Romans 13 and
Christ's "Clergy Response Teams"
Pastors across the country have been called on by The Department of Homeland Security to join “Clergy Response Teams” in order to placate and control the people of America in the event of local or national emergencies. Jeff Ferrell, a reporter for KSLA in Shreveport, claimed that “For the clergy team, one of the biggest tools that they will have in helping calm the public down or to obey the law is the bible itself, specifically Romans 13.” This idea was affirmed in the report by Dr Durell Turberville who was quoted as saying, "because the government is established by the Lord, you know. And, that's what we believe in the Christian faith. That's what's stated in the scripture."
Considering the ancient and modern history of governments of the world the idea that they are established by God borders on ludicrous, and appears to be an attempt to blame our foolishness on God.
The right of men to choose is established by God, but the legal right of governments to choose for men has always been established by men. Many governments throughout history have not been established according to the precepts of God much less by God, but rather by men who reject God.
Even when the “voice of the people” established a government under Saul, God called it a “rejection” of Him.
“And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” 1 Samuel 8:7
When the Israelites were freed from the bondage of the government of Egypt by God's minister, called Moses, the people were told in Deuteronomy 17:16 to never go back to that type of government again.
Even Jesus said we were not to be like the governments of other nations, where their benefactors exercise authority one over the other.
“And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so...” Luke 22:25, Matthew 20:25, Mark 10:42
Is Paul trying to tell us in Romans 13 that all government is established by God?
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” (Romans 13:1)
We are commonly told by pastors and ministers that this statement by Paul means that we must be obedient to governments, while Paul himself was constantly getting into trouble with governments for supposedly disobeying.
Today, when any Christian attempts to question the authority or right of government to limit the choices or liberties of the people they commonly hear pastors and other Christians reciting Romans 13. Unfortunately these pastors and their followers are under a strong delusion that has crept into the thinking of modern Christians due to false information.
The truth that will set them free from that delusion is easy enough to uncover with the examination of only one word of the original Greek text.
The Greek word translated into power in Romans 13 is one of more than half a dozen words which are all translated into the single English word power in the New Testament. The word power can have over a dozen different definitions in any unabridged English dictionary. The question is which of these many definitions should we apply to our thinking when we read these words of Paul?
The word used in Romans 13 by Paul is exousia, which is defined: “power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases."1 It is translated "right" in Hebrews 13:10 and Revelations 22:14, and it is even translated “liberty” in Paul's 1Corinthians 8:9.2
Does the word exousia mean the power of government, or the power of choice?
In Plato's notes, the "Greek words for freedom (are) eleutheros (liberal/Free), exousia (Freedom/Power to do something), ..."3 In Bryn Mawr's Classical Review, the word exousia is said to express “the new concept of freedom, in opposition to the already defunct and unhelpful eleutheria."4 Even the Greek Glossary of Aristotelian Terms states that exousia means "right".5 Aristotle actually exemplifies exousia's use in the statement, "The right (exousia) to do anything one wishes..."6
If the word exousia means power in the sense of “the right to choose” or “liberty of choice,” then Romans 13 should understood as saying:
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher liberty. For there is no liberty but of God: the liberties that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth (opposes) the liberty, resisteth (opposes) the ordinance of God: and they that resist (sets one's self against) shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the liberty? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same.” Romans 13: 1,3
Understanding that the word exousia can and does mean liberty seems to turn the world upside down for some ministers who have been saying that the Bible is telling us to be obedient subject, when in fact Paul is telling us to be subject to liberty.
Jeff Ferrell, the KSLATV reporter, also stated that, “Such clergy response teams would walk a tight-rope during martial law between the demands of the government on the one side, versus the wishes of the public on the other.”
First of all, the demands of a lawful government of the people, for the people, and by the people would be the same as the “wishes of the people”. If they are not the same then something is not as it should be. Secondly, the “wishes of the people” who believe in God can never usurp the rights of their neighbors without doing violence to the command of Moses and Christ to love our neighbor as ourselves.
God desires that every man should have the unimpaired and divine right of choice as long as that choice does not violate the right of our neighbor to make his own choices. There is a line between the privileges of governments granted by the people and the rights of the people granted by God, but the ministers of Christ should not be trying to walk that line as a tightrope.
The Church was instituted by Christ to serve the purposes of God, not the purposes of governments established by men. One of God's purposes is to return every man to his family and to his possessions7 through the exercise of faith, hope, and charity in the ways of Christ under the perfect law of liberty8. Abraham, Moses, and Christ came to set men free in spirit and in truth and the “Clergy Response Teams” of God the Father in heaven must come in service to His purposes, even if that means that they may appear to disobey the demands of governments.
Then Peter and the [other] apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. Acts 5:29
The Greek word exousia is considered to be one of the strongest words in the Greek language representing the idea of liberty. Accepting the the idea that Romans 13 is actually a statement by Paul in support of individual liberty, rather than a command to submit to the commands of authoritarian rulers, will be difficult for some pastors and Christians to admit.
If lies and deception are the bars and bricks that form our own mental prison, then vanity and pride are the mortar that binds them together.
Pastors need to reexamine what they have been led to believe the authors of the Gospel are actually saying. They need to rightly divide the word of truth, because many ministers and preachers have been cunningly deceived by some who have “crept in unawares... denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
From the beginning , our Creator has allowed that men have the power to choose to be free souls under God or go under the authority of other gods. That choice is never without consequences. We are not faithful to God unless we choose to accept the inherent and correlative responsibilities of those Natural Rights He has individually endowed upon all mankind.
We must not only care about the rights of others, while securing our own rights, but we must fulfill that obligation without infringing on the right of our neighbor to make their own choices. To accomplish that mission prescribed by God we must discover the whole truth and provide for it.
Romans 13 and Christ's “Clergy Response Teams”
Romans 13 The booklet in printable PDF
Not of the World
There are dozens of articles are available at or .net site:
1Hebrew-English and Greek-English Lexicons, OnlineBible.com
21 Corinthians 8:9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.
4Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2001.08.19 On this issue, see S. Bobzien, Determinism and Freedom in Stoic Philosophy, Oxford 1998, chap. 6 . http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/2001/2001-08-19.html
7Leviticus 25:10 ... proclaim liberty throughout [all] the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.
8James 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth [therein], he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
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