Previous Verse


Therefore the one who rejects the entire system of authority

Go to footnote number


Go to footnote number

that which God has set in place. And those who have resisted, will bring judgment on themselves.


Therefore, the one who refuses to function within the established system of authority, but rather chooses to step outside of that authority altogether, is pushing back against what God has established. Those who think they can be totally free from the consequences of rules and they can function without any authority over them will only bring on themselves the consequence of harsh punishment from God.



This is a military verb; it usually denotes a military leader arranging his forces in a specific way and “squaring off” against an opponent which has organized itself opposite him. Thus it can have the simple meaning of “oppose or resist.” It can also have a nonmilitary usage such as: “to reject something in its entirety, reject the entire arrangement of something.”

2: "resists"

Earlier in history this was also a military term, but it had lost that usage by the time of the New Testament. Like the verb used above, it means “to resist, to oppose, to take a stand against.” This verb is usually seen as defensive, rather than offensive type of fighting. In this case it is defensive because someone has decided to place himself outside of the standard lines of authority and he will not let anyone move him from that position.


Lines of authority are a big deal to God. He is the ultimate authority that is over all other authority figures, and if someone does not like it, there will be a price to pay. Any time someone steps outside of the established authority structure he is stepping outside of God’s will. That refers to anyone who refuses to submit to the authority over them, as well as to those in authority who abuse their power and use it for their own ends to the detriment of others. A person who has been given authority must use it for the desired purpose of the one above him, not for his own desires.

The other side of the coin is that God is a gracious, kind and forgiving God; while He is the ultimate authority and will punish violations to the authority structure, He does not abuse His power, but has our best interest in mind.

What about the forming of a nation that gained its independence through revolution? Most of the time these are not situations where people say they don’t need any authority over them, rather they are saying that they want a different authority over them because the one they are revolting against has abused its authority. By abusing its power, the guilty authority figure has failed to properly exercise its authority and must be replaced. The people who are revolting still understand the need for authority, but they want to follow a different authority. The extent to which the power has been abused is the extent to which efforts to establish a different authority are justified.

The same holds true for groups within a nation which have called for a different authority structure, for instance, the Black Lives Matter and Antifa movements which began to get major attention in the summer of 2020. The extent to which the police were targeting and abusing blacks without cause is the extent to which the Black Lives Matter movement has been justified in its actions. Also, the extent to which BLM has used its money and influence to help the people it claims to represent is the extent to which BLM has been justified in its propaganda efforts. Obviously, the extent of these two things is hotly debated, but we must not lose sight of the fact that it is indeed the extent of those things that is the bottom line.

Whether we are talking about political authority, as Paul is discussing in this passage, or lines of authority in the home or in other parts of society, this is an important principle to remember – God has established the need for, and the place for authority structures; if we act as if we don’t need anyone over us, it will not end well.