What magistrates and subjects owe each other

What magistrates and subjects owe each other March 13, 2009

Having first discussed vocations in the estate of the church, the Table of Duties in Luther’s Small Catechism next turns to another estate that God has established for our life on earth, the civil government:

Concerning Civil Government.

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For the power which exists anywhere is ordained of God. Whosoever resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Rom. 13:1-4.

What Subjects Owe to the Magistrates.

Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s. Matt. 22:21. Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers, etc. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For, for this cause pay ye tribute also; for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom, to whom custom; fear, to whom fear; honor, to whom honor. Rom. 13:1,5ff. I exhort, therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 1 Tim. 2:1f Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, etc. Titus 3:1. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king as supreme, or unto governors as unto them that are sent by him, etc. 1 Pet. 2:13f ]

Magistrates love and serve their subjects by not bearing the sword in vain (vs. refusing to use force when needed to protect the social order), by being the minister of God (vs. refusing to recognize God’s authority over him and instead using his God-given power for his own ends), by punishing evildoers (vs. punishing law-abiding citizens).

Subjects love and serve their magistrates by paying taxes, by giving honor, by obeying the law, and by praying for them.

If rulers would fulfill their vocations in love and service to their people, we would have no tyrants.

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  • fws

    I submit the idea here that paying taxes and doing so with a cheerful heart is a great spiritual excercise and discipline and is the most patriotic thing one can do.

    I base this on two ideas that are inmistakably and clearly in holy scripture:

    All good works commanded by God should be done cheerfully and from the heart.
    God commands us to render unto ceasar.

    therefore rendering unto ceasar (paying taxes among other things..) is a good work. worthy of being praised.

  • fws

    I submit the idea here that paying taxes and doing so with a cheerful heart is a great spiritual excercise and discipline and is the most patriotic thing one can do.

    I base this on two ideas that are inmistakably and clearly in holy scripture:

    All good works commanded by God should be done cheerfully and from the heart.
    God commands us to render unto ceasar.

    therefore rendering unto ceasar (paying taxes among other things..) is a good work. worthy of being praised.

  • fws

    "If rulers would fulfill their vocations in love and service to their people, we would have no tyrants."

    If christians would spend more time reflecting on how to do their part and on repenting over where they come up short rather than focusing their ire on their God given government, we would transform the world as the early christians did.

    Even better than having no tyrants I say…….

  • fws

    "If rulers would fulfill their vocations in love and service to their people, we would have no tyrants."

    If christians would spend more time reflecting on how to do their part and on repenting over where they come up short rather than focusing their ire on their God given government, we would transform the world as the early christians did.

    Even better than having no tyrants I say…….

  • Carl Vehse

    We, the people, are the government; we are "Caesar."

    We are also the governed, the subjects, who have to pay taxes to support the form of government we have selected. If we, the taxpaying governed, don't like amount of taxes or how it is spent by our elected and appointed representatives, then we, the government, should vote for someone else, recall the representative, or demand his impeachment or firing… or a Nuremberg-style trial for genocidal crimes by our tyrantical representatives.

  • Carl Vehse

    We, the people, are the government; we are "Caesar."

    We are also the governed, the subjects, who have to pay taxes to support the form of government we have selected. If we, the taxpaying governed, don't like amount of taxes or how it is spent by our elected and appointed representatives, then we, the government, should vote for someone else, recall the representative, or demand his impeachment or firing… or a Nuremberg-style trial for genocidal crimes by our tyrantical representatives.

  • Manxman

    I think the Lutheran catechism needs to be revised and updated in this area to reflect the duties and responsibilities that democratic government requires of "subjects." Informed, diligent participation at the various levels of government should be added to the list of things required of "subjects." At the time Luther wrote this catechism, representative democracies were not the order of the day.

  • Manxman

    I think the Lutheran catechism needs to be revised and updated in this area to reflect the duties and responsibilities that democratic government requires of "subjects." Informed, diligent participation at the various levels of government should be added to the list of things required of "subjects." At the time Luther wrote this catechism, representative democracies were not the order of the day.

  • fws

    carl vehse.

    not so fast. the government we have is placed there BY GOD through the instrumentality of our vote. we should vote out governments that we don´t think are good and are priviledged to be able to do so.

    but until we vote him out, obama is our president, just as gw bush was before him. and we are obligated to sincerely pray for him and that he rules wisely and give him the respect we should believing that God has placed him there.

    it is great when one party controls congress and the other controls the whitehouse, because then my pastor can pray for dems and republicans and remind us that God has placed BOTH in power.

    we are a republic not a democracy by the way carl.

  • fws

    carl vehse.

    not so fast. the government we have is placed there BY GOD through the instrumentality of our vote. we should vote out governments that we don´t think are good and are priviledged to be able to do so.

    but until we vote him out, obama is our president, just as gw bush was before him. and we are obligated to sincerely pray for him and that he rules wisely and give him the respect we should believing that God has placed him there.

    it is great when one party controls congress and the other controls the whitehouse, because then my pastor can pray for dems and republicans and remind us that God has placed BOTH in power.

    we are a republic not a democracy by the way carl.

  • E-Raj

    fws@1 said: "I submit the idea here that paying taxes and doing so with a cheerful heart is a great spiritual excercise and discipline and is the most patriotic thing one can do."

    I would submit that dying for one's country on the battlefield to preserve our rights and freedoms is exponentially more patriotic than remitting payment to the IRS. I say this to help lend perspective to this matter.

  • E-Raj

    fws@1 said: "I submit the idea here that paying taxes and doing so with a cheerful heart is a great spiritual excercise and discipline and is the most patriotic thing one can do."

    I would submit that dying for one's country on the battlefield to preserve our rights and freedoms is exponentially more patriotic than remitting payment to the IRS. I say this to help lend perspective to this matter.

  • Carl Vehse

    Again, fws, we, the people, are the government.

    The form of government we have was put into place over time, first by the Second Continental Congress, then by the Constitutional Convention and ratifying states, and later with amendments approved by Congress and ratifying states. This form of government describe the process for electing presidents and other representatives. We, the people consent to this form of government when we, the people, participate in the processes and privileges within this form of government.

    We also participate in the guarantee of our right to object and oppose the actions of a president and Congress, seek redress for their actions in the various courts, and advocate impeachment or removal of elected officials, and vote for other representatives.

    Ultimately, of course, God is in charge of all things, even when we, using the governmental authority God provides, make changes in our representatives and in the form of government. May God forgive us when we abuse that governmental authority, such as using it to elect an unfit and treacherous person to the Presidency.

  • Carl Vehse

    Again, fws, we, the people, are the government.

    The form of government we have was put into place over time, first by the Second Continental Congress, then by the Constitutional Convention and ratifying states, and later with amendments approved by Congress and ratifying states. This form of government describe the process for electing presidents and other representatives. We, the people consent to this form of government when we, the people, participate in the processes and privileges within this form of government.

    We also participate in the guarantee of our right to object and oppose the actions of a president and Congress, seek redress for their actions in the various courts, and advocate impeachment or removal of elected officials, and vote for other representatives.

    Ultimately, of course, God is in charge of all things, even when we, using the governmental authority God provides, make changes in our representatives and in the form of government. May God forgive us when we abuse that governmental authority, such as using it to elect an unfit and treacherous person to the Presidency.

  • fws

    well e-raj. dying is not something anyone should chose or plan. people such as firemen, police and military who do put their lives at risk to protect us, yes that is very patriotic indeed.

    So you are right, I will modify my comment to read "is among the most patriotic things that one can do."

    agreed?

  • fws

    well e-raj. dying is not something anyone should chose or plan. people such as firemen, police and military who do put their lives at risk to protect us, yes that is very patriotic indeed.

    So you are right, I will modify my comment to read "is among the most patriotic things that one can do."

    agreed?

  • E-Raj

    Agreed! I don't think anyone goes to war choosing to die, but they do realize it very well could be part of the deal. Just so we're clear, I wasn't criticizing your comment, so much as amending it. I've had relatives who have given their lives in several wars, so it hits home to me (as I'm sure it does to others here, too). I appreciate your reply to my statement.

  • E-Raj

    Agreed! I don't think anyone goes to war choosing to die, but they do realize it very well could be part of the deal. Just so we're clear, I wasn't criticizing your comment, so much as amending it. I've had relatives who have given their lives in several wars, so it hits home to me (as I'm sure it does to others here, too). I appreciate your reply to my statement.

  • Cincinnatus

    Eek. How far America has fallen 😉

  • Cincinnatus

    Eek. How far America has fallen 😉

  • wcwirla

    That would not be a revision of the Catechism so much as a revision of the Scriptures. Remember that the table of duties is a collection of Bible passages.

  • wcwirla

    That would not be a revision of the Catechism so much as a revision of the Scriptures. Remember that the table of duties is a collection of Bible passages.

  • wcwirla

    If "we the people" are in fact "the government," then to whom exactly are "we the people" supposed to be subject (hypotassomai)?

    It would seem to me that in our representative democracy, we are subject to our government whose offices are filled by the majority vote of "we the people."

  • wcwirla

    If "we the people" are in fact "the government," then to whom exactly are "we the people" supposed to be subject (hypotassomai)?

    It would seem to me that in our representative democracy, we are subject to our government whose offices are filled by the majority vote of "we the people."