Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man - In every settled state, and under every form of political government, where the laws are not in opposition to the laws of God, it may be very soundly and rationally said: "Genuine Christians have nothing to do with the laws but to obey them." Society and civil security are in a most dangerous state when the people take it into their heads that they have a right to remodel and change the laws. See the whole of this subject fully handled in the notes on Romans 13:1, etc., to which I beg every reader, who may wish to know the political sentiments of this work, to have recourse.
The words παση ανθρωπινη κτισει literally signify, not every ordinance of man, but every human creature; yet κτιζειν signifies sometimes to arrange, order, as well as to create, and therefore our translation may do: but as the apostle is evidently speaking here of magistracy, or legislative authority, and as the appointment of magistrates was termed a creating of them, it is better to understand the words thus, All the constituted authorities. So, Decem tribunos plebis per pontificem creaverunt; Cor. Nep. "They created ten tribunes of the plebeians, by the high priest." Carthagine quotannis annui bini reges creabantur; Caesar. "They created two kings every year at Carthage." Consules creantur Caesar et Servilius; Sallust. "Caesar and Servilius are created consuls." Creare ducem gerendo bello. "To create a general to conduct the war." The meaning of St. Peter appears to be this: the Jews thought it unlawful to obey any ruler that was not of their own stock; the apostle tells them they should obey the civil magistrate, let him be of what stock he may, whether a Jew or a Gentile, and let him exercise the government in whatsoever form. This is the general proposition: and then he instances emperors and their deputies; and, far from its being unlawful for them to obey a heathen magistrate, they were to do it for the Lord's sake, δια τον Κυριον, on account of the Lord, whose will it was, and who commanded it.
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man - Greek, “to every creation of man,” ( ἀνθρωπίνῃ κτίσει anthrōpinē ktiseiThe meaning is, to every institution or appointment of man; to wit, of those who are in authority, or who are appointed to administer government. The laws, institutes, and appointments of such a government may be spoken of as the creation of man; that is, as what man makes. Of course, what is here said must be understood with the limitation everywhere implied, that what is ordained by those in authority is not contrary to the law of God. See the notes at Acts 4:19. On the general duty here enjoined of subjection to civil authority, see the notes at Romans 13:1-7. Whether it be to the king - It has been commonly supposed that there is reference here to the Roman emperor, who might be called king, because in him the supreme power resided. The common title of the Roman sovereign was, as used by the Greek writers, ᾀυτοκράτωρ autokratōrand among the Romans themselves, “imperator,” (emperor;) but the title king was also given to the sovereign. John 19:15, “we have no king but Cesar.” Acts 17:7, “and these all do contrary to the decrees of Cesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.” Peter undoubtedly had particular reference to the Roman emperors, but he uses a general term, which would be applicable to all in whom the supreme power resided, and the injunction here would require submission to such authority, by whatever name it might be called. The meaning is, that we are to be subject to that authority whether exercised by the sovereign in person, or by those who are appointed by him. As supreme - Not supreme in the sense of being superior to God, or not being subject to him, but in the sense of being over all subordinate officers.
Whether it be to the king - It has been commonly supposed that there is reference here to the Roman emperor, who might be called king, because in him the supreme power resided. The common title of the Roman sovereign was, as used by the Greek writers, ᾀυτοκράτωρ autokratōrand among the Romans themselves, “imperator,” (emperor;) but the title king was also given to the sovereign. John 19:15, “we have no king but Cesar.” Acts 17:7, “and these all do contrary to the decrees of Cesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.” Peter undoubtedly had particular reference to the Roman emperors, but he uses a general term, which would be applicable to all in whom the supreme power resided, and the injunction here would require submission to such authority, by whatever name it might be called. The meaning is, that we are to be subject to that authority whether exercised by the sovereign in person, or by those who are appointed by him. As supreme - Not supreme in the sense of being superior to God, or not being subject to him, but in the sense of being over all subordinate officers.
As supreme - Not supreme in the sense of being superior to God, or not being subject to him, but in the sense of being over all subordinate officers.
The apostle exhorted the believers to study the Scriptures, through a proper understanding of which they might make sure work for eternity. Peter realized that in the experience of every soul who is finally victorious there would be scenes of perplexity and trial; but he knew also that an understanding of the Scriptures would enable the tempted one to bring to mind promises that would comfort the heart and strengthen faith in the Mighty One. AA 521.1
“All flesh is as grass,” he declared, “and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evilspeakings, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” AA 521.2
Many of the believers to whom Peter addressed his letters, were living in the midst of heathen, and much depended on their remaining true to the high calling of their profession. The apostle urged upon them their privileges as followers of Christ Jesus. “Ye are a chosen generation,” he wrote, “a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. AA 521.3Read in context »
We are not required to defy authorities. Our words, whether spoken or written, should be carefully considered, lest we place ourselves on record as uttering that which would make us appear antagonistic to law and order. We are not to say or do anything that would unnecessarily close up our way. We are to go forward in Christ's name, advocating the truths committed to us. If we are forbidden by men to do this work, then we may say, as did the apostles, “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” AA 69.1Read in context »
“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” AA 522.1
The apostle plainly outlined the attitude that believers should sustain toward the civil authorities: “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. Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” AA 522.2
Those who were servants were advised to remain subject to their masters “with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy,” the apostle explained, “if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously: who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” AA 522.3Read in context »
I saw that it is our duty in every case to obey the laws of our land, unless they conflict with the higher law which God spoke with an audible voice from Sinai, and afterward engraved on stone with His own finger. “I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people.” He who has God's law written in the heart will obey God rather than men, and will sooner disobey all men than deviate in the least from the commandment of God. God's people, taught by the inspiration of truth, and led by a good conscience to live by every word of God, will take His law, written in their hearts, as the only authority which they can acknowledge or consent to obey. The wisdom and authority of the divine law are supreme. 1T 361.1
I was shown that God's people, who are His peculiar treasure, cannot engage in this perplexing war, for it is opposed to every principle of their faith. In the army they cannot obey the truth and at the same time obey the requirements of their officers. There would be a continual violation of conscience. Worldly men are governed by worldly principles. They can appreciate no other. Worldly policy and public opinion comprise the principle of action that governs them and leads them to practice the form of rightdoing. But God's people cannot be governed by these motives. The words and commands of God, written in the soul, are spirit and life, and there is power in them to bring into subjection and enforce obedience. The ten precepts of Jehovah are the foundation of all righteous and good laws. Those who love God's commandments will conform to every good law of the land. But if the requirements of the rulers are such as conflict with the laws of God, the only question to be settled is: Shall we obey God, or man? 1T 361.2Read in context »