homepage
  roll on christmas  
click here to find out more about ship of fools click here to sign up for the ship of fools newsletter click here to support ship of fools
community the mystery worshipper gadgets for god caption competition foolishness features ship stuff
discussion boards live chat cafe avatars frequently-asked questions the ten commandments gallery private boards register for the boards
 
Ship of Fools


Post new thread  Post a reply
My profile login | Register | Directory | Search | FAQs | Board home
   - Printer-friendly view Next oldest thread   Next newest thread
» Ship of Fools   » Special interest discussion   » Kerygmania   » Romans 13 1-7... Really?

 - Email this page to a friend or enemy.    
Source: (consider it) Thread: Romans 13 1-7... Really?
Penny S
Shipmate
# 14768

 - Posted      Profile for Penny S     Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
Having seen it mentioned elsewhere with regard to Trump, I have been reading round it, with the question in mind of why on earth was Paul on about submission to the rule of Claudius, Nero and their associated women, who were presumably in power as well.

So I have found a piece drawn from Roman writers about the rule at the time, with one comment along the lines of "if Paul could write this about them, how much less do we have the right to oppose our government?" From an American.

And a suggestion that it was advice to keep heads down and not annoy the PTB for fear of the response.

And a suggestion that it only applied if the rulers were ruling in accordance with God's ordinances (thus ruling out obedience to, for example, Nazis). (A Mennonite site.)

And the idea that it was a later addition, for political reasons.

And, most interesting, the idea that he was really writing to Roman Gentile Christians about obedience to the elders of the synagogues.

What is the general interpretation of this passage?

The innocent have nothing to fear, from a man who had been involved in attacking the innocent.

Posts: 5737 | Registered: May 2009  |  IP: Logged
Moo

Ship's tough old bird
# 107

 - Posted      Profile for Moo   Email Moo   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
Here is the text of Romans 13:1-7.

Please provide the text or a link for any Bible passage you wish to discuss.

Moo Kerygmania host

--------------------
Kerygmania host
---------------------
See you later, alligator.

Posts: 20034 | From: Alleghany Mountains of Virginia | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Penny S
Shipmate
# 14768

 - Posted      Profile for Penny S     Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
Sorry.
Posts: 5737 | Registered: May 2009  |  IP: Logged
Anglican_Brat
Shipmate
# 12349

 - Posted      Profile for Anglican_Brat   Email Anglican_Brat   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I wrote an exegetical paper on this passage for my course on Romans. The gist of the argument was that Paul was simply referring to the State's role in protecting the peace and keeping order. In that function, the State has been "ordained by God."

One needs to keep in mind that Paul never directs people to worship the State or to deify the Roman Caesar. Paul's theology in Romans 13:1-7 isn't anarchism, but it isn't unadulterated worship of the State, either.

--------------------
It's Reformation Day! Do your part to promote Christian unity and brotherly love and hug a schismatic.

Posts: 4201 | From: Vancouver | Registered: Feb 2007  |  IP: Logged
Nigel M
Shipmate
# 11256

 - Posted      Profile for Nigel M   Email Nigel M   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
Lots of ink spilled on that passage! Obviously it needs treating in the context of Paul’s argumentative thrust, but once that has been done it also needs placing alongside other biblical writings dealing with the stance one should take vis-à-vis authorities (which included powers both human and spiritual at the same time), such as Mark 13 and Revelation 13.

I think – limiting this to Romans for the starter – that these verses in chapter 13 need to be taken with the preceding passage at the least (Rom. 12:9-21, here in NET Version):
quote:
Love must be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another with mutual love, showing eagerness in honoring one another. Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil; consider what is good before all people. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people. Do not avenge yourselves, dear friends, but give place to God’s wrath, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Rather, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing this you will be heaping burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Paul moves from dealing with the covenant loyalty a believer owes to fellow believers in God, to the stance the believer should take to the wider society. Together with 13:1-7, Paul provides the objective of living peacefully where possible, with the following motivation: Punishment for wrongs done to a community member is God’s prerogative (and thus punishment for wrongs done in society is the prerogative of human rulers). This is because God appointed national rulers (both from his divine council and human) and they are therefore answerable to him.

I’m sure Paul was aware of the Jewish biblical background to this – the judgement pending on those divine and human rulers who usurped their appointed function to rule as the image of God. I think as well, based on the practical examples Paul gives in the passage (such as paying taxes) that he is referring to the aspects of obedience that could not be contrary to God’s law, compared to activities that were bound to provoke indignation from society, such as drunkenness and discord (13:13). Paul summarises his passage with a principle: “…put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to arouse its desires” (Rom. 13:14).

Posts: 2762 | From: London, UK | Registered: Apr 2006  |  IP: Logged
leo
Shipmate
# 1458

 - Posted      Profile for leo   Author's homepage   Email leo   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I seem to remember that Revelation 13 sees the state as anti-Christ. Surely it depends what the state was like when these texts were written.

--------------------
My Jewish-positive lectionary blog is at http://recognisingjewishrootsinthelectionary.wordpress.com/
My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

Posts: 22889 | From: Bristol | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
hatless

Shipmate
# 3365

 - Posted      Profile for hatless   Author's homepage     Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
It surely has to be an addition to the text.

--------------------
My crazy theology in novel form

Posts: 4456 | From: Stinkers | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
mousethief

Ship's Thieving Rodent
# 953

 - Posted      Profile for mousethief   Author's homepage     Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
It surely has to be an addition to the text.

Is there any evidence of this, such as MSS without it, or style or vocabulry difference, or anything like that? Or is it just that it doesn't strike you as Pauline? It's in Romans, which I believe is one of the "definitely Paul" list.

--------------------
God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. --Acts 10:28

Posts: 62696 | From: Ecotopia | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
hatless

Shipmate
# 3365

 - Posted      Profile for hatless   Author's homepage     Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
It surely has to be an addition to the text.

Is there any evidence of this, such as MSS without it, or style or vocabulry difference, or anything like that? Or is it just that it doesn't strike you as Pauline? It's in Romans, which I believe is one of the "definitely Paul" list.
No evidence, naturally, just a gut feeling that it is unPauline and doesn't sit well with his other writings or what we might deduce of his character from his activity. And I don't like it. Which equates to saying that not only does it not feel like Paul to me, it doesn't feel like God.

Some scholars, after the fashion of their day (1960s?) hacked away even at Romans, finding interpolations, additions, signs of edits, misordering and the rest until someone joked about Paul's postcard to the Romans. But these days the fashion has changed, because what if Paul didn't write this bit? It's still there, still scripture, still to be reckoned with. Which exposes the hidden agenda of the radical scholars: claim it's a later addition and so get its authority downgraded. Doesn't follow.

But when it comes to Paul I like this way of downgrading stuff. His pronouncements on slavery seem to slip a long way from Galatians to Ephesians and Timothy. It makes sense to me to see a gradual accommodation to social norms, and a loss of clarity about the Gospel, and this movement probably happens from Paul to others writing under his name, rather than during his own lifetime.

Paul strikes me as someone instinctively drawn to the potent and radical angle, often angry and provocative. "For freedom Christ has set us free. Never again submit to a spirit of slavery!" he said. Or was that Braveheart? No, it was Paul. He was not quite a man the barricades revolutionary, but he was definitely an: 'Idiots! Don't you see that God has already broken the barricades down?' sort of person.

The Romans passage was written by someone who kept his vests neatly folded in the drawer, numbered in the order he was going to wear them in.

But Paul was a complex person (or group), so who knows? But my commitment to a freedom deeper than any merely political revolution can deliver is a bigger commitment than I feel to scripture. It would be nice to resolve this question, but if we can't, it doesn't matter much. Everyone skips bits of scripture.

--------------------
My crazy theology in novel form

Posts: 4456 | From: Stinkers | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
Nigel M
Shipmate
# 11256

 - Posted      Profile for Nigel M   Email Nigel M   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
...just a gut feeling that it is unPauline and doesn't sit well with his other writings or what we might deduce of his character from his activity. And I don't like it. Which equates to saying that not only does it not feel like Paul to me, it doesn't feel like God.

Of course, it does rather depend on one’s view of God! After all, in the absence of evidence it could just as easily be the case that the texts that feel unsavoury to the modern palate were, in fact, originally from Paul and the other texts were simply later additions by a later editor (and therefore not from God).

Cranfield’s commentary is just one that offers counter arguments to the proposal that this passage in Romans 13 lacks connection with its surroundings. A useful point is that with regard to the overall section from chapters 12 to 15, “it may be claimed that there is nothing surprising in Paul’s referring here to the question of the Christian’s obligation to the state authorities. Indeed one might say that it would have been surprising, if in such a relatively full section of exhortation as 12:1–15:13 he had had nothing to say on a subject which must have been of great importance to Christians of the first century just as it is to Christians today (though those who are individualistic pietists may not realize the fact).”*

James Dunn takes a similar view and backs it up with linguistic analyses of theme and topic across the preceding and subsequent passages.**

I think really that we have to start with the text as received – taking into account the work of textual critics – because that is the text that is in the public domain and therefore capable of interpretation on a micro and macro level.

There is something very creational about the content of the verses: God set boundaries, authorised appointed rulers (both heavenly and earthly), and expected those rulers to behave / rule in accordance with his laws, as his image in the world. Rome at the time of the writing of the letter (usually argued to be in the mid-50s) was an established state in a stable condition. Emperor Claudius had carried on the effective administrative rule of his predecessors in post going back to Augustus. It seems a reasonable position to take that Paul’s advice was aimed at those living under that condition. There was law. There was order. Why rock the boat by behaving stupidly and breaking the perfectly reasonable laws?

We have the other texts in the bible for dealing with situations where God’s law was not in place and where his image was defaced.


* Cranfield, C. E. B. (2004). A critical and exegetical commentary on the Epistle to the Romans. London; New York: T&T Clark International.

** Dunn, J. D. G. (1998). Romans 9–16 (Vol. 38B). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

Posts: 2762 | From: London, UK | Registered: Apr 2006  |  IP: Logged
hatless

Shipmate
# 3365

 - Posted      Profile for hatless   Author's homepage     Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I can see that in the world Paul knew the alternatives were often rule by a tyrant or no rule at all. I also think that if Christianity is not a private game for a sect to play together, but is about the human condition and how we might all live together, then Christians must grapple with things like tax and order and security, and have an opinion on the government.

So if Paul is saying it is God's will that there is order in society, as elsewhere he argues for it in worship, and that there should be consequences for wrongdoing, using wrath in that rather impersonal sense that he seems to favour, then it doesn't mean he is necessarily taking a slavish, kowtowing approach to civil life.

And a letter sent off with Phoebe and her companions could become known to practically anybody, and is not where you would air your more specific opinions about today's holders of office.

--------------------
My crazy theology in novel form

Posts: 4456 | From: Stinkers | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
BroJames
Shipmate
# 9636

 - Posted      Profile for BroJames   Email BroJames   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
It's interesting that he uses a very generic word for ruling authorities, and doesn't specifically refer to Caesar. Even under a despotic ruler there are many aspects of the basic structures of society which Christians should observe and respect. I find his final words offer a moderation to the general thrust of what he is saying, and I am intrigued by the nuances of difference between the words translated 'respect' and 'honour'.

Maybe there's something to be gained in looking at how he responds in Acts 23 where his evident contempt for and condemnation of the particular act of the person are tempered by his respect for the office the person holds. He doesn't withdraw the criticism…

Posts: 3195 | From: UK | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged
Kwesi
Shipmate
# 10274

 - Posted      Profile for Kwesi   Email Kwesi   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I agree with the view that these words of Paul have to be seen against a context in which Jews had been expelled from Rome for having caused disturbances during the reign of Claudius and the evolving politico-religious crisis in Palestine that was to culminate in the disastrous events of AD70. Additionally, Paul valued his own Roman citizenship and used it to his (and the gospel's) advantage against both Jewish and gentile opposition to his ministry. He was hardly likely to disagree, therefore, with the proposition that one should render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's.

Of course, his formulation in Romans seems too bald and might require for us a number of caveats to be acceptable. The question Paul might want to throw back is "What do you think I should have said?" Any suggestions?

Posts: 1429 | From: South Ofankor | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged
Nigel M
Shipmate
# 11256

 - Posted      Profile for Nigel M   Email Nigel M   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
An approach that could help is to ask: What question is Paul trying to answer here? This approach is based on an assumption, but one I think is appropriate in the context of a leader who is communicating to juniors, to wit that Paul is not launching a letter out into a vacuum, but is responding to concrete behaviours and needs demonstrated by a specific audience in a particular location at a particular point in time.

An early example of this in operation in the letter is in chapter 1:1-6, where Paul tells his audience who he is (my own attempt at a translation here):
quote:
Paul
Slave of Messiah Jesus
Being dedicated to God’s message which he promised earlier through his prophets in (or by) the holy writings
Concerning his son, who was David’s descendent (humanly speaking), who was appointed Son-of-God-in-power according to the Holy Spirit by the resurrection from the dead
Jesus Messiah, our lord
Through whom we received grace and apostleship fur the purpose of faithful obedience by all Gentiles on behalf of behalf of his name
Amongst whom you are, called of Jesus Messiah

Buried in that section – and often overlooked – is his confirmation that he is their boss. One can see an exchange between audience and Paul having gone a bit like this:

Roman Christians
We’re followers of Jesus here in Rome, but we haven’t had confirmed to us just who our Apostle is. Who is the person we should be going to for answers to the questions we have about this faith?

Paul
That’s me. I’m your Apostle. I have been dedicated to look after the Gentile believers. You are among that group, so you fall under my authority.

Paul then spends some time explaining why he has not been able to visit them despite an expectation that such a face-to-face meeting should have happened.

Now if Paul is having to rely on written communication in lieu of a visit, then this explains why he would want to set out in as much detail as possible what he would otherwise have been saying verbally to the communities he encountered elsewhere. The question he is addressing in the main is: What is this faith all about? What is the content and application of the message (good news)?

There seems to be a direct link between what Paul says about the gospel context (God is annoyed, he will judge and punish all rebels) and the ways of behaving that he expects the believing communities to demonstrate. On the one hand rebels betray themselves by their behaviour and Paul lists examples in, for example, 1:29-31. They break not only God’s law, but also the laws of any responsible state. On the other hand, the loyal ones demonstrate loyalty to God’s law and also the laws of any responsible state. Consequently, the good news for them is that God will be faithful to the covenant with creation and will reward them. Equally, they can expect protection from their state.

So the statement in 13:1 (“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities”) should be seen as answer to a question that Paul encountered, either from the Roman Christians or elsewhere on his travels, about behaviour. It’s not so much about ‘defending the faith in the teeth of persecution’ type of behaviour that Paul is concerned about here; it’s more along the lines of 1:29-31 where the behaviour is contrary to the (responsible) state laws. In chapter 13 the list includes not fiddling taxes, avoiding adultery, murder, theft, drunkenness, etc. Paul can voice this as a command because he is the Apostle of the Roman Christian community.

Posts: 2762 | From: London, UK | Registered: Apr 2006  |  IP: Logged
Nigel M
Shipmate
# 11256

 - Posted      Profile for Nigel M   Email Nigel M   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
Correction to the translation of Romans 1 needed - somewhat mangled! The offending line should read:

"Through whom we received grace and apostleship for the purpose of faithful obedience by all Gentiles, on behalf of his name"

Posts: 2762 | From: London, UK | Registered: Apr 2006  |  IP: Logged


 
Post new thread  Post a reply Close thread   Feature thread   Move thread   Delete thread Next oldest thread   Next newest thread
 - Printer-friendly view
Go to:

Contact us | Ship of Fools | Privacy statement

© Ship of Fools 2016

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classicTM 6.5.0

 
Check out Reform magazine
sip of fools mugs from your favourite nautical website
 
  ship of fools