Original Research

Romans 13:1–7 in relation to Nigerian Christians’ attitudes towards social activism

Solomon O. Ademiluka
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 53, No 1 | a2467 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v53i1.2467 | © 2019 Solomon O. Ademiluka | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 March 2019 | Published: 10 October 2019

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Solomon O. Ademiluka, Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

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Romans 13:1–7 teaches absolute submission to constituted authorities, for which reason some Christians argue against challenging government orders or policies. There are problems with this position in view because of the fact that not all governments can be validly said to have been constituted by God; it is also clear that sometimes government policies do not only neglect, but also actually violate the rights of the people. Employing the exegetical study and analytical approach, this article examined the passage in relation to Nigerian Christians’ attitudes to social activism. The study revealed that in Romans 13:1, Paul made a general statement that does not necessarily preclude exceptions. The examination of the passage in its historical context also showed that Paul must have been influenced by the benevolent nature of the contemporary Roman government. Paul might have written differently if he wrote after 62 CE when Nero began his repressive policies. Hence, this text is interpreted out of context, if it is given a general application. Such an application would also contradict the teaching of the Bible to confront social injustice. The passage is applied to Nigeria, assessing what ought to be the attitude of Nigerian Christians to social activism, given particularly the prevalent economic inequalities in the country.


Social activism; Christians; The Book of Romans; Nigeria; Human Rights.


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