Tag Archives: Luke 20.25

Render unto Caesar…? Luke 20.25, Matthew 22.21, and Mark 12.17


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Jerald Finney
Copyright © February 21, 2018


For a more thorough study on this, click here.


Another scripture relied upon to support the false teaching of unlimited submission to the civil government is Luke 20.25 (also recorded in Matthew 22.21; and Mark 12.17). The Bible teaches that God is over is over all governments including civil government.[1] Nonetheless, many Americans, in spite of the teaching of the Bible, grab the following words of Jesus and apply the incorrect Americanized interpretation: “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”[2]

Obviously, Jesus is saying that both Caesar and God have jurisdictions. What are those jurisdictions? Are America and many pastors correct in teaching church members that they cannot depend totally upon God to supply their needs, that they need and can better serve the Lord with civil government contrived protection through incorporation and tax-exemption, and/or that America, not God, is to be their omniscient, omnipotent benefactor?[3]

To understand what Jesus was saying, one must understand both the immediate and the overall context of Scripture. Did Jesus say something contrary to scriptural teaching as a whole when He said these words? No, Jesus said those words with a perfect knowledge of Scripture, and in the context of Scripture. He said those words to practicing religious Jews who were well versed in Scripture and most likely understood the contextual meaning of what He said.

In the immediate context, the Pharisees were instigating an attack upon the Lord Jesus. “Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.”[4] The chief priests and the scribes “sought to lay hands on [Jesus]; and they feared the people.”[5]

  • “And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor. And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly: Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no?”[6]

They wanted the civil government to do the dirty work which they would not do themselves because they feared the people.

  • “If Jesus said, ‘No, you are not to pay tribute to Caesar,’ He could be accused of being a traitor to Rome which ruled over Israel at that time. If He had said, ‘Yes, you are to pay tribute to Caesar,’ He could not be the true Messiah. They thought they had our Lord on the horns of a dilemma.”[7]

The Lord, being God, knew their plan: “But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?”[8] Jesus said, “Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it?”[9]  When “[t]hey answered and said, Caesar’s,”[10] He gave His famous reply which left them amazed and unable to fulfill their plan.

In the overall context of Scripture, what was the Lord saying? The Pharisees knew the Old Testament. When Jesus asked whose image and superscription were on the coin, they most likely knew that He was saying that mankind, which included Caesar, was created by God in the image of God, and that Caesar as a ruler was given his authority with limitations by God. They knew the Scripture that said, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”[11] They knew the Scriptures that taught that God was the Supreme Ruler, that His was the Supreme Government as well as those Scriptures that taught that God ordained civil government and all other governments. They also knew that Jesus claimed to be God. For example, when Jesus asked the Jews for which of His good works they took up stones to stone Him, “The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.”[12]  In one short statement, the Lord, as only He could, summarized, in the context of Scripture, God’s jurisdiction (rulership over all men and governments including civil governments) and civil government’s God-given jurisdiction (as laid out in the Bible and discussed in Section I of God Betrayed).

The result of this interchange was the opposite of what the Pharisees had hoped for. Since it was not yet His time to be crucified, God defeated their purpose by the power of His Word. “And they could not take hold of his words before the people: and they marveled at his answer, and held their peace[,]”[13] “and left him, and went their way.”[14]

Men today, as did these Pharisees, prefer to trust in their own doings instead of the perfect righteousness of Christ. Isaac Backus, the great eighteenth century Baptist leader, pointed out the darling of such men:


Endnotes

[1] See Section I.A. The Bible Doctrine of Government of these studies; for a more in-depth study, see God Betrayed, especially the first Section on the Bible doctrine of Government.

[2] Lu. 20.25; see also Mt. 22.21; and Mk. 12.17.

[3] Section VI of God Betrayed and Separation of Church and State deal with the incorporation and tax exemption issues.

[4] Mt. 22.15; see also, Mk. 12.13; Lu. 20.19.

[5] Lu. 20.19.

[6] Lu. 20.20-22.

[7] J. Vernon McGee, Matthew, Volume II (Pasadena, California: Thru the Bible Books, revised printing, 1980), p. 101.

[8] Mt. 22.18; see also, Mk. 12.15; Lu. 20.23.

[9] Lu. 20.24; see also, Mt. 21.19-20; Mk. 12.15-16.

[10] Lu. 20.24; see also, Mt. 22.21; Mk. 12.16.

[11] Ge. 1.27.

[12] Jn. 10.32-33.

[13] Lu. 20.26; see also, Mk. 12.17.

[14] Mt. 22.22.

[15] Isaac Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists, Volume 2 (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871), p. 563.

Render unto Caesar…? Luke 20.25, Matthew 22.21, and Mark 12.17

Jerald Finney
Copyright © July 15, 2012

Click here to go to “Self-exam Questions: Render unto Caesar…? Luke 20.25, Matthew 22.21, and Mark 12.17” [To be added as time permits]

Links to all chapters of “Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related verses” is at the bottom of this article.

Preface

2nd Revised Romans 13 COVERThis article is a continuation of Jerald Finney’s systematic development of the doctrines, application, history, and legalities of “separation of church and state.” See Why Understanding and Applying Church and State Law Is Important for Believers and Churches for more on this matter. This article is the third in a series of articles which have been adopted from the Book Render unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses (Available free in both online and PDF form. To order, click the following link: Ordering information for books by Jerald Finney.). That book is a more complete study than the study presented in Section III, Chapters 5 and 6 of the book God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application(Link to preview of God Betrayed). (Link to Contents of “Separation of Church and State Law” Blog which has links so that the new follower can start his study at the beginning. “Line upon line, precept upon precept.”). See Endnote for information on books by Jerald Finney which thoroughly examine “separation of church and state law.”

Render unto Caesar…?
Luke 20.25, Matthew 22.21, and Mark 12.17

8Some Christians interpret certain scriptures to mean that Christians and churches are required by God to submit to civil government in all things or to submit to civil government in all things except for the preaching of the gospel of salvation. The articles that are now being posted on this website will analyze, in this order, Matthew 17.24-27 which deals with the miracle of the tribute money; Luke 20.25 (also recorded in Matthew 22.21; and Mark 12.17) in which Jesus proclaimed, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s;” Romans 13, I Peter 2.13, and I Timothy 2.1-6. What those scriptures teach concerning submission by individual Christians and churches to civil government is the subject of these studies (To totally understand the issue of God’s teachings concerning submission to civil government, one must understand other sub-issues or principles. God Betrayed offers a more comprehensive look at all the issues involved. This author is in the process of including all that is in God Betrayed plus more on this website.).

1Another scripture relied upon to support the false teaching of unlimited submission to the civil government is Luke 20.25 (also recorded in Matthew 22.21; and Mark 12.17). The Bible teaches that God is over is over all governments including civil government (See God Betrayed, especially Section I. The book may be accessed at no cost in both online and PDF form. To order, click the following link: Ordering information for books by Jerald Finney.) Nonetheless, many Americans, in spite of the teaching of the Bible, grab the following words of Jesus and apply the incorrect Americanized interpretation: “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Lu. 20.25; see also Mt. 22.21; and Mk. 12.17). Obviously, Jesus is saying that both Caesar and God have jurisdictions. What are those jurisdictions? Are America and many pastors correct in teaching church members that they cannot depend totally upon God to supply their needs, that they need and can better serve the Lord with civil government contrived protection through incorporation and tax-exemption, and/or that America, not God, is to be their omniscient, omnipotent benefactor (Section VI of God Betrayed and Separation of Church and State deal with the incorporation and tax exemption issues. All chapters of that section are included on the web at God Betrayed: Union of Church and State. Some are already posted.)?

To understand what Jesus was saying, one must understand both the immediate and the overall context of Scripture. Did Jesus say something contrary to scriptural teaching as a whole when He said these words? No, Jesus said those words with a perfect knowledge of Scripture, and in the context of Scripture. He said those words to practicing religious Jews who were well versed in Scripture and most likely understood the contextual meaning of what He said.

810In the immediate context, the Pharisees were instigating an attack upon the Lord Jesus. “Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk” (Mt. 22.15; see also, Mk. 12.13; Lu. 20.19). The chief priests and the scribes “sought to lay hands on [Jesus]; and they feared the people” (Lu. 20.19).

“And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor. And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly:  Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no” (Lu. 20.20-22)?

They wanted the civil government to do the dirty work which they would not do themselves because they feared the people.

11“If Jesus said, ‘No, you are not to pay tribute to Caesar,’ He could be accused of being a traitor to Rome which ruled over Israel at that time. If He had said, ‘Yes, you are to pay tribute to Caesar,’ He could not be the true Messiah. They thought they had our Lord on the horns of a dilemma” (J. Vernon McGee, Matthew, Volume II (Pasadena, California: Thru the Bible Books, revised printing, 1980), p. 101).

11The Lord, being God, knew their plan: “But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites” (Mt. 22.18; see also, Mk. 12.15; Lu. 20.23)? Jesus said, “Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it” (Lu. 20.24; see also, Mt. 21.19-20; Mk. 12.15-16)?  When “[t]hey answered and said, Caesar’s” (Lu. 20.24; see also, Mt. 22.21; Mk. 12.16), He gave His famous reply which left them amazed and unable to fulfill their plan.

2In the overall context of Scripture, what was the Lord saying? The Pharisees knew the Old Testament. When Jesus asked whose image and superscription were on the coin, they most likely knew that He was saying that mankind, which included Caesar, was created by God in the image of God, and that Caesar as a ruler was given his authority with limitations by God. They knew the Scripture that said, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Ge. 1.27). They knew the Scriptures that taught that God was the Supreme Ruler, that His was the Supreme Government as well as those Scriptures that taught that God ordained civil government and all other governments. They also knew that Jesus claimed to be God. For example, when Jesus asked the Jews for which of His good works they took up stones to stone Him, “The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God” (Jn. 10.32-33).  In one short statement, the Lord, as only He could, summarized, in the context of Scripture, God’s jurisdiction (rulership over all men and governments including civil governments) and civil government’s God-given jurisdiction (as laid out in the Bible and discussed in Section I of God Betrayed and also on the web at The Biblical Doctrine of Government, The Biblical Doctrine of Church, and The Biblical Doctrine of “Separation of Church and State.”).

The result of this interchange was the opposite of what the Pharisees had hoped for. Since it was not yet His time to be crucified, God defeated their purpose by the power of His Word. “And they could not take hold of his words before the people: and they marveled at his answer, and held their peace” (Lu. 20.26; see also, Mk. 12.17), “and left him, and went their way” (Mt. 22.22).

5

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Click here to go to the article “Is Separation of Church and State Found in the Constitution?”

Men today, as did these Pharisees, prefer to trust in their own doings instead of the perfect righteousness of Christ. Isaac Backus, the great eighteenth century Baptist leader, pointed out the darling of such men:

“[Such men] trust in their own doings, instead of the perfect righteousness of Christ, are in covenant with death and at agreement with hell. And earthly monarchy has generally been the darling of such men. [As the Pharisees went to the civil government to carry out their scheme to kill Christ, so do men today go to the civil government.] Therefore God says to them, And thou wentest to the king with ointment, and didst increase thy perfumes, and didst send thy messengers far off, and didst debase thyself even unto hell. Thou art wearied in the greatness of thy way; yet saidst thou not, There is no hope: thou hast found the life of thine hand; therefore thou wast not grieved. Isaiah lvii. 9-10 … [T]he calling any ruler, since the death of Christ, The Lord’s anointed, and the setting up any earthly heads to the church, is a practice which came from hell, from the bottomless pit; and this is the beast who causeth God’s witnesses to prophesy in mourning, and at length kills them. Rev. xi. 7; xiii. 1, 2, 12; xvii. 8” (Isaac Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists, Volume 2 (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871), p. 563).

Endnote

God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application(Link to preview of God Betrayed): may be ordered from Amazon in softback or Kindle by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Amazon.com or from Barnes and Nobel by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Barnes and Noble. All books by Jerald Finney as well as many of the books he has referenced and read may also be ordered by left clicking “Books” (on the “Church and State Law” website), the “Order information for books by Jerald Finney” page of this website, or directly from Amazon by going to the following links: (1) Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses (Kindle only); (2) The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls. (Kindle only); (3) Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? (Softback and Kindle)(Link to preview of Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities?) which can also be ordered by clicking the following Barnes and Noble link: Separation of Church and State on Barnes and Noble.

Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses:

  1. Introduction to “Render unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses” (Chapter 1 of Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses. This material was also covered in less detail in God Betrayed, Section III, Chapters 5, 6.)
  2. Doth not your Master pay tribute? Matthew 17.24-27 (Chapter 2 of Render Unto God the Things that Are His)
  3. Render unto Caesar…? Luke 20.25, Matthey 22.21, Mark 22.17 (Chapter 3 of Render Unto God the Things that Are His)
  4. Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers? Romans 13 (Chapter 4 of Render Unto God the Things that Are His)
  5. Submit to every ordinance of man? 1 Peter 2.13 (Chapter 5 of Render Unto God the Things that Are His)
  6. Pray for all rulers? 1 Timothy 2.1-6 (Chapter 6 of Render Unto God the Things that Are His)
  7. Conclusion to “Render unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses” (Chapter 7 of Render Unto God the Things that Are His)

 

Introduction to “Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses”


Jerald Finney
Copyright © June 2, 2012


Left click for links to all chapters on this subject:
Render unto God the Things that Are His
or
Links to all chapters of “Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related verses” is at the bottom of this article.


Sermons:
Pastor Jason Cooley, “Romans 13 in Context,” July 13, 2012
Pastor Jason Cooley, “1 Peter 2.13: Proper Submission to Government,” August, 2012

Jerald Finney’s audio teaching on Romans 13
To download right click link to audio and left click “Save link as…”


Preface

This article is a continuation of Jerald Finney’s systematic development of the doctrines, application, history, and legalities of “separation of church and state.” See Why Understanding and Applying Church and State Law Is Important for Believers and Churches for more on this matter. This article is the first in a series of articles which have been adopted from the Book Render unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses. That book is a more complete study than the study presented in Section III, Chapters 5 and 6 of the book God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Link to preview of God Betrayed). (Link to Contents of “Separation of Church and State Law” Blog which has links so that the new follower can start his study at the beginning. “Line upon line, precept upon precept.”). See Endnote for information on books by Jerald Finney which thoroughly examine “separation of church and state law.” 


Introduction to “Render Unto God the Things that Are His:
A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses”

Setting the right goal is very important for success. Men, both lost and saved, who do not understand God’s principles rely upon their reasoning to conceive of a goal and a way to achieve that goal. Reason tells mankind that the goal of man is happiness, and conceives of various ways to achieve that goal. On the other hand, the Bible reveals that the God-given goal of man is the glory of God and tells man how to achieve that goal (See Jerald Finney, God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Xulon Press, 2008; Austin TX: Kerygma Publishing Company, 2008), Section I, Chapter 2). God Betrayed presents a comprehensive study of the issue of “separation of church and state.” That study is also being presented on this website.). Of course, those who follow biblical teaching will be as happy as others on earth. However, happiness on earth is fleeting, at best. The lost person and the carnal saved person will not be happy when his physical and/or material well being is threatened or lost. The Christian will not be happy when his or another’s spiritual state is not as it should be. Christians will have eternal happiness, but that is not their God-given goal.

One thing is for sure, according to reality as judged by the Word of God: mankind, except for a remnant of faithful believers, always rejects God’s wisdom and guidelines and seeks happiness for themselves rather than seeking to glorify God. Men, in resorting to their own reasoning instead of getting saved and studying and applying truth and principles from the Word of God as led by the Spirit of God, have sought their goal of happiness in various ways. This is true of philosophies concerning civil government.

Mankind began to reason, instead of following God’s principles concerning civil government, immediately after the flood. God, after the flood, ordained civil government and divided the world into Gentile nations (Ge. 10.5; De. 32.8; see God Betrayed, Section I and also the “civil government” category on this website for the biblical principles and history concerning governments.). He did this because, given the nature of man, concentration of the world into one civil government would mean unlimited potential for evil and tyranny (Ge. 11.6. God had already pointed out that the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth (Ge. 8.21), and that, without the control of civil government operating under God, mankind quickly becomes totally corrupt (Ge. 6.12-13). Before the flood, God had forbidden civil government (See Ge. 4) to show man what happens without some direct and immediate controls over his actions.). Mankind rebelled against God’s directions and came together at the tower of Babel (Ge. 11.1-4). God confused the tongues—that is, He made men to speak different languages—and they were forced to comply with God’s direction to form nations (Ge. 11.5-9).

At first, all nations were Gentile (See Ge. 10.5. The Bible calls all nations, except the nation of Israel, Gentile.). Israel was the only theocracy ever ordained by God, the only nation that God desired to combine religion and state. After Israel rejected the theocracy, religion and state were separated in Israel. For example, God rejected King Saul for intruding into the priest’s office (See I S. 13.8-14).

Many still believe, as always, that man will be able to solve all problems and bring peace through unified world government. Since God divided mankind into nations, one goal of many has been global governance. Of course, God’s Word and history show the folly of this idea. Nonetheless, God will allow man to achieve his goal. The one world government prophesied in the Bible appears to be forthcoming.

Fascism and communism, in seeking unity, embrace the idea that the general will of the people is well-intentioned; and, as Rousseau put it:

  • “[T]he general will is always on the side which is most favorable to the public interest, that is to say, the most equitable; so that it is needful only to act justly to be certain of following the general will” (See Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism (New York: Doubleday, 2007), p. 39.).
  • “The idea of the general will created a true secular religion out of the mystic chords of nationalism, a religion in which ‘the people’ in effect worshipped themselves. Just as individuals couldn’t be ‘free’ except as part of the group, their existence lacked meaning and purpose except in relation to the collective.
  • “It followed, moreover, that if the people were the new God, there was no room for God Himself. In The Social Contract, Rousseau tells us that because of Christianity’s distinction between God and Caesar, ‘men have never known whether they ought to obey the civil ruler or the priest.’ What Rousseau proposed instead was a society in which religion and politics were perfectly combined. Loyalty to the state and loyalty to the divine must be seen as the same thing.…
  • “Rousseau’s community is bound together by the general will as expressed in the dogmas of what he called a ‘civil religion’ and enforced by the all-powerful God-state. Those who defy the collective spirit of the community live outside the state and have no claim on its protections. Indeed, not only is the state not required to defend antisocial individuals or subcommunities, it is compelled to do away with them” (Ibid., pp. 39-40).

Rousseau’s idea of community began at the Tower of Babel where mankind aimed for unity of religion and state. Powerful men have always had this goal. The attempt to force unity continued after the marriage of church and state in the early fourth century and resulted in the adoption of the pagan philosophy which combined religion and state.

Early Christianity was a threat to union of religion and state. Because persecution had resulted in tremendous church growth, church and state combined under Constantine and the established “church” adopted many pagan practices to provide unity (See Leonard Verduin, The Anatomy of a Hybrid (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976); see also, God Betrayed and the articles on this website.). Those who resisted unity were labeled as heretics, imprisoned, persecuted, tortured, and murdered (Ibid.). Oneness cannot exist when some are allowed to disagree with a principle of the controlling state/religion.

The United States of America became the second civil government in history, after the colony of Rhode Island, to reject unity of religion and state and implemented the biblical principle of soul liberty which is also called religious liberty or separation of church and state (See God Betrayed, Section IV, for a historyof separation of church and state and the First Amendment religion clause in America.. See also, the upcoming articles on this website which deal with that history and also the already published article An Abridged History of the First Amendment.). America came closer than any nation to following God’s principles for church and state, and she included many of the principles of the Word of God in her founding documents.

America is no longer a nation under God and is experiencing the consequences of failing to operate under God and abide by His principles (See God Betrayed, Section V for an analysis of how the United States Supreme Court has systematically removed/ God from practically all civil government affairs and the upcoming articles on this website on that subject.). This inevitable turnabout was caused, to a large degree, by the union of church and state. Although the First Amendment guaranteed freedom from civil government, many churches chose to become state churches through incorporation shortly after the ratification of the Constitution (See God Betrayed, Section VI, Chapter 3 and the upcoming relevant articles on this website). The First Amendment originally applied only to the federal government (The United States Supreme Court extended First Amendment protection to all levels of civil government in the twentieth century. See God Betrayed, Section V.). States were free to and did offer to incorporate churches; and many churches, against the warnings of leaders like Isaac Backus, ran to incorporate (See Ibid., Section VI, Chapter 3 and for more details incorporation of churches in the colonies and in the states of the new nation.).

Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) (“501(c)(3)”), passed in the twentieth century, invites churches, in exchange for “tax exemption,” to come under federal government control to some extent (See Ibid., Section VI, Chapters 4 and 5 for more information on the 501(c)(3) exemption control scheme. New Testament churches which are not connected to civil government are non-taxable under the First Amendment and under God.). The great majority of churches have, against the will of God, accepted the invitation by civil government to incorporate and get 501(c)(3) status.

Unconstitutional actions by the President of the United States have further invited churches to unite with and place themselves under federal government control. For example, President George Bush showed his misunderstanding of the First Amendment and God’s principles by implementing a “Faith Based Initiative” under which religious organizations may apply for federal government money to finance certain ministries. The Bush administration also invited churches to address national disasters under civil government direction. During the Hurricane Katrina disaster, many “Christians” and pastors, guided by a false interpretation of Romans 13, heeded the call and assisted, under civil government, in disaster relief to the victims. Churches, Christians, and pastors should be the first to help others; but they should operate only under God and His principles, never with or under the control of civil government.

Doing one thing that subjects a church to the state creates a legal entity. “Legal entity” means:

“Legal existence. An entity, other than a natural person, who has sufficient existence in legal contemplation that it can function legally, be sued or sue and make decisions through agents as in the case of corporations” (BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 893-894 (6th ed. 1990), definition of “legal entity.” Note. Every citizen on the United States is also a legal entity.

Examples of legal entities in the United states are corporations, unincorporated associations, corporations sole, charitable trusts, and Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) (“501(c)(3)”) tax exempt organizations.

Because of the First Amendment which recognizes and implements the biblical principle of separation of church and state, churches can still choose to be spiritual entities and no church is required by any civil law to become a legal entity (Jerald Finney, Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities (Austin TX: Kerygma Publishing Co.; also published by Xulon Press, 2009) explains the distinctions between legal and spiritual entities, and the various ways churches can become legal entities. See also, God Betrayed.). Nonetheless, many “Christians” incorrectly assume or believe that church and state should be united in America; that civil law requires such a union; and/or that churches should become legal entities because Romans 13 and other Bible verses are taken out of context and perverted to mean what they do not mean.

Some Christians interpret certain scriptures to mean that Christians and churches are required by God to submit to civil government in all things or to submit to civil government in all things except for the preaching of the gospel of salvation. The articles that will follow on this website will analyze Matthew 17.24-27 which deals with the miracle of the tribute money; Luke 20.25 (also recorded in Matthew 22.21; and Mark 12.17) in which Jesus proclaimed, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s;” Romans 13, I Peter 2.13, and I Timothy 2.1-6. What those scriptures teach concerning submission by individual Christians and churches to civil government is the subject of these studies (To totally understand the issue of God’s teachings concerning submission to civil government, one must understand other sub-issues or principles. God Betrayed offers a more comprehensive look at all the issues involved.).

Endnote

Order information, free online PDFs and Online Versions of books by Jerald Finney should he desire to order any of the books which are in print.

 

When Did the Church Become a Business?” a song by Jason Bellard

American Abuse of Romans 13.1-2 and Related Verses

Jerald Finney
Copyright © September 29, 2009


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Are you interested in understanding what Romans 13 and other related verses really teach about the relationship of a church and of individual Christians and families to civil government? Has your preacher ever preached on the verses? If so, what position did he take on these verses? Did he interpret the verses in their immediate context and in the overall context of Scripture? Did he explain why the first Christians, including the apostles, as well as God’s own angels and many other biblical characters repeatedly violated, and were sometimes rewarded by God for violating, the modern American “interpretation” of those verses? Did he tell you about the Christians since New Testament days who have been subjected to the most cruel tortures and killed (tarred and feathered, twisted on racks, boiling oil poured down their throats, thrown in with wild beasts, beheaded, pulled apart, beheaded, drowned, buried alive, hanged, etc.) for disobeying the powers that be for refusing to recant their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in Him alone? Did he explain to you that in America the First Amendment provides for religious liberty and that no church is supposedly required by man’s law to incorporate, get a 501(c)(3) tax exemption, or to become a legal entity of any kind? Did he explain to you the biblical doctrines of church, state, and separation of church and state?

Romans 13.1-2 and related verses are among the most abused Bible verses in America today. I use the word “abused” as opposed to “misinterpreted,” although people also misinterpret the verses while abusing them.  According to Webster’s Dictionary, abuse means “to put to a wrong or improper use” or “to use so as to injure or damage.” Webster’s defines “misinterpret” as “to explain wrongly” or “to understand wrongly.” Those who use Romans 13.1-2 and related verses to justify submission to civil government in all matters, including spiritual matters or matters involving the first four commandments, have abused those verses. They have not considered the immediate and overall context of Scripture in reaching their conclusions. They have assumed state superiority in ecclesiastical affairs and the use of religion to further state policy. Such an assumption has been labeled as Erastianism and this assumption or philosophy pervaded all Europe, with the exception of Calvin’s ecclesiocratic Geneva, after the Reformation, and achieved its greatest triumph in England. Sadly, this assumption is widely accepted in America today.

The verses used to support Erastianism include Romans 13.1-2 (“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers…. Whosoever resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation….”), and other Bible verses such as Matthew 17.24-27 (“Doth not your master pay tribute? …”), Luke 20.25 (“Render unto Caesar….” which is also recorded in Matthew 22.21 and Mark 12.17.), 1 Peter 2.13-14 (“Submit to every ordinance of man….”), and 1 Timothy 2.1-6 (which exhorts Christians to pray for all men, including rulers). Many nonbelievers as well as carnal and/or baby Christians in America confidently quote one or more of these verses out of context to support their position that Christians are to bow down to civil government in all things, or all things except limitations on the preaching of salvation.

Some go further and take the unbelievable position that these verses mean that churches should become state churches by incorporating, becoming unincorporated associations or charitable trusts, operating as corporations sole, getting 501(c)(3) tax exemption, or by some other means and that churches which do not are in sin. Many of those Christians and churches who take this position pressure churches which are under God, and God only, to put themselves under the state through one of the methods mentioned above.

If you are interested in an in-depth study each of the above mentioned verses of Scripture, click on the WordPress Players below. Each segment below is an edited version of a radio broadcast. Click the following links to hear Jerald Finney’s audio teachings (Right click link and left click “Save link as…” to download):

Introduction and Matthew 17.24-27: “Doth not your master pay tribute?” (13 min. 42 sec.)

Luke 20.25, Matthew 22.21, Mark 12.17: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God, the things which be God’s” (4 min. 47 sec.)

Romans 13: “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers” (24 min. 15 sec.)

I Peter 2.13: “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man….” (6 min. 6 sec.)

I Timothy 2.1-5: Pray for rulers (8 min. 6 sec.)

You may also be interested in:

More on Romans 13: The Powers/Governments God Has Ordained (article)

Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses (booklet)

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