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1 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.


and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.

Human government was established by God (Da 4:17, 25, 34-35). The reason Christians are to subject to human government is that national entities come by divine establishment. This passage specifies no particular form of authority, whether dictatorial, democratic, imperial, or monarchial.

Nor does this phrase indicate whether this authority is exercised in an oppressive manner, or whether this authority was obtained legitimately or not. None of that limits the Christian’s submission to authority. The overriding principle is that anarchy by the believer is wrong, but there are exceptions to that principle. The principle of order over chaos in government is more important than a society’s living in rebellion.

Ro 9:17,  For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.”

Not all rulers are chosen by God, but all those authorities that work for the good of social order are from God. God ordains all rule, not rulers in government. The state derives its mandate from God and not from the voice of the people, military superiority, or the succession of kings. God grants this authority on a temporary basis. He gives this authority to human agencies because of depravity in every man.

“To ordain” in Greek carries the idea of to assign a place. God puts government in place for the purpose of law and order. The ordination here is God’s prescriptive will for authorities and institutions of government. God obligates governments to execute their appointed functions. Human government, then, is a divine institution established by God.


The state operates under a greater authority—divine establishment of human government.


Paul does not deal with every contingency that Christians might face with government. If there is a conflict between the will of government and the will of God, then obviously we give precedence to the will of God. The issue is authority. Christians must accept governmental authority, but if that authority overrides God’s authority, then God’s authority must be paramount. Our responsibility to obey the state is limited to the bounds of the Word of God.

Ac 5:29,  But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.

Authorities in Jerusalem warned Peter and John not to speak or teach about the name of Jesus (Acts 4:18). They answered,

Acts 4:19,  But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

The apostles continued their evangelism (Acts 5:28-29) and most suffered martyrdom for preaching the gospel. The Bible does not teach that Christians are to submit to any form of tyranny that might include violating a biblical principle.

However, this passage teaches us that rebellion for anything other than a biblical principle is wrong. Personal liberties are secondary to God’s norms. Property rights are secondary to a Christian testimony. We allow ourselves to be treated unfairly for the sake of the gospel.

Christians should not submit to or actively cooperate with unjust or immoral activities of human government. Either the Christian should passively resist or, if that does not work, the believer should actively resist an unbiblical demand from government.


The Biblical Doctrine of the State: