Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.—Rom. 8.33

The Subjection of the Nations

To GOD and to CHRIST.

Excerpted from

The Reformed Presbyterian Catechism

By William Roberts.


On the Subjection of the Nations to God and to Christ.

Q. Does not the mediatorial dominion of Jesus Christ over the nations, exclude Jehovah from the throne?

A. By no means.  1. The economical relation illustrated {72} in the first section, clearly shows that Christ reigns by the mutual consent of the persons of the Godhead, being designated to the office by an act of the Divine will, and constituted Lord of all by the appointment of the Father; and, consequently, the Father rules by him, as his delegate.  2. The mediatory person and the second person of the Trinity, is but one and the same person, and Jehovah reigns in the person of the Son.  3. The objection[2] proves too much; for it may as well be argued that a work ascribed to the Son necessarily excludes the agency of the Father and the Holy Spirit; and consequently, that the first and third persons had nothing to do with creation (which is ascribed to the Son), as affirm, that the ascription of an act to the Messiah excludes the agency of Jehovah.  4. Christ himself, in order to anticipate every objection of this kind, taught, while on earth, that his agency did not exclude the constancy of his Father’s working; nor did the Father’s agency, about the very same object, imply the Son’s idleness.  John 5.17, “My Father worketh hitherto and I work.”

Q. Upon the principle of the economical arrangement or covenant between the persons in the Godhead, is the acknowledgment of the mediatorial authority of the Son substantially an acknowledgment of that of the other persons in the Trinity, and so of the dominion of Jehovah?

A. Yes; this is manifest,  1. Upon the principle laid down by the inspired Apostle, 1 John 2.23, “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father; [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.”  If he that acknowledgeth that “Jesus is the Christ,” acknowledgeth the Father: equally so, he that acknowledgeth the mediatorial dominion of the Son, acknowledgeth therein the dominion of Jehovah.  2. The subjection of Israel to the government of God, was to him in the mediatorial person and character; for the relation in which he stood to them was a gracious covenant relation—a relation which God absolutely considered cannot sustain to any of the guilty race of Adam, either individually or nationally.  “Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one Lord.”

Q. Is it the duty of nations to render national subjection {73} to Jehovah, by their national recognition of Christ’s mediatorial dominion over them, as “Prince of the kings of the earth?”

A. Yes.

Q. Which is the first proof of this?

A. The example of the commonwealth of Israel.  As it has just been stated, it was the true God in the person of the Messiah, whom they acknowledged, as is plain—1. From his frequent appearances in human form to the patriarchs, Abraham, &c., the progenitors of the nation in covenant with him.  2. Christ was the angel sent before them to guide them from the bondage of Egypt, as the uncreated “angel of the covenant” who had the power to “pardon transgression,” and “in whom” was the name “Jehovah.” Exod. 23.20.  3. From the vision which the elders enjoyed upon Mount Sinai, Exod. 24.10, “And they saw the God of Israel; and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of sapphire-stone, as it were the body of heaven in his brightness;” evidently a vision of the Mediator.  4. In the appearance of an armed warrior he led them to victory over the Canaanites. Joshua 5.13.  5. It was by covenant they submitted to him at Sinai, “All that the Lord hath said will we do,” which is not made with God in his essential character.  6. It was Christ whom they tempted in the wilderness.  1 Cor. 10.9, “Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.”  7. Now, as the Israelites had a civil government, a national territory and property, and civil relations and rights, all these were completely subjected to the government of the Son of God, in his character of Mediator.

Q. Is there any intimation in the whole volume of inspiration, that other nations should not copy after the example set them in Judea; or that the honors claimed by the Messiah and conceded to him, were peculiar to that territory, and that he doth not demand them in other quarters of the world?

A. There is no such intimation in the Scriptures, but their uniform teachings in this matter enforce the example; and all the passages already quoted in proof of his mediatorial dominion {74} over the nations, imply the obligation of nations to acknowledge his authority by a formal national act of recognition.

Q. Were not the Jews under a peculiar Theocracy, and so, not an example in this respect?

A. We hold, with a modern writer, “that the Jews were, indeed, under a Theocracy; but so also are all baptized nations.  They are as truly taught of God, and as firmly bound to serve him, as the Jews ever were.  They have, at least, as great advantages for knowing his will, and for doing it, as the Jews ever had; and it is difficult even to imagine how Christianity could ever relax the obedience of nations, or remove farther away from them the eye and the hand of Providence, which so intimately superintended the affairs of the Jews.  ‘Is he the God of the Jews only, and not of the Gentiles?  Yea, of the Gentiles also,’ [Rom 3.29,] who have a greater abundance of his oracles and law, than the Jews, before the coming of Christ, ever enjoyed.” [Robert Craig, Theocracy.]

Q. But was there not something in the manner in which that government was managed, altogether unlike that which obtains in other nations?

A. The same author solves this query: “Besides, it must not be overlooked, that God’s government of the Jewish nation was carried on by the usual and visible instrumentality of human government.  All the orders of men were employed, as agents, in his government of the people, which have ever been employed in any civilized and well ordered state.  There was among them a written statute-book of primary essential law.  There were successions of supreme rulers.  There were judges, priests, ministers of religion, prophets, teachers of the law, schools, places of worship, &c.  God never was their king in the sense of appearing in person, sitting on a throne in the midst of them, and dispensing with the usual agents and instruments.  So far was this from being the case, that all the while God was their king, the people had complete forms of government, in which they took part, and which they could and did change at their pleasure.  At one time they were ruled by a military chief, as Joshua; at another, by judges; at another, by a pontificate, as {75} Samuel; again, by an elective monarchy, as under Saul; and afterwards, by a hereditary monarchy, from David down to the time of the captivity in Babylon, &c.  But whatever form the supreme magistracy assumed, the law by which it was to he guided was always the same.”

Q. Had not these rulers extraordinary helps of such sort, and to such an extent, as to render the whole administration God’s and not man’s?

A. “It may be objected, that the Jews had the Shechinah, the oracle, prophets, &c., to consult, which no other nation ever had, or can again expect.  It is answered that Christian nations have the real Shechinah—the true Urim and Thummim—the whole Word of God or of Christ, speaking most clearly, whenever he is consulted, on every matter which it really concerns an individual or a nation to know.  They have in one book of easiest access, all the oracles, all the writings of their prophets, all the divine hymns, and all the wisdom of God, which the Jews ever had.  They have them as near at hand, spoken in as plain a language, accompanied with as much solemn and impressive grandeur, verified by as many instances of performance, and assigning as clearly the reasons for the providential acts of the same God.  In fine, what did the Jews of old know of God and of his government, that we, under the full light of the Gospel, have not the means of knowing greatly better than they?” [Robert Craig, Theocracy. Pages 132, 133.]

Q. Can you give any direct proof from Scripture of the duty of nations to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ as their king?

A. Yes, abundant.  I adduce as the first proof Dan. 7.13,14, “And there was given him (the Son of man) dominion, glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him.”  What stronger proof can be demanded of national subjection to Christ? All nations are his subjects, and if the subject is bound to submit to his lawful king, all nations are bound to acknowledge Christ as their king, and to “serve” and obey him.  They must recognise his authority and engage themselves in his service.

Q. Is there any command issued to the constituted authorities of the nations to render this homage? {76}

A. Yes.  Psalm 2.10-12, “Be wise now therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth.  Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.  Kiss the Son lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way when his wrath is kindled but a little.  Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”  1. The kiss here demanded is expressive of civil homage.  1 Sam. 10.1, “And Samuel kissed Saul and said, Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be Captain over his inheritance?”  2. It is addressed to the constituted authorities of the nations—kings and judges—the whole national organization.  3. It is plain, therefore, that from the king, or chief ruler, down through all the departments of state, together with the whole national assemblage, there is to be an acknowledgment of the Son of God upon his mediatorial throne.  He is to be kissed in token of subjection, and served as the Lord of all. [Acts 10.36.]

Q. Is there any promise that this homage shall be rendered the Lord Jesus Christ?

A. Yes; there is a direct promise to this effect.  Psalm 72.8-11, “He shall have dominion from sea to sea—yea, all kings shall bow down before him, all nations shall serve him.”  None worthy of respect will dispute the application of this Psalm to Christ.  Although David refers to Solomon in this Psalm, yet he has in view a greater than Solomon.  When David intended to build a house unto the Lord, and was forbidden, God promised that a Son should be born to him who should build the house, and gave him the promise, 1 Chron. 22.10, “I will be his father,” which Paul applies to Christ, Heb. 1.6.  With such authority we are in no danger of misinterpretation, in applying the text to the subjection of all kings and of all nations to the dominion of Messiah, and the duty nationally to acknowledge his authority over them.  ALL KINGS SHALL BOW DOWN BEFORE HIM, ALL NATIONS SHALL SERVE HIM.

Q. Are not the nations threatened with destruction if they do not render this national homage?

A. Yes.  Psalm 9.17, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.”  Men are contemplated in this passage individually, and in their associated {77} capacity, as moral persons compacted by civil bonds, or organized national bodies; God is to be remembered by man both in his individual and national capacity.  To remember God is plainly to recognise his being and authority, and to be obedient to his will.  To forget God is not to recognise his being and authority, and to refuse obedience to his will.  Every wicked individual that does so shall be literally turned into hell.  Every nation that does so shall meet the like most terrible retribution—shall be cut off from the living, and covered in the grave.

Q. Is not Psalm 2.12, “Kiss the Son lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way when his wrath is kindled but a little,” another fearful threatening?

A. Yes.  This passage, we have seen, is addressed to kings and judges, as they wear their crowns, and are invested with the ermine.  If they refuse the kiss of civil homage (as it means) they provoke the wrath of the Lamb, and perish under his iron rod.  Hence the Roman Emperors and chief officers of state are represented as calling in terror to the rocks and mountains, “fall on us and hide us from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of his wrath is come.” Rev. 6.16.

Q. Can you produce any other threatening?

A. Yes.  It is also declared in the 110th Psalm, “The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.”  They “withstand” him, they resist his authority, they refuse submission, therefore “he fills the places with dead bodies, and wounds the head over many countries.”

Q. Is there a passage which strengthens this argument?

A. Yes.  This argument is greatly strengthened by a portion of the 76th Psalm, verses 11, 12, “Vow and pay unto the Lord your God: let all that be round about him bring presents unto him that ought to be feared.  He shall cut off the spirit of princes: he is terrible to the kings of the earth.”  According to [Matthew] HENRY, vowing, here, respects taking an “oath of allegiance” to the “King of kings.”  [Paraphrasing Henry:] “Bind your souls with a vow to him, as subjects to their sovereign.  He will be {78} feared by those who think it their sole prerogative to be feared.  He shall cut off the spirit of princes; he shall slip it off as easily as we slip off a flower from the stock or a bunch of grapes from the vine, for he is terrible to the kings of the earth, and sooner or later, if they be not so wise as to submit themselves to him, he will force them to call in vain to the rocks and mountains, ‘Fall on us, and hide us from the wrath of the Lamb.’ [Rev. 6.16.]”

Q. Is not Christ’s sentence for the rejection of his authority awful?

A. Yes.  Let nations tremble at the terrible sentence of Jesus Christ.  Luke 19.27, “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, BRING HITHER AND SLAY THEM BEFORE ME.”

Q. Does not the apocalyptic declaration—Rev. 11.15, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ,”—import this natural subjection to Christ?

A. Yes.  It teaches that existing kingdoms, so far from being God’s ordinance, are merely worldly kingdoms.  They have their origin and all their regulations from men, corrupt men, either rulers or mass of the people, as they are influenced by the devil, the god of this world.  They are not such governments as meet the approbation of the Lord and his Christ, whose kingdom we have seen is not of this world, has not its origin from man, but from heaven.  But throwing off their allegiance to the devil, and subjecting themselves to Christ, and taking the law at his mouth, and ruling for his glory and the good of the church, and felicity of man, they cast off their worldly character, and are clothed with the beauty and glory of the kingdom of heaven.  Now they are the devil’s kingdoms, and “at war with the Lamb,” [Rev. 17.14,] but by a national acknowledgment of the mediatorial authority of Christ, they become happily transformed into his millennial kingdoms.

Q. Is not the duty of national subjection to Messiah as king, taught in Dan. 7.18 and 27, “The Saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever—and the kingdom and dominion, and greatness of the {79} kingdom, under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High”?

A. Yes, very distinctly.  1. They imply that a great revolution takes place in the kingdoms of the world, (such as described in the preceding answer,) in the subversion of those beastly powers exhibited in this chapter, upon which all dominions, all national associations, by a voluntary subjection, serve and obey him.  What shall in future be, with divine approbation, ought now to be—all nations should NOW serve and obey the Mediatorial King.

Q. Is not Rev. 21.24-26—“And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it; and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it—and they shall all bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.”—a further proof of the duty of national subjection to the Lord Jesus Christ, as prince of the kings of the earth?

A. Yes.  “This passage must be understood as describing a course of preparation that takes place on earth, as it is only in this world that national and official distinctions exist.  Now, if nations, as such, are to walk in the light of the New Jerusalem; that is to say, are to derive distinguished honour and privileges from the church of Christ, they must fairly be regarded as under the dominion of the church’s head! And, if kings, as such, are to bring their glory into it; that is to say, are to subordinate their authority, power, revenues, and whole administration to the interests of Christ’s kingdom, we are not only taught that the kings themselves are under the dominion of the Messiah—but in this account of their duty and privilege, we have a beautiful illustration of national subjection to his authority.” [William Symington, Messiah the Prince, page 204-205.][3]

Q. Do not the titles given to Christ demonstrate the duty of national subjection to the authority of the Messiah?

A. They amount to a perfect demonstration.  The titles, for example—“king of kings”—“prince of the kings of the earth”—“governor among the nations,” &c., show clearly that kings and nations are the subjects of Christ; and, as subjects, owe subjection to the lawful authority over them; so, in like manner—nations owe national subjection to the Lord Jesus Christ—who, by the act of the Father, is constituted {80} their Mediatorial King.  The titles are significant [significative] of his authority over the nations, and of their reciprocal allegiance to him as their lawful governor.

Q. Does not this claim of Christ—the national acknowledgment of his authority—enter as a chief principle, among the causes of the present conflict between the Lord Jesus Christ, and the nations?

A. Yes.  The Lord Jesus Christ proclaims His authority as governor of the nations, and the duty of submission to himself on their part; his witnesses testify to the truth, and urge a national acknowledgment of his authority as king of kings.  The nations refuse, saying, “We will not have this man to reign over us,” [Luke 19.14; Psalm 2.1-3,] they revolt more and more, goaded on in their mad career by the Dragon, and his subordinates, until the day of vengeance cometh, when the wrath of the Lamb being kindled, burneth like an oven, consuming the rebellious hosts.  Isa. 45.23, “I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness and shall not return; that unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.” Applied to Christ, Rev. 14.10,11, and Phil. 2.9-11;  Zeph. 3.8,9, “Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey; for my determination is to gather the nations that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger; for all the earth shall be devoured by the fire of my jealousy—for then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.”

Q. Is not this claim of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the homage of the nations in their national character, a reasonable claim?

A. It is a most reasonable claim—for it seems a self-evident principle, that, as civil government is the ordinance of God, his authority should be recognised.  That, as the Lamb is the king of kings, and has the power of civil rule delegated to him, that he should be acknowledged in the exercise of his delegated authority as the vicegerent of Jehovah.

Q. Does not the great majority of professed Christians revolt against this claim of the Messiah—as urged upon {81} them as a peculiar principle of the Reformed Presbyterian Church—and the grand doctrine of their testimony?

A. Yes.  They cherish a squeamish sentimentality in relation to civil matters.  They shudder, with the infidel, at the thought of religion having anything to do with politics—that the name of Christ should, in any view, be associated with the kingdoms of this world.  Yet they will plead his imagined sanction for their own connexion with these kingdoms, and the support which they give to their immoralities and grinding oppression.  The very ministers, who shrink with a superstitious sensitiveness from the writings of those noble witnesses, who have weighed immoral governments in the balances of the sanctuary, and have pronounced them wanting—will be found at the polls voting for the elevation of the “man stealer!”  But, to plead the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ as king of kings, and to urge the application of his law to civil society—they absolutely refuse—whilst they strenuously defend existing civil establishments, and, in so doing, betray the cause of their Lord and Master.


2. That is, the common objection of those who assert a mediatorial dominion of Christ restricted to the Church, and excluding authority over the nations.  Some of these persons, identifying themselves as Presbyterians or Covenanters of one sort or another, represented the Reformed Presbyterian testimony for Christ’s mediatorial dominion as implying that the Father, or Jehovah absolutely considered, had laid aside the exercise of providence, that it might be taken on by the Son.  Whether such language was ever used or not, it is evidently a slanderous misrepresentation of the testimony of the witnesses, and in no way a necessary consequent of asserting Christ’s mediatorial dominion over the nations.  The Bible asserts this authority is given to the Redeemer. Matt. 28.18-20; Eph. 1.20-23. It never suggests that it is first taken away from a former possessor that it might be given to the Son.—JTKer.

3. Without detracting anything of the usefulness of the passage alleged for the proof of the point made by our author, it should be noted that there are other post-millenialists strongly persuaded that a more natural interpretation of Revelation 21 has respect to the Church in her Triumphant state rather than her Militant state.  It will remain that nations and kings shall have first brought their glory and honour into the church in this world, and then also into that eternal kingdom.  And this will surely imply the duty of nations and their rulers to give their honour and service to Christ at present.  But the sequence of events in these last chapters of the Apocalypse, and other circumstances of this specific chapter, favour an interpretation different from that which our author quotes above.  For further consideration, consult David Steele’s Notes on the Apocalypse, Chapter 21, and the first section of his Appendix: The New Jerusalem—JTKer.