Return to main index

A23. Being Subject to Governing Authorities.    [Make a Comment]

We are to be subject to the governing authorities that are established by God.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed be He):

Key Scripture

Romans 13:1
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. (NKJ)

Supportive Scriptures

Mark 12:14-17
They [the Pharisees] came and said to him [Yeshua], "Rabbi, we know that you tell the truth and are not concerned with what people think about you, since you pay no attention to a person's status but really teach what God's way is. Does Torah say that taxes are to be paid to the Roman Emperor, or not?" But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, "Why are you trying to trap me? Bring me a denarius so I can look at it." They brought one; and he asked them, "Whose name and picture are these?" "The Emperor's," they replied. Yeshua said, "Give the Emperor what belongs to the Emperor. And give to God what belongs to God!" And they were amazed at him. (See also, Matthew 22:15-21; Luke 20:21-25)

Titus 3:1
Remind people to submit to the government and its officials, to obey them, to be ready to do any honorable kind of work ...

Hebrews 13:17
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your lives, as people who will have to render an account. So make it a task of joy for them, not one of groaning; for that is of no advantage to you.

1 Peter 2:13-14
For the sake of the Lord, submit yourselves to every human authority - whether to the emperor as being supreme, or to governors as being sent by him to punish wrongdoers and praise those who do what is good.


This Mitzvah to be subject to governing authorities is often debated among scholars. We know by the Mitzvah's date and context that the governing authorities referred to included those of Rome, so the application of Romans 13:1 today undoubtedly contemplates secular governments on all levels.

But how can the Scripture say that all authorities that exist have been established and placed where they are by God, when evil governments such as Nazi Germany are fresh in our minds? Should we have cooperated with Nazi Germany rather than war against her? As absurd as that is, if Romans 13:1 were the only Scripture on the subject, one might come to that conclusion. But let us consider Acts 5:27-29 which seems to say something quite different; it says:

They conducted them to the Sanhedrin, where the cohen hagadol demanded of them, "We gave you strict orders not to teach in this [Yeshua's] name! Look here! you have filled Yerushalayim with your teaching; moreover, you are determined to make us responsible for this man's death!" Kefa and the other emissaries answered, "We must obey God, not men."

How do we reconcile Romans 13 with Acts 5? Some have attempted to explain Romans 13 by asserting that it refers merely to Rome's authority to assess and collect taxes. That, in my opinion is wrong. No, I suggest that the answer lies rather in the definition of "authority" - that not all persons and governments that claim to be authorities are, in fact, authorities. Stated differently, an alleged "authority" is not an authority if it is not from God. Any government that willfully commits gross sin or that leads persons for which it is responsible into sin is no authority at all, and we ought to oppose it. With that understanding, we can unhesitatingly say that "we are to be subject to the governing authorities" because true governing authorities are from God.

Classical Commentators

This Mitzvah is not addressed by any of the Jewish classical commentators.


Return to main index