Volume 13, Number 3, September-October 2009

To Whom Does God Give Authority for Civil Government Today? (part 3)

by Norman Edwards

In Part 1, we saw that God opposed the human world-government of Babylon, and later gave Moses extensive information about how to run a civil government—largely local, consisting of judges and officers appointed by the people. He said other nations would be impressed by His wise laws if Israel followed them. This government worked during the time of Joshua and the elders, but degenerated during the time of the judges. When the people demanded a king, God agreed to continue to work with the people under that system, but said their kings would oppress them. Their kings certainly did.

Part 2 contained five civil government principles:  1) The Eternal Takes an Active Role in Human Leaders; 2) It is Good to Have a Righteous Ruler; 3) God Frequently Allows Unrighteous Rulers; 4) Sometimes God Gives us a Choice of Leaders; 5) Sometimes The Eternal Does Not Give us a Choice.

The key is understanding what God is doing in any particular situation. Sometimes the people can choose a right government, other times he tells them they must submit to a foreign power as punishment for their sin. and other times one individual can make a big difference: Ehud courageously deposed Eglon and freed Israel; an unnamed woman made peace when Joab surrounded her city with an army to fight the rebellious Bichri. Jehoiada and other volunteers deposed the evil queen Athalia—an example of an armed revolution for righteous purposes that God supported.

New Testament Government: Spiritual and Civil

The Bible is such a cohesive book, from Old Testament to New. It teaches and expands upon such similar righteous principles that many people do not notice the areas where the two Testaments are markedly different. But once the obvious contrast is seen, our understanding comes much easier.

The Old Testament teaches:

1)  spiritual principles of living,,

2)  religious ritual including temple offerings to be performed by priests and Levites, and

3)  the laws and punishments God gave for civil governments.

The New Testament expands upon the Old Testament spiritual principles and shows they can only be lived through the saving blood of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. The church is never instructed to continue or replace the roles of priests and Levites or civil government. The temple offerings and Jewish civil government remained in place from the death of Christ until 70 A.D. when they were destroyed by war. The Church never “took over” or replaced either one.

The New Testament gives no “punishments” which the church was to impose if people refused to repent, be baptized, etc. Believers and the organized church were to cooperate with civil governments (such as the Jews and the Romans) when they could, or flee from them if persecuted. But the church will not replace the civil government until Christ returns (2Tim 2:12; Jude 1:14; Rev 20:6).

Church Government is Not Civil Government

Some people may ask, didn’t Christ establish government in the church? The short answer is “minimally”. Christ remained head of the Church (Eph 5:23; Col 1:18). The word “government” appears in a church context only once in most Bibles (1Cor 12:28), where it is one of many spiritual gifts. Many modern translations say simply “administration” instead. The twelve apostles did have a leadership role, and Paul shows that the gospel to Israelites was committed to Peter, whereas the preaching to other nations was committed to him (Gal 2:7-8). But primarily, Chris’s works in His Church by giving of spiritual gifts directly to individuals (Rom 12:6-8; 1Cor 12:7-11, 1Cor 12:28-13:1; Eph 4:11-15; 1Pet 4:8-11). (Ask for or download our 66-page publication “How Does the Eternal Govern Through Humans?” for an in-depth view of Church government.).

The purpose of the church, the assembly of believers, was to provide a place for believers to use their spiritual and physical gifts to edify each other, and to work together to preach the Gospel. No new structure of hierarchy, laws, punishments or judges was established for the church. Christ’s sermon on the mount (Matt 5-7) certainly calls believers to a higher standard of personal behavior than Old Testament law, but does not implement judgments or punishments for missing that standard. It calls for brethren to suffer for the benefit of others rather than demand all the recompense that the law allows.

When Jesus was asked to render judgments based upon Old Testament law, he declined. When the Jewish leaders asked Him what to do with a woman “taken in adultery” (John 8:3-10), Christ did not say “stone her”. There is no mention of the man or witnesses, Roman law did not allow the Jews to put anyone to death, and Jesus was not the appointed judge in her town. Similarly, when a man came to Jesus asking him to make his brother divide the inheritance, Jesus said: “Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” (Luke 12:14). This is not to say that Jesus or any believer could not have the job of a judge, but it is saying that Christ and Christianity did not replace civil governments.

(It is very important in any legal system to have one court and one judge that hears each case—with a possible limited sequence of appeals thereafter. If a system allowed a person to continually bring the same case before different courts—a sort of shopping for judges—a person is eventually going to wear out the other litigant or find a judge who agrees with them. There would be no such thing as a conclusive judgment, but a legal “survival of the fittest”—usually the richest.)

In a very important passage, Paul shows how believers may sometimes voluntarily bypass the civil government and use the church instead. This is not because the church has replaced the civil government, but so that believers can live in love, lot legalism, toward each other; and so that believers, who will be ruling with Christ, can learn to judge righteous judgment. This is clearly illustrated when Paul admonished some of the Corinthian brethren who were taking each other to court:

If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4 Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! 5 I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6 But instead, one brother goes to law against another—and this in front of unbelievers! 7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers (1Cor 6:1-8, NIV).

Paul goes as far as asking the brethren why they did not decide to select “men of little account in the church”—there were no established “church judges”. He also makes other suggestions, such as they accept wrong rather than take each other to court. But there was no established “person appointed to hear legal disputes” or other established “church government” which he tells them to utilize in place of the civil government.

The only “punishments” that the church ever invokes on its membership is to remove them from the church. Paul did not even suggest that the brethren who took other brethren to court should be removed from the church. He just told them to change. Only when a believer is flagrantly sinning or when he/she teaches massively false doctrine does the Bible teach that they are to be removed from the Church (1Cor 5:1-2; 2Thes 3:14-15; Titus 3:10; 2 Jo 1:10)

The New Testament Supports Continued Civil Government

While the concept of continued civil government should be obvious, there are people who believe that Christians should never be involved in any kind of punishment of any crime. They believe that the Church should be a source of love—and it should be. But sometimes love includes stern correction. This is what God, in His love, does for us:

…”My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son” (Heb 12:5-6).

The apostle Paul explains, beyond any doubt, that God still wants civil governments:

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. (Rom 13:1-6).

One might find it odd that the Roman authorities, who did not believe in the God of the Bible and condemned Christ to die, are called “God’s Ministers”. They are called that, because God used them to generally keep the peace. God actually found them less guilty than the hypocritical Jewish leaders who knew His way and still did evil:

Jesus answered, “You [the Roman governor, Pilate] could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one [Jewish leader] who delivered Me to you has the greater sin” (John 19:11).

Reading the entire story of John 18-19, we see that the Roman governor Pilate was actually afraid to kill an innocent man, especially one who claimed to be the Son of God, but the Jewish leaders were willing to bribe, lie and do whatever they could to get rid of a political rival. This writer believes this is why God frequently leaves unbelievers in charge of civil governments—because they basically want to keep their subjects alive, and working—so they can tax them—and they want them to be happy enough so that they won’t rebel. Religious leaders frequently end up convincing themselves that God is on their side no matter what they do and they end up oppressing or even killing others over petty doctrinal differences.

Paul unmistakably states the purpose of secular authority in his instruction to pray for them. They are to keep the peace so that people can live in godliness and reverence.

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior (1Tim 2:1-3).

Do civil rulers always do what this verses tells them to do? No. In those cases, we need seek God’s will on the matter. There are times to stand up, disobey, and even risk jail and death to obey God.

And when they [Jewish leaders] had brought them [the apostles], they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!” But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.”… When they [Jewish leaders] heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them (Acts 5:27-29, 33).

Jesus often Does Not Agree with the Way Rulers use their Authority

Even though the Eternal still wants secular governments and frequently entrusts it to unbelievers, he does not agree with the way they do it. There are two points we should learn from this:

·         We should not believe all that civil governments do is right or good, just because God allows them to do it.

·         When believers have authority in civil government, they observe Christ’s teaching to the extent possible.

Civil governments are charged to be utterly fair and impartial (Deut 16:18-20). Once the mother of Zebedee’s sons wanted to do something most people would consider “good thinking”—she wanted to ask a favor of a powerful person. After all, the worst He could say was “no”. She didn’t think about a leaders obligation to be fair and just, nor did she think how others might react if her favor was granted. Christ used this to teach an important lesson about the nature of Civil government:

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. 21 And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.” 22 But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.” 23 So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.“ 24 And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave — 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 20:20-28).

Our Savior warned his disciples that King Herod was a corrupt leader.

Then He charged them, saying, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod” (Mark 8:15).

 

Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him…. Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate (Luke 23:8,11).

Herod was more interested in being entertained than running a just government. The Roman governor Pilate also chose to try to protect his political career rather than do what he knew to be just:

Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you [Roman governor Pilate] from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” 12 From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” 15 But they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!” 16 Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus and led Him away (John 19:11-16).

Can Believers Participate in Civil Governments?

Even before Christ came to the Earth, the Old Testament shows us that there were men of faith (Heb 11) who believed in God and had the Holy Spirit (Deut 34:9; Pslm 51:11). Some were leaders in civil governments. Moses, Joshua and the elders followed the Eternal (Heb 3:5; Josh 24:31). David was a “man after God’s heart” (Acts 13:22).

Nehemiah was the king’s cupbearer in the civil government of Persia (Neh 1:1, 11). He hoped to help reestablish the people of Judah in their land. He asked the king of Persia for help and received it. He went to Jerusalem where he served as governor, were he followed the biblical teaching of using his resources to help his brethren (Deut 17:20), rather than to lift himself up (Neh 5:14-19).

The book of Daniel tells the story of a man greatly beloved of God (Dan 10:19), who worked in the civil government of Babylon (Dan 5:29). Daniel was able to live and work there, even though the Babylonian gods and many of their laws were in conflict with the Scriptures. Daniel had to choose between bowing to Nebuchadnezzar’s image and trusting God (Dan 2). Later, he had to fend off attacks from jealous government bureaucrats who trapped him and sent him on a trip to the lion’s den (Dan 6). He was delivered by God from both—he did not need to compromise his beliefs or leave his job in the civil government.

Can Christians Have Government Positions?

The biblical answer to that question is overwhelmingly “yes”—there were many Christians with government positions and none were asked to leave them. Unfortunately, many Christians believe they must stay out of civil government because it is corrupt. That belief has kept many Christians out of civil government over the last few decades—and has greatly increased the corruption there over the last decades.

Let us read the many examples of Christians who worked in civil government. The first ones are disciples of John the Baptist, but Christ said he preached the way of righteousness (Matt 21:32). When government employees straight up asked him what they should do, he did not tell them to resign, but to do their job honestly:

Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him [John the Baptist], “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.” Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages” (Luke 3:12-14).

 

While He spoke these things to them, behold, a ruler came and worshiped Him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live.” 19 So Jesus arose and followed him, and so did His disciples…. 23 When Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd wailing, 24 He said to them, “Make room, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping.” And they ridiculed Him. 25 But when the crowd was put outside, He went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose (Matt 9:18-25).

Jesus was bold enough to send everyone in the man’s house outside while he healed the girl—he even commanded that something be given to her to eat (Mark 5:43). But he did not tell the ruler to resign from his government job.

Now it came to pass, afterward, that He [Christ] went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities — Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance (Luke 8:1-3).

If it were sinful to work for Herod, would it be lawful for Christ to accept money earned in sin? “You shall not bring the wages of a harlot or the price of a dog to the house of the LORD your God for any vowed offering, for both of these are an abomination to the LORD your God” (Deut 23:18).

So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship,… Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:27, 36-37).

If he needed to quit his job before being baptized, Philip missed his opportunity. In the passage below, the Holy Spirit falls on Cornelius while he is still a soldier in the Roman army.

There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. 3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!” 4 And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. …44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Acts 10:1-4, 44-47).

 

Now when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus, 7 who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? 11 “And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.” And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord (Acts 13:6-12).

Paul had a very interesting way of dealing with corruption in government—he struck it with blindness. When God has a mission for us, we do not need to fear men—even powerful ones. The Roman jailer, below, did not leave his job after baptism, but remained there, and communicated Paul’s demand that the corrupt magistrates themselves come and let him out after illegally beating and jailing them:

And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household. 35 And when it was day, the magistrates sent the officers, saying, “Let those men go.” 36 So the keeper of the prison reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Now therefore depart, and go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out.” 38 And the officers told these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans. 39 Then they came and pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked them to depart from the city (Acts 16:33-38).

The Greek words for the “important” and “prominent” in the verses below can refer to people in government.

Now Paul and Silas traveled through the towns of Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue…4 Some who listened were persuaded and became converts, including a large number of godly Greek men and also many important women of the city (Acts 17:1, 4, NLT).

 

These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men (Acts 17:11-12).

Below, we find a Roman judge and the ruler of a synagogue who became believers. If they quit these jobs upon conversion, what would be the point of listing their job as the only fact about them? A synagogue ruler was responsible for many civil functions as well as religious teaching.

And so Paul left them. But some did join him, and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the Court of the Areopagus, a woman named Damaris, and others with them (Acts 17:33-34).

Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized (Acts 18:8).

 

Timothy, my fellow worker, sends his greetings to you, as do Lucius, Jason and Sosipater, my relatives.… Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings. Erastus, who is the city’s director of public works, and our brother Quartus send you their greetings (Rom 16:21, 23, NIV).

While Paul was a prisoner of Caesar, it appears that he continued preaching Christ and converted a number of the people who worked for Caesar:

But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ (Phil 1:12-13).

Philippians 4:22 And all the other Christians send their greetings, too, especially those who work in Caesar’s palace.

Do Christians Vote?

Should Christians vote in an election?

Some Christians feel they cannot vote for a man who might not follow God. They can relax. Nearly all of the leaders that God himself placed in power did not follow Him either.

Some Christians are afraid they might vote against the person whom God wants in office. There is no reason to fear this. He is more than able to influence an election, just like He influenced wars, revolutions, cold-blooded murders and other ways that biblical leaders have gotten into office. Is not an election one of the more peaceful ways for Him to bring a leader he wants into office?

The Biblical truth is that God commands his people to choose good civil government leaders for themselves. He even gives us qualities that we should look for in leaders. The only way that a large group of people can choose leaders is to vote for them:

“You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the LORD your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment. You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the LORD your God is giving you (Deut 16:16-18).

Who is the “you” that God is talking to here? It is the entire nation of Israel—certainly those past the age of accountability. The chapter is full of things that everyone should do. Notice that the instructions for judging righteously are not addressed to the judges, but to “you”, the entire nation. The only way the people could fulfill these commands is by appointing judges and officers that would carry them out. The only way a group of people can be responsible for appointing an individual is to vote for him—either directly or by having their representatives vote.

Even though He did not want them to have a King, the Eternal knew the people would want one and gave the people instructions for who to “set over them”:

“When you come to the land which the LORD your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,’ you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again’ (Deut 7:14-16).

Yes, they were to set one over them “whom the Lord your God chooses,” but that means they were to consult God—and to follow all of the rules for a King He gave them. This worked properly with David, who was anointed by Samuel to be King (1Sam 16:13), but who was also anointed king and set over Israel by the elders—the representatives of the choice of the people:

Therefore all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the LORD. And they anointed David king over Israel (2Sam 5:3).

When the Grecian widows were not adequately being taken care of, they were told to chose seven men from among themselves to be in charge of taking care of them. This must be a poll or an election:

In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them (Acts 6:1-3, NIV).

Is there a Greek word in the Bible that means “vote”? Yes. Unfortunately, its meaning has not been well preserved in translation—because most of church doctrine has taught the divine right of kings to rule in civil government and clerics to rule in the church. But here is the definition of the Greek word cheirotoneo (Strong’s #5500) from Thayer’s Greek Lexicon:

G5500 cheirotoneo, from a comparative of 5495 and teino (to stretch); 1) to vote by stretching out the hand 2) to create or appoint by vote: one to have charge of some office or duty 3) to elect, create, appoint

This word is used in two places in the New Testament. The notes in the NIV translation correctly preserve the meaning in Acts 14:23. We also include Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)which has the correct meaning in bother verses:

Paul and Barnabas appointed [#5500] elders { or ordained elders; or had elders elected}  for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust (Acts 14:23, NIV).

 

and having appointed to them by vote [#5500] elders in every assembly, having prayed with fastings, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed (Acts 14:23, YLT).

 

And we sent with him the brother, whose praise in the good news is through all the assemblies, and not only so, but who was also appointed by vote [#5500] by the assemblies, our fellow-traveller, with this favour that is ministered by us, unto the glory of the same Lord, and your willing mind (2Cor 8:18-19, YLT).

Conclusion

The Old Testament gives us God’s fundamental principles of Civil Government. The New Testament is a spiritual message of changed hearts and eternal life, which can be taught and accepted regardless of civil government. It neither removes nor adds authority for civil government.

We need to seek the Eternal’s guidance in how to deal with any particular government—most of the time we should follow it, but there are times we should not.

A Christian can be in civil government and even better fulfill that job through godly righteousness and a spiritual understanding of its purpose. This may cause him to be a shining light among his peers, as was Daniel and Christ. It may cause others to be jealous and want to kill him, as almost happened to Daniel and did happen to Christ.

Christ and the Church do not replace the civil governments of this world until Christ returns:

“Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev 11:15)

 

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years (Rev 20:4).  &

 

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