Throughout our study of 1st Peter, we have noticed that as “pilgrims” those who are Christians have many blessings and responsibilities. For example, in our previous study we saw that as pilgrims of the world we are to have our conduct honorable among those with whom we live.
But what about our responsibilities to those governments of men under which we live? When our true citizenship is in heaven, do we have any responsibilities to the countries on earth?
“13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. 17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” (1 Peter 2:13-17)
The pilgrims’ responsibility can be defined in one word: Submit. Believers are to submit “to every ordinance of man”.
The word “submit” means “be subject to,” signifying “to place one’s self under subjection; to render one’s self subordinate”. This will not be the only time in this epistle that Christians will be told to be submissive (1 Peter 2:18; 3:1; 5:5)
In this case, we are told to submit “to every ordinance of man” where the word “ordinance” literally means “a creation”. The Greeks and Romans were accustomed to describe the appointment of officers as the “creation” of them therefore, the expression “ordinance” actually refers not to a particular law passed by government but to the civil government or institution itself.
We are to submit to every human institution whether it be a monarchy, democracy, or totalitarian state and the responsibility of pilgrims is still the same: submit.
“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. 19 For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. 20 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. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”
Peter blesses us with reasons why as Christians why we must embrace a submissive character. First and foremost, “this is the will of God.” (1 Peter 2:13; 1 Peter 2:15)
That ought to suffice for all true servants of God. Additionally Peter does explain why this is the Lord’s will, that we may “put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” (1 Peter 2:15)
Because of their allegiance to a heavenly King, Christians are often falsely accused of sedition or treason (Acts 17:5-8). By doing good (e.g., submitting to the governing authorities), we can “silence” or “muzzle” such ignorant charges.
“22 He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 23 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. 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. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
How can we be sure to have a conduct acceptable to God? First, rejoice that you are counted worthy to suffer just as Christ did in His sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:10-12). Rejoice knowing that we are blessed in the sight of God, and have joined a great group of prophets, apostles, and disciples in suffering for Christ. Even if those mistreating us do not know that we are Christians, if our response is governed by Christ’s teachings, we can still have satisfaction in knowing that God is pleased.
Second we are called to resist temptation to retaliate. Then respond to mistreatment by doing more good (1 Peter 3:9). There is nothing “commendable” about stopping when “the going gets tough”; but when “the tough get going”, and going about doing good, now THAT is commendable.
Finally, rely on God. Suffering patiently when mistreated for doing good does not always bring immediate satisfaction. We must therefore trust in God, believing that His will is best. And if our Christ-like behavior does not change the behavior of those who mistreat us, God will one day do what is right. Let’s pray!
We thank you for this day and for your servant Peter, the apostle of Jesus Christ
We praise you Lord for his wisdom and for his works through this letter,
We ask you Lord to inspire us to use this scripture in our lives
As we grow in you through the teachings of Peter.
Lord we ask you to strengthen us each day as we face mistreatment
Fill our hearts Lord with your strength, with your wisdom,
Allow us to abide by your word as we obey you and those in power
Becoming examples of faith through obedience.
God we pray that you will continue to bless us, to bless our lives and fill us with hope
We ask you Lord to guide our footsteps and lead us to the way everlasting,
Through faith in you Lord we seek salvation and a place with you in heaven
According to your word, your everlasting wisdom and strength.
May your will be done
In our lives, for your life.
We thank you for your love and all you bless us with each day.
This message was written by Daniel St.Pierre