Conscience and Subjection to Authorities
1. When does the greatest benefit come to one from subjection to authorities, and who therefore receive the greatest benefit?
THE greatest benefit from subjecting ourselves to the “existing authorities” that God permits to rule on earth comes by being subject with the right motive. The motive of fear does not always keep men from doing wrong or from opposing the “superior authorities.” In all the nations and lands the persons who have the best motive for subjecting themselves are the persons who are no part of Christendom but who are Christians dedicated to Jehovah God and who follow in the footsteps of his Son Jesus Christ. Being dedicated to do God’s will, they do not take a stand against God’s arrangement concerning the “superior authorities.” So as residents in the land they keep good order, not just to avoid the wrath that could be expressed through the superior authorities, but to live by their Christian conscience, which is enlightened by God’s Word.
2. What compelling reason for subjection does Romans 13:5 give, and what do those who subject themselves for that reason avoid?
2 In Romans 13:5 the apostle Paul calls attention to this the best motive, saying: “There is therefore compelling reason for you people to be in subjection, not only on account of that wrath but also on account of your conscience.” The wrath against wrongdoing is expressed directly by the earthly “authority.” But as the authority is God’s minister in a right direction, it is also God’s wrath indirectly. The person who disregards or opposes the “superior authorities” on earth is taking a stand against God’s arrangement and deserves God’s wrath also. No one enjoys punishment; but by avoiding it for conscience’ sake the Christians avoid not only outside trouble but also inward trouble from a guilty conscience.
3. What shows that the Christians’ subjection to authorities is not conscienceless, and from what suffering do they thus keep free?
3 With true Christians fear is not the main motive for being law-abiding and orderly, but their conscience is. So in their case subjection to superior authorities is not conscienceless. It is not just a patriotism. As their conscience is instructed in God’s Word, the Holy Bible, it does not let them subject themselves to earthly superior authorities in everything, say in cases where what the imperfect authorities think is right clashes with God’s commandments through Christ. This may result in suffering unjust punishment at the hands of the authorities; but thus we see how with Christians conscience is a compelling reason, since it forces them to obey God although this brings undeserved suffering upon them. If they had no enlightened conscience, they would sidestep such suffering for the sake of personal convenience. If, though, for conscience they undergo outward suffering at the hands of the superior authorities, they keep themselves free from inward suffering; their consciences do not smite them.
4, 5. (a) Why do Christians have reason to be better citizens? (b) What does the apostle Peter show on this, and so what double force acts upon Christians toward right-doing?
4 A Christian conscience keeps us from doing wrong but impels us to do right, according to God’s Word. We do not want our conscience to sting us for doing what is bad in God’s sight. For this reason Christians have a restraining force that worldly people do not have against doing bad. On that account Christians have reason to be better citizens, though not taking part in politics.
5 A Christian’s conscience reminds him that he is no part of this old world and hence he has no business to mix in politics and try to run earthly governments or be part of the “superior authorities.” (John 17:14-16) The apostle Peter, in his first letter to Christians, talks about subjection and calls attention to conscience a number of times. He points out that it ought to be the force that deters a person as a Christian from doing wrong or meddling in things that do not concern him. (1 Pet. 2:19; 3:16, 21) So a double force, namely, Christian conscience and fear of wrath, acts upon Christians to hold them in the path of doing good, in harmony with the State laws that are good, laws that show righteousness because of the bit of conscience that still remains in worldly men as an inheritance from God’s first human creation, the man Adam.
6. What does all the foregoing prove as to the Christians’ subjection to “superior authorities”?
6 What does all this prove? This, that when Paul told Christians to subject themselves to the “superior authorities,” he did not mean that they must give up or squelch their conscience. He did not mean they must ignore it when there is a conflict between the laws of the authorities and God’s Word. God’s laws are right in themselves, and Christians do not have to worry about conscience when obeying all of God’s laws. Our consciences do not bother us when we keep God’s laws and do his work. Rather, they approve us and give us peace of heart. It is only when we are faced with subjection to authorities outside God’s organization that the question of conscience steps in and we have to keep our consciences alert for fear of displeasing God and breaking his laws.
PAYING WHAT IS DUE TO “SUPERIOR AUTHORITIES”
7. What does the fact that Romans 13:6 brings up the subject of taxes show regarding the “superior authorities”?
7 “For that is why you are also paying taxes; for they are God’s public servants constantly serving this very purpose.” (Rom. 13:6) So our paying of taxes should be conscientious. If Paul had not been talking of “superior authorities” outside the Christian congregation he would not have brought up the matter of taxes. Why not? Because the congregation overseers and their ministerial assistants do not lay taxes upon the members to make them support the overseers and their assistants. Neither does the governing body of the worldwide congregation levy taxes, nor does the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania do so. The contributions that the congregation members make are according to their own willingness and their means. They are not taxes, like taxes the failure to pay which outside in the world calls for punishment by the “superior authorities.”
8. Is there anything parenthetical about Romans 13:6, and what is the reason it gives for taxation?
8 Neither the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures nor other Bible translations, ancient or modern, put in parentheses the words, “For that is why you are also paying taxes,” as if these words were a parenthetical thought that was thrown in as a side thought. In fact, these words lead right on into the rest of the sentence, to show why it is that taxes are paid. We pay taxes to support those “public servants” who are clothed with authority to do good, to praise doers of good and to avenge doers of bad.
9. How, in harmony with Matthew 22:21, is it proper for Christians to pay taxes, and what is not their responsibility in that regard?
9 By Jehovah’s people there is no tax dodging or evading. They conscientiously pay taxes. Jesus told them to do so, in Matthew 22:21, although the Jewish Pharisees believed that they could not conscientiously pay tax to Gentile Caesar. But it is in harmony with Jehovah’s law to pay public servants or ministers for good services rendered. Taxes go to the support of our public ministers, persons who render services that the Christian congregation does not do. How these “public servants” spend all the public moneys is not the Christian taxpayer’s responsibility; it is the public servant’s responsibility. It is not something for our consciences to worry about. God does not authorize Christ’s footstep followers to go into political government any more than he authorized Jesus Christ his Son to do so. Hence in this world we Christians must pay tax like anyone else, instead of managing earthly governments ourselves.
10, 11. (a) When do individuals act as God’s public servants, and when not? (b) Despite abuse of authority, how do public servants still render service?
10 Thus these worldly men relieve the nonpolitical Christians of operating governments that benefit even Christians in many regards. So, in a relative sense, such government officers are “God’s public servants,” and they serve a purpose beneficial to God’s people as these Christians seek first God’s kingdom and specialize on preaching it. Of course, when these “public servants” do not serve but oppress; when they become self-glorifying dictators, and when they persecute Jehovah’s Christian witnesses, then they cease to be God’s public servants in those regards. But not in all regards!
11 Why not? Because there are still other services that they keep rendering to the public, services from which the persecuted Witnesses benefit, such as the post office, fire department, water supply, schools, public transportation, upkeep of streets and highways, and so forth. Otherwise, the persecuted Witnesses could not exist or survive at all under dictatorships and totalitarian governments. The dictators do not survive, but Jehovah’s Christian witnesses do!
12. How does God’s permission of oppressors serve toward His dedicated people, and with what outcome?
12 For awhile God lets such dictators and totalitarian oppressors carry on in order to test the integrity of his dedicated people; and it is also a test of their peaceful subjection to worldly “superior authorities.” This faithful endurance by the persecuted Witnesses helps the worldly people to see the submissiveness of the Witnesses and at length their innocence. The false accusers who stirred up the persecution are put to shame as malicious liars.
13. As regards “superior authorities,” what fact follows from the nonparticipating in politics by Jehovah’s witnesses?
13 Since Jehovah’s witnesses do not engage in politics or run for political office, they must leave to worldlings the operation of human governments. It is God’s will that we use such superior authorities for our good and for furthering the Christian ministry.
14, 15. (a) So in behalf of our Christian ministry, what do we take advantage of, and is this acting according to Isaiah 31:1-3? (b) Otherwise, why would we not be obliged to pay back anything to Caesar?
14 In that behalf we take advantage of the police protection provided by such authorities, or of their libraries, their transportation system, their shipping facilities, their post office, their schools. We take advantage of consular offices and embassies, for their help or protection in behalf of our foreign Branch or missionary connections. We have a right to go to the State Department and ask it to intercede for us in foreign lands where our property or our representatives are being abused. We take advantage of the law courts and other public officials when it comes to matters of marriage and divorce and other things. This is not a case of “going down to Egypt for assistance” in the way of horses and war chariots, that is, for military purposes.—Isa. 31:1-3.
15 If the human authority of this world were not “God’s minister to you for your good,” we would not be obliged to pay back anything to Caesar. When Jesus said to pay taxes, he definitely said that Caesar was not God, but that Caesar was subject to God in that God limited payments to Caesar according to what was owed to Caesar. (Mark 12:17) As long as God lets them exist, Caesar and his governors are “constantly serving this very purpose” of doing things that Christians are not authorized to do.
RENDERING WHAT IS OWED
16. Whom does Romans 13:7 mean when it says to pay dues “to all,” and what would not doing so mean?
16 In a recognition of the public services rendered to God’s people, the apostle Paul goes on to say: “Render to all their dues [things owed to them], to him who calls for the tax, the tax; to him who calls for the tribute, the tribute; to him who calls for fear, such fear; to him who calls for honor, such honor.” (Rom. 13:7) When Paul says to render the dues “to all,” he plainly means those who are God’s “public servants.” These are the ones that call for tax, tribute, fear and honor. Christians have no right to cheat them of their dues. To fail to pay what is owed them is dishonest, thievish. Thieves do not inherit God’s kingdom or its blessings.
17. Why is the requirement to pay taxes not unjust upon Christians, and what revolution would not have occurred if Romans 13:1-7 had been obeyed?
17 The public servant is not unjust in calling for the tax. He needs it to stay on his job and render his services. If he overtaxes, he is unfair, but the responsibility is his as to what he does with the excess money. Tax must be paid even if there is “taxation without representation.” This was one of the issues in the American Revolution of 1775-1783. According to what the apostle Paul here says, the American Revolution was not a Christian action. The thirteen British colonies in America then claimed to be Christian, and their king was the monarch George III, who held the post of head of the Church of England. If the thirteen British colonies had acted as Christians and had followed Romans, chapter 13, and had been subject to the “superior authorities” and had loyally paid taxes and other dues, there would have been no American Revolution.
18. What possibility would have opened up in time to the thirteen colonies, and that without what religious necessity?
18 Of course, then too, there would have been no United States of America today. However, the colonies would have gained Commonwealth status in the British Commonwealth of Nations, just as the Dominion of Canada gained it, and this without bloodshed. This would not have called for the colonies to rise up in revolt against the one whom many colonists recognized as Head of the Church of England, George III. It would also not have become necessary for the rebels against George’s political authority to set up an independent Episcopal Church in America in 1789, the Protestant Episcopal Church.
19. On the same basis, what would have been true of modern Russia, and so how has Christendom proved lacking in the power of godliness?
19 In like manner, if the Russian people, who considered Tsar Nicholas II the patron of the Russian Orthodox Church, had acted as Christians and had obeyed the apostolic instructions in Romans, chapter 13, there would have been no Russian Revolution in 1917. There would have been no Communist menace today by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Christendom’s priests and preachers have always taught that the “higher powers” of Romans 13:1 (Dy; AV) are the political authorities of this world. Yet Christendom has undergone many violent political revolutions with much bloodshed, in many lands. In this respect she has proved herself as merely “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” (2 Tim. 3:5, AV) Her clergy are not guiltless respecting all this.
TRIBUTE, FEAR, HONOR
20. (a) What does Paul mean by the “tribute” to be paid? (b) How is the nonpayment of taxes on religious property that is exempted by the State counterbalanced?
20 In saying, “to him who calls for the tribute, the tribute,” Paul does not mean paying verbal tribute or making ascriptions of praise. He means paying something material, financial. The tribute meant was an impost or tax, properly on goods or merchandise. (Matt. 17:24-27) This tribute, like the above tax, has no place inside the Christian congregation, but is associated with worldly “superior authorities.” In some lands those authorities do not call for taxes to be paid on congregational or church property but grant exemption to religious organizations of all denominations. It is the privilege of the congregation to take advantage of this provision so as to use all its funds in religious directions. Of course, some worldly groups look upon exemption of churches from taxation as a form of union of Church and State. But if, in this case, the Christian congregation does not pay taxes on its religious property that is not for commercial uses, it does not violate the apostle Paul’s command. Individually, however, the members of the congregation do have to pay personal tax or tribute on their own properties and goods.
21, 22. (a) Does Romans 13:7 call for “fear” of public servants? (b) What kind of fear is this, and to what extent does it go for Christians?
21 From things owed of a material or financial kind, Romans 13:7 now turns to things of a psychological kind, saying: “To him who calls for fear, such fear.” Does this mean fear of public servants of this world? Yes; for, as verse three says, “those ruling are an object of fear” to bad deeds, and verse four says that if anyone does evil or bad he should be afraid or be in fear.
22 So the fear that we have toward such rulers or public servants is the fear to do evil for which we should incur their wrath or vengeance. We show fear toward them by not doing what is wrong and by being law-abiding subjects or citizens. If fear is to be shown to slaveowners and to husbands and to judges, police and public investigators, then why not to political rulers? (1 Pet. 2:18; 3:1, 2; 3:15; Eph. 5:33) This is not a cowardly fear that would keep us from preaching God’s kingdom, but is a proper regard or a healthy respect for the executional powers that a political authority may have. We have a fear to the extent that their official powers may reach or extend. Outside the area of their powers we do not have to fear them. The limit to which they can go with their powers is to the realm of this life, in this doomed system of things.
23. Why does such fear of public servants not take away from our fear of Jehovah with an undivided heart?
23 So this does not take away from our fearing God with an undivided heart. (Ps. 86:11) We have to fear him in far more respects than the respects in which we are to fear the “superior authorities” that God lets exist for a time. In fact, in rendering our relative subjection to them we are really doing it as to God, for this is according to his arrangement. We want to live forever in his new world, where he will not permit the present superior authorities to exist. So we do not want to displease God, for he can cut us off from eternal life in that new world by destroying our souls and refusing us a resurrection from the dead.—Matt. 10:28.
24. Why is honor owing to public officials, and how did Paul set an example?
24 Besides fear, something else is also owing. Romans 13:7 says: “To him who calls for honor, such honor.” This honor rendered to public officials is not because of the persons themselves. It is because of what they represent in a public sense. A king represents a nation or an empire; a governor represents a state or province; a mayor, a city. This obligation to render honor where due allows us to address political officials by their titles, and it does not conflict with what the young man Elihu said in Job 32:21, 22. When before Governor Felix, Governor Festus and King Herod Agrippa II, the apostle Paul rendered them proper honor, either addressing them by their titles or acknowledging good rulership by them.—Acts 24:10; 26:1-3, 24-29.
25. What kind of honor is it that we render to “superior authorities,” and how is honor shown to compare with fear as to weight?
25 It is merely a relative honor that we pay to “superior authorities.” Who wants to be only feared, viewed with dread? They do not. But fear carries more weight than a desire to honor does. The relative weight of fear and honor finds an illustration in what is commanded in 1 Peter 2:17: ‘Fear God, honor the king.’ A Christian husband gives honor to his wife as to a weaker vessel, the feminine one; but the wife is under apostolic command to give fear to her husband as to her head and lord. (1 Pet. 3:1, 5, 6; Eph. 5:33) The children must honor their father and mother. (Eph. 6:1-3) The Christian congregation is to honor worthy widows, by making a deserved provision for them. (1 Tim. 5:3) Thus we cannot sidestep rendering honor to those outside or inside the Christian congregation.
26. What is to be said about honoring religious dignitaries of Christendom with titles?
26 But as to honoring religious dignitaries of Christendom or of Jewry by giving them their flattering titles, we must obey Jesus’ command: “Do not you be called Rabbi, for one is your teacher, whereas all you are brothers. Moreover, do not call anyone your father on earth, for one is your Father, the heavenly One. Neither be called ‘leaders,’ for your Leader is one, the Christ.” (Matt. 23:8-10) We do not owe religious dignitaries unchristian honors.
THE EVERLASTING DEBT OF LOVE
27. Why is the nonpayment of debts to be avoided?
27 It is not good to let our debts go unpaid; it is dishonest and gets us into trouble. In showing our obligation to the “superior authorities” of this world, Romans 13:8 says: “Do not you people be owing anybody a single thing, except to love one another; for he that loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law.”
28. To what extent does this apply to our dues to public servants?
28 We may not, therefore, withhold from rulers and public servants their dues. For government services we must rightly pay. This is the limited extent to which we may support and sustain the worldly governments over us in the various lands. But we cannot take away anything from the Most High God to pay to the “superior authorities,” namely, something that they have no right to ask of us. In their laying of demands and calls upon us they are limited by God’s commandments to us if we are dedicated to do His will.
29. (a) What debt can we never fully discharge? (b) For what vital thing are we not indebted to “superior authorities,” and what state of heart will we not let them teach or force us to develop?
29 As Christians we should be debt-free toward worldly rulers by the prompt payment of our obligations. This preserves a good Christian conscience. The only debt that we should feel we have never fully discharged is that of love. We are not indebted to “superior authorities” for our lives. God gave us our lives. Moreover, if we have followed Christ’s example and dedicated our lives to God and symbolized this by water baptism, we cannot give our lives to worldly authorities. We do not owe them our lives. Taxes, tribute, fear, honor—yes, but not our lives, which we have given to God as something owed to him. If we gave worldly authorities our lives, how could we fulfill our lasting debt of loving? for only a live person can love. Love as well as hate perishes at death. (Eccl. 9:4-6) Love is the one debt that the living cannot get free of. As long as we live we shall be owing love to others, to our neighbors, according to God’s command. We will not permit worldly authorities to teach or force us to hate others so as to work us up to an attitude where we shall do injury to others.
30. Love of our neighbor fulfills whose law, and for how long?
30 The laws of these worldly “superior authorities” will pass away with their destruction at Armageddon, but God’s law will remain and apply to us forever. That is why we just have to keep on loving. “For he that loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law.” That is to say, God’s law, not the law of the “superior authorities.” Jesus said that God’s second of his greatest commandments to us is this: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.”—Matt. 22:35-39.
31. Bringing this matter of love into the discussion shows what fact regarding our subjection to “superior authorities”?
31 This proves that our subjection to the worldly “superior authorities” is only relative, not total, and that it does not oblige us at the same time to disregard God’s law. If we subjected ourselves to such authorities in everything, we should not in many cases be obeying God’s law; yes, we should not be doing the loving thing toward God or our neighbor, and we should be violating our Christian conscience.
32. How is the source of the law here meant indicated in Romans 13:9, and how does this limit our subjection to authorities?
32 The law here meant is the law of Jehovah God. This is proved by the very next words of the apostle Paul: “For the law code, ‘You must not commit adultery, You must not murder, You must not steal, You must not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there is, is summed up in this word, namely, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Rom. 13:9) Hence if the “superior authorities” demanded of us to kill, or to engage with them in an aggressive campaign motivated by the coveting of the property of others and thus to steal property or to take it by force, we could not subject ourselves to them that far. All such things are a direct violation of God’s law that requires neighbor love of us. Yet, during time of carnal warfare, the “superior authorities” will require citizens to do things which, if they did these same things during peacetime, would bring punishment upon them by the authorities.
33. What will love of fellowman keep us from committing and bringing upon ourselves from authorities?
33 If we love our neighbor or fellowman, we shall not commit immorality or other law violations that would bring upon us the wrathful vengeance of political rulers, public servants, higher powers, superior authorities, and these will not have to use their “sword” on us.
34. By quoting here from God’s law, what does Paul point out about our subjection to authorities?
34 The law code from which the apostle Paul quoted above was that of Jehovah God through Moses. (Ex. 20:13-15, 17; Lev. 19:18; Matt. 22:39, 40) By quoting from it in his discussion of Christian subjection to the “superior authorities,” Paul qualifies the meaning of such subjection and points out that it is not unlimited. He wants us to know that the subjection is definitely limited by the law of Jehovah God. Above all, we must keep God’s law.
35. As illustrated in God’s law through Moses, what will God’s law of love through Christ not allow us to do, and with what effect upon subjection to authorities?
35 Christians are not under the law given through Moses, but they are definitely under God’s law of love. Said the Son of God to his disciples: “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34) If love sums up God’s law given to Israel through Moses and it would not allow Israelites to do injury to their neighbor or fellowman, then certainly God’s commandment of love through Christ will not allow Christians to do wrong. Superior authorities have no right or authority from God to subject Christ’s disciples to a hate campaign against others and then try to make his disciples follow up this hate campaign violently.
36. If love of neighbor affects our subjection to authorities, what can be said about our love of God?
36 “Love does not work evil to one’s neighbor; therefore love is the law’s fulfillment,” adds Romans 13:10. Love is the fulfillment of God’s law. Love safely acts as a delimiting force. It sets a limit as to how far our subjection to worldly authorities may go on our part. If love for our neighbor would not let us yield to worldly authorities to doing wrong to our neighbor, more so would our love for God, a higher love, not let us do so.
37. What right do “superior authorities” not have as regards love of God, and how is such love a safety in our relations with them?
37 The “superior authorities” have no right to require dedicated Christians to give up their love of neighbor. Much less have such authorities the right to make atheists of us and make us give up our love to God. They have no right from heaven to try to make us break the chief commandment in the universe. Jesus said; “‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment.” (Matt. 22:37, 38) And as with neighbor love, so with our love to God. We shall always be owing love to him; in this respect we shall always be indebted to him. Love for him will serve as a safety factor. Even when we are under pressure by unjust, perverted “superior authorities” and they demand from Christians what belongs only to God, love to God will never let us do wrong.
SUBJECTION FOR HOW LONG?
38. Why is there greater urgency today to do the things commanded, and why also because it is by means of God’s kingdom that our salvation comes?
38 The urgency for us to do the things commanded in Romans, chapter thirteen, is greater today than it was in the apostle Paul’s day. We should therefore take more to heart the reason why we should do those things, as given in Paul’s next words: “Do this, too, because you people know the season, that it is already the hour for you to awake from sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than at the time when we became believers.” (Rom. 13:11) Not only our avoiding the wrathful vengeance of the “authority” with its “sword,” not only our Christian conscience, but the time element advises that we do good and do not practice what is bad. Salvation for us as Christian witnesses of Jehovah is nearer for us today than in Paul’s day, or even than when we became believers. That salvation is by means of God’s kingdom, which he set up in the heavens in 1914 by enthroning his royal Son Jesus Christ. That kingdom will be the only ruling authority in the coming new world. We will be subject to it.—1 Cor. 15:24, 25.
39. (a) What debt to God’s kingdom surpasses that for the things mentioned in 1 Timothy 2:1, 2? (b) To what issue have we become awake, and what decision have we made?
39 The “superior authorities” existing at present by God’s permission can help us Christians to lead a calm and quiet life with full godly devotion if they do not persecute us or if they protect us from obstructors and persecutors. (1 Tim. 2:1, 2) But they cannot give us eternal salvation. So our debt to God’s kingdom is greater than our debt to them. So, even if they make laws against the preaching of God’s kingdom, we must keep on preaching it in fulfillment of Matthew 24:14. We know the season, according to the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, which shows that we have reached the “time of the end” for this worldly system of things with its “superior authorities.” (Matt. 24:3-33) We have awakened from sleep. We are not asleep to the paramount issue of the day, God’s universal sovereignty by his kingdom as against Satan’s rule. As Christians we have decided for God’s kingdom of salvation.
40. (a) What day has drawn near, and what night is now well along? (b) Hence in what darksome things do we not engage with regard to the authorities?
40 “The night is well along; the day has drawn near. Let us therefore put off the works belonging to darkness and let us put on the weapons of the light.” (Rom. 13:12) Since the year 1914 the day for the thousand-year reign of Christ is closer than ever, and the night of the Devil’s rule with its visible system of things is well along. Plain common sense dictates that now as never before it is no time for us to be indulging in the “works belonging to darkness,” the kind of works that evilly-minded persons try to do under cover of darkness in order to avoid the wrathful vengeance of the “superior authorities” bearing the “sword.” Under no circumstances could we take part in secret political conspiracies or in obstructing governments engaged in conflicts for self-defense, or in hatching insurrections and revolts. During World Wars I and II numbers of Jehovah’s witnesses were accused of such darksome plots. However, all cases of such kind were later proved to be false, by due process of law. Why so? Because we meddle in no politics.
41. What did Paul say as to the fight in which we are engaged now?
41 We know the fight in which we are engaged. It is not against blood and flesh. It is not against human “superior authorities.” The apostle Paul said: “Put on the complete suit of armor from God that you may be able to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil; because we have a fight, not against blood and flesh, but against the [spiritual] governments, against the [spiritual] authorities, against the [spiritual] world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.”—Eph. 6:11, 12.
42. What weapons does Paul therefore show a Christian is authorized to bear while in subjection to authorities, and for what and against what do these weapons fight?
42 We are therefore not on the horns of a dilemma as the German Protestants have been in Communist East Germany. (Awake! as of August 8, 1960, pages 12-15) We have put on the spiritual “weapons of the light” for a fight against darkness, the machinations of the Devil. These are the kind of weapons that a Christian is authorized to bear while being “in subjection to the superior authorities.” No other kind of weapons is a Christian instructed to bear; and with these weapons he does not disobey God’s law of love or do hurt to anyone. (Rom. 6:13; 2 Cor. 6:7; 10:4) These weapons fight against the darkness with its immorality, murders, robberies, and so forth. They fight for the enlightenment of peoples of all nations, that they may take their stand for God’s kingdom that is to bless them.
43, 44. (a) How should we conduct ourselves, and thus with whom do we avoid getting into conflict? (b) By such conduct whom do we not fail to please, and what do we not endanger?
43 That this is the purpose of these “weapons of the light” is made plain by the apostle’s next words: “As in the daytime let us walk decently, not in revelries and drunken bouts, not in illicit intercourse and loose conduct, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not be planning ahead for the desires of the flesh.”—Rom. 13:13, 14.
44 By walking decently as in the daytime when the authorities of the land and everybody else can see us, we do not bring ourselves into conflict with the “superior authorities,” for we do not break their laws that call for good, peaceful, moral conduct. Certainly since we could not please earthly authorities if we went contrary to such laws, much less could we please the Most High God by doing so. However, by walking decently as in the daytime we deserve the praise of the sword-bearing “superior authorities,” and we bring no reproach upon our God or upon his truth or upon his congregation. We also do not endanger our salvation by God’s kingdom.
45. How will ‘putting on the Lord Jesus Christ’ affect our position with respect to the things of darkness, and what instrument will we give no reason to be used against us?
45 When Jesus was on earth, he did not associate himself with the things of darkness, the revelries, drunken bouts, illicit intercourse, loose conduct, strife and jealousy or things that men do when they give way to the desires of the flesh and willfully plan ahead for satisfying these desires. So if we “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” and display to people an image of what he was like, we will keep away from such things of darkness. For our own sake, for our Christian brothers’ sake, we will fight against such things with the “weapons of the light.” We will thus adorn the good news of God’s kingdom that we preach. In this particular respect we will give no true reason for the “superior authorities,” to which we are still subject, to use their “sword” against us.
46, 47. (a) For how long will we continue subject to the “existing authorities,” and how? (b) Thus what does our conscientious subjection help us to maintain, as in the case of the prophet Daniel?
46 In obedience to Romans, chapter thirteen, we will continue subject to the “existing authorities” until they are destroyed in the coming universal war of Armageddon. We will subject ourselves to them regardless of whichever political party holds the power of office or whichever political group may force itself into office.
47 In this way our conscientious subjection of ourselves to the “existing authorities” helps us to maintain our Christian neutrality toward the political campaigns and battles of all the nations of this world. We are like the prophet Daniel, who did not oppose but subjected himself to the Medo-Persian conquerors Darius and Cyrus after they overthrew wicked Babylon.—Dan. 5:26 to 6:5.
48. (a) So, as Christian neutrals, in what things will we take no part? (b) In God’s new world, what difficulties will there not be for those lovingly subjecting themselves?
48 As Christian neutrals we will take no part in rebellions, mobs, anarchy or other public disorder. Even at the coming battle of Armageddon we will not lift a hand against the “existing authorities” to hasten their destruction. We will let God, the Source of all authority, take away the control from the “existing authorities” and completely replace them with the rightful kingdom of his Son Jesus Christ. (2 Chron. 20:15-17; Dan. 2:44) Then, in God’s new world, there will be no difficulties whatever between Christian conscience and subjection to the King Jesus Christ, for “angels and authorities and powers were made subject to him.” (1 Pet. 3:22) Everlasting blessings will rain down from heaven upon all men on the paradise earth who lovingly subject themselves to the King according to God’s will and in support of his perfect arrangement.