Christians are citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20). So, they might argue that they do not need to respect people in authority in this world. However, Paul insisted that the opposite is true.
In fact, Christians are people who respect Godís authority. Therefore, they should be able to understand more clearly than other people what authority really is (compare Luke 7:1-10). It is God who chose to give authority to governments in this world (13:1). He did it in order to place a limit on the power of evil people (13:3-4).
Therefore, Christians should respect the power of their government. They should give its officials whatever is rightly due to them.
That often means the payment of money, in other words, taxes. Paul mentions two kinds of taxes here. One of these perhaps means a tax on people and their property. The other probably refers to a tax when people buy and sell goods.
However, there are also other ways by which we show respect to people in authority. There is a proper sense of fear that we should show, for example, towards our judges (13:3-4). That sense of fear should cause us to avoid wrong behaviour and to do what is right. Also, we should show honour to people who carry on important and responsible work. In Acts chapter 26, we see how politely Paul himself spoke to powerful and important people. He showed great respect to them.
It is interesting to compare Paulís words in Romans 13:7 with the answer that Christ gave in Mark 12:13-17. Christ too insisted that Godís people should pay their taxes. However, he then reminded the people that we all owe a much greater duty to God.
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© 2018, Keith Simons.