Obligation To Render Unto Ceasar
therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it
to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived
wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye
Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a
And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They
unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them,
therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s;
and unto God the things that are God’s. (Matthew 22:17-22).
the Pharisees and Herodians, natural
made common cause against the Prince of
They endeavored to set a trap for Jesus, so they could report
to the governor as a rebel against the Roman
“Is it lawful
give tribute ... or
not?” This was a controversial question in Judea
years ago. The Pharisees generally answered in
the negative, the Herodians in the
though both obeyed the law.
question was full of subtlety, and
Lord Jesus’ answer was full of
Jesus said: “Shew
me the tribute money ... Whose
is the image and superscription?” He referred to the
a Roman coin worth about 17 cents in our money. These coins bore the
likeness, and a Latin inscription of his name and rank.
unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto
the things that are God’s.” This unforgettable statement
stand for all time. It teaches Christians
to be loyal to their country and faithful to
It also sets forth the separation of church and state, distinguishing
the things that are Caesar’s and the things which are God’s.
Christian religion is no enemy to civil government,
is the best friend it has in all the world. Christ’s
kingdom does not clash or interfere with the kingdoms on
So as the state confines itself to
its legitimate jurisdiction, it will not hurt,
hinder, or hamper the work of the church. The state
to do with civil matters, while the church has to do
with the Divine and spiritual things.
are citizens of two worlds --- one earthly and the other heavenly (Philippians
3:20). We must render obedience to both God and
state, for these duties do not necessarily
with each other. The things which are Caesar’s do not just mean taxes,
but all that citizens owe the civil magistrate.
must render to God what He requires of
We ought to live as those who belong to Heaven, but that does not
mean we have no responsibility on earth. The Christian is a citizen of
the country in which he dwells. So far as subjection
obedience to the civil power is
he is obligated before God to obey
it. But in his aim, in reason, in
in devotion, he is a stranger and pilgrim in every country upon earth.
He is to use this world, not abuse it (I
authority for civil government comes from God, those who
in Him are responsible to render obedience to the
This applies to every Christian in every country in every
“Let every soul be subject unto the
higher powers included the imperial
of Rome in Paul’s day. When he wrote Romans
13, the worst ruler Rome ever had
was upon the throne, Nero himself. If a man like that
were to be obeyed, then surely all other earthly
person has the right to claim
from the Divine mandate of Romans
13:1. “Every soul” means
“every person.” It includes the pope
Rome and all the clergy. It includes the House of
the Congress, and the President and his cabinet. This includes
Baptist preacher in the world and all Baptist church members. No
person is above the law of the land. No individual has the right to
break the laws of the state.
I Peter 2:13-15 it is
every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be
the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them
that are sent by him for the punishment of
and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of
that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of
Peter gives two reasons for obedience
the magistrate. First, he says: “For the Lord’s sake.”
True religion requires submission to the state.
Thus, a Christian is not to be a
of the state. He must obey the magistrate
he is the minister of God and obedience
him is the ordinance of God.
a Christian should submit to the civil
because it “is the
will of God.” This is the strongest
reason for any duty. He must conduct himself
such a manner before the law of the
land as to put to silence the unreasonable reproaches of ignorant and
men. Believers, who take seriously the
of the Bible, will not perform acts of civil
even when they disagree with the state
federal government. Any minister of the gospel
who deliberately refuses to obey
is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Those
do so in the name of “civil rights”
should have enough intelligence to know that they have a civil and
obligation to obey the law. The Bible does not endorse
disobedience. Those who violate the laws of the municipality,
or small, should be punished for their offenses.
13:5 gives a third reason for subjection
the state: “Wherefore
ye must needs be
subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.”
means a Christian is to obey the laws of his county
country, because a good conscience demands it. The Bible teaches him to
be a good citizen, and that obedience to his government is God’s will.
Therefore, he must obey all ordinances without
grumbling and complaining.
are to obey every regulation of the
government unless it would be contrary to
law and the fundamental laws of His
spiritual kingdom. We are not to
the government if it commands us to
lie, steal, or perform cruel deeds. Whenever one must chose between the
will of God and the demands of the government, he must choose to obey
and be prepared to take the consequence (Acts
26:25). When Peter faced such a
he told the council: “We ought to obey
God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
infinite Ruler is to be obeyed in
to any earthly ruler. When Shadrach, Meshach, and
were required to worship the golden image of Nebuchadnezzar, they
(Daniel 5:1-18). When
Darius insisted that Daniel not pray
to his God, Daniel refused to obey this requirement (Daniel
forfeits its claims to obedience when
requires what God has plainly forbidden,
or forbids what He has required.
authorities must not attempt to thwart the purpose of God. They must
punish men for disobedience to them who
to obey God. Such rulers who set themselves in
opposition to God will have a great deal to answer for at the judgment
To obey the
means to pay all lawful taxes to the government. These are
to support our police, our law courts,
penitentiaries, our army, our navy, and our air force. We may think a
form of taxation is unjust, but this does
not free us from the obligation to “render ... to all
their dues” (Romans
13:7). To cheat the
government is to cheat the public of which we are a part.
example teaches this. He told Peter to go and to pay the temple tax
they both owed. “Notwithstanding, lest
we should offend them, go thou to
the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that
cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou
shalt find a piece of money: that
and give unto them for me and thee.” (Matthew 17:27).
Christian is to go to war in defense of his country.
Abraham did when he declared war on
Chedorlaomer (Genesis 14:1-16).
The children of
Jacob often engaged in war against
enemies with God’s approval. John the Baptist told the Roman
to “be content with their wages”
(Luke 3:14), not to become
or draft dodgers. Christ told Peter to put up
sword which belonged to the state, not to
throw it away. One of the early
Cornelius, was captain of a Roman cohort of 100 men.
Luke 22:36 it is recorded that
Jesus Christ said: “He
that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy
one.” No amount of spiritualizing
the clear meaning of such a text.
verse overthrows any theology of
held by pacifists, conscientious objectors, Quakers, Jehovah’s
or any other sect.
government has a Divine right to bear the sword and to call upon its
to aid in this matter. As Christians we must
arms if our government has need of
us. Our government has the right to delegate any
its citizens as its representatives in its
or naval obligation. One cannot scripturally be a
TO CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
At all times a
is to abide by the laws of the land and to let justice take its course.
If he commits a capital offense, he must receive a capital punishment.
If he commits anything worthy of death,
is obligated to accuse himself and give himself up to
He must make no attempt to escape or
the powers that be.
trial before Festus, Paul said: “For if
I ... have committed anything worthy of death,
I refuse not to die” (Acts 25:11).
a believer is a judge or juror, it is his duty
favor capital punishment when the law of God
man requires it. In Deuteronomy
19:13 the elders
of Israel were told: “Thine eye shall
not pity him, but thou shalt put
away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel,
it may go well with thee.” Such judgment is
society. Deuteronomy 19:20
says: “And those
remain shall hear, and fear, and
henceforth commit no more any such evil among you.”
are saved are obligated to show
and honor to those in positions of
authority. Paul said in Romans: “Fear to
whom fear; honour to whom honour.” I Peter 2:17
tells us: “Honour the king.”
To those who
live in America it could be
to read: “Honor the President.” When Paul addressed the
of Judea, he called him “most noble
Festus” (Acts 26:25).
When he spoke to Agrippa,
he said: “O king Agrippa” (Acts 26:19).
for earthly rulers and reverence for God are put
in one verse of Scripture. “My son, fear
thou the Lord and the king” (Proverbs
24:21). He who has no respect
earthly rulers has none for the Divine Ruler.
high officials must be spoken of with great respect. Job 34:18 asks:
“Is it fit to
say to a king, Thou art
wicked? and to princes, Ye are ungodly?”
It is interesting to notice that
reproving of a king in the Bible was done only by
prophet or one sent of God. Herod
reproved by John the Baptist (Mark 6:18).
David was reproved by Nathan
the prophet (II Samuel 12:1-14).
Language like Shimei used
against David must never be used when addressing a
(II Samuel 16:7).
unleash biter criticism against our President and Congress is to
oppose the revelation of God’s Word. We must not use derogatory
insulting words when speaking of even our governor or sheriff. Exodus 22:28:
“Thou shalt not ... curse the
ruler of thy people.”
Ecclesiastes 10:20 declares: “Curse not the king, no not in
thy thought: and curse not the rich in
bedchamber: for a bird of the air
carry the voice, and that which hath wings
tell the mater.”
our responsibility to make fervent intercession
for all people who have the rule
us. Writing to Timothy, Paul said: “I exhort therefore, that, first
of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be
made for all men; For kings, and
all that are in authority; that we may
a quiet and peaceable life in all
and honesty.” (I Timothy
must pray to God for all our civil leaders, for president or
minister, senator or sheriff, congressman or circuit clerk, federal
or justice of the peace. If prayer for rulers was obligatory under
cruel Nero, the obligation must remain in all
irrespective of the form of government or the character of those in
Prayer for the government, rather than denunciation, is the duty of a
us pray for their health and
and the peace and prosperity of their
The peace of the people is
upon the peace of the potentates. Jeremiah
29:7 declares: “And seek
the peace of the city whither I have
caused you to be carried away captives,
pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.”
under a peaceable government can
grow as it should. Under a reign
Solomon’s in the Old Testament,
are enabled to live in peace, free
from turmoil and oppression, and to pursue a righteous life
in God’s sight and honor in man’s sight.
encounter many difficulties and are often subjected to severe
A heavy responsibility rests upon them and they bear many burdens of
day. Their decisions have a bearing upon
the lives of millions. Their problems are complex, and
temptation to abuse their high office is great.
Bible reveals that evil spirits seek to manipulate
rulers. Daniel 10:13
reveals that Satan assigned
a demon to influence the King of
against Israel. This is a very good reason to pray
those in authority, lest they become
demon possessed, or demon influenced.
is greater than Satan. He can move upon
hearts of unsaved people to do things for the good of
His people. Proverbs 21:1
reads: “The king’s heart is in the
hand of the
LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever
will.” The powers and prerogatives of kings are subject to the
ATTITUDE TOWARD ALL MEN
The Apostle Peter
a tremendously significant statement when he
“Honour all men” (I Peter 2:17). Honor is not only due
leaders, it is also due all men without exception. Even the
must be honored to some degree. We
not despise the poor (Proverbs
17:5). “Honor” suggests
the highest regard for the dignity of the individual.
must remember that all men are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26)
and of one blood (Acts 17:26).
We are to treat people with
proper recognition of their essential worth. Every human
has feelings, aspirations, and basic rights. We should
all men as gentlemen, not because they are, but because we
born again believers, we should promote the
of equal opportunity for all. All men,
of race or ancestry, are to enjoy
rights and privileges of humanity. But
these rights and liberties are to
subject to the limitations of God’s moral law.
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