1 Peter 2:13-25
— 13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. 18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
After making an appeal for Christian conduct, Peter directs our attention to
instituted authority and
to those appointed to rule the people.
He implies that the first demonstration of the Christian’s personal behavior is his conduct toward government.
He urges the believers to honor the persons who have been appointed to rule them (v. 17).
Peter virtually reiterates the message that Paul wrote to the church in Rome, for
Paul teaches that legitimate authorities are instituted by God for the well-being of the people (; see also ).
And Peter asserts that Christians must submit to authority “for the Lord’s sake.”
That is, the law of the land must be upheld as long as it does not force the Christian to disobey God’s law.
— 13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.
Here Peter introduces the verb to submit, which is a key word in this passage.
The verb itself can be translated “be subject” or “submit yourselves”.
The word basically means “to place under; to subordinate,” and in this passage is a synonym of to obey.
The implication is not that a person who submits to authority loses his dignity,
but that he recognizes authority that God has instituted.
Look carefully at v14. God appoints government in our lives.
Governors and those he sends (military or police) are sent to do what?
What exactly is the role of government?
to punish evildoers and to praise or reward those who do good!
That’s part of the role of government. [slow]
The Christian’s upright behavior should raise him or her above the slanders or suspicions of the ignorant...
For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—
Christians must give Caesar what is his due () and Peter does not hint at any exceptions here,
even though he knew how to refuse the authorities
when they claimed for themselves what was God’s (; ).
Leading us where there is just one case where the Scriptures tell us that authorities can be disobeyed by Christians.
We read about it in . When the priests and captain of the temple guard heard that Peter and John were
‘teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead’,
they had the apostles arrested.
Because Peter and John had healed the crippled man, the authorities were in a dilemma.
They could not deny that good had been done to the man, but they did not want Peter and John to keep preaching about Jesus.
This contravened their view of the law of Moses.
So they called the two apostles and commanded them not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus.
‘But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God” ’ ().
So the teaching of the Bible is clear. God is a God of order.
Authorities are ordained by God and people must obey those in authority over them
(even if they are wicked men),
but Christians must only do this so long as the higher law of God is not being broken.
But here in v15 we are Peter teaches us to live “in God’s will”
Peter frequently teaches the readers to live by the will of God (3:17; 4:2, 19).
The believers ought to set their lives in harmony with the petition your will be done ().
The will of God is that they continue to do good, for then they are able to muzzle those who accuse them.
Who are the Christian’s opponents? Peter calls them foolish men who utter ignorant talk.
They are a specific group of people who refuse to accept the evidence Christians are presenting by their moral behavior and good deeds.
In fact, Peter resorts to using the word ignorant.
This word signifies “a failure to know in the sense of a disobedient closing of the mind to the revealing word of God.
Surprisingly, Christian freedom is the liberty to live as the servants of God, fulfilling his will (16).
— as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.
“free” Peter knows that people who suffer oppression and persecution long for freedom.
He’s telling them, that those who are really captive are the people enslaved to sin! Even Nero!
But that they’ve been set from from the tyranny of sin! Set free from the power of sin
— And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” — Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
— Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
—For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
— Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
— Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. — For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
— For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
The Christian is free from enslavement that promotes evil;
instead he uses his freedom to serve his God and to love his fellow man.
The more he demonstrates his willingness to serve, the more he experiences true freedom
— But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
— Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
Show proper respect to everyone.” The word everyone is all-inclusive,
for it ranges from kings and governors
to all others who have been entrusted with authority.
The servant of God honors all men who are appointed to rule.
Believers must also ‘fear God’ and ‘honor the king’.
Peter is very careful about the order in which he places his words.
He speaks of God first, then the king, even though the king might have the power to say, ‘Off with his head!’
We must have a greater fear of God than we do of the king.
But we must honor the king as well because he is fulfilling God’s purposes.
So what should we do about any law of the land which we do not like?
Fear God with the highest reverence, duty, and submission; if this is lacking, none of the other three duties can be performed as they ought.
We should obey it. Why?
Because we must submit ourselves to every authority instituted among men. This is for the Lord’s sake (v13).
We should do everything we can to please God.
This is for the Lord’s sake. We should do everything we can to please God.Fear God with the highest reverence, duty, and submission; if this is lacking, none of the other three duties can be performed as they ought.
Fear God with the highest reverence, duty, and submission; if this is lacking,
none of the other three duties can be performed as they ought.
The king must be honored in such a way, that the love of the brotherhood, and the fear of God, be not violated.
This brings us to a close and the practical application:
When Paul was under house arrest in Rome (), he taught the gospel to all who came to visit him.
Even the soldiers who guarded him received the Good News.
In fact, in his epistle to the Philippians he mentions the progress of the gospel in connection with the whole palace guard (1:13).
The gospel affected the palace of Emperor Nero, for Paul writes that the believers in Rome,
especially those who belong to Caesar’s household, send greetings ().
The teachings of the Word of God ought to penetrate every area of life, including government.
Pharaoh placed Joseph second in command in ruling Egypt (), and
Daniel filled a similar position during the reigns of Darius and Cyrus (, ).
Wherever possible, Christians should seek to give leadership at every level of government and apply the principles which Scripture teaches.
Although they are not of the world, they are nevertheless in the world.
If the church wishes to exert an influence for good upon the State,
it should not take recourse to separation but should try spiritual infiltration.