Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Kings and Hegemons

Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers… that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men (1 Pet 2:13-14 NKJV).
The contrast between Peter's word and Paul’s teaching in Romans 13 is interesting. Whereas Paul says that judges are instituted by God, Peter is very clear that kings and governors are instituted by man (ordinance of man). The word translated as ordinance is a derivative of the word for “create”, so kings and governors are the creation of man. The reason for the difference is that Peter is describing life under an ungodly government, whereas Paul is confirming God’s ideal government (just he describes ideal Christian behaviour in Romans 12).

The Greek word that Peter uses for governor is “hegemon”. This is not a nice word like "judge". (We should also note that governors are sent by the king, they are not appointed by God.)

Christians should submit to kings and hegemons for the sake of peace and freedom to do God’s work, but they are not instituted by God. Governors are not appointed by god, they are appointed by kings. They have political power, but their power has been stolen from God. We might have to submit to them for the sake of the gospel, but submitting to a king or a parliament is not the same as submitting to God. They are the creation of man and are not appointed by God.

We do not need to start a revolution against emperors or parliaments, because our gospel is revolutionary. As more and more people at converted and give their allegiance to Jesus, the power of kings and rulers will gradually leak away. The gospel undermined and defeated the Roman empire, so it can destroy any political power. Powerful preaching of the gospel supported by prayer will be more effective than revolution.

No comments: