“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities,” wrote the apostle Paul. “For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (Romans 13:1 Romans 13:1Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
American King James Version×). This includes the payment of taxes and other obligations (Romans 13:2-7 Romans 13:2-7 2 Whoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Will you then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and you shall have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to you for good. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid; for he bears not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath on him that does evil. 5 Why you must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 6 For for this cause pay you tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually on this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
American King James Version×). Remember that the Roman government of the time had its own problems with corruption and abuse of power. But such behavior does not give people an excuse to disobey the law or disrespect the authority of their leaders.
Peter gave his readers the same instruction: “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors …” (1 Peter 2:13-14 1 Peter 2:13-14 13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;
14 Or to governors, as to them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
American King James Version×). We are also to “honor the king” or chief ruler (verse 17). Paul echoes Peter’s instruction to Titus: “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no one …” (Titus 3:1-2 Titus 3:1-2 1 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, 2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness to all men.
American King James Version×). Elsewhere Paul exhorts us pray “for kings and all who are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:1-2 1 Timothy 2:1-2 1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
American King James Version×).
All this does not mean that we are to disobey God in situations where the law of man may conflict with the law of God (Acts 4:18-20 Acts 4:18-20 18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, judge you.
20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
American King James Version×; Acts 5:40 Acts 5:40And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
American King James Version×), but even then Christians are to continue to respect government authority—even when those in positions of authority have abused their offices.