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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 TAKEAWAYS

This Article 8 presents the results of my observation of the sixth Greek sentence that comprises Romans 13:5 (ESV), which reads:

5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience

A summary of the takeaways from my observation of Romans 13:15 is set forth below.

First, Paul conveyed that to avoid God’s wrath, one should be in subjection to a government that rewarded good conduct and punished wrong or bad conduct.

Second, wrote that because of one’s sense of right and wrong (i.e., conscience), one ought to be in subjection to a government that rewarded good conduct and punished wrong or bad conduct.

OBSERVATION OF THE SIXTH GREEK SENTENCE

The sixth sentence Greek sentence corresponds to Romans 13:5 (ESV)[i]:

5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

Paul wrote that the “every person” (Christ-follower) should be “in subjection” to the government for two basic reasons.  The first was to “avoid God’s wrath” and the second was “for the sake of conscience.” 

Paul began this verse with the Greek conjunction dia which the ESV translates as “Therefore.”  Dia is a, “relatively emphatic markers of result, usually denoting the fact that the inference is self-evident—‘therefore, for this reason, for this very reason, so then.’”[ii]  Along this line, dia is a “coordinating conjunction that conveys a deduction, conclusion, summary, or inference to the preceding discussion.”[iii]  The primary reference of dia [“therefore”] is what Paul wrote in verse 4b, which reads, “For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”   In other words, because the government is the servant of God who carried out punishment, the Christ-follower must behave as Paul later instructed (i.e., “avoid God’s wrath and “for the sake of conscience.”).  

The ESV translates the Greek noun anankē as  “one must” and it means, “an obligation of a compelling nature—‘complete obligation, necessary obligation.’”[iv]  The Logos 8 Exegetical Guide give the sense as, “[T]he state of being absolutely required.”  The ESV translates the Greek verb hypotassō as “be in subjection” and the verb itself has the same meaning as set forth in Article 2.  The verb is an infinitive so that it functions as a verbal noun to describe the state of the person. 

Paul made a strong command to his audience for them to be obedient (or continuously be in a state of obedience) to the Roman government.  One reason was to avoid God’s wrath which carried with it the understanding that to incur God’s wrath was to do something wrong since the government was to reward good conduct and punish bad conduct. 

Another reason to be in subjection was “for the sake of conscience.”  The ESV translates the Greek conjunction dia as “for the sake of” and in this usage it is “a marker of a participant constituting the cause or reason for an event or state—‘because of, on account of, for this reason.”[v]  The ESV translates the Greek noun syneidēsis as “conscience” and it means, “the psychological faculty which can distinguish between right and wrong—‘moral sensitivity, conscience.’ “[vi] 

Paul linked the condition to “be in subjection” to the government with the moral sensitivity of those in his audience.  This supports the overall thrust that in order for the Christ-follower to be in subjection to the government, the government must govern in a way that is morally right.  To resist or not be in subjection to a morally right government would violate a believer’s conscience (i.e., a sense of right and wrong).

TAKEAWAY(S)

The takeaways from my observation of Romans 13:5 are set forth below.

First, Paul conveyed that to avoid God’s wrath, one should be in subjection to a government that rewarded good conduct and punished wrong or bad conduct.

Second, wrote that because of one’s sense of right and wrong (i.e., conscience), one ought to be in subjection to a government that rewarded good conduct and punished wrong or bad conduct.

THE NEXT ARTICLE

 In the next article, i.e., Article 8, I examine the seventh and eighth Greek sentences which correspond to Romans 13:6-7.

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 and a more concise description at my (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/10/20/there-is-hope-even-when-there-seems-to-be-no-hope-2/ ).

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[i] Romans 13:5 reads in other English translations:

Interlinear – therefore – [it is] a necessity –  to be in subjection – not – only – because of – * – wrath – but – also – because of – * – conscience.

AMP Therefore one must be subject [to civil authorities], not only to escape the punishment [that comes with wrongdoing], but also as a matter of principle [knowing what is right before God].

NIV 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

NLT5 So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.

NCV 5 So you must yield to the government, not only because you might be punished, but because you know it is right.

[ii] 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. 782). New York: United Bible Societies.

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

[iv] 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. 670). New York: United Bible Societies.

[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. 803). 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. 323). New York: United Bible Societies.