We honor and respect our governing authorities because they exist by the very will of God. Such respect must be given whether we agree with them or not.
Those in authority are God’s instruments for carrying out the purpose of governing and worthy of the respect God mandates. When we obey the principles of this passage, we give genuine credibility to our faith.
As believers, we are to honor our governing authorities and their rights as such. But we may not give to the government those rights that belong to God alone.
Disciples of Jesus are to be a people of order and discipline, of righteousness and justice. We are to be dynamic examples of love and peace so that others may be won to the Messiah and be saved for eternity. Part of living as examples of the Messiah before the watching world is showing respect to others.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:12–13 — 12 But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Master and give you instruction, 13 and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.
- Hebrews 13:17 — 17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
- Acts 23:1–5 — 1 Paul, looking intently at the Council, said, “Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.” 2 The high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?” 4 But the bystanders said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?” 5 And Paul said, “I was not aware, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”
- Exodus 22:28 — 28 “You shall not curse God, nor curse a ruler of your people.
- Acts 28:7–10 — 7 Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who welcomed us and entertained us courteously three days. 8 And it happened that the father of Publius was lying in bed afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery; and Paul went in to see him and after he had prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed him. 9 After this had happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases were coming to him and getting cured. 10 They also honored us with many marks of respect; and when we were setting sail, they supplied us with all we needed.
- Philippians 2:29–30 — 29 Receive him then in the Master with all joy, and hold men like him in high regard; 30 because he came close to death for the work of the Messiah, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me.
- 1 Timothy 5:17–18 — 17 The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”
- Hebrews 13:7 — 7 Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.
I try to distance myself from temporal politics, but I also know from Scripture that we are to be good citizens and pray for those in civil authority so that the Gospel can continue to go out unimpeded. However, it is difficult to honor those who flagrantly dishonor the office/position they hold. But I’m sure that the early Christians prayed for the various Roman emperors, despite the persecution that they authorized.
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