Revisiting Romans 13:1-7 in Times of Crisis Reading Through a Cosmological Lens



Published Oct 11, 2021
Melissa J. Barciela Mandala


This article revisits Romans 13:1-7 through the lens of cosmology and demonstrates how Paul’s political theology wields two key cosmological themes—order and justice—to establish the sovereignty of God above political rulers. Paul’s argument has a fundamentally cosmological dimension insofar as it reframes the socio-political cosmos and reimagines how believers are to live within it. To make this point, the article first calls for an expansion of the term ‘cosmology’ in modern biblical scholarship. This term not only refers to the natural world, but also to social relationships and how they are variously ordered in the world. To do this, the article presents evidence from Paul’s context to validate the expansion of the term cosmology to social realities and political relations. The context demonstrates that the cosmos and political rulers were fundamentally intertwined in various ancient worldviews. Second, it offers a re-reading of Romans 13:1-7, demonstrating that the cosmological themes of order and justice reframe the believer’s relationship to ruling authorities. This reading both encourages peaceful submission and offers confidence that God is sovereign over the ruling authorities. Third, the article contends that such a cosmological reading provides hope to the modern Christian community in the midst of crisis.

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Romans 13, Cosmology, Crisis, Divine Ordering, Justice