The Higher Powers/Power

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The Watchtower

Vol. L
June 1, 1920
No. 11

"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God." - Rom 13:1

1 JEHOVAH God gave his Word to his people for their reproof, correction, instruction, aid and comfort, to the end that such may be thoroughly furnished with knowledge that will enable them to do right and to accomplish good. (Rom. 15:4; 2 Tim. 3:16,17) That inflexible rule must always be kept in mind and followed in giving consideration to any Scriptural text. That means that the anointed must always be obedient to God's law. A rule or law that commands a child of God to take any other course is wrong. The anointed of the Lord must do right; and God's Word alone, and without a single exception, points out the right way. - Ps. 19:7,8
2 The instruction of the thirteenth chapter of Romans has long been misapplied. The improper application has really been the basis for the false doctrine of the "divine right of kings" or rulers to rule and oppress the people. The instruction given therein by the apostle was not intended for mankind in general, but for the benefit of the church. If intended for any one outside of the church, then it must follow that God has been judging the people throughout the period of the Gentile times, whereas other scriptures show that God has appointed a special time for the judgment of mankind in general.-Acts 17: 31.
3 The apostle is, in substance, telling the members of the church that they should always be obedient to God, and that the motive for such obedience must be love for God and a delight in doing his will. Paul's argument is also to the effect that if the laws of the land are in harmony with God's law they should be obeyed, of course; not because such laws were enacted by the law-making body of the nation, but because they are in harmony with God's law and for that reason are right; that if the law of a nation is not contrary to God's law, then the law of the nation should be obeyed in order that the child of God might not needlessly cause offense; and, further, for the sake of his own conscience. The controlling point in his argument really is citizenship, or to what power the creature is to be in subjection.

4 The power of Jehovah is supreme. From him proceeds all rightful authority. He is the Creator of heaven and earth. (Isa. 42:5; Jer. 10:12) There is no limitation to his power, and there is no qualification to the statement that God is supreme. (Gen. 17:1-3; 35:11) He is the Most High, and none can be above him. (Ps. 91:1; Eph. 4:10) In his argument the apostle says: "There is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of [arranged under] God." Otherwise stated, all power that is rightfully exercised is that which is delegated by Jehovah to the creature exercising that power. It follows, then, that there is no creature or creatures that could rightfully make and execute laws or rules of action that are contrary to God's law. When the apostle says, "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers," these words include the church now, and will later include all who come into harmony with God.
5 Many comments have been written of and concerning the thirteenth chapter of Romans to the effect that the Gentile powers or governments of this world are the "powers that be" and that such governments derive their powers from Jehovah God. At once it is seen that the foundation is laid for the doctrine of the "divine right of kings", for the reason that the argument is that whatever power a nation has and exercises, that power is ordained of God, and that therefore the child of God must be obedient to that power. For many centuries the rulers and the nations called Christian nations have insisted that God has delegated to them the power to rule, and have used this to cause the people to pay them great respect and homage. Let this argument be followed to its logical conclusion, and where do we find ourselves?
6 In the United States it is unlawful for a citizen to be found in possession of or transporting intoxicating liquor. In Canada, England, Germany and other countries, which also claim to be Christian, it is not unlawful to be found in possession of or (and) transporting intoxicating liquors. Has God delegated a


different power or authority to these different nations? In the United States, in time of peace no citizen can, by law, be drafted and required to render military service. In Italy and other countries called Christian, even in time of peace all citizens are subject to military service, and refusing to render such service are subject to severe punishment. Which one of the nations is making and enforcing the military law in harmony with God's law, seeing that their laws are different?
7 In the United States, in time of war a law is made compelling persons within a certain age limit to engage in military service. Is the law of God different at different times and in different countries? The scripture answers: 'God changes not.' (Mal. 3:6) Of necessity God must be, and is, at all times consistent.
8 God says to his anointed sons: "Thou shalt not kill." (Matt. 5: 21, 22) He that kills is a murderer. Furthermore, it is written: "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him." (1 John 3: 15) All the Gentile governments of the world in time of war compel their respective subjects or citizens to participate in war and to kill. Has God delegated the power to these governments to order men to kill each other, and are the anointed sons of God bound to obey the laws of the land which require killing, when at the same time God's own law commands that he shall not kill? If the child of God engages in war and deliberately kills, he precludes himself from entering the kingdom, according to God's law.
9 If a worldly government can enact a law forbidding the use of certain drinks, that nation or government can also enact a law, and enforce it, forbidding the use of certain foods, even including bread. Jesus directed his followers to pray to God: "Give us this day our daily bread." Would God delegate to a nation or government a power that would permit that nation to make and enforce a law forbidding the use of the very thing for which the children of God were directed to pray? If it is lawful to drink beer while eating cheese in Germany, and unlawful to drink beer while eating cheese in the United States, which one of these nations is exercising the power delegated by the Lord? If the answer be, Both, then the question is properly asked: Is God declaring that the doing of a certain act is right in one part of the earth and wrong in another part of the earth?
10 Russia and the United States are both powers of this world, otherwise called nations or governments; and both claim to be Christian nations, even though they are not. The fundamental law of the United States declares that a man may exercise his religion in any manner he may choose. Contrary to this fundamental law, some of the states enact a law that the gospel can not be preached in certain places or under certain conditions, and arrest and punish those who
attempt thus to preach it. In Russia the law is that one can not preach the gospel at all without a permit from the government. God's commandment to his sons, which commandment is given through Jesus Christ, is that his gospel shall be preached in all the nations as a witness. (Matt. 24: 14) Shall the child of God be obedient to the law of the United States or of Russia, or to the law of God? Is it possible that God has delegated to these various nations the right and authority to make and enforce laws that are inconsistent with and in derogation of his own expressed will?
11 Is it not therefore clear that there has been a decidedly improper application of the words of the Apostle Paul when applied to the governments of this world? When he says, "The powers that be are ordained of Cod," does he have any reference whatsoever to the Gentile nations of the earth? Is it not more reasonable that he directs his words exclusively to the powers possessed and exercised in God's organization, and not to those that are exercised in Satan's organization?


12 Aside from Jehovah himself his organization consists of Jesus Christ, his holy angels, cherubim, the resurrected members of the body of Christ, and those who have been brought into the church and anointed of the spirit and who are diligently putting forth their best endeavors to be obedient to God. At the Jordan, at the time of his consecration, Jesus was anointed to the high office of "priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek". He was then and there clothed with certain powers as the man Christ Jesus on earth. Speaking to his disciples Jesus said that "the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins". (Mark 2: 10) After Jesus had been raised from the dead he said to his disciples: "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." (Matt. 28: 18) That power he received from Jehovah. Manifestly God permitted Jesus to grant some power to his servants or disciples, because Jesus said: "For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch." - Mark 13: 34.
13 The word "power" is translated from the Greek exousia; and Paul's argument set forth in the text and context shows that the power there mentioned has reference to the authority that is possessed and exercised in God's organization. It is the institution which Jehovah himself employs to carry out his purposes. The foregoing scriptures are in point, as well as those that follow: "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him." (Col. 1: 16) "Thou