Scriptural Qualifications for Civic Office

Scriptural references compiled by Dr. Phillip G. Kayser
Article written by John Mayes and Micah Hurd

American Christians today find themselves in the middle of a political tension: tension between desiring a Christian revival in the nation, while simultaneously voting out of fear, leading to a “choice between the lesser of two evils” mentality. However, this tension should not exist for Christians who are faithful and have been instructed in the precepts laid out in God's Word. If we understand Scripture’s requirements on us as citizens, and its requirements on the leaders we elect, we will have a much clearer understanding of how we, as Christians, ought to vote. Has God given us qualifications for Civil rulers? How stringent are these qualifications? Are these qualifcations binding or are they merely reccomendations? These are the questions that we intend to answer in this article.


A Few Basic Presuppositions


Fundamental to living Christianly is obedience to the Word of God. As Proverbs says “the beginning of all wisdom is the fear of the Lord.” We fear and love God by keeping his commands (John 14:14). God has commanded us to love Him and to love our neighbor (Matt. 22:37-40). How are we to know how to love God and love our neighbor? By use of the whole council of God's Word (2 Tim. 3:16-17).


Further, if we are careful to follow all God has commanded, God will be faithful to bless us (Deut. 28), and, if we humbly turn to Him, he will be faithful to heal our land (2 Chr. 7:14). That is, the Christian revival we seek will happen.


So, these are Scripture’s general requirements on us. If you affirm all the above, which the Christian must if he is to be consistent with Scripture and faithful to God, the next relevant question to the discussion then is, what requirements has God placed on civil leaders?


The requirements God has placed on civil leaders are divided into two categories. The first relates to what they are to do in office. This requirement is summarized in Rom. 13:1-7; in short, punish evil and promote the good. The second category relates to the civil officer’s character, that is, what sort of man he ought to be. This is the question we are most interested in as regards to how we as Christians ought to vote.


2 Sam. 23 gives us the foundation on which to judge a civil officer’s character, and offers 11 bare minimum requirements of character they must posses in order to serve. They are:


The Absolute Minimum Standards ("must" 2 Samuel 23:1-7)

  1. Must be called (v. 1; Ro 13:4, 6)

  2. Must be accountable to God (v. 1; see also Ps 2:10-12)

  3. Must see this in more than theoretical ways – uses specific Scripture for authority (vv. 1-2)

  4. Must see authority as limited, delegated, and specified (vv. 1-2)

  5. Must be a Christian (v. 3; see also Pss 2:10-12; 21:7; Is 31:1; 33:22)

  6. Must be thoroughly familiar with God's word (vv. 2-3)

  7. Must see God as a nation's only security ("rock" v. 3a)

  8. Must be male (vv. 1,3; see Ex. 18:21; Numb. 11:24-25; Deut. 1:13; 17:14-20; Is. 3:12; Prov. 31:23)

  9. Must be committed to righteousness, justice (v. 3b; Dt 16:18-20; 33:21; 2 Sm 8:15; 23:3; 1 Ki 10:9; 2 Ch 9:8; Ps 45:7 Pr 8:15; 16:12; 17:15; 25:5; 29:2, 4, 27; Is 11:4-5; 16:5; 51:4; 56:1; Jer 21:12; 22:2-5; Ezk 18:11-13, 15-17; cf. Dt 24:17)

  10. Must rule in the fear of God (v. 3c; see also Ex 18:21; 2 Sm 23:3; 2 Ch 19:7, 9; Ps 2:10-12; cf. Lk 18:2, 6)

  11. Must go back to the Gospel over and over (v. 5)


In short, the candidate must see God as their Lord, and must view themselves as subject to His word. They must not be living an evil life. Instead, they must be just, reverent towards God, and rule in His fear. They must love the Lord their God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love their neighbor as themselves. An inquiry will show that all Godly rulers in Scripture (King David for example), in spite of their flaws and failings, meet these basic criteria.


All candidates who do not meet these minimum standards are rejected by God and should be rejected by man (vv. 6-7). A candidate who does not meet the above criteria is not biblically qualified, and therefore Christians cannot vote for them while maintaining faithfulness to God. If Christians would take this to heart and obey God’s commands, we would never be placed into the position of “choosing between the lesser of two evils.” By reforming our thinking around these God-inspired criteria we can avoid this temtation.


A vote for the lesser of two evils is still an intentional choice of evil. To intentionally choose evil out of fear of a “greater evil” (according to our own subjective and finite wisdom) is to disobey God’s commands and act out of fear of men rather than fear of God (Acts 5:29). When voting for the “lesser of two evils” we are not, according to scripture, defending Christian principles and promoting the fear and love of God in our society. Rather, we are disobeying God and promoting the very wickedness that we claim to stand against. If we are persistant in such actions then we will earn only increasingly stringent judgement against our nation rather than the revival that we need.


However, if Christians would just make a stand for righteousness, and fear God rather than man, God has promised the revival we seek! He has promised to heal the land. Our job is simply to be faithful, have understanding, and be courageous in doing so (Joshua 1:9).


In addition to the minimum qualifications listed above, Scripture also reveals additional standards that all candidates ought to aspire too. There were good kings who lacked some of the ideal standards below, but God still approved of them (1 Kings 15:14; 2 Kings 15:3-4,34-35).


Additional Standards That All Candidates Should Aspire To

  1. Maturity (Ec 10:16; Is 3:4f, 12)

  2. Honesty (Ex 18:21; Pr 16:10; 17:7; 29:10,12,14)

  3. Integrity (1Kings 3:6; 9:4; Job 1:1,8; 2:3; Ps. 9:8; 58:1; Prov. 29:10),

  4. Reliability (1Chron. 28:7; 2Chron. 16:7; 19:9; Pr 20:28; Is 16:5),

  5. Faithfulness (2 Ch 19:9; Pr 20:28; Is 1:26; 16:5)

  6. Moral uprightness (1Kings 9:4; 2 Ch 9:8; Ps. 58:1; Ps 45:7; Pr 16:12; 17:15; 25:5; 28:4; 29:2, 27; Is 11:4f; 16:5; 32:1; 51:4; 56:1; Jer 21:12; 22:2-5; Ezek 18:11-13, 15-17),

  7. Fidelity (1Sam. 22:14; Is. 1:26; Prov. 31:3),

  8. Hatred for covetousness (Ex 18:21; Pr 28:16; Jer 22:17)

  9. Prudence (1 Sam. 16:18; 2Chron. 2:12; Prov. 22:3),

  10. Temperance, not a drunkard (Ex 18:21; Pr 28:16; 31:4-7),

  11. Justice (Deut. 16:18; 33:21; 2Sam. 8:15; 23:3; 1Kings 10:9; Prov. 8:15; 29:4; Is. 32:1; Mic. 3:9),

  12. Fortitude (1Sam. 2:10; 1Chron. 22:13; 2Chron. 19:11),

  13. Self-restraint (Prov. 25:28; Acts 24:25),

  14. Humility and teachability before God (Deut. 17:18-20; 2Sam. 23:3; 2Chron. 12:6; 19:7,9; Prov. 25:12; Ecc. 12:14; Zech. 9 9),

  15. Courage (Deut. 1:17; Josh. 1:6-7,9; 8:1; 1Chron. 22:13; 2Chron. 19:11).

  16. Wisdom (Dt 1:13; 2 Ch 9:7; Pr 8:12-16; 20:8, 26)

  17. Husband of one wife (Deut. 17:17; Prov. 31:23)

  18. Having ruling abilities (Deut. 1:13)

  19. A citizen of the country he rules (Deut. 17:15)

  20. Not a war-hawk (Deut. 17:16)

  21. Not a centralist (Deut. 17:17)


The “additional criteria” listed above represent preferred character qualities that mature Godly leaders should possess. Once again, an examination of Scripture will show that Godly rulers in the Bible exhibited many of these qualities, though not perfectly at all times (for example, again see King David).


In addition to the requirements for Civil rulers, Dr. Kayser has also compiled a brief list of qualifications that apply to judges in particular.


Additional Qualifications for Judges

  1. They must fear God (2 Chron. 19:4-7)

  2. They must make all judgments as unto the Lord (Deut. 1:16; 33:21),

  3. They must know and keep God's laws (Ezra 7:25; Ezek. 44:24; Deut. 11:1),

  4. They must have the wisdom to apply God's laws to new situations (1 Kings 3:28; 2 Chron. 1:10; Ezra 7:25; Ps. 2:10

  5. They must be willing to judge independently of any pressures from the executive office (Jer. 22:3; Lev. 19:15; Deut. 1: I 7),

  6. They must judge with righteous impartiality (Lev. 19:15; Deut. 1:17; 16:19; 2 Chron. 19:6-7; Prov. 24:23),

  7. They must not be susceptible to bribery (Ex. 23:8; Deut. 16:19; 27:25; cf. 1 Sam. 8:3; Mic. 3:11; 7:3),

  8. They must judge with a servant heart (Deut. 19:17 [“judges who serve”]; Rom. 13:4,6 [“ministers” = servants”]),

  9. And lastly, they should have sufficient closeness to God to avoid satanic deception (Job 9:24).


As the morality of our nation continues to decline, Christians should expect the the ethical complexity of our elections to increase. The problems that Christianity has encountered in properly discerning the 2016 election are only a taste of future elections, should our nation continue on its present course.


However God’s word is our tool for bringing light to darkness and wisdom to foolishness. For the Christian who rests His knowledge and faith in Scripture, the seeming complexities of our present presidential election become clearer and more simplistic. Being empowered by the shining truth of His Word, all that remains to us is to resist the temptation to vote according to subjective notions of humanistic pragmatism. Only by being faithful to God's decrees in Scripture can we have any reasonable hope that He will bless us with the Chrisitan revival that our country so desperately needs.


May God give us the strength to resist all temptations towards unfaithfulness in how we vote.

About Micah Hurd

I am a 2nd generation Reformed Christian, a Husband, Father, and a United States Marine. I was born and raised in Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) Texas. Together with my wife and two sons, I attend Church at Heritage Covenant Church in Weatherford Texas. My hobbies include reading, writing, bodyweight fitness, community organizing, computer and electronics tinkering, radio communications, building rifles, becoming more proficient in my ability to employ rifle and handgun weapon systems, learning and teaching marksmanship and combat marksmanship, martial arts, sharpening iron with Christians, and discussing worldviews with humanists (when they allow). I work as a Calibration Technician for a DFW based company that rents test-equipment.



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