The Apostle Paul wrote to Roman followers of Jesus: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1 esv) (note: some translations use ‘submit,’ others use ‘be subject to.’) Apostle Paul was not the only Apostle to call for such submission to rulers. The Apostle Peter wrote: “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution. . .” (1Peter 2:13 esv)
Historically, Rome held control over Israel and the known world of that time. The Roman rulers were pagans, idolators, mostly cruel, and generally despicable. When Apostle Paul wrote to his letter, the Roman Emperor desired to be worshipped as a god. Despite this, Apostle Paul charges Believers to be subject to ALL authorities, and Peter says to do so “for the Lord’s sake.”
How can this be? Am I instructed to abide the edicts and whims of an elected office or a dictator, regardless? I’ve asked this question, and come to my own conclusion. Your conclusions my differ. And that’s the first of four points to consider concerning this topic: 1) It is up to the conscience of each Believer whether or not to be subject a specific individual that represents a governing authority; 2) there are consequences for disobedience, such as getting tossed into a den of lions or losing one’s head, literally; 3) Opposing a specific individual, a king or governor, is different that opposing government. G-D establishes government, in general, for the benefit of all His people, to promote order and happiness [maybe like “life, liberty, pursuit of happiness”] and 4) Any ruler that “departs from this principle, and becomes the protector of the evil and the oppressor of the good, the case is reversed, and the obligation to its support must cease.”
Whether to obey or not to obey is a complex issue. My points are really only starting points on a long quest in which all Believers must decide where the line is that will not be crossed.
One thing: We were created in G-D’s image. We are not animals that follow blindly their instincts. As humans we have an obligation to use the thinking, reasoning, capacities which we were given. Consequently, we are not to follow blindly any exhortation from any source, whether that be within our Christian circles or from our own government and its officials. The choice is ours. May G-D be honored and glorified in our choice and our sacrifice.
Here’s some links to three commentaries from which I base my points:
L-RD Bless, Keep, Shine. . .