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DISCLAIMER: This series of articles reflects the results of my exegetical exercise to answer the following questions: (1) what did Paul intend to convey to his original audience by what he wrote in Romans 13:1-7? And (2) in light of Paul’s authorial intent, how ought Romans 13:1-7 apply to a 21st Century Christ-follower?  In no way, shape or form is this series intended to influence in any way, or cause or be a catalyst for any person to disobey a governmental authority whether it be local, state or federal.   This series is merely the exercise of my right to free speech and to practice my religion under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY OF TAKEAWAY(S)

Article 4 reports the results of my observation of the second and third Greek sentences which comprise Romans 13:1b-2 (ESV)[i]

1b For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

In reference to the takeaway(s), Paul identified three attributes; namely, that the “governing authorities” were “from God,” had “been instituted” by God, and were “what God has appointed,” wherein these attributes described a special relationship between God and the “governing authorities.” 

The key takeaway is that Paul emphatically told his audience that the Roman government was in power because God had placed it in power in the first place and God still kept it in power.  There was an intentionality associated with God’s initiation and preservation of the Roman government.

Because the Roman government was “from God,” anyone who actively resisted the government to the point where he or she was in a state of resisting would in the future suffer judgment in the divine, as well as the human, sense.

OBSERVATION OF THE SECOND AND THIRD GREEK SENTENCES

In verse 1b, Paul set out two attributes that described the relationship between God and the “governing authorities” when he wrote (ESV):

1b For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

One attribute was that the “governing authorities” were “from God.”  The ESV translates the Greek preposition hypo as “from,” and it is a marker of cause or reason with a focus upon something being an instrumentality of either of objects or events.  It carries with it the sense of “because of, on account of, by reason of.”[ii]  This attribute meant that God was the source of or means by which the “governing authorities” came into existence.  The “governing authorities” did not come into being on their own, but came into existence by reason of God.  As the NCV translation reads, “no one rules unless God has given him the power to rule.”

Another attribute was that the “governing authorities” had “been instituted” by God.  The ESV translates the Greek verbs tetagmenai[iii] eisin[iv]  [tassō eimi] as “have been instituted.”  The Greek verb tassō means, “to cause someone to be in a state involving an order or arrangement—‘to cause to be, to be placed.’ “[v]  The Greek verb eimi means, “to possess certain characteristics, whether inherent or transitory—‘to be.” [vi]  This attribute comprised further evidence that God was the reason that, at some time in the past, God put the “governing authorities” in their position of authority which they still occupied at the time Paul wrote Romans.  Paul’s focus was on the fact that the Romans government was ruling when Paul wrote Romans.

Paul wrote in verse 2 (ESV):

2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

The ESV translates the Greek conjunction hōste as “therefore” and it functions as a coordinating conjunction that conveys a deduction, conclusion, summary, or inference to the preceding discussion.[vii]  It is a marker “of result, often in contexts implying an intended or indirect purpose—‘therefore, (so) accordingly, as a result, so that, so then, and so.’”[viii]  The use of hoste made the connection between the government being put in power by God and Paul instructing his audience to not resist the “governing authorities” along with the warning that to resist “will incur judgment.”  

The ESV translates the three occurrences of the Greek verb antitassō as “whoever resists”[ix] and “resists”[x] and “who resists.”[xi]   The verb antipassō means, “to oppose someone, involving not only a psychological attitude but also a corresponding behavior—‘to oppose, to be hostile toward, to show hostility.’”[xii]  Another lexicon defines antitassō  as, “to range an army in battle-array against, or to oppose some persons to others,  to set oneself against, to resist, oppose.”[xiii] 

What Paul seems to have said was that anyone who continually resists the government is someone who in reality remains in a state of resisting that had previously come into existence.  And if they are in a state of resisting, they will incur judgment (punishment).  IN other words, Paul meant a person who entered into personal habitual rebellion against the established order.[xiv]

The kind of opposition or resistance Paul described had a mental component and a physical component.   Because of the military nature of antitassō, it could have the sense of “go to war” against the “governing authorities.”   This kind of resistance would have generated a response by the Roman government as demonstrated by their earlier (i.e., pre-A.D. 56-57) actions against the Jews.  For those early Christians to “go to war” against the Roman government would have in all likelihood spelled disaster for the evangelistic efforts of the early church.

Paul then warned that “every person” who resisted the “governing authorities” would “incur judgment.”  The ESV translates the Greek noun krima as “judgment” and it means, “to judge a person to be guilty and liable to punishment—‘to judge as guilty, to condemn, condemnation.’”[xv]  Because the “governing authorities” were from God, any judgment (krima) would involve a human component and a divine component:

Certainly, the human authority would punish violators of the law, and since disobedience to human law on the part of a Christian is disobedience to God, because God has obligated the Christian to obey it, God would also deal with the Christian.[xvi]

In verse 2, Paul identified another attribute that defined the relationship between God and the “governing authorities” wherein the “governing authorities” were “what God has appointed.”  The ESV translates the Greek noun diatagē as “has appointed.”  It means, “(derivatives of ἐπιτάσσω and διατάσσωa ‘to order, to instruct,’ 33.325) that which has been specifically ordered or commanded—‘order, command, decree, ordinance, instruction.’”[xvii]   This meant that the “governing authorities” were in the governing position they were because God had specifically ordered or commanded them to be there.  This is consistent with the fundamental biblical truth that God is sovereign.[xviii]

TAKEAWAY(S) FROM THE OBSERVATION OF ROMANS 13:1b-2

Paul identified three attributes; namely, that the “governing authorities” were “from God,” had “been instituted” by God, and were “what God has appointed,” wherein these attributes described a special relationship between God and the “governing authorities.” 

The key takeaway is that Paul emphatically told his audience that the Roman government was in power because God had placed it in power in the first place and God still kept it in power.  There was an intentionality associated with God’s initiation and preservation of the Roman government.

Because the Roman government was “from God,” anyone who actively resisted the government to the point where he or she was in a state of resisting would in the future suffer judgment in the divine, as well as the human, sense.

THE NEXT ARTICLE – ARTICLE 5

The next article, i.e., Article 5, carries out the observation of the fourth Greek sentence, i.e., Romans 13:3-4a.

If you are reading this post and are not a Christian, unless God intervenes, your eternal destination is hell.  But, your destiny can change.  Today can be the day of your salvation.  Please see my blog (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/04/20/for-god-so-loves-you-2/) for a description of how you can be saved.

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Scripture quotations marked “ESV” are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version) copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

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Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture marked “GW” is taken from the God’s Word Bible that is a copyrighted work of God’s Word to the Nations. Quotations are used by permission.


[i] To see how other translations looked at verses 1b-2,  representation English translations read:

Interlinear –  no – for – [there] is – authority – except – * – by – God – those – and – that exist – by – God – put in place – are. – therefore – so they – the – one who resists – * – authority – [which is] –  the – God – the ordinance – resists – those – and – who resists – on themselves – condemnation – will receive .

NIV – 1b for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

NLT – 1b For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.  2 So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.

NCV – 1b All of you must yield to the government rulers. No one rules unless God has given him the power to rule, and no one rules now without that power from God.  2 So those who are against the government are really against what God has commanded. And they will bring punishment on themselves.

[ii] See louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 779). New York: United Bible Societies.

[iii] According to Heiser, M. S., & Setterholm, V. M. (2013; 2013). Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology. Lexham Press, definitions of the relevant grammatical aspects of tetagmenai [“have been instituted”] are:

perfect — The verb tense used by the writer to describe a completed verbal action that occurred in the past but which produced a state of being or a result that exists in the present (in relation to the writer). The emphasis of the perfect is not the past action so much as it is as such but the present “state of affairs” resulting from the past action.

passive — The grammatical voice that signifies that the subject is being acted upon; i.e., the subject is the receiver of the verbal action. A verb in the passive voice with God as the stated or implied agent is often referred to as the “divine passive.”

participle — A word that has characteristics of both a verb and an adjective — a “verbal adjective” (cf. the word “shining”). As such, Greek and Latin participles have gender, number and case (the adjectival side), as well as tense and voice (the verbal side). Participles do not have mood, but can function in an imperative sense. In general, a participle’s tense is similar to a finite verb’s tense. The aspect of a participle cannot be simply equated with that of verbs.

[iv] According to Heiser et al., the definitions of the relevant grammatical aspects of eisin are:

 present — The verb tense where the writer portrays an action in process or a state of being with no assessment of the action’s completion.

active — The grammatical voice that signifies that the subject is performing the verbal action or is in the state described by the verb.

indicative — The mood in which the action of the verb or the state of being it describes is presented by the writer as real. It is the mood of assertion, where the writer portrays something as actual (as opposed to possible or contingent on intention). Depending on context, the writer may or may not believe the action is real, but is presenting it as real.

[v] Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 148). New York: United Bible Societies. 

[vi] Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 150). New York: United Bible Societies. 

[vii] Heiser, M. S., & Setterholm, V. M. (2013; 2013). Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology. Lexham Press.

[viii] Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 783). New York: United Bible Societies.

[ix] According to Heiser et al., the relevant grammatical aspects of antitassō translated as “whoever resists” are: 

present — The verb tense where the writer portrays an action in process or a state of being with no assessment of the action’s completion.

middle — The grammatical voice that signifies that the subject of the verb is being affected by its own action or is acting upon itself.

participle — A word that has characteristics of both a verb and an adjective — a “verbal adjective” (cf. the word “shining”). As such, Greek and Latin participles have gender, number and case (the adjectival side), as well as tense and voice (the verbal side). Participles do not have mood, but can function in an imperative sense. In general, a participle’s tense is similar to a finite verb’s tense. The aspect of a participle cannot be simply equated with that of verbs.

[x] According to Heiser et al., the relevant grammatical aspects of antitassō translated as “resists” are:

perfect — The verb tense used by the writer to describe a completed verbal action that occurred in the past but which produced a state of being or a result that exists in the present (in relation to the writer). The emphasis of the perfect is not the past action so much as it is as such but the present “state of affairs” resulting from the past action.

active — The grammatical voice that signifies that the subject is performing the verbal action or is in the state described by the verb.

indicative — The mood in which the action of the verb or the state of being it describes is presented by the writer as real. It is the mood of assertion, where the writer portrays something as actual (as opposed to possible or contingent on intention). Depending on context, the writer may or may not believe the action is real, but is presenting it as real.

[xi] According to Heiser et al., the relevant grammatical aspects of antitassō translated as “who resists” are:

perfect — The verb tense used by the writer to describe a completed verbal action that occurred in the past but which produced a state of being or a result that exists in the present (in relation to the writer). The emphasis of the perfect is not the past action so much as it is as such but the present “state of affairs” resulting from the past action.

active — The grammatical voice that signifies that the subject is performing the verbal action or is in the state described by the verb.

participle — A word that has characteristics of both a verb and an adjective — a “verbal adjective” (cf. the word “shining”). As such, Greek and Latin participles have gender, number and case (the adjectival side), as well as tense and voice (the verbal side). Participles do not have mood, but can function in an imperative sense. In general, a participle’s tense is similar to a finite verb’s tense. The aspect of a participle cannot be simply equated with that of verbs.

[xii] See Louw et al., electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 491.

[xiii] See Bloomfield, S. T. (1840). A Greek and English Lexicon to the New Testament (p. 30). London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green, & Longmans. 

[xiv] Utley, R. J. (1998). The Gospel according to Paul: Romans (Vol. Volume 5). Marshall, Texas: Bible International Lessons

[xv] See Louw et al., electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 555. 

[xvi] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament: for the English reader (Vol. 2, pp. 221–226). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

[xvii] Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 425). New York: United Bible Societies.

[xviii] Exemplary Scriptures that establish the sovereignty of God include the following:

Romans 13:1–2 (ESV) – 1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

Acts 17:24–25 (ESV) – 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.

Proverbs 21:1 (ESV) – 1 The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.