Calvin on Romans 13

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The reason why we ought to be subject to magistrates is, because they are constituted by God’s ordination. For since it pleases God thus to govern the world, he who attempts to invert the order of God, and thus to resist God himself, despises his power; since to despise the providence of him who is the founder of civil power, is to carry on war with him. Understand further, that powers are from God, not as pestilence, and famine, and wars, and other visitations for sin, are said to be from him; but because he has appointed them for the legitimate and just government of the world. For though tyrannies and unjust exercise of power, as they are full of disorder, are not an ordained government; yet the right of government is ordained by God for the well-being of mankind. As it is lawful to repel wars and to seek remedies for other evils, hence the Apostle commands us willingly and cheerfully to respect and honor the right and authority of magistrates, as useful to men: for the punishment which God inflicts on men for their sins, we cannot properly call ordinations, but they are the means which he designedly appoints for the preservation of legitimate order.

I note that Calvin was in the midst of resisting the tyrannical governments of his day, and while that may be the subjective context we must take him in, he still offers somewhat sound advice and at the very least destroyed John MacArthur’s viewpoints.

This is how I read Calvin:

If a tyrant comes to power, then the tyrant is actually in rebellion and it behooves the people to act. Wrong? Right? How do you see what Calvin says?

Of course, it goes on then to examine what a tyrant is, doesn’t it?

Also, check out this post from Christian on Romans 13 and the American Revolution.

Oh, and silly me, I almost forgot. Read the Book of Revelation.

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4 Replies to “Calvin on Romans 13”

  1. I think shooting and killing your citizens is one factor. Not allowing your citizens any substantive form of redress of grievances is another factor. Steeling from your countries treasury. I think you get the idea.

  2. I think you’re reading him correctly.

    It’s true that Rome was unjust yet Paul told the Romans to submit, as much as they were able (just a few verses before in chapter 12), but Christianity seems to have resisted Rome, as well. All the talk about Jesus being “Lord and God.” And the attitude toward slavery portrayed in Paul’s letter to Philemon is the most tactful protest and effort to reform government that I’ve ever seen.

  3. No you are not reading Calvin correctly, you are completely redefining what he has said in plain English to its opposite intent. Calvin has clearly condemned rebellion against civil authority …period. Order never comes from rebellion.

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