Submission to Authorities (Romans 13:1-7)

Submission to Authorities (Romans 13:1-7)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, September 25 and Sunday, September 26, 2021

Did any of you ever watch the show Andy Griffith? I used to watch that show. It was/is a comical and wholesome show. There was one particular episode in which Barney gives Gomer a ticket. Right after giving him the ticket Barney violates the law by a U-turn. Gomer immediately says, “Citizen’s arrest, citizen’s arrest!”

Well, today’s passage gets into the place of government in our life. God’s order is: God-State-people. The state submits to God, the people submit to the state. However, whether or not the state submits to God, we are to submit to the state. Let’s look at this passage.

My theme today is:

Christians are called to be submissive to authorities.

  1. Be subject to the government (Romans 13:1).
    1. Witherington footnote: It is very interesting to compare what Paul says here and how he describes Christian community life to what Tertullian (Apology 39) says at the end of the second century: “We are an association bound together by our religious profession. … We meet together as an assembly and society. … We pray for the emperors. … We gather together to read our sacred writings. … After the gathering is over the Christians go out as if they had come from a school of virtue.”[1]
    2. We are now in the ethics and moral section of Romans. Now, Paul addresses the government.
    3. Look at verse 1, Romans 13:1, Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
    4. There is a passive command and then there are two statements about governing authorities.
    5. I said that it is a passive command because the verb directly translated “let be subject” is an imperative command in the passive mood.
    6. It is a command, but it comes off more gently, “let every person…” He is not saying, “do this,” or “don’t do that.”
    7. The command is that we are to be subject to the government. This is throughout Scripture.
    8. Eph 5:21 tells us to be subject to one another.
    9. Titus 3:1 and 1 Peter 2:13 also tells us to be subject to authorities.
    10. Hebrews 13:7 and 17 tell us to submit to church leadership.
    11. Da 2:21 He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding
    12. Da 4:17 The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.’
    13. Jn 19:11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”
    14. Now, the next two statement are critical.
    15. “For,: this means he is about to explain something.
    16. There is no authority except God. What does that mean?
    17. It means every government is under the sovereignty of God. He has a purpose. He can use it.
    18. This does not mean that God endorses corrupt leadership. The Roman leadership at that time was very corrupt.
    19. This means that God is the ultimate authority. There is no authority above God. Every leader will have to submit to God.
    20. Those that exists have been instituted by God.
    21. We may all know that the kings during the Middle Ages would use this verse to keep people in submission.
    22. However, this is only endorsing the system of government. This is not endorsing an evil monarch.
    23. God ordained/setup the idea of government.
  2. Why (Romans 13:2-5)?
    1. Look at verse 2, Romans 13:2: Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
    2. There is an inference here, therefore is a logical, inferential, conjunction. Whoever resists authority, resists what God has appointed. What? What he means is that when we resist authority, we are resisting the government and God has appointed government. This does not mean resisting President Biden, or President Trump, or President Obama is resisting God because of them. No, we are resisting the government and God appointed a system of governance.
    3. If we resist, we will incur, that is be subject to, judgment, that is discipline.
    4. CSB: The Jewish nation rebelled against Rome in two costly wars, bringing judgment upon themselves at a cost of more than one million lives. Government is ordained by God to reward good and punish evil, providing peace and order for those whom it serves. The sword alludes to capital punishment. A government that rewards evil and punishes good will not long survive, for evil is innately destructive. “If a ruler listens to lies, all his officials will be wicked” (Pr 29:12).[2]
    5. Look at verses 3-4, Romans 13:3-4: For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
    6. This is very practical. If you do good the rulers will not bother you.
    7. Now, anyone of us could think of the exception, but we make rules based on the norms, not the exceptions. We could think of the times when someone was doing good and faced discipline, but most of the time, if we are doing what is right, we will be okay.
    8. If we do wrong, we are right to be afraid. The government does not bear the sword in vain, that means for no reason.
    9. The ruler is the servant of God. Meaning, by serving in the government, whether one realizes it or not, he/she is a servant of God. They are in God’s system.
    10. The leader is an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
    11. This means that oftentimes God punishes wickedness through His people.
    12. This is really all about common grace. Generally speaking, even non-Christians recognize right and wrong and can carry it out in government.
    13. Verse 5, Romans 13:5: Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
    14. This sums this section up. Therefore, is an inference.
    15. When we are subject to the government by obedience, we avoid God’s wrath. How? In obeying the government, we are obeying God’s system to keep up moral order in this fallen world.
    16. It is also better for our conscience because in obeying the government we are doing right.
  3. In obeying the government we pay taxes (Romans 13:6-7).
    1. Now, Paul deals with taxes.
    2. Look at verses 6-7: For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
    3. “For because of this,” because of what?
    4. Because of the government system which was instituted by God. We pay taxes because God setup government as part of His common grace and natural law.
    5. When did God setup government?
    6. Genesis 1:28-31; 2:24-25, He setup government with the family.  
    7. In Genesis 2:15 God told Adam to take care of the garden.
    8. In Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy God setup a system of government for the Israelites.
    9. Dr. Constable: God has established three institutions to control life in our dispensation: the family (Gen. 2:18–25), the civil government (Gen. 9:1–7), and the church (Acts 2). In each institution there are authorities to whom we need to submit for God’s will to go forward. Women are not the only people God commands to be submissive or supportive. Male and female children, citizens, and church members also need to demonstrate a submissive spirit.[3]
    10. God also put it in our hearts that we need government. Meaning, God taught us that through common grace.
    11. Again, in verse 6, authorities are ministers of God, again because they are taking care of God’s system.
    12. Verse 7: pay what is owed to them.
    13. Taxes to whom taxes are owed… taxes to government. Jesus addresses this in: Matt 22:21; Mark 12:17; Luke 20:25[4]
    14. Revenue to whom revenue is owed…Pay your boss, pay those who you owe money to.
    15. Respect to whom respect is owed…respect leadership…
    16. Honor to whom honor is owed…
    17. There is a principle, it is subsidiarity. This means the closest people to a situation are most equipped to handle the situation. Your family is most equipped to take care of the needs of your family. Poland is most equipped to handle the needs of Poland. Ohio is most equipped to handle the needs of Ohio. It is not good to micromanage.
    18. The dictionary definition is:
    19. the quality or state of being subsidiary
    20. a principle in social organization holding that functions which are performed effectively by subordinate or local organizations belong more properly to them than to a dominant central organization.


  1. We must obey the authorities.
  2. We must understand that God setup the system of governance so resisting authorities is resisting God.
  3. We must even submit to corrupt authorities. There is not an exception given for authorities that are corrupt or that we do not like.
  4. The only exception is when there is a conflict we are to obey the higher power, which is God (Acts 5:29).
  5. We must pay our taxes (verse 6).
  6. We must pay revenue to whom revenue is owed (verse 7).
  7. We must pay respect to whom respect is owed (verse 7).
  8. We must give honor to whom honor is owed (verse 7).


[1] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004).

[2] Paige Patterson, “Salvation in the Old Testament,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1801.

[3] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ro 13:1.

[4] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by renewing your mind, and out of that live different lives than those of the world (Romans 12:1-21).

Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by renewing your mind, and out of that live different lives than those of the world.

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, September 18 and Sunday, September 19, 2021

J. D. Greear shares:

I did a little reading up on caterpillars recently and learned some fascinating things about their transformation process. When the caterpillar is in its cocoon, it isn’t just rearranging pieces on its body. It’s not in there reading manuals about flight or working out. It actually releases enzymes that turn its body into a little soup. Those cells rearrange into a new creation—with wings, antennae, eyes, and all the rest.

After a few weeks, it nibbles a hole in the cocoon, and out pops a butterfly! And then, without any classes or coaching or coercion, it flies.

The Apostle Paul may or may not have known all this about butterflies. But he did recognize that something similar happens to the believer: “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind …” (Romans 12:2 CSB).

“Transformed” means changed from within. The word in Greek for “transformed” is metamorphoo. It’s where we get our word “metamorphosis”—you know, the word we use to describe what happens to a caterpillar when it sews itself up in a cocoon and emerges as a butterfly.

When God transforms us from within, he releases gospel enzymes into our heart that restructure it so that spiritual flight becomes second nature.[1]

My theme is:

Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by renewing your mind, and out of that live different lives than those of the world.

  1. Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the Lord (verses 1-2).
    1. In this chapter Paul is transitioning from all the rich doctrine to how we are to live. Because of all this rich doctrine we live differently.
    2. Verses 1-2, Romans 12:1-2: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
  2. Thinking of the body of Christ (verses 3-8).
    1. Paul is about to write about being the body of Christ. However, I find it interesting that he begins this section the way he did. It is as if he was saying you cannot live the way a Christian is to live unless you are transformed by Christ. If you are conformed to the world, you cannot live the way a Christian is to live. Further, you must be transformed. After you are transformed the rest will follow.
    2. So, to live as a Christian you need to:
      1. Be one (Romans chapters 1-11).
      2. You must have the right doctrine (Romans chapters 1-11).
      3. You must be a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).
      4. You must be transformed (Romans 12:2).
    3. Now, he gets practical.
    4. Look at verse 3, Romans 12:3: For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
    5. Now, we are going to skip to verses 9-13.
  1. Christian living (verses 9-13).
    1. Now, Paul gets very practical. Jesus is not mentioned in this section, but He is the backdrop.
    2. Verse 9, Romans 12:9: Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
    3. Paul is straightforward: love should be genuine. Think of genuine. This means it is not fake, it is real.
    4. Abhor what is evil. Abhor means “a strong feeling of revulsion or aversion.”[2]
    5. Hold fast to what is good. Think of holding fast to something, when we are “holding fast” we are holding tightly. We do not want to let go. We cling to what is good. Cling means “to glue something together.”[3]
    6. Verse 10, Romans 12:10: Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
    7. This is the language of family. We are to love one another with the affection we would have for a brother or a sister.
    8. Verse 11, Romans 12:11: Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
    9. Do not be slothful in zeal. To be slothful would mean to be lacking, or to not care, or to be lazy. We must care about zeal. Maybe since they thought the law could not save them and salvation is by grace they could have an “I don’t care attitude.”
    10. Be fervent in spirit. This means passionate intensity. Serve the Lord.
    11. Verses 12-13, Romans 12:12-13: Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
    12. Paul is giving simple statements.
    13. Rejoice in what? The hope that we have. We have hope in Christ.
    14. Be patient in what? Patient, even in tribulation. Why? Because of the hope. Be constant in what? Prayer. We must keep praying for our hope and patience in tribulation.
    15. When we do this, we can’t loath our neighbors. It is hard to hate someone we are praying for.
    16. Contribute to what? The needs of the saints.
    17. Show what? Hospitality. That may be one of the needs of the saints. Hospitality was critical back then.
    18. There is a book, “The Gospel Comes with a Housekey.” In it Rosario Butterfield writes about how important hospitality is to the gospel.
  2. Christian unity (verses 14-21).
    1. Verse 14, Romans 12:14: Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
    2. That is a common statement throughout the New Testament. Christians will be persecuted. We are to respond with blessing. We are not to curse.
    3. Jesus did this, He prayed for those who crucified Him.
    4. Verse 15, Romans 12:15: Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
    5. As the body of Christ, we rejoice together, but we also weep together. This is about our unity. Remember the picture of the body of Christ like a human body? If my arm hurts it affects my whole body. Therefore, as the body of Christ, we really care about one another. Also,
    6. Verse 16, Romans 12:16: Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.
    7. Live in harmony.
    8. Have you ever been to a concert? In a concert multiple instruments and singers come together in unity to make something beautiful.
    9. Do not be haughty. That means arrogant or superior. Don’t be a know it all. That goes along with the next part: Don’t be wise in your own sight.
    10. Verse 17, Romans 12:17: Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
    11. The world would say to repay evil with evil, but not us. We are to repay evil with good. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”[4]
    12. Jesus did not take out vengeance on Judas.
    13. Verse 18, Romans 12:18: If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
    14. “if possible…” This means that this is not always possible, but when it is possible we want to live peaceably with all.
    15. Can we do that? What about our neighbor? Our co-worker? The person who you disagree with?
    16. Verse 19, Romans 12:19: Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
    17. Proverbs 25:21-22 are quoted in verse 20, Romans 12:20: To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.
    18. Instead of taking vengeance, we do the opposite. We can do this because we know that God will take care of the sins committed against us.
    19. Feed our enemy. Give water to our enemies.
    20. Verse 21, Romans 12:21: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
    21. That is a summary.
    22. Don’t let evil overcome you. Overcome evil with good.
    23. When we live this verse, it assures that we will not be overcome with evil.
    24. We cannot overcome evil with evil.
    25. In doing this we won’t win all but we will win some for Christ.
    26. If we think lying and sin are effective, we will be overcome with evil. Don’t do that.
    27. John 16:33: Jesus overcame the world.

Jesus changes us to live this way.

I read a book about Louis Zamperini. Zamperini was in the 1936 Olympics held in Germany. He was famous for setting records for how fast he could run the mile.

Later he was planning to enter the next Olympic competition but it was canceled because of WWII. Zamperini entered the war and served on a B 24. He was shot down and spent 47 days at sea and then around three years as a Japanese prisoner of war. He was badly mistreated in the POW camps. 

Following the war he dealt with post traumatic stress disorder. This caused him to plunge into alcoholism which brought on a host of other problems. He was married and had one child, but his marriage was being threatened with divorce. Every time he closed his eyes at night he was plagued with memories of his time as a POW. He was filled with hate and wanted to kill one particular guard (Mutsuhiro Watanabe (nicknamed “The Bird”), who was later included in General Douglas MacArthur’s list of the 40 most wanted war criminals in Japan. Finally in 1949 as the 31 year old Billy Graham was preaching an evangelical crusade in Los Angeles, Louis’ wife gave her life to Christ at the crusade. She eventually convinced Louis to also attend. Louis attended once and was convicted but left in anger during Graham’s invitation. Louis’ wife, Cynthia, convinced him to attend again. He did and started to leave again during the invitation. But he was convicted and went forward giving his life to Christ.

Following the conversion his life changed dramatically. He went home that night, and at the time when he would usually drink alcohol to excess, he dumped his alcohol down the drain. His hate was changed to forgiveness. His marriage lasted until his wife’s death. He never had nightmares of his time as a POW again. He later went back to Japan and spoke to the guards who were accused and convicted of war crimes. He forgave them. But the one guard who was the worst to Louis, Mutsuhiro Watanabe (nicknamed “The Bird”), was thought dead and Louis never was able to talk to him. Later they found out he was alive and Louis was scheduled to meet with him and wrote the letter below. But he was not able to meet with him as Watanabe declined the invitation. Someone was supposed to take the letter to him, but no one knows if Watanabe received it. The letter is below:

To Matsuhiro [sic] Watanabe,

         As a result of my prisoner of war experience under your unwarranted and unreasonable punishment, my post-war life became a nightmare. It was not so much due to the pain and suffering as it was the tension of stress and humiliation that caused me to hate with a vengeance.

         Under your discipline, my rights, not only as a prisoner of war but also as a human being, were stripped from me. It was a struggle to maintain enough dignity and hope to live until the war’s end.

         The post-war nightmares caused my life to crumble, but thanks to a confrontation with God through the evangelist Billy Graham, I committed my life to Christ. Love replaced the hate I had for you. Christ said, “Forgive your enemies and pray for them.”

         As you probably know, I returned to Japan in 1952 [sic] and was graciously allowed to address all the Japanese war criminals at Sugamo prison… I asked them about you, and was told that you probably had committed Hara Kiri, which I was sad to hear. At that moment, like the others, I also forgave you and now would hope that you would also become a Christian.

Louis Zamperini[5]

Christ changed Zamperini. He changes us so that we can live differently and love differently.


[2] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 236.

[3] Ibid.


[5] Hillenbrand, Laura. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. Random House, Inc.. New York. 2010. Specifically pages 396-397 for the letter and pages 368-398 for Louis conversion and life transformation.

The Mystery of Israel’s Salvation (Romans 11:25-36)

The Mystery of Israel’s Salvation (Romans 11:25-36)

Prepared and preached for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, September 5, 2021

Children may be dismissed to junior church.

Imagine yourself turning on the TV and tuning into a courtroom trial. In your living room, you can see only what the camera shows you. You don’t hear all the testimony. You don’t get to question the witnesses. You don’t get to see all the evidence. You don’t hear the instructions to the jury. You’re not privy to the conversations between the lawyers and the judge.

When the jury comes in with its verdict and the sentence is passed by the judge, how adequately can you assess whether justice has been done? We would not be able to know what justice required and whether justice was upheld if we are lacking information.

How then can we sit in judgment on God’s justice? We don’t have all the information necessary to judge whether God has been just.[1]

Today, we end the first 11 chapters of Romans. This means that we end the section on doctrine.

Do we allow room for mystery? I am talking about mystery spiritually.

My theme today is:

There is a mystery of how God hardens and softens hearts.

My application: We must allow room for mystery and worship the Lord.

  • The mystery of the partial hardening (verses 25-27).
    1. Let’s look at Romans 11:25-27: Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; 27“and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”
    2. Paul begins to explain the mystery.
    3. He writes that he does not want them to be wise in their own sight. He writes that he does not want them to be unaware.
    4. Do we understand mystery? Do we think that we are wiser than we are? Do we think that we can figure everything out?
    5. D. L. Moody shared: I am glad there are things in the Bible I do not understand. If I could take that book up and read it as I would any other book, I might think I could write a book like that.[2]
    6. Over the last several chapters Paul has been sharing things that are beyond our comprehension. Seriously, we cannot figure out the things of God and we need to be put in our place.
    7. Can we explain how God orchestrates His plan with our freewill? This is an antinomy, that is an apparent contradiction, a paradox. But it is not at all a contradiction. God is so great to know how to work out both without compromising either.
    8. There are other things that we cannot figure out. We cannot figure out the Trinity.
    9. We must leave room for mystery in our life. In Matthew 13:11, Jesus talks about giving the disciples secrets of the Kingdom of God. Listen, there is mystery, and through the Holy Spirit, God lets us in on things, but we will not understand completely.
    10. Now, Paul is about to explain another mystery.
    11. Remember, since Romans chapter 9 Paul has been explaining why the Jewish people have rejected the Messiah.
    12. He has been explaining that God has been consistent with His word.
    13. Paul has shared through many Old Testament prophesies that God was going to include gentiles in His plan and there would only be a remnant of Israelites.
    14. Now, Paul explains why.
    15. This is critical.
    16. This is the conclusion.
    17. A partial hardening…
    18. Notice, this is not a complete hardening.
    19. A partial hardening has come upon Israel, that would be the Jewish people. Their hearts are hardened, but not forever.
    20. Their hearts are hardened until the fulness of the gentiles come in. Their hearts are hardened in order to graft in the gentiles and then the gentiles will make the Israelites want the Gospel more, remember verses 11-14 of this same chapter.
    21. One person shared: time of the gentiles: gentiles had world domination from the time of the Babylonian world domination that started in 605 BC and then Medo-Persia and then Greece and then to Rome and back to Rome at the end of days and until Jesus comes again. Fulness of gentiles is about finding many people among the gentiles to open their hearts to Jesus as Savior. One is political domination and then the other is God’s opening hearts and minds of gentiles to be saved. One is political domination and then the other is salvation. Only at the end of the tribulation will all Israel be saved, but this is just those alive then who make a conscious decision to commit to Jesus.[3]
    22. Now, remember there have been many times the Jewish people hardened their own hearts (called “stiff neck” in Exodus 32:9; 33:3, 5; 34:9; Deuteronomy 9:13; 10:16; 2 Kings 17:14; Acts 7:51). So, does God harden hearts? Yes. Do people harden their own hearts? Yes.
    23. Then, look at verse 26, all Israel will be saved.
    24. This does not mean every Jewish person will be saved without believing in Jesus. One person shared: The end of Romans 11:26 says that all Israel will be saved, the deliverer will come from Zion. The Jewish people alive at the second coming will become believers and enter into the Millennial Kingdom.[4]
    25. This is talking about many Jewish people being saved at the end of the tribulation period and entering into the Millennial Kingdom.
    26. Then Paul says, “as it is written” and that means he is going to quote the Old Testament.
    27. Paul then quotes Isaiah 59:20-21. The Deliverer will come from Zion. Zion means Jerusalem. He will banish ungodliness from Jacob.
    28. CSB: Here in v. 26, “all Israel” means there will be a conversion of the Hebrew nation. It does not mean that every single Jew living will be saved. Salvation is defined in vv. 26–27 as the new covenant that the Messiah will inaugurate.[5]
    29. All Israel, according to the use of the phrase in the LXX, never referred to every single Jew (cf. 1Ch 19:17 where it refers only to soldiers; 1Sm 25:1, where it refers only to those who buried Samuel), and more than likely Paul does not mean that in the future every Jew will be saved. All Israel should probably be understood to refer to the vast majority of the ethnic people of Israel, Jews from every tribe and from every locale all over the world.[6]
    30. Verse 27 continues the quote: God talks about the covenant with them (this is Isaiah 59:21), when God takes away their sins.
    31. This is prophesying Jesus, the Messiah. Jesus, the Messiah came from Jerusalem (Zion).
  • They were enemies of the Gospel, but loved because of their ancestors (verses 28-32).
    1. Let’s read verses 28-32: As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. 32For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.
    2. Now Paul writes that they [the Jewish people] are enemies of the Gospel.
    3. Why? They are enemies of the Gospel because they have rejected the Gospel and persecuted Christians. In Romans 5:10 Paul shares that we are “enemies” of God without Jesus’ blood atoning for our sins.
    4. Why does Paul say “for your sake”? The “your” is the gentiles, the non-Jewish people. This is because since the Jewish people have been rejecting the Gospel this opened the way for the gentiles. So, they, the Jewish people, have been enemies of the gospel, and this allowed more gentiles to come to know Jesus. In verse 11 of this same chapter Paul writes about this, salvation has come to the gentiles.
    5. Paul continues (still in verse 28), but as regards to election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. Now, Paul is talking about how God chose Israel throughout history. Remember Romans 9:5 Paul talked about how they have the patriarchs, etc. Romans 10:15 is similar.
    6. Verse 29: The gifts of the calling of God are irrevocable.
    7. This is an amazing verse. God’s gift and calling on Israel does not change.
    8. This election was God’s choice. This is about the covenant w Abraham. In Genesis 15 God alone passed through the sacrifices which shows He is the only one who can cancel them. The covenant remains.[7]
    9. Verse 30: Paul now says that they at one time were disobedient to God, but now they received mercy because of their disobedience. This just means that because of the Jewish people’s disobedience that opened the way for the gentiles to receive mercy; in this case, God’s mercy.
    10. In verse 31 Paul is saying that will flip. They, the Jewish people, are now disobedient, but will receive mercy because of the mercy shown to the gentiles. This is what Paul wrote about earlier in this chapter. The gentiles accepting Jesus will make the Jewish people jealous for the gospel.
    11. In verse 32 Paul is saying that all are disobedient. The “all” means Jews and gentiles. The Jewish people, the gentiles, everyone needs the Gospel. God wants to show mercy to all. The “all” means all people groups, not all individuals.
  • Doxology (verses 33-36).
    1. Let’s read verses 33-36: Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” 35“Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
    2. This is a powerful doxology and I cannot give it justice.
    3. Paul has shared things that are too amazing to understand. The Gospel is for everyone. Israel is rejecting the Savior, but that won’t last forever. There is a mystery in the way God works.
    4. Paul takes a breath, “oh…” The theme of verse 32 that God will give mercy to “all” leads to worship.
    5. H.B. Charles shares: The Truth of God is shallow enough that a little child can come and get a drink without the fear of drowning. But the truth of God is deep enough that the greatest of scholars can come in and never touch the bottom.[8]
    6. So, these next several verses are worship.
    7. There is depth in riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God. Actually, Paul just exclaims, “Oh, the depth of the riches…”
    8. The juxtaposition of “depth” and “riches” suggests a bottomless treasury of mercy.120[9]
    9. It is the longest of Paul’s doxologies. God’s judgments, his decisions about the world and about human matters, cannot be figured out by human beings.[10]
    10. How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways.
    11. This means that we cannot figure God out. God is deep. There is mystery. One person shares almost every heresy is us trying to scrute the inscrutable.[11]
    12. In verse 34 Paul expands on this with two questions with implied negative answers: Who has known the mind of the Lord? NO ONE. Who has been the Lord’s counselor? NO ONE.
    13. This is from Isaiah 40:13 with allusions to Job 15:8 and Job 36:22-23.
    14. That is even humorous. The Lord does not need counsel from us.
    15. In verse 35 Paul is quoting to Job 35:7 and 41:11. (V. 35 quotes Job 41:11 from some source other than the LXX. “With God, man never earns a recompense; he can only be loved and treated with mercy.”)[12] Who gives gifts to God? God does not need to pay us back for anything. God owns it all (Psalm 50:11).
    16. Paul wraps this worship up with verse 36: From Him, that means from God, through Him, that is God, and to Him, again, God, are all things.
    17. God is the source from which all things come, the means by which all things happen, and the goal toward which all things are moving. He is the originator, sustainer, and finisher of everything ultimately (cf. Col. 1:16). In view of all these things (vv. 33–36), He deserves all glory forever.[13]
    18. 1 Cor. 8:6 is a good cross reference; also John 1:1-14; Col. 1:15-20. Other cross references: Rom 16:27; Eph 3:21; Phil 4:20; 1 Tim 1:17; 2 Tim 4:18; 1 Pet 4:11; 5:11; 2 Pet 3:18; Jude 25; Rev 1:6; 5:13; 7:12[14]
    19. To God be the glory.
    20. Amen which means “truly, truly” or “let it be.”
    21. This is how Paul ends these 11 chapters of theology.
  • Summary and applications:
  • We must leave room for mystery in our life (verse 26).
  • We must not be prideful thinking that we can understand everything God does or does not do (verse 26).
  • We must repent of any intellectual pride (verse 25).
  • We must understand that God does have a sovereign plan and He does soften and harden hearts (verse 26).
  • We must understand that God will bring about salvation of many Jewish people in the future. This is most likely the end of the tribulation period, but it could have already begun (verses 26-27).
  • We must understand that the covenant with Israel is irrevocable (verse 29).
  • We must understand we all need God’s mercy (verse 32).
  • We must worship God (verses 33-36).
  • We must understand that God does not owe us anything (verse 35).
  • To God be the glory (verse 36).

In 1862, when Lincoln was 53 years old, his 11-year-old son Willie died. Lincoln’s wife “tried to deal with her grief by searching out New Age mediums.” Lincoln turned to Phineas Gurley, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington.

Several long talks led to what Gurley described as “a conversion to Christ.” Lincoln confided that he was “driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I have nowhere else to go.”

Similarly, the horrors of the dead and wounded soldiers assaulted him daily. There were fifty hospitals for the wounded in Washington. The rotunda of the Capitol held two thousand cots for wounded soldiers.

Typically, fifty soldiers a day died in these temporary hospitals. All of this drove Lincoln deeper into the providence of God. “We cannot but believe, that He who made the world still governs it.”

His most famous statement about the providence of God in relation to the Civil War was his Second Inaugural Address, given a month before he was assassinated. It is remarkable for not making God a simple supporter for the Union or Confederate cause. God has his own purposes and does not excuse sin on either side.

Fondly do we hope — fervently do we pray — that this mighty scourge of war might speedily pass away. . . .Yet if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid with another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago so still it must be said, “the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.”[15]

Can we follow President Lincoln’s example and trust the Lord?


[1] Source: John Walton, author and Moody Bible Institute professor, from sermon “Auditing God”

[2] Source: D.L. Moody, Christian History, no. 25.

[3] see Luke 21:24; Dr Rydelnic; Open Line; 02.27.2021

[4] Ibid. 05.08.2021

v. verse

vv. verses

[5] Paige Patterson, “Salvation in the Old Testament,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1799.

LXX Septuagint

cf. compare or consult

[6] Michael G. Vanlaningham, “Romans,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1764.

[7] Dr Rydelnic (Professor of Jewish Studies and Bible), Open Line, Moody Radio.

[8] H.B. Charles; Renewing Your Mind; 07.30.2021

120 Dunn, Romans 9–16, p. 699.

[9] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 277.

[10] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 277.

[11] Dr Mohler

Spring convocation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary chapel 2021

LXX Septuagint

[12] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 277.

[13] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ro 11:36.

[14] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).