Romans 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God:
The highest power being God himself; therefore always put God first and obey others only as their teachings, laws, rulings and commands do not conflict with God’s Word.
13:2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist [the ordinance of God] shall receive to themselves damnation. 13:3 For rulers [as God intended them to be] are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
If we are to obey the civil authorities in the land, and this includes the authorities in the spiritual Ekklesia; how much more are we to obey the Greater Power and authority of God the Father and Jesus Christ and their Word? All authority is from God, and God’s authority and the authority of every Word of God comes FIRST!
Matthew 4:8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 4:9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 4:10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
We are to obey the rules and laws of nations insofar as they do not conflict with the Word of God; and when they do conflict we are to obey God rather than men; the best course of action in such a situation is to leave the jurisdiction.
Let the reader understand; this may mean leaving a nation and it may mean leaving a corporate church.
Romans 13:4 For he [any godly authority] is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 13:5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
We are to obey God the Father who is the HEAD of Christ; and then we are to also obey Christ who is the Head of the Brethren.
1 Corinthians 11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God [the Father].
Now consider that if we do not obey God the Father and Jesus Christ, we are separated and cut off from them (Isaiah 59).
Any authority of men is also cut off from God who is the source of their authority; if the person makes demands contrary to the Word of God. Therefore if we follow any man contrary to the Word of God, we will also be separated from and cut off from God, because we follow another in place of God.
What shall we do then? We are to prove all things and to follow men ONLY as they follow God (1 Thes 5:21, 1 Cor 11:1, Acts 17:11, John 5:39, Mat 4:4); in other words, we are to follow God first and then to be subject to men in other things.
This applies to following any human authority, including those who call themselves apostles, elders, priests etc, as well as applying to civil authorities.
There are many false apostles and false prophets who loudly proclaim that Jesus is the Christ to lead people to follow after themselves, instead of being zealous to live by every Word of God.
Who was Jesus talking to in Matthew 24? Was he speaking to the uncalled and the unconverted? Or was he warning HIS disciples about being led astray?
This warning was for the called out, that they beware of the many false teachers in their midst. We are to discern between the faithful godly elders and the false, by assessing their fruits of zeal for godliness and their zeal to live by every Word of God (Mat 7:16).
Romans 13:6 For this cause pay [your taxes] ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
The following applies to supporting the faithful spiritual servants of God as well as the unconverted authorities.
13:7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear [respect] to whom fear [respect]; honour to whom honour. 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another [if we truly loved on another we would be obeying the Word of God which defines true godly love] hath fulfilled the law.
If we love God and others, we will not take their wives, nor steal from them, nor deceive them, nor kill them, nor lead them away from God; So we see that the commandments are simply instructions in how to love God and neighbor.
Romans 13:9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Paul prophesies of today, for we are much closer to the coming of Christ than Paul was in his day, indeed the time is now very close at hand.
13:11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light [which light is the whole Word of God John 1].
Let us reconcile with God the Father and run to Jesus Christ our Deliverer, to keep the whole Word of God with burning zeal! Let us reject our idols of men and false traditions and reject all things which are contrary to the Word of God; forever!
13:13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering [whoring] and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ [to live as he lived], and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
Zealously live by every Word of God, but do not add to it and do not dispute over non-biblical non-salvational matters.
Romans 14:1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.
Don’t dispute with each other regarding the customs of men.
The personal custom of being a vegetarian is used as an example of disputing over unimportant personal matters, which unnecessary disputing tends to divide those who are otherwise faithful to the Word of God.
14:2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. [vegetarianism] 14:3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.
Verse 4 has been used to deceive people into not questioning and proving elders for a very long time. We are commanded to:
1 Thessalonians 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
If we do not question and prove all things by the Holy Scriptures, we are disobeying God and the Holy Scriptures. We are to even question and prove out those who claim to be apostles as the church at Ephesus was praised for.
Revelation 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried [tested and questioned by God’s Word] them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
Paul tells us to judge all things by the scriptures and also tells us not to judge others about race, personal customs or preferences which are not matters of faithfulness to the Word of God!
Jesus, Paul and others tell us plainly that we MUST judge elders, leaders, those who claim to be prophets or apostles and brethren; as to whether they are faithful to the Word of God, and whether we should follow them or not.
The scriptures tell us not to associate with the sinful in the brotherhood so that they might be shamed to repentance; while false teachers tell us to tolerate sin in the Assemblies for the sake of organizational unity. Who will you believe and obey: false men or the Word of Almighty God?
1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a [a self-justifying unrepentant habitual] fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
1 Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
Romans 14:4 is another scripture falsely interpreted to prevent any criticism of sinful elders and leaders. This verse has nothing to do with proving the godliness of those who desire us to blindly follow them; it has everything to do with condemning the judging of others over non scriptural matters, like race, culture, national customs and personal preferences in non-biblical things from vegetarianism to demanding the wearing of a suit or tie; etc. etc.
Romans 14:4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? [Do judge whether a person who wants a following and claims to be an apostle or prophet as to whether his words are godly, by proving him with the Word of God! Do not judge those who are faithful to God; concerning non-scriptural matters and the personal preferences of men. Let every man be judged by the law and Word of God only.] to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, [The man who is faithful to God, even if he has a different culture or personal preferences than yourself, is able to stand; if he stands on and is faithful to the whole Word of God.] he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
Verse 5 refers to the various national holidays of the nations and the weekly fast days of the Jews of that time; this is NOT a reference to feast days dedicated to pagan gods which must be rejected.
14:5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. [This is peaking of human traditions, and not talking about God’s commanded holy convocations.] Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
Let each person live with a guilt free conscience before God and observe those things tat God declares holy, while not judging brethren about other non-biblical things.
To fast on a certain day is a personal act of worshiping God and is nobody else’s business.
14:6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth [sanctified flesh (Lev 11, Deu 14) instead of only veggies], eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not [concerning those who eat no flesh, but grain and vegetables only], and giveth God thanks.
All that we do is between us and God; therefore do not judge and condemn people over non biblical personal choices or because of their race.
14:7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. 14:8 For whether we [the faithful called out are called to be a godly example to all] live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. 14:9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead [the dead in Christ who will be resurrected to spirit] and living.
14:10 But why dost thou judge thy brother [over non-biblical things]? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother [It is wrong to despise others for trivial physical things, when he lives by God’s Word.]? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
All people will ultimately be judged by God’s Word; and not by human ideas Revelation 20:12.
14:11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. 14:12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
When we judge [condemn] people because race, culture or personal choices that are a matter of personal conduct only and are NOT contrary to the Word of God; we offend them and we may cause the weak to turn away from God. We also offend Almighty God by despising his beloved ones!
There is a word for those who insist; “do not judge,” when it comes to their own spiritual errors; and then they force their personal judgments and preferences on others: Hypocrisy!
14:13 Let us not therefore judge one another any [in non-scriptural things] more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.
If a person esteems a thing unclean [wrong], it is wrong to him in his own mind and conscience, and he should NOT do it and sear his conscience before God. For if we think something is wrong and we do it, we are sinning in our own estimation, and developing a habit of willfully doing what we believe is sin.
What we need to do is to diligently study the Word of God to prove out a matter right or wrong, and then we can do or not do the thing, with a clear conscience before God.
In verse 14 Paul speaks of unclean ACTIONS and not about unclean meat. He says that non-biblical personal preferences like being a vegetarian or not drinking wine, are not unclean or wrong. Paul is speaking of deeds and not about clean and unclean meats.
14:14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself [actions are only unclean (wrong) if declared wrong by God]: but to him that esteemeth [in his own personal opinion] any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
14:15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy [scripturally sanctified flesh] meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy [criticism for being a vegetarian and not eating flesh] meat, for whom Christ died.
We are not to condemn others for not eating flesh, or for not drinking wine; or for any other matter of personal preference which is NOT declared an unclean deed by scripture; but we are to remain in the righteousness of God, which is defined by God’s Word.
Nevertheless we are to GROW in knowledge and understanding by a continual study of the whole Word of God; to learn it and to keep it!
14:16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of: 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, [every Word of God defines the righteousness of God] and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Let us follow the whole Word of God and not grieve each other by disputing over non-biblical personal preferences; which disputing only offends and causes strife, accomplishing nothing godly.
14:18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, [God’s law, ways and Word] and things wherewith one may edify [build up each other] another.
14:20 For meat [do not offend and destroy one another over eating or not eating the meats permitted for that use by God’s Word, or by any other minor non-biblical thing] destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. 14:21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
We must always be zealous to learn and to live by every Word of God.
We must never sear our conscience by doing things which we are doubtful of; but, when in doubt Find Out.
14:22 Hast thou faith [to eat meat or to drink wine in good conscience]? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. 14:23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith [thinking that he might be sinning, and so hardening himself to do what he believes to be sin]: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
Doing things that we are doubtful about or believe wrong, is searing our conscience, to deliberately and willfully do what we believe to be wrong!