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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 9 presents the results of my observation of the seventh and eighth Greek sentences that comprise Romans 13:6-7 (ESV), which reads:

6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

A summary of the takeaways is set forth below.

First, what Paul intended to say to his audience was that because the government devotedly persevered in carrying out its governing function of governing for the “good” of the citizens, the citizens had the obligation to “pay taxes” (in verse 6), as well as the actions described in verse 7.  

Second, what Paul intended to say was that a Chris-follower was supposed to pay to the government all that he or she owed them including, taxes, revenue, respect and honor; provided, however, that the government devotedly persevered in governing in a way that was for the “good” of the citizens. 

OBSERVATION OF THE SEVENTH AND EIGHTH GREEK SENTENCE

Romans 13:6-7 (ESV)[i] reads:

6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Paul’s Rationale for Paying Taxes, etc.

In verse 6, Paul set forth his rationale for his audience to “also pay taxes”, as well as carry out the actions in verse 7.  His rationale was that the government was, “ministers of God, attending to this very thing.”  The fact the government was “ministers of God” further defined the relationship between God and government.  The ESV translates the Greek noun leitourgos as “ministers” and it has the sense of a person working in the service of God.   One commentator[ii] writes:

Vincent says; “The word here brings out more fully the fact that the ruler, like the priests, discharges a divinely ordained service. Government is thus elevated into the sphere of religion.

By characterizing the government as “ministers of God,” Paul linked the obligations in verses 6 and 7 to a government with all the attributes in the preceding verses, i.e., vv. 1-5.   As “ministers of God,” the government of verses 6-7, which was the same as that in verses 1-5, was supposed to govern for the “good”[iii] of the citizens. 

The ESV translates the Greek verb proskartereō as “attending” and it means, to serve in a close personal relationship—‘to serve personally.’”[iv]  It has the sense of to persevere devotedly.   The “Little Kittel”[v] theological dictionary reads:

proskarteréō. This word finds two uses: 1. with persons “to be devoted to,” and 2. with objects a. “to focus on,” b. “to hold fast to,” and c. “to be in continually.” In the LXX it is a stronger form of karteréō in Num. 13:20. In the NT sense 2.c. occurs in Mk. 3:9 (“to be continually ready”) and Acts 2:42, and sense 2.a. in Rom. 13:6, where the authorities focus constantly on their divinely given task.

The grammar[vi] added a gloss to proskartereō so that it was continuous with no expectation of ending.

In verse 6, what Paul intended to say to his audience was that because the government devotedly persevered in carrying out its governing function of governing for the “good” of the citizens, the citizens had the obligation to “pay taxes”, as well as the actions described in verse 7.   Please keep in mind that quality of governing for the “good” of the citizens meant that the government was supposed to govern in such a fashion as to be consistent with God’s will and the teachings in God’s Word when it comes to the issues pertaining to the beginning of human life, human sexuality, gender, the saving gospel of Jesus Christ, and the free assembly of believers to worship God.  The government was to reward or praise good conduct and be a source of fear or punish bad or wrong conduct. 

Actions the Citizens are Required to Perform

In verse 7, Paul wrote that the “governing authorities” were to govern such that they were to receive [from the “every person”] “all that is owed to them.”  By this phrase, Paul intended to convey to his audience that the “governing authorities” had to function up to a certain standard, i.e., devotedly persevered in carrying out its governing function of governing for the “good” of the citizens, in order for the government to be entitled to receive “all that is owed to them.”

The next two attributes had to do with the financial relationship between the “governing authorities” and the “every person.”   Per the one attribute, the “every person” was to pay “taxes to whom taxes are owed.”  The ESV translates the Greek noun phoros as “taxes” and it has the sense of payment of monies or tribute from one nation to another for protection and as an acknowledgement of submission.  The ESV translates the Greek noun opheilē as “what is owed” and it has the sense of goods or services owed by one person to another.  Paul intended to convey that in order for the “every person” to pay the taxes, the “governing authorities” had to have provided the requisite protection and services for which those taxes were due. 

Per the next attribute, the citizen was to pay “revenue to whom revenue is owed.”  The ESV translates the Greek noun telos as “revenue” and it has the sense of a tax levied on goods and services rather on persons or organizations.  Paul intended to teach his audience that a citizen was to pay sales taxes and the like.

Verse 7 continued on with the requirement that “every person” was to pay “respect to whom respect is owed.”  The ESV translates the Greek noun phobos as “respect” and it has the sense of a feeling of profound respect for someone or something.  In order for the phobos to be owed, the “governing authorities” had to have governed so as to deserve that phobos.  This meant that the government would have had to have been devotedly persevering in carrying out the governing function in order to deserve respect.

Finally, in verse 7 Paul wrote that “every person” was to pay “honor to whom honor is owed.”  The ESV translates the Greek timē as “honor” and it has the sense of the state or condition of being highly respected or revered.  In order for the timē to be owed, the “governing authorities” had to have governed in such a fashion as to have deserved the timē.  Like for respect, this meant that the government would have had to have been devotedly persevering in carrying out the governing function in order to deserve honor.

TAKEAWAY(S)

The takeaways from my observation of the seventh and eighth Greek sentences are described below.

First, what Paul intended to say to his audience was that because the government devotedly persevered in carrying out its governing function of governing for the “good” of the citizens, the citizens had the obligation to “pay taxes” (in verse 6), as well as the actions described in verse 7.  

Second, what Paul intended to say was that a Chris-follower was supposed to pay to the government all that he or she owed them including, taxes, revenue, respect and honor; provided, however, that the government devotedly persevered in governing in a way that was for the “good” of the citizens. 

THE NEXT ARTICLE

 In the next article, i.e., Article 10, I present my interpretation of Romans 13:1-7.

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] The seventh and eighth Greek sentences read in a number of English translations:

Interlinear V. 6 – because of – this – for – also – taxes – you pay – servants – for – of God – they are – in – very [thing] – this – to busily engaged.  V. 7 – pay – to everyone – [what is] – owed – to [whom] – * – taxes [are due] – * – [pay] taxes – to [whom] – * – customs duties [are due] – * – [pay] customs duties – to [whom] – * – respect [is due] – * – [pay] respect – to [whom] – honor [is due] – * – [pay] honor.

AMP For this same reason you pay taxes, for civil authorities are God’s servants, devoting themselves to governance. AMPPay to all what is due: tax to whom tax is due, customs to whom customs, respect to whom respect, honor to whom honor.

NIV 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. NIV 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

NLT 6 Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. NLT 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.

NCV 6 This is also why you pay taxes. Rulers are working for God and give their time to their work.

[ii] 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.

[iii] The quality of governing for the “good” of the citizens meant that the government was supposed to govern in such a fashion as to be consistent with God’s will and the teachings in God’s Word when it comes to the issues pertaining to the beginning of human life, human sexuality, gender, the saving gospel of Jesus Christ, and the free assembly of believers to worship God.  The government was to reward or praise good conduct and be a source of fear or punish bad or wrong conduct. 

[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. 460). New York: United Bible Societies.

[v] Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1985). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 417). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.

[vi]  The grammar of proskartereō is:

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.

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.

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