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Bible verses about Government, Respect for
(From Forerunner Commentary)

John 19:10-11

History shows that the primary enemies of the church arise from humans influenced by Satan and his demons - and history continually repeats itself. The clearest examples of where these enemies lie are shown in the lives and ministries of Jesus Christ and the apostles. Did not the established religious and governmental leaders of their day, such as Caiaphas, the Pharisees and Sadducees, Pilate, the Herods, etc., willingly cooperate in persecuting them?

Searching into God's authority over these enemies will help us to see how complete and all-encompassing is His power over everything. Past events show that civil governments and false churches are always the true church's most dangerous adversaries.

Here, "power" refers to civil authority, and Jesus informs us that Pilate, a powerful Roman governor of Judea, who had authority over life and death, derived his authority from God. The authority would not be his if God had not given it to him directly. We can infer that Pilate was specifically given his particular civil authority. Why is this important for us to know and believe?

Proverbs 21:1 adds an important truth: "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes." The Living Bible paraphrases this as, "Just as water is turned into irrigation ditches, so the Lord directs the king's thoughts, He turns them wherever He wants to."

This fact helps us understand God's sovereignty and much of history too. If the thoughts of a king - representing the highest, most influential, and most powerful person in the nation - are in God's hand, and He has the power to influence his decisions toward the outcome that pleases Him, are not all human governors completely under the Almighty's sovereign control? Clearly, God has the power to move all history in the direction He wishes it to go. His desire will always be done. Romans 13:1-2 makes this deduction certain:

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. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.

Not only does God have the power to move those already in office, but He appointed them in the first place! Since Paul writes this directly to Christians, and Christians have lived throughout history and in virtually every place on earth, the wording suggests that this command has timeless, universal application. Thus, God reveals that, in the final analysis, all civil magistrates, from the emperor on down to the lower authorities - and religious authorities as well - owe to God their appointments and rights to govern.

In John 5:17, Jesus provides insight into God's activity throughout the millennia of this creation: "Jesus answered them, 'My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.'" God's labors are the continuous managing and ruling over the affairs of men. He has not gone "way off somewhere," but is actively involved in bringing His purpose to pass at all times. By His will and in His providence, authorities are appointed to maintain order, to encourage good conduct, and to punish wrongdoing.

Thus, anyone who believes God is confronted by a matter of biblical truth and clear logic. How will any of our enemies "get around," deflect, or nullify the real unseen Power who stands behind and above the visible powers that be? His will will stand. So, to whom do we turn in time of need?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Power Belongs to God (Part Two)


 

Romans 12:1

To paraphrase, he says, "In light of all I have just told you, this is what you are obligated to do." Chapter 12 primarily concerns relationships within the body and to a lesser extent to those outside. Chapter 13 begins by stating our obligation to submit to civil governments, respect those in authority, and pay taxes.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Passover, Obligation, and Love


 

2 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is indeed inspired, but we do not necessarily find all Scripture inspiring. There are many reasons for this, but the reality is that we tend to avoid portions of it. For some it might be the long lists of "begats"; for another it might be ancient history; and for a third, prophecy. Some parts of Scripture are more valuable to us at one time than another. However, it is certainly true that all of it is valuable according to our circumstance, and God has made it available when needed if we will tap into it. As He says, we are to live by God's every word.

In an overall sense, the Bible is about government: God's, man's, and the self's. It shows how man rejects God's government through sin; how man's rule over others is abusive; and how man needs to learn to govern himself, or nothing will ever work for the good of all. Yet, it is also a book about faith, hope, love, and deliverance from our desperate circumstances, for each of these is important in how one responds to or uses government.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part One): Introduction


 

1 Peter 2:13-15

It is easy to feel put upon by government—municipal government, state government, national government—governments in general. They take advantage of us. They put the pressure on us through taxes. They won't allow us to do things that we feel we ought to be able to do. We can begin to feel as though we are being taken advantage of by government.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 4)


 

1 Peter 2:13

Peter agrees perfectly with Paul (Ephesians 5:21). He agrees with Romans 13:1, where Paul says that all authority comes from God. We submit, not because we are weak, but out of respect for God because He governs everything. He either causes or permits things to take place.

The word "ordinance" is not translated well, as it does not mean "law." It is more closely related to the English word "institution"—"every institution of man." What is more interesting is that this word is rarely used in a context in relation to men. It is always used in relation to God! Peter means, then, that we must submit to every institution of man because it was instituted by God!

Notice this in context. Peter is referring to agencies of the Roman government—the Roman equivalents of the FBI, the CIA, the Department of Defense, etc. He is talking about the Roman equivalents of the Secret Police, the DEA, the NEA, or any other part of the Roman government that may have had some police or administrative power over the lives of Christians. Peter is saying that God permitted these institutions to be organized. We should not look upon them as if God condones them, but recognize that these governmental authorities exist for His ultimate purpose. They, therefore, have His authority behind them.

Americans love to rebel. They love to feel as though they are free and are just as good as anybody else. But it is not a matter of being "just as good as anybody else." In the eyes of God, His people are far better than anybody else! Yet, even those who are far better than anybody else in the eyes of God are still required by Him to submit to the authorities that He has permitted to be in place—whether in the civil government, church government, or family government!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Submitting (Part 2)


 

1 Peter 2:17

Peter, in three words, teaches a very difficult concept. He commands us to "Honor the king." The historical background of his words should give us a better perspective and teach us a powerful lesson.

Peter, having already written that we should honor all people, knew some brethren would resist honoring Nero, the heathen Roman emperor. Nero was a perverted madman, eventually hated by the Romans themselves. He had mercilessly tortured and killed hundreds of Christians in various cruel and demeaning ways. It is very difficult to expect Nero to be honored by someone whose mother had been crucified and used as a human candle for one of Nero's garden parties!

The pattern that we have seen all along surfaces again here. Nero was king. A king is to be honored, for he represents the office given him by God (Romans 13:1). Whether the king is honorable or not, he is king, and God says we should honor him as such. If we are resisting the power he has, we are resisting God's ordinance (verse 2). Paul even calls the civil authorities "ministers" or servants of God (verse 4).

At times in America's history, even the Office of the Presidency has been dishonored, the President's reputation sullied by political or even sexual scandal. If Peter were writing today, he might say “Honor the President.” No matter how besmirched his name may become through media exploitation, God's people should resist the pressure to dishonor him or his office.

That is a tough order! Many of the early Christians no doubt despised Nero's reckless, godless behavior. Some had personal reasons to hate him. The commands from our King, however, remain the same: Forgive those who trespass against you (Matthew 6:14). "Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you" (Matthew 5:44). Honor the king.

When we obey God's command to honor all people, we are following our heavenly King and honoring Him. Then what happens? Jesus answers in John 12:26: "If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor."

So first we humble ourselves, then give honor and respect even to those who might appear to be unworthy of honor and respect. The result? God the Highest, the Supreme Being in the entire universe, will personally bestow honor and glory on those who have obeyed this and other commands. This is God's way: The more we give, the more we receive. The more honor we give, the more honor we will also receive.

Tough as it may be, we should make it our aim to honor everyone—all the time.

Staff
A Matter of Honor


 

 




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