In his Politics According to the Bible, Wayne Grudem distills what a key biblical text teaches about government:
- God has appointed the authorities who have governmental power (vv. 1-2). This idea is also supported by Jesus’ statement to Pilate, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11).
- Civil rulers are a “terror to bad conduct” (cf. v. 3), which means they restrain evil by the threat of punishment for wrongdoing.
- They give”approval” or praise to those who do what is good (v. 3)… These verses indicate that government has a role in promoting the common good of a society.
- Governmental officials serve God. Paul says that the ruler “is God’s servant for your good” and that “he is the servant of God” (v. 4). He also says “the authorities are ministers of God” (v. 6). This means that we should think of government officials as serving God when they punish evil and promote what is good, whether or not they realize it.
- Governmental officials are doing “good” as they carry out their work. Paul says the official is God’s servant “for your good” (v. 4). This means that, in general, we should view the activities of government when it rewards good and punishes evil as something that is “good” according to God’s Word.
- Government authorities execute God’s wrath on wrongdoers and thereby carry out a task of retribution. This is explicit in Paul’s statement that the ruler “does not bear the sword in vain,” but as “the servant of God” he functions as “an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (v. 4)… This indicates that the purpose of civil punishment is not only to prevent further wrongdoing, but also to carry out God’s wrath on wrongdoing, and that this will include bringing actual punishment.
1 Peter 2:13-14 “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to the governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.”