Summary: Living on Mission in a Foreign Land Principles and Patterns of Submission: Government
Living on Mission in a Foreign Land
Principles and Patterns of Submission: Government
We are in the third week of our new Series, “Living on Mission in a Foreign Land,” based upon 1 Peter 2.11-4.11. Today we look at “Principles and Patterns of Submission – Government.” This whole next section to v. 25 is on submitting to authorities, today we will focus on submitting to government. Peter has just described us as sojourners and exiles. Remember that both are people who are out of place in a foreign land. In this passage he tells us how people who are in a foreign land relate to the authorities of that land.
Big Idea – God calls us to submit to the governing authorities over us.
Passage Overview: Peter tells us to submit to the governmental authorities over us. Then he gives us two reasons for doing so, for the Lord's sake and because it is God's will. Then he goes on to tell us that submission has a mission focus, that by doing good we will silence foolish people. Finally he describes the manner or way in which we are to submit, as free people.
Be Submissive to Human Institutions
Peter starts out by telling us to do one thing, submit to every human institution describes these human institutions as the emperor or governor. The verb is in the imperative mood or what we commonly call a command. When God commands something it means that it is his will for us and carries a moral obligation to obey. So when we submit to human institutions like the government then we submit to God and when we rebel against human institutions like the government we rebel against God. It is that simple. He tells us three facts about these human institutions. First, God ordains this authority. God does not just ordain authority but he actually puts specific people in those places of authority and removes them as he determines. Second, he tells us we are to submit to all authority. There is no authority we are exempt from, even evil ones. Nero was the emperor at the time Peter was writing this letter. He was a tyrant who killed anyone who got on his bad side, even his mother, and wives that he no longer wanted. And he eventually beheaded Paul and crucified Peter. Even Jesus submitted to evil men committing evil acts against him and recognized the authority to do so was given to them by God. He trusted that God his Father was sovereign and was ruling over the individuals and the events leading to his death. The only time we are to disobey those in authority over us is when we are told to violate scripture. Third we see God's purpose of authority. They are sent to uphold right and wrong (14). Government as a whole and individuals in office, are to uphold what God has determined as right and wrong. God has established what is right and wrong and uses government is to enforce it.
Submission that Glorifies God
It matters how we submit. There is a way to submit that is evil and a way that makes it righteous. If you miss this point then you miss the point of the passage. Submission must be God centered. We see this in the phrase, 'for the Lord's sake' or I think a clearer translation is because of the Lord. This is the basis for the whole passage and our whole life. God is the means and the end of submission. There is a similar expression in 1 John 2:12, “I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake.” Every act of submission must flow from faith in God, trusting him. It must flow from a desire to display his grace.
Submission for the Lord glorifies God because submission is God's will. It is God's will, described as doing good. The opposite of Gods will is rebellion; the opposite of doing good is doing evil. Submitting to government is submitting to God; disobeying the government is disobeying God. It is that simple.
Then Peter explains what he means by God's will. “This is the the will of God, that by doing good, submitting to governmental authorities, you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.” Submission has a mission focus. Do people know by your submission to the government or even how you respond to life in general that you are a follower of Christ. Our life will either validate or invalidate the transforming power of the gospel.
Submission as Free People
Now Peter tells us the manner or way we are to submit. Literally, “as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil but living as servants of God. ” We are freed from our former passions, the powers of this age to obey God. Do not use freedom in a cavalier way, thinking you can do what you want. That is not freedom that is bondage. So you submit to Nero not as a slave out of fear but submit freely as slaves of God. Then Peter summarizes. sums up – honor all men and the emperor. Then love the brotherhood, the family of God. And last and fear God; meaning do not fear the emperor.