What the Bible Says About War and Governments

Adobe Stock

The Bible is full of stories about war, analogies of war, and even speaks of a war in heaven. The Bible also talks about heavenly and earthly governments. Here is some insight into how the Bible views these topics.

What does the Bible say about governments?

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

–Romans 13:1

This verse tells us that God establishes rulers on Earth, ultimately removing their authority. Christians must act with honor and benevolence towards all people, following the laws and the leaders of the society they live in.

However, this verse does not imply blind obedience to leaders, especially those who act in ungodly ways. Verses from Peter add clarification.

“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good, you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as free people, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but live as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”

– 1 Peter 2:13-17

But the Christians are reminded that they are ultimately servants of God. They should not conceal or excuse wickedness by their government.

“When government turns the divine design on its head and protects those who do evil and makes those who do good afraid, it forfeits its divine purpose,” says Pastor John MacArthur. “So God’s design for the government has been entirely corrupted…the government will cease to function the way God designed it, and in fact, it will become the enemy of the divine design.”

What does the Bible say about war?

“The lord is a man of war: The lord is his name.”

– Exodus 15:3

According to scholar Matthew Henry, this line comes from a song, the most ancient we know of. “The Lord is a God of almighty power, and woe to those that strive with their Maker!”

According to the Cambridge Bible, this verse describes God drowning Pharaoh’s soldiers in the Red Sea, the most potent armed force in the world, the God who defends and delivers his people.

“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.”

–Matthew 24:6

Jesus foretells there will be wars and commotions amid the nations, says Bible scholar Matthew Henry. But Jesus was also asked what will be the signs, and he prophesied the coming destruction of Jerusalem. In other words, Jesus spoke of both near and distant wars.

Strive for peace

But the Christian should always seek peace.

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

– Romans 12:18

In the end, God will bring all wars to a close, as the prophet Isaiah foretells:

“He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

– Isaiah 2:4

War in heavenly places

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

– Ephesians 6:12

The Bible implies that there is a spiritual war occurring in heaven, that the actions of the forces of darkness have implications on Earth.

The Bible instructs us to protect ourselves by studying and living by the Word of God. God’s Word is our weapon.

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”

– Ephesians 6:11

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”

– Ephesians 6:13