Questions for Littles: To whom must every soul be subject (v1)? From where does all authority come? Who has appointed the particular authorities that exist? Whose ordinance does one resists if he resists authority (v2)? What do those who resist bring upon themselves? To what kind of works are rulers not a terror (v3)? To what kind are they a terror? What question does v3 ask? How does it answer? What does God use the authority as a minister for to do to us (v4)? But if we do evil, what is he God’s minister to do to us? For what two reasons must we be subject to authority (v5)? Why do we pay taxes (v6)? In v7, what three things are due unto various entities? What debt can we never fully pay off (v8)? What does someone fulfill if he loves another? What commandments are mentioned in v9? In what saying are they summed up? What does “love” use as a definition of what is harmful?In this week’s Epistle reading, we move from relationships in the church to relationships in the State.
Notice that there is no idea here of “natural law.” No, in the State, God is King every bit as much as in the church, and the law that defines and governs “good,” “evil,” and “love of neighbor” is the explicit commandments of God from Scripture.
Now, we know that as far as the rulers themselves go, v3 often does not appear to be true. Many wicked authorities have punished the good and rewarded the evil. But, isn’t that the point? They are not the ultimate authority. Despite themselves, God will use them (and even their wickedly intended sins) to do God to His people, and to bring wrath and vengeance upon the wicked.
This is why we must be subject to authorities—not just because of what they might do to us, but because we know that ultimately, it is God Himself with whom we have to deal, and it is therefore necessary to keep a clear conscience. Both they and we will answer to Him!
This is also why we cannot refuse to pay taxes based upon the idea that the money belongs to God and not man. God Himself has established government not only by His law, but also in His providence (v1). It is true that all of our money belongs to God, which is why we must pay taxes to the entities that God has established. And customs (revenue). And respect. And honor.
Do we find this idea unpleasant? The let us repent and remember that the Lord who gave Himself for us is the One who has appointed to us the time and place of our dwelling. Serving Him here and now—even in the paying of taxes—is His appointment to us. So, let us fulfill that appointment with diligence and joy!
Who are the authorities set over you? What do you owe to them? Are you doing so?Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or HB496 “Jesus Shall Reign”