Useful Bible Studies > Romans Commentary > chapter 13

Christians and taxes

Romans 13:6

We ask what money really is. It is not really wealth. Money cannot pay for the things that are truly good, even in this life. We cannot buy a good family or a happy life. In fact, when a country has political troubles, our money itself can lose its value.

Rather, money is a way that governments show their power over us. They pay us with money so that they control our power to buy and to sell (compare Revelation 13:16-17). For that reason, each government puts its own mark on the coins and notes that it provides for our use. That mark shows us to which country the money belongs.

Because the money belongs to our country, its government has the right to demand its payment (Mark 12:13-17). That is what taxes are. The government provided the money for our use, so it can demand its return. Christians should pay their debts (13:8); so they should also pay their taxes. They do not do it merely because they are afraid of punishment. They do it because they consider it the right thing to do (13:5).

Paul makes a surprising statement about the work of people who collect taxes in Romans 13:6. We know how much other people often dislike them (compare Mark 2:13-17). However, in the collection of taxes, governments are using the authority that God has given them (13:1). Therefore, the people who collect taxes are carrying out a public service on Godís behalf. It impressed Paul how well they carry out this special work for God. They do not neglect their work; they constantly carry out the tasks that God has given them. From their attitudes, as from so many other things in this world (Proverbs 30:24-28), Christians can learn an important lesson.

Next part: The duties of Christians in this world (Romans 13:7)


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