Romans 13 is one of the first verses people bring up when discussing the Bible’s relationship to government…
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. Romans 13: 1
Of course we should honor true authority (like parents) or those to whom we’ve given authority by contract. But is that even what Romans 13 is talking about? Have we been completely misled about what Paul meant?
The Greek words dunamis, dunamai, didomi, arche, ischus, ischuros, kratos and energes all appear in the New Testament as forms of the word power. But they have decidedly different meanings than the word exousia, which is the one that appears in Romans 13. The appearance of the word power in the translated text is misleading and is inconsistent with the ideas expressed by the authors of the Bible.
The Greek word exousia actually means the right to choose, or the power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases.
Exousia is translated as the word “right” in Revelations…
Blessed [are] they that do his commandments, that they may have [exousia] right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. Re 22:14
In 1 Corinthians, exousia is translated as liberty…
But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. 1Co 8:9
The Greek word for liberty in this verse is the same one translated power in Romans 13. Was this really a consistent mistake by translators for hundreds of years? Or was there an agenda by the rulers that paid the translators?
The word ex-ousia is from two Greek words. Ex means of or from, while ousia is what one has, i.e. property, possessions, estate. Paul is simply saying that one should remain subject to the right to choose the manner in which your property is distributed as freemen under Christ.
Let every soul be subject unto the higher liberty. For there is no liberty but of God: the liberties that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth (opposes) the liberty, resisteth (opposes) the ordinance of God: and they that resist (sets one’s self against) shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the liberty? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same. Romans 13: 1,3
Liberty is the power to choose to do something. It is a free estate. Liberty is frightening to many people because it also means responsibility. If you have given the power or right to choose to someone or something else, then they have power over you. But if you have made no such covenants or agreements then you keep your original right to choose, your free dominion granted by God.
These people who have been turning the world upside down have come here also…They are all acting contrary to the decrees of the emperor, saying that there is another king named Jesus. Acts 17:6–7
Audios on Romans 13
Additional Reading: Romans 13 – The Higher Liberty