Be Obedient to Authorities

“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient” (Tit. 3:1). The word “obedient” is from the verb “obey” (peitharcheo), which is “used of obedience to laws (Josephus, Bel. 1:454; Ap. 2:293; Philo, Mos. 1:164, 329).” (Marshall) In the passive, it means to make yourselves obedient to authorities. This is the practical application of submission. To submit to the government is to obey the laws of the land.

Now no government is perfect. No government is perfect because no man is perfect. Since no man is perfect, no man-made law is perfect. But Paul is talking about a commitment to obey the authorities.

We ask, “What if the laws of men contradict the laws of God?” My answer is Peter’s answer in Acts 5:29, “We must obey God rather than men.” The apostles were preaching the name of Jesus, casting out demons, and healing the sick in Jerusalem. Many people believed in Christ and were healed of their diseases. But the high priest and religious leaders became jealous. They had the apostles arrested and put into prison. They set them before the religious council. They told Peter, “You should not teach in Jesus’ name anymore.” Peter answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Our loyalty and obedience are to God first and then to men second. God is the supreme authority over all authorities. God’s laws trump all man-made laws. “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Rom. 13:1). God has given authority to the government of men. But if the laws of men violate the moral laws of God, then as followers of Christ, we should obey God rather than men.

Hence, if you are a Christian police officer, and your superior tells you to conduct extra-judicial killings, then as a Christian, you should disobey it. Extra-judicial killings violate the very laws of the government of the Philippines. If for example, the government allows abortion, same-sex marriage or same-sex civil union, or divorce, we should obey God rather than men. We will obey God rather than men when men’s laws defy God’s laws.

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