The Submissive Life
Kingdom Living #11
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:13-17)
Peter decribes the life of a disciple within the kingdom. Disciples are to be lawful cititzens in the Roman Empire, or whatever government under which they find themselves. Thus the disciple finds themselves under the authority of Christ their Lord and the institution of government. But what is truly amazing is the purpose of God.
The mouths of ignorant and foolish people are silenced when disciples do good. Those who resist the plan of God have in reality nothing to say that will convict the behavior of disciples. Peter gives five imperatives in these five verses. These imperatives really do give us insight into the power of a proactively submissive life.
1. Submit to every human authority. The particular word Peter used here means to submit to the orders or directives of someone. Disciples obey the lawful orders or directives of civil authorities.
2. Honor everyone. Disciples of Jesus are to imitate Him in regards to the inherit value each human being possesses. Disciples attribute a high status to all people by honoring them. The key to honoring a person is to respect and recognize the dignity of a person without considering their social status. Honoring lowly people leads to honoring Christ.
3. Love the brotherhood. A brotherhood is an association of people having a strong sense of unity. In this context it is a group of people who believe together with others in the Divinity of Jesus Christ and His resurrection. Since their unity was centered around the Christ and it was for His sake their behavior was submissive to human authorities.
4. Fear God. All mankind has reason to be afraid of God. His power is beyond our capacity to know; His justice perfect and true. No one can stand before Him alone. Though out human history His wrath is poured out upon those who practice evil. Yet for the believer who understands the cross, being afraid is tempered with having a profound reverence and respect with an implication of bordering on fear. God is gracious upon those who reverence His name and walk in His will.
5. Honor the Emperor. For the Jewish christian in Jesus’ day, this would be difficult. Peter is in no way imploring them to give token respect but to render to Caesar what is due Caesar. The person who holds the office may not deserve their honor but the office is God ordained and one dishonors God by dishonoring the office.
Honoring people, from the least to the greatest, is the will of God. Recognizing their worth to Him leads to our respect for them.