1689 Baptist Confession: Civil Government

Knowing how to live under a holy and perfect God when we live in a world of so many unholy and imperfect governments can be difficult. I think the 1689 Baptist Confession is sufficient to summarize the Biblical teaching on this subject.


24.1 God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, has ordained civil authorities1 to be under him and over the people,2 for his own glory and the public good.3 For this purpose he has armed them with the authority to use force,4 to defend and encourage those who do good, and to punish evil doers.5
(1) Original, magistrates
(2) Psa 82:1; Luk 12:48; Rom 13:1-6; 1Pe 2:13-14
(3) Gen 6:11-13 with 9:5-6; Psa 58:1-2; 72:14; 82:1-4; Pro 21:15; 24:11-12; 29:14,26; 31:5; Eze 7:23; 45:9; Dan 4:27; Mat 22:21; Rom 13:3-4; 1Ti 2:2; 1Pe 2:14
(4) Original, the power of the sword
(5) Gen 9:6; Pro 16:14; 19:12; 20:2; 21:15; 28:17; Act 25:1; Rom 13:4; 1Pe 2:13-14
24.2 It is lawful for Christians to accept and carry out the duties of public office1 when called upon to so.2 In the performance of such office they are particularly responsible for maintaining justice and peace in accordance with the wholesome laws of the nation. For that purpose they may (in terms of the New Testament) lawfully engage in war if it is just and necessary.3
(1) Original, of a magistrate
(2) Exo 22:8-9,28-29; Daniel; Nehemiah; Pro 14:35; 16:10,12; 20:26,28; 25:2; 28:15-16; 29:4,14; 31:4-5; Rom 13:2,4,6
(3) Luk 3:14; Rom 13:4
24.3 As civil authorities1 are established by God for the purposes given, we ought to be subject to2 all their lawful commands3 for the Lord's sake, not merely to avoid punishment, but for conscience' sake. We ought also to make supplications and prayers for rulers and all who are in authority, that under them we may live a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and honesty.4
(1) Original, magistrates
(2) Pro 16:14-15; 19:12; 20:2; 24:21-22; 25:15; 28:2; Rom 13:1-7; Tit 3:1; 1Pe 2:13-14
(3) Dan 1:8; 3:4-6,16-18; 6:5-10,22; Mat 22:21; Act 4:19-20; 5:29
(4) Jer 29:7; 1Ti 2:1-4


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