Translations: Chinese GB Big5

1Peter 2:13-25 (web)

Submission I: Citizens & Employees

Glorifying God through
Honorable Behavior in the Society

2:13 Therefore subject yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake:
whether to the king, as supreme;
2:14 or to governors, as sent by him for vengeance on evil-doers
and for praise to those who do well.

2:15 For this is the will of God, that by well-doing
you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:

2:16 as free, and not using your freedom for a cloak of wickedness,
but as bondservants of God.

2:17 Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.

2:18 Servants, be in subjection to your masters with all fear;
not only to the good and gentle, but also to the wicked.
2:19 For it is commendable if someone endures pain,
suffering unjustly, because of conscience toward God.
2:20 For what glory is it if, when you sin, you patiently endure beating?
But if, when you do well, you patiently endure suffering,
this is commendable with God.
2:21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving you {TR reads "us" instead of "you"} an example, that you should follow his steps,
2:22 who did not sin, "neither was deceit found in his mouth."(Is 53:9)
2:23 Who, when he was cursed, didn't curse back. When he suffered, didn't threaten, but committed himself to him who judges righteously;

2:24 who his own self bore our sins in his body on the tree,
that we, having died to sins, might live to righteousness;
by whose stripes you were healed.

2:25 For you were going astray like sheep; but are now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
{"Overseer" is from the Greek episkopon, which can mean overseer, curator, guardian, or superintendent.}

Discussion Questions

To what extent is "submission" reckoned as a virtue in the society?
What kinds of human institutions should we submit to?
What benefits come from submitting to human authority?
For what purposes has God established government authorities?
In what way are we, as Christians, free?
And how might Christians misuse that freedom?
What are examples of showing disrespect to legitimate authorities?
Is slavery sin?
What might be examples of modern day "slaves"?
Should you only obey those who treat you well?
How should you react to unjust suffering?
How does Christ serve as an example in the area of submission?


Submit to Legitimate Human Authority

1Peter 2:13,14  Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.

The practice of submission to human authority is a good thing, given that it is with regards to legitimate human authority acting within their legitimate realm of authority. In fact in Peter's time Christians had to disobey authority. For there came a time when the Emperor required Christians to worship him, which was not his God-given right to command. For all human authority has only a limited realm of authority outside of which they are not legimate authority, such as if they were to command people to sin. However if one steps outside of their legitimate realm of authority, such as the Emperor demanding worship, that does not mean they are no longer to be reckoned legitimate authority figures within their legitimate realm of authority. Daniel was an excellent example of one who practiced this type of submission.

Likewise Paul writes on this subject saying, "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience." Rom 13:1-5

And he says, "I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man." Acts 24:16 Part of having a clear conscience is submitting to legitimate human authority.

Silence Slanderers by Doing Good

1Peter 2:15 "For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men."

Remember that he said just a few verses ago, "Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us." 1Peter 2:12 It seems the first thing that came to Peter's mind as to what constitutes "good deeds" is submission to human authority. So one good deed you can do today is to submit to legitimate human authority with regards to their regulations, commands, policies. And if you want to know God's will for your life, well there you go!

In contrast Peter warns in his second letter, chapter 2, of false teachers "In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping." 2Peter 2:3 I bring this up because he goes on to say of them, "This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority. " 2Peter 2:10a Now much as every person is subject to scrutiny without prejudice, including authority figures, it is quite another matter to despise the role of authority. Beware of those who despise being under any authority and who teach likewise, invoking an illegitimate sense of rebelliousness in accordance with the corrupt desires of our sinful nature. For as the flesh seeks freedom from limitations, so it rebells against being under authority.

Feel Free to Do what is Right

1Peter 2:16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.

Jude warns, "certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord." Jude 1:4

If we're not submitting to Jesus' Lordship by doing what he said, we are denying him as Lord. Thus Jesus said, "Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?" Luke 6:46 And as I mentioned, the sinful nature despises being under authority. You will find alleged Christians who feel that submitting to Christ's Lordship is optional. You will find those who feel the grace of God gives them a license to sin. Though they feel they have eternal security and declare "free grace", yet they may in fact end up being condemned.

Conversely there are alleged Christians who teach bondage to the Law, like the "circumcision" of whom Paul dealt with in Acts and Galatians. So he instructs Christians, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Gal 5:1 But he also says a few verses later, "You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love." Gal 5:13

Show Proper Respect

1Peter 2:17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.

Honoring authority is an extension of the 5th commandment - to honor your father and mother. The spirit of the 5th commandment is honor those in authority over you. However in some cases it would seem counterintuitive to honor those who haven't earned it. "Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor." Pr 18:12 So if the authority is proud, why honor them? Or if they are a fool, it says, "Like tying a stone in a sling is the giving of honor to a fool." Pr 26:8 But rather "He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor." Pr 21:21 The answer with regards to human authority is that we're supposed to salute the office, but not necessarily the man. Honor the role. Honor the office. And if the man deserves it, honor the man. Thus Jesus said, "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach." Mt 23:2,3

But with regards to the Christian community honor alone is too shallow, which is why he says to love the believers. Don't simply honor fellow Christians. Love them.

As for fearing God, it is not mere reverence he's referring to. "Fear" is "phobeo" where we get "phobia" from. It means to be afraid of. Jesus and his apostles gave us lots of teaching about being afraid of God. Like Jesus said, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." Mt 10:28 That doesn't speak of mere "reverence".

It's good to show proper respect to everyone, to love the believers, to fear God, and to honor legitimate human authority.

Slaves to Submit

1Peter 2:18 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.

"Meekness" is the character quality Peter is referring to. Of Jesus it is written, "He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth." Acts 8:32

"Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting. ... Gentleness or meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God’s goodness and control over the situation. The gentle person is not occupied with self at all." Online Bible Greek Lexicon

Joseph's brothers attempted to kill him. But it turned out for good in the long run. Joseph later said to his brothers, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Gen 50:20

A famous book "Uncle Tom's Cabin" tells of the plight of African Americans a while ago. Uncle Tom was a Christian enslaved. He was brutally mistreated but always was gracious to his master forgiving him. However, the general reaction to the book among the African American community was to deride, belittle and make fun of Uncle Tom for his meekness. Even today "Uncle Tom" is considered a derogatory term in the black community. Such is the spirit of the world today. While today people emphasize personal rights and freedoms, they lack a spirit of meekness and graciousness.

Meekness goes hand in hand with longsuffering. Think twice before invoking your personal rights.

Enduring Unjustified Suffering

1Peter 2:19,20 For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.

Most commonly when the subject of unjust suffering comes up people ask as to why God allows unjust suffering. But this is not the issue that comes to Peter's mind. For even if there is no clear answer, God is considered right and good in what he allows. Rather what comes to mind is the commendability of enduring unjust suffering. Rest assured that there will be compensation for any unfairness or injustice suffered in this life. And this fact helps us to endure through the pain of whatever we may suffer.

Furthermore a significant implication of unjustified suffering being commenable to God, is that it explains exactly how Christ atoned for sin. Afterall Christ did not suffer in a just manner. He suffered as an innocent lamb - a victim of circumstance. True God orchestrated the circumstances, but his death was considered a murder and not a capital punishment. Stephen said of the Jewish leaders concerning Christ's death, "you have betrayed and murdered him" Acts 7:52 God is just and as such Christ was owed compensation for his unjustified sufferering, just as everyone who suffers unjustly will be compensated - given "credit" as it says here. But in consideration of who Christ was, the compensation owed him was sufficient to pay for the sins of the world. In this way one hand of God's judicial nature - giving credit to Christ who suffer unjustly - paid off the other hand of God's judicial nature which held us in ransom due to our sin. God's sense of fairness thus mollified his wrath.

Christ's example of Suffering Unjustly

1Peter 2:21-23 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." (Isaiah 53:9) When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

This is meekness. True that he was not completely unresponsive to the suffering. In fact when one of the officials nearby struck him in the face, Jesus replied, "If I said something wrong, testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?" John 18:23 But this is not a threat.

Jesus did not view God as judging him in this trial and consequent crucifixion. His Father had sent him on a suicide mission - to be put to death as an innocent victim so that God, who judges justly, will compensate him for his suffering and with such compensation he would pay for the sins of the world. And this is why God instituted innocent, pure lambs being used as sacrifices in the Old Testament to symbolize Christ's mission, "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" John 1:29 "the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world." Rev 13:8

Is not this kind of thing - suffer unjustly - what we Christians are also called to? Indeed. If you live the Christian life appropriately you will suffer. "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" 2Tim 3:12 But let us take courage that any unjustified suffering we endure will be worth it.

Healed by His Wounds

1Peter 2:24  He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

We say that Christ atoned for sin. "God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement" Rom 3:25a "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins" 1John 2:2a  But more precisely the word often translated "atoned" actually means to appease. God's wrath was appeased by Christ's death in that God's sense of fairness mollified his wrath. To pay for our sins he had to suffer unujustly. It was for our sins that he died. Peter alludes to Isaiah here saying, "he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed."

Having paid for sin, sin no longer incurs a debt to our account. And so believers are now dead with respect to the eternal consequences of sin. Justification - the forgiveness of sins - which was contingent upon God's wrath being appeased, has been accomplished. Consequently those who have been justified can now live for righteousness. "We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." Rom 6:4 Just as believers are to die with Christ, so also we are to be raised.

Sheep Returned

1Peter 2:25 For you were like sheep going astray, (Isaiah 53:6) but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Again Peter alludes to Isaiah, "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." Is 53:6 It is not that Christians characteristically stray, for he says "you were like sheep going astray", not "you are like sheep going astray". And not all sheep characteristically stray. But like the prodigal son, having repented and having been reconciled to God, we have been healed from such behavior. "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God" 1John 3:9 and "They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us." 1John 2:19

Jesus as a Shepherd is to say he is our Lord. He demands we follow his instructions. He demands that he leads and we follow. He doesn't simply watch us, he oversees us. We are not free to do whatever we want as Christians. Those who feel that freedom in Christ is freedom to sin deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

1Peter 2:13-25 RAP

2:13 Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake 
To every authority that man may make 
14 To the king as supreme and governors too 
Sent to punish and reward whatever you do. 
15 This is the way God wants you to walk 
To silence the foolish and ignorant talk 
16 Live as free men without evil intents 
Servants of God, that only makes sense. 
17 Show proper respect, to all honor bring 
To Christians, and God and even the king 
18 Slaves submit to your masters too 
Whether they're good or bad, in whatever you do 
19 For isn't it good if a man bears the pain 
To suffer unjustly and so honor gain 
20 But if you suffer for the wrong you may do 
There's no credit God must give, no reward for you 
21 Christ also suffered and so you should to 
Follow His path that he set for you 
22 He committed no sin nor could you find 
Deceit in his mouth, no not of the kind 
23 They insulted Him, but he didn't react 
With vengeance and threats, and that is a fact. 
But entrusted Himself to God who's the judge 
For God's answer to sin was nothing to fudge 
24 He bore our sins when He hung on a tree 
So we might die to sins and live righteously 
25 By His wounds you are healed, though sheep gone astray 
but now have returned to the Shepherd to stay.

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Jul 29,2015