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Romans 13:1-7 The Message (MSG)

To Be a Responsible Citizen

13 1-3 Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it’s God’s order. So live responsibly as a citizen. If you’re irresponsible to the state, then you’re irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible. Duly constituted authorities are only a threat if you’re trying to get by with something. Decent citizens should have nothing to fear.

3-5 Do you want to be on good terms with the government? Be a responsible citizen and you’ll get on just fine, the government working to your advantage. But if you’re breaking the rules right and left, watch out. The police aren’t there just to be admired in their uniforms. God also has an interest in keeping order, and he uses them to do it. That’s why you must live responsibly—not just to avoid punishment but also because it’s the right way to live.

6-7 That’s also why you pay taxes—so that an orderly way of life can be maintained. Fulfill your obligations as a citizen. Pay your taxes, pay your bills, respect your leaders.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Romans 13:1-7 Amplified Bible (AMP)

Be Subject to Government

13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God [granted by His permission and sanction], and those which exist have been put in place by God. Therefore whoever [a]resists [governmental] authority resists the ordinance of God. And those who have resisted it will bring judgment (civil penalty) on themselves. For [civil] authorities are not a source of fear for [people of] good behavior, but for [those who do] evil. Do you want to be unafraid of authority? Do what is good and you will receive approval and commendation. For he is God’s servant to you for good. But if you do wrong, [you should] be afraid; for he does not carry the [executioner’s] sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an avenger who brings punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be subject [to civil authorities], not only to escape the punishment [that comes with wrongdoing], but also as a matter of principle [knowing what is right before God]. For this same reason you pay taxes, for civil authorities are God’s servants, devoting themselves to governance. Pay to all what is due: tax to whom tax is due, customs to whom customs, respect to whom respect, honor to whom honor.


  1. Romans 13:2 An exception to this is recorded in Acts 5:27-29. See especially v 29.
Amplified Bible (AMP)

Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

Romans 13:1-7 King James Version (KJV)

13 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.

For rulers 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:

For he 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.

Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

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 13:1-7 J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

The Christian and the civil law

13 1-2 Every Christian ought to obey the civil authorities, for all legitimate authority is derived from God’s authority, and the existing authority is appointed under God. To oppose authority then is to oppose God, and such opposition is bound to be punished.

3-4 The honest citizen has no need to fear the keepers of law and order, but the dishonest man will always be nervous of them. If you want to avoid this anxiety just lead a law-abiding life, and all that can come your way is a word of approval. The officer is God’s servant for your protection. But if you are leading a wicked life you have reason to be alarmed. The “power of the law” which is vested in every legitimate officer, is no empty phrase. He is, in fact, divinely appointed to inflict God’s punishment upon evil-doers.

5-7 You should, therefore, obey the authorities, not simply because it is the safest, but because it is the right thing to do. It is right, too, for you to pay taxes for the civil authorities are appointed by God for the good purposes of public order and well-being. Give everyone his legitimate due, whether it be rates, or taxes, or reverence, or respect!

J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

The New Testament in Modern English by J.B Phillips copyright © 1960, 1972 J. B. Phillips. Administered by The Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England. Used by Permission.

Romans 13:1-7 1599 Geneva Bible (GNV)

13 1 He willeth that we submit ourselves to Magistrates: 8 To love our neighbor: 13 To love uprightly, 14 and to put on Christ.

Let [a]every [b]soul be subject unto the higher [c]powers: [d]for there is no power but of God: and the powers that be, are [e]ordained of God.

Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist, shall receive to themselves condemnation.

[f]For Magistrates are not to be feared for good works, but for evil. [g]Wilt thou then be without fear of the power? do well: so shalt thou have praise of the same.

For he is the minister of God for thy wealth: [h]but if thou do evil, fear: for he beareth not the sword for nought: for he is the minister of God to [i]take vengeance on him that doeth evil.

[j]Wherefore ye must be subject, not because of wrath only, but [k]also for conscience sake.

[l]For, for this cause ye pay also tribute: for they are God’s ministers, applying themselves for the same thing.

Give to all men therefore their duty: tribute, to whom ye owe tribute: custom, to whom custom: fear, to whom [m]fear: honor, to whom ye owe [n]honor.


  1. Romans 13:1 Now he showeth severally, what subjects owe to their Magistrates, to wit, obedience: From which he showeth that no man is free: and in such sort that it is not only due to the highest Magistrate himself, but also even to the basest, which hath any office under him.
  2. Romans 13:1 Yea, though an Apostle, though an Evangelist, though a Prophet: Chrysostom. Therefore the tyranny of the Pope over all kingdoms must down to the ground.
  3. Romans 13:1 A reason taken of the nature of the thing itself: For to what purpose are they placed in higher degree, but that the inferior should be subject unto them?
  4. Romans 13:1 Another argument of great force: Because God is author of this order: so that such as are rebels ought to know, that they make war with God himself: wherefore they cannot but purchase to themselves great misery and calamity.
  5. Romans 13:1 Be distributed: for some are greater, some smaller.
  6. Romans 13:3 The third argument taken from the end wherefore they were made, which is most profitable: for that God by this means preserveth the good and bridleth the wicked: by which words the Magistrates themselves are put in mind of that duty which they owe to their subjects.
  7. Romans 13:3 An excellent way to bear this yoke, not only without grief, but also with great profit.
  8. Romans 13:4 God hath armed the Magistrate even with a revenging sword.
  9. Romans 13:4 By whom God revengeth the wicked.
  10. Romans 13:5 The conclusion: We must obey the magistrate, not only for fear of punishment, but much more because that (although the Magistrate have no power over the conscience of man, yet seeing he is God’s minister) he cannot be resisteth by any good conscience.
  11. Romans 13:5 So far as lawfully we may: for if unlawful things be commanded us, we must answer as Peter teacheth us, It is better to obey God than men.
  12. Romans 13:6 He reckoneth up the chiefest things wherein consisteth the obedience of subjects.
  13. Romans 13:7 Obedience, and that from the heart.
  14. Romans 13:7 Reverence, (which as reason is) we must give to the Magistrate.
1599 Geneva Bible (GNV)

Geneva Bible, 1599 Edition. Published by Tolle Lege Press. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations in articles, reviews, and broadcasts.

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