1 Peter 2:13-25
Submission to Authority

READ 1 PETER 2:13-25

The Christian’s behavior is important to people in a world that is watching. Believers are God's representatives here on earth and are to act as such. One very visible aspect of behavior is submission to authority. If we assume that our citizenship in heaven puts us above authority on earth, we're wrong. Even though we are pilgrims on earth we're still subject to those God has placed over us.

We are to be obedient to civil government and to our employers or masters, and to God. God instituted human government. Rulers, even if they're not believers, are officially God's men.

All authority, such as government, our employer, and in the home, was established by God so that human life can function in an orderly way. Peter explains how believers are to submit and accept the authority of those duly appointed. The general rule is “Submit.. .for the Lord’s sake” (verse 13). The exception to the rule is that believers should resist a command to sin.

In verses 13-17, we'll see that civil government is God's will. Verse 13. “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14: Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15: For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. 17: Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king."

Civil government is the first example given. “Submit to every ordinance of man,” even ones like Nero who was emperor of Rome when Peter wrote this letter. Obey the civil law including paying taxes, and buying licenses because God ordained civil authority.

God ordained civil government “for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good." Governments have the right to punish offenders for the evil and that may include fines, imprisonment, and even capital punishment. Punishment is the duty of government, not of an individual that has been wronged.

A second purpose for government is “for the praise of those who do good." Praise and reward are encouragement to do right just like punishment is a deterrent to evil. Government is supposed to honor moral integrity, not the special interest groups or political promises. It seems our men in Washington D.C. have forgotten this part, but Christians should pray for good government and salvation for those involved.

1 Timothy 2:1-4. I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2: For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3: For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; 4: Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

God established civil authority and Christians should submit to it. Christian behavior has been designed by God to affect secular government. “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” (1 Peter 2:15).

Good Christian behavior sets a good example for others. When believers obey civil rulers they stop some of the slander and the false accusations against them that are without any basis. Even a quiet Christian life that comes into the public spotlight is noticed. In recent times the news media that has always been so critical of the Christian belief have had to report a number of Christian acts that couldn't be left un-noticed. One was the life and testimony of the recent Super Bowl Most Valuable Player. Some others were from Columbine High School in Colorado.

Verses 16-17 are about Christian freedom and Christian responsibility. 16: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. 17: Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king."

Christians are to act as free men because we're not in bondage to civil authorities. We're the Lord's free men, but that doesn't mean we're free to live in sin. Quite the contrary, we're to set examples of righteous living for others, then our relationship with the civil authorities will fall into proper place.

The really good citizens are the believers that live according to the Lord's plan. Most governments don't seem to realize how much they owe to Christians who obey the Bible, thus setting an example to others to obey civil authority.

When the Christian is removed from this earth, there will be no fair and effective form of government, because the Restrainer, the Holy Spirit, will also be gone from this world. That time is coming.

2 Thessalonians 2:7. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. [NIV]

The Christian's freedom allows him to choose a lifestyle that pleases God. It's seldom an easy choice when the authorities are blatantly corrupt. Our freedom as Christians is balanced by our responsibility as Christians. Only in complete submission to God do we have real freedom to choose what we want to do. That freedom should never to be used to cover up any wrongdoing or unrighteousness.

In verse 17, if we're going to obey God, there are four things spelled out to do.

[1] “Honor all people.” A Christian is to respect other human beings. He doesn't say to love them all. Some are not so lovable. Give the respect and courtesy due to others because they're created in the image of God. Remember, the Lord Jesus died for every single person of the world no matter how desirable or how despicable they may seem to us. Remember, too, that He died for you and me just the same.

[2] Believers are to go beyond honoring all people and “love the brotherhood” which is the family of God.
1 Thessalonians 4:9. "But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another."
1 Peter 1:22-23. "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."

[3] An even higher occupation is to “fear God” which includes holding God in reverential awe which leads to obedience. God loves us and wants to show us His love, and by the same token He wants us to love and respect and honor Him. He's on our side if we're saved.
Proverbs 9:10: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

[4] Finally “honor the king’ the ruler of the land, because God has placed him in authority. Proverbs 24:21. Fear the LORD and the king, my son, and do not join with the rebellious." Christians are a special people chosen by God, redeemed from the world and no longer dependent on the world, but we're not above obeying civil authorities who govern us. God has placed human rulers over us for our own benefit.

The Children of Israel in the Promised Land were without government and things were out of control when the last verse of the book of Judges was written. Judges 21:25. "In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes." God had given them the land and a government and all the blessings that went with it but they rebelled against His government and anarchy resulted. The result was that God had to take some drastic corrective measures that were worse than their former government, and a lot more painful.

The only time we should disobey the authorities is if the order would compromise our obedience to God and that would be a rare occasion here in the United States today.

*In these next verses, Peter ventures into the workplace.

I don't think for one minute that Peter just preached and never worked all those years. I think he did like Paul and supported himself and preached at the same time.

Peter is referring to household servants, domestic maids and butlers, as well as many others who were employees skilled in trades and professions. They were owned as slaves but they were often well paid. They represent the most common workers in the Roman world of that day. We can apply those same principles to the work place of today.

VERSES 18. "Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward." Christian employees are to willingly obey their bosses. We "fear" our employers when we respect their authority and obey their orders. After all, they are paying us to do a certain job and it's their right to tell us how they want it done. Too often I've heard of boss-employee differences when the employee thought he knew the way to do the job better than the boss. Even if the employee was right, the boss is the one who should have the right to have the job done his way. Sometimes we carry this over into our Christian lives. We want to tell God how we want something done. It's called the "Sarah Syndrome". We're trying to help God do His job.

Colossians 3:22: Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: 23: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24: Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. 25: But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

Jacob was treated harshly when he worked for his uncle Laban. He changed Jacob's wages ten times, but God was faithful to Jacob and rewarded him. Genesis 31:6-9.

*Next we see that patient endurance is pleasing to God.

Verses 19-20: For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 20: For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

Sometimes we have to submit to “crooked” employers. This doesn't mean doing crooked or illegal things for them. It means that they are crooked in their dealings with us.

“For this is commendable” means that it obtains God’s favor and approval of us as obedient to authority. God’s approval should govern our responses to the boss at work. We obey because of “conscience toward God” because we sense the reality of God’s presence in our lives. Then we can "endure grief and suffering wrongfully” (v.19). To know God is there and He's in control helps us when we're treated badly.

The “grief”and “suffering” (v.19) refers to mental anguish which goes along with unreasonable demands made by an employer. But, if we suffer because we have done wrong, we don't deserve any special consideration.

Verses 21-24 give us Christ as our example of suffering and endurance when mistreated by men. 21: For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

Now we're given the great example of how the Lord Jesus Christ dealt with unjust treatment. “Christ also suffered... leaving us an example that you should follow His steps” (v.21).

Peter gives us a most compelling example, because, in the wisdom of God, Believers are “called” to endure suffering. He says; "Hereunto were you called.” When you got saved God called you to a life that would include unjust suffering. When that suffering does come, remember two things;

First, God uses it for our good with the future in view. Romans 5:1-2; 1: Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: [2] By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Second, God gave us the Lord Jesus Christ as our example. He suffered and left us a perfect example to follow. Verse 22: “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth.” Peter was quoting from Isaiah’s prophecy of the suffering Servant written seven hundred years before.
(See Isaiah 53:9)

Jesus' enemies challenged His authority, accused Him of satanic power, attempted to trick Him with questions, blamed Him for not following their traditions, and plotted to kill Him. He patiently endured it all.

Jesus responded by trusting the Father’s wisdom in allowing it, instead of being frustrated. His faith in the purposes of God the Father allowed Him to endure the pain and suffering. His last words to Peter were “Follow me.” (John 21:19-22)

The sinlessness of the Lord Jesus emphasizes that there was never any guile or deceitfulness in His speech. The first human faculty to fail under pressure is the tongue. But the Lord never sinned with His tongue.

Another example from the Lord Jesus is that He never retaliated against those who mistreated Him. (v.23). “When He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.”

Our first and natural inclination is to strike back when we're struck, be it verbally or physically. Even when Caiaphas and Pilate accused and insulted Him, He never uttered a harsh word. He understood that His sufferings were part of the Father’ design of grace for mankind. Peter had retaliated with a sword when they came to arrest Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane, but Jesus rebuked Peter saying, “Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” (John 18:11).

Jesus could endure the suffering and the shame of the cross because He was convinced that the “cup” of suffering had come from a loving Father.

In verses 22-23 we read of His suffering in life and now in verse 24 we read of His sufferings on the cross to redeem our souls to Himself. He also made it possible for us to live righteously. "Who His own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree" (v.24). His unjust suffering brought us our redemption. What a powerful example that leaves for us.

Because of us, a sinless Savior patiently endured undeserved suffering for us. The final phrase of verse 24 is another quote from Isaiah 53. "By whose stripes we are healed.” These are wounds left by whips that the Lord Jesus endured for us. Jesus endured God's judgment at Calvary and that paid for yours and my spiritual healing.

Peter had witnessed the crucifixion and the realization of all that it meant for him personally never left him. You can tell from his writings that it was still fresh in his mind years later. He never forgot the stripes on Jesus' back and what they meant to him.

VERSE. 25. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.