Romans 13.1-7 & Civil Authority Question

How do I work out the meaning of a Greek text? How can I best understand the forms and vocabulary in this particular text?
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R. Perkins
Posts: 91
Joined: January 18th, 2013, 9:55 pm

Romans 13.1-7 & Civil Authority Question

Post by R. Perkins »

(Analytical Greek New Testament) Romans 13.1: Πᾶσα ψυχὴ ἐξουσίαις ὑπερεχούσαις ὑποτασσέσθω . οὐ γὰρ ἔστιν ἐξουσία εἰ μὴ ὑπὸ θεοῦ, αἱ δὲ οὖσαι ὑπὸ θεοῦ τεταγμέναι εἰσίν.

NET 13.1: Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God.

KJV 13.1: 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.

I feel like I really need to provide y’all w. some background prior to the actual question about these texts. This is not designed to try to discuss theological conclusions, but I do have a question about these passages & I’m hoping that the backdrop info. helps to better illuminate the gravity of this situation. I do have to be brief & straight to the point—so I’ll just dive right in:

I would surmise that by now many of you have heard about several pastors who have flatly refused to comply w. the CDC & state governors regarding in-person church services, masks, social distancing, etc. Other than offering responses to their claims for the church that I pastor I have just largely stayed out of the fray—until now. A group of pastors have tapped me to deal w. the assertions of these ministers who refuse to comply concerning Romans 13.1-7.

These ministers have been teaching that these passages are “not referring to civil government, but rather church government,” and that some “bad translations have went against the immediate context” in ROM 13 by rendering these verses as referencing secular-civil authorities. (Of course, none of these same pastors know an Alpha from an Omega so I’m not quite sure how they can justify such a charge😏.) These same pastors have also stated that this unit of verses is “not addressing the issue of taxes, but rather these passages are referring to tithes & offerings as in the OT Levitical priesthood 😳.” No, I am not kidding.

Long story, but just let me say (for now) that I know the main pastor (who you have likely seen in the news) extremely well.

Things have really turned brutally nasty since numerous pastors who are in agreement w. this “unique” interpretation have publicly identified those of us who are holding our midweek service via live stream as, well, let’s just say less than manly. I have heard several of them make this charge to the churches they pastor & also in conferences within the last few months (with thousands in attendance). In fact, some of these pastors have even accepted disgruntled church members into their congregation since the pastors who have been attempting to stave off Covid-19 are “bowing to the beast.” I don’t want to have an uncharitable spirit about this, but the ignorance level & biblical illiteracy is absolutely astounding.

This brings me to why I am turning to this forum. I am set to do a series of podcasts w.in the next week or so on these attacks & gross mishandling of Romans 13 (as well as Hebrews 10.25) & I’m just now beginning to dig into the Greek texts of these passages. I am wondering if there’s anything in the Greek that perhaps I may overlook in preparing my exegetical presentations (?). Honestly, since I have only had 1.5 yr. of Greek, this forum is where I come when I get stumped☺️.

I hope I am not violating forum rules by providing some background to better inform y’all of the whole picture (won’t make it a habit). I do have about 8 highly meticulous exegetical works for Romans, but that would take me a very long time to work through them all. However, I will be attempting to work through as much as I can prior to the shows. Much appreciated in advance. Love this forum!
Barry Hofstetter
Posts: 2018
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: Romans 13.1-7 & Civil Authority Question

Post by Barry Hofstetter »

Yes, do try to keep it to the Greek... :)

Note the vocabulary, and compare it with the actual language used to describe the leadership in the church, such as in 2 Tim 3. Not even remotely the same. If you check the lexicons, you'll find that ὑπερέχω has a fairly wide range referring to those in control. The description in general is far better suited to government than to church. Since when does the church bear the sword as a terror to evildoers? It strikes me that these pastors (and I heard a sermon along these lines recently) are simply using self serving eisegesis.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.
R. Perkins
Posts: 91
Joined: January 18th, 2013, 9:55 pm

Re: Romans 13.1-7 & Civil Authority Question

Post by R. Perkins »

Barry Hofstetter wrote: October 29th, 2020, 7:44 am Yes, do try to keep it to the Greek... :)

Note the vocabulary, and compare it with the actual language used to describe the leadership in the church, such as in 2 Tim 3. Not even remotely the same. If you check the lexicons, you'll find that ὑπερέχω has a fairly wide range referring to those in control. The description in general is far better suited to government than to church. Since when does the church bear the sword as a terror to evildoers? It strikes me that these pastors (and I heard a sermon along these lines recently) are simply using self serving eisegesis.
Ahhh—excellent.

As I read this input I couldn’t help but notice that there would’ve been a time I would have automatically done this—but ohhh how quickly we lose it if we don’t use it🤓.

Much appreciated!
Stirling Bartholomew
Posts: 1111
Joined: August 9th, 2012, 4:19 pm

Re: Romans 13.1-7 & Civil Authority Question

Post by Stirling Bartholomew »

Barry Hofstetter wrote: October 29th, 2020, 7:44 am Yes, do try to keep it to the Greek... :)

Note the vocabulary, and compare it with the actual language used to describe the leadership in the church, such as in 2 Tim 3. Not even remotely the same.
I don't see anything in 2Tim 3 relevant to Romans 13.1-7. 1Tim 3 talks about leaders ...
1Tim 3:4 τοῦ ἰδίου οἴκου καλῶς προϊστάμενον, τέκνα ἔχοντα ἐν ὑποταγῇ, μετὰ πάσης σεμνότητος

Greg Herrick (Phd DTS) has a decent paper on Romans 13.1-7 which is from the late 1990s based on the bibliography. Herrick interacts with scholarship from second half of the 20th century. No direct mention of the thesis being promoted by the group of pastors, however traditional biblical philology[1] is employed which will shed some light on the questions under consideration. 1 Peter 2:13-17 is also discussed which is helpful. (The Greek font isn't Unicode which might give some people grief.)

https://bible.org/article/paul-and-civi ... mans-131-7

[1] Greg Herrick's paper might be used as a prototype following Gordon Fee's textbook on New Testament Exegesis.

Postscript:
I do have about 8 highly meticulous exegetical works for Romans
So how can we help you?
C. Stirling Bartholomew
R. Perkins
Posts: 91
Joined: January 18th, 2013, 9:55 pm

Re: Romans 13.1-7 & Civil Authority Question

Post by R. Perkins »

Stirling Bartholomew wrote: October 30th, 2020, 5:16 pm
Barry Hofstetter wrote: October 29th, 2020, 7:44 am Yes, do try to keep it to the Greek... :)

Note the vocabulary, and compare it with the actual language used to describe the leadership in the church, such as in 2 Tim 3. Not even remotely the same.
I don't see anything in 2Tim 3 relevant to Romans 13.1-7. 1Tim 3 talks about leaders ...
1Tim 3:4 τοῦ ἰδίου οἴκου καλῶς προϊστάμενον, τέκνα ἔχοντα ἐν ὑποταγῇ, μετὰ πάσης σεμνότητος

Greg Herrick (Phd DTS) has a decent paper on Romans 13.1-7 which is from the late 1990s based on the bibliography. Herrick interacts with scholarship from second half of the 20th century. No direct mention of the thesis being promoted by the group of pastors, however traditional biblical philology[1] is employed which will shed some light on the questions under consideration. 1 Peter 2:13-17 is also discussed which is helpful. (The Greek font isn't Unicode which might give some people grief.)

https://bible.org/article/paul-and-civi ... mans-131-7

[1] Greg Herrick's paper might be used as a prototype following Gordon Fee's textbook on New Testament Exegesis.

Postscript:
I do have about 8 highly meticulous exegetical works for Romans
So how can we help you?
Well, as I stated in the last part of the sentence “... but that would take me a very long time to work through them all.” Was hoping for something more directly targeting ROM 13.1–7 to save me a little time inasmuch as the podcast is in a day or two & I don’t really have time to wade through all these works. The paper you posted looks quite promising (much appreciated BTW).

Oh, I think Barry meant I Timothy contra 2 Timothy (as you pointed out)—but not sure.
Barry Hofstetter
Posts: 2018
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: Romans 13.1-7 & Civil Authority Question

Post by Barry Hofstetter »

R. Perkins wrote: October 31st, 2020, 3:54 am Oh, I think Barry meant I Timothy contra 2 Timothy (as you pointed out)—but not sure.
Of course I did. Typo's happen, alas.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.
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