The thirteenth chapter of Paul's
letter to the Romans is the classic passage used by Christians
to justify the existence of the State. The famous language "The
powers that be are ordained of God" is found in that
In his three-volume Systematic
well-respected Calvinist theologian Charles
Hodge asserts, "The whole theory of civil government and the duty
of citizens to their rulers, are comprehensively stated by the Apostle
in Romans xiii.1-5" (III:357).
This web page
takes a position contrary to most everything stated by Hodge and most
First, the Bible has much more to say
about the State than is found in Romans 13. One must also consult Revelation
13, Isaiah 13, and the books of the Kings, as well as the
scathing denunciations of the State by the Old Testament prophets.
Read through every verse in the Bible and ask yourself, "Is
this where God commanded human beings to form 'the State?'" Your
answer will always be "No."
Second, what Romans 13 says about the State is
hardly flattering, when understood correctly. What exactly does Paul
mean by "the
powers?" (See Ephesians
6:12) We believe Romans 13 has a negative, rather than positive
assessment of the State. "Ordained" simply means
"predestined." A tyrannical, murderous dictator is
"the minister of
God." because he "serves"
God's purposes. God predestines all things, even
Third, we agree with most Christians that this
passage encourages "submission" to the State, but not
"patriotic" submission; rather the submission that Paul
had just finished teaching in Romans 12:
Be not overcome of
evil, but overcome evil with good. Dearly beloved, avenge not
yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written,
Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Bless them
which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
12:21, 19, 14
Just because we do not take up arms against evil-doers
does not mean that evil-doers somehow have God's divine approval. This
is the teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: "Resist
not evil" (Matthew
This third point is important, and it contains great
Those who believe Romans 13 teaches patriotic
support of the State also believe that we have the right to overthrow
it -- with violence if necessary --
when it becomes excessively evil by departing from God's Law.
Believing the State to be evil, we
oppose patriotism, but as followers of Christ, Christian
anarchists do not take the path of violent revolution against it
(1 Peter 2:21). We denounce even the
American Revolution (1776). Kevin Craig advocates pacifism.
It should be easy enough to remember the three neglected
themes of Romans 12-13:
- Powers - Demonic
- Predestination - Total
- Pacifism - not Patriotism
With that introduction to Romans 13, let's consider the
frequently asked questions above.
why oppose the State? Why even question the prevailing view of Romans
Kevin Craig advocates the implementation of
Micah's Vine & Fig Tree prophecy
(Micah 4:1-7). If you're not familiar with this
prophecy, please read it here. Christians should
be working toward beating "swords into
plowshares." The traditional interpretation of Romans 13 has
resulted in millions of Christians standing idle in the face of
horrifying evil, or even waving banners to support it, or even worse,
putting on one of the State's uniforms to help carry it out.
|As we enter the 21st century, we
look back on the most barbaric, lawless, and violent century
in human history. How ironic that most Americans think of
this century as a period of "progress" and
"prosperity." Four decades ago in America, about 10,000
people were murdered in the span of a single year.
These murders were "against the law."
Overall in the
20th century, "organized governments" have ordered
or legalized the murder of 10,000 people each
and every day.
|"The State" turns out
to be a far greater criminal than all the criminals it
claims to protect us from.
And the global "New World
Order" -- the epitome of the State -- is contemplating
the murder of 15,000
people per hour until the luxurious
living standards of the global elite are secure.
don't blame the elite. 10,000 murders require 10,000
working-class people willing to don the uniform of the
Empire and kill another human being in the interests of
patriotism. This means 10,000 people who have lost touch
with Christian morality. The 20th century has seen America
transformed from a nation where "religion,
morality and knowledge" were taught in every
school, to a
nation that twice elected Bill Clinton.
committed 7,885 bank robberies, taking $28
million. That same year, "government
agencies" seized $2.1
Billion in "asset
forfeiture proceedings," often without "probable
cause," and often not returned when innocence was proven.
Theft by any other name . . . would be called "taxation."
The greatest criminal on earth is
No greater indictment can be
against modern Christian moral discernment
than the failure
to question the legitimacy of "the State."
masses have learned a subtle lesson from the teachers of the
traditional interpretation of Romans 13. The message of Romans 12 and
the Sermon on the Mount -- love your enemies, leave vengeance to God --
is said to apply only in our "private"
lives. But as public officials, we must be "practical,"
"realistic," (or, as Christians might put it)
"Godly" men of "dominion." We must kill our enemies
and take vengeance on a massive scale through the State. Nobody wants to
be "unrealistic," "impractical," or
We all know that "public"
is more important than "private." That's "the real
world." And so the violent techniques of the State inexorably
become imported into our "private" lives; husbands can abuse,
employees can be cheated, and forgiveness and love of enemy are lost in
the gossamer bedtime stories of women and children.
hundred years ago, Western Civilization believed without question in
divine right of kings." Anyone carrying around a copy of the
U.S. Constitution as a model of government and suggesting that an
orderly society could survive without a king would have been mocked --
or executed. Ideas we take for granted today -- like "consent
of the governed" -- would have shocked the conscience of our
In a few generations, a consistent "free
market" approach to civil government will be the norm. People will
shake their heads when they consider the 20th century State and the
support it received from Christians in America -- a society that
permitted the confiscation of nearly 50% of everyone's income by
organized governments which murdered hundreds of millions of people.
it must be understood that Jesus commands His followers to be "anarchists."
10:42-45, He says we are not to be "archists."
This is what the word "anarchist"
really means: "not an archist."
archist wants to be as god, dominating and
controlling others. The "archist" is willing to initiate
force against others to get his way, even willing to threaten or
inflict violence on others. The follower of
Christ wants to be the servant
of others. When people hear the word "anarchy," they never
think of a situation in which all bureaucrats and tyrants have been
replaced with Christ-like servants.
When people think of "anarchy" what they really think of is
"multi-archy," with every individual trying
to be on top, everyone striving to be his own god, no one willing to
lose his life for others.
This shows that "anarchy"
is really an impossibility. Forget what you may have heard about
"the one and the many." It is a false
philosophical construct. Any society which does not acknowledge Christ
as the True and Only Archist inevitably succumbs to polyarchy. Even a
centralized or monarchical Caesar requires an army of "little
Caesars" in the military and the bureaucracies. It is important for
Christians to be servants of the true King, and not archists
modern world is an "archist" world. Archists are moving us
toward a "New World Order." Christians
cannot be a part of this. Jesus said NO to the "New World
Order" of His day, and He was executed as an anarchist (Luke
17:7). We must follow Christ, the King of kings, no matter what the
State may say. When the State claims to be God, Christians will be
persecuted no matter how much we "render
unto Caesar" (John
Therefore we may as well accept it: Christian
"anarchism" is our goal.
13 does not contradict this goal. Romans 13 does not say that
"archists" have a moral right to
ignore Jesus' command. All men are commanded to be servants, not archists.
Romans 13 in its context (Romans
12) tells us we are not to overcome archists by
becoming like archists; we are not to render evil for
evil. We are to be servants. We are to submit to evil in faith, like Job
did. Job was attacked by that great archist, Satan. But Satan was
"ordained by God" to attack Job (Job
This is probably the toughest issue to come
to grips with. All
evil is predestined by God. Adolph Hitler did not bear the sword in
vain. Saddam Hussein does not bear biological weapons in vain. Osama bin
Laden does not bear suitcase-sized nuclear devices in vain. This is what
Romans 13 actually teaches.
But that does not mean
that we are off the hook, or that God is the "author of sin" (James
1:13-17). To understand Romans 13, we must develop the heart of a
servant, and see God's sovereignty over evil.
If you consider yourself a Calvinist,
and are comfortable with the idea of God's sovereignty and
predestination of all things, including human beings, please
If you do not believe in predestination,
you will not understand what the Apostle means when he says the
powers are "ordained" by God. Please
begin your study of this issue by praying
for understanding. After completing this Scriptural survey of
the powers, please take a new look at the
doctrine of Predestination.
Both Calvinists and non-Calvinists should be open to a
Romans 13 speaks of the State as (or
in conjunction with) "the powers." This is a reference to evil
angelic beings. Most Christians have given very little thought to
what the Bible says about angels (good and bad). "Angels" has
become another lucrative fad for Hallmark and the New Age movement. Most
Americans hold a view of the world which bears a striking resemblance to
the ancient religion of Baalism. Are
you a Baalist? No point in reading any further if you are.
are some pages which explore God's sovereignty over
evil, the work of angelic beings in the Providence of God, and the
necessity of abolishing evil in the world, especially the State. These
are the lost themes of Romans 13.
reading them in the order below. The first three pages are foundational.
The second page is critical to understanding Romans 13, and the reader
is urged to spend some time perusing the rest of the pages on that site
("TOTAL Predestination"), particularly the pages on "Baalism"
Calvinism." The third page helps us cultivate the heart of a
servant and Christian non-archist.
"Anarchism" is Our Goal
Evil is Predestined by God
for a Servant's Understanding
For those who would like more detail, especially on the cultural
background of Romans 13, the following are useful. These essays were
written back in the early 1980's, and have not been revised since. We're
counting on the reader being delayed by those first three pages (above)
long enough for us to get the rest of these pages edited and revised.
and God's Throne of Government
the State Always Encourages Immorality
13 -- Romans 13, Revelation 13 and Isaiah 13
Roman's-Eye View of Romans 13
of Fire in "Smoke-Filled Rooms"
13: The Burden is on the Archists
"Consent of the Governed," and the Myth of the State
the State is not a "Divine Institution"
Call for a "Paradigm Shift"
Theses Against the State
is what a Christian Anarchist looks like after he has joined The
| PATRIARCHY AND PROVIDENCE : THE STATE
| Thesis 46: Romans 8:28 and The State
| Thesis 47: God’s Sovereign Ordering of Every State
| Thesis 48: The State Serves God by Sinning
| Thesis 49: The State As Sanctified “Servant”/“Deacon”/”Minister”
| Thesis 50: The State Does Not Serve God Self-Consciously
| Thesis 51: Only One King Self-Consciously Serves God
| Thesis 52: Judgment of the State in Heaven and Earth
| Thesis 53: Moloch-Worship and the Nature of Idols
| Thesis 54: War, Capital Punishment, and “The Sword”
and Submission to the Evil Empire
& Fig Tree: A World Without "The State"