Before I begin sharing some comments on my last article, I must confess, I did not give the best translation of Romans 13, as a few readers so helpfully pointed out. The word that is typically translated “powers” or “authorities” (which I said could refer to a sovereign people as the ultimate earthly authority) is actually the Greek word “exousia,” and could also be translated as “liberty”, or even “rights”.
So, the following, in the KJV:
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Could also read:
Let every soul be subject unto the higher liberty. For there is no liberty but of God: the liberties that exist are ordained of God.
Whosoever therefore resisteth liberty, resisteth the disposition of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
For leaders are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of liberty? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
For (liberty) is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for [free people] beareth not the sword in vain: for [free people] are the minister of God, a revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Wherefore [ye] must needs be self-controlled, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
For for this cause [bring to an end] tribute also: as are God’s ministers attending continually upon this very thing.
Pay therefore what you owe: tribute to whom tribute; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
Remember, as a Pauline book, Romans 13 was written well after the gospel accounts, where Jesus said that the sons were exempt from paying even the temple tax of about 1/4 oz. of silver, about $4.50, per year.
If you examine the entire book of Judges, you will see that God’s people, when subject to paying tribute, the tribute payment was always a punishment for disobedience and not following God’s ways. Thus, if you are following God’s ways, you are therefore NOT bowing down to enemy kings, or false idols, and not paying tribute. Every judge sent by god liberated the people from having to pay tribute, usually by conquoring their enemies with the sword (or with God’s help, trumpets and torches) – thus, they did not bear the sword in vain, but used it to restore liberty, time and time again.
Now, to the reader’s comments:
I enjoyed your article “Give to Caesar, Give to God”. I grew up in a nice middle class family but could never reconcile my feelings for liberty and the god given rights of man with the Christian churches. I gave up on Christianity at a very young age. When I was 18 I was thrown in jail by the FBI for destroying my draft records and refusing to serve. My father said that I had dishonored him by my actions and his Baptist Preacher told me that I would have better served the community by coming home in a box. When it came to income taxes. I never could reconcile what belonged to God and what belonged to Cesar all I knew was that this was slavery. The IRS nearly killed me and in tax matters you are not allowed to sue. Then came the 501 C3 and it was clear that churches had given it all to Caesar. I hated Christianity and Christians, considering them nothing but cowards that reveled being slaves.
Your article has helped me to see that it was my misunderstanding that was the source of my hatred of God and religion. With more understanding and wisdom I would have been in a better position possibly convince my advisories that they were wrong. I wish that I would have been more aware and ask God for wisdom. I’ll be 60 in January and perhaps it is time to put away this shield of atheism and pick up a bible and ask for that wisdom.Caesar, Comments, Give, Readers