READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary l Context- Paul was addressing both Gentile and Jewish Christians within the Roman Church. The Jews were expelled in AD 41 and AD 49 by Emperor Claudius but were allowed to return in AD 55-57. However, the now predominantly Gentile-led church had moved away from Jewish cultural practices and this led to disputes. Paul makes the point that salvation is for both Jews and Gentiles and if the church in Rome gets it right, it would be a model for all other churches across the world.
V1-5 To understand this passage regarding authority, we need to know Paul’s view of government and how it relates to God’s Kingdom.
Paul’s instructions were written at a time of political stability when the Roman empire was at peace and reasonably well run by young Nero who listened to good advisors. Paul encouraged Christians to support the authorities, present a united front and not upset the fragile peace. Paul understood that a good pagan government is still serving God’s purposes by promoting peace, thereby allowing space for proclamation and acceptance of the gospel.
V6-7 Tax collectors were usually corrupt but Paul supports Jesus’ instructions that nevertheless tax must be paid and this will promote peace and order.
V8-10 There is a Christian obligation to live as good citizens fulfilling the law of love. Paul’s theology of life is that God is sovereign over every government and we are required to live in submission to the present age yet fix our eyes on eternity. The 10 Commandments were summed up by loving our neighbours (meaning everyone even enemies) as ourselves.
V11-14. In view of the second coming of Christ, Paul felt time was short so he urged Christians to live well. Jewish Christians generally were observant in keeping themselves separate from Gentiles. Gentile Christians had a tendency to separate their lives into sacred and secular as we often do. Neither was correct.
So what can we learn from Paul?
1. Set our eyes on heaven but practice good stewardship of time and resources on earth.
2. Live out kingdom values as a preparation for the life to come.
3. Be aware that our lifestyle is being judged by others and we should live well, serving in church , setting an example and making the world a better place.
What is our Christian response?
1. Submit to authority
2. Love one another (social holiness and justice)
3. Be good citizens via a counter culture lifestyle against moral laxity.
(Sermon notes by Frances Lim)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
- In your own opinion – share how you think Christians ought to relate to secular governments (think of two or three nations around the world). What are some challenges Christian will face?
- What do you think of what Paul mentioned in Romans 13:1-7? What kind of government do you think Paul was describing then?
- Why do you think Paul is advocating “love” as the only debt Christians ought to owe one another? Who is this “one another” that Paul was referring to?
- What do you think Paul means by Romans 13:12-14 & how is that important to Christians, especially in light of society?
- How can we as a church fulfil the law of love as fellow citizens of society?