Romans 13:1–7 (ESV)
Submission to the Authorities
13 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. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then
do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries
out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 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
While all governments fall short, Paul implies that the first-century Roman government was adequately carrying out its two essential functions: approving those who do
good and punishing evildoers. Paul acknowledges that all authority comes from God, to whom ultimate obedience is due. “We must obey God rather than men” (Ac 5:29). Believers are to honor those in authority, obey the government, and pay their taxes
(cf 1Pt 2:13–17). To fail to do so is to suffer the consequences from those in authority and possibly from God as well. God is the ultimate authority; He used His power to save us (1:16).
I pray: Thank You for caring for me through those You have placed in authority over me: my parents, teachers, and government officials. Guide them to use their authority according to Your will and help me to obey them. Bless those believers
who live under corrupt governments, and guide their consciences to respond in ways pleasing to You. Amen.
Edward A. Engelbrecht, The Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2009), 1936.