THE HIGHER POWERS (GOVERNMENTS)
There are many ideas about the “higher powers”, governments. It is not the purpose of this short work to discuss each of these. The object herein is to present what the word of God says about governments.
First, the question of the origin of governments should be established. Where do governments get their authority to exist? Romans 13:1 says, “the powers that be are ordained of God.” The word “ordained”, from this verse is from a Greek word, TASSO, “to arrange in an orderly manner, i. e. assign or dispose (to a certain position or lot):–addict, appoint, determine, ordain, set.” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, p. 759). Daniel 4:25 says, “the most High ruleth in the kingdoms of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.” We see, therefore, that God saw the need for governments, for “rulers” (Romans 13:3), and He set them up. “Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” (Romans 13:2). To deny the need of higher powers and rulers and to refuse to accept and be subject to them is to deny the intelligence and wisdom of God. “He is the minister of God to thee for good.” (Verse 6).
Second, Paul also exhorted, “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.” (1 Timothy 2:1-3). Praying for rulers and others is not a suggestion; it is a command of God, and must be obeyed as any other edict from the most High. Paul declared that it is good and acceptable to God to pray for them. James said, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17). Peter wrote of those “who 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. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.” (2 Peter 2:10, 11; Cf. Jude 8ff). These are strong words used in describing those opposed to governments. Observe, they are not “afraid” (Greek, TREMO, (to “dread”, “terrify”); to ”tremble” or fear:–be afraid, trembling”) (Strong’s, p. 20) to “speak evil” (Greek, BLASPHEMEO, “to vilify; spec. to speak impiously:–(speak) blaspheme (-er, -mously, -my), defame, rail on, revile, speak evil”). (Strong’s, p. 323). These people are presumptuous, (Greek, TOLMETES, “a dairing (audacious) man:–presumptuous”). (Strong’s, p. 808). They are brave and bold in speaking evil of dignities. Some even “despise” (Greek, KATAPHRONEO, “to think against, i.e., disesteem:–despise”) (Strong’s p. 257) governments. (2 Peter 2:10). Jude 8, “despise” (Greek, ATHETEO, “to set aside, i.e. (by impl.) to disesteem, neutralize or violate:–cast off, despise, disannul, frustrate, bring to naught, reject”) (Strong’s, p. 257) describes some who would do away with governments.
Third, God set in order governments “as the minister of God to thee for good.” (Romans 13:4). Ministers (Greek, IEITOURGOS, “a public servant….”) (Strong’s, p. 684) should serve the people to be the dignity God ordained. Some are; others are not. Sadly, corruption creeps into some higher powers. Some in power serve self or some special interest(s), rather than their people. Others fail to be a “terror…to the evil.” (Romans 13:3). Peaceable, law-abiding, good people should never have a reason to be afraid of governments. (Ibid). Good and lawful citizens should know that their government will be there to protect them, even bearing the sword (exercising capital punishment) when necessary. (Romans 13:4-7).
Fourth, citizens, “must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.” (Romans 13:5). Citizens, “for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers…Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” (Romans 13:6, 7). The hypocritical Pharisees and Herodians tempted Jesus, asking, “Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?” Jesus rebuked them for their hypocricy, asked them for tribute money, showed them the picture thereon, and said, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things which are God’s.” (Matthew 22:15-21).
Fifth, Christians are to “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) over the “kingdoms of men”. (Daniel 4:17, 25). Sometimes rulers in religious and civil matters enact laws which are contrary to God’s laws. For example, Matthew 15:7-9, speaks of the doctrines and commandments of men. Peter and John taught the truth about Jesus (Acts 3; 4). The religious leaders forbad them to speak in the name of Jesus any more. (Acts 4:17, 18). The apostles replied, “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Verses 19, 20). Under a similar situation in Acts 5, the apostles said, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Before civil rulers (Acts 24-28), Paul made it crystal clear that he had not violated any laws, and that he would continue to preach Jesus to the people, whether they be Jew or Gentile. Under the Old Testament, decrees were made contrary to God’s law, and God’s people were ordered to obey God’s laws. Daniel 3 is one such rule. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego remained faithful to God, were cast into a furnace of fire that was exceeding hot. They lived without any hurt, burn, and not one hair was singed; their clothes were neither burned, nor did they smell of smoke. Daniel faithfully prayed to God, even when an edict to pray only to king Darius went forth; he was cast into a den of lions for continuing to pray to God, but he survived. Should any government make it illegal to teach any part of the law of God, we must follow Jesus, and teach and preach the word (Matthew 28:19; 2 Timothy 4:6-8), of Him who said, “be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10).
Lastly, laws are being passed around the world that are in conflict with God’s word. We must remain faithful to God under threat of imprisonment, loss of tax exemption, death, or any other man-made rule. The Roman laws and rulers have been described as some of the world’s most evil. It has been said that one who wanted to put people down could say, “You are Corinthasizing.” Cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Witness what is currently going on in many places. Nation after nation has acted contrary to what God designed them to do. However, even Jesus during the time of Roman repression charged His people to pay taxes to them. Joseph and Mary went to pay taxes to the same government that would later try to kill Jesus when He was born. Cf. Matthew 2:1ff, especially, verses 4, 7, 8, 16-20; Luke 2:1-5. The government and rulers during the time many of the Old Testament books were written were evil, yet God charged His people to act, rather than react. The same was true under the New Testament. God even used an archangel, Michael, to teach His people how they should respond to others, whether saint or sinner. (Jude 8ff). God warned, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Mark 13:13). Nowhere does God tell us to be disrespectful to anyone due to mistreatment, whether saint, sinner, or government. Beloved, thinking people know that everything is not right with the way governments are run. Christians are saddened over a number of godless laws passed and offended that tax dollars paid are used in support of the same. All need to do right, whatever any other may do. Perhaps children of God need to pray at least as much, if not more, than any prior generation for kings, rulers, and all in authority. “Stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11). Fight the real battles, “against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Verse 12). “And having done all, to stand.” (Verse 12). Read Hebrews 11:6; John 8:24; 2 Peter 3:9; Ro-mans 10:9, 10; Acts 8:37; and call the one who gave you this tract to help you obey God. Read and obey Hebrews 11:6; John 8:24; Acts 17:30, 31; 1 Peter 3:20, 21; Acts 2:38; 22:16; and Romans 6:1-5, 17, 18.