Altered States of America
It all comes down to this; will the Church raise or will it sink? Will it continue to allow government to usurp its power or will it step up to its responsibility to lead? This day will tell. Will we resolve Romans 13.
It’s April 20, 2020 at the depths of the global Corona-virus pandemic. The particular strain is called COVID-19 and it is deadly. More than 2.3 million people worldwide are confirmed infected. The actual number is much larger because there has not been effective testing available. Worldwide there are 165,257 deaths attributed to the virus.
Nations are locked down. Borders are closed. Industry has stopped. Business are closed. People are quarantined. The news media outlets are jokers. Information is inaccurate or misleading. There is great fear with hysteria on the horizon.
Today is Monday, 3:00 AM at the beginning of this writing. I’ve been troubled for days. How should I express my concerns. I don’t know if this will accomplish anything but compelled to try. I’m in a unique position and I feel like God has prepared me for this task. I, with much help, operate a homeless shelter. I’m in constant contact with all types of people with all types of issues. Coping with this virus outbreak has been challenging, in managing the facility, guests and volunteers. Thankfully we have been healthy.
Our nation is not healthy, nor is our state or county or city. Michigan has been hit hard with virus cases and the death rate is too high. Precautions imposed by the governor seem ineffective. This is the issue at hand; government overreach.
Its been about six weeks now since the governor started shuttering the state. One of the first steps was to set the maximum size of safe gatherings to 250 people which prompted most church gatherings to end. This proved to be too large so it was reduced to 50 people. It was subsequently reduced to 10 people and ultimately no gathering. These steps and many others have proved to be ineffective since Michigan ranks third through fifth in Corona-virus issues, while having the most stringent restrictions.
The restrictions are so severe there was public push-back. On Wednesday the fifteenth of April a large demonstration was accomplished, the first of its kind in the nation. Loosely referred to as “Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine” the rally was called Operation Gridlock. It completely surrounded the Michigan State Capitol with vehicles for miles in all directions. It appears successful in demonstrating first amendment rights, however it appears to have strengthened the governors resolve in enforcing restrictions.
Today, encouraged by Michigan, many other states are experiencing similar demonstrations. It’s important to hold government in check and avoid government overreach while at the same time dealing with a virulent epidemic. It has always been a tenuous balance between government control and peoples rights. That is what the first and second amendments to the constitution are all about.
I’m not writing today to try to resolve the issues around the constitution. I’m writing to address the Biblical principles the constitution was built on; The balance between church and state, primarily the book of Romans Chapter 13.
Romans 13 has always been a contentious section especially when it comes to government control. It was one of Adolph Hitlers favorites to justify his authority. Governments like to use it to have Biblical endorsement for their controls.
We are going to demonstrate that the modern Bibles text has been corrupted in order to reflect a stance by virtually all church denominations to subject the government with control of us by our lack of responsibility. We are showing the text of three old versions.
It starts like this, in the Geneva Bible of 1599. Actually the Geneva Bible goes back to 1557.
We must include part of Chapter 12 for context. Pay attention to Chapter 13 Verses 1-3
Chapter 12 verse 18: If it be possible, as much as in you is, have peace with all men.
19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine: I will repay, saith the Lord.
20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him: if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with goodness.
1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers: for there is no power but of God: and the powers that be, are ordained of God.
2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist, shall receive to themselves condemnation.
3 For Magistrates are not to be feared for good works, but for evil. Wilt thou then be without fear of the power? do well: so shalt thou have praise of the same.
4 For he is the minister of God for thy wealth: but if thou do evil, fear: for he beareth not the sword for nought: for he is the minister of God to take vengeance on him that doeth evil.
5 Wherefore ye must be subject, not because of wrath only, but also for conscience sake.
6 For, for this cause ye pay also tribute: for they are God’s ministers, applying themselves for the same thing.
7 Give to all men therefore their duty: tribute, to whom ye owe tribute: custom, to whom custom: fear, to whom fear: honor, to whom ye owe honor.
8 Owe nothing to any man, but to love one another: for he that loveth another, hath fulfilled the Law.
9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet: and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
10 Love doeth not evil to his neighbor: therefore is love the fulfilling of the Law.
11 And that, considering the season, that it is now time that we should arise from sleep: for now is our salvation nearer, than when we believed it.
12 The night is past, and the day is at hand, let us therefore cast away the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light,
13 So that we walk honestly, as in the day: not in gluttony, and drunkenness, neither in chambering and wantonness, nor in strife and envying.
14 But put ye on the Lord JESUS CHRIST, and take no thought for the flesh, to fulfill the lust of it.
The King James Version (differences underlined) 1611-1769
1 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.
2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist, shall receive to themselves damnation.
3 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.
4 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: for he is the minister of God a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doith evil.
5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
6 For, for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute, to whom tribute is due; custom, to whom custom; fear, to whom fear; honor, to whom honor.
Noah Webster Bible of 1833
1 Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but from God: the powers that are, are ordained of God.
2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist, shall receive to themselves damnation.
3 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 from the same.
We can go farther back in history with the John Wycliffe Bible of 1382 but it is a little hard to read. Nevertheless it clearly uses the word “powers”.
13:1 Euery soule be suget to heiyere powers. For ther is no power but of God, and tho thingis that ben of God, ben ordeyned.
13:2 Therfor he that ayenstondith power, ayenstondith the ordynaunce of God; and thei that ayenstonden, geten to hem silf dampnacioun.
13:3 For princes ben not to the drede of good work, but of yuel. But wilt thou, that thou drede not power? Do thou good thing, and thou schalt haue preisyng of it;
These four versions demonstrate that for at least 500 years the translators used the word, “powers” whereas all the modern versions use the words, “government authorities”
The powers and the government authorities are not equivalent terms. The Greek word for power in this instance is exousia, which means “power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases.
What we have done is a grave error in interpretation. We have allowed our world view (of the time) to influence our definitions and made the bible fit our way of life.
Now we are faced with tyrannical governments but have surrendered our right to liberty over to the controlling engines. Romans 13 is not about government at all. It is about our liberty and responsibility to do right.
President George Washington warned us about this: In part: “However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”
I’ll not be able to change anyone’s mind with this short document. You will have to take it unto study for yourselves and decide if you want to change your thinking. Seek to improve your Biblical world view.
We provide this reference to the modern New International Version, one of the most popular.
Romans 13 New International Version (NIV)
Submission to Governing Authorities
13:1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.
4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.
7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Note in verse 3 the old Bibles use the words, “magistrates, rulers, & rulers” respectively. The definition of these words where they are used here in the bible mean hired or appointed to administer the laws given to him. The words do not mean an elected official to rule over the people.
We want you to be sure to understand that granting power to government does not exonerate us from being responsible for how they use that power.
External references: Please note that these commentaries do not interpret the same way. However they do all refute the argument for the words, “government authority”.
We find this commentary to be the most concise.
Romans 13 – Who Do We Obey?
Wade Jenkins To be continued.
It has now been over 13 months since the governor of Michigan began imposing restrictions on the people, but the state ranks worst or among the worst in Covid19 illness. Schools are still being closed and people continue to mask-up. There are shots being given that they call vaccines. People continue to bow to the government rather than to God. Romans 13 continues to be misinterpreted.
Why will the churches not use the correct interpretation of Romans 13? Here is the problem. Reformed and Calvinist theology need the government to have power. It is a theology that has doctrines that support predestination. Predestination says that certain people were chosen by God before the beginning to be saved. This teaching was used by Hitler and the Nazi’s to support the ideology of an Aryan nation. That ideology is not biblical.
The church movements that existed in Europe since the 1500’s were contentious to Roman Catholic power. A more concise discussion can be found here. Nevertheless, the church movements that sprung out of Roman Catholicism did not abandon all of the incorrect teaching. They are essentially Nicaean churches and they incorporated ideas from the writings of Augustin which were influenced by his involvement with Gnosticism. The Reformed and Calvinist movements make him out to be an heroic saint but he was incorrect in many of his writings. Thus, the theology of those movements are based on bad foundations. In fact, their idea is to rule the world. They will rule by supporting systems of governance that rule the people, that being socialism, communism and totalitarianism. This is exactly why they will not refute the modern interpretations of Romans 13. This is why most of those churches have closed during the virus outbreak in compliance to government and why most of those churches support the mask mandate and why they support and promote vaccines. They are part of the problem. Their goal is to support a strong central government that can defeat real Biblical Christianity.