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Truth Ministries
Should Christians Hold Political Office?
 

by Ben Ditzel
 

To answer this question we must ask ourselves what the Bible says about being a civil officer or magistrate.  In the Old Testament, we read that it was God’s will to have Joseph in a position of authority. Joseph was appointed to a position of authority by Pharaoh; Joseph did not seek this office. But God decreed that Joseph have this position to fulfill God’s purpose at that time in Egypt.

Genesis 41:39-44 And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.

Again in the Old Testament we read that a series of events put Esther and Mordecai in positions of authority. In both instances, however, the Sovereign God worked His purpose through them. They did not seek these positions, rather God appointed them by no means or merit of their own.

Esther 4:13-14; 8:10, 17; 9:29  Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? ... And he wrote in the king Ahasuerus' name, and sealed it with the king's ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries: ... And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them. ...  Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority, to confirm this second letter of Purim.

Jonah preached to the nations of Nineveh; he did not become an official in the government.

Jonah 3:1-10  And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

So, now the question arises, so who does God set up over the kingdoms of men? We find the answer in the book of Daniel. In Daniel 4:7, it reads,  ‘This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men. ’
The nation Israel was a theocracy (a government led by God.) They were a civil and a religious body combined. The law God commanded through Moses included religious and civil law in one body of law, the old covenant. God set up the judges and kings over His nation Israel. The theocracy of Israel largely consisted of the descendants of one man; they were virtually all related physically. Jesus is the Mediator of a better covenant. The new covenant church is not a civil body. It is a church (assembly) of (called-out-from-all nations) people. The saints in the church are not related physically, but are related spiritually. They are joined together by the common belief in Christ through grace alone. Now for those reading in the States, we know that the United States was founded on rebellion against the authority (England) in power over them (Romans 13:1-8) and on greed. Some individual founders may have held to some Christian principles, but the United States was not founded to be a theocracy like ancient Israel by either God’s decree or man’s decree. Christians have no Biblical authority for assuming the United States to be God’s special nation any more than nay nation on earth has. God does not have a nation, as He had ancient Israel; He has His church of called-out believers and they are scattered throughout many nations.  No command exists in either way in either Old or New Testament that Christians should seek and hold public office or that they should forbear seeking or holding public office. In the New Testament,  Jesus refused public office Himself.

Luke 12:13-14  And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?

John 6:15  When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

Jesus declared quite plainly that his kingdom was not of this world. It was not God’s will that the servants of Christ fight for what they wanted (Christ’s deliverance) in the government realm. We read this in John 18:36 where Jesus says, ‘My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.’
Christ’s people are taken out of the world spiritually, but remain in the world physically. They are “in” the world, but not “of” the world. The following passages back up this view.

John 17:6  I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.

Romans 13: 1-8 says, ‘Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.  Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.’

2 Corinthians 5:20  Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. (Ambassadors represent another kingdom, not the one in which they live.)

2 Corinthians 6:14  Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:

Philip 3:20  For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ

Col 1:13  Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

1Tim 2:1-2  I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

2Tim 2:4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

Tit 3:1 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,

Heb 11:13-16  These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

1Pe 2:9-17 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous 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. 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. 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 cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

 

© 15 January 2008

         Truth Ministries – truth-ministries.com

 

Truth Ministries is a Christian ministry which provides counseling, teaching, radio programmes, and articles through the web as well as other forms of electronic and print media to further the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  For more information or to request material, please contact us at the address below.

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