Foundations of Law I


God has jurisdiction over all areas of human life, but human government only has jurisdiction over some areas.

The presumption is that civil government does not have jurisdiction.

Government can only punish evil conduct, not evil desires alone. It should also reward the good.

  • Romans 13:3–4
    For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
    4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
  • Matthew 5:22
    But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
  • Matthew 15:19
    For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

God has absolute jurisdiction over matters of faith and the mind to the exclusion of the state.

State has no power to enforce the duty man has to worship his Creator.

  • Mark 12:17
    And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marvelled at him.
  • Acts 5:28–29
    Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us.
    29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
  • Psalm 7:9
    Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.
  • 1 Samuel 16:7
    But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
  • Jeremiah 17:10
    I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

No civil enforcement in Israel indicates lack of jurisdiction.

Civil enforcement in Israel indicates potential for jurisdiction, but one must consider the discontinuities between Israel and modern civil government.

  • Is the penalty tied to the specific covenant with Israel where God is the civil magistrate in Israel? i.e. Mosaic Law
  • Were there subsequent penalty modifications or a fulfillment of that law?

Civil enforcement being condoned in other nations indicates potential for jurisdiction.

No civil enforcement being condoned in other nations indicates lack of jurisdiction.

Civil government does not have jurisdiction if enforcement given to others like God, the family, the church, or individuals.

  • Church Government
    • 1 Timothy 3:1–13
      • Gives qualifications for a ruler in the church.
    • 1 Corinthians 5:9–12
      I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
      10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.
      11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
      12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?
    • The church's enforcement mechanism is excommunication from fellowship with the church.
  • Family Government
    • Colossians 3:18–21
      Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.
      19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.
      20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.
      21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
    • Proverbs 6:20
      My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
    • The church's enforcement mechanism is excommunication from fellowship with the church.
  • Self-Government
    • Scriptures assume we are beings that can make moral choices of our own free will.
    • E.g. Scriptures impose the duty to rescue upon the individual, not upon the government.

God commands to care for the poor, but there are no recorded instances of Israel's civil government punishing people for not doing so.

  • Leviticus 19:10
    And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the Lord your God.
  • Matthew 25:41–43
    Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
    42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
    43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Civil government has no jurisdiction to force its citizens to rescue others.

  • Luke 10:25–37
    • Story of the good Samaritan
  • Neither the Old nor New Testaments prescribes punishment for failing to rescue.
  • Duty to rescue is born out of love, which government cannot compel.
  • Slippery slope of forcing love

Three major principles:

  1. Power must be expressly granted to civil government; otherwise, it does not exist. God expressly told man what government should do when He created it in Genesis 9.
  2. A Christian view of government provides great liberty.
  3. When considering whether a law is valid, one must also consider who has been granted jurisdiction to enforce it.

God laid it out so nations only have jurisdiction over people within their territories.

  • Acts 17:26–27
    Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
    26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;