Home > Thou shalt not kill > Christians and the army > All authority is from God. He does not wear the sword in vain: for he is a servant of God, an avenger of wrath to him who does evil.

All authority is from God. He does not wear the sword in vain: for he is a servant of God, an avenger of wrath to him who does evil.

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

Romans 13:1-7

This fragment is not a part of the Gospel; it reflects people’s attempts to live according to Christ’s commandments after his execution. These are the words of the Apostle Paul, a man who, unlike the twelve disciples, did not follow Jesus on his earthly journey. They are the words of a man with a very difficult past (a Pharisee, an active prosecutor of the first Christians), and who is capable of making mistakes, just as every Christ’s follower makes more than a couple of mistakes.

Here, in principle, we could put an end to it.

However, despite the obvious pathos of revenge and retaliation of evil for evil’s sake that Paul left to non-Christians, we can see an attempt to reconcile Christ’s followers with the clear injustice in the world without resorting to resistance. Let’s consider what occurs immediately afterwards:

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Romans 13:8, 10

Furthermore, we find the same tone with Peter the Apostle:

Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.

Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.

1 Peter 2:13-15, 18-20

And so, do not resist any power – love other and do good in any circumstances, under any authority. Does power defy God’s law? Love others, but do not resist the authorities. Does the government force you to violate the law of love? Love others, but do not resist the authorities.

But how is this possible?

“The chief is God’s servant”. The Lord has both good and careless servants. A good servant does no harm to you, but a careless one – do not resist him. Does a careless boss drive you away because you do not want to do evil? So do not do evil, do not agree with him, but do not resist this power by force and evil. Have they captured and tortured you? Do they force you to kill people or participate in it? Do not do it – do not kill. Love others. And do not resist by force or evil.

Just as Christ did not resist earthly authority.

 

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