state

A political community organized under one government. As the biblical historians looked back, they understood Israel to have been a theocratic state; that is, the power of the monarchy was limited by the tradition of divine laws and the voice of the prophets. Church and State were, so to speak, one community. In the era of the NT the Christian Church was a tiny group of communities, closely related to each other, and united by the authority of an apostle or his delegates, suspected by Jews, and denied privileges extended to Jews in the pagan Roman Empire. Christians, whether free citizens or slaves, were members of this great state and owed it responsibilities, as is recognized by Rom. 13:1–7 and 1 Pet. 2:13–17. Luke–Acts maintains that Christians are good citizens, generally loyal to the state, unlike Judas of Galilee (Acts 5:37). People should have heeded Jesus' message of peace, and war (of 66–73 CE?) would have been avoided (Luke 19:41–44). Acts 28:31 observes that in his Roman prison Paul was allowed to teach without hindrance. The NT thus sets itself against political anarchy, but the courageous words of Peter that the disciples must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29) show that there are limits to Christian subservience to the secular authorities—reached by the time Rev. 13 was written and the Church was enduring persecution.
In subsequent centuries these two NT attitudes to the State have been in tension. It was especially so in the Protestant Churches, where the State was seen as a divinely ordained barrier against the all-pervasiveness of sin, that obedience to the State was most stressed, though since the disastrously obsequious behaviour of most Protestant Churches during the Nazi regime (1933–45) in Germany, a much more critical stance has become predominant.

Dictionary of the Bible.

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  • state — state, the state The state is a distinct set of institutions that has the authority to make the rules which govern society . It has, in the words of Max Weber, a ‘monopoly on legitimate violence’ within a specific territory. Hence, the state… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • State — (st[=a]t), n. [OE. stat, OF. estat, F. [ e]tat, fr. L. status a standing, position, fr. stare, statum, to stand. See {Stand}, and cf. {Estate}, {Status}.] 1. The circumstances or condition of a being or thing at any given time. [1913 Webster]… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • state — [steɪt] noun 1. [countable usually singular] the condition that someone or something is in at a particular time: • The property market is in a poor state. • I personally think the economy is in a worse state than the Government has been admitting …   Financial and business terms

  • state — n often attrib 1 a: a politically organized body of people usu. occupying a definite territory; esp: one that is sovereign b: the political organization that has supreme civil authority and political power and serves as the basis of government… …   Law dictionary

  • state — [stāt] n. [ME < OFr & L: OFr estat < L status, state, position, standing < pp. of stare, to STAND] 1. a set of circumstances or attributes characterizing a person or thing at a given time; way or form of being; condition [a state of… …   English World dictionary

  • state — state; state·hood; state·less; state·less·ness; state·let; state·li·ly; state·li·ness; state·sid·er; su·per·state; tung·state; un·state; mi·cro·state; mini·state; in·ter·state; state·ly; state·ment; …   English syllables

  • state — ► NOUN 1) the condition of someone or something at a particular time. 2) a nation or territory considered as an organized political community under one government. 3) a community or area forming part of a federal republic. 4) (the States) the… …   English terms dictionary

  • state — It is usual to spell it with a capital initial letter when it refers to political entities, either nations (The State of Israel / a State visit), or parts of a federal nation (the State of Virginia / crossing the State border), and when it means… …   Modern English usage

  • State — State, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Stated}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Stating}.] 1. To set; to settle; to establish. [R.] [1913 Webster] I myself, though meanest stated, And in court now almost hated. Wither. [1913 Webster] Who calls the council, states the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • state — [n1] condition or mode of being accompaniment, attitude, capacity, case, category, chances, character, circumstance, circumstances, contingency, element, environment, essential, estate, event, eventuality, fix, footing, form, frame of mind, humor …   New thesaurus

  • State — (st[=a]t), a. 1. Stately. [Obs.] Spenser. [1913 Webster] 2. Belonging to the state, or body politic; public. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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