We conclude that the appropriate authority in family, society and in the state is established for our own benefit. To what extent is it necessary to show respect to the authority?
The apostle Paul says: “For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute [is due;] custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour” (Romans 13.67). The apostle also mentions: “Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God” (Romans 13:2).
It is very surprising when we read these words, especially when the apostle gives this order to Christians who were under the persecution of the authorities for their faith. We can be more surprised by reading the apostle Peter’s words: “Submit yourselves to every human power for the Lord’s sake” (1 Peter 2:13), “Servants, [be] obedient to masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the forward” (1 Peter 2:18).
There is an illusion that Christianity is calling for some kind of blind obedience and reconciliation with every evil thing. But the courageous fight of Christ against the injustice, the condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23:1-36), the fact that He cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple (Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-16, Luke 19:45-46, John 2:14-17), disperses that illusion. The exhortation of the apostles has a deeper meaning: if there is a need to change the government or social order, it should be done not by violence but by the power of the soul.
The exhortation of the apostles was based on Christ’s teaching and example. When the crowd came out against Christ in the garden of Gethsemane, Peter with a sword cut off the ear of one man from the crowd, but the Lord reproached him and healed the victim (Luke 22:50-51, John 18:10). From the history, we see what were the results of the attempts to violently overthrow the authorities and establish new ones.
In 1789, the great French Revolution, under the motto of “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” led to greater bloodshed and a worse situation. The same happened during the Bolshevik Revolution of the early 20th century, and we see the same as the bloody strife of power change in the Arab world at present when more bloodshed and conflicts continue with the establishment of new orders.
The obedience of Christians to the authorities ends when they force to deny God. So, St. George, as well as the other saints opposed the authorities, broke down the idols. Also St. Gregory the Illuminator, who was loyally serving to the king, opposed the king, receiving the order to worship pagan idols and bring sacrifice unto them.
We see that the apostles have reformed the whole world by spreading Christianity. While other powerful states with their armies could not conquer the Roman empire and they were always losing the battles, Christians defeated the empire by converting people and even emperors to Christianity.