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 cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. 17: Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
18: Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. 19: 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. 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. 25: For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
In this passage Peter states that submission and peace are the chief characteristic of true servants of the Lord, to those who outside. He gives the example of Kings, governors and masters. It’s interesting that Jewish christianity never was a threat to kings, governors or masters of slaves. In fact the teachings of Christ never encouraged rebellion against the kings, or resistance to rulers or even the abolition of slavery. It is not that these people are always good or that they should obey them in all circumstances. Peter is the first to say that when there is a situation in which the rulers command obedience that goes against a command of God then we should obey God first. ‘We aught to obey God rather than men’ he says. When called upon to do so believers will be the first to stand true to God and suffer for their conscience but even then they will not suffer as evil doers but as those who live righteously. Christ is our example in that when he suffered, he suffered in silence, committing his case to the Father. Peter says, we (Jews) were like sheep going astray, but now we have returned unto the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls. Israel always saw their rulers as shepherds and Christ is the Good Shepherd.
- Why should these Jews submit themselves to governments and rulers?
- In what circumstances is it permissible to disobey kings and governments?
- What example did Christ give in his relation to rulers?