The Ordinance of Authority



“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”

Romans 13:1-2


  1. Authority. The power or right to enforce obedience; moral or legal supremacy; the right to command, or give an ultimate decision.
  2. Power. Possession of control or command over others; dominion, rule; government, domination, sway, command; control, influence, authority.
  3. For the purpose of this study, we shall define authority as “The ordinance of God whereby certain offices were instituted among men for the control of mankind, wherein the men in these offices are authorized by God to use the power and means given to them to rule and enforce the obedience of those under their jurisdiction.”


  1. God first ordained positions or offices of authority to govern men. These positions are five; and they are husband, father, pastor, master, and king.
    1. Consider that five billion people brought into existence in a completely helpless condition not only survive in a harsh and reluctant environment but actually prosper amazingly well and accomplish great things.
      1. Those nations that have allowed and required these offices to function freely and properly have been blessed exceedingly.
      2. There is no alternative way for the human race to improve itself. God made choice for certain offices to govern and control specific areas of our lives.
    2. The office and position of husband, parent, pastor, master, and king were created by God. A hunchbacked tribe of men, sitting around a fire in a cave eating a rabbit they had killed with sticks, did not creatively stumble on the concept of marriage. These offices are not subject to debate or modification as God has ordained them.
      1. God created a woman for Adam and put her under him as his helper before sin.
      2. God brings children into this world absolutely incapable of any conscious action.
      3. God appointed His priests and pastors for the oversight of His public worship.
      4. God confirmed the natural separation process of men into masters and servants.
      5. God appointed and defended autocratic political rulers for nations and empires.
    3. The authority and power of husbands, parents, pastors, masters, and kings were delegated by God. The proper functioning of the office only works with this power.
      1. This requires the man in the office to exercise authority to execute the office.
      2. This requires those under the office to willingly submit to properly benefit.
    4. Regardless of the man in the office, the authority comes from God (Matthew 23:1-3).
    5. Delegated authority and the value of these positions are covered later in this outline.
  2. God then providentially prepares men to fill the offices for His purposes among men.
    1. God prepares men for their rule over women and children by (a) physical superiority, (b) intellectual superiority, and (c) temperamental superiority. It is obviously God’s judgment when such superiority is not clearly evident, as is true today (Isaiah 3:1-5). Please remember that exceptions do not nullify but rather establish general rules.
    2. God prepares men for ruling other men by giving them superior wisdom and understanding (Genesis 41:39-46; I Samuel 18:5,14-16,30; I Kings 3:6-12; 10:24; Ecclesiastes 2:26; Isaiah 28:23-29; Daniel 1:3-4,17-21).
    3. God prepares men for ruling by giving them physical superiority (Genesis 10:8-9; Judges 13:1-4,24; I Samuel 9:1-2; 16:12; II Samuel 2:18; 14:25-27).
    4. God prepares men for ruling by giving them a new heart for it (I Sam 10:6,9; 16:13).
    5. God prepares men for ruling by subjecting their people under them (Numbers 27:18-20; Joshua 3:7; 4:14; II Chronicles 1:1; Psalm 144:2).
    6. God prepares men for ruling by giving them gifts (Exodus 35:30-35; I Kings 11:28; Esther 2:7; Ephesians 4:8-12; I Timothy 3:1-7).
    7. God prepares men for ruling by providentially confirming their rule (Exodus 14:31; I Sam 12:18; I Kings 3:28; II Kings 5:1; II Chron 32:21-23; Esther 2:17; Dan 2:37,46-48).
    8. God prepares men for ruling by superior circumstances (Judges 11:1-11; Esther 2:21-23; Ecclesiastes 9:11; Daniel 2:49; Acts 22:1-5).
    9. In some of these cases God specifically appointed the man He had specially prepared, and in other cases the specially prepared man simply rose to the top like cream.
    10. Consider our current examples of the supreme servant in Oliver North and the supreme master in Norman Schwarzkopf. God prepared these men for their offices.
  3. God then providentially setteth up men in these great offices for His purpose among men.
    1. The Scriptures speak generally of God being responsible for the very men in positions of authority (I Samuel 2:7-8; I Chronicles 29:12; Job 34:24; Psalm 75:5-7; 113:7-8; Isaiah 3:1-4; Daniel 2:21; 4:17,25,32; Luke 1:52; Romans 13:1-3).
    2. The Scriptures speak specifically of certain men God placed in office directly (Exodus 9:16; Judges 2:16; I Samuel 2:30-36; 15:28; 16:1; Ezra 1:2; Isaiah 10:5-19; Jeremiah 27:5-7; 28:14; Daniel 2:37-38; 7:6,25; 8:5-8; Acts 7:35; 13:21-22).
    3. Have you ever thought about the amount of influence you had in the selection of your parents? God by His providence selected them for you, and it is your duty to obey and honour them so far as they do not obviously contradict God’s law.
  4. God then providentially directeth the spirits of these men to accomplish His purposes.
    1. He stirreth up some men (I Kings 11:14,23; I Chron 5:26; II Chron 21:16; Ezra 1:1; Proverbs 21:1; 45:13; Jeremiah 51:11; Haggai 1:14; Acts 4:27-28; Revelation 17:17).
    2. He blindeth or hardeneth other men (Exodus 4:21; Deuteronomy 2:30; Joshua 11:20; I Kings 12:12-15; 22:23; Isaiah 19:3,11-16; 29:9-12; Ezekiel 14:9).
    3. Have you ever thought about the amount of influence you had in the given wisdom, ambition, or direction your parents were taking at the time of your birth? God by His providence was directing them according to His will, and it was your duty to submit to them whether they were good and gentle or bad and froward.
  5. Therefore, it is not only the office that is to be obeyed and honoured as God’s ordinance but also the man in the office and his particular knowledge or ambition at any point in time. And our first introduction to authority – our parents – bears out this fact very clearly. The office, and the person in the office, and the person’s direction are entirely by the providence of God. We must submit to all of God’s appointments for us.
  6. Proper submission to authority is also an indirect source of authority. Scripture emphasizes the duty of those under authority to submit rather than the taking of control by those in authority as voluntary submission is necessary to God’s ordinance.
    1. A king can truly only control his people with their voluntary submission. Rehoboam thought differently and lost his kingdom (I Kings 12:1-19). David and Solomon were both made kings by the willing consent of the people (II Sam 5:1-3; I Chr 29:23-25).
      1. God clearly chose David without any help from the people, then it was their duty to formally acknowledge him as king and submit to him (I Sam 16:1; I Sam 5:1-3).
      2. A king against whom there is no rising up becomes king by voluntary submission, and such submission may involve an oath (II Samuel 5:3; Ecclesiastes 8:2-5).
      3. Once a man is king then he must win and enforce submission to remain king.
      4. An army makes little difference, since the army is made up of people under the same authority. An army can rebel against a king as readily as civilians.
    2. A man can truly only control his wife with her voluntary submission. Foolish husbands think they can force it, but it is not true submission nor does it truly serve the man with the pleasure and profit God intended.
      1. Marriage is the formal event where a woman either commits herself or is committed by her father to submit to her husband.
      2. Once married a man must combine affection and authority to keep her submitting.
      3. Once married by “I do,” women cannot escape submission with “I won’t.” For marriage is a commitment to indefinite subordination subject only to God’s limits.
    3. All other authority relationships exist the same way – by a combination of voluntary submission and wise leadership maintaining that submission. Even parents understand that they must have the cooperation of their teenagers; masters need it of servants; and so do pastors of congregations. For instance, while pastors are to take the oversight of their flocks (I Peter 5:2), the flock itself is to submit (Heb 13:17).
    4. Though authority assumes the voluntary submission of those under it, this does not in any sense whatsoever mean that submission is an option. It is God’s ordinance.
    5. Though there may be the physical or mental ability to resist, this does not in any sense whatsoever mean that submission is an option. It is God’s ordinance.
    6. It is the proper and repeated teaching of God’s word that makes for the happiest marriages, families, churches, business enterprises, and nations. Arranged marriages, voluntary and involuntary servitude, polygamy, dangerous military campaigns, national economic sacrifices, absolute despots, and so forth all worked amazingly well when men understood God’s ordinance of authority.
  7. Authority is derived from conscience toward God and fear of His ordinance rather than respect or love of particular rulers.
    1. Compare the importance of submission and respect. Which is essential to authority? Authority can function with only submission; it does not require respect. While it can function better with respect, it is not essential to the basic relationship.
    2. For instance, much ado is made about how love and respect are essential for a marriage. Yet our generation, where women choose husbands based on love and respect, has a divorce rate exceeding 50% of all marriages. Such a fiasco never occurred when marriages were arranged, since marriage was based on submissive fear rather than fickle affection. Observe Peter’s emphasis on fear (I Peter 3:2).
    3. Is respect essential to service in employment? What about froward masters? Both Peter and Paul would say that rather fear is essential (I Peter 2:18; Ephesians 6:5).
    4. The essential elements of a working relationship of authority and submission are conscience toward God and fear (Lev 19:3; Rom 13:2-5; Col 3:20; Heb 13:17; I Pet 2:19; 3:4-5). With them you can submit even to froward rulers; without them you are adrift on feelings. Children are to fear (Lev 19:3) and reverence (Heb 12:9) their parents rather than love and respect them. The one emphasis promotes consistent obedience and the other promotes vulnerability and circumstances.


  1. SPHERE #1: God ordained men to rule over women in the relationship of marriage
    1. (Genesis 2:18; 3:16; Numbers 30:8,16; Esther 1:10-22; I Corinthians 11:3-10; 14:34-35; I Timothy 2:11-14; Ephesians 5:22-24,33; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:4-5; I Peter 3:1-7).
  2. SPHERE #2: God ordained parents to rule over children in the relationship of a family
    1. (Exodus 20:12; 21:15,17; Leviticus 19:3; Numbers 30:5,16; Deuteronomy 5:16; 21:18-21; 27:16; Ruth 3:6;
    2. I Kings 2:19; Proverbs 20:20; 30:17; Jeremiah 35:18-19; Malachi 1:6; Ephesians 6:1-3; Colossians 3:20; Hebrews 12:9).
  3. SPHERE #3: God ordained priests and bishops to rule over His people in the church
    1. (Deuteronomy 17:8-13; 19:16-21; Malachi 2:7; Matthew 23:1-3; Mark 13:34; II Corinthians 10:8;
    2. I Thessalonians 5:12-13; I Timothy 3:4-5; 5:17; Titus 2:15; Hebrews 13:7,17,24).
  4. SPHERE #4: God ordained masters to rule over servants in the business relationship
    1. (Exodus 21:20-21; Malachi 1:6; Ephesians 6:5-8; Colossians 3:22-25; I Timothy 6:1-2; Titus 2:9-10;
    2. I Peter 2:18-20).
  5. SPHERE #5: God ordained kings to rule over citizens in a political/national relationship
    1. (Exodus 22:28; Proverbs 24:21-22; Ecclesiastes 8:2-5; 10:4; Matthew 22:17-21; Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1;
    2. I Peter 2:13-17; II Peter 2:10-12; Jude 8-10).
  6. There are five basic spheres or domains of human authority taught in Scripture. All other positions of authority are derived from these five basic institutions.
    1. Kings may appoint governors or other civil officers (I Kgs 11:28; Tit 3:1; I Pet 2:13).
    2. Kings may appoint centurions or other military officers (Numbers 31:48-49; Luke 7:8).
    3. Kings may appoint tax collectors or revenue officers (I Kings 12:18; Matthew 17:24).
    4. Masters may appoint supervisors or other domestic officers (Genesis 39:4; Matt 20:8).
    5. Pastors may appoint deacons and women to serve the church (Acts 6:3; Titus 2:3-5).
    6. Fathers may appoint tutors, governors, or other servants (II Samuel 4:4; Gal 4:1-2).
    7. Husbands may delegate certain authority to their wives (Proverbs 1:8; 31:12,31).


  1. God refers to those in authority over men as gods – for they are as God (Exodus 22:28).
  2. He also calls them His ordinance and His servants, even though they may not know Him
    1. (Romans 13:1-4; Isaiah 10:5-15; 44:26 – 45:4; Jeremiah 27:6; Ezekiel 29:18-20).
  3. Consider the great honour shown in Scripture to those with authority from God.
    1. Women are to reverence their husbands (Eph 5:33) and call them “lord” (I Pet 3:6), as Sarah did when thinking about her husband (Genesis 18:12). Bathsheba did the same toward David (I Kings 1:31). Rather than an emphasis on hearing about husbands as great “friends,” “partners,” “providers,” or “fathers,” we ought to hear some women reverencing their husbands as great “lords.”
    2. Paul assumed reverence of fathers (Heb 12:9), and Rachel practiced it (Gen 31:35).
    3. Paul exhorted the Thessalonians to esteem their elders very highly (I Thess 5:12-13).
  4. God warns severely about disrespectful language (Ex 22:28; Deut 27:16; II Kings 2:23-24; Job 34:16-19; Proverbs 30:17; Ecclesiastes 10:20; Isaiah 45:10; 57:4; Ezekiel 22:7; Acts 23:1-5; Titus 2:9-10; II Peter 2:10; Jude 8).
    1. Louis Gerstner tried to stop the Nabisco ad for Fig Newtons due to a sassy boy.
    2. Yet Americans thrive on “The Bill Cosby Show” and “The Simpsons” among others.
  5. A very tender example of authority relationships – parent and child – was enforced by death (Exodus 21:15,17; Leviticus 20:9; Deut 21:18-21; 27:16; Proverbs 20:20; 30:17).
  6. God considered the authority of a master over his servant to be great as reflected in the fact that the servant was his property (Exodus 21:20-21).
  7. Consider the precautions David took against violence toward God’s ordained man even though he was his enemy (I Samuel 24:1-8; 26:1-25; II Samuel 1:1-16).
  8. God warns severely against those who might think to change government (Prov 24:21-22). I. God ranks positions of power to establish the proper hierarchy (I Corinthians 11:3). J. God expects public and visible displays of submission to authority (I Cor 11:7-10). K. Even vows to Almighty God are under the authority of husbands and fathers (Num 30). L. Michael the archangel would not even rail against the Devil due to his position (Jude 9). M. We are to pray for kings and for all that are in authority (I Timothy 2:1-2; Jer 29:7). N. Submission to authority is an integral part of the gospel (Titus 2:5; 3:1; I Peter 2:21). O. God ridicules giving authority or honor to servants (Prov 19:10; 30:21-22; Eccl 10:5-7).


  1. God chose all five spheres to be governed by autocratic rule rather than other forms.
    1. Democracy – rule by the masses – in its purest form is not much more than anarchy.
    2. Representation – or rule by representatives – is simply anarchy with better disguise.
    3. The family is governed by a father; marriage is governed by the husband; employment is governed by the master; churches are governed by pastors; and nations are governed by judges or kings.
    4. Democratic ideas such as marriage are a partnership, congregational rule in churches, family councils, committee management of a company, or excessive checks and balances on civil government are errors of a weak society. It is seeing the evil of servants on horses (Proverbs 30:22; Ecclesiastes 10:5-7).
  2. Consider the functioning of a major city like New York where there are so many people crammed together into a small place and working well together due to authority. Consider engineering laws, traffic laws, securities laws, janitorial laws, taxi laws, etc. Whatever you dislike about NYC is likely due to some example of inadequate authority.
  3. Security is maximized when those in authority fulfill their responsibilities rather than leaving decisions and consequently fear with those not equally able to bear them. The result is peace and rest with freedom from dilemmas and doubts.
    1. Children are balanced and happy when they grow up under an authoritative father.
    2. Wives are happy and secure when they are able to love and follow a true leader.
    3. Servants are secure and comfortable to do their best when their masters are rulers.
    4. Churches are content, unified, and secure when their pastors take their oversight.
    5. Citizens are quiet, content, and secure when they have a strong leader to rule them.
  4. Decisions are made more wisely and efficiently by a God-called man than any other form.
    1. The wisdom of a single ruler must be defeated by the general ignorance of a group.
    2. The time and means to assemble, inform, and debate an issue with a group is great.
    3. Most men who have worked in large companies readily understand this inefficiency.


  1. Paul warned of perilous times when child disobedience would increase (II Timothy 3:1-5), and if parental authority declines then so must all other spheres of authority. Notice that child rebellion is in conjunction with godliness without power.
  2. God gave man dominion over the earth, but today some even cry against this (Gen 1:26). They would rather have the little spotted owls of Oregon ruling over lumberjacks.
  3. There is little example of authority today. Norman Schwarzkopf is an extreme exception. Where is a mighty father? a mighty husband? a mighty master? and so forth. Policemen are afraid; principals are afraid; football coaches are afraid; etc.
  4. There is little enforcement of authority. Corporal punishment is ridiculed for the home and banned from all public use. Consider how it could serve jails, schools, and the military. “Freedom of speech” is obnoxious but to natural brute beasts. To thank God for it would be like thanking God for Judah’s incest that resulted in the royal line.
  5. We find our first relationship tainted. Why should children fear teachers after ruling their parents? employees fear employers after defying parents?
  6. Marriage vows today are modified specifically to remove the wife’s vow of obedience.


  1. God warns wicked men will despise government – or authority (II Pet 2:10-12; Jude 8-10).
    1. Observe that despising government is associated with sodomy – unnatural affection.
      1. Despising government and dominion is that resentful attitude toward being told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. It is the logical excess of an intemperate society without the discipline to deny itself and properly submit.
      2. It is equivalent to think of men with men working that which is unseemly as it is to think of marital partnerships, family councils, congregational rule, management by committee, and our “separation of powers” government.
    2. Presumption and self-will are things we must avoid, even if these things are taught as fundamental principles of being a real American and individualist.
    3. Despising government is manifested by a lack of fear to speak evil of dignities.
    4. Angels, though they are greater in power and might than human dignities, do not bring railing accusations against human authorities.
      1. Neither would Michael the archangel bring railing accusation against the Devil.
      2. Godly women should have long hair – their symbol of being under the power of the man – because of these angels and their respect for authority (I Cor 11:10).
    5. These anti-establishment individuals are like brute beasts without any understanding.
      1. Their cure is to be taken out and destroyed since they cannot be profitably used.
      2. Their conversation is the inane babblings of a fool, since they do not understand.
      3. They will perish in their own corruption – sodomites from AIDS and anarchists from the dissolution of society (Proverbs 24:20-22).
  2. When events like the beating of a black drunkard who endangered a number of lives occurs, the media make him a victim and smear the L.A.P.D. and their administrators. While we should not justify wickedness in rulers, we should condemn them fearfully.
  3. Rather than being content with dropping “to obey him” from marital vows, women now have “spousal rape” bills to defend them when they choose to defraud their husbands.


  1. Objection #1: I might get stuck with a bad ruler who will use his power to oppress me.
    1. This objection is no more valid than objecting against physical features, physical capabilities, mental capabilities, financial opportunities, and so forth. To fret against these things is to fret against God (Is 45:9-10; I Cor 4:7). Rather than fret against being 5’10” tall, we should be content and make the most of what God has given us. God in infinite wisdom determines equally what our height will be and what specific rulers He will put over us in His established offices.
    2. The rulers we get are the wise affect of God’s providence in our lives. Every act of God in our lives is for His own glory and for our profit if we trust and obey in them. Evil parents, husbands, masters, pastors, and rulers are for a purpose. Our duty is to obey and honour them anyway, and trust for God to deliver us in mercy.
    3. In our society with all the “liberties” we have i.e. voluntary marriages, monogamy, right-to-quit employment, choices of churches, and so forth, we are spoiled. We do not consider it an evil to see servants on horses: we consider it essential to happiness (Eccl 10:5-7). But God expects us to submit regardless (Genesis 16:9).
    4. The first authority structure we meet in life – our parents – should teach us much about God’s ordinance of authority.
      1. He did not consult us at all to determine what kind of parents we would prefer.
      2. He did not give any ability at all to escape parents not “in our best interests.”
      3. We are totally subject to the mercy of God in delivering us from parents that could ruin our lives in every respect without us knowing it or avoiding it. The effect parents make in lives cannot be exaggerated, and God makes the choice.
      4. God could not care less about what you think of your parents. You are simply to obey, honor, fear, and reverence them.
    5. Proper understanding here should cause more fervent prayers for those in authority (Jeremiah 29:7; I Timothy 2:1-2).
    6. If there is any difficulty at all with this objection, the reader should consult main point II dealing with the source of authority. It is confidence in the providence of God that will bring peace (Psalm 9:18; 12:5; 72:4,12-14; Ecclesiastes 5:8).
  2. OBJECTION #2: My master is obnoxious and I just cannot submit to him any longer.
    1. This argument is more opposed to a particular ruler than rulers in general.
    2. Peter answers this objection in his excellent doctrine of authority (I Pet 2:13 – 3:7).
      1. He specifically deals with froward masters and our resulting duty (I Pet 2:18-20).
      2. We are not only bound to submit to the good and gentle but also to the froward.
      3. To be froward is to be perverse, naughty, wicked, critical, negative, and strange.
      4. Our conscience toward God and His ordinance of authority ought to cause us to endure grief and suffer wrongfully under an abusive ruler. The proper foundation of submission that pleases God is the knowledge of God’s ordinance of authority.
      5. It is only submitting to a froward master that evilly treats you for your good that can properly be worthy of thanks, is glorious, and is acceptable to God.
      6. A proper understanding of God’s ordinance will result in Christians patiently suffering grief under abusive rulers rather than rebelling, resenting, or criticizing.
    3. God has ordained imperfect men (sinners) to positions of authority, and a consequence is that their rule will be imperfect. But imperfect administration of justice is better than no administration of justice. Every man that is a father knows he has ruled his wife and children improperly at times; but he still expects their obedience and honor. Why is it so hard for him to see and accept imperfection in his own rulers?
    4. As shown in the previous objection, it is God’s providence that chose your rulers.
    5. The complaining servant wishing he had a more perfect master would usually be a far worse master than the one he loves to resent and criticize. If it were otherwise, he would be a master by the providence of God and the natural selection process.
    6. True understanding of authority and practice of godly submission actually only takes place when the ruler offends you.
  3. OBJECTION #3: I am under a ruler that just doesn’t live the way I think he should.
    1. Jesus answered this by requiring obedience to hypocritical Pharisees (Matt 23:1-3).
    2. The personal life of a ruler does not change the duties of those under his rule.
      1. Wives often defend insubordination because their husbands do not love them enough. They say, “If my husband would love and cherish me more, then I would submit more.” Women must recognize that the duty to love his wife is between her husband and Christ, and she should recognize it does not bear at all on her submissiveness. An unloving husband is treated the same as the froward master.
      2. Wives also may defend insubordination because their husbands do not submit to their own rulers. Christ holds the man accountable for such offences, and it is not his wife’s job to do so. She should rather focus on her own obedience.
      3. All men in authority are hypocrites to some degree, but this does not affect the ordinance of God – they are still exercising God’s appointed power.
  4. OBJECTION #4: But I am just as able, if not more able, to do a better job myself.
    1. Such an argument may arise from smart wives about dumb husbands, smart kids about dumb parents, smart servants about dumb masters, smart members about dumb pastors, and so forth. For this objection we shall assume that the objector is smarter, even though the likelihood of such a situation is indeed rare. If rulers are not generally smarter, then God’s ordinance is foolish and the natural selection process is vain.
    2. There are several reasons why this objection is invalid and ought to be discarded.
      1. The authority is in the office ordained by God and not in the perceived ability.
      2. The authority is in God’s providence that placed the other party in the office.
      3. The authority is also in God’s preparation for the office that you cannot see.
      4. The authority is also in God’s providence by stirring up a ruler for future needs.
    3. God took exception to such words stated by Korah and his company (Num 16:1-40).
    4. This is patently the brute beasts of Jude 8-10 and II Pet 2:10-12 speaking foolishly.
  5. OBJECTION #5: Guyana and red Kool-Aid are next if we submit to authority as you teach.
    1. If your heart is right with God, then God will deliver you from men like Jim Jones.
      1. Does He not deliver us from famine, pestilence, war, storms, and so forth?
      2. Prayer has delivered men from oppressive rulers before (Exodus 3:7-10; Esther 4:15 – 5:3; Psalm 12:5; Isaiah 3:12-15; Jeremiah 22:13-19; Amos 4:1-3).
    2. If the disciples of Jim Jones had been disciples of God (Exodus 23:2; Psalm 118:8-9; Jeremiah 29:13; Acts 5:29), they would never have died.
    3. If the disciples of Jim Jones had searched and obeyed the Scriptures (Ps 119:98-100; Proverbs 14:15; 22:3; Acts 17:11; I Thess 5:21), they would never have died.
    4. We are to fear and be in subjection to our rulers, but we are not to fear with amazement – fearful inability to think or reason for yourself (I Peter 3:6).
    5. There are checks on authority that we will consider further along in this study.
  6. OBJECTION #6: Democracy is the greatest form of government and you are opposing it.
    1. Democracy is mob rule. It is every man doing that which is right in his own eyes. It is first cousin to anarchy. It is based on one man – one vote. It values numbers of men over God’s wisdom or wise men.
    2. Our nation is not a true democracy, but it is close. While we technically have a representative form of government, it is based on democratic principles. America is great due to freedom for the gospel and God’s providence rather than its form of government. The “Declaration of Independence” and “Preamble to the Constitution” are quite anarchic considered wisely.
    3. Marital partnerships, group management, congregational rule, and so forth are not God’s ordinance, and neither do they work.
    4. God doesn’t consult with the angels as to how He should govern the universe.
    5. Imagine your children practicing “democracy” in your home. How would they vote? What if the majority were with the children? What is the effect on the efficiency of decision? the wisdom of decisions? the happiness of the divided house?
  7. OBJECTION #7: Those in power should create or allow a forum for discussion/debate.
    1. Sometimes women are frustrated submitting because their husbands do not include them enough in the decision-making process. Sometimes children think they should be consulted before decisions are made that affect their lives.
    2. Do you really believe that rulers would benefit by such a use of time? or is it that it is just difficult to leave decisions affecting your life to others?
    3. While the Bible does speak of safety in a multitude of counselors (Prov 11:14; 24:6), it is referring to counselors – wise men. Solomon does not teach consulting fools. A king consulting his subjects is a fool as much as a general consulting his troops as much as a master consulting his servants as much as a father consulting his children in matters requiring wisdom. While there may be unique situations for some feedback or discussion, the issues at stake are the important decisions required of true rulers.
    4. Can you imagine General Schwarzkopf or Alexander the Great allowing their regular soldiers to have a forum for discussion and debate and voting?
    5. Can you imagine Lee Iaccoca voluntarily creating a forum for discussion, debate, and voting by the United Auto Workers?
    6. Discussion does not necessarily lead to good feelings by participation – it rather leads to dissension by creating an illusion of power in the minds of those not created for wielding it.
  8. OBJECTION #8: But I do not think I would be happy having to obey others this way.
    1. Such an argument questions God’s wisdom and kindness. As for me, man cannot make good what God has condemned, and he cannot make better what God has commended.
    2. Experience teaches us that the happiest children and wives and citizens and servants and members are those with wise leaders who rule them thoroughly.


  1. God is the Absolute Check of Authority in this universe and will ultimately govern.
    1. He is the Check in the sense of purposing and approving those in authority and their wrath (Psalm 76:10; Eccl 5:8; Daniel 2:21; 4:17; Romans 13:1; Revelation 13:7).
    2. He is the Check in the sense of delivering the oppressed and afflicted (Ex 2:23-24; Judges 2:18; Psalm 10:14; 12:5; 72:12; Proverbs 29:26; James 5:4).
    3. He is the Check in the sense of moving rulers’ hearts (Exodus 34:23-24; Ezra 1:1-3; Esther 2:17; 5:2; Psalm 105:13-15; Proverbs 21:1; Acts 7:10; I Timothy 2:1-2; Revelation 17:17).
    4. God can check those in authority by revolt (I Kings 12:15; II Kings 24:20), dreams (Gen 41:1; Job 33:14-17), evil circumstances (Dan 4:2), disease (II Chron 26:19), and even death (II Chr 25:27; Acts 12:23).
  2. Therefore, prayer is a check by calling God to intercede on behalf of His people.
    1. Prayer is God’s means to a quiet and peaceable life under authority (I Tim 2:1-2).
    2. Prayer was God’s plan for Israel’s peace during the Babylonian captivity (Jer 29:4-7).
    3. Darius the Persian King desired the prayers of God’s people at Jerusalem (Ezra 6:10).
    4. Nehemiah prayed God to move King Ahasuerus to send him to Jerusalem (Neh 2:1-5).
    5. Consider how Paul asked for the prayers of the Hebrews for his ministry (Heb 13:18).
  3. Scripture is a check in that it can directly correct and instruct those in authority.
    1. God not only addressed submission, He also addressed ruling (Col 3:19; 4:1; I Pet 3:7).
    2. It provides instruction to those in authority to rule with wisdom (Proverbs 29:21).
    3. It gives wisdom (Ps 119:98-100), and wisdom creates fear for rulers (I Sam 18:15).
    4. It gives wisdom and courage for speaking before those in authority (Psalm 119:46).
    5. God checks rulers by His word, so it is important to promote Scripture to our rulers.
      1. Masters can beat servants (Exodus 21:20-21), but they must be careful (Col 4:1).
      2. While fathers may stone sons (Deut 21:18-21), they must train patiently (Eph 6:4).
  4. Proving is a check in that it assumes an intelligent submission based on true knowledge.
    1. As the noble Bereans proved Paul from the Scriptures (Acts 17:11), so should we.
    2. As wives are to resist fear with amazement (I Pet 3:6), so should we under rulers.
    3. Proving all things can save men from evil (I Thessalonians 5:21; Proverbs 14:15; 22:3).
    4. Just the knowledge of cautious subjects proving all things is a deterrent to evil.
  5. Obedience is a check in that it obtains the favor of God and man upon men (Pr 3:1-4).
    1. It obtains the favor of God by being pleasing in His sight and bringing His mercy.
      1. It is a basic principle of truth that God blesses the obedient (Psalm 37:4; 84:11).
      2. If a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies at peace (Pro 16:7).
    2. It obtains the favor of man by pleasing those in authority and bringing their mercy.
      1. Even a servant can obtain favor by obedience (Prov 14:35; 16:20; 17:2; 27:18).
      2. God understands and confirms the natural selection process (Exodus 21:20-21).
      3. Wise men will obey by knowing the reward of disobedience (Ecc 8:5; Rom 13:3-4).
  6. Yielding is a check in that it can pacify and persuade a ruler even when very angry.
    1. Yielding can pacify a ruler whose spirit has risen up against you to save you from judgment (Proverbs 15:1,18; 16:14; 20:2; Ecclesiastes 8:3; 10:4).
    2. Yielding can persuade a ruler whose opinion is contrary to you (Proverbs 25:15).
    3. Such yielding can move husbands, fathers, and masters as well as it can kings.
  7. Legal recourse is a check in that it uses the means appointed by the ruler to object.
    1. Esther sought a new law from the king to defeat Haman’s conspiracy (Esther 8:5).
    2. The Jews appealed to the records of the Persian Empire for defense (Ezra 5:8-13).
    3. Paul appealed to Roman law to save himself from being scourged (Acts 22:24-29).
    4. Paul appealed to Caesar to save himself from a trial in Jerusalem (Acts 25:7-12).
    5. We may write letters to our representatives, sign petitions, participate in marches, vote intelligently, contribute time and money to campaigns, sue, and so forth.
      1. If we neglect options of legal recourse, our faith is presumptuous (Luke 4:9-12).
      2. We must consider options of legal recourse as being from the Lord (Esther 4:14).
      3. There may be times when you must go over your master’s head to report his evil. The ultimate authority of higher officers, the shareholders, and government officials become an important issue.
      4. The Scriptures give the legal recourse of using Matthew 18:15-17 on offenders when both those offended and the offenders are in the same church.
    6. For instance, our tax system assumes that each citizen will do his best to avoid taxes i.e. charitable contributions, home mortgage interest, etc. But to not pay taxes to make a political statement is not the prerogative of a Christian. Refusing to pay or file is not legal, but the Jarvis referendum in California was.
  8. Rebuke is a check when done properly in the spirit and context approved by God.
    1. God has raised up men like Elijah and John the Baptist who have rebuked evil rulers.
    2. Children and wives may and must rebuke fathers and husbands with truth at stake.
    3. Rebuke must only be exercised in extreme conflicts with authority and should be done in a spirit of meekness (II Peter 2:10-11).
  9. Rebellion is a check in that it draws a final line where subjects will no longer submit.
    1. Scripture provides as a last resort the option of rebelling against authority to preserve the integrity of God’s commandments and/or preserve the life of His saints.
      1. If God has commanded us to do something, we must do it regardless of authority
        1. A woman should obey God rather than her husband in the matter of baptism.
        2. We must beat our children to properly train them regardless of D.S.S. rulings.
      2. If God has prohibited us from something, we must avoid it regardless of rulers.
        1. A woman should obey God when her husband invites her to evil television.
        2. Servants should not obey masters who try to include them in company theft.
      3. If God has neither commanded nor prohibited something, then we submit to authority unless to do so seriously jeopardizes our health or our lives or our ability to keep God’s commandments.
        1. We rely here on God’s priority of mercy over sacrifice (Matthew 12:7) and His recognition of man’s strong need of self-preservation (Exodus 22:2).
        2. Of course, we can only justify mercy for rebellion in very extreme cases.
        3. The following examples of rebellion in most cases have no direct provision.
      4. The most prudent action or rebellion should be chosen for each case (Es 4:13-17).
    2. The examples of rebellion should cause us to love truth rather than despise dominion.
      1. Kings were deceived by Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 12:10-20; 20:1-18; 26:6-12).
      2. King Pharaoh was disobeyed and lied to by two Hebrew midwives (Ex 1:15-21).
      3. King Pharaoh was disobeyed by the parents of Moses (Ex 1:22 – 2:10; Heb 11:23).
      4. The king of Jericho was deceived by Rahab (Josh 2:1-7; Heb 11:31; James 2:25).
      5. The king of Moab was deceived and assassinated by Ehud (Judges 3:12-26).
      6. Captain Sisera was deceived and assassinated by Jael (Judges 4:18-21; 5:24).
      7. The Midianites were deceived economically by Gideon (Judges 6:1-14).
      8. King Saul was deceived by Samuel the prophet to anoint David (I Samuel 16:1-2).
      9. King Saul was deceived by his daughter Michael to save David (I Sam 19:11-18).
      10. King Saul was lied to by his son Jonathan to save David (I Samuel 20:24-35).
      11. High Priest Ahimelech was deceived by David for his life (I Samuel 21:1-2,8-10).
      12. Husband Nabal was disobeyed by his wise wife Abigail (I Samuel 25:3,10-11,18-19).
      13. King Achish was deceived several times by David (I Samuel 27:1-12; 28:1-2; 29:8).
      14. King Absalom was deceived by Hushai (II Samuel 15:31-37; 16:15-19; 17:1-14).
      15. Queen Jezebel and King Ahab were deceived by Obadiah (I Kings 18:1-4).
      16. King Ahab was deceived by Micaiah in the name of the Lord (I Kings 22:1-36).
      17. Queen Athaliah was deceived and disobeyed by Jehosheba (II Kings 11:1-3).
      18. King Ahasuerus had his authority tested unlawfully by Esther (Esther 4:15-17).
      19. King Nebuchadnezzar’s dietary laws were disobeyed by Daniel (Daniel 1:5-8).
      20. King Nebuchadnezzar’s religious laws were rejected by some men (Dan 3:8-18).
      21. King Darius’s religious decree was rejected by faithful Daniel (Daniel 6:1-13).
      22. King Herod was deceived and disobeyed by the wise men (Matthew 2:12-16).
      23. The rulers of the Jews were disobeyed by Peter and John (Acts 4:19; 5:29).
      24. Those in positions of authority must take their offices seriously and enforce them.
      25. Consider that Solomon warned about an evil proceeding from the ruler (Eccl 10:5-7).
      26. It is only by abdication that authority is overthrown, since God and superior ability are with those in authority, unless God in judgment has removed their ability; but even judgment can be reversed by proper obedience.
        1. Most rulers give up their God-ordained power in the ignorant hope that they can win cooperation by sharing power that will function just as well as ruling authoritatively.
        2. Fathers must take control of their childrens’ lives regardless of public opinion.
        3. We should esteem authority as God’s wise ordinance for man’s safety and prosperity.
        4. We should carefully guard and guide our children’s opinion and understanding of it.
        5. We should wisely help one another and other rulers we meet to preserve their authority.
        6. We should pray for all that are in authority whether it be the king or our husband.

For Further Study:

1. Sermon Outline: God Bless the IRS

2. Sermon Outline: The Christian and Taxes

3. Proverb Commentary: Proverbs 24:21

4. Proverb commentary: Proverbs 24:22