John Steward of Jesus
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Submit to the king

Below are copies of an email I received, and my response.

December 26, 2010

I have for the last several years benefited from your writings both on your site and earlier on Gregory's Yahoo forum.  Thank you.

Could you help me on a point?

I am struggling with understanding how to deal with the Bible passages that seem on the face of them to deal with responsibility to civil government.

I can quite well deal with the first few verses of Romans 13...

I struggle with 1 Peter 2:13-15.

It seems exceedingly weird that the directive would be to do whatever the civil governments tell you to do in light of all kinds of other passages, even verses 9 and 16 in the same chapter.

Could you refer me to any of your writings that address that passage or give me your ideas on it?

Thanks, (name)

December 28, 2010


It is always encouraging to learn that something I have written has been of benefit to someone.  May we all be used to benefit others.

My essential reply to your question relates to all questions and scriptural references regarding submitting to authority or "the king".  It would be generally recognized that this does not imply a general obligation on me to submit to the king of Saudi Arabia or the queen of England.  Why?  Because neither is "my" monarch or authority.

How does a man or woman become an authority over me?  It seems to me the scriptural answer, and the time-recognized answer, is, because I choose them as my authority and give them such authority.  That is implied in the words of Joshua and Samuel to Israel, and in the Declaration of Independence.  Scripture does not condone insubordination, rebellion, or violent revolution.  Recognized authority must be respected, and
submission practiced.  But this obligation applies only to those whom I have chosen and/or recognized as my authorities.

The injunction is similar to that in the later verse where servants (slaves) are told to submit to their masters.  It doesn't mean that all of us must submit to those who may claim to be our masters, but applies only to those who are the servants of those masters.  Only those who are (because they have so chosen to be) the subjects of the king are under
obligation to "submit" to him.

Some related observations:

Joshua didn't say we could choose whether we would serve someone.  He simply said we can choose whom we will serve.  We are sheep who need a shepherd.

Joshua didn't agree to serve the leader who received the vote of the majority.  Rather, he said, "As for me and my house, we will serve Yahweh."

Samuel strongly recommended not to choose to serve a human king.  But he made it clear that whoever chose to have a man as king would be held accountable to the obligations and burdens of submission.

Here are a couple pieces of mine which are related to this issue:

Hoping this is helpful.

If you choose to be revealing, I'd be happy to learn more about you.