establishing that his ELOHIYM was superior to the king’s elohiym (gods) and, as the ELOHIYM of elohiym, obedience to His decrees took precedence over every human law. It is a principle of righteousness that the law of YAHUAH is never to be broken in order to obey human laws.
The story of Peter and John before the Sanhedrin is another excellent example establishing that the law of YAHUAH takes precedence over earthly decrees. Indeed, when the commands of men defy the law of YAHUAH, man is to be defied and the Most High obeyed. After Peter had healed a lame man, the priests had him and John arrested.
When they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.”
So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of YAHUSHA. (Acts 4:15-18)
The disciples’ inspired answer establishes the principle all should follow when faced with human laws that stand opposition to the divine law: “But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of YAHUAH to listen to you more than to YAHUAH, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19, 20)
This story is interesting for another reason: it was the religious authorities of the nation demanding compliance with their rules and regulations. Scripture is clear: regardless of the authority of the earthly power, the believer’s first responsibility is to YAHUAH. The only earthly laws to be obeyed are those that do not contradict the divine law. Throughout time, millions more have given their lives for resisting unrighteous authority and staying loyal to YAHUAH.
The New International Version (NIV) is a translation of the Bible that is frequently used by those who would twist Scripture to suit their own purposes. It is easy to see why when Romans 13 is studied.
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which YAHUAH has established. The authorities that exist have been established by ELOHIYM. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what YAHUAH has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. . . . (Romans 13:1-2)
What the King James Version translates as “higher powers” the NIV translates as “governing authorities.” The word thus translated is exousia (#1849). While it does contain the meaning of power and authority, it also contains the meanings of privilege, freedom, mastery, and liberty. Human beings were invested with authority by the Creator – the power to choose for oneself what one will do. When the word “liberty” is inserted into the passage, a different meaning comes through:
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher liberty. For there is no liberty but of YAHUAH: the liberties that be are ordained of YAHUAH. Whosoever therefore resisteth [opposes] the liberty, resisteth [opposes] the ordinance of YAHUAH: and they that resist [set one’s self against] shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the liberty? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same.” (Romans 13: 1-3)
It is extremely important for believers of the final generation to have a correct understanding of Romans 13 because it is the misuse of this passage that is already being used to enforce compliance to tyrannical earthly powers. In the near future, this same passage will be used to uphold the counterfeit Sabbath. Compromising ministers will urge their members to submit to this law that breaks the law of YAHUAH. A misunderstanding of Romans 13 will lead YAHUAH’s professed people to comply with man-made laws. In doing this, they will receive the dreaded mark of the beast.
It is both incorrect and morally wrong to use Romans 13 to support governmental laws that are in opposition to the divine law. YAHUAH has given no man, no power in heaven or earth, the authority to negate His law.
Martin Niemöller understood this extremely important principle of righteousness. He was a committed Christian pastor living under the atheistic regime of Nazi Germany. At that time, many Christian churches conformed to Nazi demands and they based this capitulation on Romans 13. Niemöller, a Lutheran theologian, understood the danger of placing human authority above divine authority. He vehemently opposed the Nazification of all Protestant churches and was a sharp critic of Nazi policies. This courageous man of YAHUAH was arrested and imprisoned in various concentration camps from 1937 to 1945.
Later, he expressed his bitter regret for not speaking up and doing more to help the victims of the Nazi regime, stating:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Scripture does not teach blind obedience to earthly powers. In contrast, it teaches that all who love truth and holiness have both a duty and an obligation to resist wrong. This is the very opposite of the incorrect interpretation of Romans 13.
Edmund Burke was a man who understood this well. He was an author, statesman, political theorist and philosopher. A quote frequently attributed to him states clearly: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
It is a solemn duty to stand for truth. It is a sacred obligation to resist evil in all its forms. Governments, powers and authorities hold their positions through permission of the Almighty. Their authority is delegated authority. As such, they are, themselves, answerable to the Creator. Just as soon as they presume to form requirements and make laws that defy the divine law, in that instant, they violate the authority given them by the divine Lawgiver.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 summarizes the duty of man: “Let us hear the end of all: fear ELOHIYM and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (1599 Geneva Bible) The soul’s primary responsibility is to the Creator. This is always a standing obligation. Earthly governing authorities are to be obeyed only when they are in conformity to the divine law. This is the whole duty of man.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear את eth- ELOHIYM, and guard את eth-his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
QOHELETH (ECCLESIASTES) 12:13 את CEPHER
Edited by GWT