What does the Bible say about governments? Governments have been around for centuries and are as old as the earliest societies.
The Bible itself talks about different types of governments and the role they play.
Many contend that the Bible is in favor of a specific type of government over another, while others argue that it doesn’t have any political preferences at all.
So what’s the answer?
In this article, we’ll explore what the Bible says about governments and what their role is in the lives of believers.
Whether you’ve been in the faith for years or have just been a Christian recently, understanding the Bible’s teachings on government is essential to your spiritual growth and engagement with society.
God Instituted the Government
That governments have been around for a long time is no secret.
The Bible itself teaches that God is the one who instituted governments. Romans 13:1 is clear about this.
It says that there is no authority apart from God, and those that exist have been instituted by Him.
For this reason, every person is instructed to obey governing authorities.
In reality, the government exists for the benefit of everyone.
The provision of protection and justice on earth is one of the primary functions of the government.
Paul writes in Romans 13:4 that the government is God’s servant for the good of the people.
However, it adds that if we do wrong, we must be afraid, for the one in authority does not bear the sword in vain.
What Paul is saying is that the government has been given by God the power to protect her people, as well as to punish those who commit wrong.
This is for the upholding of social order.
At the same time, however, governments are meant to act on behalf of the good of the people in the land.
Jeremiah 22:3 commands that authorities are to do justice and righteousness and to deliver those who have been robbed from the hand of the oppressor.
It adds that the government is to do no violence to foreigners, widows, and orphans.
In short, it is the government’s responsibility to protect the vulnerable and ensure that justice is done for all people and not just for a select few.
God’s People Are To Obey The Authorities
The Bible is filled with examples of how God’s people are called to submit to authorities.
As believers, we are called to live peacefully in the society we belong to. Still, the issue isn’t always that cut and dried.
Ruling authorities themselves can be oppressive and unjust at times. It is in such cases that God’s people are urged to put God’s Word first.
In his letter to the church in Rome, the apostle Paul explains that God has established the authorities to punish wrongdoers.
However, everyone is called to submit to the government, not because they are afraid of punishment but because they respect God’s ordained order.
We should not forget, though, that leaders in the government are human beings too.
They are not infallible and are often tempted to abuse the power given to them.
In the Bible, we see examples of how God’s people disobeyed or resisted authorities because they were unjust or went against God’s commands.
Daniel is one such man.
Daniel served in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar as a captive in Babylon.
Even though he was in a pagan nation, he served the king with faithfulness to God and with integrity, staying true to his convictions.
When a new king, Darius Mede, was tricked into issuing a decree declaring that no prayer be made to any other god but Darius for thirty days, Daniel was sentenced to death and was thrown into a den of lions.
God saved Daniel, and his faithfulness led to his vindication.
We see a similar example in the New Testament.
Peter and John were ordered to stop preaching in the name of Jesus, but they refused to comply, stating that they must obey God and not man.
This act of disobedience to authority demonstrated their faithfulness to God and served to advance the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Disobedience to authority should not be taken lightly.
It should only be undertaken when necessary and with humility, respect for those in authority, and trust in God’s ultimate sovereignty.
The relationship between God’s people and authorities requires discernment and wisdom.
We must submit to the authorities as a matter of conscience and respect for God’s ordained order.
But we must also speak out against injustice and disobedience when necessary.
When disobedience is necessary, it should be done with respect and humility, trusting in God’s ultimate sovereignty and justice.
What Happens When The Government Strays From Its Purpose?
It might be difficult to know how to react when a government departs from its goals.
Even when their actions and policies conflict with our values or our beliefs, we are nevertheless expected to submit to those in positions of power as Christians.
Romans 13:1-2 states, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”
This verse makes it clear that our submission to governmental authority is not only a matter of law but also of faith.
The government’s directives, even those that conflict with God’s Word, should not, however, be mindlessly obeyed.
Remember what the apostles said in Acts 5:29, as we’ve mentioned earlier?
We must obey God rather than men. This shows that there may be occasions when we must put our allegiance to God above our obedience to worldly authorities.
It can be difficult to know when to accept and when to resist when a government departs from its purpose.
However, we can take comfort in the fact that God is sovereign over all and that He will ultimately judge all rulers, both just and unjust.
As Christians, we are obligated to live in accordance with God’s Word, even when it is challenging or unpopular to do so.
The Government For God’s Glory
Ultimately, all things exist under God’s sovereignty. This includes the government.
God established governments to bring glory to His name. He instituted them for the good of humanity and for the fulfillment of his purposes.
Even the limitations of the government is an evidence of God’s glory.
Its universality demonstrates God’s sovereignty over all things and the unity of all people under His rule.
At the same time, the limitations of civil government remind us that it is not the ultimate and that God’s kingdom is the only true source of justice, peace, and righteousness.
We are reminded of our duty as citizens to engage in the political process with humility, intelligence, and a dedication to justice when we realize that civil government exists not only for the benefit of humanity but also for the glory of God.
This entails supporting laws and authorities that advance the common good but also appreciating the boundaries of civil governance and the fact that God is ultimately our ultimate loyalty.
Furthermore, knowing how civil government functions to exalt God can encourage us to endure oppression, injustice, and persecution.
Knowing that God is ultimately in charge and that He will eventually bring everything about in accordance with His perfect plan gives us comfort.
God is The Ruler of All
As we reflect on what the Bible says about the government and its role in bringing glory to God, we are humbled by the reminder that God is the ultimate ruler of all.
It is a complex and mysterious truth that all things, including governments and leaders, exist under His sovereignty and serve His ultimate purpose.
As citizens, we are called to engage in the political process with wisdom, discernment, and a commitment to justice, even as we recognize the limitations of civil government and our ultimate allegiance to God.
May we trust in His perfect plan and take comfort in the knowledge that He is in control.