World English Bible translation
2:13Therefore subject yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether to the king, as supreme; 2:14 or to governors, as sent by him for vengeance on evil-doers and for praise to those who do well. 2:15 For so is the will of God, that by well-doing you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 2:16 as free, and not using your freedom for a cloak of wickedness, but as bondservants of God. 2:17 Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
Peter has written to these Christians that they must love one another and that they must put away the sins that divide the body of Christ. If they were to endure the trials that were coming to them they would need to be united in the Spirit. He told them to remember that they had been redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb of God and to live as strangers in these days. In yesterday's scripture he wrote to them that they must abstain from the sins of the flesh that bring the name of God into disrepute among unbelievers. They were a holy race and a royal priesthood that had been called out by God to be a people of his very own.
In Today's Scripture Peter is also concerned that their behavior reflect what God would have society to see in His people's lives. Here he concentrates on encouraging these believers to live according to the laws in the countries where God has placed them. He tells them to "subject yourselves to every ordinance of man." Christians are meant to be law-abiding citizens of the states where they reside. We may be strangers and aliens and accountable ultimately to God but that does not relieve us of the basic civil duties that we also have to our fellow man.
It is part of the social contract of every society that men must first obey the law. Peter tells them that they too must obey the law but he gives them a further motivation than people usually have for doing so. He tells them to obey the law "for the Lord's sake." He gives them two ways in which obeying the laws are for the Lord's sake.
First Peter tells them that kings and governors are sent by God "for vengeance on evil-doers and for praise to those who do well." God appoints governments and those who run them. We are to obey the governments of the land in which we live because the governments are answerable to God. God decides how long a government will stand or fall. This is true whether the government is for us or against us, whether we would term it as evil or as good. God does not condone evil and oppression but there are times when He does use the evil tendencies in men for His own purpose.
The second reason that Peter gives for obeying the laws of the land in which we live is to "silence the ignorance of foolish men." Men of the world love to catch the men of God in compromising situations. The world enjoys seeing a good man stumble. When someone who should be upright and righteous makes a mistake, everyone notices. Peter tells them to not use the freedom that God gives to His children as a cloak for wickedness and not to bring the name of God to shame.
The last for sentences were probably part of an ancient catechism or teaching devise. They are short, concise statements to drive home Peter's main thoughts. "Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king." Peter has more or less been following these thoughts ever since he began to instruct them on what he would have them to do. The only difference is that Peter put "Love the brotherhood" first. The idea behind repeating them here is not only to remind them but also to reinforce that what he was instructing them was nothing new. They had been taught these things before.
We must remember that Peter is telling people who are undergoing persecutions to honor the king. We are not told that these persecutions came from the government. Perhaps unbelievers or some other religious group was persecuting them. In any case, Peter is telling them that just because they are being persecuted does not mean that they can disobey the law. They must honor the king whether or not the king honors them.
Can you honor your government for the Lord's sake, even when you might disagree with what it does? Could you honor the government even when it was actively persecuting you?
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