Good conduct (Rom 13:3)


Are not a terror

To good conduct,

But to bad conduct.

Do you wish

To have no fear

Of the authority?

Then do what is good.

You will receive

Its approval.”

οἱ γὰρ ἄρχοντες οὐκ εἰσὶν φόβος τῷ ἀγαθῷ ἔργῳ ἀλλὰ τῷ κακῷ. θέλεις δὲ μὴ φοβεῖσθαι τὴν ἐξουσίαν; τὸ ἀγαθὸν ποίει, καὶ ἕξεις ἔπαινον ἐξ αὐτῆς·

Paul explained that rulers (οἱ γὰρ ἄρχοντες) are not a terror (οὐκ εἰσὶν φόβος) to good conduct or works (τῷ ἀγαθῷ ἔργῳ), but to bad conduct (ἀλλὰ τῷ κακῷ).  They should not wish (θέλεις) to fear (δὲ μὴ φοβεῖσθαι) any authority (τὴν ἐξουσίαν).  If they did what was good (τὸ ἀγαθὸν ποίει), they would receive the approval or praise (καὶ ἕξεις ἔπαινον) of the authority (ἐξ αὐτῆς).  Paul indicated to the Roman Christians that rulers were not terrible or to be feared if they were doing good works.  However, if they were doing bad things that was a different story.  If they were good, the rulers would give them praise and approval.  They had nothing to fear from the local Roman officials if they were conducting themselves correctly.  If they were doing bad or evil stuff, then they had a good reason to be afraid of the local authorities.  Paul seemed to assume that all these local civic leaders were good people, because God put them in charge.  He did not seem to realize that there might be some rotten apples among these various civil servant leaders.  In your experience, are civil leaders good people?

Good conduct (Isa 58:9-58:12)

“If you remove the yoke

From among you,

Then your light shall rise in the darkness.

If you remove the pointing of the finger,

Then your light shall rise in the darkness.

If you stop speaking of evil,

Then your light shall rise in the darkness.

If you offer your food to the hungry,

Then your light shall rise in the darkness.

If you satisfy the needs of the afflicted,

Then your light shall rise in the darkness.

Your gloom will be

Like the noonday.

Yahweh will guide you continually.

He will satisfy your needs in parched places.

He will make your bones strong.

You shall be

Like a watered garden,

Like a spring of water,

Whose waters do not fail.

Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt.

You shall raise up

The foundations of many generations.

You shall be called

The repairer of the breach,

The restorer of streets to live in.”

Third Isaiah points out how the Israelites could become the light in the darkness. They had to remove the yoke from those around them. They had to stop pointing their fingers in a derisive contemptuous way. They had to stop speaking evil. Instead they should offer their food to the hungry and help the afflicted. Gloom could be turned to a noonday sun. Yahweh would guide them continually as their needs would be satisfied. Their bones would grow strong. They would become like watered gardens or unfailing spring waters. They were to rebuild the ancient ruins, thus becoming the foundation for many generations to come. They will be known as those who repaired the streets after the Exile in Jerusalem.

The death of Andronicus (2 Macc 4:35-4:38)

“For this reason, not only Jews, but many also of other nations, were grieved and displeased at the unjust murder of Onias. When the king returned from the region of Cilicia, the Jews in the city appealed to him with regard to the unreasonable murder of Onias. The Greeks shared their hatred of the crime. Therefore King Antiochus was grieved at heart and filled with pity. He wept because of the moderation and good conduct of the deceased. Inflamed with anger, he immediately stripped off the purple robe from Andronicus. He tore off his garments. He led him around the whole city to that very place where he had committed the outrage against Onias. There he dispatched the bloodthirsty fellow. The Lord thus repaid him with the punishment he deserved.”

The killing of the deposed high priest Onias was a semi-official act of the king. The Jews and many other nations were upset about this murder of Onias. After all, Andronicus had tricked Onias into coming out of a pagan sanctuary Temple. When King Antiochus IV returned from Cilicia, the southern coastal region of Asia Minor, he was upset and angry. He too wept for the good man. He immediately stripped Andronicus of his purple robes, the robes of authority. He tore his garments and brought him to the place where the outrage had taken place. Then he killed him so that he was given the punishment that the Lord said that he deserved. Here the king of Syria implements the will of God and brings justice to the death of the former Jerusalem high priest.