Read the Westminster Standards in a year.
Confession of Faith
Chapter 23: Of the Civil Magistrate

3. Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the Word and sacraments;1 or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven;2 or, in the least, interfere in matters of faith.3 Yet, as nursing fathers, it is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the church of our common Lord, without giving the preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest, in such a manner that all ecclesiastical persons whatever shall enjoy the full, free, and unquestioned liberty of discharging every part of their sacred functions, without violence or danger.4 And, as Jesus Christ hath appointed a regular government and discipline in his church, no law of any commonwealth should interfere with, let, or hinder, the due exercise thereof, among the voluntary members of any denomination of Christians, according to their own profession and belief.5 It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever: and to take order, that all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies be held without molestation or disturbance.6

  1. 2 Chronicles 26:18

    and they withstood King Uzziah and said to him, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Go out of the sanctuary, for you have done wrong, and it will bring you no honor from the Lord God.” (ESV)

  2. Matthew 18:17

    If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

    Matthew 16:19

    I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

    1 Corinthians 12:28-29

    And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?

    Ephesians 4:11

    And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,

    1 Corinthians 4:1-2

    4:1 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.

    Romans 10:15

    And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

    Hebrews 5:4

    And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. (ESV)

  3. John 18:36

    Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

    Acts 5:29

    But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.

    Ephesians 4:11-12

    And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (ESV)

  4. Isaiah 49:23

    Kings shall be your foster fathers,
    and their queens your nursing mothers.
    With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you,
    and lick the dust of your feet.
    Then you will know that I am the Lord;
    those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.”

    Romans 13:1-6

    13:1 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. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. (ESV)

  5. Psalm 105:15

    saying, “Touch not my anointed ones,
    do my prophets no harm!”

    Acts 18:14-15

    But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint. But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.” (ESV)

  6. Romans 13:4

    for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer.

    1 Timothy 2:2

    for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. (ESV)


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Based on Calendar of Readings in the Westminster Standards by Dr. Joey Pipa. Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.