More on Romans 13.1-2: The Powers/Governments That God Has Ordained

Shortly after this picture was taken, the soldier put a bullet through the head of this teenage girl. Her crime? Telling others about Jesus in public during the Bejing Olympics.
Shortly after this picture was taken, the soldier put a bullet through the head of this teenage girl. Her crime? Telling others about Jesus in public during the Bejing Olympics.

Jerald Finney
Copyright © September 16, 2014

Romans 13:1-2:  “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.  Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”

Romans 13.1-2 speaks of the powers which are ordained by God. Romans 13.1 says that God ordained powers; all lower powers are ordained of God, and there is no power but of God. Only a higher power can ordain a lower power. To repeat, God as the Highest Power established (ordained) lower powers. He obviously is the Highest power because only a higher power can ordain lower powers. Every soul (every individual) is to obey the higher powers – the powers that are above him; and all lower powers are below God who is the highest power. Only the highest power, God, has no higher power to which He is subject.

What are the powers which are ordained by God? They are individual, family, civil, and church governments. Each lower power is subject to higher powers. Power means the possession or control or command over oneself, another or others. “Powers” as spoken of in Romans 13.1-2 means “governments” since government means direction, control or rule. This is obvious from the immediate and overall context of Scripture. Each power or government has a God-given goal (the glory of God) and jurisdiction. Civil government and God have jurisdictions (Matthew 22.21, Mark 12.17, Luke 20.25).  God gave each of the lower powers free will or choice of whether to honor the higher powers.

Every soul is told to be subject to the higher powers. According to the Bible (1) individuals, who can legitimately direct and control only themselves, are to be subject to God first and civil government second; (2) within the family government wives are to be subject to God first and their husband second, children to their parents; (3) civil governments are to operate under God in line with the biblical doctrine of government (this does not mean union of church and state: see the article “Is Separation of Church and State Found in the Constitution?”); and (4) churches are to direct and control their organization, goals, and affairs according to the biblical doctrine of the church. All lower powers are to be guided by the word of God. When church government, civil government, or family government has rules which contradict the laws of God, the individual is to “obey God rather than men” (Ibid., Acts 5.29); he is to be subject to God, the highest power first. God desires each government to operate under Him with His word as its guide. For example, God is the power higher than civil government; therefore, God desires that civil government choose to operate  under Him. (See, e.g., Hierarchy of Law and Laws Protecting New Testament Churches in the United States: Read Them for Yourself. 

God explains when and why He ordained each power (government) and set out the jurisdiction and guidelines for each in the Bible. The Bible teaches that the lowest power is the individual to whom God gives free will and the responsibility of self-direction and control (self-government). God ordained self-government in the Garden of Eden. Man in the Garden was innocent. God gave one simple rule for the individual in the Garden of Eden. God did this because God wanted man’s love and love requires a choice; without a choice, no man can love. The man who must be forced to marry a woman does not love that woman; a man shows love by making the choice to love. Love is action (See 1 Corinthians 13). Man disobeyed God’s rule and fell; God judged man for his decision to disobey the Highest Power.

The next power ordained by God was family government which was established at the fall. He did this to establish an order to a fallen race. Man was no longer innocent and therefore he was given the knowledge of good and evil (conscience). God forbade man to judge man; in other words there was to be no government (direction and control) over man by man (See Genesis 4.8-15). After the fall mankind was only to be guided by conscience, and he quickly forgot about God, the Highest Power. All mankind except for Noah and his family quickly became totally corrupted and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was evil continually. As a result, God was grieved and had no choice but to judge mankind by destroying the earth and all mankind except for Noah and his family. Something more was needed to control man and his evil imagination.

At the flood, God gave man the responsibility to rule over man for God thereby establishing civil government (direction and control of man by man under God, the highest government). God ordained civil government because, as demonstrated between the fall and the flood, the knowledge of good and evil (conscience) was insufficient to control evil. Certain evils were from that time forward to be judged by man through direct punishment by man (civil direction and control) here on earth. God then divided Gentile nations in the earth as explained in Genesis 10. Again, mankind soon rebelled against God and, led by Nimrod, built the Tower of Babel in an attempt to start a one-world government. As a result, God confounded their language and scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth. He knew that as one people with one language nothing would be restrained from them, which they had imagined to do (See Genesis 11.1-9). Man has proceeded with individual government, family government (according to man’s choice), conscience, and civil government since that time.

The Old Testament after Genesis 11 deals extensively with, among other things, nations or civil governments. God called out Abraham as the father of both an earthly people (the nation Israel) and a spiritual people (those who are saved by grace through faith). When Israel was called out, the Gentile nations proceeded according to God’s original plan to be guided by conscience (see, e.g., Romans 2.14-15), but Israel was established as a theocracy in which the religion and state were to walk hand in hand directly under God. The goals of both the religion and the state were to be the same with the two working together in furthering those goals. Israel was the only theocracy ever ordained by God. A believer who studies God’s teaching and prophecies concerning Israel and the relationship between Israel and the Gentile nations will see God’s ultimate history and philosophy of history unfolding before his eyes. Old Testament history and prophecy as well as secular history prove that civil government operating alongside individual government, family government, and conscience was insufficient to control man’s evil imagination.

The last government God ordained was church government as recorded in the New Testament. Individual, family, and civil government had proven insufficient to control evil, so God established his churches which were to be made up of born-again believers. Believers in the churches were to seek to walk in the spirit, and organize and operate the churches according to God’s directives. Because man’s evil imagination, the church, civil government, individual government, family government, and conscience have proven insufficient to control man’s evil imagination. Most churches are heretical at best. A great proportion are apostate.

Nonetheless, there is ultimate hope even though mankind, because of a sin nature, fails all God’s tests and makes inevitable the judgment of God. To this point in time, the basis of all earthly governments is the individual, whom God desires to be led according to His rules. The individual hope is salvation through repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20.21; see also Jerald Finney’s Bible Study notes on Repentance, the new creature, the new life, and changed behavior and God’s Plan Of Salvation). The Holy Spirit leads a believer (a saved person) who studies God’s word into the truth which will make him free (John 8.31-32). An individual who is saved and who walks in the spirit will positively affect the family, the nation, and the church he belongs to. Sadly, no civil government on earth now honors the highest power; believers walking in the spirit are few and far between; God-honoring churches are rare and make up a small remnant. Just as the Old Testament chronicles the apostasy of Israel, the New Testament explains the apostasy of the churches. Only when the Highest Power Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ, returns and crushes the Gentile nations at Armageddon will a government over all mankind be established on earth under the leadership of the Highest Power. Man will fail all tests God has given Him since the creation and only God will have the power to bring order out of the chaos which man has created.

One can go to the following links for much more on Romans 13 and related verses:

Romans 13 and related verses
Render unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses

For more on the various governments ordained by God, go to

The Biblical Doctrine of Government

For more on church government, go to

The Biblical Doctrine of the Church


Click the image above to go to the article
Click the image above to go to the article “Is Separation of Church and State Found in the Constitution?”


Answers to detractors who attack us as being single minded

By Chad Bush, AKD Baptist Evangelist
September 10, 2010

Often those which claim someone or some group of people focuses on one issue too much often spend more time on the issue than those whom they accuse. the assumption is the other group is single-minded and limited theologically to that one point, the proverbial one trick or one horse show. To the contrary, a balanced Christian is well-researched and able to answer their detractors on many various theological truths from the scriptures; it is often the opposition’s focus on various ideologies which cause a Christian to respond, and thus creates a false illusion of obsession over one issue.

Baptists have been accused of focusing on baptism too much, but apart from dealing with its importance after salvation and righting heresies regarding the doctrine Baptists rarely spend much time on that doctrine; and, we spend far less time on the doctrine than our accusers who believe baptism plays a role in imparting salvation.

King James Only folks are accused of focusing on the issue of Bible preservation and inspiration too much, often to the point of neglecting souls. However, the issue is not the entire theological discourse in the repertoire of the believer. Many KJBO believers just believe as they do and will share the truth when asked, or when they hear someone spreading false facts, but they do not walk around like robots chanting, “King James Bible, King James Bible, King James Bible.”

Those of us who believe in Christ as the only Way to heaven, and the importance of doctrine in fellowship as almost entirely focusing on division rather than the unity of the brethren. Yes, Christians who believe in the truth do believe the truth divides, but they do not focus on division or make it their sole purpose in the faith.

Those of us who adhere to the belief in the antiquity of the faith called “Baptist” and in the ability to find churches of similar faith through all ages are accused of being prideful. We are called Baptist Briders even if we do not hold to the doctrines which makes them Briders. We are accused of being exclusionists, revisionists, ignorant, deceived, and more. Those of us who focus on proving this truth are often cast in a light which seeks to make it seem as if we would abandon all other aspects of the ministry to only focus on Baptist history. The truth is, it is just one more aspect of our balanced education in the scriptures, church history, theology and the things which are of the Spirit.

I could name many other such issues, but I believe my point is made. If you take any issue which the Bible will uphold you will find someone in opposition to it. They will do their best to make those who will not waver feel like they are in error, belittle them, denigrate them, call them names, and more. If you are willing to hold to the truth do not think you will be safe from false accusations from so-called brethren. Even though the Lord sees this as abominable in His eyes, they will ignore this or do their best to soothe their seared conscience so they can remain superior in their own eyes. If their only tactic to attack your position is to posit you only focus on one issue, then it is obvious they grasp for straws and have no other way to rebut the position unto which you adhere.

Remember, it is better to be right with the Lord than it is to be right with man, and it is better to be wrong in our best effort to follow the Lord’s word in what it teaches than to be wrong because we do not believe what the Lord’s word reveals.

Ever your humble servant in The Lord Jesus Christ,
Brother Chad Bush aka Baptist Evangelist