Submission to Governing Authorities
(Expectations and limits of obedience)
If you can bear with me, I will start with a couple scriptures in the book of Daniel.
Speaking of the Father, Daniel 2:21 says: “And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:”
We see from scripture that it is HE that appoints the kings of the world their reign.
Daniel 4:17 This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.
We see in that Old Testament passage that YHWH is ruling IN THE KINGDOM OF MEN! We see that it is HE that gives the kingship of secular governments to the men HE chooses to … and even over the “basest” (lowest or most abased) of men.
This is not vague but very clear. It is even reiterated in Daniel 4:32 And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
Interestingly enough, Daniel told these things to the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. Yes, to the very “golden head” of the image that represents the beast powers! Daniel 2:37 Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. [See Jeremiah 27 to read where God commands all to be obedient to Babylon until the end of its reign and directly calls Nebuchadnezzar “My Servant”]
The Eternal One gives all power of authority of both the godly and the ungodly. Unless obedience to the government would mean breaking His law then the Creator expects us to be in subjection to the law of the land … which is granted by Himself. Notice Proverbs 8:14-16 Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength. By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.
The Son of God came as a man to be our living example. The Savior was in subjection to the governing authorities because He knew that they were given power from His Father. John 19:10-11 Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? 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: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.
All of Israel and the scattered tribes lived under Roman “beast power” rule. They knew that the scriptures admonished them to be good citizens and to even pay tribute or financial support to the government. Even Joseph and Mary subjected themselves in this way see Luke 2:1-5 “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.”
Jesus taught that we should be good citizens and not ‘buck the system’ unless a decree came forth that contradicted the word of God. Mark 12:14-17 And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it. And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s. And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.
Even as an adult, the Son of Man gave monetary support to Caesar as required. Matthew 17:24-27 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.
The apostle Peter taught the same doctrines as Yeshua and the Old Testament. We are ordered to submit to the government of man FOR THE LORD’S SAKE! 1 Peter 2:13-17 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. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
Paul also taught the exact same doctrines. He taught that the authority of man’s government, good or bad, was from the Father. He made it clear that to transgress the government was to sin against YHWH. Romans 13:1-7 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. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 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: 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. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 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 whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
Paul wrote the same to Timothy admonishing the church to be good, honest, and obedient citizens before God and man – that THIS honored the Father. 1 Timothy 2:1-3 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 Saviour;
He also wrote to Titus in Crete telling the congregation to be subject to the government and to not speak evil of its leaders – or any man. Titus 3:1-2 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
Finally, Peter and Jude echoed the same teachings that said that only the unclean hated the dominion of the governments of men. 2 Peter 2:10 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.
Jude 1:8 Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
The ONLY time it is okay to not obey the governing authorities of the land, secular or religious, is when they directly contradict the commands or precepts of God. Acts 4:19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. Also see Acts 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. [See also Dan 3 with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego]
I hope that the spirit from on High convicts you of these things that I have shown you. These are from His word — not mine own. Know that these things come from both Testaments, a prophet of YHWH, a king of Israel, The Son of God, and no less than three Apostles. Many witnesses have given you testimony … please have ears to hear. May your study be fruitful, my brethren.