An Examination of Romans 13

The civil government does not possess unlimited authority, nor are we to give the civil government unlimited obedience.

The following discourse is written by Pastor Matthew Trewhella and is found as an appendix in a book he authored entitled The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates: A Proper Resistance to Tyranny and A Repudiation of Unlimited Obedience to Civil Government. The book is available through or at This concise exegesis is a response to those who say that Romans 13 teaches unlimited obedience to civil government.

An Examination of Romans 13

There are three convincing proofs that Romans 13 does NOT teach unlimited obedience to the State:

  1. Nowhere does Romans 13 state that we are to give unlimited obedience to the civil government, rather men impose such thoughts upon the text.
  2. Proper hermeneutics forbids such a conclusion – that we are to have unlimited obedience to the civil government – because there are many passages of Scripture where the people of God disobey the State, and are commended by God for doing it.
  3. Romans 13 contains limitation clauses that make it clear the civil government’s authority is not unlimited, nor therefore, is our obedience to the civil government to be unlimited.

Read the rest of the article here.

In addition to this article, this information is also presented in the video Romans 13 Examined, and an audio version of An Examination of Romans 13 is also available from Pastor Trewhella in sermon form by clicking here.

If you wish to purchase an audio CD of the sermon “An Examination of Romans 13”, preached at Mercy Seat Christian Church, you may do so here.