Civil authority and the apostles

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Marcia, Nov 24, 2004.

  1. Marcia

    Marcia
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    Acts 4.19-20 has often been cited to show that it's okay to disobey the government, but in Acts 4, it was the Sadducees and religious Council that the apostles were disobeying, not the civil authority.

    Of course, I do not think we should obey the government if it orders us to do something against God's word.

    But I am truly wondering, is there any NT passage that shows any of the apostles disobeying civil authority (not just making them mad, but disobeying)?
     
  2. Bartimaeus

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    Acts 5:29
    Thanks ------Bart
     
  3. Bartimaeus

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    Marcia, what you are asking about it called the doctrine of the Civil Magistrate and it is no longer taught in the pulpits today other than to say "Bow".
    Thanks ------Bart
     
  4. Dale

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    The basic principle here seems to be quite simple to me.
    Christians should be the best citizens of any country, however, God should always come first and if, in the course of obeying God, there is a conflict with Civil authority, then we must obey God.
    I think that most people agree on this in principle, at least they would say they do. I think the point of the most disagreement is on the specific instances which justify disobedience.
    I belive that this is something that each individual must decide for himself.
    Remember also that often the men in office disobey the law of the land which opens another can of worms :)
     
  5. Dr. Bob

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    There are illustrations in the Bible of defying government authority. Principle is that you can break a law that is biblically unjust, but you must be willing to bear the consequences.

    Hanniah, Azariah and Mishael defied a direct law and paid for it in a furnace.

    Daniel defied and ended as a dinner guest for lions

    Esther defied it and got a new law passed
     
  6. Dr. Bob

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    Addendum:

    How to evaluate what is a GOOD or BAD law or rule is problematic. To do so, I set MYSELF up as a "higher authority" than the government, who (according to Romans 13) are God's ministers for me and society.

    Pastor Dixon in Indpls did not agree with a federal law about withholding taxes from employees. He would not budge until carried out of his church (and the church sold at auction). He set his own position up as "right" and the goverment as "wrong" and paid the price.

    What law is SO EVIL or SO BAD that it is worth defying? Taxes? Not me. Jesus paid them and so will Bob.

    Thoughts?
     
  7. rsr

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    "Principle is that you can break a law that is biblically unjust, but you must be willing to bear the consequences."

    Exactly John Bunyan's principle.
     
  8. robycop3

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    Taxes are not against Scripture. The AV 1611 bore KJ's tax stamp.

    Many govt. laws in many nations are in line with Scripture. For example most nations have laws against the wrongful taking of another's life, and against theft of any kind.

    As a non-Christian cop, I sometimes encountered people who claimed to be Christians questionong the validity/morality of several USA, state, & local laws. Looking back on this as a Christian now, and knowing a lot more history, I see they had fallen flat in providing a Christian or historical basis for their arguments. Some examples:

    Parking meters. History shows that ever since there have been cities, the local authorities and/or private property owners have charged a tax or fee for "parking" an animal or transportation device.

    B&O tax. Had them since time immemorial.

    PU tax. Also had'em from Day One of any public utility.

    Zoning. Virtually every city has had at least some zoning. After all, a king wouldn't want a hog waller next door to his palace, nor a raucous marketplace next to his private bath.

    Traffic laws. Many 'hoods didn't want any animal traffic on their streets because of the dust, droppings, and the hordes of flies the latter attracted. And no one wanted a 43-mph race horse to be ridden at top speed through pedestrian traffic...nor did they want their progress impeded very long by a 3-ton cart stalled by some recalcitrant donkeys.

    The Apostles refused to obey the Roman laws of Caesar deification nor would they observe the state religion. These acts aroused the ire of the Roman authorities who believe that by allowing such an act of civil disobedience, they might be opening the door to more serious disobedience. After all, the majority of Christians at the time were Jews, and didn't the Jews have a long history of rebellion anyway?

    Yes, I agree that some laws are downright stupid and that we should work to eliminate them...and that the govt. wastes vast amounts of money, such as on foreign aid. And I consider 'hudging' on taxes as stealing. Scripture says, "You shall not steal", period...NOT, "You shall not steal, except from the govt. which misuses your money, etc."

    (In no way am I saying we shouldn't take every tax break to which we're entitled. But in using 'loopholes', we Christians oughtta ask ourselves, "Would JESUS use this loophole?")
     
  9. Marcia

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    Not sure what your point is here, Bart. But Acts 5.29 is still about the apostles disobeying the religious authorities. They did not disobey the civil authorities.

    The reasons I started this thread was because of something said on another thread, and because I constantly hear about how Peter and John disobeyed the government in Acts 4 and 5 in order to preach. You would not believe how often I hear this. I am pretty sure they never did, but just to make sure and get feeback, I started this thread.

    As for taxes, even Jesus paid the tax.
     
  10. Bartimaeus

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    Marcia,
    I believe Jesus paid the tax but remember it was a religious tax and it wasn't paid out of the bag that Judas carried.

    Robycop3,
    What happens when a government declares itself as God in action or statement, then would you say that all new legislation is suspect?

    Thanks ------Bart
     
  11. poncho

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    I hear "Render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar" all the time. I've always wondered though what rightly belongs to Caesar?

    Does anyone have an answer to this?
     
  12. superdave

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    No, thats why Jesus answered that way.

    The rulers were trying to trick him into saying either that taxes were just, in which case he would not have been consistent with the Jewish midset that God had given them the land, why should they have to pay a pagan gov't to live there.

    If he said taxes were not just, than they could take him to the romans and correctly accuse him as a traitor against rome.

    His answer was more of a question, a common technique used to deflect troublesome questions designed to cause trouble.

    The only laws we can disobey are those that cause us to violate a direct command of scripture. Sorry folks, taxes, speed limits, building fire codes, etc are the role of government and cannot usually be placed in opposition to the scriptures.

    Now if our government began to enforce laws such as compulsory abortion (china), limiting rights to worship (former soviet union), or other laws that by following them we would be in direct disobedience to God's commands, civil disobedience would be justfiable scripturally. So far, in the U.S. we have not had that situation as a general rule. Those who have claimed such have usually had distorted views of the scriptures, and the role of government.
     
  13. menageriekeeper

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    I believe that mostly the apostles tried to work within the laws of the land.

    When God loosed the chains of Paul and Silas, instead of them using the oppotunity to escape, they stayed put. Because of that an entire household was saved!

    While there are times when we should go against our government, we should choose wisely and be prepared to accept the consequences.

    Was it wrong for the Patriots to through all that tea into Boston Harbor? Like I said, choose your battles wisely.
     
  14. Artimaeus

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    I agree with superdave, and would like to add that we are increasingly being pushed toward having to disobey authorities in order to obey God. I can speak negativly about thieves in the work place, and bad mouth liars, I can even fire the lazy, but if I don't treat the immoral gays with the utmost respect I am deffinitely disobeying the authorities. I can't fire a drunk or druggie, I must provide them with counseling and continue providing them with the salary to fund their lifestyle. They may not be telling me that I must participate in these activities but it is telling me that I must behave as though I condone and approve them.
     
  15. StraightAndNarrow

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    If the drunk or drug user doesn't show up for work or can't do their work for any reason I don't understand why you can't fire them. God's law requires you to treat everyone with respect (including gays) but you don't have to support their life style.
     

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