In the previous few verses, Peter expressed the command to be submissive to one another, and especially to the governing authorities. This is an instruction that is difficult to accept in today’s political climate, but we are called to obedience. In this week’s passage, we are given more details about what this looks like.
Read this passage on your own in 1 Peter 2:15-17.
The very first thing Peter does in this passage is explain why it is necessary. In verses 13 and 14, he gave the command to submit to the governing authorities. In verse 15, he tells us why. It is so that we can silence the talk of foolish men by our right and loving actions. In other words, our right living will prove our accusers wrong. But our own motivation in this should be proper. We do not want them to be put to shame because of a vindictive spirit, or out of revenge, bu because we want them to see God through our lives.
This is exactly what Peter wishes when he expresses that wives should be submissive to their husbands, especially if they are non-believers. It is so they “may be won over.” Our submission to the government should be for the same reasons. We want those around us to see how we live our lives for God’s sake, and we want them to respond to his will for their own lives as well.
Peter reiterates what is stated over and over throughout the New Testament. We have freedom in Christ. We can live free from the tyranny of sin in our lives. But Peter expresses a caution here: we are not to use this freedom as an excuse or a cover up for evil. We have been set free from the rule of sin, but we have accepted another Ruler. And that Ruler desires us to be submissive to human authority, unless such authority requires us to break God’s supreme law.
Peter finalizes this section with three brief commands, given under the umbrella of respect.
Show proper respect to everyone
In the Greek, this word is “honor.” God wishes that we express honer, value, esteem to all those around us. Life is sacred. All life. And as such, we are to treat others with tremendous respect and love. It may differ when given to different people, but it is owed to all. And our own opinions, of whether or not such honor is deserved, do not matter in the least. How do we do this? Peter gives three ways.
Love the brotherhood of believers
This command, along with the next two, are imperatives. As such, they carry a strong force behind them. These are not optional. God expects us to show love for one another, unconditional love, regardless of who they may be, or how much we like or dislike them.
Peter’s use of fear here is a word that means to venerate, or to treat with reverential obedience. It is not to be confused with terror or alarm. This fear is to be mixed with love, which seems contradictory. Because of our salvation, we do not need to fear the coming Judgment Day. But we are to fear, and love, the Lord, in much the same way a child loves his father. The father holds the ability to bless or discipline, whichever may be necessary. But the child still loves him, even with a healthy dose of respectful fear when necessary.
Honor the king
There are many ways to show honor to the governing authorities, and as such, Peter’s instruction here is somewhat vague. His intent here is most likely obedience. Another way to honor the governing authorities, the President, our governors, is to pray for them consistently. Give honor where honor is due.
In all of these ways, Peter calls us to submission. He will move deeper into our lives with this concept in the coming verses, bringing it into the master/slave relationship, or the workplace, and finally into our marriages. But here, he begins with the biggest category of them all, and probably the most difficult, that of submission to the government. Whether you agree with the politics of the ones in place or not is simply irrelevant. We are called to submit and obey, with the only exception being a contradiction to God’s supreme law.
This is a difficult task, especially in today’s divisive political climate. But we are called to it nonetheless. We must obey as best as we can.
Question: How well do you do when it comes to submitting to the governing authorities? Do you pray for our leaders? You can leave a comment by clicking here.