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:
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).
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 ]
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.