Friday, May 8, 2020

Enough With Romans 13


Romans 13:1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

God will have to give me much more patience….

This passage from Romans is trotted out countless times by Christian leaders, and infinitely more than this in recent weeks.  I will use as an example something offered by Becky Akers, who has been excellent on this topic of churches closing during this time.  She writes a piece entitled Lobbyists From Hell. 

In it she cites, as one example out of…oh, I don’t know…one-hundred thousand, a statement from the Joseph Council of the “Citizens for Community Values” of Columbus, Ohio.  The Joseph Council identifies as “an Evangelical and Catholic coalition of Christian leaders in Ohio.”  Romans 13 is one of the “Scriptural Reflections” they offer as justification for closing houses of worship to God.

Read that last sentence again.  They are offering Biblical justification for closing houses of worship.

Back to Romans 13.  The reference above, which many Christians seem to love, is from the New International Version.  What does the King James say?

Romans 13:1 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.  2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

Higher powers vs. governing authorities.  That’s a bit different.  I have also read, from Gerard Casey, a further examination on this point.  He offers:

Whereas some English translations use the word “governing” in verse 1, the Greek text does not.  It reads “Let every soul be subject to the superior powers.”

Well, that might make a difference as well.

There are countless examples in the Bible of individuals ignoring and violating the commands of the “governing authorities” (in the meaning that countless Christians take this phrase).  I will only offer one, perhaps the most meaningful because if these orders were not violated, well none of this would really matter.

In Matthew 2 we read of Herod questioning the chief priests and scribes: where is the child to be born?  He questioned the wise men: when did the star appear?  Once he had his answers, he asked the wise men to return to him after they had seen this newborn “King of the Jews.”

Of course, the wise men – anticipating today’s modern Christians – did exactly as Herod asked.  After all, they were subject to the governing authorities.  No, not exactly.  Instead, they took a different route home.  Now, was it against Scripture to walk back the way one came?  No.  God told them to disobey the governing authority.

Meanwhile, God appeared to Joseph and told Joseph to obey Herod.  Just kidding.  God told Joseph to take Mary and the baby and flee to Egypt.

Let’s look at more of the passage from Romans, from the NIV:

3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.

Mmmm.  What if rulers do hold terror for those who do right?  It’s not like it doesn’t happen.  Was God (or Paul) naïve?  No.  There is only one “governing” authority that consistently does not hold terror for those who do good – that being God.  With this in mind, continuing:

4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

Can this be read without the context of the preceding verse?  Would that make any sense to you?  The Apostle Paul, after all, was an extremely learned scholar.  Is he just stringing together random thoughts?

6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

I won’t get into the taxes part, other than reminding of 1 Samuel 8, when God warned Israel that the king that they are desiring would have the nerve to take all of 10% of their crop.  Ten-percent!

But, past this: we owe respect to those for whom we respect.  We own honor for those deserving of honor.  Close churches on Sunday.  Is it possible that it is to such as these that God, through Paul, is commanding us to respect and honor?  Really?

But it gets worse. 


This statement of “Scriptural Reflection” from the Joseph Council is loaded with excuses, all referencing Biblical passages.  I will only summarize, because it makes me gag.

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.

This is actually the first excuse offered, even before Romans 13!  The Council offers: “Christian’s first and foremost responsibility is to God” and “Only when the civic law violates our faith are we called to practice civil disobedience,” and somehow, from here, they conclude that shutting down churches is the thing to do? 

What is it when civil law calls for shutting down churches?  Are we not violating our faith?  We used to associate these things with godless communists and Nazis.  I guess we still should.

As to their justification via Romans 13, they offer that “in times of national emergency, submission to temporary Stay-at-Home orders, for example, is God-honoring.”  To my understanding, parish churches did not close in London during the blitz; Armenian church leaders did not abandon their flock during the Genocide.

During the countless “national emergencies” of plague and pandemic in the last two-thousand years, the church did not close its doors (OK, even if you find one counter-example, the point still stands); in fact, it was the Christians that cared for the sick.  All of a sudden, in the twenty-first century, it has become “God-honoring” to shelter in place?

Finally, from the Joseph Council, from Hebrews 10:25: “We should ‘not [be] neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…’”  Yes, this verse is used to justify NOT MEETING TOGETHER! 

And if this isn’t enough, they throw in some other beneficial thoughts (emphasis in original):

Determine not to respond in fear, but through faith go forth in power, love and self-control, making it our practice to serve our fellow man.

Forgive my language, but WTF!  Having responded in fear, and failing to serve their fellow man, they dare to write these words?

Emerge from challenges with our testimony, having matured and blossomed, stronger and more influential than ever.

Your testimony is one of abandoning the faith and abandoning the flock.  What little influence you had has been pissed away.

Conclusion

I will close with a comment I made at another site a couple of weeks ago; it was in the context of pastors being concerned about some of their elderly parishioners, therefor taking these church-closing actions out of concern for their health:

I have come to learn something about concern for the health of the elderly by their younger counterparts through my father.  There are things more meaningful to him than any risk imposed by the things we, with - God willing - many years on this earth still ahead of us concern ourselves with on their behalf.  There are some fates worse than (the risk of) death when you know your time on this earth is short in any case.  My father - well past what is considered the normal expiration date for a male - taught me this lesson; he is the strongest man I know.

75 comments:

  1. Ahhh! Righteous anger! Bionic, you are at your best when you allow it to show.

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    1. Yeah, I can overturn money-changers' tables with (almost) the best of them!

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  2. Wish I could work up some righteous anger. Disillusionment is about as close as I get these days.

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    1. Jeff, you can't work up (conjure) a feeling of righteous anger any more than you can work up a feeling of love, compassion, or joy. They happen.

      Disillusionment is not necessarily bad, as it means a loss of hope in something previously believed. However, if the hope lost is not replaced with hope found in something else, then apathy becomes the standard mode of operation. Apathy is the conscious refusal to make an effort to change anything for the better and only means that things will get worse. It is a killer.

      Abandon the past. Find something better to work for and then go for it. That is all that is necessary.

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  3. Translating into "governing authorities" does not bother me since delegated authorities/powers, in the Bible and elsewhere, is never absolute.

    In the context of these uSA political setup, who is/are the "higher authorities" or "governing authorities;" the Constitution of these uSA, the Constitutions of the several States, cities, counties, citizens?

    And what is supposed to happen when there is usurpation of authorities/powers? What does the Bible say about usurpation?

    The Priests could not violate the Law but the Lawgiver could. Same as when the Disciples were ordered to shut up and did not. Plenty of other examples in the Bible, like the ones you mentioned, where the guv'ment is disobeyed.

    Of course, as Jesus said: "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."

    It is only by faith that we do not faint living under The Fall.

    Matthew 12
    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2012&version=NIV

    At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. 2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”

    3 He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. 5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’[a] you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

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    1. Your point on the Constitution is very good.

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    2. Yes, and further that the Declaration and Constitution at least in part are based natural law/rights philosophy.

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    3. Ours is claimed to the rule of law with the Constitution for the united States as the organic law. I understand the federal government was Hamilton's ego fluff and retirement package, but it is at least an example to which we should appeal when witless idiots start talking about "rulers" and "authorities".

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    4. Hebrews 13 is the antidote to Romans 13. In the second place I bear a sword of my own. In the third place every state in the union has written in their constitutions that the Constitution for the United States is the organic law of the State. Ours is a rule of law, not people. We have given far too much trust and taxes to the scum who call themselves "government" and claim a right to the life and property of all productive people.
      What I have seen in the United Reformed Church of North America (my brand except I am post-mil) is Romans 13 used as an excuse not to confront government. Maybe its because the ministers from Escondido are all a-mil, but it sure looks like a yellow streak to me. Absolutely no one would go to bat for me in a clear case of arrest without probable cause. They did not picket abortion clinics either. Great theological explanations of the Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, and Canons of Dortrech, but zero action. Maybe that's the definition of a-mil and why that eschatology disgusts me so.

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    5. parkerd, your closing comment is the trouble with how some understand the meaning of "this world is not my home, I'm just a'passing through..."

      A lack of concern for the injustice and violence right here, right now. Jesus wasn't just expelling hot air when he said in Matthew 16: 28 "Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom."

      I don't think any of those He spoke to have avoided the taste of death. It leaves me to conclude we are to do the work of His kingdom, right here and right now.

      Thank you for your comments.

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    6. Parkerd,

      That's interesting about Hebrews 13. Are these the relevant passages you had in mind?

      7. Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

      9. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

      17. Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

      In these passages it seems the people that "rule over us" are not our political leaders, but rather our religious leaders.

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  4. I haven't read the article yet, but I have been restudying Romans 13 for the last 2 weeks. Not done yet, but will definitely consider this article.

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    1. I will also do more work on this in the future.

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  5. MOSES WAS A PSYCHOPATHIC WAR CRIMINAL
    "And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses"
    (Deuteronomy 34:10)
    Yahweh, a being of simple and bloody tastes

    "One night while Moses was in camp, Jehovah was about to kill him.
    But Zipporah [his wife] circumcised her son with a flint knife ... So Yahweh did not harm Moses.
    Zipporah said, 'You are a bridegroom of blood'."
    – Exodus 4.24-26.

    NUMBERS 31:13-18:
    (13) Moses, Eleazar the priest, and all the leaders of the community went to meet them outside the camp.
    (14) But Moses was furious with all the generals and captains who had returned from the battle.
    (15) “Why have you let all the women live?” he demanded.
    (16) “These are the very ones who followed Balaam’s advice and caused the people of Israel to rebel against the Lord at Mount Peor. They are the ones who caused the plague to strike the Lord’s people.
    (17) So kill all the boys and all the women who have had intercourse with a man.
    ( 18 ) Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may keep them for yourselves.

    JESUS ENDORSED MOSES:
    “Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, in whom you have put your hope. 46 If you had believed Moses, you would believe Me, because he wrote about Me. 47But since you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”…
    John 5:45 47

    JESUS ENDORSED THE TORAH
    For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
    Matthew 5:18

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    1. Yes, tough reading. I suspect many theologians have dealt with all of this over, oh, I don't know...the last two millennia.

      Have you read any of them?

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    2. I think a lot of what goes on in the Old Testament is there as a tool for understanding human nature and our failings. None of the Old Testament heroes were without a blemish or two.

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  6. Spot on. I get fed up with Romans 13 being used to support government power. In https://getrad2.blogspot.com/2020/04/submission-to-political-power.html I say that I get frustrated when Christians blandly use Romans 13:1 as a slogan for political power, assuming it settles the issue, without considering what Paul actually said in his letter.

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  7. The fans of that unlucky 13th chapter of St. Paul's epistle to the Romans seem to have a blind spot for another verse: "But Peter and the apostles said in reply, 'We must obey God rather than men'" (Acts 5:29). I've also noticed they celebrate Independence Day every July 4th. King George was "legitimate authority" back in 1776!

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    1. Yes, and King George committed perhaps 1% of the violations we have since come to live under.

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  8. Romans 13:1-7 has absolutely nothing to do with secular civil government. Rather, Romans 13 (and related passages) is *our* mandate for dominion over government and society.

    Everything in Romans 13:1-7 depicts a biblical civil government. The one word "continually" or "devoted" (depending upon your Bible version) in Verse 6 (amplifying Verses 3 & 4) alone proves the point. (And this is just one of ten contextual reasons proving the same thing.)

    Unless someone's prepared to claim the Roman Empire (one of the most notorious for murdering Christians) was a government that *continually* blessed Christians and terrorized/punished the wicked, they best rethink their theology regarding this extremely important passage of Scripture.

    For more, see free online book "The Romans 13 Template for Biblical Dominion: Ten Reasons Why Romans 13 is Not About Secular Government" at https://www.bibleversusconstitution.org/Romans13/Romans13-contents.html

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    1. While I don't believe Romans 13 teaches we must obey everything a government tells us to do, your statement "Romans 13 is our mandate for dominion over government and society" is in direct contradiction to what Paul is saying.

      You have flipped "be in subjection" to "be in authority over".

      I think the most important point BM raises is "Mmmm. What if rulers do hold terror for those who do right? It’s not like it doesn’t happen. Was God (or Paul) naïve? No. There is only one “governing” authority that consistently does not hold terror for those who do good – that being God."

      Verses 3 and 4 are really the most crucial to applying the chapter properly. It isn't that God wants the Church to rebel against government. It also isn't that God wants the Church to rule the world (yet, before Jesus comes back).

      I am still working through the chapter, but so far the best I can come up with is that the commands in verses 1, 2, and 5 are proverbial, not absolute. That is shown in 3 and 4. There is a proper behavior and outcome of government. Humans are fallen so their institutions can't be followed 100%. Parenthood, marriage, businesses, governments, etc. God created order throughout nature and in humanity which needs to be followed. But it breaks down and when that happens humans have to use the light of Scripture to navigate the complicated situation.

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    2. Maybe it's time for God to appear before all of Humanity and make His existence and will known to one and all in a very clear and unambiguous way. Cut out the middle men interpreters and the attendant confusion and argumentation. Talk directly to every person and end all doubts. Being omnipotent this would be a snap for God. That is, if He exists and actually cares.

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    3. Everything in Romans 13:1-7 depicts a biblical civil government. The one word "continually" or "devoted" (depending upon your Bible version) in Verse 6 (amplifying Verses 3 & 4) alone proves the point. (And this is just one of ten contextual reasons proving the same thing.)

      Unless someone's prepared to claim the Roman Empire (one of the most notorious for murdering Christians) was a government that *continually* blessed Christians and terrorized/punished the wicked, they best rethink their theology regarding this extremely important passage of Scripture.

      For more, see the book cited in my original post.

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    4. Anon, Jesus was publicly crucified and resurrected. Eye witness accounts have been written down. Believe or not, but God has made His existence known to any who want to know Him.

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    5. Ted, I get what you are saying about devoting. It is why I think the commands are proverbial and a description of should or ought.

      But I have a hard time seeing how in varying degrees these statements don't apply to governments, even the Roman Empire. The letter was itself written to "all who are beloved of God in Rome". How would they understand governing authorities or higher in rank people who have the power to make decisions in an expanded version. I don't think Rome was continually or absolutely devoted to serving God, obviously.

      I guess I would say to the degree that they bring wrath on the evil doer and praise the good doer they are in line with Romans 13. Rome did that to some degree, but they also did horrific, unjust, unrighteous things. Christians and the Church had every right to rebel against those things. The further a government gets away from Romans 13 description the more complicated a relationship Christians should have, alternatively submitting to some things and refusing to do other things. Then at some point it makes sense to set up an alternate government or authority structure, and defend it against the unjust government.

      But I don't think any government or authority structure will ever perfectly follow Romans 13:3, 4, 6.

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  9. "Churches" in America are 501(c)(3) government, not-for-profit corporations. Therefore, they will obey and promote the one that created them - the U.S. government. "Churches" are an extension of the state. They are not - have never been - an extension of God carrying His will on earth as it is in heaven.
    Romans 13 is telling Christians how they are to administer the Kingdom of God among their communities. It has nothing whatsoever to do with obeying godless governments such as the U.S.

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    1. I still don't see how that means that churches have to obey government 100% just because they don't pay taxes. You think churches should pay taxes?

      Romans 13 uses very broad terms for authority which can span from parents to modern governments. It doesn't mean Christians should obey evil commandments from kings but it also doesn't mean that kings and liberal democracies aren't in scope.

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  10. Uh not quite. Romans 13 never said to obey Govt it said to obey God and it also said Liberty not power.
    The word power is translated into English form the word Exousia, which means Liberty not power. Exousia has a lot of words in a list that can be used to translate into English and the top ones are Liberty not power. You have to go down like 4-5 words to get power. Ever wonder why power was used instead of liberty? For one it's plausible that they feared to be beheaded and or put into the Dungeon if they did so yeah my bet is on that.
    When properly translated Romans 13 should read this way:
    “Letevery soul be subject unto the higher liberty. For thereis no liberty but of God: the liberties that beare ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the liberty,resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receiveto 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
    Thayer's Greek Lexicon:


    ̓́



    exousia



    1) power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases



    1a) leave or permissionhttps://www.bibletools.org//index.cfm/fuseaction/Lexicon.show/ID/G1849/exousia.htm
    Notice how far down that list before you get to Govt and or rule?
    https://newswithviews.com/Gregory/williams100.htm
    The church failed us by teaching that garbage about obeying Govt. rule and fulfills Revelation 17.
    Where it says he will input into their hearts to give their power unto the beast/Govt until his word be fulfilled. How that is fulfilled is the wrongfully translated form or Romans 13 for we have given our power unto the beast by voting and supporting it's ruling power. Daniels Statue(Idol)(Notice how I said Idol there)? For that's what it is nothing more than one Idol statue of Gold Govt, Silver Govt, Brass govt. and Iron Govt. Not this silly notion of a Revised Roman Empire or the EU or something but all Govt, all mans Govt. chancellors, Prime ministers, Kings, queens, Presidents, etc... all forms or Idol worship.
    Antichrist is not going to be a man or one man, Antichrist is fulfilled through Govt. for they replace God with men and or women to rule over them.
    Sorry but Trump is a Antichrist but so were all our Presidents whether a Republican or Democrat they all have been a replacement of or for God.
    Which in turns fulfills the prophecy in 2nd Thessalonians. or when he not a man just one man but when our leaders all of them world wide stand in the holy place and exalt and appose all that is called God.
    They do this by as I said being a Idol, or replacement of God. You can't make the point that we elect them BS. doesn't matter Israel wanted Gideon to be king and that was a form of being elected. But he said "Should I a man rule over you"? "No"! he said for God should rule not man. Israel when Largely stateless, faired better than when asking for a king From Samuel. Albeit for a time Saul ruled ok, and David and Solomon, but after them they divided into two kingdoms and each went basically back to Egypt/bondage. They were a different lot than the other countries around them they had no king nor did they have Treaties or anything with other countries they were at liberty and did mainly as they pleased.
    Point is were in Bondage now and I think this Coronavirus crap is a warning shot from God or the Pale horse riding. The church failure too makes them the false prophet. Anyhows now Romans 13 was never about obeying Govt. it was about us obeying God and his.

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    1. Anon, you are correct about much you say about exousia. But the idea is that those who have exousia have the liberty or power to choose, and that choosing is over other people. That is what the word for "governing" means. It means higher rank. The higher ranking person who has the liberty or power to make decisions for groups of people. This isn't a unique thought in the Bible. Parents, husbands, masters, employers, lords, etc all are described as having power to make decisions that effect other people. That is exousia.

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  11. One thing I am certain of. Exousia doesn't mean only government or king or modern Executive Branch leader. It is included but that isn't the focus.

    If it was, Paul would have used the word hegemon or hegemone. Those are the words used in the Bible for Roman officials like Pontius Pilate and Quirinius.

    It assumes leaders are bring about justice. The word translate "avenger" or "revenger" means some who is executing justice based on their own understanding, even someone outside the legal framework, someone who sees injustice and takes it upon themselves to right wrongs they are observing.

    But Paul also uses a word leitourgoi, which means a state official who is paid from taxes to carry out service.

    Romans 13 is about broad social order from top to bottom, but always with the purpose of rewarding good and punishing bad. Once a government or any social order inverts that, I don't think Romans 13 applies.

    Daniel 2 says God removes kings and establishes kings. God does it, but human agents are always involved.

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    1. RMB, this is a good point to draw out a distinction: even if using "governing" authorities, of these there are many - starting at the most fundamental, the family.

      This is distinct from the idea of a hegemon - what I would describe as the monopoly state that has usurped all governing authority.

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  12. Sounds like a catch-22: If we're in subjection only while the authority is ruling properly - so we rebel when it rules against God - then who is really in authority, the authority or us with God?

    When a populace votes for its leadership, including its legislators, and can remove them from office by certain means, who has the authority? The seemingly lost mindset & phrase, "You work for us," comes to mind.

    When Trump was running for office & speaking at some churches, he made a statement to the effect that if Christians (being so many) would get together they would have tremendous power.

    Ted Weiland's Rom13 series is worth a listen with an open mind if you're working through the applicable section. So is some of Matthew Trewhella's work on the subject. I'm sure there are others.

    If you're working through the chapter, I hope you are illuminated to its meaning. If more Christians were, and if they also knew well God's standards of good & bad per Heb5, and if they woke up and took advantage of the US Governmental structure, it would be interesting to see what the US would be. As it is, there are too many "ifs" and this opposes the matured unity in Eph4.

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    1. "...if Christians (being so many) would get together they would have tremendous power."

      I have written often about Christianity - united - is the only institution capable of counter-acting the liberty-destroying action of government.

      I have been giving significant thought recently to the question "united...on what?" In other words, on what issues or concerns must Christians unite with the sole end in mind to be a proper check on the abuse by the state.

      I am going to write on this in the coming days.

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    2. Please, please write this. I'm struggling with this issue. I see common ground for cooperation with organizations who teach what I and the reformers of the reformation hold to be heresy. How do we cooperate without falling into the trap of ecumenicism? If only Protestants, Evangelicals and Catholics could work together...

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    3. It is here:

      http://bionicmosquito.blogspot.com/2020/05/if-christianity-is-to-play-its-part.html

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  13. Sounds like a catch-22: If we're in subjection only while the authority is ruling properly - so we rebel when it rules against God - then who is really in authority, the authority or us with God?

    When a populace votes for its leadership, including its legislators, and can remove them from office by certain means, who has the authority? The seemingly lost mindset & phrase, "You work for us," comes to mind.

    When Trump was running for office & speaking at some churches, he made a statement to the effect that if Christians (being so many) would get together they would have tremendous power.

    Ted Weiland's Rom13 series is worth a listen with an open mind if you're working through the applicable section. So is some of Matthew Trewhella's work on the subject. I'm sure there are others.

    If you're working through the chapter, I hope you are illuminated to its meaning. If more Christians were, and if they also knew well God's standards of good & bad per Heb5, and if they woke up and took advantage of the US Governmental structure, it would be interesting to see what the US would be. As it is, there are too many "ifs" and this opposes the matured unity in Eph4.

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  14. The definition of exousia you say means liberty, actually speaks of a power of the freedom to choose. This choice of definition doesn't work here in Rom13. It's pretty easy to see in the sentence you've translated to state that the liberty will praise those who do the good.

    There is another Greek word that is used in the NC Writings correctly translated as liberty, or freedom.

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  15. If "every soul" is admonished to "be subject to the higher powers" then simple logic tells me "the higher powers" cannot be other souls. Who decides? The sovereign individual.

    Reference:
    https://www.lewrockwell.com/political-theatre/higher-powers/
    Higher Powers
    By Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

    Overcoming Evil – The Foolishness of Preaching
    https://www.lewrockwell.com/2018/12/dan-glovak/overcoming-evil-the-foolishness-of-preaching/

    By Dan Glovak
    December 11, 2018
    February 23, 2020

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    1. If every individual has no other over him in some kind of rank or order that renders Romans 13 meaningless. There are many examples in Scripture where one human has a higher rank and authority over another or others.

      That principle is also reflected in the Trinity. Where Father, Son, and Spirit are all equally God but have different rank and authority over the other person(s) in the Godhead.

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    2. There are so many differing paradigms and related filters at play here. Part of rightly dividing the word of truth is rightly acquiring the right translations and meanings of greek and hebrew words. One of the biggest problematic,filter creating,incorrectly divided words is "church". It should only be in our english bible in one place, when it was used to refer to the pagan temple of Diana. The greek word ecclesia, which was purposefully mistranslated church, means called out civil authorities, or...those who decide on civil policy. So every time you see the word "church" in your bible, you should scratch it out and write in ecclesia or civil authorities. You would not be guilty of taking away or adding to the word. Instead you would be returning to the bible Yahweh's original intent.
      What's this got to do with the above discussion? A ton! As I stated before, this mistranslation is responsible for many erronious filters. Jesus did not sacrifice His life for a four or more walled building used for weekly country club gatherings of great music, fellowship and inspiring sermons, though those things are fine and necessary. No, Jesus laid His own life down in COMPLETE fulfillment of ALL the prophets in order to establish HIS Ecclesia, His Civil Authorities for dominion in His Kingdom which is now the only God ordained kingdom allowed on earth today. All others are in rebellion. Understanding that there is no "church" which in our vernacular means something wholly different and separate from governmental civil authorities leaves room for only one other comprehension; what you have called "church" all your Christian life was always intended to be Community Governments (ecclesias) of Chrust our King, THE fulfillment of Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2:13-17, whereby the ONLY lawmaker is Yahweh and the ONLY law are His Commandments, Statutes, and Judgments. When you arrive at this understanding, you realize that the U.S.A., the declaration, constitution, bill of rights, rapidly escalating erosion of liberty and sanity...all of that is NOT a part of God's plan that we are to play a role in. It's the vessel of whoredoms. America's national idol as she cries "we have no other king but Caesar"

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    3. Dan, thank you for reminding me of these posts of yours. I recall appreciating these at the time.

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  16. Biblehub (https://www.biblehub.com/romans/13-1.htm) has many different versions of Romans 13: 1, most of which use the term “governing authorities”. I also found these, among others.

    Berean Literal Bible:
    "Let every soul be subject to the authorities being above him."

    King James Bible:
    "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers."

    Good News Translation:
    "Everyone must obey state authorities,..."

    Aramaic Bible in Plain English:
    "Let every soul be subject to the authority of the great,..."

    Weymouth New Testament:
    "Let every individual be obedient to those who rule over him;..."

    World English Bible:
    "Let every soul be in subjection to the higher authorities,..."

    The Good News Translation version, “Everyone must obey state authorities...”, seems to be the most egregious and blatant in promoting civil government. Good news for tyrants and bureaucrats, but hardly that for everyone else. However, this (and all others which lean that way) run afoul of one question which Christians should find repugnant. Are we required by God to “obey state authorities” in everything which is dictated to us by them? If we are, then Deitrich Bonhoeffer and Corrie ten Boom were wrong in their opposition to Hitler’s Nazi regime. As has been noted before, we are also told that “...we ought to obey God, rather than man...”, which is completely contradictory to the GNT’s not-so-good translation.

    Since scripture cannot contradict itself, there must be some other explanation and I appreciate everyone’s contribution. I am learning a lot.

    Strong’s 1849 has this already mentioned reference to authorities: "From exesti [exousia]; privilege, i.e. force, capacity, competency, freedom, or mastery, delegated influence."

    With relevance to America, notice that last description—delegated influence. As a constitutional republic, we have a say (democratic vote) in what happens in “our” government. Those “authorities” which exist are there because we have collectively allowed (appointed) them and it follows that we are able to replace them if we find it necessary. We delegate influence (power, authority) to them, but we are NOT obligated or required to blindly obey them, especially when their orders directly contradict the Word of God.

    On the flip side, neither can we simply choose, as individuals, which authorities and orders to obey and which to disregard and ignore. If everyone did that, there would be no civil society or structure. Obviously, SOME authorities must be obeyed. The rub is deciding which ones and, since there are always competing authorities, ultimately the yardstick we use has to be, not only the written Word of God, but also the unwritten Word which is administered by the Holy Spirit, the Highest Authority in the land. Objective authority always trumps subjective authority.

    From my perspective, it boils down to this. If an authority orders me to carry out an action which I judge to be unjust, immoral, unethical, and contradictory to God’s Word, then I will simply refuse to do it—even if it means that I suffer loss for it. I must be consistent with what I believe to be right and true, no matter what.

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    1. Roger, your two final paragraphs contradict each other. If individuals are not free to choose which authorities to obey or disregard, then how can you disobey as an individual?

      Regarding your comment about competing authorities, the answer to much of our modern dilemma lies here. Today we have no competing authorities in any meaningful sense. The church was neutered long ago, and it is finally visible to all with the closing of services - even during Holy Week.

      I am going to write something in the coming days on what I see as the areas where Christians must unite if Christianity is to be an effective "competing authority." I have made such a statement in the past, but I don't think I ever laid out the specifics.

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    2. You're right, they do. I should have been more careful. Thanks for pointing that out.

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    3. Roger, I am interested in which way you think this goes - if you have a strong opinion one way or the other.

      Thanks

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  17. Strong opinion? Oh, dear! Where do I begin? I will work on this and get back to you.

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    1. I am not suggesting that you MUST have a strong opinion. I am interested only IF you have one.

      But if you want to think through it and get back, that's OK too.

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  18. Well, weak opinions have never been my strong suit, so, I will work on it. Romans 13:1, correct? I'll try to stay calm.

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    1. The first several verses of that chapter, yes.

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    2. Let me get this out of the way first.

      The recent capitulation of the American church to the “suggestions” of state and local governments did not make me angry so much as cause a feeling of sadness and dismay. The fact that virtually all of the churches shuttered their buildings and services, especially at Easter time, speaks volumes about the amount of trust they place in Jesus Christ, the man they claim to worship as God. If a relatively harmless virus can induce such panic and fear among Christians so that they cravenly obey the State dictate on its word alone, then what hope do any of us have, as individuals, against the same State in other areas of life? Aren’t we supposed to trust Christ for our health and safety on His Word alone, knowing that bad things sometimes happen to good people? Aren’t we supposed to believe that part of His Word which says, “For God has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power, and of love, and of self-control.” --2 Timothy 1:7 (Berean Literal Bible) Why then did so many people immediately fall all over themselves to give into the ‘spirit of fear’ which has run rampant for at least six months all over the world?

      I can think of numerous reasons. Only three are necessary to list here.

      1. We have created an idol, a false god, in the form of statist civil government which we have been worshiping for a long time, at least a century, but probably far longer. This ‘god’ has been very generous with its revenue, fiat money, which it has used to buy our loyalty and submission. As the saying goes, “Whoever pays the piper calls the tune.” and it is clearly apparent now that the State is calling the tune.

      2. We have believed a lie and it has bitten us hard. The lie is that the State exists to protect us from all possible threats and that we can live safely and securely under its “benevolent” rule. The damage that will cause remains to be seen, but bites, unless treated early and aggressively, tend to become infected, dangerous, and potentially deadly. This particular one will probably prove to be more fatal than any number of corona viruses.

      3. We are afraid to die. No comment necessary.

      I could become angry over this, but all I feel is a sense of sadness. However, my faith resides in Jesus, the Christ and not in churches run and populated by sinful people. Jesus said, “I will build my Church and the gates of Hell shall not stand against it.” This is hope for the future. No matter what that future brings, we can rest assured in His declaration.

      Long live the King! On to Romans 13.




      Romans 13, especially the first seven verses, is open to severe misunderstanding in the same manner as the book of Revelation. It is easy to produce widely varying interpretations based on nothing more than a simple reading. Throw in the dissection of particular words and/or phrases, their original meanings in context, ignorance of the original language, ‘trust me’ expositions by so-called experts, etc., and it becomes plain why there is so much controversy over this passage.

      I am not a scholar. I have never had formal training in anything beyond mid-11th grade in high school when I left it behind. Greek is all Greek to me. I don’t generally dig into the analytical nuts and bolts of Scripture, trying to pinpoint and nail down the jot and tittle of every little nuance, declension, gender, root, and meaning. When Bionic Mosquito asked for my opinion on this, I realized that I had never given it much thought beyond the cursory glance. I have thought about little else since then in my free time. What I offer below is only my opinion and is presented that way.

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    3. Over the last few days, I ran into one dead end after another trying to understand this and made no headway until I began to approach it from a common-sense approach. Viewed from this perspective, it is clear to me that Paul is recommending nothing more than many other writers of Scripture did, which is to counsel disciples to live peacefully within their respective societies without causing trouble for any authority over them. Unfortunately, Paul (much smarter and better trained than I will ever be), had trouble writing his advice in language which is easy for the average modern Christian to grasp, and it has only caused confusion. In a society such as ours, where the State has become a “god” in the eyes of many (both secular and religious), it’s not surprising that multitudes of Christians seem to think this passage advocates for passive obedience to civil government, i.e., state edicts, orders, and regulations.

      For me, Paul’s counsel seems to be one of wisdom and self-control in the face of civil government. He was, after all, writing to the Roman Christians who lived in the heart of one of the most powerful and brutal empires that has ever existed. There are authorities who have power over you. These authorities can cause severe trouble for you. The best way to avoid trouble from these authorities is to not give them an excuse to swat you like a mosquito. (Sorry, Bionic, I couldn’t resist. No harm intended.) Stay out of their way by generally following the laws and paying the taxes demanded. Don’t be a rabble-rouser. Live well in your own particular society and develop a reputation for being a good neighbor. Etc., etc.

      On the other hand, if you create a ruckus or cause trouble to the authorities over you, be very afraid. If you are hauled into court for any reason, treat the judge with respect and honor him (even if he’s not personally worthy of it, it is his office you are contending with). If you disrespect him in any way, he has the power and authority to have you executed or thrown into a jail cell until you have learned some manners. If you incite riots or insurrections, the police or military ‘authority’ will be brought in to restore order. If you refuse to pay what the taxing ‘authority’ insists you “owe”, you will shortly find yourself on the receiving end of very painful disciplinary action.

      Romans 13 should NOT be seen as promoting abject servility to any authority figure, regardless of who or what it is. There are far too many other scriptures which show that it is right and proper to oppose, sometimes violently (Moses, Elijah, Esther, Peter, etc.), authoritarian evil in all its forms. As Christians, we should NEVER commit evil actions against others simply because it is the law. Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God. If a law is unjust, it deserves to be broken.

      The Bible does not allow nor tolerate blind, unquestioning, passive submissiveness to evil. Neither does it allow evil action to overcome evil. “Shall we do evil so that good may come?” Rather, we are to overcome evil by living and working within society in such a way that it is transformed by the good that we do. We are to change society in the same manner as yeast changes individual ingredients (flour, water, salt, raisins, etc., thrown together) into a loaf of bread which is very tasty and highly desirable.

      Paul brings this out in the second half of Romans 13. Love your neighbor. Live peacefully and properly. This seems to accord with what has been written elsewhere. “As much as is possible with you, live at peace with all men.” (Romans 12:18) and “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7)

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    4. “To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) I am convinced that there is a time for systemic change of authority, perhaps even a violent overthrow of that authority. My gut feeling is that we are very close to one of those times and, if so, it will mean a considerable amount of hardship on many of us, but it is not wise to bring unnecessary trouble on ourselves in the process. We may very well be directly involved in it, but generally speaking, it is better to try to maintain the peace, as much as is possible.

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    5. Roger, this is very impressive. Well thought-out and well-articulated. I offer a few comments in reply:

      “…did not make me angry so much as cause a feeling of sadness and dismay.”

      This is well-put; it is also my feeling.

      “…then what hope do any of us have, as individuals, against the same State in other areas of life?”

      Exactly my view. And I am open to a strong argument that some institution other than the church (meaning, Christianity) can ever play such an intermediating role.

      “Aren’t we supposed to trust Christ for our health and safety on His Word alone…”

      I would be careful with this; there are proper times to see a doctor. But your verse from Timothy captures it. I will add: God has given us wisdom, to know how judge the facts and how to react – it is here that Christian leaders – and many others – have totally failed in this episode.

      “For me, Paul’s counsel seems to be one of wisdom and self-control in the face of civil government. He was, after all, writing to the Roman Christians…”

      Both parts of this are of value: wisdom and self-control; also recognizing the context of the audience to whom Paul was writing – this cannot be ignored at all.

      “[swatting mosquitos] Sorry, Bionic, I couldn’t resist.”

      No problem for me. I’m bionic!

      “Romans 13 should NOT be seen as promoting abject servility to any authority figure, regardless of who or what it is.”

      This is the most foundational: when faced with a choice of obeying God or obeying civil government, and these choices conflict, we are to obey God. This requires of us wisdom and understanding to know what it means to obey God, and to know when we are asked or required by civil government to disobey God. it is difficult to imagine that stopping the gathering together of the flock is obedience to God. It is difficult to imagine that abandoning the elderly – who are most vulnerable to the loneliness of lockdown and the loss of routine – is in obedience to God.

      Even if fear of the unknown overwhelmed Christian leaders in the first week or two, it was quickly obvious that this entire scheme was built on lies.

      “My gut feeling is that we are very close to one of those times and, if so, it will mean a considerable amount of hardship on many of us…”

      I agree. I will have a short piece tomorrow on how long we may be facing this lockdown scenario and the costs it will bring to millions – even billions – of people.

      “We may very well be directly involved in it, but generally speaking, it is better to try to maintain the peace, as much as is possible.”

      Yes, but within the framework as you have outlined above (which I know is implied in this statement).

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    6. Roger. Bravo!

      I am going through the Greek and comparing Romans 13 to other parts of scripture dealing with submission to authorities. I still have a long way to go, but my thinking is pretty much in alignment with your understanding. It is like the Holy Spirit leads His into truth or something.

      Whether this is correct or not, the way I describe it is that the commands in regards to and the description of authorities in Romans 13 are more proverbial than absolute. A Christian's relationship to the State or government or authority is very complicated. Paul most likely wasn't trying to capture every case in 7 verses. He is giving general instruction and explaining God's intention for order in society and how a Christian should relate to it. More or less what you have said.

      I also am no expert. I have not gone to Seminary. But I have studied Greek and Hebrew, have a good understanding for a layman, and am an elder in my local church.

      My plan is to write something up when I am all done with my studies. Not sure when that will be, I still have many things to go through in the Bible.

      I am also reading Ted Weilands book. Most of it I disagree with, but he does raise some interesting points, and want to understand what his arguments are.

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    7. RMB,

      Thank you. As far as your writing goes, no time like the present. I'd be interested in seeing it.

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    8. Bionic, I appreciate your compliment and support. It means a lot.

      Just to clear up any misunderstanding. When I said that we were supposed to trust Christ for our health and safety on His Word alone, it was meant to be a statement opposing the idea that we are to trust our health and safety to the State. I do not subscribe to the idea that we are lacking in faith if we use doctors or hospitals when we need them.

      I have faith, but when my car needs repairs I call my mechanic. I have faith, but I get up in the morning and go to work. I have faith, but my garden is not going to produce unless I work it. I have faith, but I rely on my doctor when it is necessary. These, among others, are ethical actions and I endorse them without question.

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  19. BM said "united...on what?" way up above.

    That is a good question. I would suggest that a foundational part of the answer is the confession of the early church, even a couple of centuries before the Apostles Creed. This is: Jesus is LORD. We have sadly recapitulated to the standard first century confession, made with burning incense, that "Caesar is lord."

    -Jay

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    1. I have offered my thoughts here:

      http://bionicmosquito.blogspot.com/2020/05/if-christianity-is-to-play-its-part.html

      My thoughts appear consistent with your comments to demidog elsewhere.

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  20. I submit that the epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans could just as easily be the epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Roman emperor Nero.

    Paul knew that his letter would eventually come to Nero's attention and he therefore included things that the emperor needed to know.

    One could write an entire volume about this entire subject, but just a couple of points will have to suffice.

    Before ever penning the 13th chapter, the apostle wrote that if one confesses that Jesus is Lord and believes in one's heart that God raised Him from the dead, one will be saved.

    Nero would have seen red upon reading this. As far as he was concerned there was only one Lord and Saviour and one King of Kings and Lord of Lords and he (Nero) was all of that plus a whole lot more.

    In writing what he did later on, he acknowledges that Nero holds the position he holds because God put him there in the first place. He then, however intends to make Nero think.

    He tells Nero that rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Are you, Nero, a terror to good works or to evil?

    He further informs Nero that he is God's minister for good. Emperor Nero, just how do you stack up in this area?

    This should get the discussion going. I welcome responses.

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    1. These are helpful comments. Thank you.

      But the conversation had already been going - 60 comments (or so) and counting!

      :-)

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    2. I've also thought of this passage as more of pragmatic advice to a small minority holding dangerous views that Paul wished would survive. We can't all be martyrs, after all. In situations such as the early Christians faced, many, I'm sure, had to keep their voices down to survive and pass on the message to their children.

      You offer a unique perspective on this though. Thanks!

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    3. ATL, if I may speak for several people here: you have brought a smile to many faces today!

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    4. BM, for some reason I only get email notifications of your comments but not from anyone else? I can't find a setting page to look at to see what changed. Have you heard of this with anyone else?

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    5. Several days ago I switched to the new blogger platform. I have been hesitant to do so, as I don't like to deal with technology change...But as it was going to be forced on me by the end of the month, I went ahead.

      This change might have something to do with what you are experiencing. Let's see if others also raise the same concern. I did a quick look and don't see anything obvious in the settings, but I will spend some more time trying to figure this out in the next day or so.

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    6. If I get your meaning, I have taken a bit of a break commenting. Dealing with some personal issues and projects right now. Not much time to read all the articles I want to and participate as much as I'd like in the discussion here, which is my favorite on the web. I got the Romans 13 article ping in my email and couldn't resist.

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    7. RMB, I found the following. I don't know if this applies to you - so let me know:

      --------------
      https://support.google.com/blogger/thread/29195201?hl=en

      If I am not mistaken, the Notify Me will only display if the user uses a Google Account to comment.

      It will not be available if Commenting anonymously or using Name/Url option.

      1st, can you check if your reader is signed in with a Google Account before commenting.

      Next ensure your reader had allowed cookies to be saved at web browser.

      Blogger comments system relies on 3rd party cookies and 3rd party website tracking to be able to work properly. Browser extension like ad blocker, anti virus app may prevent these features to appear too.

      ---------------

      Is the "notify me" box appearing for you? Was it before? Was it necessary before?

      Assuming this applies to your situation, it is possible that this "change" occurred when I moved to the new platform. Google, it seems, is pushing to drive more people to a google account.

      Let me know if this is applicable to you.

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    8. ATL, a couple of weeks ago several people commented on how they missed your feedback - as do I. I hope all is well for you.

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  21. Mr. M.,

    Yes, it is happening to me, as well.

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    1. Ron, see immediately above for my reply to RMB. Please let me know if applicable to you.

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  22. I have the Notify me box and it is checked. I am signed in with Google. I get notifications when you comment but no one else still.

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    1. I wish I had an answer. I have checked several sources and do not see anything that mentions this problem.

      I will continue to check occasionally for new reports, but I am not sure what else to do.

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  23. Well, I've had my own set of problems, but I think it has been due to my own computer issues. I've spent the last three or four days trying to get it figured out. If this shows up as a comment, then I'm back in the loop--until something else goes haywire.

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  24. Bionic, previously I was always "signed in" and could comment by simply pushing the Publish button. Now, if I close your blog for any reason, I have to log in to Google again in order to comment. This may be due to the trouble I was having on my end, but may be an issue with the updated format you had to take. Would you check that out and get back to me? I have checked the Notify box to see what happens with that. Thanks.

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    1. This I am not sure about. I stay signed out of google as much as possible, so I am often signing in (and then out) during the day. I have no idea if it helps or not, but I feel better that maybe they are not seeing 100% of what I do, but only 98.5%.

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