1 Peter 2:13-25
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, 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. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are 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. 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.”
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. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Peter now urges believers to submit to all authorities, whether the persons exercising authority are believers or not. Since Nero had just come to power in Rome, the readers of this letter might find this instruction puzzling. The bigger point that Peter is making is that as believers, we are to obey the law. The recognition of properly instituted authority is necessary for the greatest good of the larger population, and it is necessary to best fulfill the will of God in the world. Such authority depends on God for its existence. (see Romans 13:1-2) In these verses we see that good citizenship counters false charges made against believers and therefore advances the gospel toward unbelievers.
Peter then instructs his readers not to use their Christian liberty as an excuse for sinful behavior. This destroys their testimony for God and harms the cause of the gospel. Genuine freedom allows us to willingly serve God. It is not a license to do as we please. As a believer, we are instructed to “show proper respect to everyone” and to “love the brotherhood of believers”. Because every person is made in the image of God, we need to show proper respect. Because of our shared faith, we are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ deeply.
Peter then reminds his readers of the suffering of Christ, which is an example to us as believers. Jesus suffered for righteousness and for the sins of the world. Now His suffering for the sins of the world is not an example for us—it is our redemption. It is something we believe and accept, but we can by no means imitate it. However, in His life He did leave us an example. When Jesus began His public ministry, the gospel records tell us how He suffered for righteousness’ sake. When we suffer for our faith, we remember the example He left for us. Jesus warned His disciples that they would suffer and be persecuted because of Him. Here in America, for the most part, we have been exempt from persecution because of our faith. But as the culture becomes increasingly more ungodly, we should expect to be persecuted for the cause of Christ. This is expected in a “post-Christian” and “post-truth” culture.
Peter closes out this chapter by reminding his readers of the way Jesus handled the persecution he experienced in His final days here on earth. Jesus had all the power of heaven at His disposal to punish those who were persecuting Him. Instead, He did not retaliate. Scripture says, “He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.” Here we see a prominent example of Jesus’ silent submission. He let God the Father settle His account (see Romans 12:19).
Peter ends with some heavy theology. He writes about the redemption that is possible because of the suffering and persecution of Christ. Jesus bore our sins on the cross that we might be made alive spiritually through His sacrifice (“by His wounds you have been healed”). Because Jesus took the punishment for our sins, we can experience the spiritual healing that only the Shepherd of our souls can offer.
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
Do you struggle to submit to governing authorities? If so, why? What does it mean to be “free in Christ”? Do you use your Christian liberty as a license to sin? Why is it important to show proper respect to everyone? What does it mean to love other believers deeply? Have you suffered because of your faith? If so, how did you handle it? Jesus demonstrated silent submission to His Father. Are you able to submit yourself to the Shepherd of your soul? What does this look like practically?
- Draw near to God and abide with Him in quiet worship and holy adoration.
- Tell the Shepherd of your soul how much you love to be loved by Him. Thank Him for His faithful love.
- Ask for forgiveness for anyone you are not loving. Ask the Lord to give you His love for them. Pray to see that person through the eyes of our Father.
- Pray for our governing authorities.
- Pray for yourself and/or others who suffer for their faith. Pray for endurance, strength and love to respond in a manner that brings the Lord glory.
Father in heaven,
I praise You for Your power, majesty and strength but also for Your abundant grace, mercy and unlimited patience. Since we have received Your goodness oh God, I ask that we would in return share Your goodness with those around us. As Your chosen people, holy and dearly loved, I ask that we would clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. I pray we would forgive as You have forgiven us and that we would put on love. I pray that we would make the most of every opportunity and our conversations would be always full of grace, seasoned with salt. Lord, when being persecuted for our faith, cause us to rejoice and rest in our hearts knowing that while we are participating in the sufferings of Christ, the Spirit of God rests on us. I ask all of this in the Name of Jesus Christ, amen.