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God's Plan for Civil Government – Part 5 - Common Sermons and Commentaries

In January through April of 2012 I led a Bible Study on the Bible and Civil Government. It lasted 13 weeks. These lessons are being posted on a website:

The Lessons are a bit long for people to read on social media, so the lessons are being posted on MeWe in shorter pieces.

God's Plan for Civil Government # 5

From number 4: The corporate lack of knowledge is not pleasing to God! The Judgment rendered by God was rendered corporately (Hosea 4:6).

This study will address the Biblical references on civil government and the historical founding of our country in light of the Biblical references and trying to overcome a lack of knowledge where it exists.

The goal is that this study will give Christians a better understanding of what God’s Word, the Bible, commands and tells us concerning civil government.

With this truth we will be better equipped to do our Christian duty and will provide discernment concerning current day government and the associated politics.

The inclusion of historical information on our country’s Founding will give us a better understanding of our Christian heritage and the influence of Biblical principles on early American Liberty. This knowledge and Truth can be a guide to modern day Christians on what we have lost and what we need to do to return to a Christian nation.

A few contemporary commentaries and sermon extracts are summarized below. Pay close attention to the exactly what these sermon extracts and commentaries are saying we, as Christians, should do:

Bevere writes:

"Since God has appointed all authorities, we refuse the authority behind them if we dishonor or refuse to submit to them. Whether we know it or not, we resist the ordinance or rule of God. When we opposed God’s delegated authority, we oppose God Himself. (Bevere 88)"

Another common interpretation:

This passage makes it abundantly clear that we are to obey the government God places over us. God created government to establish order, punish evil, and promote justice. We are to obey the government in everything—paying taxes, obeying rules and laws, and showing respect.

If we do not, we are ultimately showing disrespect towards God, for He is the One who placed that government over us. When the apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, he was under the government of Rome during the reign of Nero, perhaps the most evil of all the Roman emperors. Paul still recognized the Roman government’s rule over him. How can we do any less?

From the Southern Baptist Faith and Mission
( ):

XVII. Religious Liberty

“ … Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God. The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work. The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends. … “

John O. Reid commentary

The phrase "let every soul be subject" is a military term implying subordination. It is a willingness to occupy our proper place, to yield to the authority over us. That these governing authorities are "appointed by God" stems from another military term denoting the order or organization found in a military unit. Not only should we be subject, but we should submit in the knowledge that God Himself has had a hand in allowing them to exist!

Paul's conclusion flows naturally from this. Those who resist, or rebel against, man's governments also resist the ordinance of God! What God has ordained we should obey! This means we are to regard man's governments as instituted by God and agreeable to His will. This is a hard pill to swallow for those who consider themselves sovereign!

Paul continues with his instruction with a warning that, if we break the law, we will be punished by the civil government as lawbreakers. Those in authority generally do not punish people for doing good, but they have God-given authority to punish those who do not accept their rule and laws. The apostle says we should be afraid to break man's laws because his government administrators are really "God's ministers"! They are servants of God! Thus, we should be subject, not just for fear of punishment, but also for conscience' sake.

Rev. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention

For the Apostle Paul writing to the Romans, it was the Roman Empire—not what you would call an enlightened regime. You and I wouldn’t like it even if we had been Roman citizens. Yet Paul referred to these pagan rulers as governing authorities established by God, and he instructed persecuted Christians to submit to them “for conscience sake”: ...

Our Christian obligation is to support the government through tribute and through taxation. It is our godly duty to obey the law even when no one’s looking:

“Therefore, you must submit, not only because of wrath, but also because of your conscience” (13:5). It is our godly duty to obey the laws even if we disagree with them, unless in doing so we would disobey God, and seek to change them in a peaceful manner. We are to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.

Rev. Mark Dunn

Paul’s command that the believer must submit to the civil authorities may have been unexpected. After committing themselves to Christ, many believers considered God as their only authority. Paul reminds his readers that secular governments receive their authority from God. Governments may not acknowledge the Lord, but that doesn’t make Paul’s assertion less true. God established government (v. 2) to guide human behavior and provide for people. The fact that governments are designed by humans and therefore subject to the human propensity to favor sinfulness and ignore God does not release the believer from his or her responsibility to obey the Lord’s command to submit to human governing authorities.

Verse 3 states human governments are sanctioned by God to judge between right and wrong conduct. If the first phrase of the verse (“for rulers hold no terror”) is reflected on in isolation, a false impression can be gleaned from the passage. History is filled with well-known and forgotten examples of rulers who terrorized people. Paul’s point, however, focuses on God’s purpose for human government: to regulate right and wrong behavior. This is a holdover theme from the discussion of human sinfulness in the first seven chapters of Romans. When governments follow their divine charter, they regulate the rightness of human behavior. Submitting to a governmental authority should, therefore, not be a concern for believers, because their conduct is supposed to be exemplary.

The majority of current day commentaries and sermons on these passages stress;

1) Obedience to civil government,
2) That civil government and the civil authorities were ordained and chosen by God;
3) That disobedience is only justified if individually ordered to commit an ungodly act or action.

Note that many contemporary commentaries and sermons present that we should be obedient to civil government in all things which does not include the exception for being ordered to commit an ungodly action or act.

Another theme in some recent translations, commentaries and sermons is that the current authorities constituting our civil government were chosen by God as a basis for our obedience.

Thus if we do not obey our civil government authorities we are being disobedient to God. Conversely - if we obey these authorities we are being obedient to God.

Are these commentaries and sermons by some of the most well known leaders of our time correct? This is one thing we will look into by testing this concept against Scripture.


Next we will look at Does Scripture tell us to Obey Government or Submit To Government?.

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