Honor the King

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: I Peter 2:13-17


I.         I Peter 2:17 - Honor the King

            A.        It is getting hard to avoid the problems this country has with its leaders

            B.        Everyone knows about the sins commit by some of our recent presidents and each has his own opinion on the matter

            C.        But knowing that a leader has sinned creates a difficulty for Christians

II.        Romans 13:1-17 - We are to show respect for authority

            A.        Every soul must be subject to the governing authorities

            B.        The authorities are called God’s minister or God’s servant three times!

            C.        They rule by God’s decree

            D.        As Christians we are obligated to pay our taxes and to give proper honor

            E.        Romans 13:5 - We must obey because of the wrath of these men but also because it is the right thing to do

III.       There is no escape clause

            A.        Look at I Peter 2 and Romans 13 again. Do you see some qualifier that states it is OK to withhold honor from dishonorable leaders?

            B.        Is there some indication that you do not have to give respect to a disrespectful ruler?

            C.        Many have a hard time believing there has ever been a time or place where righteous leaders have been in such scarce supply

IV.      Recall the time when these words were written

            A.        Rome, which ruled the world in Paul’s day, began as a republic, but by the first century was ruled by dictators who called themselves emperors

                        1.         Some were noble men but few would have served as examples of good behavior

            B.        Claudius ruled from A.D. 41 to 54, during the time Paul wrote many of his letters

                        1.         He was known as an able and efficient administrator

                        2.         But he is the one who issued the order expelling all Jews from Rome - Acts 18:2

                                    a.         Two who were expelled were Aquila and Priscilla, Christians of Jewish ancestry, who moved to Corinth where Paul found them on his second journey

                        3.         Claudius assumed the throne after the murder of his nephew, Caligula

                                    a.         Caligula was an insane man who ruled from A.D. 37 to 41

                                    b.         Like Caligula, Claudius’ reigned also ended with his violent death

            C.        Yet, it was about these ruling men that Paul said to give honor as kings!

            D.        Then there was Nero (A.D. 54 to 68), a well-known hater of Christians

                        1.         Followers of the Way had never enjoyed popularity among the Romans

                                    a.         They refused to worship the emperor as a god

                                    b.         Therefore, their loyalty to Rome was questioned

                        2.         But Nero raised the persecution of Christians to new heights of evil

                                    a.         Nero, at times, set Christians on fire or had them torn to pieces by wild dogs in his arena

                                    b.         Even his fellow Romans were appalled by his cruelty

                        3.         It was to Nero whom Paul appealed for a review of his case in Palestine - Acts 25:10-12

                        4.         Later, when a large part of Rome burned in A.D. 64, Nero blamed it on the Christians

            E.        Yet both Paul and Peter wrote while living under Nero – Honor the King!

            F.        There are many others we could name, such as Domitian, who reigned near the end of the first century and surpassed Nero in the persecution of Christians

                        1.         Other rulers have committed atrocities against Christians through the ages

                        2.         They feared those who would obey God over men - Acts 5:29

                        3.         These were men who were accountable to no earthly power

                        4.         Under his rule, John was exiled - Revelation 1:9

                        5.         Christians in their countries found they had two choices: obey the ruler and live, or obey God and die.

            G.        Yet they were told to honor the king!

V.        We live in a country where the people have a say in who rules them

            A.        We vote on many issues and vote on our leaders

            B.        Our laws allow us to speak freely on anything we desire, though these laws are being eroded

            C.        Unfortunately there is no guarantee that those elected will have the same high moral standards as Christians

            D.        Nevertheless Paul’s words in Romans 13 and Peter’s words in I Peter 2 remain the same.

            E.        Yes, we should strive to elect men who will stand for biblical principles

            F.        Yes, we should try to persuade others to live by the Bible as well

            G.        But once they are elected, never forget our responsibility to give honor to those who have the rule over us.

            H.        Remember that honor doesn’t include unswerving obedience. We honor and obey God above all others.

            I.         Honor the king, and pray they rule wisely - I Timothy 2:1-4

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