What Does The Bible Say About Government

The Bible has many teachings about government and its leaders. It speaks of them as ordained by God and provides specific guidelines for those in positions of power and influence. The Old Testament contains the law of Moses which describes the fundamental principles of justice, such as “Justice, justice shall you pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20). The New Testament expands on this, offering a more detailed description of rulers and their responsibilities. It is not just about personal morality, but includes wider teachings on the nature of government itself.

The Bible provides a general expectation for governments to behave for the common good of the people. It encourages civic engagement, justice, and compassion, and identifies it as a key part of being a good ruler. Romans 13:1-7, for example, calls for those in authority to be servants of God that protect the citizens, such as punishing evildoers, rewarding the faithful followers, and providing a just and peaceful society.

The Bible also offers an important understanding of king-like figures, identifying them as God’s representatives on earth. Kings are supposed to rule according to God’s will and follow His commands, as stated in 1 Samuel 8:20. Although the context of this passage is in regards to a monarchy, the same can be said of presidents and Prime Ministers of democracies, that they should seek God’s will and govern in line with His principles.

In addition to ruling with justice, the Bible also warns of the dangers of unchecked power, emphasizing the importance of preventing any one person or group from becoming overly powerful. Proverbs 11:10 and Isaiah 3:4-5 are two examples that make it clear that the people should not be forced to submit to anyone’s will, but all should be held accountable to the law of God.

The Bible also speaks to the global and economic level, urging leaders to promote justice and righteousness in all spaces. In Isaiah 1:17 and Micah 4:4, the Scripture calls for leaders to lead a world of peace and prosperity for the most marginalized and voiceless in the community.

Finally, the Bible recognizes the importance of effective leadership and discusses the qualifications needed for a righteous ruler. Habakkuk 2:2-4 points out the importance of having a leader with wisdom and knowledge, while Proverbs 29:2 praises the understanding and discernment of kings who are diligent in protecting the rights of their people.

God’s Sovereignty

A key teaching of the Bible is that God is sovereign over all, including the governing authorities He appoints. Daniel 4:17 speaks of God giving authority to a ruler and the right to exercise it as He pleases–this shows that all power ultimately belongs to Him and flows down to human leaders only by His ordination. This reinforces the call found in other verses that believers should be subject to their authorities, as long as they are in line with the law of God.

Psalms 146:3-5 states that rulers should not remain in power forever, implying that they are temporary and transient, and all will eventually be judged by God. This is a reminder that no leader should be idolized, as they operate under the authority of the King of Kings, who has established an everlasting kingdom.

Respect for Officials

The Bible consistently encourages Christians to respect and pray for the officials in charge wherever they live. In 1 Timothy 2:1-2, it calls us to entreat moral and godly leaders rather than sit in hostility and criticism. Respect for those in authority is a fundamental Biblical teaching, which translates to respecting the laws and decisions of government leaders. This doesn’t mean agreeing with them, but rather showing them respect by engaging constructively and responsibly with the system and being responsible citizens.

Additionally, Romans 13:7 urges us to pay taxes, as they are God’s appointed way of obtaining revenue. This can be seen as a means to support the socially important work of government and to put their laws in practice. Taxation should not be viewed as a burden, but an opportunity to see God’s benefit and justice applied in the community.

Linking Between Personal and Public Morality

A key thing the Bible teaches about government is that it cannot be disconnected from personal morality. The principles of justice, love, mercy, and faithfulness should be practiced at all levels of society. We are called to pursue the same moral standards of behavior even when it does not align with a particular law or system.

The Bible is clear that any ruler should seek to establish a just and legislated morality; however, anyone can practice a personal one that does not consult legal religious codes. In 1 Peter 2:13-16, for example, it says believers must be faithful even when facing mistreatment from government authorities, as this is how they can show the world how to reject evil and embrace integrity. It is important to be a light to the world and reveal God’s love to the world, in spite of the government.

Conscience and Obedience

The Bible states that although we should respect and submit to the authorities, if our conscience or faith dictates differently, we should obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29). This also applies when Scripture speaks of limits to the power of rulers; they should not be allowed to violate God’s standards and in cases where this happens, believers should go against the government’s decision. Similarly, the Bible calls us to speak out against injustice and wickedness, even if this goes against the standing laws.

The Bible stands against any form of human-imposed tyranny that goes against His law and considers this a sin for which the people should hold accountable their leaders (Proverbs 29:4). Therefore, believers are not absolved of responsibility when a government acts unjustly and so should pray for God’s will in all things and strive for a more perfect world.


Overall, the Bible provides clear guidance for believers in regards to their relationship with government, both older and contemporary leaders. It is clear that we should seek God’s justice while also respecting and submitting to the authorities, while also remaining vigilant to any form of tyranny. Above all, the Bible stresses the need to always live with faith, integrity, and honor, no matter who is in charge.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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