Scripture presents Paul the apostle as “the pattern believer” for all Christians (1 Cor. 11:1; Phil. 3:17). Had Paul been a US citizen today, which candidate would he have voted for in this year’s presidential elections?
Paul as Citizen of a Non-Christian Government
Paul was a natural-born citizen of the nation of Rome (Acts 22:28). The Roman government was not a Christian government by any stretch of the imagination.
In his latter years, Paul spent much time as a prisoner of the Roman government (Acts 21-28; etc). He had several encounters with top Roman leaders in his lifetime (Acts 23-26).
From the Scriptural record of one of Paul’s encounters with a key civil official, we learn vital information about what Paul believed concerning what kind of person such a political leader needed to be.
Paul’s Ministry to a Roman Governor
While he was imprisoned, Paul had a noteworthy evangelistic encounter with the Roman governor Felix:
Act 24:24 And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.
25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.
Stanley D. Toussaint’s comments in the Bible Knowledge Commentary help bring out what Paul displayed was important to address on this occasion:
Felix must have taken a brief trip with his wife, Drusilla. When they returned, Felix sent for Paul who spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. Felix was brought under conviction when Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come. Well he should, for his marriage to Drusilla was his third and he had to break up another marriage to secure her. His regime was marked by injustices that contrasted with the righteousness of God. And he was a man grossly lacking in self-control (BKC: NT, 422; words in italics are in bold in the original).
Paul challenged this secular civil leader in a non-Christian government about his sinful lack of self-control. The Greek word that Luke used for “temperance” (egkrateia) in his inspired summary record of this encounter highlights that Paul confronted him about his sexual immorality.
In this encounter, Paul showed that he held that the lack of moral character of a civil official in a non-Christian government was a vital matter that he had to address in his dealings with that official.
Which Candidate Would Paul Have Voted For in 2016?
Based on what we learn from Acts 24:24-25, we can be certain that the apostle Paul would have scrutinized thoroughly all the candidates in this year’s presidential elections concerning their lack of moral character. Of the candidates that he would have had to choose from, there would have been one who would have most closely and conspicuously resembled Felix in this key respect.
Had Paul had the opportunity to vote in this year’s presidential elections, he would never have voted for a man who was like Felix because Paul would have heeded what God demands of all civil leaders: “The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God” (2 Sam. 23:3). Because God commands us to be followers of the apostle Paul (1 Cor. 11:1), we must hold that the moral character of a prospective President of the US is an essential consideration upon which we must base all our decisions about the candidate (or candidates) for whom we vote.