Should a Christian obey government?

By Steven D. Miller

  • Should a Christian obey government?
  • When should a Christian obey government?

These questions have been asked for two millennia. Christians once risked persecution to NOT obey government. But many people today read their Bible and conclude that people must obey government.

Even the Washington Times had an article on this Romans 13 topic. The article was trying to contrast the notion that “Submission is a Christian virtue” with obedience to “We The People” as the sovereign. But at least it didn’t automatically genuflect to government.

Many commentaries exist on this topic, so I was reluctant to add my comments. But since you are reading this I’ll assume that you want my in-depth perspective. Here it is.

John Locke’s First Treatise of Government in 1689 finally proved that Kings DO NOT rule by divine authority.

I have many posts that explain how obedience to higher authority was passed down to us today as the received-law-of-the-land in America.  “The laws of Nature and Nature’s God” are mentioned in the Declaration of Independence. The law textbooks of the 1770s tell us that the divine laws of nature are binding over all the globe at all times…

“… no human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this: and such of them as are valid derive all their force, and all their authority, mediately or immediately, from this original..[divine law of nature] … Neither could any other law possibly exist; … for we are all equal, without any other superior but him who is the author of our being.”
— Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Law

“Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us.”
— John Hancock, Provincial Congress, Resolution to Massachusetts Bay, October 1774

Romans 13:1

Romans 13:1 is most often misconstrued to “prove” Christians must obey government. But that is not what it says. Romans 13:1 is the Apostle Paul’s definition of legitimate authority.  The higher powers of God are the only legitimate authority.

Here is the King James translation of Romans 13:1:

“Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”

This is a definition of authority.  As you can see, it is not a statement that everyone is subject to counterfeit authority — in fact, verse 3 tells us that legitimate rulers are not a terror to good works.   The same Paul who wrote Romans 13 also said he would not be subject to the power of any — First Corinthians 6.

First Peter 2:13-16

Did the same Peter who told us to obey God, not men, in Acts 5:29 suddenly change his mind when he told us in First Peter 2:13-16 to submit to every ordinance of man?

“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.  For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:  As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.”

Notice that this advice to obey government is because it is “will of God…to silence the ignorance of foolish men”.  In other words: don’t flaunt your new liberty or attract attention.

I wrote this website to silence the ignorance of foolish men. People are destroyed for lack of knowledge. In fact, many have itching ears to seek out messages that condone their lifestyle.  They turn fables into their own truths. (Second Timothy 4).  Take heed that no man deceives you by any means.

Titus 3:1

Titus 3:1 (KJV)
“Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,”
The King James translators added the word “magistrates”.  There is no such word in the original. The KJV is a government published Bible, published by the same government that executed prior translators.
The Pilgrims fled from King James in to bring forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in religious liberty. They did NOT bring the government published Bible that they were fleeing from.  They brought the Geneva Bible.
Geneva Bible of 1599 translation of Romans 13:1
He willeth that all generally be put in mind to reverence such as be in authority:
How could Wycliffe conclude that the Bible established a government by the people, of the people and for the people if we were to obey government magistrates?
How could the same author of Titus 3 also tell us in First Corinthians 6:12 that he would not be brought under the power of any man?
After all, Obeying false authority is mutiny against God. 
Titus 3:1 original Greek sentence structure, according to the Interlinear translation published by Baker:
“Put in remembrance them to rulers and to authorities to be subject, to be obedient, to every work good ready to be,”
Perhaps we should be reminding rulers and authorities to be subject to the higher powers. And obedient to every good work.
Tyndale’s 1534 translation could very well have these unstated meanings which I added in parentheses:
“Warn them that [if] they submit themselves to rule and power, [they must] obey the officers, that they would be ready unto all good works,”

If you submit, then obey your master.  This is why we have oaths-of-office for our subordinate civil servants. Here in a government created by the people, for the people. See my book Oaths: Mandatory or Voluntary.

Hebrews 13:17

Hebrews 13:17 (KJV) tells us:

“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”
Christians should obey legitimate authority.  The kind of authority that “is not a terror to good works, but to the evil”  By the way, Tyndale translation says “rulers are not to be feared for good works, but for evil”.
No law or court has ever required you to get a Social Security Number or file a 1040 form.  You did this voluntarily. Someone told you to get a wage authorization number to sell your labor, or a banking authorization number to buy or sell.

 principalities and powers in high places

Unfortunately for us today, there are principalities and powers in high places. We were warned in Ephesians 6:12 that

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

The King James Bible was published in 1611 by the government of King James. The pilgrims fled to America in 1620 to flee from the King James Bible.  They did not bring to America the Bible they were fleeing from.  They brought the Geneva Bible to America.


No form of collectivism can recognize individual rights.  Communism, Fascism, Socialism and Democracy can never recognize individual rights.
You should “obey God rather than men” as it says in Acts 5:29.  But obeying the collective is obedience to men, rather than God.

The Second Commandment:

“Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD [Yhôvâh] thy God [Elohiym] am a jealous God [Elohiym]”

The collective’s choice for you is not your individual choice.

God gave us free will to act within the boundaries He set.  He wants you to be a free soul under his authority1.  He ordered us to take dominion over the earth.  Obeying man’s boundaries over your free-will makes you a submissive wimp.  The existence of the collective’s choice (to choose for you) denies that you have God given free will.  The collective will determine how much privacy you can have, how much money you can keep, how you contract for necessities of life, how much water your toilet can flush, and how to repair your back porch after you beg for a permit, and they even control when and how (or if)  you can get life-saving medical prescriptions.  How can you take dominion over the earth with the collective controlling your life?  Why they could even prevent you from buying and selling with the gold or silver coins that are the only lawful money mentioned in the Constitution, and then force you to get a banking authorization number to buy or sell.

Christians will not covet their neighbors’ wealth.  Forced charity is not charity.  What should you do when someone suggests that you partake in a social security scheme to plunder everyone and create one purse for all to partake?  The answer is found in Proverbs chapter 1.

Proverbs 1:  (NKJV)
:10    My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent.
:11  If they say, “Come with us, Let us lie in wait . . . Let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause;
:14  Cast in your lot among us, Let us all have one purse”;
:15  My son, do not walk in the way with them, Keep your foot from their path;
:16  For their feet run to evil, And they make haste to shed blood.
:17  Surely, in vain the net is spread In the sight of any bird;
:18  But they lie in wait for their own blood, They lurk secretly for their own lives.
:19  So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; It takes away the life of its owners.
:20  Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares.
:21  She cries out in the chief concourses, At the openings of the gates in the city She speaks her words:
:22  “How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, And fools hate knowledge.
:25  Because you disdained all my counsel, And would have none of my rebuke,
:26  I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes,
:28  “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me.
:29  Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD,
:30  They would have none of my counsel And despised my every rebuke.

Liberty Bell is inscribed with Leviticus 25:10
Leviticus 25:10 Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land.

Leviticus 25:10 is inscribed on the Liberty Bell. “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto the inhabitants thereof.” Later in the same Chapter, Leviticus 25:46 tells us not to rule one over the other with rigor.  This is essentially what Christ told us at the Last Supper when the disciples where arguing among themselves who would lead the church.  There is no top-down lordship, don’t rule one over the other, don’t be a benefactor.

Luke 22:25-26 (NKJV)   And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ “But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.”
Related: Nimrod was a mighty provider instead of the Lord. Genesis 10:9.
Related: the received law of the land in America which I quote at length elsewhere: “a state of dependence will inevitably oblige the inferior to take the will of him, on whom he depends, …”


Martin Luther’s Secular Authority: To What Extent It Should be Obeyed, was published in 1523. Samuel Rutherford published Lex Rex in 1644. We executed King Charles I in 1649. The divine right of Kings to rule was completely refuted in 1688 by John Locke’s First Treatise of Government.
Law is King (Lex Rex) refers to divine law, not to tyranny. “Where-ever law ends, tyranny begins”
The divine laws of nature and of nature’s God are mentioned in the first sentence of the Declaration of Independence as the authority that entitles the United States to exist.

Americans hold the truth that we are all created equal.  Because we are.  Until we become subordinate. You voluntarily chose to be subordinate. The word LAW in old English jurisprudence signified an oath or the privilege of being sworn.  Men swear by someone greater than themselves (Hebrews 6:16), yet Americans are all created equal.  You are bound by your agreements.  YOU locked yourself into your cell. You chose your lawgiver. Your covetousness, greed and sloth led you to get and use a Social Security Number because you were incapable of planning for your old age.  You agreed to pay for the social welfare systems of the world. You shackled yourself to your chain of command. You wanted welfare provided by a system of taking from your neighbor by force, fear and violence rather than a system of giving to your neighbor by faith, hope and charity. You were faithful to unrighteous mammon, rather than righteous mammon.

Now go read James 5:12 and see if Christians obey government commands to swear oaths, or sign perjury oath signatures.

A Long History of disobedience

Here is what I wrote in my Mark of the Beast book twenty years ago, It is still posted at

The Lord himself will give you strong delusion in proportion to the idols that you worship.  Ezekiel 14:4 and Second Thessalonians 2:11.  As society turns further away from the truth, the prohibition against idol worship is deemed silly.  The Holy second commandment has become folly to today’s society.

Example #1: William Tell refused to salute the hat of judge Gessler, who promptly sentenced him to death unless he could shoot an apple off his son’s head.  We would not have a Switzerland today if William Tell did not know that a salute was worship.  Yet today’s self-called Christians rise for judges, and raise their hands for judges, and swear oaths for judges, even though Christ said “swear not at all”.. Most of today’s self-called Christians would think it silly for anyone to risk martyrdom by refusing to salute a judge.   Oaths are taken to superiors according to Hebrews 6:16.  If we are all created equal, why take oaths to them?

Example # 2 “Braveheart” William Wallace chose execution rather than swear allegiance to King Edward I.  Scotland would not be a free country if Wallace had pledged allegiance.  Most of today’s self-called Christians would think it silly for anyone to risk martyrdom by refusing to pledge allegiance.  They think nothing of pledging allegiance while claiming that they live free.

Example # 3 the Anabaptists from the 1520’s – from whom we get today’s Amish, Mennonites and Baptists – chose painful execution by burning at the stake and the resulting surrender of their orphans to the state, rather than register their children with the authorities (at infant baptism).  Most of today’s self-called Christians would think it silly for anyone to risk martyrdom by refusing to register their children with the state.  They line up to hand over the state’s children to “a mere creature of the mind.”  The 1972 Supreme Court case of Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205, determined that Amish “300 years of consistent practice” in raising their own children into their lifestyle was sufficient to overcome the State’s status as a father (parens patriae), therefore States’ education laws did not apply to them.  And yet today’s society thinks those silly Christians who refuse to pass their children through the fire to Molech should have their children taken from them.

Example #4: In 1637 John Lilburn risked death refusing to take a Star Chamber Oath.  In 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court acknowledged that Miranda’s famous Fifth Amendment right to remain silent perpetuates “The lofty principles to which Lilburn had appealed during his trial…” We have a fifth amendment because Lilburn risked death refusing an oath, yet most of today’s self-called Christians would think it silly for anyone to risk martyrdom by refusing to take oaths.  They knowingly sign perjury oaths on their 1040 tax forms, voter registrations, bank accounts, and job applications.

Example # 5: the Presbyterian covenanters of 1638 to 1688 endured great hardship, strife and civil wars to keep their religion.  If they had obeyed their government, the monarch would likely still be supreme over America.  Yet today’s self-called Christians claim that they must obey government even when they are commanded to sin.

You are the guardian of your own morals.  I will leave it up to you to conclude that you worship graven images.

Government is a manmade graven abstraction, “a mere creature of the mind” (1852 Supreme Court’s words, not mine).

Like Esau, you can, with an oath, sell your birthright for a bowl of stew (Genesis 25:33 – with no physical worship, just an oath).  God hated Esau according to Romans 9:13 and Malachi 1:3.  Enjoy the tranquility of servitude as you worship the imaginary hand that feeds you – (benefactors was the term that Christ used when he warned us “not so among you”) — as you “take the will of him on whom you depend” as Blackstone so eloquently explained.

The judgment day is coming.  Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.

Allegiance to graven images is mutiny against the one true God.

Christians are fed to the lions or covered with pitch and burned at the stake
Jean-Léon Gérôme The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer. Did these Christians obey government? (Those who are burned at the stake were covered with pitch).
I also wrote the following in the same book  20 years ago:
The idea that governments are automatically bowed down to, is an idea that God prohibited in his first two commandments.
Your new world order, Novus Ordo Seclorum, New Secular Order, is the counterfeit government that the Bible warned you about.  The word secular means “without God.”  Bible believers will not automatically obey secular government.
Imagine how easy life would have been if we had obeyed secular authority.
• Daniel would not have been thrown into either the furnace nor the lions’ den.
• Moses, while he was a civil servant, would not have killed one of his government’s law enforcement officers.
• Israelites would not have rebelled against Pharaoh.
• Peter would not have escaped from prison after an angel opened his cell.
• Paul would not have left Damascus in a basket to escape Government Law enforcement officers
• Peter would not have said in Acts 5:29 “We must obey God rather than men.”
• The apostles would not have been hunted down and executed.
• Martin Luther would not have a following in England, they would have obeyed Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.
• William Tyndale would not have been executed for translating the Bible into English. He chose not to obey government.
• Christians would not have risked death on the Mayflower’s seven week voyage to bring fourth on this continent a new nation conceived in liberty.
• A Quaker preacher named William Penn, while he was a British subject in a British Colony, would not have been arrested for preaching a Quaker sermon.
• William Tell would have saluted the judge’s authority rather than be sentenced to death unless he could shoot an apple off his son. He chose to not obey government. We would not have a Switzerland today if Mr. Tell did not know that a salute was a form of worship.
• British subjects living in British colonies would not have started the American Revolution.  They would not have risked death to kill their government’s law enforcement officers.  Patrick Henry would not have asked for liberty or death.  Nathan Hale, who was a 21 year old Yale graduate when he was executed in 1776, would not have had one death to spend for his country.
• Rahab, a career criminal who helped overthrow her government, would not be considered righteous (James 2:25) and listed in Hebrews 11 as one of the all-time faithful.
• there would have been no anti-Baptists (who became today’s Amish, Mennonites and Baptists), who refused to register their children.  Many were burned at the stake rather than obey government.
• John was tortured with boiling oil then banished to Patmos for refusing to worship Emperor Domitian.  He chose not to obey government.
• Those who refused to affirm that Caesar was lord were fed to the lions. Those who refused to worship Emperors were often executed.  They had a choice to obey.
• The Christians in Cappadocia, just east of Galatia, would not have lived in caves to evade government.  They had a choice of allegiance.  Would there have been any Galatians for Paul to write to if they had obeyed government?
• The Presbyterian covenanters of 1638 to 1688 endured great hardship, strife and civil wars to keep their religion. Scotland is free today because William Wallace chose martyrdom rather than swear allegiance to King Charles the first.
• Cromwell suspended Parliament and executed King Charles.  If they had obeyed their government, the monarch would likely still be supreme over America.
• In 1637 John Lilburn risked death refusing to take a Star Chamber Oath.    He chose to disobey government.  The U.S. Supreme Court acknowledged that Miranda’s right to remain silent came from Lilburn’s refusal.
• And today, the Church in China could exist peacefully if it registers with their government, but refuses.  Because regulation IS persecution.


First Peter Chapter 2 is quoted above. Peter is telling people not to attract attention with their new liberty from graven (manmade) laws.  After all, law is not made for the righteous — Paul told us so in First Timothy 1:9 (Paul was the one who said he would not be subject to any).  Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has set us free and be not enslaved again. Galatians Chapter 5.
Peter was being rather bold in his liberty as was Paul in First Corinthians 6:12.  The same Paul who wrote that every soul should submit to higher authority (Romans 13:1) did not change his mind in First Corinthians 6:12 when he said he would not be brought under the power of any.  Both Peter and Paul were eventually executed.2 That’s right.  The same Paul who told us that rulers are not a terror to good works was executed by rulers. The obvious explanation is that Romans 13:3 refers only to legitimate rulers.  Legit rulers are ordained of God.  Just as he told us two verses earlier.

The collective is a jealous god.  They have a word for your required submission.  They call it law.  Their law is no longer subordinate to God’s Law.

There is a term for Submitting to God.  The word is Law.
The God of the Bible wants you to have free will limited only by your God-given reasoning that you are to conform to His will.  (even if you don’t love Him enough to obey all his Commandments ).  Your duty is to perform your God-given responsibilities under His authority, not under the authority of the god you have chosen (a man made graven artificial entity).  You were warned that your elected king would take, take, take until the collective wants God back into their life, but God will not answer your prayers (God honored your free-will, you got what you wanted, stop complaining). First Samuel 8:18 “And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the LORD will not hear you in that day.”
In America’s 13 original colonies there was a four volume law textbook Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Law published in 1765.
Blackstone’s Commentaries near the beginning of his seven page introduction:

“But laws, in their more confined sense, and in which it is our present business to consider them, denote the rules, not of action in general, but of human action or conduct: that is, the precepts by which man, the noblest of all sublunary beings, a creature endowed with both reason and freewill, is commanded to make use of those faculties in the general regulation of his behaviour.
Man, considered as a creature, must necessarily be subject to the laws of his creator, for he is entirely a dependent being. A being, independent of any other, has no rule to pursue, but such as he prescribes to himself; but a state of dependence will inevitably oblige the inferior to take the will of him, on whom he depends, as the rule of his conduct: not indeed in every particular, but in all those points wherein his dependence consists. This principle therefore has more or less extent and effect, in proportion as the superiority of the one and the dependence of the other is greater or less, absolute or limited. And consequently, as man depends absolutely upon his maker for every thing, it is necessary that he should in all points conform to his maker’s will.
This will of his maker is called the law of nature. For as God, when he created matter, and endued it with a principle of mobility, established certain rules for the perpetual direction of that motion; so, when he created man, and endued him with freewill to conduct himself in all parts of life, he laid down certain immutable laws of human nature, whereby that freewill is in some degree regulated and restrained, and gave him also the faculty of reason to discover the purport of those laws.
Considering the creator only as a being of infinite power, he was able unquestionably to have prescribed whatever laws he pleased to his creature, man, however unjust or severe. But as he is also a being of infinite wisdom, he has laid down only such laws as were founded in those relations of justice, that existed in the nature of things antecedent to any positive precept. These are the eternal, immutable laws of good and evil, to which the creator himself in all his dispensations conforms; and which he has enabled human reason to discover, so far as they are necessary for the conduct of human actions. Such among others are these principles: that we should live honestly, should hurt nobody, and should render to every one his due; to which three general precepts Justinian has reduced the whole doctrine of law.”

Christians will be persecuted.  All apostles except one were eventually executed.  They considered their persecution to be joy.  Matthew 5:12 says rejoice and be exceedingly glad.  It should be so with all Christians.  Get used to it.
Those who obey the collective “to silence the ignorance of foolish men” are navigating their course around a storm created by a jealous lord (the collective).
Christianity, even prior to the sun worshipers claiming to be Christians, was not easy.  CHRISTIANS EVADED THE CIVIL AUTHORITIES.  Many ended up living in caves to avoid the civil authorities.
Today is much the same.
Emperor Decius from 249 to 251AD commanded worship from everyone.  Those who refused to acknowledge this lordship went to their deaths.  Protesters who wanted to live were allowed to burn a little incense. (The same is true today.  Except they ask that you raise your right hand, or salute a Notary, or provide ID as proof that you did so).
Just prior to the year 200, Tertulillan wrote in Chapter XXIV of his book “Ante-Nicene Fathers”:

Amid these reefs and inlets, amid these shallows and straits of idolatry, Faith, her sails filled by the Spirit of God, navigates; safe if cautious, secure if intently watchful. But to such as are washed overboard is a deep whence is no out-swimming; to such as are run aground is inextricable shipwreck; to such as are engulfed in a whirlpool, where there is no breathing-even in idolatry. All waves thereof whatsoever suffocate; every eddy thereof sucks down unto Hades. Let no one say, “Who will so safely foreguard himself? We shall have to go out of the world!” [First Corinthians 5:10] As if it were not as well worth while to go out, as to stand in the world as an idolater! Nothing can be easier than caution against idolatry, if the fear of it be our leading fear; any “necessity” whatever is too trifling compared to such a peril. The reason why the Holy Spirit did, when the apostles at that time were consulting, relax the bond and yoke for us, was that we might be free to devote ourselves to the shunning of idolatry. This shall be our Law, the more fully to be administered the more ready it is to hand; (a Law) peculiar to Christians, by means whereof we are recognized and examined by heathens. This Law must be set before such as approach unto the Faith, and inculcated on such as are entering it; that, in approaching, they may deliberate; observing it, may persevere; not observing it, may renounce their name. We will see to it, if, after the type of the Ark, there shall be in the Church raven, kite, dog, and serpent. At all events, an idolater is not found in the type of the Ark: no animal has been fashioned to represent an idolater. Let not that be in the Church which was not in the Ark.

That was true Christianity.  These sheep knew their master’s voice.  The first two Commandments prohibit bowing to other gods.  Today’s pagans remain clueless.  (their hearts have been darkened.  Romans 1:21, Romans 11:8-10, Ephesians  4:18). Today’s pagans will bow down (salute) graven idols that their ancestors created. (black robed priests, colored fabric or artificial entities).  They actually think that it is mandatory to sign perjury oaths to graven images.  Do you smell incense?