Scholars have frequently debated the occasion for Romans 13:1-7, examining
historical, theological, and exegetical reasons for Paul's seemingly quietist stance in
this passage. The political contexts of the text in question, however, have not been
taken adequately into account. Both at the literary and historical level, political
dimensions provided the occasion for Romans 13:1-7. Paul's discussion in Romans
ofjudgment and sin, Christ as redeemer, and the community of Christ are framed
within the discourse of apocalyptic eschatology, an ideology which critiqued the
state by its disjunctive eschatology and radical negation of the present. The recipients
ofPaul's letter were also located in Rome, the social and symbolic centre of Roman
imperial ideology. These literary and historical contexts created a tension between
the claims ofthe gospel and those of Roman imperial ideology. In Romans 13:1-7,
Paul responded to this tension, preserving a space for obeying governing authorities
in the lives of Christian communities, a space threatened by his own 'political'
theology. In the context of his call for obedience, however, Paul encouraged the
creation and preservation of a community of God distinct from the world, a
community that lived in tension with the present and in hope for the future.