What Does The Bible Say About Rebellion? A Christian Study

by Dr. Michael L. Williams · Print Print · Email Email

Today, more than ever, the idea of being against authority has become mainstream. In fact, some would say that if you do not question authority, then you are part of a corrupt system seeking to oppress people. From schoolteachers to police officers to parents, rebelling against the authority of any of these is considered by some to be a fundamental right of citizens in a free society. At some point one has to wonder if rebelling against authority is ever justified. For this reason a Christian study on what does the Bible say about rebellion is in order.

What is rebellion?

The word rebellion is commonly defined as (1): “An act of violent or open resistance to an established government or ruler; the action or process of resisting authority, control, or convention.” Synonyms of the word rebellion are defiance, disobedience, and subordination. Simply stated rebellion is the defiance or disobedience against authority.

What Does The Bible Say About Rebellion

How does the Bible define rebellion?

The Old Testament used the Hebrew word meri that translates to the English word rebellion. The root of this Hebrew word, mara, means to be or cause to be bitter or unpleasant. It is also translated most often as change, disobedient, disobey, provoke, rebellious, and rebel. In the New Testament, similar words for rebellion are disobedience and sedition, both of which refer to rebelling against or undermining authority. Interestingly, the Greek word for disobedience, comes from the same root for the word disbelief as described in an obstinate or rebellious way.

What does the Bible say about rebellion against authority?

Since rebellion is simply the rejection of authority it has wide reaching repercussions. Starting all the way back in Genesis 1:26-28, God gave man dominion over every living thing on the earth. With this dominion, comes authority and responsibility. For the person who has dominion, they have the authority and responsibility to oversee and manage whenever is in their domain. Likewise, God has ordained them to oversee and manage their dominion in a way that God oversees and manages His dominion. This requires consideration on the part of the person whom God has ordained those that have this dominion to execute their authority in a way that demonstrates love for God and love for their neighbor. For every living thing under this dominion, comes respect and submission to authority and accountability. When there is a rebellion against authority then there is a rejection of the dominion given to the authority. Likewise, with this rejection, comes a rejection of what God has ordained. Therefore, rebelling against authority is rebelling against God. This is explained as follows:

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 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: 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. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. (Romans 13:1-7)

What does the Bible say about rebellion?

  1. Rebellion against authority is rebellion against God: Deuteronomy 31:27; Joshua 22:22; Ezra 4:17-24; Nehemiah 9:17
  2. Rebellion is sin personified in Satan: Genesis 3:1-13
  3. Rebellion is comparable to witchcraft: 1 Samuel 15:16-23
  4. Rebellion is a practice of evil people: Proverbs 17:11; Isaiah 65:2
  5. Rebellion results in the loss of blessings from God: Numbers 20:10-24; Joshua 2:1-15; Jeremiah 28:2-17
  6. Rebellion angers God: Isaiah 65:1-7; 1 Peter 3:18-22
  7. Rebellion results in death: Romans 5:12-19; 1 Peter 2:4-8

Although there is much more that can be said about rebellion, we have to understand that God is not the Author of confusion (1 Corinthian 14:26-33), He wants things to be done decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40). When we respect authority and exercise proper dominion, we can care for things the way God wants us to care for them. Doing this also models what God does for us, which sets the stage to protect and care for those who are most vulnerable in our society.

Finally, when it comes to rebellion, we must realize that sometimes we may get a boss or someone over us that is not kind and loving. That does not change the fact that we respect and submit to their authority as long as we are not required to violate Scripture using Christ as our example. In the end, when we do what is right by God’s Word, it is pleasing to God and He will set things right when the time is right (Romans 12:14-21; 1 Peter 3:18-4:7).


Rebellion against authority is common in our culture. Rebellion is the defiance or disobedience against authority. God has given man dominion over the earth, which requires authority and responsibility. When we rebel against authority, we rebel against the ordination of God; this angers God. Christ was our model of how to properly submit to authority.

Something more for you to read: The Christian’s Responsibility To Government

Resources – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, King James Version. (1) Google. (2014). “Rebellion”. Retrieved from Google, https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=rebellion

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