What Would Rahab Do?

I think I might get a TShirt that says “What Would Rahab Do?”

Suppose you felt God calling you to be a missionary in a country hostile to Christianity. After saving up your hard earned money for a plane fare, you head out for the hinterlands. When you get off the plane, the immigration officer hands you a form to fill out and sign. The form states that you are not a Christian, you will not try to proselytize anyone, and that if you feel inclined to do so, you will report yourself to the authorities and leave the country immediately.

  • If you sign the form, and abide by it, you cannot do what you felt God calling you to do, and you bring shame to the name of Christ by denying Him.
  • If you don’t sign the form, you get sent back to your home country – unable to do what you felt God calling you to do.
  • If you sign the form and disobey it, you do what you felt God calling you to do, but – do you bring shame to the name of Christ by denying Him.

What would you do?

What Would Paul Do?

There are a number of stories in the Bible where people of God do something “less than honest” in the name of God – and are blessed by Him for it! Quick replies to the question would say “Those are all in the Old Testament! I’m a New Testament kind of guy, so I’m bound to obey authorities! Here – read ; .”

However, Paul had an episode not unlike the Hebrew Midwives, Rahab and Samuel. In his escape from Damascus, he disobeyed (imho) the local authorities. Some would quibble that he was not disobeying them, nor being dishonest. I think if we flesh out the story and think of it as if it really, truly happened, we’ll see that – he did.

But first, read and to get some background information. Then read the following quasi-hypothetical…

City Magistrates: “Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Let it be known that the man, Saul of Tarsus (also known as Paul), is hereby wanted for heresy, insurrection, troublemaking and more. He is hereby commanded to turn himself in to the nearest magistrate office. In order to affect his arrest and prevent his escape, by order of the Governor, under the authority of King Aretas, we are placing guards around the entire city and at each city gate. A reward will be offered for information leading to his arrest.”

Paul: “BROTHERS!!! Check it out!! The Jews have gotten the governor to put out a warrant for my arrest. Ain’t nobody got time for dat!! Here’s what we’ll do instead: I’ll hop into a basket; you guys let me down the wall in the dark of night, cuz I’m outta here!! Watch out for false teachers! Godspeed, brothers!!”

Believers: “May it never be! You were told to do such-and-such and now you want to disobey the law of the land?! For shame! Know ye not that ‘whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation’!? We read these Words in where …waitasec – you haven’t written Romans yet. Hmmmm.. Oh, yeah! Our brother Peter hath said it be the will of God that we submit ourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake. For such is the will of God. Dear brother Paul – thou behavest not at all like an Apostle. Art thou sure thou didst receive thine calling from our Lord, or hast thou heard ‘another voice’? We darest not lend thee aid in thine disobedience lest wrath fall upon us!”

Paul: [blink, blink] “yougottabekiddingme! Guys… they’re going to be here any second now. You gonna help, or do I have to jump?”

Believers: “Fine! But thou durst not say that we warned thee not!” (muttering under breath while lowering basket) “..and lay not his sin to our account…”

City Magistrates: [BAM! BAM! BAM!] “Open up! City Magistrates! We have a warrant for the arrest of Saul of Tarsus, also known as Paul! If you are in there, in the name of the Law, COME OUT NOW and keep your hands where we can see ’em!!”

Believers: “This place shall be no hiding place, nor shall we tell a lie: he wast here, but he hath just now fled, giving himself but nary half an hour headstart under the cover of darkness. But if thou makest haste and goest on the road to Jerusalem, thou wilt find him there, for he hath fled thereunto.”

Magistrate Deputies: “All clear, sir. He’s not here. We did find a rope outside their window.”

City Magistrates: “Ya don’t say! You Believers don’t leave town any time soon. We might want to ask you some questions about that rope.”

Believers: “Thine law is our command. Thou can countest on us to stay put.”

In other words,
a) the government had set forth a law (“Paul – turn yourself in”),
b) set out soldiers to see to it that it gets done,
c) and Paul defied it, running away instead of turning himself in.

And Paul boasts about it.
Which means it can’t be sin.
Which means a simplistic view of “dishonesty” doesn’t satisfy the concern.

I’m open for suggestions.


13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. (ESV)


13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (ESV)


23 When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket. (ESV)


30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands. (ESV)


13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (ESV)

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