Lesson 12: Mind Your Magistrates – Titus 3:1-2

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

You're listening to Lesson 12 from the sermon series "Titus" by Pastor Ricky Kurth. When you're done, explore more sermons from this series.



“Principalities” (3:1) are the “principal men” of a city (Acts 25:10,11).  Paul was willing to be subject to them even to death, because he understood the power of government is ordained of God, that “there is no power but of God” (Rom. 13:1).  Who’s to say husbands have power over wives?  Only God.  There is no power but what God gives.

So to resist the government is to resist the power of God, and resisting brings “damnation” (Rom. 13:2), or judgment from the government—up to and including the death penalty (Gen. 9:6).  So we should be “afraid” of the government’s “ministers” (Rom. 13:3,4), i.e., police officers, for they don’t bear a lethal weapon “in vain.”

God has always wanted His people to obey the government in every dispensation, and not be hasty to go live someplace else (Eccl. 8:2,3).  His people were always told not to stand up to the government (8:3,4), and if we don’t, that we’ll feel no evil thing from them (v.5 cf. Rom. 13:3).

We are free citizens of the United States, but “as free” citizens of heaven (I Peter 2:13-16), Peter says we have to obey the government to be “servants of God.”  That is, we shouldn’t look at it as serving the government, but as serving God who gave the government it’s power.

Someday our government might be conquered by another, but even then God’s people are told to obey the new government, just as God’s people in Israel were told to do when they were conquered (Jer. 27:17).

When Paul says to obey “magistrates” (Tit. 3:1), don’t forget some magistrates wrongfully beat and imprisoned him (Acts 16:19-24).  Paul took that joyfully (v.25), and so should we.

If you don’t obey the government, you can’t be “ready to every good work” (Tit. 3:1).  We’re not saved by good works (Eph. 2:8,9), but “unto” good works (v. 10).  But if you break the law and they put you in prison, you can’t be ready to do a lot of good works that can only be done as a free man.

When Paul says to “speak evil of no man” (Tit. 3:2) it looks like he’s changing the subject, but he’s talking about not speaking evil of dignities in government (II Pet. 2:10-12). That phrase “speak evil” means saying things like what we read in Psalm 41:5.  Also, if you lie about leaders in government you are speaking evil of them (cf. Ps. 109:2,20).  It is also speaking evil of them to call them evil-doers (I Pe. 3:16).  It’s one thing to disagree with one of a government policy, it’s another to say they are evil to have passed it into law.

“What if the government is plotting to do us evil”?  Even then, it is not our place to call our leaders evil (Job 34:18).  Paul knew that and lived by it.  Everything he said about his ruler was true, but he admitted that he had spoken “evil” of him in saying it (Acts 23:1-5).

There’s a reason the Greek word for “speak evil” in Titus 3:2 is blasphemo.  Since God has ordained government, it is blasphemy to speak against it.  It is what they charged Naboth with (I Ki. 21:13).  Now it was true he refused to sell the king his vineyard, but it wasn’t blasphemy for him, for the Law of Moses forbad it.  So to obey the king he would have had to disobey God—and that is the exception to the rule (Dan. 3:16).

Outside of that, not even the Jews going into the Tribulation to whom Peter wrote were to speak evil of the government, as Peter told them (II Pe. 2:10-12).  Some will, but Peter says that they “understand not” that they shouldn’t resist the government even if the Antichrist is on the throne, which he will be in the Tribulation.

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