Honoring those in authority

Most of us are aware that the New Testament talks about respecting authority, honoring the king, etc. Christians were not to be disrespectful to those in power. I don’t feel that that principle has changed, though the specifics may have. (We don’t have a king, but I think the principle about honoring rulers remains)

What I’m wondering about is this: how far are we to take that? We are to be respectful to all people, but I think there’s a greater honor due to those in power. Does that mean all elected officials? All government officials? Anyone with authority (like security guards, flight attendants, etc.)?

In a democracy like ours, must we show equal honor to all three branches? To all levels: national, state, country, city, and others?

How do you apply this principle? To whom do we show honor? What does this honor and respect look like?

I’d like to hear your thoughts.

4 thoughts on “Honoring those in authority

  1. Keith Brenton

    I’m not good at sticking to this commitment, but I believe respect should be shown to rulers even when they have betrayed your trust.

    Presidents Nixon and Clinton were still my Presidents though they acted illegally.

    Comes a point however, when you may have to say, “With all due respect, Mr. President, I cannot bow down before your 90-foot idol nor burn a pinch of incense to acknowledge your deity.”

  2. Terry Bouchelle

    Yes they all should be honored and spoken about with respect. That obviously is not the same thing as being obeyed or appreciated liked. They are our rulers, but Jesus is our Lord.
    Like Keith Brenton, I sometimes fail.
    This is an area I keep working on as my mouth sometimes speaks before I allow myself to think through what I’m saying.

  3. Paul Smith

    Kind of pedantic here, but I think everything hinges on the definition of the terms “honor” and “be subject” and the like. Both Paul and Peter commanded honor to the secular authority, yet both refused to obey when obedience meant disobedience to God. We are commanded to pray for such leaders (unfortunately the content of those prayers was left somewhat vague), and beyond that I think we are to hold the office in esteem and try to give the office holder the benefit of the doubt (at least initially). What is NOT allowed is a blanket “my country right or wrong” attitude or a divination of the documents that constitute a state or nation. What we have seen over the past three months (worship of Obama/vilification of Trump; worship of Trump/vilification of Obama) is unsettling and does not bode well for the health of our republic. The next few months and maybe years will be interesting, but I’m afraid in a not too positive sense.

  4. David Cabe

    Rather than getting stuck on the words we have to look to the fundamental principle that this and so many New Testament verses rest on in order to fast foward 2000 years to our current system of government where our leaders are elected and answer to the people. The principle is this: love your neighbor as yourself. This first means communicate with and about our leaders with civility and offer criticism constructively. And cease rejoicing in their failures and weaknesses as if the point of it all is for one side to win the game. Surely this will move us a long way to extracting the logs from our own eyes and fulfilling the command.

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