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"Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God." - Jonathan Edwards

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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 24: Of the Civil Magistrate - Commentary

... that the sovereignty of God extends itself over all things, including politics and His people should influence those in high positions. Also, “To restrict Christianity to the ‘spiritual’ realm is, ultimately, to destroy it.”[1]

In this chapter, we will concern ourselves with the civil government as ordained by God, its purpose, and power. We will take a look at Romans 13 to see what it teaches about the civil government? Must we obey the government in all things? May Christians work in the government?


§1 God Hath Ordained Civil Magistrates To Be Under Him, Over The People

  1. God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained Civil Magistrates to be under him, over the people, 1 for his own glory and the public good; 2 and to this end hath armed them with the power of the sword, for defence and encouragement of them that do good, and for the punishment of evil doers. 3
    1. Ps. 82:1; Luke 12:48; Rom. 13:1-6; 1 Peter 2:13-14[2]
    2. Gen. 6:11-13 with 9:5-6; Ps. 58:1-2; 72:14; 82:1-4; Prov. 21:15; 24:11-12; 29:14,26; 31:5; Ezek. 7:23; 45:9; Dan. 4:27; Matt. 22:21; Rom. 13:3-4; 1 Tim. 2:2; 1 Peter 2:14
    3. Gen. 9:6; Prov. 16:14; 19:12; 20:2; 21:15; 28:17; Acts 25:11; Rom. 13:4; 1 Peter 2:14

God as the supreme Lord and King of all the world has ordained Civil Magistrates or the government to be under Him (Rom. 13:1-6). The government is subject to God and derives its authority to rule from God. The Civil Magistrates are over the people. They have authority over the people because they received that authority from God. This way of governing, God has chosen for his own glory and the public good. God’s glory is the proper end of everything that He does so likewise in ordaining Civil Magistrates. What is the purpose of the Civil Magistrates? The Civil Magistrates are ordained and called for defence and encouragement of them that do good (1 Peter 2:14). A good government should defend those who are doing good and protect them. Furthermore, a good government should encourage the doing of good for the betterment of society and the glory of God. But Civil Magistrates are also armed...with the power of the sword...for the punishment of evil doers (Rom. 13:4; 1 Peter 2:14). A good government should defend itself and defend those who do good, in necessary, by using the God-given power of the sword. Likewise, in punishing the evildoers, the power of the sword may be used when it is necessary. God has given it to the government to be used justly.


Subject To God

There are two things which are first of all asserted: 1) God is the supreme Lord, and 2) civil governments are to be subject to Him. That God is the supreme Lord over all, we don’t need to mention here. In chapter 21:2, we also read that “God alone is Lord of the conscience”. The government cannot see into our hearts and consciences. But God can. He determines even what is good and evil in that private realm. But He also rules us in the public realm through the Civil Magistrates. As the Supreme Lord, God is the ruler over the government also. Not only that, but as the supreme Lord of the government, the government is called to submit itself to Him. The government should acknowledge that its power is derivative. We are to be subjected to them as given by God. But they should also acknowledge that they, like we also, are subject to God. Therefore, any government wishing the blessing of its people should subject itself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Any government that does...


1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

...yle="color: #ff8c00;"superstitious and sinful snares, in which no Christian may entangle himself.
  1. Num. 30:2-3; Ps. 76:11; Jer. 44:25-26
  2. Num. 30:2; Ps. 61:8; 66:13-14; Ecc. 5:4-6; Isa. 19:21
  3. 1 Cor. 6:18 with 7:2, 9; 1 Tim. 4:3; Eph. 4:28; 1 Cor. 7:23; Matt. 19:11-12

Chapter 24: Of the Civil Magistrate [Return] [Commentary]

  1. God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained Civil Magistrates to be under him, over the people, for his own glory and the public good; and to this end hath armed them with the power of the sword, for defence and encouragement of them that do good, and for the punishment of evil doers.
    1. Ps. 82:1; Luke 12:48; Rom. 13:1-6; 1 Peter 2:13-14
    2. Gen. 6:11-13 with 9:5-6; Ps. 58:1-2; 72:14; 82:1-4; Prov. 21:15; 24:11-12; 29:14,26; 31:5; Ezek. 7:23; 45:9; Dan. 4:27; Matt. 22:21; Rom. 13:3-4; 1 Tim. 2:2; 1 Peter 2:14
    3. Gen. 9:6; Prov. 16:14; 19:12; 20:2; 21:15; 28:17; Acts 25:11; Rom. 13:4; 1 Peter 2:14
  1. It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate when called there unto; in the management whereof, as they ought especially to maintain justice and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each kingdom and commonwealth, so for that end they may lawfully now, under the New Testament wage war upon just and necessary occasions.
    1. Exod. 22:8-9, 28-29; Daniel; Nehemiah; Prov. 14:35: 16:10, 12; 20:26, 28; 25:2; 28:15-16; 29:4, 14; 31:4-5; Rom. 13:2, 4, 6
    2. Luke 3:14; Rom. 13:4
  1. Civil Magistrates being set up by God for the ends aforesaid; subjection, in all lawful things commanded by them, ought to be yielded by us in the Lord, not only for wrath, but for conscience sake; and we ought to make supplications and prayers for kings and all that are in authority, that under them we may live a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty.
    1. Prov. 16:14-15; 19:12; 20:2; 24:21-22; 25:15; 28:2; Rom. 13:1-7; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13-14
    2. Dan. 1:8; 3:4-6, 16-18; 6:5-10, 22; Matt. 22:21; Acts 4:19-20; 5:29
    3. Jer. 29:7; 1 Tim. 2:1-4

Chapter 25: Of Marriage [Return] [Commentary]

  1. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman; neither is it lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband at the same time.
    1. Gen. 2:24 with Matt. 19:5-6;1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6; Mal 2:15
  1. Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife, for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue, and the preventing of uncleanness.
    1. Gen. 2:18; Prov. 2:17; Mal. 2:14
    2. Gen. 1:28; Ps. 127:3-5; 128:3-4
    3. 1 Cor. 7:2, 9
  1. It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry, who are able with judgment to give their consent; yet it is the duty of Christians to marry in the Lord; and therefore such as profess the true religion, should not marry with infidels, or idolaters; neither should such as are godly, be unequally yoked, by marrying with such as are wicked in their life, or maintain damnable heresy.
    1. 1 Cor. 7:39; 2 Cor. 6:14; 1 Tim. 4:3; Heb. 13:4
    2. 1 Cor. 7:39; 2 Cor. 6:14; Neh 13:25-27
  1. Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity, forbidden in the Word; nor can such incestuous marriages ever be made lawful, by any law of man or consent of parties, so as those persons may live together as man and wife.
    1. Lev. 18:6-18; Amos 2:7; Mark 6:18; 1 Cor. 5:1

Chapter 26: Of the Church [Return] [Commentary]

  1. The catholic or universal church, which (with respect to the i...