Man & Government
Man & Government
1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience?’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
How do you view government? Is it good or evil? Are politics good or evil?
What does it mean to "honor" government? Why should Christians submit to the government?
How much should a Christian participate in government?
How much should a Christian participate in over throwing a government?
Is there a biblical limit to the authority of government?
We are blessed to be Americans. Despite occasional economic turmoil, the power of activists and the inability of political parties to work together, we are better off than anyone else in the world. The idea of a truly bad or oppressive government is a foreign concept to us. Now, suddenly, in the midst of learning how to live in love, we are faced with the concepts of government.
Paul sees obedience and submission to all orders established by God as being part and parcel of a Christians life. If we are to show love to all, then the laws of the state must be obey. Otherwise, we are dealing contrary to the views of society and will not be in a position to use our testimonies as a means of witnessing.
It is possible the verses need to be addressed individually, but the flow of this short section sets forth the concept of obedience in clear terms that may be adapted to almost any manner of dealing with the state institution. Paul makes it clear that man is subject to the authority of government because governments come from God (v1). Peter covers this same obedience with the focus on God ordaining government. Peter writes:
1 Peter 2:11-17
11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. 13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— 16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. NKJV
Submit to authority and honor the king, for this way your conduct will be honorable among men. And writes both of the Apostles this is God's Will, that you be obedient. It is by our good works and testimony that we bring glory and honor to God and are able to draw others to Him. We frequently lose sight of the fact that it is God's honor and glory that should control our lives and not our own personal desires. But, often, we allow our personal views and desires to control our actions. We take our personal attitudes and opinions then apply them as our justification. Thus, we attribute to God our interpretation of how men and government should respond to each other. This is not the view of Scripture.
With Peter's thoughts as the background, let's look more closely at Paul's paragraph.