Church government and Romans 13:1-6
The first point that I would like to start this discussion with in relation to Paul’s teachings in (Romans 13:1-6) is about the heart and the origin of the church of Christ and Christianity. The heart and the origin of the Church of Christ and Christianity is Israel but not Rome or any other nation of the world. Israel is the chosen nation of God but not Rome or any other nation of the world. In other words, God never had any covenant with the nation of Rome like He did with the nation of Israel.
That means the laws of Caesar and the government of Rome is totally different from the commandments and the law of God. To put it in another way, the laws of Caesar and the government of Rome do not have anything at all to do with Paul’s teachings in (Romans 13:1-6) about the governing authorities of the government of God and the Church of Christ. That is the first important point that should be taken into consideration very seriously in any debate about the Apostle Paul and his ministries. The new foundation of Paul’s life after God converted Paul from Judaism to Christianity was Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God.
Paul’s testimony in [Acts chapter 25, 26 & 28 / Galatians 1] about his old person in Judaism and his new person in Christ is the main key to unlock confusions when it comes to the truth about Paul and Paul’s ministries. In Paul’s testimony and his ministries, he quoted the Old Testament. He also explained his former conduct in Judaism of pursuing and persecuting of Christians. After Paul’s conversion into Christianity, he opposed and went against the Judaism authority he formerly practiced and followed.
The problem with authorities in Judaism is clearly explained by Paul in (Romans 10:1-3) “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.”
That strange behavior of Israel is not new in the times of Christ and Paul. Its roots can be traced back in the Old Testament when Prophet Samuel ruled Israel. Beyond that period of time, Israel was in the situation of in–and–out relationship with God. They turned away from God sometimes and served other gods until they got into the point of leaving God out of their lives and demanding a king like the kings of other nations.
Before Israel had its first earthly king, God forewarned His people about the behavior of the king because God does not approve the behavior of earthly kings. Which is also mean, God does not approve the behavior of governments of other nations. However the people of Israel refused to obey and still asked Samuel for a king. The whole story of that situation is in the book of (1 Samuel 8).
(1 Samuel 8:6-20) “But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them out of Egypt, even to this day – with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods – so they are doing to you also… Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”
The forewarning of Israel by God about the behavior of the king is a great deal for the debate about (Romans 13:1-6). Also, it is very important to realize that the God who forewarned Israel about the behavior of the king is the same God who called out Paul to take His message through out Israel and gentiles. Therefore, if the book of (1 Samuel 8) is telling the truth that God forewarned Israel about the behavior of the king, then the book of (Romans 13:1-6) is a demonstration about the governing authorities in Ecclesia / Ekalesia (Church government) and the Kingdom of God. In other words, Paul’s teachings in (Romans 13:1-6) are not referring to a State government or a civil government like the national government of Samoa and the government of the ancient Rome during the reign of Caesar.
As I have said before, God does not approve governments of other nations because of the behavior of their kings and their rulers. The only government that God has His approval is His own government. Through the Prophet of Isaiah, God foretold His government upon a shoulder of a Child to be born out of Israelites. (Isaiah 9:6-7) “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”
Isaiah’s prophecies were fulfilled in Christ and therefore Jesus Christ was the Child of the prophecy. The government of God was upon the shoulder of Christ and it is still upon the shoulder of Christ because God’s government is everlasting according to Prophet Isaiah. During Christ’s times in Israel, He established His church. (Matthews 16:18) “And I also say to you that you Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Peter worked together with Paul and other Disciples of Christ as governing authorities in the government of God and the Church of Christ both inside and outside of Israel in order to spread the message of the Gospel and the kingdom of God.
Therefore the governing authorities such as rulers and ministers that Paul mentioned in (Romans 13:1-6) are God’s servants called out by God as well as the believers of God who responded to the servants of God and joined themselves to the congregation and the community of believers known as Ecclesia or Church. The governing authorities were held by servants and believers of God are not about greatness, power and force. They are about services and salvation as enlightened by Jesus in Luke 22 and Matthew 11.
(Luke 22:24-27) “Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.”
(Matthew 11:28-30) “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Furthermore, the governing authorities such as the rulers and ministers of God, they are not new in the work of God in the times of Paul in the New Testament. The starting point of God’s rulers and ministers is from the time of Moses in the Old Testament. (Deuteronomy 10:8-9) “At that time the Lord separated the tribe of Levi to bear the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to minister to Him and to bless in His name, to this day. Therefore Levi has no portion nor inheritance with his brethren; the Lord is his inheritance, just as the Lord your God promised him.”
(Exodus 18:21) “Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.” (2 Samuel 23:3) “The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spoke to me: “He who rules over men must be just, Ruling in fear of God.””
To be continued tomorrow.
Nanai Malonuu Lealaiauloto Nofoaiga