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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Romans 13 - The Image of Christ In the Church (Part 2)

Here are my notes on Romans 13 from The Group Bible study at Harvest. I love teaching through the book of Romans. Enjoy!

Romans 13 - The Image of Christ In the Church (Part 2)
Jews viewed the Roman government differently than Christians. And Christians in general, viewed the oppressive governing authorities as immoral and unjust in many cases.

Many early believers were associated with zealots and rebels who would confront the Roman authorities. Thus, their "image" was of a rebellious one who did not submit to the authorities.

This created a cultural issue among different groups, which did not present Jews and Christians as good citizens in the ancient world (e.g. specifically under the rule of Caesar Nero and Domitian).

The Big Picture: Submission to God and his Word
Paul wanted to address the issue of their image when he wrote this chapter. He wanted his readers to know they were commanded by God to submit to the governing authorities because of two reasons:

1. First, it is biblical (Jeremiah 29:7, "But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare." ).

2. Secondly, it casts the right image of obedience to rulers and preserves life (cf. 1 Tim. 2:1-2; Titus 3:1; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 2:13-14, since God instituted authority on earth to regulate justice, those who violate justice will face proper judgment).

The Big Principle: The One Another Principle
Also, he wanted to teach his readers this right image of obedience stems from loving your neighbor as yourself, known as the "one-another principle." Paul is echoing his Lord and Savior by quoting the second greatest commandment while connecting the principle to biblical citizenship.

Therefore, Romans 13 is not necessarily about who you should or should not obey, but rather a commandment to be obedient to all governing authorities regardless of their policies, because it casts the right image of obedience fulfilled in the one-another principle. Jesus displayed this attitude during his crucifixion.

Exegetical Context of Romans 13
In Rome, some obeyed out of fear, other rebelled, but the majority submitted to the authority. It was interesting to find out that there was three main perspectives on authority among Christians and non-Christians (i.e. the Roman government):

1. The pro-Roman State attitude was in favor of the authorities, where one was Roman, non-Christian Jewish, or Christian. These groups obeyed the laws and had no problem with the authorities ruling over them.

2. The anti-Roman State attitude was not in favor of the authorities among some non-Christian Jews, and Christians. These groups disobeyed the laws and rebelled frequently because they had religious and sociological problems with the authorities ruling over them. This existed because of historical prejudice.

3. The neutral-Roman State attitude was both positive and negative, where one was primarily Jewish or Gentile Christians. These groups obeyed the laws and had no problem with the authorities ruling over them even if the law caused them to lay down their life for their religion (i.e. would rather die for righteousness than live for unrighteousness. This is a major theme that is symbolic in the book of Revelation).

Systematic Perspective of Submission to Authority
Although Scripture presents a pro-Roman State attitude in many conditional instructions to the early church (i.e. obey rulers, pray for kings, submit to authorities, etc.), the overarching NT perspective is grounded in submission and non-retaliation of the neutral-Roman State attitude.

This attitude focuses on the glory of God in all things, whether good or bad.

In Luke & Acts, there is a positive and negative attitude of the governing authorities. In Luke 2:1-5, Jesus' parents obey the authorities by obeying the census. Luke 20:25 says, "He said to them, 'Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.'" Jesus correctly responds to give to the government what is required, but more important give to God what is required.

Paul used his Roman citizenship to protect him on his missionary trips (Acts 16:37-39; 18:12-17; 22:24-29). However, the early church said it is more important to obey God, the ultimate authority in Acts 5:29, "But Peter and the apostles answered, 'We must obey God rather than men.'" The balance presents the political realm as a legitimate worldview where one must pay taxes and acknowledge government rule; nevertheless, the priority of God is self evident and disarms all pretensions to divine rights of secular structures and authorities.

Mark 12:17 (same as Luke 20:25) was written to a Roman audience which provided a non-revolutionary or rebellious perspective towards authorities. This was the ideal option to obeying authority in the first century. Therefore, Paul suggests the main way we obey authority is by obeying God and giving our due diligence to the requirements of the law of the land. In this, we glorify God.

Yet at the same time, the way we should give our due diligence to pay taxes and revenue, and give respect and honor to whoever it is owed, is through the one-another principle because love does nothing wrong but rather fulfills the law of the Lord. For this reason, Paul wanted his followers not to just be mere obedient citizens, but to be obedient Christians who lived for the Lord and trusted in him for everything so they would cast the right image of obedience that was taught by Jesus Christ. Since everything is God's, by submitting to the authorities a believer is submitting to God because he has ordained all things. Therefore, our times call for the same type of obedience; conformity to the authorities' laws, but allegiance to God in all things.

The Promise-Plan of God in Romans as the underlying framework for Christian identity to be in Christ:
From the beginning of Romans, Paul began teaching his readers the promise-plan of God is based on OT truth, "Which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures" (Rom. 1:2), and seemingly ended his letter affirming that truth, "For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs" (Rom.15:8). Below is four ways the book of Romans reveals the promise-promise plan of God. 

The book of Romans reveals to us the gospel as the promise-plan of God in several ways:
1. The gospel as the promised positional righteousness of God (Rom. 1-4)
—(This is a result of the covenant and faith of Abraham that is fulfilled in Christ)

2. The gospel as the promised redemption/renewal of God (Rom. 5-8)
—(This is a result of the work of righteousness fulfilled in the new Adam)

—3. The gospel as the promised reconciliation of God (Rom. 9-11)
—(This is a result of the unifying faith of Jews and Gentiles in message from the beginning)

4. The gospel as the promised practical righteousness of God (Rom. 12-16)
—(This is the result of the transformed life by the power of the Holy Spirit)

The gospel is "the promise," and in no other book is "the promise" so magnificently outlined. Paul wanted the gospel to be understood correctly. He explains the gospel as the promised positional righteousness, redemption/renewal, reconciliation, an practical righteousness. The Roman believers did not seem to understand the implications of the gospel.

Paul dug down deep and taught these believers as if he was there in a Roman synagogue, and in doing so, he explained how "the promise" was fulfilled in Christ and has brought a new ethical, moral, theological, and practical lifestyle that must correspond to that message. Therefore, I think the "Promise-Plan of God in Romans" can be understood as an in depth scriptural analysis of "the promise" fulfilled through Jesus Christ with past-present-future effects. The heart of the promise is saving and changing societal lives for the glory of God.

Therefore, our text teaches Christians to operate with this promise-plan of God in mind. Paul wants Christians to live in such a way that their community is highly esteemed by the governing authorities because they obey the laws by paying their taxes and revenues, and respecting and honoring those who rule over them.

The word “submit” calls believers to recognize that they “stand under” government in the scheme that God has instituted for ruling the world (in that period of time).

[[Jesus vs. Pilate]]

The pattern of the Christ-event recalled in Paul’s words is the religious center of ethical practice.

I. [Obedience In the World – Sumbit to Authorities] - (Romans 13:1-7) 
—A. vv.1-2: Exhortation: be subject to governing authorities
—B. v. 3a: The role of rulers (judge wicked behavior)
—C. vv. 3b-4a: Appropriate behavior receives approval
—C. v. 4b: Inappropriate behavior receives the sword
—B. v. 4c: The role of rulers (execute wrath of evildoers)
—A. v. 5: Exhortation: be subject to governing authorities
—A. v. 6a: Pay taxes (direct taxes to the government)
—B. v. 6b: for rulers are servants of God
—A. v. 7: Give to all their due: direct taxes, indirect taxes, respect, honor

II. [Obedience In the Word – Submit to Scripture] - (Romans 13:8-10) 
—A. Negative injunctions vs. positive injunctions

III. [Obedience In the Will – Submit to Jesus Christ] - (Romans 13:11-14) 
—A. The basis vs. the summons

How do we obey the government as Christians in the 21st century?

Douglas Moo suggests:
“But perhaps our submission to government is compatible with disobedience to government in certain exceptional circumstances. For heading the hierarchy of relations in which Christians find themselves is God [alone]; and all other subordinate “submissions” must always be measured in relationship to our all-embracing submission to Him [Christ].”
1. We need to submit to Authority
a. Submit to federal authorities
b. Submit to local authorities
c. Submit to spiritual authorities
d. Submit to business authorities

2. We need to submit to Scripture 
a. Submit to the truth of God
b. Submit to the biblical worldview
c. Submit to the commandments

3. We need to submit to Christ
a. Submit your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
b. Submit your flesh, heart, and mind to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
c. Submit your will, wants, and desires to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

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