Biblical Concept: Government and Good


What is the goal of the following four passages?  Answer: Christians versus anarchy.


What is the technique of these four passages? Answer: Good over evil.


(End parentheses and underlines are mine.)


Romans 13:1-7 1 Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.  2 Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.  3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil.  5 Wherefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience ' sake.  6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.  7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. (Good versus evil.) (By the time Paul had written these words he had lived through various anarchist riots against Christians.) (“Established by God”: note that God is allowing sin and evil to run their volitional course on planet earth in the Angelic Conflict.  Genesis 15:16b “for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”  After the governmental, socio-religious Amorite iniquity was more compete, God’s “Divine Regime Change” and “Manifest Destiny” removed them.)


1 Peter 2:13-17 13 Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. 17 Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.  (Good versus evil.) (Roman Government at the founding of the Church: Pax Romana, Principates, SPQR [Senatus Populusque Romanus / Senate and Peoples of Rome / on 100,000 monuments], the Twelve Tablets of secular laws for citizens, provincial authorities, regional authorities, Asiarchs, city authorities, legions, and police.)


Titus 3:1-2 1 Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, 2 to malign no one, to be uncontentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. (Orderly life for Christians.)


1 Timothy 2:1-4 1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (Relationship: Prayers, authorities, tranquil, life, evangelism.)


However, this is not all of the Biblical evidence related to orderly society.  These four passages have Biblical limits. 


First, some history:


Will Durant in CAESAR AND CHRIST, A history of Roman Civilization and of Christianity from their beginning to A.D. 325, said of the founding of Roman written law for the citizenry (called the Twelve Tablets): “This seemingly trivial event was epochal in Roman history and in the history of mankind; it was the first written form of that legal structure which was to be Rome’s most signal achievement and her greatest contribution to civilization.” (P. 23) (Pp. 22-23 describes the civil disobedience of the Plebes demanding the protection of written laws.  Now you know, when various Apostles warn the reader regarding anarchy toward good government, it was the civil disobedience of the Plebes that helped bring about the government that the Apostles supported!) (P. 32 describes the tablets severity.)


Also, “The most precious privilege of a Roman citizen was the safeguarding of his person, property, and rights by the law, and his immunity from torture or violence in the trying of his case. It was the glory of Roman law that it protected the individual against the state.” (P. 395)


Also, “It was natural that the Romans should create the greatest system of law in history: they loved order and had the means to enforce it; upon the chaos of a hundred diverse nations they laid an imperfect but sublime authority and peace. Other states had had laws, and legislators like Hammurabi and Solon had issued small bodies of humane legislation; but no people had yet achieved that immense co-ordination, unification, and codification which occupied the highest legal minds of Rome from the Scaevolas to Justinian.” (P. 405-406)


Also, “… Roman law entered into the canon law of the medieval Church, inspired the thinkers of the Renaissance, and became the basic law of Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Hungary, Bohemia, Poland, even—within the British Empire—of Scotland, Quebec, Ceylon, and South Africa.  English law itself, the only legal edifice of comparable scope, took its rules of equity, admiralty, guardianship, and bequests from Roman canon law. Greek science and philosophy, Judeo-Greek Christianity, Greco-Roman democracy, Roman law—these are our supreme inheritance from the ancient world.” (P.  406)


Note: God the Father brought His Son into the world during the Pax Romana, a time of strong citizen rights.


Note: The New Testament Apostles lived in an era of comparatively good government for Roman provincial citizens.  It is to be noted that Roman Provincial leaders were very powerful.  Pilate told Jesus: "You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?" (John 19:10) Given the evil power of group natures to sin, strong law and order is beneficial for humanity.  Anarchy is not beneficial for humanity.  How many times have anarchists had a better plan for humanity?


Some more Bible related to orderly society: (Limits on the four passages at the start of the study.)


The Apostle Paul was a Roman citizen and utilized his citizenship to protect his rights from bad / evil local government decisions (end parentheses are mine):


Acts 16:37-38 37 But Paul said to them, "They have beaten us in public without trial, men who are Romans, and have thrown us into prison; and now are they sending us away secretly? No indeed! But let them come themselves and bring us out."  38 And the policemen reported these words to the chief magistrates. And they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans, (2nd Missionary Journey, Paul at Philippi) (Roman citizen status: feared.) (Romans 13:2a - “he who resists authority” did not trump Roman citizenship.)


Acts 21:39 But Paul said, "I am a Jew of Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no insignificant city; and I beg you, allow me to speak to the people." (Start of Missionary journey #4, Paul in Jerusalem.) (Romans had city citizen rights as well as to the Empire. Potentially even multiple cities.) (Romans 13:2a - “he who resists authority” did not trump Roman city citizenship.)


Acts 22:28-29 28 And the commander answered, "I acquired this citizenship with a large sum of money." And Paul said, "But I was actually born a citizen."  29 Therefore those who were about to examine him immediately let go of him; and the commander also was afraid when he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had put him in chains.  (Start of Missionary journey #4, Paul in Jerusalem.) (The power of Roman citizenship.) (Roman citizen status: feared.) (Romans 13:2a - “he who resists authority” does not trump Roman citizenship.)


Acts 23:27-29 27 "When this man was arrested by the Jews and was about to be slain by them, I came upon them with the troops and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman.  28 "And wanting to ascertain the charge for which they were accusing him, I brought him down to their Council; 29 and I found him to be accused over questions about their Law, but under no accusation deserving death or imprisonment. (Start of Missionary journey #4, Paul in Jerusalem.) (Roman citizenship = rescue from Jewish arrest and religious execution.)


Acts 25:10-12 10 But Paul said, "I am standing before Caesar's tribunal, where I ought to be tried. I have done no wrong to the Jews, as you also very well know.  11 "If then I am a wrongdoer, and have committed anything worthy of death, I do not refuse to die; but if none of those things is true of which these men accuse me, no one can hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar."  12 Then when Festus had conferred with his council, he answered, "You have appealed to Caesar, to Caesar you shall go." (Start of Missionary Journey #4, Paul in Caesarea.) (Roman citizens’ legal rights--protections.)


Acts 28:16 And when we entered Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him. (Missionary Journey #4, Paul in Rome.) (Roman citizens’ legal rights.) (28:21, Paul’s accusers a no-show.)


Finding: Being a Roman citizen really meant something and Paul utilized it!  Paul could and did take his citizen appeal to Nero. The events above happened at the end of Paul’s third missionary journey and at the start of his fourth. In Rome, Paul’s accusers did not show-up for the hearing and he was probably released by Nero (Acts 28:21, also Philemon 22).  After his release, Paul possibly continued his fourth missionary journey to include Spain—Romans 15:24. Extra-biblical sources: 1 Clement 5:7 says he reached "the extreme limit of the west" (Clement 35-99 AD) The Muratorian Canon refers to "the journey of St. Paul to Spain."  (200 AD copy but from a 140 AD source.)


Finding: Romans 13:2a “Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God” is limited by citizenship rights.  After all, the governing authorities could be wrong, and a citizen does not have to give-up their rights to a wrong authority.  God had a continuing evangelistic mission for Apostle Paul and He used Roman Citizenship to bring it about - Acts 23:10-11 10 And as a great dissension was developing, the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them and ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force, and bring him into the barracks.  11 But on the night immediately following, the Lord stood at his side and said, "Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also."  This Divine will was completed in spectacular fashion: See Biblical Concept: Paul’s Unique Elite Evangelism.


There is still more Bible related to orderly societies and good and evil in nations.  If the nation became disorderly and evil, God could / did apply Divine Regime Change or Manifest Destiny.  Human history is a revolving door of nations coming and going.


There is even more to consider for a Christian citizen of the United States of America. Our emperors and authorities are the Constitution of the United States of America and the Constitutions of the States that created the Federal government!  Unique!  God made these governing authorities too!  When national and local elected officials place their hand on a Bible and swear to uphold these constitutions, and do not, the citizens (We the People of the Declaration of Independence) can legally rid themselves of them!  Just vote for good government!  Also pray: 1 Timothy 2:1-2 1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.


Theorem: Christians and government: Not anarchistic, support good government, use citizenship rights to legally change bad government.


Epilogue: Hebrews 11:23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's edict.


Epilogue: Quieting a riot at Ephesus through Roman Law and Order: Acts 19:35-41 35 And after quieting the multitude, the town clerk said, "Men of Ephesus, what man is there after all who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is guardian of the temple of the great Artemis, and of the image which fell down from heaven?  36 "Since then these are undeniable facts, you ought to keep calm and to do nothing rash.  37 "For you have brought these men here who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of our goddess.  38 "So then, if Demetrius and the craftsmen who are with him have a complaint against any man, the courts are in session and proconsuls are available; let them bring charges against one another.  39 "But if you want anything beyond this, it shall be settled in the lawful assembly.  40 "For indeed we are in danger of being accused of a riot in connection with today's affair, since there is no real cause for it; and in this connection we shall be unable to account for this disorderly gathering."  41 And after saying this he dismissed the assembly.  (The Roman Empire did not like disorder in the Provinces and would come down hard on it.  The rioting citizens at Ephesus knew this and dispersed…)