The Christian And Civil Authorities -- By: Paul D. Feinberg

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 10:1 (Spring 1999)
Article: The Christian And Civil Authorities
Author: Paul D. Feinberg

The Christian And Civil Authorities

Paul D. Feinberg, Th.D.

Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Deerfield, IL

This essay is designed first to set out the Apostle Paul’s teaching on the relationship between Christians and civil authorities, and then to examine its contemporary application for Christians using the clearest New Testament text -Romans 13:1–7. This passage contains general commands for both Christians and non-Christians. Paul reasons that obedience is required because civil authorities have been ordained by God (13:1b–2) and because civil rulers are responsible to maintain civic order (13:3–4). Two motivations for obedience are the avoidance of wrath and the maintenance of a good conscience (13:5). Finally, the obligations of obedience are discussed (13:6–7). It is concluded that Romans 13:1–7 is just as applicable today as it was in Paul’s time.

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I am pleased for the opportunity to contribute this essay to a Festschrift honoring Dr. Robert L. Thomas. When I came to Talbot Theological Seminary as a young divinity student, he had just recently come to teach New Testament. It was my privilege to have all my New Testament courses from him. I remember him as a demanding but fair teacher. He had a passion not only to teach us the Greek language and exegesis, but to make what we learned applicable in our preaching and the communication of God’s word. After my student days, we had opportunities to work together for The Lockman Foundation. We have a warm friendship and Dr. Thomas was the preacher at my father’s funeral. So, it is with thankfulness to God and genuine appreciation for Dr. Thomas that I offer this article.

The Bible is a book whose purposes are to tell us who God is and what He is like, that we are sinners in need of forgiveness, and that Jesus Christ became a man and died for our sins so that we might be forgiven and have eternal life. It is not primarily a book about political and social theory. However, that does not mean that the Bible has nothing to say about political ethics. Quite to the contrary, the subject of civil government is discussed widely in both the

Old and New Testaments. Government is a part of God’s providence, a fact of biblical history, and an important factor in the outworking of biblical prophecy.You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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