Moo on Romans 13:1-7

I find Moo’s commentary on Romans 13:1-7 insightful. These are from his Romans Commentary:

“Paul demands a “submission” to government: not strict and universal obedience. “Submission,” as we pointed out in the exegesis of v1, denotes a recognition of the place that God has given government in the ordering of the world. The Christian submits to government by acknowledging this divinely ordained status of government and its consequent right to demand the believer’s allegiance. In most cases, then, Christian submission to government will involve obeying what government tells the Christians to do. But government does not have absolute rights over the believer, for government, like every human institution, is subordinate to God himself. The ultimate claim of God, who stands at the peak of the hierarchy of relationships in which the Christian is placed, is always assumed. This means, then, that Christians may continue to “submit” to a particular government (acknowledging their subordination to it generally) even as they, in obedience to a “high” authority, refuse to do, in a given instance, what that government requires. In a similar way, the Christian wife, called on to “submit” to her husband, may well have to disobey a particular request of her husband if it conflicts with her allegiance to God.” (809)

“Balance is needed. On the one hand, we must not obscure the teaching of Rom 13:1-7 in a flood of qualifications…On the other hand, we must not read Rom 13:1-7 out of its broad NT context and put government in a position relative to the Christian that only God can hold” (810).

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