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
- 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
- Ps. 82:1; Luke 12:48; Rom. 13:1-6; 1 Peter 2:13-14
- 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
- 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...