“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.”
We must consider that Paul is not speaking from his own private judgment, or teaching a doctrine of present expediency. Let every soul be subject to the higher powers.  Let every man be obedient to the civil government under which the providence of God has cast his lot.

            “every soul”This is a Hebraism for “every man.”  NONE is exempt.

In the first seven verses of this chapter Paul discusses the subject of the duty which Christians owe to civil government; a subject which is extremely important, and at the same time exceedingly difficult. There is no doubt that he had express reference to the peculiar situation of the Christians at Rome; but the subject was of so much importance that he gives it a general bearing, and states the great principles on which all Christians are to act.

“be subject unto the higher powers”
Literally:  “Be subject to higher authorities.”– Or, “submit himself to the authorities that are above him.”– An admonition peculiarly needful for the Jews.

BE SUBJECT UNTO: (Grk.–hupotassesthô)—This is a military term speaking of soldiers arranged in order under a general.  They are subject to his orders.

To be “in subjection” to the higher powers means to render them their due respect and obedience, according to v. 7:  “tribute to whom tribute,…” There is a great necessity at this time to emphasize to all Christians this solemn exhortationLawlessnesscontempt for authority—is upon us like a flood.  This lawlessness (Grk.–anomia) is the very essence of sin.  Lawlessness is behind, and below, all law-breaking.

HIGHER POWERS: (Grk.–exousiais huperechousais)–Literally: “authorities which have themselves over;” that is, authorities who are over the citizen.  To the civil government; the magistracy; the supreme government.

Here it undoubtedly refers to the Roman magistracy, and has relation not so much to the rulers as to the supreme authority which was established as the constitution of government (comp. Matt. 10:1; 28:18). Why should Paul, in this portion of the epistle devoted to Christian life?  Perhaps for several reasons:
1.      The Christians at that early period were usually associated by the pagans with the Jews, and the Jews were noted for turbulence (see Acts 18:2).
2.      The fires that broke out in Rome a few years later, in the Jewish uprising that led to the destruction of Jerusalem, were already smoldering wherever there were those of Jewish blood.  Many of the early Christians were Jews by birth.
3.      Some even held that since Christ's kingdom was established human governments had no rightful existence.

We are to submit ourselves to government authorities for t3e simple reason that they are ordained of God.  It is true that the kingdoms of this world belong to Satan, and that injustice and corruption abound in all governments; yet, God still has control.  History is the account of how governments flourish for a time in pomp and pride, and then were brought to ruin and rubble.  Why?  Because corruption and lawlessness became rampant, and as it did, God brought the government to an end.  GOD STILL RULES!

“for there is no power but of God”
Literally:  “For there is not authority except from God.”–Paul gives a reason why Christians should be subject; and that reason is that magistrates have received their appointment from
God .  Civil government is an ordinance of God , and magistrates are to be obeyed as His ministers, clothed with authority from Him.

            As Christians are to be subject to God , so they are to honor God by honoring the arrangement which He has instituted for the government of mankind.  Doubtless, Paul  intends also to repress the vain curiosity and agitation with which men are prone to inquire into the titles of their rulers; to guard them from the agitations and conflicts of party, and of contentions to establish a favorite on the throne. It might be that those in power had not a proper title to their office; that they had secured it, not according to justice, but by oppression; but into that question Christians were not to enter. The government was established, and they were not to seek to overturn it.  
        God is the source of all authority, and he has appointed human governments for the welfare of man. The existing government over us is to be regarded as a divine arrangement.

           NO POWER:  (Grk.–ou exousia)–No office; no authority; no magistracy; no civil rule.  Power, (or authority)  in the singular number, is the supreme authority; in the plural (powers) are they who are invested with it.  That is more readily acknowledged to be from God.  Paul affirms it of both. They are all from God, Who constituted all in general, and permits each in particular by His providence.

           OF GOD:  (Grk.–apo tou theou)–literally: “By means of God.”  By God's permission, or appointment; by the arrangements of His providence, by which those in   office had obtained their power.  God often claims and asserts that He sets up one, and puts down another (Psa. 75:7; Dan. 2:21; 4:17, 26, 34-35).

            As God is the origin of power, and the Supreme Governor of the universe, He delegates authority to whomsoever He will.  Though in many cases the governor himself may not be of God, yet civil government is of Him; for without this there could be no society, no security, no private property.  All would be confusion and anarchy, and the habitable world would soon be depopulated.  In ancient times, in an especial manner, on many occasions God appointed the individual who was to govern, and He accordingly governed by a Divine right, as in the case of Moses, Joshua, the Hebrew judges, and several of the Israelite kings.  In all nations of the earth there is what may be called a constitutiona plan by which a particular country or state is governed; and this constitution is less or more calculated to promote the interests of the community.
            Nothing can justify the opposition of the subjects to the ruler but overt attempts on his part to change the constitution, or to rule contrary to law.  When the ruler acts thus he dissolves the compact between him and his people; his authority is no longer binding because it i
s illegal.   It is illegal because he is acting contrary to the laws of that constitution, according to which, on being raised to the supreme power, he promised to govern.  This conduct justifies opposition to his government.

“the powers that be”
Literally:  “The existing authorities.”That is, all the civil magistracies that exist; those who have the rule over nations, by whatever means they may have obtained it.    

“are ordained of God”
Literally: “Having been ordained by God.”–Present perfect tense meaning, “Have been ordained” and the ordinance still remains in force. This is equally true at all times, that the powers that exist do do by the permission and providence of

ORDAINED:   (Grk.-tithêmi)– Literally:  “to put; to appoint.”–This word ordained denotes the ordering or arrangement which subsists in a military company or army.

            God sets them in order, assigns them their location, changes and directs them as He pleases. This does not mean that He originates or causes the evil dispositions of rulers, but that He directs and controls their appointment.   If they abuse their power, however, they do it at their peril; and when so abused, the obligation to obey them ceases. That this is the case is apparent, further, from the nature of the question which would be likely to arise among the early Christians. It could not be and never was a question whether they should obey a magistrate when he commanded a thing that was plainly contrary to the law of God.
            The lawlessness of the last days is upon us we see everywhere!  In the contempt of treaty obligations on the part of nations, as well as the disregard for the sworn treaty between a man and a woman (known as the marriage vows and contract); the disregard for old-time honesty in private contracts.  There was a time when contracts were made with a simply hand-shake, but now, with all our laws and legalisms, when a contract is actually signed it first must be examined and re-examined by a battery or lawyers.
            We see the “breaking loose” from parental restraint and the stampede to “expressionism,” whether in school “dramatics” or in the disdain of “old foggy” morals, and the changing of terminology and names:  such as, “an affair” for adultery; “a sickness” for  drunkedness;  “sexually active” for sexual immorality, just to name a few.  Also, in the unwillingness of the public to have crime really punished,–all of which shows public sympathy with sin! 
            It is because of this latter that law-enforcement breaks down.  On the whole, judges, prosecuting attorneys, sheriffs, and municipal police, would have criminals dealt with firmly; but the “tech-nicalities” of legal procedure are seized upon by evil, unscrupulous men to defeat law. Perhaps the most glaring of all instances of Last Days lawlessness is the tolerance of Red Communism (also known as Bolshevist-socialism) right here in America.  I am not speaking of Communist China or the old Soviet Russia, but of the communist doctrines (which openly declare war upon all Divinely appointed orders) being taught in the indoctrination centers (our state-run schools) and which are held by even professing Christians!
            You have no more right to “sit down” upon another’s property, against his will, than any common thief has to enter your home to plunder!   No wonder Marx and Lenin and the Communists, both foreign and domestic, hate the Bible.  It convicts them of covetousness and thievery!  The only way for Communism to exist is to destroy all hold of the Bible on men!  Communism is the devil’s opium for a people willing to let go of the Word of God.

“Whosoever therefore resisteth the powers, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”

“Whosoever therefore resisteth the power”
“Whosoever therefore resists”–
literally:  “The {one} resisting” (see Acts 18:6; I Pet. 5:5).
Has opposed the ordinance of God.”-they make war uponGodHimself; he that rebels against his prince, is also a rebel to his God.

RESISTS:  (Grk.– antitassomenos)–Meaning, “to arrange in battle against, to oppose on’es self; resist.”

That is, resists the civil government, in the exercise of its rightful authority. Meaning they who rise up against government itself; who seek anarchy and confusion; and who oppose the regular execution of the laws.  However it is implied that those laws shall not be such as to violate the rights of conscience, or oppose the laws of God. He who seeks to break down his government is fighting the ordinance of God, and shall be liable to punishment. This implies a loyal submission to the forms of government over us. It does not imply that we shall obey wicked magistrates when they command us to disobey God (see Acts 4:19).

“resisteth the ordinance of God”\
Literally:  “opposes the ordinance of God.”–Stands against what
God has ordained, or appointed.

RESISTS:  (Grk.–anthestêken)–Literally: “Withstands” or "has taken his stand against."

This means, clearly, that we are to regard government as instituted by God , and as agreeable to His will.  When it is established, we are not to be agitated about the titles of the rulers; nor to enter into angry contentions, or to refuse to submit to them, because we are apprehensive of a defect in their title, or because they may have obtained it by oppression. If the government is established, and if its decisions are not a manifest violation of the laws of God, we are to submit to them.

ORDINANCE: (Grk.–diatagê)—From (Grk.–tassô), “to put in place.” He sets himself against which is divinely set, or put in place by God.  It is only in spiritual matters—“things that are God’s”—that “to obey God rather than men” is in our path.

The things pertaining to God are those that concern our obedience to our confession of the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ; that is, all matter of our Christian conscience.  Caesar (the government) has not right to touch our conscience.   If I yield there, I am a traitor to the truth.  But, as to our persons, our properties, and yes, even our lives, i.e., as regards earthly things, we are subject to the powers that God has put in place, or ordained, and should not “withstand” them.

shall receive to themselves damnation”
Literally:  “Will receive judgment to themselves.”

          DAMNATION: (Grk.–krima)–Literally: judicial judgment., condemnation.”  Shall be condemned both by the spirit and letter of that constitution, which, under pretence of defending or improving, they are indirectly laboring to subvert.

We apply this exclusively to the punishment of hell; to future torments, but this is not necessarily the meaning of the word which is here used,

          Krima often simply denotes punishment (3:8; I Cor. 11:29; Gal. 5:10), but in this place the word implies guilt or criminality in resisting the ordinance of God , and affirms that the man that does it shall be punished. Whether Paul meant that he shall be punished by Go , or by the magistrate, is not quite clear. Probably the latter is intended (comp. v. 4).  It is also true, that such resistance shall be attended with the displeasure of God, and be punished by Him.
          As civil government is an institution of God it should be respected, and its just requirements conscientiously and cheerfully obeyed.  Those who purposely resist civil government, and matters other than spiritual, will bring on themselves guilt and Divine chastening.  The Christian, above all men, should be in quiet subjection to constituted authority.
            We are in the
Last Days of Gentile Historythat is, the “times of the Gentiles.”  During these last days lawlessness abounds.  The Christian must oppose it; he must not be a part of it, even when it is in his own government.  We must beware of those who would “change” our government under the guise of improving it.  Christianity was never a movement to improve government, help society or clean up the town.  The Gospel has the power of
God unto salvation of the individual to do that.

“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.”

“For rulers are not a terror to good works”
Literally:  “For the rulers are not a terror to good works.”  This is the general rule. Of course there have been occasional exceptions, when some human monster has been invested with absolute power, but the principle is true.

         Are not appointed to punish the good.  Their appointment is not to inspire terror in those who are virtuous and peaceable citizens. (Comp. I Tim. 1:9). This is the general rule. Of course there have been occasional exceptions, when some human monster has been invested with absolute power, but the principle is true.
          Of course, Satan will stir up special trouble against those who are proclaiming the Gospel which he desperately hates.  Rulers, as a class, are a blessing. There was an exception a few years after Paul wrote this when Nero developed his fiendish hate of all good.
          Should he persecute his obedient, loyal subjects, on any religious account, this is contrary to all law and right.  Even in our country it would be a breach of the constitution, which allows every man to worship
God according to his conscience.  Even that right has come under attack for, in spite of the fact that the first amendment of our Constitution guarantees “the free exercise of religion,” there are those who want to limit this to only what takes place inside a church building; but it does not say that. 

“but to the evil”
Literally:  “But to the bad.”  Appointed to detect and punish evil-doers; and therefore an object of terror to them. .  It is not the law-abiding, but the lawless who should fear the law.

“Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power?”
Literally:  “And do you desire not to fear the authority?” —If you do evil by resisting the laws, and in any other manner, will you not fear the power of the government ? 

 POWER:  (Grk.–exousia)–Better rendered as, “authority.”

Fear is one of the means by which men are restrained from crime in a community. On many minds it operates with much more power than any other motive. And it is one which a magistrate must make use of to restrain men from evil.  If you would not live in fear of the civil magistrate, then live according to the laws; and you may expect that he will rule according to the laws, and consequently instead of incurring blame thou wilt have praise. This is said on the supposition that the ruler is himself a good man: such the laws suppose him to be; and the apostle, on the general question of obedience and protection, assumes the point that the magistrate is such.

“Do that which is good”
 Literally:  “Do the good.”Be a virtuous and peaceable citizen; abstain from crime, and yield obedience to all the just laws of the land.

“And thou shalt have praise of the same.”
Literally:  “And you will have praise from it.”–You shall be unmolested and uninjured, and shall receive the commendation of being peaceable and upright citizens. Comp. I Pet. 2:14-15.

The prospect of that protection, and even of that reputation, is not an unworthy motive to yield obedience to the laws. Every Christian should desire the reputation of being a man seeking the welfare of his country, and the just execution of the laws. Do right, and the government, if it does its duty, will protect and encourage you.