What does the Bible *really* say about…. Government?

Published September 24, 2017 by First Methodist Carrollton in 

Discussion Questions:

  • What do you know or what have you heard about government in the Bible?
    • Start with the Old Testament…
    • Now the New Testament…
  • What are some questions you have had about what the Bible says about government?
  • Do you think the government is a topic for which a Biblical perspective should matter?
    • Why or why not?
  • Government is all over the Bible, there are several ways it is handled:
    • God set up certain governmental structures at several points in Israel’s history:
      • Himself, directly
      • Himself, through Moses
        • Exodus 2:23,3:9-10
      • Himself, through Priests
        • Exodus 28:41,43
      • Himself, through Judges
        • Judges 2:18
      • Himself, through Kings
        • 1 Samuel 8:4-22
        • 1 Chronicles 25:1
        • Book of Leviticus
      • Himself, through Prophets,
        • Deuteronomy 18:18
      • Eventually, the Kings went so far off the rails that God allowed Israel to fall under the rule of external government
    • The Bible explains how believers ought to regard human-appointed authority and government under which they fall

Scriptural Context:

  • Exodus 2:23, 3:9-10
    • “During that long period of time the king of Egypt died, and the Israelites groaned because of the slave labor. They cried out, and their desperate cry because of their slave labor went up to God.”
    • “And now indeed the cry of the Israelites has come to me, and I have also seen how severely the Egyptians oppress them. So now go, and I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt”
  • Judges 2:18
    • “When the Lord raised up leaders for them, the Lord was with each leader and delivered the people from their enemies while the leader remained alive. The Lord felt sorry for them when they cried out in agony because of what their harsh oppressors did to them.”
  • 1 Samuel 8:4-9, 21-22
    • “So all the elders of Israel gathered together and approached Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, ‘look, you are old, and your sons don’t follow your ways. So now appoint over us a king to lead us, just like all the other nations have.’
      But this request displeased Samuel, for they said, “Give us a king to lead us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord. The Lord said to Samuel, “Do everything the people request of you. For it is not you that they have rejected, but it is me that they have rejected as their king. Just as they have done from the day that I brought them up from Egypt until this very day, they have rejected me and have served other gods. This is what they are also doing to you. So now do as they say. But seriously warn them and make them aware of the policies of the king who will rule over them…
      …So Samuel listened to everything the people said and then reported it to the Lord. The Lord said to Samuel, ‘do as they say and install a king over them.’ Then Samuel said to the men of Israel, ‘each of you go back to his own city.'”


  • 1 Chronicles 25:1
    • “David and the army officers selected some of the sons of Asaph, Heman,and Judethun to prophesy as they played stringed instruments and cymbals…”
      • David had military men helping him appoint religious leaders
  • Deuteronomy 18:18
    • “I will raise up a prophecy like you for them from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth and he will speak to them whatever I command.”
  • Psalm 101:7
    • “Deceitful people will not live in my palace. Liars will not be welcome in my presence.”
  • Proverbs 14:35
    • “The king shows favor to a wise servant, but his wrath falls on one who acts shamefully.”
  • Proverbs 16:10, 12-13
    • “The divine verdict is in the words of the king, his pronouncements must not act treacherously against justice.
      Honest scales and balances are from the Lord, all the weights in the bag are his handiwork.
      Doing wickedness is an abomination to kings, because a throne is established in righteousness.
      The delight of kings if righteous counsel, and they love the one who speaks uprightly.”
  • Proverbs 20:26
    • “A wise king separates out the wicked; he turns the threshing wheel over them”
  • Proverbs 22:11
    • “The one who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious – the king will be his friend.”
  • Proverbs 25:4-5
    • “Remove the dross from the silver, and material for the silversmith will emerge,;
      remove the wicked from before the king, and his throne will be established in righteousness.”
  • Proverbs 29:4, 14
    • “A king brings stability to a land by justice, but one who exacts tribute tears it down.
      If a king judges the poor in truth, his throne will be established forever.”
  • Acts 5:17-42
    • “Now the high priest rose up, and all those with him (that is, the religious party of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy. They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail. But diring the night an angel of the Lord opened the dors of the prison, led them out, and said, ‘Go and stand in the temple courts and proclaim to the people all the words of this life.’ When they heard this, they entered the temple courts at daybreak and began preaching.
      Now when the high priest and those who were with him arrived, they summoned the Sanhedrin – that is, the whole high council of the Israelites – and sent to the jail to have the apostles brought before them. But the officers who came for them did not find them in prison, so they returned and reported, ‘we found the jail locked securely and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside.’ Now when the commander of the temple guard and the chief priests heard this report, they were greatly puzzled concerning it, wondering what this could be. But someone came and reported to them, ‘Look! the men you put in prison are standing in the temple courts and teaching the people!’ Then the commander of the temple guard went with the officers and brought the apostles without the use of force (for they were afraid of being stoned by the people).
      When they had brought them, they stood them before the council, and the high priest questioned them, saying, ‘we gave you strict orders not to teach in this name. Look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood on us!’ But Peter and the apostles replied, ‘We must obey God rather than people. The God of our forefathers raised up Jesus, whom you seized and killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him to his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these events, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.’
      Now when they heard this, they became furious and wanted to execute them. But a Pharisee whose name was Gamaliel, a teacher of the law who was respected by all the people, stood up in the council and ordered the men to be put outside for a short time. Then he said to the council, ‘Men of Israel, pay close attention to what you are about to do to these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and nothing came of it. After him Judas the Galilean arose in the days of the census, and incited people to follow him in revolt. He too was killed, and all who followed him were scattered. Do in this case I say to you, stay away from these men and leave them alone, because if this plan or this undertaking originated with people, it will come to nothing, but if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them, or you may even be found fighting against God.’ He convinced them, and they summoned the apostles and had them beaten. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. So they left the council rejoicing because they had been considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. And every day both in the temple courts and from house to house, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus was the Christ.”
  • Romans 13:1-7
    • “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority excet by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God. So the person who resists such authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will incur judgment (for rulers cause no fear for good conduct but for bad). Do you desire not to fear authority? Do good and you will receive its commendation, for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be in fear, for it does not bear the sword in vain. It is God’s servant to administer retribution on the wrongdoer. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of the wrath of the authorities but also because of your conscience. For this reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants devoted to governing. Pay everyone what is owed: Taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to who respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.”
  • Titus 3:1-2
    • “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities to be obedient, to be ready for every good work. They must not slander anyone, but be peaceable, gentle, showing complete courtesy to all people.”
  • 1 Peter 2:13-17
    • “Be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake, whether to a king as supreme or to governors as those he commissions to punish wrongdoers and praise those who do good. For God wants you to silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. Live as free people, not using your freedom as a pretext for evil, but as God’s slaves. Honor all people, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the king.”

Further Discussion:

  • What can we take from this Biblical context to apply to our current setting of government in the USA?
  • What would it look like in practice if we were to implement or apply what the Word says in terms of our relationship to man-made governmental authority?
  • Does anything about this not settle with you, or bother you?
    • How so?
  • How does the presence & practice of faith (belief, not religious practice) in tandem with our interactions with man’s authority in our lives change the script?
    • Example: Submission & obedience in an unjust circumstance (maybe unlawful arrest?)- How would having faith that God will reward & protect you for obeying what the Bible says change how you would handle a circumstance where you were a victim of corrupt human authority?
      • What if you were going up against corrupt human authority?
There are currently no comments. Why don't you kick things off?

Leave a Reply