Examples of Submission to Authority in the Bible

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submission authority
Christ in front of Pilate, by Munkacsy, 1881

Biblical Examples of Submission to Civil Government Authority and Dealing with Social Justice in Scriptures

The Bible’s take on the government

  • He “establishes” ALL government, good or bad. (Romans 13:1)
  • He “removes” leaders according to His plan. (Daniel 2:20-22)
  • God raised “evil rulers” in the past to judge a nation. (Habakkuk 1:6)

Jesus take on civil disobedience

  • Jesus did not incite the people against Rome. (Luke 23:5)
  • Jesus refused to get entangled in political debate. (Mt. 22:15-22)
  • Jesus was busy preaching or praying alone. (Matthew 5:1)
  • Jesus did not incite people against their ruthless Emperor. (Luke 23:5)
  • Jesus refused to be involved in political debate. (Mt. 22:15-22)
  • Jesus knew the need for social-political change, but He came for another battle: To save souls, and He commands you to make disciples, not change the government (Matthew 28:18-20), Unbelievers often do that activism part.

The Apostles and Early Christians’ submission to authority

  • Paul tells us to submit to civil authorities, but he rebuked religious leaders. (Romans 13Acts 22-24 commentary)
  • Paul willingly submitted to divine imprisonment without grumbling. He was respectful to the commander and Governor Felix who in turn gave him favor and protection. (Philippians 2:14-15Read commentaryC. Swindol)
  • Peter warned us not to earn the ire of authority by being submissive. We submit to “avoid condemnation” and “win commendation” that shuts the mouth of those against the faith and looking for reasons to criticize believers. (1 Peter 2:15 Commentary)
  • Peter said, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority” (1 Peter 2:13). We do it for Jesus’ sake because He demonstrated it Himself.
  • The Apostles had no time with politics. They focused on preaching and church planting. (Acts 8:4)
  • The Apostles disobeyed authority when told NOT to preach about Jesus; early Christians disobeyed the Emperor because they were told to renounce their faith. We must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).
  • Early Christians disobeyed the government when told to renounce their faith and worship the Emperor. We must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).
  • Emperor Trajan advised Pliny the Younger not to seek out Christians for persecution. “They should be left alone as long as they did not stir up trouble,” he said.
  • In God’s time, the rulers replaced(Daniel 2:21). Unbelievers did that part in rallying, complaining, and rebelling against rulers, just like what happened in the Jewish Revolt.
  • Telling the government what to do is not the same as exposing evil. (Eph. 5:11commentary)

Luther, Bonhoeffer, Ten Boom, Graham

  • Catholic Priest Martin Luther fought the church by writing a thesis that gave way to the reformation.
  • Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer helped Nazi resistance. He was prohibited to preach and publish books as consequences.
  • Billy Graham fought the civil rights of black people to hear the Gospel. He won the hearts of politicians by sharing the Gospel, not telling them what to do.
  • Corrie Ten Boom and her family resisted the government by helping save the lives of the Jews. They did not criticize the government in public but silently protested.
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