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Observations About Governments & Political Systems

Remember what was said about the country or state in which we are born: The successful functioning of any “State” depends on four things – some kind of governance structure, a system to administer and enforce the laws, provision for protection and defense, and a system to support and maintain the State. In a democracy, where the functioning of the state depends on the people, duties within each of these areas must be undertaken by the citizens; they are, in reality, extensions of the State. Thus, a Christian believer is not only confronted with the expected conflicts of living within a political structure, s/he is also confronted with the requirement to participate in that structure. For example…

Governance of the State (governing & law-making structures to create order and purpose)

  1. voting
  2. political action/political involvement
  3. public service or government work

Enforcement of the Laws of the State (administration of justice, maintenance of order)

  1. law enforcement work (e.g. police, FBI)
  2. judicial work (e.g. magistrates, judges, lawyers)
  3. jury service

Protection & Defense of the State

  1. military service
  2. non-combatant service

Support and Maintenance of the State

  1. taxes

Living in a State

  1. use of the legal systems
  2. giving testimony in court, taking an oath, pledge of allegiance, loyalty oaths
  3. insurance
  4. union membership

Those seeking to follow Christ should have no argument about the obligation of all citizens to participate in the support and maintenance of their state. It is the duty of a citizen. So the question we must consider really is this: Ought the followers of Christ to consider themselves now to be citizens of the states in which they were born, with all the obligations this entails? Or does the teaching of Christ require a different path be taken?

The Task Required

Anyone who earnestly desires to understand God’s will on this matter of a disciple’s relationship to the world, must necessarily begin with God’s Word. Here he must carefully ponder each of the relevant Bible passages that set forth the principles regarding our relationship to God and His coming Kingdom, and the principles underlying one’s life of Christ. Having done this the reader should be able to draw from these passages the guidance they seek.

To aid in the reader’s study, a large number of Scriptures have been provided on the following pages.  Key words in each passage are defined using standard reference works (Strong’s Concordance, Vine’s Dictionary of N.T. Words, and Bullinger’s Bible Dictionary) to allow the reader to more easily consider what is being said. A summary of ideas presented in each passage follows the word definitions. At the conclusion of the study section, a full summary of all principles and ideas is provided. Finally, the concluding section provides an examination of jury service in the light of the foregoing study. It includes a formal position paper on a Christian’s relationship to the world written by the Christadelphians in the San Francisco Peninsula area, and several sample letters written to explain this position to the courts.


KEY WORDS DEFINED

Definitions (with examples of general usage) for the three most commonly used words for “strangers” and “foreigners” in many of the passages to be considered.

  • paroikos = (lit.) dwelling near, neighboring; hence a stranger, a foreigner, one who lives in a place without the right of citizenship.

    Ac 7:6 And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn1 in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat [them] evil four hundred years.
    Ac 7:29 Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger1 in the land of Midian, where he begat two sons.
    Eph 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers1 and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
    1Pe 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech [you] as strangers1 and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;

  • parepidemos = one who comes from a foreign country into a city or land to reside there by the side of the natives; a stranger; sojourning in a strange place, a foreigner.

    Heb 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of [them], and embraced [them], and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims2 on the earth.
    1Pe 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers2 scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…
    1Pe 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech [you] as strangers and pilgrims2, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul…

  • xenos = a foreigner, a stranger

    Mt 25:35 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger3, and ye took me in…
    Mt 27:7 And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers3 in.
    Ac 17:18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoics, encountered him.  And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange3 gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.
    Eph 2:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers3 from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
    Eph 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers3 and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
    Heb 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of [them], and embraced [them], and confessed that they were strangers3 and pilgrims on the earth.
    Heb 13:9 Be not carried about with divers and strange3 doctrines.  For [it is] a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.
    1Pe 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange3 concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
    3Jo 1:5 Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers3

Hebrews 11:9-16 + 13:14

“(Abraham) sojourned1 in the land of promise as a foreigner2, dwelling in tents…for he looked forward to the city3 having foundations of which God is the craftsman and maker. …having seen (the promises) from afar and having been persuaded of them and embraced them, they confessed they were strangers4 and sojourners5 on the earth (or land). For those who say such things make manifest that they seek a homeland6…they desire a better homeland, that is a heavenly one.” (Heb. 11:9,10, 13,14)

“For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the city3 which is coming.” (Heb. 13:14)

Key Words

  1. paroikeo = to be or dwell in a place as a stranger, to sojourn.
  2. allotrios = belonging to another; foreign, strange, not of one’s own family, alien, an enemy.
  3. polis = a city, one’s native city, the city in which one lives.
  4. xenos = a foreigner, a stranger.
  5. parepidemos = one who comes from a foreign country into a city or land to reside there by the side of the natives; a stranger; sojourning in a strange place, a foreigner.
  6. patris = one’s native country; one’s fatherland, one’s own country, a fixed abode or home; one’s own native place.

Key Ideas

  1. “Stranger”, “foreigner”, “sojourner” are opposite to a citizen or native of a home-land or country. A stranger or foreigner in a particular land is not a citizen of that land; he may dwell alongside a citizen all his life, but he makes no claims to that land belonging to him.
  2. To “embrace” God’s promises is to lay claim to God’s promised Homeland, the Kingdom. Those who do such confess that now they are only sojourners in this present earth, foreigners dwelling outside their homeland, laying claim to no present city, but to the one which is to come.
  3. Those who would be counted children of Abraham, must order their lives by the same faith that moved Abraham (Gal. 3:6-9).
Ephesians 2:12,13,19

“…you were at that time without Christ, alienated1 from the commonwealth2 (or citizenship) of Israel, and strangers3 from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who were once afar off have been brought near by the blood of Christ… So then you are no more strangers3 or sojourners4, but fellow-citizens5 of the saints and members of the family of God…”

Key Words

  1. apallotrioo = to alienate, estrange (verb is passive, in perfect tense => action completed in past, once and for all, not needing to be repeated).
  2. politeia = the relation of a citizen to the state, the condition and rights of a citizen, citizenship; civil polity, a state, a commonwealth, a republic.
  3. xenos = a foreigner, a stranger.
  4. paroikos = a stranger, a foreigner, one who lives in a place without the rights of citizenship.
  5. sumpolites = possessing the same citizenship.

Key Ideas

  1. One who is a stranger, foreigner or sojourner in relation to an organized government or state (“civil polity”) cannot at the same time be a citizen of that state.
  2. By natural birth Gentiles have no relationship whatever to God (“without God”), His State (“estranged from citizenship”), or His Promises (“no hope”). The only rights and privileges of citizenship a Christian can claim are those belonging to this present world and to whatever polity or state into which one is born.
  3. In Christ Jesus this whole relationship is reversed: One becomes a fellow-citizen of God’s Polity, members of His Family, and heirs of His Promises (see Gal. 3:29), but strangers and foreigners to the present world, its lands, and its organized governments (as per Heb. 11:13).
Philippians 3:19-21 + 1:27

“For many walk…as the enemies of the cross of Christ…with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship1 exists in the heavens, from where we also await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of his glory…”

“Only behave as a citizen2 in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ…”

Key Words

  1. politeuma = the result of being a polites (a member or citizen of a free city or state); the condition, or life, of a citizen, citizenship.
  2. politeuomai = to be a citizen, behave as a citizen, to conduct one’s self as pledged to some law of life.

Key Ideas

  1. One’s citizenship, that is, one’s manner of life as a citizen, will conform to the polity to which one belongs. If one is a citizen of this present world, one will give attention to earthly things and earthly values. If one is a citizen of the heavenly polity, one will follow heavenly things and heavenly values.
John 17:14-18 + 15:18-19

“I have given to them your word, and the World1 has hated them, because they are not from2 the World as I am not from2 the World. I do not pray that you should take them out of2 the World, but that you should keep them from2 the evil. They are not from2 the World, even as I am not from2 the World.”

“If the World1 hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of2 the World, the World would love its own; but because you are not of2 the World, but I chose you out of2 the World, therefore the World hates you.”(Jn. 15:18-19)

Key Words

  1. kosmos = primarily order, arrangement or constitution, government; the world, mankind.
  2. ek = a primary preposition denoting origin (the point whence action or motion proceeds), of, from; [of place] out of, away from, outside of; [of origin] to be born or spring from one.

Bible Definition of “The World”
“Do not love the World or the things in the World. If anyone loves the World, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the World—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the World. And the World is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”(1 Jn. 2:15-17)

“Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the World is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the World makes himself an enemy of God.” (Jam. 3:4)

Key Ideas

  1. “The World”, and all that is in it, is set in opposition to God. These are two entirely separate entities with radically different ethical and moral principles governing their structure. Can a disciple of Christ practice the principles of the one while helping to implement the principles of the other?
  2. Disciples of Christ do not have their origins from this present world; they are “of God”, “from above” (Jn. 1:12, 3:3-6,31). Therefore they do not belong to, nor are they extensions of, this present order of things. To lay claim to this present world is to become an enemy of God.
John 18:36 + 19:10-11

“Pilate…said to him, Are you the King of the Jews? … Jesus answered, My kingship1 is not of2 this world3, if my kingship were of this world, my servants4 would fight5, that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now my kingship is not hence6. Pilate said to him, So you are a king?”

“Jesus answered him (Pilate), You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore he who delivered me to you has the greater sin.”

Key Words

  1. basileia = primarily an abstract noun denoting sovereignty, royal power, dominion, rule, kingship, that is, the right or authority to rule over a kingdom; by metonymy, a concrete noun denoting the territory or people over whom a king rules.
  2. ek = a primary preposition denoting origin (the point whence action or motion proceeds), of, from; [of place] out of, away from, outside of; [of origin] to be born or spring from one.
  3. kosmos = primarily order, arrangement or constitution, government; the world, mankind.
  4. huperetes = servant; an underrower, subordinate rower; anyone who serves with hands: a servant; the officers and attendants of magistrates, as the officer who executes penalties; the attendants of a king, servants, retinue, the soldiers of a king, the attendant of a synagogue; any one ministering or rendering service; any one who aids another in any work.
  5. agonizomai = enter a contest; contend in the gymnastic games; to contend with adversaries, fight; metaph. to contend, struggle, with difficulties and dangers; to endeavour with strenuous zeal, strive: to obtain something.
  6. enteuthen = from this place, hence; on the one side and on the other, on each side.

Key Ideas

  1. Christ’s kingship and kingdom are different and separate from the ruling systems of this present world. Christ’s disciples, described as “attendants of the king”, cannot therefore be extensions of two conflicting systems. We either serve the rulers of this world or the Lord Jesus Christ; disciples cannot be “attendants” in both kingdoms.
  2. Though a disciple belongs to Christ’s kingdom, he or she must still live within this world’s systems. Jesus set the example of what one’s attitude (and therefore, action) should be towards the present world systems: One of respect and submission to their power, knowing that to resist their authority, is to resist the One who has given them their power.
1 Peter 2:11-17

“Beloved, I beseech you as sojourners1 and strangers2 to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, maintaining good (praiseworthy) conduct3 among the nations, so that, while they speak against you as evil-doers, they may, by your good (praiseworthy) works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit4 to every human institution5 for the Lord’s sake, whether to a king as being supreme, or to governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do good. For it is God’s will that by doing good you put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. Live as free6, yet without using your freedom as a cloak for evil; live as servants of God. Honor7 all people, love the brotherhood, fear8 God, honor7 the king.”

Key Words

  1. paroikos = (lit.) dwelling near, neighboring; hence a stranger, a foreigner, one who lives in a place without the right of citizenship.
  2. parepidemos = one who comes from a foreign country into a city or land to reside there by the side of the natives; a stranger; sojourning in a strange place, a foreigner.
  3. anastrophe = manner of life, conduct, behaviour, deportment.
  4. hupotasso = primarily a military term meaning to arrange troops in a miliary fashion under the com-mand of a leader. In non-military use, it was a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating,assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden. Hence, in passive form as here, to submit, to be subject to.
  5. ktisis = the act of founding, establishing, building; the act of creating, creation; anything created; hence, an institution.
  6. eleutheros = freeborn, in a civil sense, one who is not a slave; free, exempt, unrestrained, not bound by an obligation; in an ethical sense: free from the yoke of the Mosaic Law.
  7. timao = to estimate, fix the value; to honour, to have in honour, to revere, venerate.
  8. phobeo = to put to flight by terrifying (to scare away); to fear, be afraid; to reverence, venerate, to treat with deference or reverential obedience.

Key Ideas

  1. Dwelling in a country as a sojourner and stranger is opposite to being a citizen of that country. All Christians should see themselves as sojourners and strangers among the present nations of this world.
  2. As strangers and sojourners one’s behavior must at all times be honorable and praiseworthy so that those who would speak evil of Christ’s disciples are constantly refuted by the excellence of their deeds.
  3. Though a disciple is free and under bondage to no human authority, he or she is asked, none-the-less, to submit to every humanly-created institution by which men are governed. These institutions exist to provide order and control over the lawless behavior of men (punishing the evildoer, praising those who do good).
Romans 13:1-7 + Matthew 22:21

“Let every person be subject1 to the superior2 authorities3. For there is no authority3 except from God, and those which exist have been appointed4 by God. Therefore he who resists5 the authority has opposed6 the arrangement7 of God; and those who have opposed will receive condemnation on themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same; for (the authority) is a minister8 of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister8 of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Wherefore is is necessary to be in subjection1, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are servants9 of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.”

“And they brought him a coin. And Jesus said to them, Whose likeness and inscription is this? They said, Caesar’s. Then he said to them, Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Key Words

  1. hupotasso = primarily a military term meaning to arrange troops in a military fashion under the command of a leader. In non-military use, it was a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden. Hence, in passive form as here, to submit, to be subject to.
  2. huperecho = to have or hold over one; to stand out, rise above; to be above, be superior in rank, authority, power.
  3. exousia = the power of authority (influence) and of right (privilege); the power of rule or government (the power of him whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed).
  4. tasso = to put in order, to arrange, to assign a place, to appoint.
  5. antitassomai = to range in battle against; to oppose one’s self, resist.
  6. anthistemi = to set one’s self against, to withstand, resist, oppose; to set against.
  7. diatage = (from diatasso) a disposition, arrangement, ordinance.
  8. diakonos = one who executes the commands of another; a servant, attendant, minister.
  9. leitourgos = a public minister, a servant of the state; a minister, servant.

Key Ideas

  1. Followers of Christ are to submit to the authority of all rulers and governments, even if they can’t always obey them (Acts 5:29, 38-39), showing fear to whom it is due, and honor to whom it is due.
  2. Returning to “Caesar” what belongs to him (i.e. taxes) is not the same as participating in Caesar’s government. These are fundamentally different ideas, regardless of Caesar’s use of his tax money.
Matthew 5:38-48 (cp. Luke 6:27-31)

“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, Do not resist1 one who is evil2. But if any one strikes3 you on the right cheek4, turn5 to him the other also; and if any one wants to take you to law6 and to take your tunic7, allow8 him the outer garment9 as well; and if any one impresses10 you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks11 of you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, You shall love12 your neighbor and hate13 your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies, and pray for the ones treating you abusively and persecuting you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust… You, therefore, must be perfect14, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Key Words

  1. anthistemi = to set one’s self against, to withstand, resist, oppose; to set against.
  2. poneros = bad, of a bad nature or condition, (phys.) diseased or blind, (eth.) evil, wicked, bad; full of labours, hardships.
  3. rhapizo = to smite with a rod or staff; to smite in the face with the palm of the hand.
  4. right cheek => a slap, an insult or indignity, derogatory and defamatory words or actions.
  5. strepho = to turn, turn around; to turn one’s self (i.e. to turn the back to one; metaph. to turn one’s self from one’s course of conduct, i.e. to change one’s mind.
  6. krino = to separate, put asunder; to be of opinion, deem, think; to determine, resolve, decree; to judge, to pronounce an opinion or judgment concerning right and wrong, to be judged, i.e. summoned to trial that one’s case may be examined and judgment passed upon it.
  7. chiton = a tunic, an undergarment, usually worn next to the skin.
  8. aphiemi = to send away; to give up, keep no longer; to permit, allow, not to hinder, to give up a thing to a person.
  9. himation = the upper garment, the cloak or mantle.
  10. aggareuo = to dispatch a mounted messenger; to press into service, compel to go.
  11. aiteo = to ask, beg, call for, crave, desire, require (AV: ask 48, desire 17, beg 2, require 2, crave 1).
  12. agapao = of persons: to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly; of things: to be well pleased, to be contented at or with a thing.
  13. miseo = to hate, pursue with hatred, detest; to be hated, detested.
  14. teleios = brought to its end, finished; wanting nothing necessary to completeness; perfect; full grown, adult, of full age, mature.

Key Ideas

  1. “Do not resist evil”: Do not oppose, set yourself against evil by responding to personal insult with personal insult, by responding to legal vengeance with legal defense, by responding to State enforced servitude with civil disobedience, by responding to the one in need (even your enemy) with contempt and disdain. A true Christian can bear all these things because he possesses a name and wealth and power and goods that cannot be taken away – the kingdom of God.
  2. “Love you enemy”: (love = to care about, which may or may not include having good feelings towards another)  Always seek what is best for your enemy, returning good for evil, being willing to risk a second insult in an attempt to heal the relationship, being willing to give more if taken to court, overcoming one’s natural anger by going beyond the State-imposed hardship and giving even more than required, give to those who cannot or will not give to you in return.
Romans 12:14,17-21

“Bless those who persecute1 you; bless and curse not… Do not return evil for evil, but take thought for what is good in the sight of all. If possible, as far as it depends on you, seek peace with all men. Beloved, do not avenge2 yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. But, if you enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome3 by evil, but overcome evil by good.”

Key Words

  1. dioko = a prolonged (and causative) form of a primary verb to flee; to make to run or flee, put to flight, drive away, to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing, to run after; to press on: fig. of one who in a race runs swiftly to reach the goal; to pursue (in a hostile manner), hence, to harass, trouble, molest one, to persecute, to be mistreated, suffer persecution on account of something.
  2. ekdikeo = to vindicate one’s right, do one justice, to protect, defend, one person from another; to avenge a thing, to punish a person for a thing.
  3. nikao = to conquer, to carry off the victory, come off victorious, when one is arraigned or goes to law, to win the case, maintain one’s cause

Key Ideas

  1. Do not return evil for evil.
  2. Vengeance & recompense for evil belongs to God
1 Peter 2:18-23 (cp. also 1 Pet. 3:13-22, Col. 3:22-25, Eph. 6:5-10)

“Servants, submit1 yourselves in all fear to your masters, not only to the good and forbearing, but also to the perverse. For one is approved if, mindful of God, he endures pain while suffering unjustly. For what glory is it if when you do wrong and are beaten for it you take it patiently? But if when you do right and suffer for it you take it patiently, you have God’s approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow his steps. He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips. When he was reviled2, he did not revile in return; when he suffered3, he did not threaten4; but he trusted to him who judges justly.”

Key Words

  1. hupotasso = primarily a military term meaning to arrange troops in a military fashion under the command of a leader. In non-military use, it was a voluntary attitude of giving in, co-operating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden. Hence, in passive form as here, to submit, to be subject to.
  2. loidoreo = to reproach, rail at, revile, heap abuse upon.
  3. pascho = to be affected or have been affected; in a good sense, to be well off, in good case; in a bad sense, to suffer sadly, be in a bad plight.
  4. apeileo = to threaten, menace.

Key Ideas

  1. Submit to unjust treatment arising from one’s righteous life, continuing to do what is right to put to silence the slander of men, just as Jesus Christ did.
  2. Rest your case with God, bear with His Longsuffering as He waits for repentance (2 Pet. 3:7-9).
Matthew 7:1-2 + Luke 6:37-38 + James 4:11-12 (also Mk. 11:25-26; Mt. 5:23-24;18:21-35)

“Judge1 not, lest you be judged; for with what judgment2 you judge, you will be judged, and with what measure you measure, it shall be measured to you.”

“Judge1 not, and you will not be judged; condemn3 not, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will give into your lap. For in what measure you measure, it will be measured to you in return.”

“Do not speak against4 one another, brethren. He that speaks against4 a brother or judges1 his brother, speaks against4 the law and judges the law. But if you judge1 the law, you are not a doer of a law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you that you judge1 your neighbor.”

Key Words

  1. krino = to separate, put asunder; to be of opinion, deem, think; to determine, resolve, decree; to judge, to pronounce an opinion or judgment concerning right and wrong, to be judged, i.e. summoned to trial that one’s case may be examined and judgment passed upon it.
  2. krima = a decree, judgments; judgment, condemnation of wrong, the decision (whether severe or mild) which one passes on the faults of others.
  3. katadikazo = to give judgment against (one), to pronounce guilty; to condemn.
  4. katalaleo = to speak against one, to criminate, traduce , from katalalos, a defamer, evil speaker, backbiter.

Key Ideas

  1. God’s judgment is based on what He sees on the inside of a person (1 Sam. 16:7). The ability to judge another’s heart—their motives and attitude—is beyond the capacity of those who can only see external actions. The judgment of motives and therefore the heart belongs now to him whose judgment is not “by the sight of his eyes, nor…by the hearing of his ears” (Isa. 11:3).
  2. It is impossible to harbor a critical attitude towards one’s brother and at the same time express a true warmth of fellowship towards him. Hidden judgments become obstacles in the path of fellowship. Such attitudes and behavior lead one to a readiness to condemn and a reluctance to forgive. It is a dangerous position to be in, for the measure you chose to apply to another will become the measure applied to you. (Matt. 7:1-5; Lk. 6:37-38)
  3. The two antidotes to this are (1) self-judgment and criticism, leaving the judgment of one’s brother to him with neither beam nor mote (1 Cor. 2:15; 11:31-32), and (2) imputing only the best motives to one’s brother (Phil. 4:8 – the word translated “think” is translated “impute” in Romans).
1 Corinthians 5:11-13 + 6:1-8 (cp. also 1 Cor. 4:1-5, Rom. 14:4)

“…I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging1 those without? Do you not judge the ones within? But the ones without, God will judge. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.”

“Dare any of you having a matter against another to be judged1 before the unjust, and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you unfit to try2 the smallest matters? Do you not know we will judge angels? not to speak of matters pertaining to this life? If then, you indeed have matters of judgement2 pertaining to this life, why do you lay them before those who are least esteemed by the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no wise man in your midst able to decide3 concerning his brother? But brother goes to law1 against brother, and this before unbelievers! Now indeed therefore, it is altogether a failure with you to have lawsuits4 among your-selves! Why not rather be deprived? But you do wrong and deprive, and this the brethren.”

Key Words

  1. krino = to separate, put asunder; to be of opinion, deem, think; to determine, resolve, decree; to judge, to pronounce an opinion or judgment concerning right and wrong, to be judged, i.e. summoned to trial that one’s case may be examined and judgment passed upon it.
  2. kriterion = the rule by which one judges; the place where judgment is given; the matter judged, thing to be decided, suit, case.
  3. diakrino = to separate, make a distinction, discriminate; to determine, give judgment, decide a dispute.
  4. krima = a decree, judgments; judgment, condemnation of wrong, the decision (whether severe or mild) which one passes on the faults of others.

Key Ideas

  1. As members of God’s Household a Christian is expected to judge within the ecclesia (church) in matters where conduct contrary to God’s Ways are being practiced by a member or where problems arise between brethren. One’s judgment must be based on God’s Principles and Ways. Those without the ecclesia, among whom disciples live as strangers and sojourners, are not to be judged by Christians as God has already ordained a system to judge those outside His House (Rom 13:1-7). Judgment in this system, though largely based on man’s laws, not God’s, provides for the necessary order required for normal human life.
  2. The difficulty of a follower of Christ operating in this world’s systems is under-scored by the kind of judicial response Christians are expected to provide in the case of conflict between brethren: Christ teaches his disciples not to resist evil, to suffer themselves to be defrauded, to love their enemies, not to return evil for evil, but rather good. Men’s laws are not framed according to this teaching; indeed they are often contrary to it.

Summary of Key Ideas & Principles Concerning a Christian’s Relationship to this Present World & Our Life as a Disciple of Christ Jesus

  1. “Stranger”, “foreigner”, “sojourner” are opposite to a citizen or native of a homeland or country. A stranger or foreigner in a particular land is not a citizen of that land; he may dwell alongside a citizen all his life, but he makes no claims to that land as belonging to him. [Heb. 11:9-16 + 13:14] In his relationship therefore to an organized government or state (“civil polity”), he cannot be at the same time both a foreigner and a citizen. [Eph. 2:12,13,19]
  2. To “embrace” God’s promises is to lay claim to God’s promised Homeland, the Kingdom. Those who do such confess that now they are only sojourners in this present earth, foreigners dwelling outside their homeland, laying claim to no present city, but to the one which is to come. [Heb. 11:9-16 + 13:14] All Christians should see themselves as sojourners and strangers among the present nations of this world. [1 Pet. 2:11-17]
  3. By natural birth Gentiles have no relationship whatever to God (“without God”), His State (“estranged from citizenship”), or His Promises (“no hope”). The only rights and privileges of citizenship an individual can claim are those belonging to this present world and to whatever polity or state into which we are born. [Eph. 2:12,13,19]
  4. In Christ Jesus this whole relationship is reversed: Christians become fellow-citizens of God’s Polity, members of His Family, and heirs of His Promises (see Gal. 3:29), and thus strangers and foreigners to the present world, its lands, and its organized governments (as per Heb. 11:13).  [Eph. 2:12,13,19]
  5. Those who would be counted children of Abraham must order their lives by the same faith that moved Abraham (Gal. 3:6-9). [Heb. 11:9-16 + 13:14]
  6. A disciple’s citizenship, that is, his manner of life as a citizen, will conform to the polity to which he belongs. If Christians are citizens of this present world, they will give attention to earthly things and earthly values. If they are citizens of the heavenly polity, they will follow heavenly things and heavenly values. [Philp. 3:19-21 + 1:27]
  7. The point is this: “The World”, and all that is in it, is set in opposition to God. These are two entirely separate entities with radically different ethical and moral principles governing their structure. Can true Christians practice the principles of the one while helping to implement the principles of the other? [Jn. 17:14-18 + 15:18-19]
  8. The disciples of Christ do not have their origins from this present world; they are “of God”, “from above” (Jn. 1:12, 3:3-6,31). Therefore they do not belong to, nor are they extensions of, this present order of things. To lay claim to this present world is to become an enemy of God. [Jn. 17:14-18 + 15:18-19]
  9. Christ’s kingship and kingdom are different and separate from the ruling systems of this present world. Christ’s disciples, described as “attendants of the king”, cannot therefore be extensions of two conflicting systems. Christian’s, therefore, either serve the rulers of this world, or, the Lord Jesus Christ; Christians cannot be “attendants” in both kingdoms. [Jn. 18:36 + 19:10-11]
  10. Yet, though Christians belong to Christ’s kingdom, they must still live within this world’s systems. Jesus set the example of what a disciple’s attitude (and therefore, action) should be towards the present world systems: One of respect and submission to their power, knowing that to resist their authority, is to resist the One who has given them their power. [Jn. 18:36 + 19:10-11]
  11. Thus, as strangers and sojourners with the Lord Jesus Christ, a Christians behavior must at all times be honorable and praiseworthy so that those who would speak evil of them are constantly refuted by the excellence of their deeds. [1 Pet. 2:11-17]
  12. And, though Christians are free and under bondage to no human authority, they are asked, none-the-less, to submit to every humanly created institution by which men are governed. God has appointed these institutions to provide order and control over the lawless behavior of men (punishing the evildoer, praising those who do good). [1 Pet. 2:11-17] Disciples must submit, therefore, to the authority of all rulers and governments, even if they can’t always obey them (Acts 5:38-39), showing fear to whom it is due, and honor to whom it is due. [Rom. 13:1-7 + Mt. 22:21] (Returning to “Caesar” what belongs to him (i.e. taxes) is not the same as participating in Caesar’s government. These are fundamentally different ideas, regardless of Caesar’s use of his tax money. [Rom. 13:1-7 + Mt. 22:21])
  13. “Do not resist evil”: Do not oppose, set yourself against evil by responding to personal insult with personal insult, by responding to legal vengeance with legal defense, by responding to State enforced servitude with civil disobedience, by responding to the one in need (even your enemy) with contempt and disdain. True Christians can bear all these things because they possess a name and wealth and power and goods that cannot be taken away—the kingdom of God. [Mt. 5:38-48]
  14. “Love you enemy”: (love = to care about, which may or may not include having good feelings towards another) Always seek what is best for your enemy, returning good for evil, being willing to risk a second insult in an attempt to heal the relationship, being willing to give more if taken to court, overcoming one’s natural anger by going beyond the State-imposed hardship and giving even more than required, give to those who cannot or will not give to you in return. [Mt. 5:38-48]
  15. Submit, therefore, to unjust treatment arising from your righteous life, continuing to do what is right to put to silence the slander of men, just as your Lord did. [1 Pet. 2:18-23; 3:13-22; Col. 3:22-25; Eph. 6:5-10]
  16. Do not return evil for evil: vengeance & recompense for evil belongs to God [Rom. 12:14,17-21] Let your case rest with God, bearing with His Longsuffering as God waits for repentance. His judgments will come as surely as the Flood in the days of Noah. (2 Pet. 3:8-11,1-7)
  17. As members of God’s Household Christians are expected to judge within the ecclesia (church) in matters where a member is practicing conduct contrary to God’s Ways or where problems arise between brethren. A disciple’s judgment must be based on God’s Principles and Ways. Those without the ecclesia, among whom Christians live as strangers and sojourners, are not to be judged by a disciple, as God has already ordained a system to judge those outside His House (Rom 13:1-7). Judgment in this system, though largely based on man’s laws, not God’s, provides for the necessary order required for normal human life. (1 Cor. 5:11-13 + 6:1-8; cp. also 1 Cor. 4:1-5, Rom. 14:4)
  18. The difficulty of a follower of Christ operating in the world’s system is under-scored by the kind of judicial response they are expected to provide in the case of conflict between brethren: Christians are taught by Christ to resist not evil, to suffer themselves to be defrauded, to love their enemies, not to return evil for evil, but rather good. Men’s laws are not framed according to this teaching; indeed they are often contrary to it. (1 Cor. 5:11-13 + 6:1-8 ; cp. also 1 Cor. 4:1-5, Rom. 14:4)
  19. God’s judgment is based on what He sees on the inside of a person (1 Sam. 16:7). The ability to judge another’s heart—their motives and attitude—is beyond the capacity of those who can only see external actions. The judgment of motives and therefore the heart belongs now to him who judgment is not “by the sight of his eyes, nor…by the hearing of his ears” (Isa. 11:3). (Matt. 7:1-2; Luke 6:37-38; James 4:11-12; cp. also Mk. 11:25-26; Matt. 5:23-24;18:21-35)

CHRISTADELPHIAN STATEMENT OF RELATIONSHIP TO THE GOVERNING AUTHORITIES

The CHRISTADELPHIANS (Brethren in Christ) are a religious community organized about the time of the American Civil War.

Christadelphians await the soon return of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to take to himself all power and authority when he establishes the universal and everlasting kingdom of god on earth. (Daniel 2:44; Psalm 2 & 72; Isaiah 2:2-4; Acts 3:19-21)

Christadelphians, while “strangers and sojourners” in this age, are enjoined by the Scriptures to cheerfully obey the laws and authorities of this world. They are to pray for those whom God has placed in authority, deferring only when they come into conflict with the higher authority of God’s Word. (1 Peter 2:11-17; Romans 13:1-7; Acts 4:19-20, 5:29)

As Bible believers, in obedience to the teachings of Jesus, the Apostles, and the Prophets, Christadelphians have continuously held and exhibited religious conscientious objections to:

  1. Participation in war, the armed forces, law enforcement and any form of warfare, conflict or strife in this world. (Matthew 5:43-44; John 18:36; James 4:1-4)
  2. The taking of oaths. (Matthew 5:34-37; James 5:12)
  3. Membership or participation in political parties or movements, including voting for such candidates or issues. (Daniel 4:17,18; John 18:36; Hebrews 11:13-16; Ephesians 2:11-13,19; Philippians 3:20)

The following activities are consistent extensions of the above:

  1. Serving on juries in courts of law. (Matthew 7:1; 1 Corinthians 6:1-8)
  2. Participation in the coercive demands and actions of labor unions, guilds or professional associations. (Matthew 6:24; 5:38-45)
  3. Participation with those who advocate war, violence or political activism. (Matt. 5:38-45)

Clear evidence of the early Christians’ adherence to these same Biblical principles exists in historical records and commentaries such as the writings of the early “Church Fathers” and Edward Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.”

We, the members of the Christadelphian Ecclesia of the San Francisco Peninsula (located in Belmont) affirm our historical and continuing agreement with the above position.

(Further information may be obtained from: The Christadelphians, P.O. Box EF, Belmont, CA 94002-0959 or by reference to the U.S. Department of Commerce, 1936 Census of Religious Bodies, Bulletin Number 7.)


The Basic Bible Argument

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you…” (2 Cor. 6:17)

There are many verses which teach separation from particular things, and this one concerns the worship of idols. However, separation in general is based on a different consideration than separation from particular evils.

Those who are called by God become his adopted sons and daughters through Christ, and thereby a separated people. This is shown through the example of Israel, and then explicitly stated by the apostle Peter.

“For thou didst separate them from among the people of the earth, (to be) thine inheritance” (1 Kings 8:53)

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

As a separated people it follows that a Christian’s citizenship must lie elsewhere, other than the area of the world in which he or she resides. A Christian’s nationhood is based on the call of God and his new birth in Christ. The logic of this new birth is simple: In the same way that a person born in a specific country becomes a citizen of that country, so too does a Christian’s new birth place him or her in a different nation to the one in which he was born from the womb of his mother (Heb. 11:15-16). With this status, it follows that Christians must think of themselves as strangers and sojourners on the earth. This was the case with the patriarchs who typify a Christian’s true pilgrimage:

“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11:8-10)

And the apostle Peter, following his statement that Christians are a holy nation, addresses his readers,

“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims…” (1 Peter 2:11)

Like the patriarchs, Christians are strangers and pilgrims on the earth, and they eagerly look for a capital city (of the future promised Kingdom), whose builder and maker is God. Because this citizenship belongs to a future age, and because it has begun now for true Christians as a result of their new birth, it becomes clear why they can have no part in the present order of things, things which are to pass away.

In the times of Abraham, a pilgrim or stranger was graciously accorded certain benefits while he stayed within the walls of a city. Followers of Christ ought to view their current circumstances and the benefits they enjoy in the same light. They are benefits for which they should always be grateful, but must never look on these benefits as their “rights”. As citizens of a heavenly kingdom soon to be established by Christ, they have no rights in the country of their origin or sojourning. If we are accorded certain privileges in the mercy of God, then this is something for which each Christian must be profoundly thankful.

A Christian’s separation from those around follows on from the new birth. And so too does the idea of ‘belonging’ to the God of heaven and earth. If Christians have been born again through God’s Word, and thereby have become His children, then they belong to Him as children belong to a father. If they have been redeemed by Him, then they belong to Him as a servant to a master. It follows from their ‘belonging’ to God that they are committed to Him and His commands. This is the presupposition of their lives as Christians. Therefore they must adopt the attitudes that He requires, an attitude that God has set forth through His own special Son, Jesus Christ.

(Adapted from Fellowship Matters by Andrew Perry, Willows Publications, England)


JURY SERVICE

Jury service is not voluntary, but a civic duty imposed upon all citizens. As a trial juror, you will become an officer of the Court and will be performing an important and vital role in the efficient administration of justice.”

(excerpt, Juror Summons Notice from San Mateo County, California)

Jury service honorably performed is as important in the defense of our country, its Constitution and laws, and the ideals and standards for which they stand, as the service that is rendered by the soldier on the field of battle in the time of war.

(George H. Boldt, U.S. Federal Judge, Concluding Remarks, U.S. v. Beck, February 1959)

These three excepts demonstrate in a very forceful way the clear and unambiguous connection between jury service and citizenship in the institutions of this present world. They underscore the reason for a true Christian to respectfully stand aside from jury service.

The letters that follow are written by Christadelphians living in the San Francisco Peninsula area that received a summons to participate in jury service.

Dear Sir:

I am in receipt of your Summons to Appear for Jury Service, and because of my religious beliefs I am responding with the following statements:

The faith I follow, which is called Christadelphian (Brethren in Christ), follows the Bible and its commandments closely; and our position on Jury Service is as follows:

  1. We believe the Bible is divinely inspired by God, our Creator and the Creator of the Universe, and its commandments are to be taken seriously. See 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
  2. The Bible commands us to be responsible, law-abiding and tax-paying individuals long as we live in this land. See 1 Peter 2:11-18 and Matthew 22:19-21.
  3. We believe the Bible also states that, as God’s Household of faith, spiritually we are “strangers and sojourners” living in this land as we know it because we look for a new King and Kingdom of God that will be headed by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the near future. The present governments and order of things as we know it will pass away. See Hebrews 11:8-16; 13:14.
  4. Because we are now “strangers and sojourners” of this country in which the present order of things will pass away when Jesus returns, we have the conviction that the Bible also commands of us not to participate in any political or judicial process in the present governmental order. See 1 Corinthians 4:5 and John 18:36.
  5. The Bible expressly commands us, as God’s Household in the present order, not to be judges, and that God only is the righteous judge. Serving on a jury would require us to be judges over someone whose guilt or innocence is in our hands, and we could judge wrongly in God’s eyes. See Matthew 7:1-5, Luke 6:37-38, and Romans 14:4.

It is because of my religious convictions, as cited above, that I respectfully petition of the Court to be released from Jury Service.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

Very truly yours,


Dear Sir:

I ask to be excused from Jury Service because of my religious convictions as a xx-year member of the Christadelphian Church (Brethren in Christ). We believe that the Bible teaches that the followers of Christ should separate themselves from the world and not participate in secular and political affairs of state; rather, they are to live humbly and obediently under the laws of the governments which God has ordained. We cannot pass judgment on others (1 Corinthians 5:11,12) as required in jury service, nor do we use the legal system to redress wrongs done us.

I have attached a copy of the Christadelphian statement of relationship to the governing authorities which explains more fully our beliefs regarding the Christian’s relationship to the state.

Sincerely,


Dear Sir:

While I was born in this country and by this country I am considered a citizen, I have chosen to follow the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ these past 27 years. In doing this I have become an alien, sojourner or stranger and as such do not participate in the judicial or political system of this country in judging or voting. However, I do pay taxes and observe the laws of the land where they do not conflict with God’s laws. I am looking forward to a kingdom where Jesus Christ will be King as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and others mentioned in Hebrews 11 and believers after did look for. Jesus’ kingdom is “not of this world” (John 18:36), the world known as then and now, but will be at a future time when Jesus returns as he left (Acts 1:11).

Because I follow the teaching of Jesus Christ and practice them to the best I can, I feel it is against my conscience to sit as a juror. While it is true we do make decisions in the church with God’s laws (not man’s laws), I could only follow God’s laws and am not prepared to judge by any other laws outside of the church. We are to “lover one another” (Leviticus 19:18; John 13:34; 15:17). We are to “forgive others their debts” (Matthew 6:12; Luke 11:4). We are to “do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages” (Luke 3:14). We are to “judge not that we be not judged” (Matthew 7:1) and “judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven (Luke 6:37). Also, “let us not therefore judge one another anymore: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way” (Romans 14:13).

It would be inappropriate for me to sit on a jury when I am following a higher law to a spiritual way than the laws of this land. Humbly I request that my petition to be excused from jury service by granted.

Yours truly,


Dear Sir:

I respectfully request exemption from jury service for the following reasons.

As a follower and disciple of Jesus Christ, I believe that what Holy Scripture teaches regarding the Christian’s relationship to secular government forbids me to serve as a juror.

The Christian is a stranger and sojourner in this world, his/her calling and citizenship is to remain separate from the present humanly devised and administrated laws and governments, waiting for the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who will take to himself all power and authority and rule the earth in righteousness (Hebrews 11:8-10, 13-16; Hebrews 13:14; Ephesians 3:20; Acts 3:19-21; Daniel 2:44; Isaiah 2:2-4; Psalm 72; Isaiah 11:1-5)

Until that time, God gives power to rule and execute judgment to whom He wills (Romans 13:1-6; John 19:10-11; 1 Peter 2:11-17). Though Christians are commanded to be respectful and to be subject to these laws and rulers, it is inconsistent, however, for the follower of Christ to become an integral part of these systems. (Jury service requires this as stated on the summons: “As a trial juror, you will become an officer of the court and will be performing an important and vital role in the efficient administration of justice.”)

The principles and direct commandments taught by Jesus and the Apostles regarding the conduct of Christians towards others forbids the exaction of legal justice or recompense for wrongs done to themselves (Matthew 5:38-48; Luke 6:27-38; Romans 12:14-21; 1 Peter 2:18-23). It would therefore be inconsistent for a Christian to become involved in deciding such matters for others.

Though Christians in some cases must decide matters within the Church (or Ecclesia–meaning
the assembly of called out ones, emphasizing separateness from the world’s system) they are commanded not to go outside the Church to the secular courts to seek or exact restitution or justice, but rather should suffer wrong if necessary (1 Corinthians 5:9-13 and 6:1-7).

The teaching of Jesus and the Apostles is in direct conflict with the way of the world. It is against the spirit of Christ to engage in the adversarial battles which take place in the court system and to sit in judgment on those involved in legal action. While the Christian is commanded to be subject to legitimate human institutions, there are times when the laws of man and God come into conflict and the follower of Christ must obey the Higher Authority.

That the above has been the historical belief and practice of the early Christian Church is testified in both the Bible and secular writings.

Edward Gibbon in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire wrote:

The defence of our persons and property they knew not how to reconcile with the patient doctrine which enjoined an unlimited forgiveness of past injuries…nor could their humane ignorance be convinced that it was lawful on any occasion to shed the blood of our fellow-creatures…even though their criminal or hostile attempts should threaten the peace and safety of the whole community… The Christians felt and confessed that such institutions might be necessary for the present system of the world, and they cheerfully submitted to the authority of their Pagan governors. But while they inculcated the maxims of passive obedience, they refused to take any active part in the civil administration or the military defence of the empire…it was impossible that the Christians, without renouncing a more sacred duty, could assume the character of soldiers, of magistrates, or of princes.”

(Ch. 15, end of section 4 of his discussion on the progress of Christian Religion)

The above expresses my personal convictions held for over 27 years. I have been a baptized member of the Christadelphians, a Christian body who have been on public record as holding similar beliefs since the time of the American Civil War. Further information can be obtained by referring to the U.S. Department of Commerce, 1936 Census of Religious Bodies, Bulletin No. 7.

Please see the attached page for detailed Bible references.

Sincerely,


Dear Sir/Madam:

I am a member of the Christadelphian church and have been affiliated with that religious body since my baptism in 1969. I wish to go on record as requesting to be excused from jury service. I see myself as a sojourner in this world waiting for the return of the king, the Lord Jesus Christ, to claim his rulership of this world and to sit with authority administering justice on his Father’s behalf. I believe that Scriptures teach that this is the position of the believer. While I seek to obey and respect the laws and authorities that God has set to rule the nations until His Son returns, I do not believe I can in good conscience become an officer of the court in administering and enforcing those laws.

My first allegiance is to the laws of God and because of my commitment to those laws I am a law-abiding citizen. My duty to “judge” others is limited to the “Household of Faith”. What other “judgments” I might make would be colored by my understanding of God’s laws. I believe this render me unfit for service on a jury.

I respectfully request to be excused from jury service for the above reasons.

Sincerely,

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