Whosoever therefore resisteth the power
The office of magistracy, and such as are lawfully placed in it, and rightly exercise it; who denies that there is, or ought to be any such order among men, despises it, and opposes it, and withdraws himself from it, and will not be subject to it in any form:
resisteth the ordinance of God,
the will and appointment of God, whose pleasure it is that there should be such an office, and that men should be subject to it. This is not to be understood, as if magistrates were above the laws, and had a lawless power to do as they will without opposition; for they are under the law, and liable to the penalty of it, in case of disobedience, as others; and when they make their own will a law, or exercise a lawless tyrannical power, in defiance of the laws of God, and of the land, to the endangering of the lives, liberties, and properties of subjects, they may be resisted, as Saul was by the people of Israel, when he would have took away the life of Jonathan for the breach of an arbitrary law of his own, and that too without the knowledge of it, ( 1 Samuel 14:45 ) ; but the apostle is speaking of resisting magistrates in the right discharge of their office, and in the exercise of legal power and authority:
and they that resist
them, in this sense,
shall receive to themselves damnation;
that is, punishment; either temporal, and that either by the hand of the magistrate himself, who has it in his power to punish mutiny, sedition, and insurrection, and any opposition to him in the just discharge of his duty; or at the hand of God, in righteous judgment, for their disobedience to an ordinance of his; as in the case of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, who opposed themselves both to the civil and sacred government of the people of Israel, ( Numbers 26:9 ) ; and were swallowed up alive in the earth, ( Numbers 26:10 ) : or eternal punishment, unless the grace of God prevents; for "the blackness of darkness is reserved for ever", ( Jude 1:13 ) , for such persons, who, among other of their characters, are said to "despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities", ( Jude 1:8 ) . This is another argument persuading to subjection to magistrates.