Romans 13 (Part 2)
First posted: September 2, 2009
Last modified: May 19, 2014
This article is the second in a series of articles dealing in detail with the spiritual meaning behind Romans chapter 13.
Romans 13:5 declares the following:
The word "wrath" was translated from the Greek word orge, which literally means "anger", and is translated as such in other passages. As we have seen so far, this verse is written in the context of authorities on Earth, meaning that the "anger" referred to in Romans 13:5 is the anger of other human beings. This proves that anger is not a sin per se, despite the matriarchal Church's fierce efforts to portray it as such. The fact that anger is not necessarily a sin is further certified by the following passage:
"5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. 6 And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him." (Mark 3:5-6)
The word "anger" in verse 5 above was translated from the word orge used in Romans 13:5. Notice, therefore, how this passage clearly indicates that Jesus became angry at the hardness of heart around Him. Jesus was by no means the sedated peace-and-love hippie that the matriarchal Church makes him out to be. Scripture portrays God as being "angry" in thousands of passages, so it would be expected that His sons and daughters, i.e.- those who walk according to His nature, will inevitably manifest righteous anger whenever the circumstances merit it, as shown by Mark 3:5 above. Notice also how the anger expressed by Jesus triggered a reaction from His enemies, prompting them to hate Him even more. Jesus was not out to appease the world. He was not out to create a world full of love and harmony. Otherwise, He would have tried to heal the man in a different way, showing no display of anger and adding some words of appeasement and "reconciliation" towards His enemies. He could have even tried to heal the man "in private", telling him to come back in a few hours so that He could heal him outside the view of His enemies so as to not stir their hatred and "make things worse"; yet He chose to do things in a way that increased the level of hatred in those around Him. Why? Because Jesus' intentions were not simply to "do nice deeds of love in the world". He came to transform the Earth, and that transformation requires the execution of judgements that expose unrighteousness. The execution of those judgements requires the willingness to get angry, along with the willingness to stir the hatred and resentment of those who oppose the Truth.
The word orge also appears in verse 8 of the following passage, translated as "anger":
"5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6 For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. 8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: " (Colossians 3:5-10)
Verse 8 may sound like an indictment against all anger. However, if all anger were sin, we would have to conclude that Jesus' anger in Mark 3:5 was a sin, and we would have to give up Christianity altogether. "Thankfully", a thoughtful analysis of the context around verse 8 reveals that interpreting all anger as sin is a serious mischaracterisation of this verse. Consider, for example, verse 6, which declares that God's "wrath" comes against the sons of disobedience. Interestingly enough, the word "wrath" was inconsistently translated from the same word orge that is translated as "anger" 2 verses later. This change in the translation clouds up the passage and hides the fact that not all anger is wrong. Would it make sense for the Holy Spirit to be declaring that all anger is sin when He just finished saying that God gets angry? Obviously not! Verse 5 clarifies the context even more by showing that God is talking about manifestations in people who are not fully dead to self. Verse 10 expands on this by speaking of the "new man", who is "renewed in knowledge" and made "after the image of Him who created him". Since God gets angry and our "new man" is created in His image, it is to be expected that the "new man" will get angry as well. Therefore, we can safely say that verse 8 is speaking about outbursts of the flesh that flow from believers who are still walking in the old man because they are unwilling to die to old paradigms, to old ways of thinking that lead to wrong judgements, and, thus, to unrighteous anger. According to verse 5, these old ways of thinking cover 5 dimensions:
From the above we can summarise the 5 "old-man" paradigms that trigger anger in the flesh in the following table:
As long as your anger is not fuelled by any of these old-man paradigms, and, as long as it emanates from your new-man nature, your anger will be a manifestation on Earth of God's anger, and you will begin to activate God's exousia on Earth.
According to Romans 13:5, quoted above, we are submit to true exousia, not only because of the heat of its orge, but for the sake of "conscience". The word "conscience" was translated from the Greek word suneidesis, which is derived from the prefix sun (or syn) meaning "with, union of" and the word eidos meaning "to see, to perceive with the eyes of the mind" (eidos is the word from which the English word "idea" is derived). Therefore, the word suneidesis speaks of the uniting or synthesising of ideas, of things that are seen or "judged" by the mind. Thus, the conscience refers to the "judgement factory" in our mind, the place where evidences perceived by our mind are combined in order to reach new verdicts. We can then conclude that something happens to our "judgement factory" (our suneidesis) depending on whether we submit to true exousia or not. If we refuse to submit to the judgement zones created by the true exousias, our judgement factory goes awry. However, if we willingly submit to the "judgement zones" created by true authority, we allow our conscience, our judgement factory, to be moulded and developed by God. This means that, if you want a healthy and developing conscience, you must be willing to submit to the judgements that emanate from true exousias. This is the reason why children who are submissive to their fathers tend to be much wiser and brighter than children who show little respect for fatherly authority (obviously, as we have studied before, righteous submission excludes unconditional submission to evil fathers).
"14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance." (Hebrews 9:14-15)
[The Greek word translated as "testament" in this passage can also be translated as "covenant"]
The verses above are spoken in the context of the transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. Notice how verse 14 speaks of the blood of Christ purging our conscience from "dead works" so that we can serve the living God. Verse 14 does not speak of Christ's blood purging our conscience from "sins", meaning that it is talking about way more than just the clearing of a guilty conscience. Notice also how verse 14 contrasts a conscience full of "dead works" against serving the "living God". Therefore, we can conclude that the "conscience full of dead works" that we are purged from is actually a conscience, a judgement factory, that produces verdicts based on old (covenant) paradigms and value systems that have no life in them. Such consciences produce verdicts that seem OK on the outside, but are actually lifeless and lacking in true substance on the inside, like a wax figure that looks like a real person on the outside, but is actually nothing but a lifeless object on the inside (a mere "shadow" of the true person). Since "dead-work consciences" are lifeless, they are very limited in their scope. They can render reliable judgements on simple human issues, but they are utterly useless for higher realms of human activity, just as with Newtonian physics, whose "verdicts" are reliable at a certain level of "physical activity" but which becomes clueless when applied to "physical activity" approaching the speed of light or to activity at the atomic level. Since humans are destined to be more than animals, more than mere "living souls", the "conscience of dead works" falls painfully short, well-intentioned as it may be. Such a conscience is unable to analyse human activity at a deeper level because it uses incomplete paradigms that may be fitting for animals but not for creatures destined to be "life-giving spirits". This is the reason why the world is the mess it is and why some problems just never seem to go away, despite all the efforts that well-intentioned politicians and activists constantly make. Thus, from Hebrews 9:14-15, we can conclude that having a "healthy" conscience goes beyond the issue of being free from guilt. This truth is emphasised by the following passage:
"21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him." (1 Peter 3:21-22)
[The word "authorities" in verse 22 was translated from the Greek word exousia. Interestingly enough, the word "powers" right next to "authorities" was correctly translated from the word dunamis; this contrasts with Romans 13:1-3, where the word exousia is incorrectly translated as "power", which, as we have studied before, muddles the message intended by the Spirit.
It is also worth noting that the word "subject" at the end of verse 22 was translated from the Greek word hypotasso studied before.]
Notice that verse 21 above declares that our spiritual baptism goes beyond "putting away the filth of the flesh" because it gives us a "good conscience toward God". When the Holy Spirit refers to the "putting away of the filth of the flesh", He is not speaking of literal filth, given that the passage is speaking of baptism in a figurative sense (besides, the reference to literal filth would be a bit too trivial, and it would be too sarcastic for the tone used throughout that chapter). Therefore, we can safely say that the "putting away of the filth of the flesh" is the Holy Spirit's way of referring to the removal of the guilt-causing "sin stains" in our old man. This emphasises the fact that, when Scripture speaks of a "good conscience", it is not referring to a conscience free from guilt per se.
The word "toward" in the phrase "a good conscience toward God" in verse 21 was translated from the Greek word eis, which is often translated as "into, in". Therefore, the phrase in verse 21 could have been translated as "a good conscience into God", which denotes someone who has access into the conscience of God and who can therefore produce judgements that are consistent with His (1 Corinthians 2:16). More than merely removing our "sin stains", our baptism in Christ allows us to renew our conscience, our judgement factory, making it consistent with God's very own.
In short, a "healthy" conscience is a conscience that is free from incorrect and incomplete paradigms and that is growing in the paradigms of God. As Romans 13:5 above bears out, a key to developing such a conscience is to submit under the authority of true exousias, allowing those exousias to mould your judgement paradigms after God's.
As we have shared before, exousias are not as easily discernible as most believe them to be. This means that, to have a healthy conscience, you must make sure that you are recognising and submitting to the right exousias. As you endeavour to recognise the true judgement zones in the Spirit, you will train your conscience, like an athlete who is exercising his muscles. Once you find a true exousia, submitting under it allows you to develop your conscience even more, as you position yourself to receive an impartation of wise judgement-making from the exousia you have submitted to. By contrast, if you are not interested in seeking out and submitting to the true exousias of God, your conscience will begin to deteriorate, like a muscle that atrophies due to either misuse or disuse.
Romans 13:6 declares the following:
"For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. " (Romans 13:6)
Interestingly enough, the word "pay" was translated from the Greek verb teleo, which literally means "to complete, finish", and is translated as such in all but two of its 26 appearances in the New Testament (as when the Lord said "It is finished!" before giving up the ghost). Even though it was not technically "incorrect" for the King James translators to translate teleo as "pay" in both Romans 13:6 and Matthew 17:24, this change in the translation does take away from what the Holy Spirit is intending to say in Romans 13:6 (and Matthew 17:24). To know what the Holy Spirit is trying to convey to us, we must first consider the word "tribute", which was translated from the Greek verb phoros. This word is derived from phero meaning "to carry (a burden)". Therefore, a better translation of the word phoros would be "a [carried] burden". By combining the literal meaning of teleo and phoros, we get that the phrase "pay tribute" in Romans 13:6 actually reads "complete the [carried] burden" in the original text, which begins to expose what the Lord was trying to convey in Romans 13:6. However, we must consider the rest of the verse to get the full picture.
The word "ministers" in Romans 13:6 was translated from the Greek word leitourgos, which is derived from the words laos meaning "people" and ergon meaning "work, product". Therefore, leitourgos literally means "worker for the people". Notice how the word "minister" does not have the connotation of "royalty" and "distinction" that fools such as U.S. politician Barbara Boxer would give it; instead, it has the connotation of a servant, a labourer, a person doing hard work on behalf of others in order to yield a product that will benefit them. This differs from the current understanding in the Church (and in government) of what a "minister" is all about.
The phrase "attending continually" was translated from the Greek verb proskartereo, which is derived from the prefix pros meaning "towards, before" and kartereo meaning "to be steadfast"; kartereo, in turn, is derived from the verb kratos meaning "dominion". Therefore, proskartereo speaks of someone who presses forward, exercising dominion over self in order to remain steadfast and endure; as such people press forward, they extend the dominion of the judgements in them into new territories. As we have studied before, the ministerial endowment most directly related to endurance and "blazing new trails" is the apostolic endowment, and the endowment most directly related to conquering and establishing the dominion of a kingdom is the evangelistic endowment. This means that the word proskartereo speaks of apostolic-evangelistic activity, and, as we also have shared before, "angels" in Scripture are apostolic-evangelistic. Therefore, we can say that the "ministers" referred to in Romans 13:6 are people who carry out "angelic activity" on Earth. They do so by entering into new spiritual territories, exercising dominion over the unrighteous influences that apply pressure over their own souls; by remaining unwaveringly persistent and resilient, they are able to prevail over the disheartening pressure of those influences within themselves, and they can then unleash that inner conquest out over the entire region, allowing the judgements of God that rule within them to rule over the new territory.
As we said above, the phrase "pay ye tribute" in Romans 13:6 actually reads, "complete the [carried] burden" in the original text. This points to a spiritual principle that appears throughout Scripture: completing the tasks initiated by others.
"24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church: 25 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church" (Colossians 1:24-25)
Notice how Paul speaks in verse 24 about completing the afflictions of Christ that are lacking. Unlike what "Trekkie" Christians want to believe, Jesus did not "do it all" for us. He did one part, and He is expecting us to complete the missing part as we walk in Him. The spiritual Body of Christ is not a "nanny state" where God does everything for us and we just sit back and enjoy. God wants to be ehad (One) with us, but He cannot be One with people who do not manifest His character, with people who expect things to be handed to them rather than creating and forging new things (just as God the Creator does).
"37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. 1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 11:37-12:1)
Notice how the great cloud of witnesses cannot have their work completed without us. Even though they did all that was appointed to them by God, they still depend on us to complete, to finish out what they started. This illustrates a fact that most believers seem either unwilling or unable to comprehend: the Lord has created a web of interdependence amongst human beings in such a way that both the actions and inactions of one person produce consequences in the lives of others. Even if we are living a life of complete submission to God, with God fully pleased with us, the completion of certain things in us can still remain in the hands of others. Despite the fullness of God's power and dominion, the wills of others can still hinder us, preventing the fulfilment of things that will bless our lives, and even the lives of those hindering us.
"14 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: 15 Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: 16 Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost. 17 But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. 18 Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but satan hindered us." (1 Thessalonians 2:14-18)
From all of this, we can conclude that the phrase "completing the [carried] burden" in Romans 13:6 speaks of sharing in the spiritual burden carried by the true "ministers", the true executers of God's judgements on Earth; this task cannot be "delegated" to others, for it cannot be completed without us. To "complete the [carried] burden" means to identify with those around you who are faithfully carrying the "angelic burden", and it means doing everything in your power to ease their burden, to make life just a little easier for them. Those of you who have been willing to carry out the task of releasing God's judgements into the Earth know how overwhelming that burden can be, how lonely that task is, how frustrating the endeavour can become, especially because of all the bitter (and embittering) opposition you encounter from the souls of men. It is a dirty job that everybody else finds abominable, a job for which you will receive much rejection and little praise:
"3 I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. 4 For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. 5 And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me." (Isaiah 63:3-5)
In Romans 13:7, the Lord declares the following:
"Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour." (Romans 13:7)
The word "dues" at the beginning of this verse was translated from the Greek word opheile meaning "that which is owed, a debt". Interestingly enough, this word is related to the word ophelos meaning "advantage, profit", which is in turn derived from the word ophello meaning "to heap up, accumulate, benefit". Therefore, the word opheile combines the following concepts:
The word "tribute" in Romans 13:7 was translated from the Greek word phoros, which, as we explained above, speaks of a [carried] burden. The word "custom" was translated from telos, which is the noun form of the word teleo studied above. The word "fear" was translated from phobos, the word from which the English word "phobia" is derived, and the word "honour" was translated from the Greek word time, which, as we have studied before, has the connotation of someone placing a value on something based on its merits.
Therefore, we can conclude that Romans 13:7 speaks of 4 categories of indebtedness:
time: Recognising others' invisible worth
Of the 4 words listed in Romans 13:7, this word has the lowest sense of "obligation", placing the person being owed to in the greatest position of vulnerability. In other words, the person who owes the "time" or "honour" can examine the person being owed to and determine how much "honour" that person is worth. Because the person being owed to is placed in a position of weakness, the word time points to the "female" endowments of pastor and teacher, as opposed to the other 3 words, which point to the 3 "male" ministries of apostle, prophet, and evangelist. As we have studied before, the pastoral and teacher ministries point to the "Man" face, meaning that it portrays being owed to as a vulnerable "man".
Besides portraying exousias and archons in the context of the 4 spiritual faces, the 4 categories listed in Romans 13:7 also show a sequence of descending compulsion:
Notice also that the list of 4 categories in Romans 13:7 denotes a sequence of descending "visibility" or "externality". "Taxes" are the most visible and external form of payment; "tributes" are next. "Fear" is inherently invisible, given that it comes from within, but, under certain circumstances, it can have visible manifestations, such as external trembling and facial expressions of panic. "Honour" is the least visible of all, and it can only come from the innermost parts of the soul. Just like fear, honour can have visible manifestations, but these manifestations are more subtle, elaborate, and deliberate than fear's. In that sense, therefore, time ("honour") is the highest form of payment. As we said above, honour is the most invisible form of payment, but, when it is sincere, honour will also have visible material and emotional manifestations:
"15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?" (James 2:15-16)
The word "profit" at the end of verse 16 was translated from the Greek verb ophelos, which, as we mentioned above, is related to the word for "dues" or "debt" used in Romans 13:7. Therefore, we can conclude that a true sense of indebtedness will eventually have material and emotional manifestations, "invisible" and "internal" as that indebtedness may be.
There is more to say regarding Romans 13, but we will do so (if God allows it) in a future article.