Mind Your Magistrates

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

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“Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates…” (Titus 3:1).

Who are these “principalities and powers” to whom we must be subject? Well, we know there are different kinds of principalities and powers, since in Ephesians 6:12 we are told to “wrestle” them, while here we are told to “be subject” to them! Ephesians, of course, speaks of the unseen demonic host, “the rulers of the darkness of this world,” who wrestle with us as we proclaim God’s Word. But Titus 3:1 speaks of the human rulers of this world, the “magistrates” in government to whom God says we must be subject (Rom. 13:1-7).

You wouldn’t think Christians would need to be told this, but once we learn we are already citizens of heaven (Phil. 3:20), it is easy to think that this somehow negates the responsibilities of our earthly citizenship. But remember, while there is “neither bond nor free” in Christ (Gal. 3:28), Paul still tells servants to “be obedient unto their own masters” (Titus 2:9). While there is also “neither male nor female” in Christ (Gal. 3:28), Paul still tells wives to “submit yourselves unto your own husbands” (Eph. 5:22). And while in Christ we are already citizens of heaven, we must still be subject to magistrates.

Solomon warned, “fear thou the Lord and the king; and meddle not with them that are given to change” (Prov. 24:21). This refers not to voting men out of office, but rather to getting involved in subversive anti-government activities. God has said that the meek in Israel will inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5), and so He plans to fix all of earth’s governments for them prior to the establishment of His kingdom (Rev. 11:15). But this world is not our inheritance, we’re “just a-passing through” it, and so fixing her governments is not our fight.

An example from Israel’s past might serve to illustrate this. As Israel was passing through the wilderness on her way to the Promised Land, Edom refused to let her pass through their land (Num. 20:14-22). Why didn’t Israel fight, as they later fought those who resisted them in Canaan? Because God had instructed them to “meddle not with them,” since Edom was not their inheritance (Deut. 2:1-5)—they were just a-passin’ through! Just so, this world is not our inheritance, and so we should “meddle not with them that are given to change” its governments. We are called to “fight the good fight of faith” (I Tim. 6:12), and “no man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (II Tim. 2:4).

To the Reader:

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