The Christian Duty to Authority
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The Christian Duty to Authority

One of Seven Christian Life Principles


B. A. Wiseman


Almost two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ commended a Roman centurian for his commitment to the principle of authority, saying, “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel”  (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10).  Being willing to live in submission to the authorities God commissioned is an important step in understanding God’s will for our lives. The question of authority is one of the most important issues of life. Until one resolves the issue of authority, it is unlikely he is living in a manner pleasing unto God.


The issue of authority is so important that it may be considered the foundation for a civilized people. Biblically speaking, authority is an issue that must be resolved before a Christian marriage may proceed, a Christian home established, or a government to function. The Bible places God the Father as the ultimate dictum or authority.  The home is the seedbed for teaching authority; it is in the home that children and youth must learn to live in submission to authority.  A child who does honor, respect, and obey his parents will be ill prepared to assume responsibility in an adult world.


        Authority proceeds from God the Father to Jesus Christ, the Son, and then the Holy Spirit. The revealed Word of God, divinely inspired and providentially preserved, is the basis for relationships between God and man. Jesus Christ, the only Mediator between God and man, is Himself called the very Word of God (John 1:1; Rev. 19:13). The Word of God decrees specific roles in the home, the church, and the state.  Those who wish to be under authority will heed these roles. Furthermore, it is just as important for those who hold positions of authority to know how to exercise godly authority as it for those under authority to know how to live in proper submission to the same. Consider first the role of the father in God’s chain of authority.


The Father


The husband/father is singularly the most important authority figure in the undivided government of God.  The father is the priest and head of his house functions as the first line of authority as each family becomes a miniature copy of the Kingdom of God.  The husband/father is under authority of Jesus Christ and is to submit himself to the leadership of the church, whose leaders themselves should be under the authority and headship of Jesus Christ.  The husband must walk under the authority of Christ and the pastor/spiritual leader in the same way that he should expect his wife to walk under the authority of his headship. The church and the state are both dependent upon the home to be a proper seat of government.  In fact, without godly homes under the leadership of husbands/fathers willing to submit to the authority of Christ, neither the church nor the state can be strong. The building blocks for the church and state come from the family. The spiritual and moral strength of the home is the foundation for the church and state.  The future of both the church and the Civil Government rests in the hands of the fathers. The collective, spiritual, and moral leadership of the father in the family and proceeding then through the wife and children—this is the foundation for good government. Without this foundation, both the church and the state are threatened. The home is where both the church and the state are either empowered or imperiled, and the father is the man ordained to be point man in his kingdom!


Duties Owed to Civil and Ecclesiastical Leaders


It will be important for every Christian to examine the Believers duty to the Church and to the State, both created jurisdictions in the one undivided government of God. Firstly, let us consider that authority is delegated from God the Father, through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit and the codebook for this authority is the Bible, the Revelation of God’s written Word of truth of absolute truth for His children.  The father, the head of the family, is the most basic unit of government in God’s created world. Both the church and state are dependent upon the proper ordering of the family for their survival. 


Christians are duty bound to honor the structure of God’s authority as it reaches from heaven down to the father, the civil rulers, and the authorities in the church. All levels of authority vested by the Eternal God in the family, the state, and church are to honor and submit to the authorities that God established for blessing His children.  “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and head of Christ is God” (I Cor. 11:3).  Quite simply, there is no one who is free from someone else’s authority.


Submission to Authority


Romans 13:1-7 is the classic passage that speaks to the subject of living under the authority of civil rulers.  Consider that these inspired Words from God came when Christians lived under one of the most totalitarian, despotic governments in the history of the world.  It is difficult to imagine any more difficult than living under the dictates of a ruthless Roman emperor.  These words came at a time when Christians were being severely persecuted under Roman rule. Reflect upon these words of Scripture and the commentary that follows:


Romans 13:1:

 “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.  For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”  Reflect upon this statement from God’s Word of God.  Important postulates are set forth in Romans 13:1.  Examine each of these important statements in this one verse as a point of beginning:

1) Every living soul, regardless of your station in life—young, old, rich, poor, or otherwise—is subject to the authorities God positioned.  Everyone from the king down to the lowly laborer is under authority.  No live person is without or exempt from authority. 

2) All power originates with God.  God is the source of all power and is not in competition with anyone, not Satan, not anyone.  Jesus Himself declared in Matthew 28:18, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”  The Psalmist David further declared,  “God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God” (Psa. 62:11).  All authority originates with God.  He is the ultimate dictum of this universe. The powers that be are ordered or established by God.  “By me kings reign, and princes decree justice.  By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth” (Prov. 8:15-16).  “Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.  Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling” (Psa. 2:10-11).  The Prophet Isaiah declares that God, “…bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity” (Isa. 40:23).  Thus, the powers and authorities in place on this earth are ordained of God.  As an illustration, consider the episode of Jesus standing before Pontus Pilate, on trial for His life. Jesus asked,  “…knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?  Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above:…” (John 19:10-11).   Speaking to Moses of the mighty Pharaoh, Jehovah said this:  “And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth” (Exodus 9:16). Scripture declares that Jehovah “…removeth kings, and setteth up kings:…”  Further, “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou” (Dan. 2:21; 4:35). God refers to a wicked Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar by name, as being His servant (Jer. 25:9, 27:6). 


Romans 13:2:

“Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”  Obviously, God wishes for all of us to submit to authority.  God established a chain of authority for His purposes; to resist the authority of those whom God placed over us is to resist the power of God.  Proverbs 29:1 is a warning for those who resist authority:  “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”  The Apostle Peter admonished us, saying, “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the  punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.”  (I Peter 2:13,14). 


Christians are duty bound to obey those in authority unless the authority commands us to do something that God forbids or forbids us from doing something that God commands.  The Hebrew midwives refused to put the male children to death, and rightly so (Exodus 1:15-21).  The three Hebrews of Daniel 3 refused to bow down and worship another God, and rightly so.  Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den for refusal to worship and pray to Darius the ruling king (Daniel 6) and did the proper thing.  The apostles refused to obey the religious authorities and cease to preach Jesus Christ and the resurrection (Acts 5), and rightly so. The words of Peter and other apostles were right on point:  “We ought to obey God rather than man.”


When the government at any level appears to be intruding into a sphere that is reserved by God and you feel threatened by government action consider these steps:

1)  Enter a time of personal self examination (I Cor. 11:31, 32; II Cor. 13:5).   Am I personally responsible for bringing governmental action or judgment upon myself?

2) Following the example of Daniel the Prophet try and find an acceptable alternative for that which the Government is requesting; something that would not violate your conscience with God.

3) Bring your alternative with a Godly and humble attitude and make your appeal before the appropriate government official.

4) If all else fails you may wish to flee the jurisdiction as Joseph and Mary fled the jurisdiction of Herod.  

5) Finally, simply suffer for not submitting to evil.  “For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing”  (I Peter 3:17).  “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (I Peter 4:19).


It is important to know, however, that unless there is scriptural reason for not obeying civil authorities, we are obligated to submit to them.  The Roman Imperial government, one of the most despotic governments in ancient history, was in place when Romans 13 was written.  It was under the sword of Imperial Rome that Jesus Christ was crucified and St. Paul and others were beheaded.  This word of instruction given to an apostle ordained by Jesus Christ and who suffered death at the hands of civil authorities seems appropriate:  “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the forward.  For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.  For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently?  But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God” (I Peter 2:18-20).  Continue to follow the instruction of Romans 13.



Romans 13:3:

          “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.  Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power?  Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same.” God has ordained civil authorities to punish the wicked and praise the good.  Christians are to live in Godly authority and obey civil authorities remembering that they are ordained of God.  Jesus Himself had this to say about obeying civil authorities:  “Agree with thine adversary quickly whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.”   


Romans 13:4:

“For he is the minister of God to thee for good.  But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”   We are called to view civil rulers as ministers of God executing God’s will upon this earth.  We are not to fear the power of the civil authority unless we are doing that which is evil.  It is important to remember that politics is the administration of the religious, moral, and spiritual tenets of the people.  When the people are living right with God they will have Godly rulers.  When the people themselves are living in rebellion to God and their spiritual and moral lives are in shambles, the people they will find in office will very often be a reflection of their own shameless lives.  God’s people will often find themselves living under a very wicked ruler when the collective nation is wicked.  In this case the Godly must suffer in the very spirit of (I Peter 2:18-20).  An evil ruler must be often viewed as the rod of God’s indignation and punishment upon a wicked people.


Romans 13:5:

“Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.” As a Christian we are to live in subjection to authority not only out of fear of what rebellion can do to us even to the loss of our freedom, but we must also consider that in order to have a clear conscience; that is a conscience that is without offense toward God and man (Acts 24:16), we must live in submission to authority.  A conscience that is chained to the Word of God cannot do otherwise.  Again, the words of God through the pen of the apostle Peter seem to be most proper: “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.  And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?  But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled….Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.  For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing” (II Peter 2:12-17).


Romans 13:6-8:

“For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.  Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor:”


All citizens are expected to pay their taxes and this includes all Christians.  There will be times under oppressive governments when this will not be easy nor will it be easy to pay taxes when those monies are being administered for sinful and wicked causes.  When Caesar gathers tax money that will be funneled into unrighteous causes including abortion what must the righteous do?   Firstly, God does not allow for exemption from payment of taxes in His Word.   Jesus Himself paid taxes; albeit somewhat reluctantly and then by finding the money in the mouth of a fish.  What might be even more important is that Jesus paid the tribute money even though as a stranger (having resided outside of Palestine for many years while living in the British Isles), He did not owe this particular tax  (Matthew 17:24-27).

It is also true that John the Baptist did not question the right of the publicans in their role as tax collectors for the Roman government, only reminding them to “Exact no more than that which is appointed you” (Luke 3:13).   During the reign of Caesar Augustus, Joseph (Mary’s husband) traveled some seventy miles (a long journey in those days) to pay his tax to the Roman government.  Oppressive taxes were one of the judgments imposed upon the people in the day of Samuel for their departure from trusting in a king instead of in Jehovah God (I Sam. 8:8).


In a day of wickedness, when civil rulers are appropriating the money gathered from the people in the form of taxes, the people have a legitimate right to do all they can to minimize the amount of taxes owed to Caesar.   Multiply children and increase the number of deductions.  In fact, maximize the use of deductions as much as possible.  Exercise the knowledge of a good tax accountant who may know of deductions that you have overlooked.  If all else fails, try to find ways to diminish your taxable income. If Jesus and the apostles advised the payment of taxes, there is no cover or excuse for a Christian to avoid payment of taxes. Render unto Caesars that which belongs unto him and unto God that which belongs to Him. The faithful payment of the tithe will go a long way to minimize the impact of taxes given to Caesar.


Authority in the Church


Leadership in the Church is deserving of the respect, honor, and obedience that is due husbands and fathers in the home, and civil rulers in positions of governmental authority. The Word of God provides this instruction regarding the honor and submission due Church leaders:  “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.  And be at peace among yourselves” (I Thess. 5:12-13).  Believers are instructed in I Timothy 5:1, 17-19 to “Rebuke not an elder, but inteat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren…Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.  For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn.  And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.  Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.”


All who will shepherd a flock of God’s covenant people, including apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (Ephesians 4:11) have a three-fold duty to seek the perfection of the saints, the work of the ministry, and the edification of the body of Christ (Eph. 4:12).   Elders are instructed to “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock” (I Peter 5:2-3).  Finally, believers are called to “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 1 3:17).


Exercise the Responsibility to Vote


Christians should never fail to exercise their right to vote.  Those who fail to exercise their responsibility at the ballot box are failing themselves, their children, and placing their future in jeopardy.  The first two wars waged by America, both the War of Independence and the War of 1812, were waged against the tyranny of the British.  The price for freedom came at a high price indeed! We dare not fail to exercise the right to vote.  We have no right to complain about government if we do not exercise the right to vote.  There are many reasons people advance for not voting, including voter fraud, disillusionment with elected officials, rigged elections, corruption of public officials, and other shameful things that occur when wickedness prevails among a nation of people. Still, we have a duty to become informed citizens and cast our vote. Your vote in local and state elections is still very important in the United States.  Granted, on the national level the non-White welfare vote is tipping the scales to a point where the future of the White House and the Congress may be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to reclaim. With a population of some 320 million people, we have already reached the tipping point where the non-White population can seize control of the White House at the voting booth.  And who but God Himself knows how many million Mexican nationals have camped out in the United States and will be lining up at the polls?


In May of 2014, for the very time in American history, the number of non-White babies exceeded the number of White babies born in the U. S.  Plunging birth rates among Whites combined with a tidal wave of non-White, third world immigration means that the Caucasian people of America will become the minority race soon. Whites lost the presidential races of 2008 and 2012 because the non-White voting block, combined with the Christian evangelicals who stayed away from the polls, was simply too powerful to overcome.  The election of 2008 and 2012 were both lost at the national level by very narrow margins.  It is estimated that there is a potential of sixty million Christian voters in the United States.  Only twenty million, or about one-third of those people, voted in the presidential elections of 2008 and 2012.  So, it seems fair to ask who shares the blame for the loss of the White House and the Congress in 2008 and the White House and the Senate in 2012? When good men do nothing, evil is triumphant. Three million fewer Whites voted for Romney in 2012 than voted for McCain in 2008.  The Democratic nominee won the White House, while a White man was turned away because far too many White people split their vote or decided against voting for anyone.


Think About This


In the Mid-term election of 2014, fewer than 25% of eligible voters actually went to the polls.  Yet a small minority of voters actually seized control of both Houses of Congress. This time Republicans and Independents took control of the Senate and maintained control of the House, and it worked out well that only a small number of dedicated people voted.  However, such is not always the case!  When the Democratic Party is able to get their base aroused and to the polls, they will always win, because almost all non-Whites vote with White Liberals for socialism and pro-Communist policies.  In the 2014 mid-term election, only 13% of the Millennials eligible to vote actually went to the polls.  It is imperative that remnant Christians become informed and cast their vote. 


Pray for Your Civil and Ecclesiastical Leaders


We are commanded to pray for those in positions of authority:  “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior” (I Tim. 2:1-3).   If you find it impossible to pray for the man, pray for the office that he or she holds.   The exhortation to pray for “Kings and all that are in authority” is not a suggestion, but a command.  We should pray for those in authority not necessarily because we in our mortal state always have a desire to pray for them. Rather, we pray for them because it is the right thing to do.


Our sovereign God has a way of placing rulers over His people in response to the spiritual and moral state in which they find themselves. More often than not, the people elected to public office reflect the values of the people who sent them there. When the collective lives of a nation tend to mirror the Christian virtues of God, they will find themselves under godly leadership. Our leaders are most often a reflection of the people they represent. Jeremiah 29:7 is a call for the people of God to pray for the “peace of the city” even when they are in a state of captivity.  Jeremiah was speaking to the Israelites who found themselves as captives in Babylon.  Praying for the peace of the city is the same as praying for those in authority.  Prayer for our leaders is simply the duty owed to all those who stand in positions of authority.


A Final Word


Christians living in a time of great wickedness must not allow themselves to hide the light and truth of Jesus Christ. They must not be afraid or fear to speak the truth with uncommon courage.  Believers must live their lives in Godliness and seek to establish a clear conscience with God and man (Acts 24:16).  St. Paul gave the Christians at Philippi these instructions on how to live under authority in a wicked world. It is no less true for us today: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as light in the world” (Phil. 2:15). 


The very words of Jesus Christ should guide the footsteps and thinking of every Believer living in a day of great evil:  “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?  It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to cast out, and to be trodden under foot of man.  Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. . .Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).


           God intends for His covenant people to be the salt and light of the earth.  They are to act as salt, a preserver, healer, and a seasoning force in time and history.  We must pray that we will not lose our savor and find ourselves being cast out and trodden under the foot of foreign invaders.  Only when Christians remain vigilant and defenders of the faith of the fathers, and fiercely defending freedom can we expect God to bless us and keep our homeland free, prosperous, and at peace.  







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