Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,…
I. WHO ARE TO BE UNDERSTOOD BY CIVIL RULERS. All those who are in the peaceable possession of civil power.
II. IT IS THE DUTY OF SUBJECTS TO OBEY THEIR CIVIL RULERS.
1. The Scripture expressly enjoins this duty upon subjects.
2. The duty of submission naturally results from the relation which subjects bear to their rulers. There would be no propriety in calling the body of the people subjects, unless they were under obligation to obey those in the administration of government.
3. All subjects ought to obey their rulers for the sake of the public good.
III. MINISTERS OUGHT TO INCULCATE SUCH SUBMISSION TO CIVIL MAGISTRATES.
1. Preachers are expressly required to press this plain and important duty upon the people of their charge.
2. It becomes the preachers of the gospel, in this case, to fellow the example of the inspired teachers — John the Baptist, Christ, etc.
3. It no less belongs to the office of gospel ministers to teach men their duty towards civil rulers than to teach them any other moral or religious duty.
4. There are some peculiar reasons why the duty of submission to civil authority should be more especially inculcated upon the minds of subjects.
(1) Men are extremely apt to forget that they are under any moral obligation to obey the rulers of the land.
(2) There is scarcely any duty more disagreeable to the human heart than submission to civil government.
(3) The safety and happiness of the whole body politic more essentially depend upon each member's performing this, than any other duty. Where there is no subordination, there can be no government; and where there is no government, there can be no public peace nor safety.Concluding reflections:
1. There is no ground to complain of the ministers of the gospel for inculcating political duties.
2. There appears to be no more difficulty in determining the measure of submission to civil government than the measure of submission to any other human authority.
3. It is extremely criminal to disobey civil rulers, and oppose the regular administration of government.
4. It is criminal not only to disobey and resist civil authority, but also to countenance, cherish, and inflame a spirit of disobedience and rebellion.
5. Those in executive authority are under indispensable obligation to give rebels and traitors a just recompense of reward. They are God's ministers to execute wrath upon them that do evil; and they ought not to hold the sword of justice in vain.
(N. Emmons, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,