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If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17

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Go to the source! Discover what the Bible says about …

These pages are designed to aid study or investigation for Christian discipleship through individual Bible study, Cell groups, Home groups, or meeting one to one.  The questions could be used alone allowing each person to use their own Bible.


Whatever our position in society there is always someone or some organisation in authority over us. God calls on us to respect and honour those in authority.

We live in a culture that bucks against authority.  Those in authority are often despised for their weakness and failures.  When we stand before God, those who have been given authority will be required to answer for their use of it.  This leads to a question for us - how do we as God’s servants show love by helping those in authority to come to a good place before God?

Bible Zone

So what does it mean to honour? What does the Bible say about respect for authority, and more particularly respect for parents?

Respect Parents

The first 5 of the 10 commandments focuses on our relationship with God.  The last of these is probably the most curious of all since it is not focused on God but on our parents.  This command is repeated fairly explicitly in the New Testament.  So, let us have a look at it and see what you can make of it.  This text is from Ephesians 6:1-4 which quotes the Ten Commandments from Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5

  1. What are children asked to do?
  2. What is the difference between honour and obey?
  3. In a time of conflict, how could one honour even when disagreeing?
  4. Paul, the author of this text balances the requirement on children to obey parents with a challenge to fathers to not provoke their children to anger.  What connection is there between these two instructions?

Ephesians 6:1-4   1 Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord,* for this is the right thing to do.2 "Honor your father and mother." This is the first commandment with a promise:3 If you honor your father and mother, "things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth."*

  4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

Respect Authorities

Paul extends this respect for authorities to the government.  We see this in Romans 13:1-7.  This is significant because at that time the authorities were not sympathetic with the Christian faith.  Paul spent considerable time in prison and was ultimately executed due to abuse of their power.

  1. What does the Bible say is the source of authority?
  2. What is the purpose of authority?
  3. How should authorities be treated?

Romans 13:1-7   1 Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.2 So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.3 For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you.4 The authorities are God's servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God's servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong.5 So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.

  6 Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do.7 Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.

Pray for Authorities

It may well be that we are at odds with someone who is in authority over us, as indeed Paul was.  Here is his counsel.  1 Timothy 2:1-5

  1. What is the position of God and Jesus over each person?
  2. What are we asked to pray for?
  3. What should our motivation be for prayer in each of the situations?
  4. How does God value the different people and ourselves?  How does this reflect on the call to prayer?

1 Timothy 2:1-5   1 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.3 This is good and pleases God our Savior,4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.5 For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.

Spiritual Authority

The Lord gives instructions both to those in spiritual authority and those who are led.  There is a clear difference here in the exercise of spiritual authority from that exercised through human institutions, though often the two become muddled.  1 Peter 5:1-6

  1. What attitude does God ask of those entrusted with leadership?
  2. What attitude does God ask of those being led?
  3. Is any right given to enforce these positions?
  4. What does God promise to those who walk with Him in humility?

1 Peter 5:1 And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you:2 Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.3 Don't lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example.4 And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.

  5 In the same way, you younger men must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, serve each other in humility, for  "God opposes the proud  but favors the humble."*  6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

Servant Leadership

Jesus washed his disciples feet.  Part of the reason was as an example about the style of leadership he looks for.  John 13:12-17

  1. What elements of explanation does Jesus give for washing the disciples feet?
  2. What does it mean for Jesus’ disciples to wash people’s feet today?

John 13:12-17   12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, "Do you understand what I was doing?13 You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and you are right, because that's what I am.14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other's feet.15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message.17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.

Honour God

  1. How might learning to respect the different groups of people mentioned so far help us to learn to respect and honour God?