Romans 13:1-2 (ESV):

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

Note the “do not resist the authorities”.

If you read the book of acts, you will find many instances of the disciples preaching the gospel (even after being commanded not to by the governing authorities) and being jailed for it.

Thus, my question. Do the acts of the disciples contradict Romans 13:1-2?

2 Answers 2


No. A subordinate authority cannot override a superior one. This is primarily a question of (simple) logic, as opposed to one of religion proper. Thus, if you listen to me because your father told you to, and the first thing I tell you is not to listen to your father, then why would you obey me in the first place, given that the sole reason for your obedience towards me was your previous subjection to your father's authority ? In other words, it is the (theo)logical equivalent of cutting off the branch one is sitting on.

(The writer of this answer does not regard disobeying pandemic-related bans on public assembly under [false] pretenses of piety as [theo]logically valid — though the OP himself never explicitly hinted at such, I just want to make sure my words are not twisted).

  • 1
    I'm very sorry to not understand "simple logic". Rudeness aside, I'm trying to understand your answer in terms of the holocaust. Hitler (in most circumstances) didn't prohibit Christianity. In fact he used this verse to support his regime. So how would Christians be able to rebel against him?
    – Luke Hill
    Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 4:17
  • @LukeHill: (1). Religious logic (theo-logy) is a form of logic. But this question tackles logic itself, in general, rather than religious logic, specifically. Not sure where rudeness enters the discussion. (2). I am not a huge fan of the reductio ad Hitlerum either. His regime, at certain levels, implied disobeying the very (moral, religious, and divine) authority he invoked as constituting the very basis of his (political) power.
    – user46876
    Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 4:24
  • You said that "this is primarily a question of (simple) logic," This implies that the question is simple and I am not smart for asking it because it would be obvious. This is not an example of reduction ad Hitlerum because I am not calling anyone a Nazi, I am asking how we would be able to rebel since the Bible tells us not too. This is called a moorean shift, where a moral command entails such obviously immoral conclusions that it would have to be wrong.
    – Luke Hill
    Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 4:54
  • @LukeHill: (1). I understand the cause of your misunderstanding. At any rate, the logic is simple, in the sense that there is nothing distinctly religious about it, since it is easily generalizable to other domains or situations. (2). Technically true, I'm just not a huge fan of casually namedropping Hitler or Stalin into random benign discussions, unrelated to twentieth century political or military history.
    – user46876
    Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 5:05
  • Yet another logically valid answer, down-voted for no apparent reason.
    – user46876
    Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 7:38

The fifth commandment says:

KJV Exodus 20:12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

But the Bible explains this further:

KJV Ephesians 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. (Emphasis added)

To obey parents is keeping the fifth commandment, yet it has to be in the Lord. That is, if parents ask the children to do something against the word of God, children should refuse to do so.

The same principle applies to everything. The first commandment and the greatest is this:

KJV Matthew 22:37-38 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.

Everything is subordinate to this commandment. When asked to disobey God by the rulers, the apostles answered

KJV Acts 4:19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.

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