Does Romans 13 Allow for Civil Disobedience? by Pastor Todd Coconato

Does Romans 13 Allow for Civil Disobedience?

The universal application of Romans 13 raises questions regarding civil disobedience. While Paul does not address this issue in Romans 13, the rest of Scripture makes clear that there ARE definitely situations where Christians should disobey the government.

▪️The Bible does not teach that we should disobey every unjust law (and there are many such laws in the world), but it does teach that we must disobey government when it requires us to sin!

▪️There are several examples of civil disobedience in Scripture. The Hebrew midwives disobeyed Pharaoh’s wicked command to kill newborn boys (Exodus 1:17; cf. Hebrews 11:23). Queen Esther broke the Persian law by going to King Ahasuerus to plead for the Jews (Esther 4:16).

▪️The prophet Daniel’s three friends (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) disobeyed Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, when he commanded them to worship his golden image. Nebuchadnezzar threw them into the fiery furnace, and God rescued them (Daniel 3:1-30). Daniel himself disobeyed King Darius’ injunction on prayer to anyone except the king (Daniel 6:7-10).

▪️In the New Testament, Peter and John disobeyed the Jewish authorities when they told them to stop preaching Jesus. Peter and John said, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heart” (Acts 4:18-19).

▪️Similarly in Acts 5:29, Peter and the apostles said, “We must obey God rather than men.” Also the Book of Revelation shows throughout that keeping God’s commands is required even when faced with government pressure to disobey.

The point is very clear…it’s that God’s authority is greater than government’s authority.

We are subject to Gods law, which means we cannot and should not obey tyranny that is against God.

While we are to obey government, we are also to obey God. And His authority trumps government authority. In fact, it is God who gives government authority. As Jesus told the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11).

Please make sure you read this again.

We cannot allow tyranny (sin) to thrive in a vacuum because we think we are supposed to obey. Disobedience to tyranny (sin) is obedience to God.

You can follow Pastor Todd Coconato on Facebook and Twitter or visit his website at

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1 year ago

Thank you for this reminder of our duties and obligations to God and then to men.