(12) S1E12 Rebuttal: Romans 13 Part 1

Romans 13 is probably the passage most used to attack a nonviolent position. In this episode, we explore the historical understanding of Romans 13, the exegetical approach to the passage, the larger biblical vision of governments, and the cultural context in which the passage was written. We also take a look at some of the internal inconsistencies present in the common reading of Romans 13.
The Reformers . . . distinguished between personal sufferings and those incurred by Christians in the performance of duty as bearers of an office ordained by God, maintaining that the precept of nonviolence applies to the first but not to the second. In the second case we are not only freed from obligation to eschew violence, but if we want to act in a genuine spirit of love we must do the very opposite, and meet force with force in order to check the assault of evil. It was along these lines that the Reformers justified war and other legal sanctions against evil. But this distinction between person and office is totally alien to the teaching of Jesus. He says nothing about that. He addresses his disciples as men who have left all to follow him, and the precept of nonviolence applies equally to private life and official duty. He is the Lord of all life, and demands undivided allegiance. Furthermore, when it comes to practice, this distinction raises insoluble difficulties. Am I ever acting only as a private person or only in an official capacity? If I am attacked am I not at once the father of my children, the pastor of my flock, and e.g. a government official? Am I not bound for that very reason to defend myself against every attack, for reason of responsibility to my office? And am I not also always an individual, face to face with Jesus, even in the performance of my official duties? Am I not therefore obliged to resist every attack just because of my responsibility for my office? Is it right to forget that the follower of Jesus is always utterly alone, always the individual, who in the last resort can only decide and act for himself? Don’t we act most responsibly on behalf of those entrusted to our care if we act in this aloneness?

Psalm 2:

1 Why do the nations conspireand the peoples plot in vain? 

2 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the LORD and against his anointed, saying, 

3 “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” 

4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. 

5 He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, 

6 “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” 

7 I will proclaim the LORD’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father. 

8 Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. 

9 You will break them with a rod of iron ; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.” 

10 Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. 

11 Serve the LORD with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. 

12 Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
Thanks to our monthly supporters
  • Philip Does
  • Laverne Miller
  • Jesse Killion
★ Support this podcast on Patreon ★
(12) S1E12 Rebuttal: Romans 13 Part 1
Broadcast by