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God's Assigned Role for Government

Posted by Matt Postiff February 17, 2021 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Theology 

The Bible has three important sections that explain what God wants government to do.

First is Romans 13:1-7. It says that there is no governmental authority except those appointed by God. The government’s rulers are to oppose evil. The governmental authority (police officer, president, governor) does not bear the sword in vain, because he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.

Because of this, God has permitted governments to exercise the authority of capital punishment. Now this has been in place for thousands of years. In the first book of the Bible, for example, Genesis 9:6 says “whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed.” There is only one punishment that fits the crime of murder, and that is to forfeit the murderer’s life. Our society exercises a great amount of mercy toward such offenders by assigning them life in prison, but this can leave the victim’s family feeling as if justice has not fully been done for their loved one. By the way, the idea is that the corporate body of society as a whole exercises that authority—not individual vigilantes.

The third passage is 1 Peter 2:13-14. It explains that the king and governors are sent by God to punish evildoers and to praise those who do good. There are whole departments of government—like the FBI, department of justice, state attorneys general, and the like which are focused on punishing evildoers. And we are thankful for that because it helps keep law and order in our society so that we can live peacefully. There are no governmental departments I am aware of which are dedicated to praising those who do good! But I am thankful for the recognition that is afforded to good and heroic citizens.

Summarize: the basic role of government is to punish evil and praise those who do good.

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