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The Scriptorium

Be Subject

1 Peter 2.13, 14

13Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of those who do evil and for thepraise of those who do good.

The Story: Government is a gift of God to bring good to people by keeping evil in check and providing for order and justice in society. Where governments function like this, Christians must be subject to them. This is not a blanket mandate, however. As even Peter knew, there are times when we simply cannot obey government, because government has left the cause of good and is seeking to perpetrate evil. Our subjection to good government is “for the Lord’s sake”, that is, to honor Him by honoring His Law. The fifth commandment provides the basis for obeying “every human institution.” When we obey the Law of God we honor God and further the cause of His “good” in society. When we resist evil we honor God by bringing evil to light and taking our stand for that which comports with His truth. Christians cannot avoid political responsibility, especially not in a democratic polity such as our own. But we must fulfill all our political obligations “for the Lord’s sake.”

The Structure: During the time of the divine economy human governments play an important role. But they will not play that role as God intends without the active participation of Christians, at every level, holding governments to their good calling and checking them when they tend toward whatever is evil. Christians must be prepared to do this even when they find themselves in an unfavorable environment, such as the believers to whom Peter wrote were experiencing. Government will not save us. But civil government is indispensable for providing a context in which the work of the Kingdom of God can go forward among men (1 Tim. 2.1-4). Whatever obligations are imposed on believers by civic polity, therefore, we must be careful to fulfill in a manner consistent with God’s Word.

How will you encourage your fellow Christians to be active and faithful in their political responsibilities at this time?

Each week’s studies in our Scriptorium column are available in a free PDF form, suitable for personal or group use. For this week’s study, “Lived Witness: 1 Peter 2.13-25,” simply click here.

T. M. Moore

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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