The Most Disastrously Misinterpreted Scripture
in the History of the Human Race

Hundreds of millions of people murdered.
Billions of people enslaved.
Trillions of dollars of property confiscated or destroyed.
In the 20th century alone.

What is Romans 13?

The thirteenth chapter of Paul's letter to the Romans is the classic passage used by Christians to justify the existence of the State. The famous dictum, "The powers that be are ordained of God" is found in that chapter.

An entire website devoted to a single chapter of the Bible??

Actually, this website is devoted to only the first 7 verses of Romans 13. If we have a "hidden agenda," however, it is to view these seven verses in the context of the entire Bible. Those who see in Romans 13:1-7 a divine approval for "the State" take it out of its Biblical context.
In his three-volume Systematic Theology, well-respected Calvinist theologian Charles Hodge asserts,

"The whole theory of civil government and the duty of citizens to their rulers, are comprehensively stated by the Apostle in Romans xiii.1-5" (III:357).

This claim is typical, vague, and overstated. Hodge says in effect,

"x + y are comprehensively stated in Romans 13,"

where "y" = "the duty of citizens to their rulers."

"x" must surely include "the duty of rulers to their citizens." All of this is certainly not spelled out "comprehensively" in Romans 13. It turns out very little is spelled out in Romans 13.

Our position is that Romans 12 and 13 must be taken together as a unit. Our chapter divisions are not part of Paul's original letter. Romans 12 says "don't return evil for evil; submit to evil, even (Romans 13) the most evil thing on the planet: the State."

But most Christians assume that the State is good. It is "a divine institution," we're told. Romans 13 doesn't really teach this, especially in its Biblical context.

  • First, the Bible has much more to say about the State than is found in Romans 13. One must also consult Revelation 13, Isaiah 13, and the books of the Kings, as well as the scathing denunciations of the State by the Old Testament prophets. The Bible is almost wholly negative toward the State, and the State is praised for things done completely out of character or accidentally.
    Here's the challenge: Read through every verse in the Bible from beginning to end and ask yourself, "Is this where God commanded human beings to form 'the State?'" Your answer will always be "No."
  • Second, we should enter into this discussion of Romans 13 with a deep distrust of "the State." At the most basic level, we all know that it's wrong to steal, and wrong to kill. The Bible also specifies that it's wrong to take vengeance against our enemies. "The State" was invented by human beings -- not by God -- to circumvent these most basic commandments. "The State" allows private people to do things which a sanctified social conscience would not permit them to do as business owners and neighbors.
  • Third, what Romans 13 says about the State is hardly flattering, when understood correctly. This point is missed by most -- but not all -- writers. What exactly does Paul mean by "the powers?" He's talking about demonic, satanic powers. See Ephesians 6:12 and everywhere the Greek word exousiai (pl.) is found. (Some writers wax eloquent about the meaning of the singular form of this word: "liberty." Irrelevant.) This issue is huge. It was huge in Paul's day, throughout the Roman Empire. Everybody in the 1st century -- Jews and Gentiles alike -- believed there was a nexus between the Empire and angelic powers. (Angels and demons are both "angelic powers." Depends which side you're on. Ours are good. Theirs are bad.) Romans 13 has a negative, rather than positive assessment of the State.
  • Fourth, "Ordained" simply means "predestined," not "morally approved." An ungodly, tyrannical, murderous dictator is still "the minister of God." because he "serves" God's purposes. "Saddam Hussein did not bear weapons of mass destruction in vain." God predestines all things, even evil.
"The State" is evil.
  • Fifth, we agree with most Christians that this passage encourages "submission" to the State, but not "patriotic" submission; rather, the submission that Paul had just finished teaching about in Romans 12:
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.  Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
Romans 12:21, 19, 14
Just because we do not take up arms against evil-doers does not mean that evil-doers somehow have God's divine approval. This is the teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: "Resist not evil" (Matthew 5:39). Just because we "turn the other cheek" does not mean that cheek-slappers are a "divine institution." Cheek-slappers will be judged. We leave such vengeance to God.

The same Greek word in Romans 13 -- hupotasso -- "be subject" --  is found in 1 Peter 2:18: "Slaves, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward." This verse does not mean that William Wilberforce was wrong to abolish the institution of slavery. We need to abolish the institution of "the State," but non-violently, taking the blows that "the State" will dish out against us the same way Christ took the blows of the State on the Cross (1 Peter 2:21).

This fifth point is important, and it contains great irony.
  • Since we believe the State is evil, we oppose patriotism, but as followers of Christ, Christian anarchists do not take the path of violent revolution against it (1 Peter 2:21). We denounce even the American Revolution (1776). Vine & Fig Tree advocates pacifism.
  • Those who believe Romans 13 teaches patriotic support of the State also believe that they have the right to overthrow it -- with violence if necessary -- whenever it is deemed to be "ungodly" or disobedient to God's commandments (not including commands not to take vengeance and fund acts of vengeance by extortion). Huh?
  • We anarchists are more submissive to the State than those who claim it is a "divine institution," which they can overthrow by violent revolution whenever they can rationalize it with pious platitudes. ("Platitudes" because they are not invoked to critique the day-to-day operations of murder and theft which are inherent in the very nature of the State. Holding the State accountable to God's Law is only done by the party out-of-power against the party-in-power when the party-out-of-power wants to gain control of the machinery of the State.)

It should be easy enough to remember the three neglected themes of Romans 12-13:

  • Powers - Demonic
  • Predestination - Total
  • Pacifism - not Patriotism

Who is Behind This Website? What is the hidden agenda?

The website is produced by a non-profit educational ministry called Vine & Fig Tree. [VFT homepage] Kevin Craig is the principal writer and editor. He is a six-day creationist and a five-point Calvinist. More on his credo here. The name Vine & Fig Tree comes from George Washington's favorite Bible passages which speak of everyone dwelling safely under his own vine and fig tree. This social condition comes about after mankind turns to God's Law, allowing God to rule, and we beat our swords into plowshares.
Get an audio tour of this website by the author
Our agenda is open and public. Vine & Fig Tree promotes the non-violent abolition of all governments. More about the V&FT agenda follows.

Kevin Craig

  1. Why Oppose the State?
  2. "Christian Anarchist" -- isn't that an Oxymoron?
  3. What Does Romans 13 Really Mean?
  4. How many pages on are this website?
  1. The State is a monopoly of violence. Systematic, institutionalized violence. The State is Organized Crime. Theft, murder, kidnapping
  2. Christ prohibited His followers from being "archists." 
  3. Romans 13 says God is sovereign over evil, even the demonic State. Romans 12 and 13 say Christians do not return evil for evil, but leave vengeance to God. 
  4. Vine & Fig Tree has created nearly 2,000 webpages.
    Start reading here.

The Vine & Fig Tree Paradigm

The "Vine & Fig Tree" vision is that of beating "swords into plowshares" and leaving every man dwelling safely under his own "Vine & Fig Tree." (Micah 4:1-7). We can call this "global anarcho-theocracy":
  • A world converted to Christianity;
  • A world converted to non-violence;
  • A world under God's Law and the Prince of Peace;
  • A world which has abandoned the entire concept of "the State."
Some might call this a "utopian" goal, but it is clearly the Biblical goal. Romans 13 is always used to stand in the way of this goal of peace. 
[you can skip this section on "Vine & Fig Tree" and go directly to the links to Romans 13 materials]

George Washington's Diaries are available online at the Library of Congress. That website introduces those writings with these words:

No theme appears more frequently in the writings of Washington than his love for his land. The diaries are a monument to that concern. In his letters he referred often, as an expression of this devotion and its resulting contentment, to an Old Testament passage. After the Revolution, when he had returned to Mount Vernon, he wrote the Marquis de Lafayette on Feb. 1, 1784: "At length my Dear Marquis I am become a private citizen on the banks of the Potomac, & under the shadow of my own Vine & my own Fig-tree." This phrase occurs at least 11 times in Washington's letters. "And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree" (2 Kings 18:31).

"Under My Own Vine and Fig Tree, 1798" by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, Lora Robins Collection of Virginia Art, Virginia Historical Society
Under My Own Vine and Fig Tree, 1798
Jean Leon Gerome Ferris
Virginia Historical Society
Lora Robins Collection of Virginia Art

Many other American Founders wrote of this ideal. "Vine & Fig Tree" is the original "American Dream."
The phrase occurs a number of times in Scripture. These references are visual reminders of the Hebrew word for salvation, which means
• peace,
• wholeness,
• health,
• welfare, and
• private property free from pirates and princes.
When today's Americans hear the word "salvation," they usually think about going to heaven when they die. When the writers of the Bible used the word "salvation," they wanted you to be thinking about dwelling safely under your own Vine & Fig Tree during this life -- much more often than they wanted you to be thinking about what you'll be doing in the afterlife.

The best place to see the Vine & Fig Tree ideal is in the book of Micah.

 Let's look at Micah's prophecy (on the left) and ask a few questions (on the right):

And it will come about in the last days
That the mountain of the House of the LORD
Will be established as the chief of the mountains
And it will be raised above the hills
  Are we in the "last days?"

When did this establishment take place?

And the peoples will stream to it.
And many nations will come and say,
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD
And to the House of the God of Jacob,
Is Christianity doomed to minority status throughout history?
That He may teach us about His ways
And that we may walk in His paths."
For from Zion will go forth the Law
Even the Word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
  What should be the Christian's attitude toward God's Law?
And He will judge between many peoples
And render decisions for mighty, distant nations.
Then they will hammer their
swords into plowshares
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation will not lift up sword against nation
And never again will they train for war.
Are we commanded to beat our swords into plowshares today? Or do we wait for the Second Coming?
And each of them will sit under his   What about private property?
Vine and under his  fig tree,
With no one to make them afraid.
For the LORD of hosts has spoken.
What about technology? What about the military? What is it that really brings "security?"
Though all the peoples walk
Each in the name of his god,
As for us, we will walk
In the Name of the LORD our God
forever and ever.
  What if all the politicians, university professors, TV commentators, newspaper editors, rock stars, CEO's, athletes, authors, and think-tanks repudiate the Vine & Fig Tree vision and tell you not to believe it?
In that day, saith the LORD,
will I assemble her that halteth,
and I will gather her that is driven out,
and her that I have afflicted;
And I will make her that halted a remnant,
and her that was cast far off a strong nation:
and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion
from henceforth, even for ever.
Should we strive to be on top, or to help those on the bottom? Is God on the side of those who have accomplished much by their own power and initiative, or is He on the side of those who are willing to be used by God to accomplish much to His Glory?
America's Founding Fathers abolished a government they described as a "tyranny." Taxes were 1/20th what they are today, and the government they abolished would never have dreamed of using tax revenue to fund abortions, remove the Ten Commandments from local schools, give foreign aid to Saddam Hussein during his war with Iran, and build more than 700 military bases around the world, all of which the government created by America's Founders went on to do.
This website disagrees with America's Founders on an important point. The Founders believed that God commanded human beings to form governments. Governments were necessary, the Founders believed, to preserve social order by promoting the Christian religion. The State was seen as "a Minister of Justice," as much a religious function as a "minister of the Gospel." This website claims that "the State" was invented by men, not God. Creation and maintenance of "the State" is an act of rebellion against God. We want governments to repent and go out of business.
You may be deeply offended, irritated, or worried about a proposal to eliminate all "governments." It's a radically different way of thinking. We think it's the Biblical way of thinking.

A "Paradigm Shift"

You hear that phrase thrown around a lot these days. Everybody wants their idea to be the next "paradigm shift." Paradigm-shifters are now mainstream. We believe Vine & Fig Tree represents a true break with the status quo, a change as momentous as that described by Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, upon hearing of Locke's rejection of the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings: 

Never before had I heard the authority of kings called in question. I had been taught to consider them nearly as essential to political order as the sun is to the order of our solar system.

Vine & Fig Tree really is a new "paradigm," a "Copernican revolution," a radical way of looking at politics and society. It is one step beyond the radical vision that motivated America's Founding Fathers. It is a vision so old that it appears to be utterly unprecedented.

The vision of Vine & Fig Tree gives energy and hope to those who work for it. It inspires dedicated action. 

Lawrence Cremin writes:

American Education: The National Experience, 1783-1876
NY: Harper & Row, 1980, p. 114-15.

For Rush, who was present in the Congress as a representative of Pennsylvania, the events surrounding the creation of the Republic marked nothing less than a turning point in the course of human history. "I was animated constantly," he reflected in later years, "by a belief that I was acting for the benefit of the whole world, and of future ages, by assisting in the formation of new means of political order and general happiness."11
         11. The Autobiography of Benjamin Rush, edited by George W. Corner (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1948), p.161.

We are convinced that Vine & Fig Tree will contribute to the Glory of God and the greater happiness of mankind. It will animate future leaders and captivate the hearts and minds of many.  There is something here that will resonate with a broad section of Americans. 

Dr. Rush speaks of "a turning point," which is to speak of a turning  from something to something else. From what should we turn? To what should we aspire? 

We must move

  • From a world of priests and princes ruling over the immature and irresponsible, a world which is publicly "secular" and simultaneously suffused with a host of private pagan faiths
  • To a world of self-governing families in which all believers are priests and kings under Christ, where the knowledge of the LORD covers the earth as the waters cover the sea.
Americans in the 21st century would consider the Americans of 1776 to have been "radical anarchists" or even "terrorists."

But, of course, even the most libertarian of the Founders was not technically an anarchist.

We are.
  • The institution called "The State" has intentionally killed nearly a quarter of a billion human beings in the 20th century -- not including abortions. That's an average of about 10,000 people per day.
  • Billions of human beings are enslaved under states that claim to own all property.
  • Trillions of dollars worth of private property has been destroyed or confiscated by the State.

This monstrous violence against people is always done in the name of "the People"; these crimes are supposed to prevent crimes.

We propose a society -- indeed, a world -- of "Liberty Under God."

In spite of the monstrous evil of government violence, we have all been trained to have faith in the State. When a calm, rational, well-documented indictment of the State is offered and a proposal to embrace the world of Micah's Vine & Fig Tree vision is made, most Christians immediately shout,
  • "What about Romans 13?"
  • "What are you, some kind of anarchist?!?"

This website seeks to answer these questions.

Vine & Fig Tree has been officially recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt non-profit organization since 1982. This page was written before 9/11. Your donations will make it possible for us to revise it for the 21st century.


First, why oppose the State? Why even question the prevailing view of Romans 13?

Micah's Vine & Fig Tree vision insists that Christians should be working toward beating "swords into plowshares." The traditional interpretation of Romans 13 has resulted in millions of Christians standing idle in the face of horrifying evil, or even waving banners to support it, or even worse, putting on one of the State's uniforms to help carry it out.
As we enter the 21st century, we look back on the most barbaric, lawless, and violent century in human history. How ironic that most Americans think of this century as a period of "progress" and "prosperity." In certain outward respects, it has been.

Four decades ago in America, about 10,000 people were murdered in the span of a single year. These murders were "against the law."

Overall in the 20th century, "organized governments" have ordered or legalized the murder of 10,000 people each and every day.

"The State" turns out to be a far greater criminal than all the criminals it claims to protect us from.

And the global "New World Order" -- the epitome of the State -- is contemplating the murder of 15,000 people per hour until the luxurious living standards of the global elite are secure.

But don't blame the elite. 10,000 murders require 10,000 working-class people willing to don the uniform of the Empire and kill another human being in the interests of patriotism. This means 10,000 people who have lost touch with Christian morality. The 20th century has seen America transformed from a nation where "religion, morality and knowledge" were taught in every school, to a nation that twice elected Bill Clinton.

The greatest criminal on earth is "the State."
No greater indictment can be made
against modern Christian moral discernment
than the failure to question the legitimacy of "the State."

  The concept of  "the State" is the idea that some people have the right to violate God's Commandments. Those people who call themselves "the State" claim the right to take vengeance on their enemies, and they have the right to confiscate the property of others to fund their acts of vengeance. The statist worldview justifies these actions. People who are called "the State" have a tremendous advantage over people who are called "businessmen" or "neighbors." Taxation, enslavement, execution: it can't get any better than that.

But it can get much, much, worse.

Violence.     Today "the State" is clearly the greatest force for evil on the planet. More people are murdered, more lives enslaved, and more property confiscated or destroyed by "the State" than all the "criminals" and so-called "anarchists" combined. Hundreds of millions killed, billions enslaved, trillions of dollars stolen.

Secularization.    And because "the State" begins with the foundational idea of stealing in order to kill, the more consistent it becomes in its rebellion against God's Commandments, the more atheistic it becomes. Virtually every "state" on earth today is atheistic, and the State has become (to use the words of A.A. Hodge) "the most efficient and wide instrument for the propagation of atheism which the world has ever seen."

The more powerful the State is, or wants to become, the more it must promote immorality and suppress religion and morality.

Opposition to Violence.   Respectable theologians like John Frame and Gary North accept the moral legitimacy of this institution called "the State," though they reconstruct it in a way that departs from many historic, mainstream analyses, and in ways which are close to the "Vine & Fig Tree" position. But in the end, we're still very far apart, I fear. Frame's and North's most consistent students will not go down in  history as great opponents of the murder, slavery, and theft on a massive global scale which "the State" represents.

Opposition to Secularism.   Nor will Frame's theological package counter the big theological errors which cripple Christians and have served as the foundation of the State for the last couple of centuries. Not that Frame agrees with these errors -- he does not. But unless these errors are refuted in a way that also refutes the legitimacy of  global murder, slavery and theft, the errors have not been refuted, and the secular State will grow.

Then, in turn, the continued existence of the State and the legitimacy of the concept of the State is a toxin which poisons society, causing great a vicious cycle of spiritual sickness and death.

This is a "worldview" issue. One's worldview determines the fundamental categories of interpreting the facts of our world.

  • Eschatology: Should the world be abandoned to "tribulation" and imminent catastrophe while we await a "Rapture," or should we be making plans to create peaceful and orderly human societies which will last for millennia into the future? The position on "government" in this campaign is written from an "optimillennial" rather than "pessimillennial" perspective. We look forward to a global "Christocracy."
  • Law: This response is written from a generally "theonomic" perspective. God's Law is not a burden. God's Law is a blueprint for social and personal growth, progress, overcoming challenges, and dominion -- all of which make people more human, bearing the Image of God.
  • Society: This response is written from an individualistic rather than collectivist perspective. A "capitalist" perspective rather than a "socialist" one. But it also recognizes family and church, with "church" being defined not hierarchically, but as a corporate mutualist network of service. Individuals have social obligations. The division of labor requires interrelated networks of culture and commerce.
  • Government: We favor a well-ordered, Godly society. But the greatest progress in human culture and social order will take place when the entire concept of "the State" is as distant a memory and as absent from the planet as "animal sacrifices," though both at one time dominated human society. On balance, "The State" brings disorder.

Romans 13, it is argued, proves that we must not even try to create social order without a State. Ultimately this issue will not be resolved by the exegesis of a handful of Bible texts. This is really an entirely different way of reading the Bible and looking at human society.

"The State" owes its existence to extortion and threats of violence ("taxation"), and its core purpose is vengeance, all of which are forbidden by God's Law. But most Christians believe that we cannot be secure without these sins being committed by "the State."

That word "secure" is part of the Biblical definition of "salvation." Modern Man believes "the State" brings salvation rather than God. Belief in the necessity or moral legitimacy of the State is a form of idolatry.

There is no legitimate human social function which cannot be more efficiently and humanely carried out without "the State." Self-government, family government, schools, hospitals, grocery stores, insurance, home security, dispute resolution and other businesses will all thrive without "the State."

They have in the past; they must in the future.

Among anarchists there is a debate as to whether our present huge global multinational corporations would exist without the State, e.g., whether Exxon would have its present form without the full resources of the million-man nuclear-armed military forces of a superpower State (the U.S.) overthrowing the government of Iran in 1953, raising up Saddam Hussein's army to battle Iran for over a decade in the 1980's, overthrowing Soviet-influenced governments in Latin America, creating "al Queda" to counter the Soviet Union's disruption of oil pipeline construction in Afghanistan, and myriad other ways in which a "Free Market" in energy has not existed since industrialists like Rockefeller created today's "Administrative State" to annul the Constitution and to carry out their corporate policies. (Pro-special-interest regulation was once "progressive" or  "populist," said to be in the best interests of "the poor" or "the people," but today's regulation is now often carried out in the name of "de-regulation," a misnomer, just as "free trade agreements" do not make trade freer, but create huge new systems of government which are not bound down by "the chains of the Constitution.")

"The government" continues to create popular support for its own existence by manipulating education and the media to create the widespread popular belief that without "the State," "criminals" would "take over." We have all been trained to believe from our youngest days that "The State" protects "Life, Liberty and Property."

Today's federal government takes over half of everything you earn. If we remove our patriotism-colored glasses, it will immediately become apparent that "the State" destroys more lives, enslaves more individuals, and confiscates or destroys more private property than all the "anarchists" and "criminals" in the world combined.

The entire concept of "the State" is unBiblical and supremely dangerous.

Our worldview needs to exclude the whole idea that a group of people have the right to confiscate the wealth of others ("tax") to fund acts of vengeance against their competitors or "enemies." We do not allow this idea to become socially accepted in the world of business. The idea must become as socially unacceptable in the field of "government."

The future of the human race depends on this conversion.

With that introduction to Romans 13 and the Vine & Fig Tree vision, let's consider these frequently asked questions.

The masses have learned a subtle lesson from the teachers of the traditional interpretation of Romans 13. The message of Romans 12 and the Sermon on the Mount -- love your enemies, leave vengeance to God -- is said to apply only in our "private" lives. But as public officials, we must be "practical," "realistic," (or, as Christians might put it) "Godly" men of "dominion." We must kill our enemies and take vengeance on a massive scale through the State. Nobody wants to be "unrealistic," "impractical," or "idealistic." 

We all know that "public" is more important than "private." That's "the real world." And so the violent techniques of the State inexorably become imported into our "private" lives, and forgiveness and love of enemy are lost in the gossamer bedtime stories of women and children.

In 1994 "criminals" committed 7,885 bank robberies, taking $28 million. That same year, "government agencies" seized $2.1 Billion in "asset forfeiture proceedings," often without "probable cause," and often not returned when innocence was proven. Theft by any other name ... would be called "taxation."
Eight hundred years ago, Western Civilization believed without question in "the divine right of kings." Anyone carrying around a copy of the U.S. Constitution as a model of government and suggesting that an orderly society could survive without a king would have been mocked -- or executed. Ideas we take for granted today -- like "consent of the governed" -- would have shocked the conscience of our medieval forebears.

In a few generations, a consistent "free market" approach to civil government will be the norm. People will shake their heads when they consider the 20th century State and the support it received from Christians in America -- a society that permitted the confiscation of nearly 75% of everyone's income by organized governments which murdered hundreds of millions of people.

Second, it must be understood that Jesus commands His followers to be "anarchists."

In Mark 10:42-45, He says we are not to be "archists." This is what the word "anarchist" really means: "not an archist."

The archist wants to be as god, dominating and controlling others. The follower of Christ wants to be the servant of others.  When people hear the word "anarchy," they never think of a situation in which all bureaucrats and tyrants have been replaced with Christ-like servants. When people think of "anarchy" what they really think of is "polyarchy" or "multi-archy," with every individual trying to be on top, everyone striving to be his own god, no one willing to lose his life for others.

This shows that "anarchy" is really an impossibility. Forget what you may have heard about "the one and the many." It is a false philosophical construct. Any society which does not acknowledge Christ as the True and Only Archist inevitably succumbs to polyarchy. Even a centralized or monarchical Caesar requires an army of "little Caesars" in the military and the bureaucracies to carry out the State's decrees. Hitler did not murder six million Jews. That was done by millions of German archists.

It is important for Christians to be servants of the true King, and not archists over others.

The modern world is an "archist" world. Archists are moving us toward a "New World Order." Christians cannot be a part of this. Jesus said NO to the "New World Order" of His day, and He was executed as an anarchist (Luke 23:2; John 19:12,15; Acts 17:7). We must follow Christ, the King of kings, no matter what the State may say. When the State claims to be God, Christians will be persecuted no matter how much we "render unto Caesar" (John 15:20; 16:2-3).   Therefore we may as well accept it: Christian "anarchism" is our goal.

Romans 13 does not contradict this non-archist goal.

Romans 13 does not say that "archists" have a moral right to ignore Jesus' command. All men are commanded to be servants, not archists. Romans 13 in its context (Romans 12) tells us we are not to overcome archists by becoming like archists, or by being more archist than they are; we are not to render evil for evil. We are to be servants. We are to submit to evil in faith, like Job did. Job was attacked by that great archist, Satan. But Satan was "ordained by God" to attack Job (Job 2:6).

This is probably the toughest issue to come to grips with. All evil is predestined by God. Adolph Hitler did not bear the sword in vain. Saddam Hussein does not bear biological weapons in vain. Osama bin Laden does not bear suitcase-sized nuclear devices in vain. This is what Romans 13 actually teaches.

But that does not mean that we are off the hook, or that God is the "author of sin" (James 1:13-17). To understand Romans 13, we must develop the heart of a servant, and see God's sovereignty over evil.

  • If you consider yourself a Calvinist, and are comfortable with the idea of God's sovereignty and predestination of all things, including human beings, please continue reading.
  • If you do not believe in predestination, you will not understand what the Apostle means when he says the powers are "ordained" by God. Please begin your study of this issue by praying for understanding. After completing this Scriptural survey of the powers, please take a new look at the doctrine of Predestination.

Both Calvinists and non-Calvinists should be open to a "Paradigm Shift."

Romans 13 speaks of the State as (or in conjunction with) "the powers." This is a reference to evil angelic beings. Most Christians have given very little thought to what the Bible says about angels (good and bad). "Angels" has become another lucrative fad for Hallmark and the New Age movement. Most Americans hold a view of the world which bears a striking resemblance to the ancient religion of Baalism. Are you a Baalist? No point in reading any further if you are.

This is a book-length website. Here are some pages which dig deeper into the background and meaning of Romans 13. They explore God's sovereignty over evil, the work of angelic beings in the Providence of God, and the necessity of abolishing evil in the world, especially the State. These are the lost themes of Romans 13.

We recommend reading them in the order below. The first three pages are foundational. The first page helps us cultivate the heart of a servant and Christian non-archist. The second page is critical to understanding Romans 13, and the reader is urged to spend some time perusing the rest of the pages on that site ("TOTAL Predestination"), particularly the pages on "Baalism" and "Radical Calvinism."

  1. Pray for a Servant's Understanding of Romans 13
  2. All Evil is Predestined by God
    Reading all these verses puts Romans 13 in a completely new context.
  3. Christian "Anarchism" is Our Goal

For those who would like more detail, especially on the cultural background of Romans 13, the following are useful. These essays were written back in the early 1980's, and have not been revised since. We're counting on the reader being delayed by those first three pages (above) long enough for us to get the rest of these pages edited and revised. As you will discover, there are very few original thoughts on this website. Nearly all our ideas are plagiarized from other writers: Reformed, Dispensational, and even secular. Our contribution is putting them all together for the first time. 

  1. Angels and God's Throne of Government
    Providence - God Governs through Angels
  2. Stars and Idolatry
    God Governs the Evil through demons
  3. Why the State Always Encourages Immorality
    Theft, murder, vengeance, fraud, sexual immorality
  4. Unlucky 13 -- Romans 13, Revelation 13 and Isaiah 13
    Isaiah 13 and Revelation 13 say the same thing as Romans 13
    The State is evil, but God is sovereign over it.
  5. A Roman's-Eye View of Romans 13
    • The State:  The Religion of Man
    • The Liturgical State
    • The Supernatural State
    • The Syncretism of the Universal State
    • The Greco-Roman Background
    • Views of Babylon, Egypt
    • Main Currents in Greco-Roman Statism
           • Power (dunameiV, dynameis)
           • Astrology
           • Monotheism
  6. "Principalities and Powers" - Part One: The Old Testament
    • Judaism vs. the Bible
    • The Spirit World of Judaism
    • Deuteronomy 32:8
    • Daniel 10
  7. "Principalities and Powers" - Part Two: Powers in the New Testament
    • German Liberals and Conservative Protestants
    • Lords Many and Powers Many
    • Exousiai is plural
  8. Lakes of Fire in "Smoke-Filled Rooms"
    • "Demons" (daimones, daimoneV)
    • Pagan Demonology
    • Christian Syncretism 
  9. Romans 13: The Burden is on the Archists
    • Romans 13 is Not a Starting Point
    • God's Law is Our Starting Point
    • The State vs. the Family: Monopolization of Powers
    • Why the Decline of Patriarchal Power?
    • If the State is "Ordained," How Can it Be Judged?
  10. Taxation, "Consent of the Governed," and the Myth of the State
    • The Myth of "Representative Government"
    • Taxation and Biblical Law - Can the State tax too much?
    • Taxation and "Representation" - Did Christians in Paul's day enjoy representation?
    • Consent of the Self-Governed
  11. Why the State is not a "Divine Institution"
    • Some Kind of "Christian Anarchism"?
    • The State and the War of the Powers Against Supernatural Government
    • The State after Nimrod
  12. Angels and Autarchy
    • Angelic Government Before the Cross
    • Autarchy and Anarchy
    • Angels Watching Over Me
    • The Church's Witness to the Angels

The most important proof of our thesis is simply going through the Bible and inductively putting together a theory of the State. Where did it originate? What does God say about it? The preponderance of the Biblical evidence is anti-State.

A Call for a "Paradigm Shift"

Ninety-Five Theses Against the State
This is where you can get a bird's-eye view of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. You'll see that God never commanded human beings to form "the State."

Here is what a Christian Anarchist looks like after he has joined The Christmas Conspiracy.

Additional studies:

Patriarchy and Providence


 Anarchism and Submission to the Evil Empire

Vine & Fig Tree: A World Without "The State"

Other important angles:

Archive: View an earlier version of this website: August 3, 2001


Our plan is to analyze standard evangelical commentaries to see if there is any reason why we cannot abolish the State, and to create a one-stop shop for rebuttals to leading commentators on Romans 13. Watch for answers to these:

  • Alford, Henry, Alford’s Greek Testament, Grand Rapids: Guardian Press, 1976 (1952).
  • Achtemeier, Paul J., Romans, Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1985.
  • Baldwin, Chuck
  • Barth, Karl, The Epistle to the Romans, London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1933.
  • Brown, David, The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, in A Commentary Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments, Jamieson, Fausset, Brown, eds., Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., 1978 ( xxxx )
  • Barclay, William, The Letter to the Romans, Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 2d ed., 1957.
  • Barrett, C.K., A Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, New York: Harper & Row, 1957.
  • Black, Matthew, Romans, Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., 1973.
  • Bruce, F.F., The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, in Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Tasker, ed., Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., 1980 (1963).
  • Calvin, John, Commentaries on the Epistle of Paul to the Romans, John Owen, ed., Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979 (1539).
  • General Conference Cathar Church, "Discourse on Romans 13,"  
  • Darby, John, Synopsis of the New Testament, 
  • Denney James, “St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans,” in The Expositor’s Greek Testament, W. Robertson Nicoll, ed., Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., 1983.
  • Dodd, C.H., The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, London: Hodder and Stoughton, Ltd., 1932.
  • Dunn, J. D. G. (1988b). Romans 9-16. Word Bible Commentary. Dallas, Texas: Word Books, Publisher.
  • Durand, Greg Loren, The Liberty of Conscience: Civil Disobedience in Light of Romans 13:1-7, 1996 
  • Dyck, Harold J. Direction: The Christian and the Authorities: Romans 13:1-7
  • Fitzmyer, Joseph A., Romans, in THE ANCHOR BIBLE, NY: Doubleday, 1993.
  • Geneva Bible (1599) 
  • Gifford, E.H., Romans, in The Holy Bible . . . with an Explanatory and Critical Commentary, F. C. Cook, ed., Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981 (1877-81).
  • Gill, John, An Exposition of the New Testament, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980 (1852). 
  • Godet, F., Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1956 (1883).
  • Guzik, David,  Study Guide for Romans Chapter 13,
  • Haldane, Robert, An Exposition of Romans, MacLean, VA: MacDonald Publishing Co., n.d., (c. 1839)
  • Hendriksen, William, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of Paul's Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1982),
  • Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co., n.d.
  • Herrick, Greg, Paul and Civil Obedience in Romans 13:1-7,  
  • Hodge, Charles, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., 1950 (1886)
  • Jamieson, Faussett, & Brown, A Commentary, Critical, Experimental, and Practical, on the Old and New Testaments, (c. 1875) 
  • Johnson, B.W., People's New Testament, Gospel Advocate Company, c.1889  
  • Lange, J. P., The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1960 (1869).
  • Lenski, R.C.H., The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1936.
  • Liddon, H.P., Explanatory Analysis of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1961.
  • Luther, Martin, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1954 (15xx).
  • MacArthur, John, Romans 9-16, in The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Chicago: Moody Bible Institute, 1994.
  • Macknight, James, Macknight on the Epistles, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984 (1795).
  • J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton, Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians and Romans (1916)
  • McGee, J. Vernon, Romans, vol. II, Pasadena: Thru the Bible Books, 1976.
  • McQuilkin, Robert C., The Message of Romans, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1947.
  • Melville, Andrew, Commentary on Romans 13:1-5, 
  • Meyer, Heinrich August Wilhelm, Critical and Exegetical Hand-Book to The Epistle to the Romans, Winona Lake, IN: Alpha Publications, 1980 (1883).
  • Moule, H.C.G., Studies in Romans, Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1977 (1892).
  • Murray, John, The Epistle to the Romans, Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., 1968.
  • North, Gary, Cooperation and Dominion: An Economic Commentary on Romans, Institute for Christian Economics, 2000.
  • Ockenga, Harold J., Every One that Believeth: Expository Addresses on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, NY: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1942.
  • Poole, Matthew, A Commentary on the Holy Bible, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1963 (1685).
  • Pridham, Arthur, Notes and Reflections on the Epistle to the Romans, Atlanta: The Granary, 1977 (1864).
  • Robertson, Archibald T., Word Pictures in the New Testament, Baptist Sunday School Board,  
  • Sanday, W., The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, in Ellicott’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Charles John Ellicott, ed,. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1959 (69).
  • Shedd, W.G.T., A Critical and Doctrinal Commentary on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1967 (1879).
  • Steele, David N. and Thomas, Curtis C., Romans: An Interpretive Outline, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1963.
  • Stuhlmacher, P. (1994). Paul's Letter to the Romans: A Commentary. Westminster: John Knox Press.
  • Trapp, John, A Commentary on the New Testament, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981 (1865).
  • Vincent, Marvin R., Vincent's Word Studies on the New Testament, 
  • Wesley, John, Notes on the Bible 
  • Westminster Divines and Other Puritans, Annotations Upon all the Books of the Old and New Testament, London: Evan Tyler, 1657.
  • Willson, James M., Civil Government: An Exposition of Romans XIII.1-7, Philadelphia: William S. Young, 1853. 
  • Wilson, Geoffrey B., Romans, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1976.
  • Wuest, Kenneth S., Romans in the Greek New Testament, Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., 1955.

Additional Bibliography:

If you know of other commentators we should listen to, please write us.

Please leave your comments here. (Vine & Fig Tree does not endorse any political candidates.)

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