Author Topic: Romans 13 and the Maccabees  (Read 1086 times)

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Offline JawaMan

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Romans 13 and the Maccabees
« on: November 22, 2007, 08:48:13 PM »
I've been wondering recently about how to reconcile the violent rebellion of the Maccabees (who we consider to be saints) was justifiable in the face of a passage like Romans 13. In Romans 13, we are told "submit to the governing authorities", and that whoever resists the authority resists God. We should not only obey the authorities for fear of their wrath, but "for conscience's sake." It seems this means that laws are not meant to be broken for any reason; and remember, Paul was talking about the Roman Empire! So my question is: how did the Maccabees obey their governing authorities when they rebelled against their leaders? Similarly, there were many times in Orthodox history where an Orthodox group did this (such as Greece under the Ottomans or the Montenegrins when Peter the Great invaded the Balkans looking for Orthodox support). How does a person balance submitting on one hand with open rebellion on the other?

Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Romans 13 and the Maccabees
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2007, 02:27:49 AM »
How does a person balance submitting on one hand with open rebellion on the other?
Render unto Ceasar what is Ceasars and to God what is God's.
Our Churches belong to God. Our souls belong to God. Our Children belong to God. If anyone tries to take them away from God (for example the way the Ottomans took away the Children of Christian families and and forced them to become Janissaries), then they are taking something which is not theirs to take- they are taking souls.
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Re: Romans 13 and the Maccabees
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2007, 04:32:04 PM »
Something else to remember is this passage from the Acts of the Apostles (5:29).  The High Priest was the God-ordained spiritual leader of the Jews, yet, when he commanded Christ's Apostles to stop preaching in Christ's Name and questioned them for their willful disobedience, St. Peter and the other Apostles responded thus: "We ought to obey God rather than men."

Similarly, when the civil authorities compel us to do that which violates explicitly the commandments of God, we ought to obey God rather than men.  And I think we have a myriad of martyrs to back this up.
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Offline JawaMan

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Re: Romans 13 and the Maccabees
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2007, 12:18:22 AM »
Right, I agree with what you have written. However, in the case of martyrs or the apostles who refused to stop preaching, there was no open rebellion against the authorities. In fact, it is telling that when the Christians were persecuted they did not fight back. However, the Maccabees did, and we praise them for it. I am just wondering how these two seemingly different approaches can be reconciled.

Offline Orthodox11

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Re: Romans 13 and the Maccabees
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2007, 11:18:45 AM »
I didn't realise the Church considered the Maccabees to be saints. I know the martyrs of the 4th Book of Maccabees were venerated (for their refusal to break God's laws) but was unaware of anything besides this. What is their feast day? 

Offline JawaMan

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Re: Romans 13 and the Maccabees
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2007, 05:44:38 PM »
Thanks a lot Orthodox11... I feel somewhat stupid, but fortunately now I have an answer to my question. Yes, when I saw the "7 Maccabean Martyrs" I was thinking ALL of the Maccabees were considered martyrs, since they died in battle defending Jewish sovereignty and right to believe the way they want. So this supposed problem I found was based on my own misunderstanding!

However, I would still be interested in how people view things such as the rebellion of Greece under the Ottomans in light of Romans 13. Was it right in God's eyes?