Table of Duties
CERTAIN PASSAGES OF SCRIPTURE FOR VARIOUS HOLY ORDERS AND POSITIONS, ADMONISHING THEM ABOUT THEIR DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” [Matt. 22:21]
Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. [Rom. 13:5-7]
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior. [1 Tim. 2:1-3]
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work. [Titus 3:1]
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. [1 Peter 2:13-14]
In the Table of Duties, the last entry, “To Everyone”, forms the summary of the duties of all Christians within the three hierarchies God established for us to live within: Church, Government, and Home/Family. “To Everyone” sums the whole Table up by pointing out the all-encompassing responsibility that one is to love the neighbor and offer petitions for the whole world.
How does a Christian citizen of a community (a group of families who live together in one place or area) or a nation-state (a larger group of communities) so love the neighbor within and pray for the community and nation?
Luther begins with the words of Jesus. To Caesar belongs the things of Caesar. To God belong the things of God. Caesar rules the community and nation, maintaining order and discipline within the rule of Law (see “Of Civil Government” last week). Caesar does not preach the Gospel and proclaim the forgiveness of sins on Jesus’ behalf. Those belong to God and His Church.
Caesar does not preach the Gospel and proclaim the forgiveness of sins on Jesus’ behalf. Those belong to God and His Church.
Therefore, knowing that there is a set order of duties for the government, the Christian can be subject, or, stay in the correct God-given order for his physical good, and for the good of his conscience. Caesar is a minister of God of the civil law and to mete out its justice. Pleasing him is to be pleasing “in the sight of God our Savior” (1 Tim 2.3). So Christians pay what is owed within that order: taxes, revenue, respect, honor, obedience, good works, prayers, supplications, intercessions, and thanksgivings (for the good done by Caesar).
Through cooperation with, and honor and respect for, the government, one becomes God’s blessing to the neighbor, especially in that Caesar works (we pray) for the common good, providing a common defense against evil for the community and the nation (punishing those who do evil and praising those who do good, as the apostle Peter points out).