Minister's Thoughts

Pray Today

What should the Believer’s attitude to governments be?

Someone has suggested that people should obey the decrees of the President of the United States of America, and by extension all governments, because the Bible says so. Is this true? The answer is YES, and NO.

In the First Letter of Peter in Chapter 2 and verses 13-14 believers are told to submit ourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. Verse 17 emphasises that this is also a matter of respect: Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honour the emperor.

Similarly in Romans 13 and verses 1 and 5 believers are told: Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. And in verse 5: Therefore it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. It is also in the Letter to the Romans (13:6) that believers are enjoined to pay their taxes: This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.

There are many other passages relating to the attitude of believers to government, but the counsel of Paul to Titus in Chapter 3 gives guidance that could well be adopted by citizens, governments, politicians, media and those who tweet and communicate by various forms of social media: The Apostle Paul says, Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no-one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.

Paul in his letter to the Christians in Rome (Romans 13:8) also gives an excellent account of what the principle hallmark of the Law should be: Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

So then YES obedience to government provides for security and good order, but must it always be obeyed by people of faith? Well, NO.

For example when Peter and the other apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest (Acts 5:27-29), their reply was “We must obey God rather than human beings!” Peter and John had already given a similar reply to the Sanhedrin who had commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. At that time they had said: “Which is right in God’s eyes; to listen to you, or to Him?” (Acts 4:19.)

When all is said and done for believers and for governments and authorities it is all about serving and not being served. In Matthew’s Gospel in Chapter 20 and verses 25-28 Jesus said this to his disciples: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom to many.

Above all, we should always consult the Bible before we act, rather than acting first and then trying to find a Bible passage that supports our decision.

Rev. Bob Anderson
Minister

  • Reading 1 – Acts 16:9-15
    Acts 16:9-15 New International Version (NIV) 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. Lydia’s Conversion in Philippi 11 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day we went on to Neapolis. 12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district[a] of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days. 13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.    
  • Reading 2 – John 14:23-29
    John 14:23-29 New International Version (NIV) 23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. 25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. 28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.