Romans 13

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In Romans 13 Paul examines the relationship between Christians and the government.

Civil Government

The biblical view of government is presented in Romans 13. God has ordained civil government, and has expectations of both believers and of governing authorities. God expects Christians to submit to government (Romans 13:1, 2, 5, and 7).

God charged civil government with several duties. The state is charged to protect the innocent (13:3-4). Government is also charged to punish the guilty and restrain evil (Romans 13:4). Paul points out in Romans 13:3 that rulers should be perceived as a terror to evil conduct.

Romans 13 Outline

Christian duty to submit to the State
Government is ordained by God
Civil authorities are charged to punish evil
Render what is due (Matthew 22:15-22)
Christian duty to love (Matthew 22:34-40)
Christian response to a dark world
Be alert
Shun darkness for light
Put on Christ

The Sword

The sword is a symbol of lethal force (Romans 13:4). An officer carries a weapon because it is capable of killing someone.

In the line of duty, a police officer or soldier may need to use deadly force. The court, through civil law, may hand down a sentence of capital punishment. In both cases, the government is fulfilling its responsibility to be a terror to evil.


God expects Christians to pay taxes (Romans 13:6-7). When asked about paying a poll tax, how did Jesus respond? “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:15-22).

Because rulers are servants of God, devoted to governing properly, Christians are expected to submit to their authority and to pay taxes (Romans 13:6).

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