The authoritative direction and restraint exercised over the actions of men in communities, societies, and states. Also, the person, body of persons, or the organizations constituting the governing authority.
In the Christian Greek Scriptures forms of the word ar·kheʹ (beginning) are variously translated “principalities,” “governments,” “rulers,” “Sovereignties.” (KJ; Dy; NW; AT; JB) Ky·berʹne·sis and ky·ri·oʹtes, rendered “government” in some translations, more correctly mean “steering [guiding or directing]” and “lordship,” respectively. In the Hebrew Scriptures, “government” is the English term sometimes used to translate mem·sha·lahʹ, “dominion” (Isa 22:21), and mis·rahʹ, “dominion” or “princely rule [or power].”—Isa 9:6.
The Bible reveals that there are invisible governments that are good, established by God (Eph 3:10), and those that are wicked, established by Satan and the demons. (Eph 6:12) Jesus Christ was the active agent of God in originally setting up all righteous governments and authorities, invisible and visible. (Col 1:15, 16) He has been placed by his Father Jehovah as head of all government (Col 2:8-10), and he must rule until all opposing governments, invisible and visible, are brought to nothing. (1Co 15:24) The apostle Paul indicated that there was a system of things to come in which there would be a government under the authority of Christ.—Eph 1:19-21.
World Governments. The Bible pictures world governments as “beasts” and says that they get their authority from the Dragon, Satan the Devil. God has permitted them to remain and has limited their scope and duration of rule, in harmony with his purpose.—Da chaps 7, 8; Re chaps 13, 17; Da 4:25, 35; Joh 19:11; Ac 17:26; 2Co 4:3, 4; see BEASTS, SYMBOLIC.
Christians and Governments. Jesus Christ and the early Christians did nothing to interfere with human governments of their day. (Joh 6:15; 17:16; 18:36; Jas 1:27; 4:4) They recognized the fact that some form of government is necessary for the existence of society, and they never fomented revolution or civil disobedience. (Ro 13:1-7; Tit 3:1) Jesus set forth the guiding principle for true worshipers of God to follow when he said: “Pay back, therefore, Caesar’s things to Caesar, but God’s things to God.” (Mt 22:21) This principle enabled the early Christians (and Christians since then) to maintain a right balance as to relations with the two authorities, that of the civil governments and that of God. Jesus showed further that his position while on earth, and therefore that of his disciples, was not one of fighting against the “Caesar” governments but, rather, one of compliance with their regulations that did not conflict with God’s law. Pilate himself recognized this fact when he said: “I find no fault in him.” (Joh 18:38) The apostles followed Jesus’ example.—Ac 4:19, 20; 5:29; 24:16; 25:10, 11, 18, 19, 25; 26:31, 32; see KINGDOM; SUPERIOR AUTHORITIES.