Given the current political polarization and polemic, Paul’s teaching to submit to governing authorities is an interesting one to ponder. It stands in stark contrast to John’s teaching about governing authorities in the book of Revelation, where they are to be endured and hidden from. Many commentators explain this difference as a difference in position of these two inspired authors of equal books. For Paul, a Roman citizen who lives under authorities (the Romans) who brought peace, roads, and relative equality, submission was a good option and one supported by our view of God’s power and control of this world. If it was happening, then it must be God’s will, so governors had to be God’s instruments. For John, a Bishop in exile by the governing authorities and overseer of 7 churches facing government persecution even to the point of death, submission didn’t make any sense. John’s answer was to endure and demonize (literally in some aspects). This is supported by our view of free will and the prevalence of sin in the world.
But what about us? Is the current governmental system and party in power to be submitted to or endured and demonized? Do we follow Paul’s teaching or John’s? Both absolutely denounce violence against a leader as should any Christian, but there is a difference in the two views. Following Paul means obeying the laws and policies, welcoming the leadership as God’s tools put in place by God, whether for judgement or betterment. Following John means surviving by any peaceful means necessary, and following rules that obey God’s law but not others.
Given the undermining of truth, human rights, and righteousness of this and most previous administrations, we all have to make a choice. What part will you play in politics, and in what way? Do you submit or endure? As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord, and that means a lot of prayer, wisdom, and discernment.