Contribution to Book
Early Christian Attitudes to Government = Government: Early Christianity - Patristic and Orthodox ChurchesThe Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception (2015)
With the Jewish monarchy a distant memory and the Roman Empire a harsh master in the 1st century, early Christians were ambivalent toward government; but, apostolic writings in the emerging NT provided some guidance. Jesus’ response to the tribute question “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matt 22:21) seemed to accept the existence of government in the temporal order and the duty of limited tribute for its sustenance. Paul counseled Christians to “be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God,” and to pray for state officials because they bear the sword to punish the evil and to protect the good (Rom 13:1-7; cf. 1 Tim 2:1-2; 1 Pet 2:13-17, esp. 17, “Honor the emperor”). This appeared to offer some purpose for secular power in an imperfect world . Yet, John of Patmos’ warnings that “the Great Dragon … the Devil” could empower earthly rulers as “purple beasts” to harass and corrupt the saints (Rev 12-13, & 17-18) provided a salutary restraint to unlimited obeisance.
EditorDale C. Allison Jr., Christine Helmer, Jens Schröter, Thomas Römer Chr., Choon-Leong Seow, Barry Dov Walfish, and Eric Ziolkowski
PublisherWalter de Gruyter
Citation InformationCharles M. Odahl. "Early Christian Attitudes to Government = Government: Early Christianity - Patristic and Orthodox Churches" Berlin & BostonThe Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception Vol. 10 (2015) p. 737 - 739
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/charles_odahl/67/