Sunday: Church and State

Though written long ago, the Bible nevertheless touches on issues very relevant today, such as the relationship between Christians and their government.

In some cases, it’s pretty obvious. Revelation chapter 13 talks about a time when obeying the political powers would mean disobeying God. In such a case, our choice is clear. (See Thursday’s study.)

Church and State

Image © Pacific Press Publishing Assn.

Read 1 Peter 2:13-17. What is the Word generally telling us here about how to relate to the government?

The evils of the Roman Empire were well-known to those living within its borders. It had grown at the somewhat capricious will of ambitious men using ruthless military force. It met any resistance with violence. Systematic torture and death by crucifixion were just two of the horrors it inflicted upon those it punished. The Roman government was riddled by nepotism and corruption. The ruling elite exercised power with total arrogance and ruthlessness. Despite all this, Peter urges his readers to accept the authority of every human institution in the empire, from emperor to governor (1 Pet. 2:13-14, NIV).

Peter argues that emperors and governors punish those who do wrong, and praise those who do right (1 Pet. 2:14). In doing this, they have an important role in shaping society.

In fact, for all its faults, the Roman Empire provided stability. It brought freedom from war. It distributed a harsh justice but a justice based nevertheless on the rule of law. It built roads and established a monetary system to support its military needs. In doing so, Rome created an environment in which the population was able to grow and in many cases prosper. Seen in this light, Peter’s comments about government make good sense. No government is perfect, and certainly not the one that Peter and the church he wrote to lived under. So what we can learn from him is that Christians need to seek to be good citizens, obeying the law of the land as much as they possibly can, even if the government they live under is anything but perfect.

Why is it important for Christians to be as good citizens as possible, even in less-than-ideal political situations? What can you do to make your society better, even in a small way?


Sunday: Church and State — 15 Comments

  1. Very important lesson to Christian to remain humble in all sphere of this world. However, there are Christians when staying in other countries not theirs tend to abuse government system by not complying, in fact encouraging more corruption because they ñeed favour from the citizen of the countries they stay. Serious concerns...

  2. We must be law abiding citizens of the government as much as possible for peace and order
    The problem will arise when obedience to the land is in direct opposition to the law of God
    His law supersedes man's law
    The time is coming when we will face persecution like the apostles did but we must obey God rather than man Acts 5:29
    May we all be faithful to God

    • In expounding what you've just said The apostles could have sided with the government of that time and forsake Jesus if they like to be called law abiding citizens, but they did not, instead they continued to teach and proclaimed the messiahip of Jesus even to the point of being jailed for the new Gospel and for the belief they are trying to spread. Jesus himself did not disobey neither told them to make a resistance. In short we are just being encouraged to proclaim the truth it doesn't matter if it's against government law or not but we are not encouraged to fight or be aggressive against government's rule. We can hide but we aren't told to fight physically. So in fight or flight our only option is the latter.... and be ready to give up our life for having the mark of the living God.

  3. Even in less than ideal situations, we ought to let our 'light so shine before men'. While enduring the harshest of punishment and humiliation, Christ did not fight back. He even prayed for the perpetrators of these vicious acts. No finer example will we find!

  4. Christians are representatives of Christ and consequently,must be living examples to​ those governing them, also their fellowmen. In so doing they will bring glory to God and be a channel in pointing others to Christ.

  5. With the “truth of the Lord” enduring “forever” we should expect to find it relevant to our daily living in the present condition of society. We have examples given of those who faced the dilemma of how to be obedient to God while not offending their fellow man, when following men at times would have forced departure from faithfulness to their heavenly Father and His covenant.

    We are to obey all that is good, yet by itself, this passage(1 Pe 2:13-17) could be misapplied, until we recall that the writer of this once stood facing the leaders of the “chosen nation” and said “we ought to obey God rather than man”, and sometime later lost his life by remaining faithful to his Lord and Savior. Paul as well lost his life from not following the government of men, that he might remain faithful to God, though he also advocated being obedient to the higher powers of the land.

    Being faithful to God above all others will often place us in perilous situations, but we see in the examples of God's faithful that their obedience to God often led to God being glorified in their lives and others led to receive the Truth.

  6. God Is God He Never Change, But Man Changes like we see our world today changing its, because of the way man have plan to live their lives.

  7. This is very interesting to Christians ,esp the Adventists Christians.The main reasons is we obey the law of God , we are the doer of the word and also we are Christ witnessess in this dark world.So it is important to obey the law of the land , the Govt , we have to be a law abiding citizen.Support law and order , and also see justice is being served.Our God is the God of Justices.Amen.

  8. As Christians,expression of love as Jesus commands should be crosscutting. The state which is most times bulldozed by forces of the devil should be included in personal and corporate prayers. Persons in influencial positions just like us will one day stand before judgement seat hence they should be considered with love in salvation activities that Christians undertake.They should not be taken as aliens but be considered as a group that is easily blinded by powers and riches but are also beneficiaries of Jesus' death on the cross.

  9. Peter is urging believers to show respect and tells them how we are to behave in society for the greater good of civil peace and prosperity. We are to be good citizens no matter what government is in place. The early Christians lived under a hostile, oppressive, evil, godless and vicious government but they were exhorted to respect and obey the laws of the country. As God sets up governments and gives them authority, He places a heavy responsibility on them (Prov. 8:15; Dan. 2:21). We in turn are to obey the will of God. Lets recall that submission is a voluntary act of respect within the parameters of the will of God or of love and righteousness. Therefore we are to obey as long as our obedience to the government does not contradict our obedience to the Lord and His precepts. We are never to violate the law of God (Matt. 22:21; Acts 4:19; 5:29). When we are submitting to others, we are submitting and serving Christ as Lord (Col. 3:23-24). In his exhortation, Peter uses some of the same that Jeremiah used to captives being taken to Babylon (Jer. 29). We are called to recognize and respect those in authority (Ex. 22:28; 1 Kings 21:10; Prov. 24:21). The call is about respecting the order and structure of society for the good of entire citizenry. God will hold accountable the leaders for their ways, whether good or evil.

  10. Isai 9:6 --For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

    1-- Jesus Christ is the Head of the world.
    2-- He Rules the world and all the governments and all the churches--Rev. 3:
    And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.----please read the entire chapter when you get a chance.
    and 3-- He authorizes them to delegating the laws.

    Therefore, Christians should respect the Government laws. We are God's children who represent the Lord's Agent. And from our loving gospel perfermance, the Government would see that we are truly Jesus's disciples, in addition good Citizens of Heaven.

    To make our society better and in a samall way ; we simply need to show our true Fruit of the Spirit for our brothers and sisters that are in Christ. as well as for other sisters and brothers who don't have Christ yet in their lives. Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. Please read the chapter.

  11. as christian nowadays we ought to serve the Government as well as our GOD as long as the Government or authorize individual dont make any disturbance towards GODs great mission if there is a blockage then personally i think SDA members should leave the Government as it is and serve GOD

    A good example paul has set for us
    we ought to serve God rather then man

  12. Let me be honest it is one of the most challenging bible teachings that I have ever come across.Being submissive to corrupt and heartless governments.I am sure some of our brothers in the democratic western world will find it easy but how do we hold the government to account?What was the role of Christians during the Nazi holocaust are Christians to remain silent and say it is the will of God? How do we balance between indifference and following the law? Is it not an issue of context like Peter didnt want the church to entangle itself with world affairs?Isnt it like when Paul says let women be silent in church??

  13. Ellen White in Great Controversy chapter 36 with the caption, THE IMPENDING CONFLICT, said the following:
    "we are now entering-a battle between the laws of men and the precepts of Jehovah, between the religion of the Bible and the religion of fable tradition.
    " But is it a graver offense to disregard the laws of States and nations than to trample upon those precepts which are the foundation of all government?"
    Should we continue to obey the laws of our lands for the fact that Apostle Paul and Peter have unanimously admonished us to do so for Christ's sake despite that such governments have greatly disregarded God's principles by bringing all manner of corrupt practices upon their subjects? Or should we like Naboth in 1 Kings 18, having known such admonitions by Paul and Peter refused to obey the King, rather, upheld Christian standards despite being seen as being rebellious? How long should we continue to regard the laws of lawless leaders because of this lesson we're learning today knowing that we can't be friends with the world? Look back to the old testament Christians or reformers and kings and compare it with what we have today, do you think that this obedience is limited?
    Ponder on these as we prepare to study in our various classes and units of study.


Please leave a comment long enough to say something significant and considerably shorter than the original post. First and last name required.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *