1 Peter 2:13-25

My title is the ultimate answer to the text of Scripture that is before us this morning. But! There always problems when you approach a text of Scripture like this. The preacher might try and make a case to define what Peter said; or try to explain what he was really trying to say. There is a problem when you approach a text of Scripture like this as a believer. We tend to focus on the complete opposite teaching of this passage, and we look at Civil Institutions as enemies of the true Christian faith. And to some extend that is true; anything worldly will always be at odds with the Biblical worldview. But what Peter is saying before us this morning gets twisted to fit our personal convictions, and narrative of the times we live in. For example, we tend to focus when we are to disobey, rather than obey those who are over us.


And we justify this by setting our focus on…..  The courageous mid-wives who disobeyed Pharaoh’s order to destroy all male Jewish babies. The three Jewish men who refused to bow to Nebuchadnezzar in worship. Daniel who faithfully refused when it came to prayer. Peter and John when they stood before the Governors and Council for preaching in Jesus’ name. These are all legitimate reasons to obey God rather than man, but these people still obeyed despite how they were treated on other issues. One Commentator wrote,Peter is under no illusion: Christians must live their lives against the backdrop of authorities that at best tolerate their faith and at worst persecute then for their faith.


But not even the apostles believed that citizenship was passive in nature. According to Paul, we read what a Christian is to do? “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Tim 2:1-4


We are to live in a way that is exemplary; despite those who are beside us, behind, or over us. The Biblical command is to submit to Civil Authority regardless of its nature or how you feel. We don’t get to choose when we live sacrificially for Christ. It’s not an on and off switch to appease our conscience.


Regardless if they are …..



Harsh rulers

Oppressive systems


These are still… far better than anarchy and chaos! We need to understand all forms of government, from dictatorships to democracies are filled with evil because they are led by fallen sinnersSee this is danger we tend to focus on what Peter “should have said” Instead of obeying the first hermeneutic principle when it comes to reading Scripture. “If the plain sense makes common sense, seek no other sense.” Meaning the plain sense of the Golden Rule of Scripture interpretation is to approach this passage as Peter intended it to.

 With a submissive heart for the glory

of God through Christ.

But again, this is the preacher’s temptation! I have to ask myself, “Do I want the praises of men to appease their conscience when it comes to Civil Authorities, and who is in office?” Or do I want to be faithful to the text of Scripture that is before us this morning? Do I want to fire up my church base to act in willful civil disobedience? Or do I want them to demonstrate a balanced understanding of when, and where, we are to obey, and disobey those over us. My desire for my life, and your life, is that we demonstrate a proper biblical worldview in a broken and perverse generation; that may kill you for your faith; but mostly be at complete odds with what you hold true.


Doing all this with a Christ-like character

with an obedient heart.


The text before is absolutely silent on anything advocating civil disobedience. Peter is very clear about this; as he doesn’t finish talking about submission until the end of (v7) of chapter 3. He goes from Government and rulers, to the employer, to the foundation of marriage. Two things we need to do when approaching a text of Scripture like this…


1. Peter’s Intention...Christian good works are in his sights to what we have previously seen (v11-v12)Peter provides examples of what this Christian workings looks like, in our society, workplace and in family life/marriage. Understandably these goods works are most likely going to be mistreated in the world; but we are to shine and submit nonetheless. Why? We are citizens of heaven!


2. Peter’s Instruction... One word is used in this text “submission” this word describes the Christian’s “honorable conduct” and “good deeds”. This word “submission” is found in (v13, v18 and 3:v1). The verb here is a “passive imperative” this means that what Peter says is a command, and not an option. This word is counter-cultural, yet Peter describes it as an honorable conduct which is the preeminent mark of Christian grace and goodness. Submission in this text defines the Christian’s goal of subjection which is a military term “to place under rank.” The center and principle of submission is illustrated in the character of Jesus Christ. (v21-v25)


The One we are to imitate is at the center of the passage

and in the opening of this portion of Scripture.


We are not operating out of some blind obedience to a rigid principle; but rather out of love to Christ and the gospelWe submit for the Lord’s sake! This is an essential, as a command given by GodAs the Psalmist wrote, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” Psalm 119:9-16. We submit because we desire our lives to be pleasing someone, not something…which is Christ Jesus our Lord.


Submit To Those In Political Office For The Lord’s Sake. (v13-v14)


Believers actually obey earthly authority to honor God’s sovereign authority. How? By living exemplified lives despites the Governments competency or incompetency, morality or immorality, cruelty or kindness, or even godliness or ungodliness. Peter lived in a time of…… open sinfulness, a society famous for evil....homosexuality, infant homicide, government corruption, abuse of women, immorality, and violence. And even amongst all that… no apostle offered any exception by which a believer were free to defy civil authority. Remember what Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” Matt 22:21


Think about what Peter just said, considering who is in office at this time in Peter’s Life. Nero, as the Roman ruler who lead the great persecution against Christians in the first centuryOther authorities of this time included governors Pontius Pilate and FelixPilate, handed Jesus over to His death while Peter stood in the shadows. Felix, played with his power on the case of Paul. All three of these men live in time of Peter’s letter. Each of these men was calloused in life and friendless to those in the Christian faithYet Peter clearly says “We are to submit to such rulers as these.” Why? (v15) Kent Hughes wrote, “Our motivation in this: Submission to authority is the strongest apologetic against the view that Christians are never up to any good.” We know that some bad behavior was happening amoung the people in the church; and this gives the Christian faith a bad name. Take the controversial name in Luke’s gospel for a moment as Jesus calls His disciples. “Simon who was called the Zealot,” Luke 6:15


Simon the Zealot? He was a rebel by nature and a radical by training, a Roman-hating Zealot, but Jesus won him for the higher concepts of the kingdom of heaven. He had always identified himself with the party of protest, but he now joined the party of progress, unlimited and eternal progression of spirit and truth. Simon was a man of intense loyalties and warm personal devotions, and he did profoundly love Jesus. Simon left everything in his previous life to follow Jesus. He lived true to the Great Commission after Jesus' ascension. Simon's great weakness was his material-mindedness. In Acts 1:13 we learn that he was present with the 11 apostles in the upper room of Jerusalem after Christ had ascended to heaven. Church tradition holds that Simon the Zealot spread the gospel in Egypt as a missionary and was martyred in Persia.


What we can learn about Simon the Zealot, is this….. Jesus Christ transcends political causes, governments, and all earthly turmoil. And for Jesus’s sake he was obedient and submissive unto to death for the preaching of the gospel. Our passion/convictions cannot supersede our Biblical instruction of submission.


We hate abortion in this country; but that doesn’t mean we go and blow up abortion clinics and hospitals that perform them.


We may dislike with extreme prejudice who sits in office over Canada, but that doesn’t mean we can harm or stir up harm, towards those who disagree with you.


This doesn’t mean we become sovereign citizens unto ourselves in our own country of Canada, because we disagree with many things this nation does.

Our goodness as believers will be our greatest apologetic before a foolish people, before foolish rulers and dictators. John MacArthur wrote, “God is pleased when unsaved people associate Christians with spiritual virtue, righteousness, love, graciousness, humility and the gospel of salvation, rather than protests against human institutions.” Our good works according to Peter if we trust the Scriptures says “it silence false accusations” (v15)


Again submission is the great apologetic for the gospel. But this character doesn’t come natural or easy for you and meTake Peter, Pre-Pentecost account in garden at Jesus’ arrest. “While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "The one I will kiss is the man; seize him." And he came up to Jesus at once and said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, "Friend, do what you came to do." Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear (If you want the name of the swordsman John 18:10). Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?" At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, "Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." Then all the disciples left him and fled.” Matt 26:47-56


Peter was the……. most aggressive and outspoken person amoung the disciples and it got him in more trouble than not. Fast forward to this letter by Peter… We see an older and much wiser man who has put his sword away, and God has given him the Sword of the Spirit. A sword that the believer receives at salvation as Paul wrote, “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” Eph 6:16-17

So what are we to do with what’s been said so far?

Answer (v16-v17)


Our freedom is for serving…….Look what Peter says here! Don’t miss it or dismiss it, we are to “honor everyone” What is Peter saying? Realize as a result of Christ’s redemption we are free from…. sin’s condemnation, the Law’s penalty, Satan’s bondage, the worlds’ control and death’s power


Live as free men, act as free



For starters Peter uses a progression of how we to use this freedom……

First, he starts with “honor everyone”

Second, he goes to our relationship of the church “love the brotherhood”

Third, he elevates it to the highest superlative level “fear God”

Fourth, he comes back down to reality or present day and he says “honor the emperor”


Let’s start with “Honor everyone”. Honor who? This is every person who was created by God. Here is the danger or the self-righteous Christian when this is presented to us. As James illustrates the tongue, “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” James 3:6-10. You may dislike, disagree, and condemn one person’s actions or lifestyle; but this doesn’t disqualify your responsibility to how you respond to another. Everyone, despite how they live, or the choices they make; we are to respect each other because we are created in God’s image. Christians are never to discriminate any class, race,

nationality or economic status. This also doesn’t mean we just tolerate every mindless conduct of people; but it means we show a proper respect to all individuals made in the image of God.


“Love the brotherhood” every Christian has a special bond with the family of God. That’s what makes the church unique, or it stands out from the world forum. We are to show the world we love our fellow brothers and sisters inside the body of the church. Again Jesus spoke crystal clearly on this, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35. John would clarify this truth even more, later on in His first epistle. “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.” 

1 John 5:1-2


“Fear God” this includes trusting Him in all circumstances, no matter how difficult they may seem in the moment of future. Fear here is the utmost respect for the One who has commanded them to do so. Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matt 6:33-34


“Honor the Emperor” which brings us back to the basic command found in (v13). The fear of God is what encourages the believer to submit to earthly authorities; because we have a great love for God. We might live in a time of wicked tyrants; but we serve the Living God nonetheless by honoring the position though we might disagree with the one in office. I’m not naive or blinded to the fact that every single one of us struggle with this. Because in our sinful corruption we do this kicking and screaming against the authorities that are placed over us, just like a child who doesn’t get his or her way. Understand submission is something we are to initiate and are responsible to do as Peter says here.

But there is a qualifier to this command.

We are to do all these things under one condition.


We are to submit unless these ordinances prohibit us from doing what God commands, or command us to do what God forbids. Peter wants us to submit not out of coercion, but out of the freedom we have in the gospel. Peter wants us to submit for the Lord’s sake, not for your sake or my sake. But for the Lord’s! Another reason why we subject ourselves under those whom God has placed over us is, so that we have a good testimony and not be rightly charged with slanderous accusations. For every civil institution there is an authority over those ordained structures, and that is the sovereign God of the Universe.


So rest there and use the freedom we have in His Son to be example of grace and truth. So as Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matt 5:14-16


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