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The Establishment and Limits of Civil Government: An Exposition of Romans 13:1–7
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The Establishment and Limits of Civil Government: An Exposition of Romans 13:1–7


American Vision 2009

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It seems that almost on a daily basis we are losing our God-given rights. Some even make the case that there is a direct assault on the Christian religion because it is the only belief system that is greater than government and puts limits on governments. Relegating God to a distant corner of the universe empowers and emboldens governments to do what they will.

The Bible tells us that civil rulers are ministers of God. The Greek word translated ministers is the same word used to describe ministers in a church. There are civil ministers and church ministers. Both serve as God’s ministers within their jurisdictions. It is unbiblical to assume that civil rulers are autonomous, that they can legitimately rule independent of God’s limiting authority of them. It is a serious mistake to take Paul’s instructions in Romans 13 and claim that civil rulers cannot be challenged by the citizenry.

Civil authorities are to rule in terms of good and evil. Those who rule are bound by the same laws as the rest of us. To obey Romans 13 is to call our civil officials to uphold their oath of office, an oath that nearly all of them took by repeating the words “So help me God!” James Willson’s study of Romans 13 is needed more than ever. What’s most helpful about it is that it was written in a time that is not muddied by the politics of our day. There are no current or recently passed politicians named. He sticks to principles based on the Bible. If we are to save our Republic, then we are bound to heed his instruction and warnings.

Since The Establishment and Limits of Civil Government is fully integrated with Logos, Scripture passages are linked to your favorite translation for quick reference and to your Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts for original-language study! You can also read this volume along with your Bible dictionaries, encyclopedias, and the wealth of other Bible study tools in your digital library.

Key Features

  • Foreword by Gary DeMar
  • Introduction by Archie P. Jones
  • “An Essay on Submission to the Powers That Be”

Praise for the Print Edition

Civil government continues to increase in authority, power, and scope. Too many Christians are under the false impression that they are obligated to endure the legislative acts handed down by government officials no matter how evil they may be. This is a simplistic and dangerous reading of Paul’s instructions in Romans 13. Elected officials are as equally bound to distinguish between good and evil in the area of civil government as are unelected citizens. Being a ruler offers no exemption. James Willson’s exposition of Romans 13 is a much needed antidote to both the advocacy of passivity and rebellion that some are inclined to take.

—Gary DeMar, president, American Vision

Product Details

  • Title: The Establishment and Limits of Civil Government: An Exposition of Romans 13:1–7
  • Author: James M. Willson
  • Publisher: American Vision
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Pages: 180

About James M. Willson

James M. Willson (1809–1866) was born near Elizabeth, Allegheney County, Pennsylvania on November 17. He graduated from Union College in 1829. He studied theology under the direction of this father, James R. Willson, and was licensed by the Presbytery, June 5, 1834. He was ordained by the same Presbytery, and became the pastor of the First Congregation of Philadelphia on November 27, 1834. He was elected professor of theology in the Allegheny Seminary on May 31, 1859. He authored numerous pamphlets and books, including Bible Magistracy: or Christ’s Dominion over the Nations: With an Examination of the Civil Institutions of the United States and An Essay on Submission to the Powers That Be. James M. Willson died at his residence in Allegheny on August 31.