Skip to comments.The Politics of St. Paul
Posted on 04/12/2014 11:37:45 AM PDT by Kaslin
In Romans 13:1-7 the apostle Paul writes: [A ruler] is the minister of God to thee for good (v. 3); Wherefore ye must needs be subject... (v. 5); ...pay ye tribute [taxes] (v. 6).
St. Paul seems to be saying that God ordains human governments and that Christians should honor and obey the government under whose jurisdiction they live. Many Christians conclude from these verses that Christians should accept whatever government and laws their country has. Other Christians, while accepting the need for government and lawful behavior, question whether Romans 13 commands us to submit to human governments unconditionally. They ask: Is rebellion ever justified? Reform movements? Civil disobedience? Tax protests? Change?
Based on scriptural texts, Paul appears to be a quintessential conservativenot in the contemporary American sense of favoring a smaller government, but in the more traditional political sense of not wanting to disrupt the established order. Indeed, contemporary progressives reject Pauls unwillingness to challenge the social status quo. In his epistles, St. Paul tells servants to treat their masters well and vice versa. There are no appeals for social justice, equality of status, or redistribution of wealth. In addition to the famous passage in Romans, Paul exhorts Christians to pray for all in positions of authority (I Timothy 2:1-4). These are not the writings of a political dissident.
Before categorizing Paul as a political conservative, let us consider another possibility: Perhaps he was apolitical. Like his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Pauls life was devoted to a spiritual missionthe advancement of the heavenly kingdom that is not of this world. His objective was to reform and reconstruct the architecture of the thought, soul, and heart, not the superstructure of civil government. Paul was an evangelist for God and His son, not a political philosopher or activist. He was too busy being a spiritual radical to get involved in a political movement.
Indeed, Paul had to take great care that the fire of the Holy Spirit that burned in mens hearts not be conflated with the flames of political passions. Many Jews were still looking for a militant Messiah to lead them in revolt against the hated Romans. Paul must have known that if the followers of Jesus became a political movement challenging the authority of Caesar, the Roman army would crush, if not annihilate, the nascent Christian movement. Out of love for his Lord and his fellow man, Paul would not lead his flock to certain slaughter. His apparent cautiousness was not due to personal timidity or concern for his own safety. This faithful apostle bravely endured repeated hardships in the service of his Lord: Five times received I forty stripes save one, thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep ... In weariness and painfulness ... in hunger and thirst ... in cold and nakedness (2 Corinthians 11:24, 25, 27). Ultimately, this great lion of God (as the novelist Taylor Caldwell characterized him) was martyred for his faith.
It is significant that Pauls statements about honoring government occur in his letter to the Roman church. Certainly Rome, as home to Caesar and capital of the Roman Empire, would be particularly diligent in monitoring potential rebels. What if Roman authorities were to intercept Pauls letter? In that case, his statements about honoring government would contradict any charge that Christians were somehow disloyal to the emperor. At the same time, Romans 13 conveys messages that were opaque to the pagans but transparent to Christians.
The chapter begins, Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers (v. 1). While Roman authorities might have assumed that Paul was writing about Caesar, Christians knew that the higher powers were divine--that God is the sovereign to whom one owes fidelity. And when Paul writes that a ruler is the minister of God to thee for good, (v. 4) doesnt this imply that he is speaking of rulers who are just and goodthose who uphold Gods rules protecting the sanctity of life, marriage, property, reputation, etc.? Yes, we should pray for all who are in positions of authority, for benign and just rulers, that they continue to be so, and for corrupt or unjust rulers, that they mend their ways and govern better.
Here is a jarring thought: If Christians are never to rebel against unjust government, then Americas Founding Fathers were wrong to rebel against the English crown and parliament to establish a republic where most peoples God-given rights were given greater protections than anywhere else on earth.
This leads us back to those controversial, fundamental questions about which Christians of good conscience may strongly disagree: What is the proper scope of government? To what extent should Christians turn the other cheek and suffer it to be so now by accepting the status quo, and when is challenging and changing laws and government justified? Is it possible that Pauls contributions to the scriptural canon were not essentially conservative, but so profoundly revolutionary on a long-term basis, leavening human thought until, centuries later, Christians hearts and minds were filled with the unshakable conviction that it was a human right to throw off unjust governments?
Here is one point on which most Christians may agree: Governments often adopt policies that dont seem right, and we disagree on which policies those are. But all of us can take heart from that glorious promise that St. Paul gave us in that same letter to the Romans: ... all things work together for good to them that love God ... (Rom. 8:28). Amen.
“Reander unto Caeser that which is Ceaser’s”
Point is Ceaser doesn’t earn my wage, I do, so it is mone, not his. So you own Ceaser NOTHING....
And, as our Founders repeated so often, a Constitutional free republic can only remain free and happy as long as its citizens engage in the practice of religion (Christianity) and good manners (VERY important back then). This includes being peaceful and law abiding but it also implies a society of basically just laws. Unjust laws create discontent and hatred for authority, as we see happening now.
I take it to mean ignore government and live according to God
The correct quote is: Render to Caesar the things that are Caesars, and to God the things that are Gods.
God gives it to you
Just ignore Paul.
thx Kaslin, so nothing is Caesar’s because all is God’s.
Paul was a Roman Citizen. Even in the time of Nero, Roman law gave him a lot of protection. Rome was even responsible for the transportation systems he used to spread the gospel.
yeah I quit reading when bits and pieces are quoted without the full context of something being included. it s sloppy and shows a lack of thoughtful reflection.
Saint Rand Paul wants Christians to yield to the left/libertarianism.
“I think that the Republican Party, in order to get bigger, will have to agree to disagree on social issues,” Paul advised. “The Republican Party is not going to give up on having quite a few people who do believe in traditional marriage. But the Republican Party also has to find a place for young people and others who dont want to be festooned by those issues.”
And that wasn't also true in Jesus' day? There's another passage where Jesus tells Peter to pay a tax for the two of them. It would appear that Jesus didn't accept the premise that nothing was rightfully owed to the civil rulers, and neither do I.
It did not earn it when Christ said it either. But rather than anarchy, or the imaginary world some libertarians exist in, some government is needed, and taxes are needed to support such (unless they will serve without salary like the apostles) .
But government must itself be governed, and thus the Constitution, but which supposes a moral foundation which primarily if not directly flowed from the Scriptures.
Yet as the Constitution is interpretive to varying degrees, and as it is government by the people, then the people determine how that will be interpreted by whom the elect.
And when the people count the great things written in the Law of God to be a strange thing, then gov. will increase in size and scope, and they will set up princes but not after God.
For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof: but by a man of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged. (Proverbs 28:2)
They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off. (Hosea 8:4)
I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing. (Hosea 8:12)
Robert Winthrop (May 12, 1809 November 16, 1894), and Speaker of the House from 1838 to 1840, and later president of the Massachusetts Bible Society, explained that, Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled, either by a power within them, or by a power without them; either by the Word of God, or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or the bayonet."
Very enlightening. Did not know much about Rand Paul but this quote (http://www.vocativ.com/usa/tea-party/five-minutes-rand-paul/) testifies to him subscribing to the pseudo conservationism that would elect a prosodomy "fiscal conservative" over a real moral and fiscal conservative, and imagines that smaller government is possible without moral renewal, which is a product of evangelical regeneration.
Of course you are right, it’s just that all my adult life the government has taken taxes from me and given it to others....it’s just wrong, to use it to have some form of government is one thing, to take it and give it to others for no other reason then to get them to vote for you is wrong.
Oh THAT! You mean the "Share the Wealth" ideology, which means self-proclaimed elite souls make servants of others under the premise that those who earned benefits are selfish, malevolent, and have no right to their status.
And all those that have not their benefits because they did not earn them are victims, and have the same right to the benefits of those who did merit (a word they hate, and which effectively nukes charity) them;
Thus those in the "first class section" should be forced to divest of their earned benefits, "to share the wealth" until all have the wealth, though it ends up meaning a equal level of poverty.
Except for the self-proclaimed elite (communist) souls that came up with the victim-entitlement mentality.
If you read Is. 14 and Gn. 3 carefully, you will see where this is came from and who is running it.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. (John 10:1)
Yes that, I am very tired of it......they have bled me dry
You must deserve it since your subscribe to the idea of work being rewarded according to merit, and charity being benevolence out of your pocket and designed to effect betterment of character so as to help others in turn.
It is charity when it is taken from you by force, and yes, I do believe in getting paid for working.
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