Romans 13:2
Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
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(2) Damnation.Condemnationi.e., the sentence passed upon him by the judge or magistrate as God’s representative.

Romans 13:2. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power — Or the authority, of which the magistrate is possessed; resisteth the ordinance of God — God’s appointment for the preservation of order and of the public peace. And they that resist — Who withstand so wise and beneficial an institution; shall receive to themselves damnation — Or condemnation and punishment, not only from the civil powers they injure, but from the supreme sovereign, whose laws they break, and whose order they endeavour to reverse. “As the precept in the foregoing verse, and the declarations in this, are general, they must be interpreted according to the nature of the subjects to which they are applied. Wherefore, since the power of which the apostle speaks in both verses is the form of government, and not the rulers of the country, the subjection enjoined in the first verse is not an unlimited passive obedience to rulers in things sinful, but an obedience to the wholesome laws, enacted for the good of the community by common consent, or by those who, according to the constitution of the state, have the power of enacting laws. To these good laws the people are to give obedience, without examining by what title the magistrates, who execute these laws, hold their power; and even without considering whether the religion professed by the magistrates be true or false. For the same reason the opposition to, and resistance of the power, forbidden in Romans 13:2, is an opposition to, and resistance of the established government, by disobeying the wholesome laws of the state; or by attempting to overturn the government from a factious disposition, or from ill-will to the persons in power, or from an ambitious desire to possess the government ourselves. These precepts, therefore, do not enjoin obedience to the magistrates in things sinful, but in things not sinful; and more especially in things morally good, and which tend to the welfare of the state; besides, as in the following verses, the apostle hath shown, from the nature and end of their office, that the duty of rulers is to promote the happiness of the people, it is plain from the apostle himself, that they who refuse to do things sinful, or even things inconsistent with the fundamental laws of the state, do not resist the ordinance of God, although these things should be commanded by a lawful magistrate, because in commanding them he exceeds his power. And opposition to a ruler who endeavours utterly to subvert the constitution, or to enslave a free people, is warranted not only by right reason, but by the gospel, which teaches that rulers are the servants of God for good to the people, and are supported by God only in the just execution of their office.”

13:1-7 The grace of the gospel teaches us submission and quiet, where pride and the carnal mind only see causes for murmuring and discontent. Whatever the persons in authority over us themselves may be, yet the just power they have, must be submitted to and obeyed. In the general course of human affairs, rulers are not a terror to honest, quiet, and good subjects, but to evil-doers. Such is the power of sin and corruption, that many will be kept back from crimes only by the fear of punishment. Thou hast the benefit of the government, therefore do what thou canst to preserve it, and nothing to disturb it. This directs private persons to behave quietly and peaceably where God has set them, 1Ti 2:1,2. Christians must not use any trick or fraud. All smuggling, dealing in contraband goods, withholding or evading duties, is rebellion against the express command of God. Thus honest neighbours are robbed, who will have to pay the more; and the crimes of smugglers, and others who join with them, are abetted. It is painful that some professors of the gospel should countenance such dishonest practices. The lesson here taught it becomes all Christians to learn and practise, that the godly in the land will always be found the quiet and the peaceable in the land, whatever others are.Whosoever therefore resisteth ... - That is, they who rise up against "government itself;" who seek anarchy and confusion; and who oppose the regular execution of the laws. It is implied, however, that those laws shall not be such as to violate the rights of conscience, or oppose the laws of God.

Resisteth the ordinance of God - What God has ordained, or appointed. This means clearly that we are to regard "government" as instituted by God, and as agreeable to his will. "When" established, we are not to be agitated about the "titles" of the rulers; not to enter into angry contentions, or to refuse to submit to them, because we are apprehensive of a defect in their "title," or because they may have obtained it by oppression. If the government is established, and if its decisions are not a manifest violation of the laws of God, we are to submit to them.

Shall receive to themselves damnation - The word "damnation" we apply now exclusively to the punishment of hell; to future torments. But this is not necessarily the meaning of the word which is used here κρίμα krima. It often simply denotes "punishment;" Romans 3:8; 1 Corinthians 11:29; Galatians 5:10. In this place the word implies "guilt" or "criminality" in resisting the ordinance of God, and affirms that the man that does it shall be punished. Whether the apostle means that he shall be punished by "God," or by the "magistrate," is not quite clear. Probably the "latter," however, is intended; compare Romans 13:4. It is also true that such resistance shall be attended with the displeasure of God, and be punished by him.

2. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power—"So that he that setteth himself against the authority."

resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation—or, "condemnation," according to the old sense of that word; that is, not from the magistrate, but from God, whose authority in the magistrate's is resisted.

Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: these words are, either an argument to enforce the subjection enjoined in the former part of the foregoing verse; q. d. You may not resist; therefore, you must be subject: or else, they are an inference from the latter part of it; q.d. Seeing the civil power is of God, and of his ordination; therefore, it must not be resisted or opposed. To resist authority, is to wage war against God himself.

Damnation; the word properly signifieth judgment, and it is applied in Scripture, either to human and temporal punishment, as Luke 23:40 1 Corinthians 6:7 1 Peter 4:17; or else to Divine and eternal punishment, as Luke 20:47 Hebrews 6:2 2 Peter 2:3. Accordingly, it may be understood of eternal punishment, that the resister of authority shall receive from God; or of temporal punishment, that he shall receive from the magistrate.

Whosoever therefore resisteth the power,.... The office of magistracy, and such as are lawfully placed in it, and rightly exercise it; who denies that there is, or ought to be any such order among men, despises it, and opposes it, and withdraws himself from it, and will not be subject to it in any form:

resisteth the ordinance of God, the will and appointment of God, whose pleasure it is that there should be such an office, and that men should be subject to it. This is not to be understood, as if magistrates were above the laws, and had a lawless power to do as they will without opposition; for they are under the law, and liable to the penalty of it, in case of disobedience, as others; and when they make their own will a law, or exercise a lawless tyrannical power, in defiance of the laws of God, and of the land, to the endangering of the lives, liberties, and properties of subjects, they may be resisted, as Saul was by the people of Israel, when he would have took away the life of Jonathan for the breach of an arbitrary law of his own, and that too without the knowledge of it, 1 Samuel 14:45; but the apostle is speaking of resisting magistrates in the right discharge of their office, and in the exercise of legal power and authority:

and they that resist them, in this sense,

shall receive to themselves damnation; that is, punishment; either temporal, and that either by the hand of the magistrate himself, who has it in his power to punish mutiny, sedition, and insurrection, and any opposition to him in the just discharge of his duty; or at the hand of God, in righteous judgment, for their disobedience to an ordinance of his; as in the case of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, who opposed themselves both to the civil and sacred government of the people of Israel, Numbers 26:9; and were swallowed up alive in the earth, Numbers 26:10, or eternal punishment, unless the grace of God prevents; for "the blackness of darkness is reserved for ever", Jde 1:13, for such persons, who, among other of their characters, are said to "despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities", Jde 1:8. This is another argument persuading to subjection to magistrates.

Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
Romans 13:2. Ὥστε] Since it is instituted by God.

ὁ ἀντιτασς.] Note the correlation of ἀντιτασς., ὑποτασς., and τεταγμ. The latter stands in the middle.

ἑαυτοῖς] Dativus incommodi: their resistance to the divinely-ordained magistracy will issue in their own self-destruction; comp. Romans 2:5; 1 Corinthians 11:29. According to Hofmann (who in his Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 443, even imported a contrast to τῷ κυρίῳ, as in Romans 14:6-7), ἑαυτοῖς is to be viewed as in contrast to the Christian body as such; the punishment to be suffered is a judgment which lights on the doers personally, and is not put to the account of their Christian standing. This explanation (“they have to ascribe the punishment to themselves solely”) is incorrect, because it obtrudes on the text a purely fictitious antithesis, and because the apostle lays down the relation to the magistracy quite generally, not from the specific point of view of Christian standing, according to which his readers might perhaps have supposed that they had become foreign to the political commonwealth. Had this comprehensive error in principle been here in Paul’s view, in how entirely different a way must he have expressed what he intended than by the single expression ἑαυτοῖς, into which, moreover, that alleged thought would have first to be imported!

κρῖμα] a judgment, is understood of itself, according to the connection, as a penal judgment. Comp. Romans 2:2-3, Romans 3:8; 1 Corinthians 11:29; Galatians 5:10; Mark 12:40. From whom they will receive it, is decided by the fact that with οἱ δὲ ἀνθεστηκότες, according to the context, τῇ τοῦ Θεοῦ διαταγῇ is again to be supplied. It is therefore a penal judgment of God, as the executors of which, however, the ἄρχοντες are conceived, as Romans 13:3 proves. Consequently the passage does not relate to eternal punishment (Reiche and others), but to the temporal punishment which God causes to be inflicted by means of the magistrates. Philippi prefers to leave κρῖμα without more special definition (comp. also Rückert); but against this is the consideration, that Romans 13:3 can only arbitrarily be taken otherwise than as assigning the ground of what immediately precedes.

Romans 13:2. ὥστε cf. Romans 7:4; Romans 7:12. The conclusion is that he who sets himself against the authorities withstands what has been instituted by God: διαταγῇ (Acts 7:53) recalls τεταγμέναι, Romans 13:1. The κρίμα, i.e., the judgment or condemnation which those who offer such resistance shall receive, is of course a Divine one—that is the nerve of the whole passage; but most commentators seem to regard it as coming through the human authority resisted. This is by no means clear; even a successful defiance of authority, which involved no human κρίμα, would according to Paul ensure punishment from God. For λήψονται κρίμα cf. Mark 12:40, Jam 3:1 : where also God’s judgment alone is in view. But to say that it is God’s judgment only is not to say that it is eternal damnation. There are many ways in which God’s condemnation of sin is expressed and executed.

2. The passage does not touch on the question of forms of government. “The powers that be” is a phrase which, on the whole, accepts authority de facto, irrespective of its theory, or of its circumstances of origin. Just so both human and Divine law, after no long lapse of time, recognize property de facto, irrespective of circumstances of acquisition.

Romans 13:2. Διαταγῇ, the ordinance) the abstract, in which the concrete is implied. So 1 Peter 2:13, κτίσις, creature, in the abstract [but Engl. Vers. the ordinance]; it at the same time includes, for example, the king, in the concrete.—ἀνθέστηκεν) The Preterite, i.e. by that very act resists.—κρίμα) Divine judgment, through the magistrate.—λήψονται, they shall bring on themselves) While they take to themselves another’s power, they shall by their own spontaneous act take [bring] on themselves, receive judgment. We have here the figure [134]Mimesis [an allusion to the words of another with a view to refute him].

[134] See Appendix.

Verses 2-5. - Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, withstandeth the ordinance of God: and they which withstand shall receive to themselves condemnation (i.e. really God's, operating through the human "power;" not meaning damnation in the common sense of the word). For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same. It is the theory of the laws of all civilized governments to uphold justice, and only to punish what is wrong; and in the main they do so. The principles of the Roman law were just, and Paul himself found protection from its officers and tribunals, whose fairness he had, and had reason to have, more confidence in than in the tender mercy of either Gentile or Jewish zealots (cf. Acts 19:35, seq.; 21:31, seq.; 22:30; 24:10; 25:10, 11; 26:30, seq.). As has been observed already, the Neronian persecutions had not yet begun. For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain (though "the sword" might possibly be understood as only the familiar symbol of power, yet the mention of it may be taken to imply the apostle's recognition of the legitimacy of capital punishment, such as he also expressed distinctly, Acts 25:11): for he is the minister of God, an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wrath here expresses the familiar idea of the Divine wrath against evil-doing, for the execution of which, in the sphere of human law, the magistrate is the appointed instrument (see note on Romans 12:19). Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience' sake. Not only for fear of penal consequences, but because it is your duty, whatever might ensue, to submit to the ordinance of God. Similarly, in 1 Peter 2:13, submission to every ordinance of man is enjoined "for the Lord's sake (διὰ τὸν Κύριον)." Romans 13:2He that resisteth (ὁ ἀντιτασσόμενος)

Lit., setteth himself in array against. See on 1 Peter 5:5; see on Acts 18:6.

Resisteth (ἀνθέστηκεν)

Rev., better, withstandeth. See on Romans 9:19.

Ordinance (διαταγῇ)

From τάσσω to put in place, which appears in the first resisteth. He setteth himself against that which is divinely set.

Damnation (κρῖμα)

Judicial sentence. Rev., better, judgment.

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