“Subjection to the Superior Authorities”
MODERN dictators would have us believe that their rise to power is especially arranged by God. Their destiny, so we are told, is divinely guided, and their hideous shadows of authority stretch across the earth “by the grace of God”. The “divine right of dictators”, however, is nothing more than a revision of the old slogan, the “divine right of kings”. On the other hand, the so-called democratic nations also proclaim that their civil authorities serve by divine appointment. And so in this regard the rulers of all nations make similar claims.a
As in former times, so now the most fervent apostles and high priests of this shackle-binding dogma have been and are the clergy of both the Eastern and Western blocs of Christendom. These lettered men of theology try to prove their point by citing certain texts from the Bible. For example, they point to the ancient pagan rulers, Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus, saying Jehovah made them kings over Babylon and Persia. (Dan. 2:37, 38; 5:18, 19; Jer. 27:5-13, 17; 2 Chron. 36:22, 23, AS; Ezra 1:1, 2) ‘Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s,’ the clergy chirp parrotlike, and ‘let everyone be subject to the higher powers’. (Matt. 22:21; Rom. 13:1) But, lacking understanding, these modern-day Pharisees have misapplied the Scriptures.
It is absolutely illogical and unreasonable to believe that the omnipotent God of the universe, the One supreme in love and justice and wisdom and power, is directly responsible for the woes and sorrows and misery brought upon the peoples of the earth by their blundering, grafting, cruel and altogether wicked rulers who honeycomb every man-made government. To say that God installed the Caesars, the Mussolinis, the Hitlers, the Stalins, and all the rest, is to make God responsible for the persecution of Christ Jesus and all his true followers down to the present time. No, Christ and the apostles declared that Jehovah God has nothing to do with this wicked world, that the Devil is “the ruler of this world”, “the god of this system of things,” and “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one”.—John 12:31; 2 Cor. 4:4; 1 John 5:19, NW.
Make no mistake about this, the true “higher powers” or “superior authorities” to whom Christians are commanded to subject themselves in worship are Jehovah God and Christ Jesus! Jehovah is the Source of all authority, and to his glorified Son, Christ Jesus, the reigning King of the new world, God has given a name and power and authority second only to himself.—Job 37:23; Ps. 62:11, Mo; Matt. 28:18; John 5:26, 27, 30; 17:1, 2, NW.
This explains why the apostles Peter and John chose to obey Jehovah God and Christ Jesus rather than earthly rulers in matters pertaining to worship. (Acts 4:19, 20; 5:29-32) This is why the apostles and early Christians did not take part in politics, did not serve in Caesar’s armies, did not worship the emperor’s image, did not become spotted with this world’s affairs. Following a similar course, Christians today, and not Caesar’s representatives, have God’s rich blessing and holy spirit.
“Pay back, therefore, Caesar’s things to Caesar,” yes! Christians do this in the form of taxes and obedience in civil matters, but at the same time they do not forget to pay back “God’s things to God”—pure worship of him. “There is therefore compelling reason for you to be in subjection”!—Matt. 22:21; Rom. 13:1-6, NW.
a For a detailed discussion, see The Watchtower, November 15, 1950.