(Romans 13:1-7)

Dear Readers,

As National Day approaches, it is appropriate for us to examine what the Scriptures has to say concerning government authorities. Romans 13:1-7 is most instructive on this matter. “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. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 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: 4 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. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7 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 KJV)

Submission to Government Authorities (v.1 – 2)

Romans 13:1-7 comes under the wider context of Romans 12:1-2, where Paul exhorts the Roman brethren to present themselves as living sacrifice unto God, which is their reasonable service in the light of the manifold mercies of God as experienced in their salvation. Part of this reasonable service includes submission to the government authorities which God had placed over them.

The injunction “be subject” (from hupotassō) is a military term used to describe a soldier’s submission and obedience to the instructions of his commander. Thus, a Christian is not to rebel against government authorities, but to be submissive to its laws and ordinances. He must do so willingly from his heart, recognising that the authorities, being the “higher powers”, have a ruling and superintending function over the nation and society. This applies not just for a select group of Christians, but for “every” man to obey.

But why should a Christian obey government authorities? The reason is simply that God is the one who has appointed them. There is no authority in the world that is not ordained by God. This can be seen throughout the Scriptures, notably the book of Daniel, where we see God in control of the events in the world, including the rise and fall of nations. The government is thus a “divinely appointed institution.” (Tow and Khoo). “If a lawless person resists what God has ordained, he is in effect resisting God (other things being equal.)” (Ibid.) Because he fights against God, he will surely be judged. Thus, unless in a situation where God’s laws are clearly contravened, every Christian must be subject to the government, because the government is a divinely appointed authority to rule over him.

The principle of subjection also applies to all higher authorities which God has placed over the Christian in his life. This means that the Christian has to be subject to his parents, teachers, masters and church ministers which God has placed in his life. Again, this does not mean that the Christian has to obey when instructions contradict the Bible. What it does require, however, is for the Christian to give the due honour due to these authorities. He can give constructive feedback when required, but such feedback must be given courteously and respectfully. Rudeness and revolt are not the hallmark of a Christian.

Function of Government Authorities (v. 3 – 5)

Government authorities are appointed to promote the general well-being of society, as well as to maintain justice. If a person has not done evil, then there is no reason for him to fear the human government. And if there is no reason to fear the human government, then there is no reason why a person should rebel. A Christian ought to be a shining example of Christ-likeness and goodness. If a Christian pursues good, the result will be praise from the government rather than condemnation, for it is the government’s responsibility to promote good in the community.

Paul proceeds to remind his readers that government officials are but ministers of God. The term for “ministers” is the Greek diakonos, where we get the English word “deacon”. It is a general term for servant, indicating that the government official is just but an instrument in the hands of God. He is God’s appointed tool to exercise justice in society. As such, evil doers ought to be very much afraid, not of the official himself, but of the power behind the official, which is none other than God. Is not God omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent? Hence, there is a guarantee that when the government official bears the sword of justice, he does not bear in vain for God Himself will see that justice is done.

The significance of this verse is seen especially in the light of Romans 12:17-21 where the Christian is asked not to seek his own vengeance but to give place to God’s wrath. God Himself declares that vengeance belongs to Him, of which He will surely seek. One of the ways God seeks His vengeance is by using His government servants as instruments to bring about His wrath. Thus, any Christian who has no choice but to seek protection can find solace in the government, trusting that God can use the government to bring about justice in the society.

Calvin adds that this passage is “a remarkable passage for the purpose of proving the right of the sword; for if the Lord, by arming the magistrate, has also committed to him the use of the sword, whenever he visits the guilty with death, by executing God’s vengeance, he obeys his commands. Contend then do they with God who think it unlawful to shed the blood of wicked men.”

Since human authority serves as a divine instrument to judge wrongdoers, the Christian ought therefore to submit himself to the leadership of such men. Since the Christian knows that the government is a divine institution, how can he in all good conscience rebel against what God has appointed? Is he not afraid of the wrath of God? Does he not want to please God in all things? If so, then he ought to accept that God’s will is the best, and that includes God’s appointment of authorities within a nation.

Duty towards Government Authorities (v.6 – 7)

Paul now applies what he had taught in the area of taxes. Perhaps there were Christians who evaded taxes under the pretext of rebelling against the rule of the Roman Emperor. Paul reminded the Christian that the Emperor as well as other government authorities are “God’s ministers”. Here the term for “ministers” is not the Greek diakonoi but rather leitourgoi. The emphasis of this term is on the public nature of the service rendered by the government authorities. They are to be constantly preoccupied to upkeep the welfare and peace of the state. This is their lot from God. Thus, a Christian is to “render” all that the public ministers need so that they can fulfil their divinely appointed role. By rendering what is due to God’s leitourgoi, Christians are actually giving back some of the much which God has provided for in their lives.


The government is a divine ordinance. Therefore, the Christian ought to render due respect, honour as well as his resources to the government, so long as it does not contravenes the Word of God. Let him rather follow the exhortation in 1 Timothy 2:1-4 – “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

Preacher Clement Chew

(originally published in True Life Weekly Vol. XI No. 43 on 27 July 2014)

After a two-month break, FEBC started its new term on 21 July 2014 with a day of prayer and registration. The principal reminded faculty and students that the call of Christ is a call not only to salvation and service, but also to suffering. 2 Timothy 3:12-15 says, Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

The residential courses this semester are taught by :

the Rev Dr Jeffrey Khoo (Systematic Theology III, Greek Exegesis I, Life of Christ II)

the Rev Dr Quek Suan Yew (Old Testament History I, Homiletics,

Contemporary Theology I, Hebrew Reading I)

the Rev Dr Prabhudas Koshy (Biblical Covenants, Ezekiel II,

Hebrew Elementary I)

Mrs Ivy Tow (Greek Elementary I)

the Rev Stephen Khoo (Church History II)

the Rev Dr Koa Keng Woo (Bible Geography IV, Hymn Leading III)

the Rev Tan Kian Sing (Philippians)

Mrs Jemima Khoo (Teaching Methods, Beginner Pianoforte)

Miss Carol Lee (Youth Christian Education)

Mr Dennis Kabingue (Greek Reading I)

Mrs Anne Lim (English Intensive I)

Mrs Irene Lim (English Intermediate I)

Elder Han Soon Juan (English Advanced I)

We thank the Lord for sending us seven new students from four countries: (1) Tan Bun Kuoy from Cambodia whose brother Tann Heng graduated from FEBC last year; (2) Leonard Ngui Chong Teck from Calvary BPC, Sibu, and (3) Elaine Low from Calvary Jaya BPC, both Malaysians; (4) Ezekiel Maung from New Life Orphan Centre, Yangon; (5) Khoo Peng Keong from Calvary Tengah BPC; (6) Leanne Joy Wong and (7) Tai Cae Ryn, both from True Life BPC, Singapore. Cae Ryn is taking a full-time load this semester while waiting to enter the university. It goes without saying that the study of the Holy Scriptures is an excellent way of preparing for university studies.

What a privilege it is to teach and to study God’s forever infallible and inerrant Words. FEBC is one of the very few institutions in these last days of rampant apostasy and unbelief which upholds the Verbal Plenary Inspiration (VPI) and the Verbal Plenary Preservation (VPP) of the Holy Scriptures, and defend the full authenticity and absolute authority of the Hebrew Masoretic Text and the Greek Textus Receptus underlying the good and faithful King James Version of the Holy Scriptures.

For our faith in VPI and VPP, FEBC was taken to court by Life Bible-Presbyterian Church not once but twice. We cannot thank God enough for delivering us from their first suit which sought to evict us from our birthplace and home at 9, 9A and 10 Gilstead Road (Proverbs 22:28). Now we pray the scheme to be drawn up by the High Court with regard to the sharing and use of the premises would be effective to prevent future disputes.

However, it is sad that Life BPC, in the meanwhile, has filed another suit against FEBC despite 1 Corinthians 6. This second suit is about money ($250,000). The trial over this matter was held in the State Court last Thursday and Friday (24 and 25 July). Dr SH Tow and Dr Jeffrey Khoo were FEBC’s witnesses. Mr Ng Beng Kiong, an Elder of LBPC, was Life BPC’s sole witness.

Please pray for the Lord to deliver us once more. The Lord has magnified His Word above all His Name (Psalm 138:2) when the Court of Appeal in their landmark judgement in 2011 ruled in favour of FEBC, declaring that the VPP doctrine is in no wise inconsistent with the Westminster Confession of Faith to which FEBC subscribes. We pray the Lord to glorify Himself and magnify His Word once more.

On the opening day of prayer, we sang a Punjabi hymn called “Saranam” (pronounced “Shae-re-num”) to encourage ourselves that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1). “Saranam” means refuge. Mrs Ivy Tow, our Matron, in her testimony shared two encouraging verses: Isaiah 41:13, “For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee”, and Deuteronomy 3:22, “Ye shall not fear them: for the LORD your God he shall fight for you.” FEBC covet your prayers.

Rev Dr Jeffrey Khoo