Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
Note 3 at Ro 13:2: Notice specifically Paul's choice of words here. "Whosoever therefore resisteth the power" (emphasis mine). The word "resist" implies actively fighting against. As discussed in note 1 at Ro 13:1, we can refuse to comply with ungodly edicts without resisting the government that issued them. And the word "power" is referring directly to the authority of the government itself, not just its directives.
Therefore, Paul was instructing us not to fight against the authority of the government we live under. That doesn't mean we have to comply with any law that is in direct opposition to God's laws, but when we oppose the order of government, we are opposing God's order.
The early Christians were great examples of this. They lived under one of the most corrupt and ruthless governments of all time. The Roman emperors even proclaimed themselves as gods. Yet nowhere in Scripture was there any instruction given to the believers to subvert that government and replace it. On the contrary, Paul commanded the believers to pray for their governmental leaders (1Ti 2:1-4). Peter commanded the believers to submit to every ordinance of the king and governors (1Pe 2:13-14).
The early Christians never brought any political pressure to bear on the Roman government or encouraged revolt. Yet in a relatively short period of time, Christianity overwhelmed the pagan Roman government and was adopted as the official state religion. Although this was one of the worst things that ever happened to Christianity, it does illustrate how we can overcome evil with good (Ro 12:21).
Note 4 at Ro 13:2: The word that was translated "damnation" here is the Greek word "KRIMA." This word was translated "judgment" twelve times, "damnation" seven times, "condemnation" five times, "be condemned" once, "judgments" once, "go to law" once, and "avenged" once. It means "'judgment'; i.e. condemnation of wrong, the decision (whether severe or mild) which one passes on the faults of others...in a forensic sense, the sentence of a judge" (Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon).
In this case, this is not speaking of the eternal damnation or judgment of God. This is saying that if people resist the power of government, they will come under the judgment of that government.
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