1 Peter 2:13–23 comment (0)
July 24, 2014
By Kenneth B.E. Roxburgh, Ph.D.
Related Scripture: 1 Peter 2:13–23
Bible Studies for Life
Chair and Armstrong Professor of Religion, Samford University
1 Peter 2:13–23
Winston Churchill, the great leader of Great Britain during World War II, returned during a period of great difficulty in the 1940s to give a commencement speech to his old school at Harrow near London, England. He stood before the young men who were gathered and finished his speech by challenging them “never give up, never, never, never give up.”
In a similar way, Peter urges this community of Christians who were under a very real threat of persecution to press on, to persevere and manifest a life of enduring faith.
Enduring Faith Never Gives Up Doing Good (13–17)
Christians in the first century did not live in a democracy, where human rights were respected.
The emperor was a despot and yet the New Testament urges believers to accept the institution of government and to do the right thing. While they were never to obey the emperor if this would involve disobeying God, in most situations submitting to secular authority did not cause a conflict with Christian discipleship. It is not that earthly rulers have authority in themselves. They are only fellow creatures of God. However, in order to maintain order and not chaos, government is put in place and so it is for His sake that we submit to such authority. This limits submission, however, because it can never lead us into doing anything that causes us to sin.
Peter then expands his understanding of the honor that is due to human beings because everyone is created by God. All humanity has a dignity as those who have been created in the image of God. Emperors, slaves, people of status and the nobodies of everyday life are all worthy of respect and human dignity.
If we honor and fear God then we will respect one another and seek the welfare of others.
Enduring Faith Is Willing to Endure Hardship (18–20)
Peter is not indiscriminately suggesting that we accept injustice from our fellow human beings. His views on slavery were rooted in the culture of the first century. We would never consider that slavery of any form was warranted by God’s Word in the 21st century. Nineteenth century slavery was wrong and it was wrong to justify it by turning to Scripture.
In a similar way, if injustice is seen in the way in which people are treated in the workplace or in school or even in church then Christians should be the first to speak out against it.
Peter is speaking here of suffering injustices because of our faith. Yet even Paul did not accept the injustice of being arrested and beaten as a Christian when his human rights as a Roman citizen were ignored. If we are Christian then we may encounter persecution, physical and psychological, but in suffering in this way we are following in the footsteps of our Master.
Enduring Faith Trusts God in Every Situation (21–23)
Enduring faith in the midst of trouble is marked by simple trust and hope in our Lord.
As He placed His faith and confidence in His Father, so we commit our ways to Him and ask for grace to bear what we cannot change. He bore our sins so that we might live for righteousness. An ethical lifestyle that reflects the life of Jesus is a life of real freedom that no human institution can destroy and that stands out in the midst of the darkness of sin and evil as honorable and good.
The feeling of being overwhelmed by the demands of discipleship, especially when it brings misunderstanding and even slander from others, is part and parcel of being faithful to one’s vocation in life, the vocation of being a Christian whatever the cost.