Summary: Living on Mission in a Foreign Land Principles and Patterns of Submission: Servants
Living on Mission in a Foreign Land
Principles and Patterns of Submission: Servants
We have begun a new Series, “Living on Mission in a Foreign Land,” based on 1 Peter 2.11-4.11, to highlight Peters belief that our lives, actions and our words, are to point people to the transforming work of God in the gospel. Peter points out that is our identity and our calling. Though we are sojourners and exiles who are in a foreign land, we have a purpose in this land. We are a holy nation, a royal priesthood whose purpose is to proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light.
We are in a section where Peter outlines for us “Principles and Patterns of Submission.” Last week we looked at submitting to the government. I do not have all the answers to that issue; the governmental structure then and the governmental structure now is not a one to one relationship. What I do know is that Christians too often so qualify what the bible means that it no longer resembles what the bible says.
Big Idea – God calls us to submit to those in authority over us, even those who are unjust.
Passage Overview: Peter moves from our responsibility to submit to the government to servants responsibility to submit to their masters, the good as well as the bad. God's grace is put on display when we endure suffering for doing the right thing. God calls us to endure unjust suffering, taking after the example of Christ suffering for us. We are going to break this up 18-20 today; 21-25 next week.
Submission to Authority
Peter tells servants to submit to their masters. Servants were a common and an integral part of the Roman Empire. It is said that up to one quarter of the population were slaves. People became slaves as prisoners of war, sold themselves off because they were unable to pay off their debt or taxes, or they were born into slavery. Slaves could be anything from common laborers to teachers to physicians. They were often more educated than their owners, could be paid for their services, and even buy their freedom. Most slaves were probably treated well but not all. They were not seen as fully persons with rights so were vulnerable in society. As slaves they were expected to be loyal to the family gods for economic reasons and Peter probably singled them out here because as Christians slaves who would break away from worship and loyalty to the family gods, they were especially vulnerable to suffering and persecution. Yet it would be safe to say that the nature of most servant-master relationships would be similar to an employer-employee relationship today.
In the command for servants to submit to their masters is a general principles that applies to everyone to submit to those in authority over us. We see this in v. 19, where he says 'one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.' So this text applies to children submitting to parents or other authorities in their life; it applies to Christians submitting to the church; and employees submitting to employers. But he makes this command more specific, we are to submit to those in authority over us whether they are good or bad. He does not let us off the hook with bad authority as most like to think. As I said last week submitting to authority is ultimately submitting to God. We see this in the manner or way we submit, literally 'all fear' translated 'with all respect (ESV)' or 'in reverential fear of God (NIV).' I think he is speaking of the fear of God for a couple of reasons. So he tells us to submit in fear of God whether those in authority over us are just or unjust. Whether we submit to those in authority over us tells us if we fear God or not. Why he will in the next verse tells us, submit while mindful of God, or as we saw last week, for the Lord's sake. There are probably a million excuses not to obey this command or find an exception but most are not valid. So the point of the passage is submit to those in authority, then in vs. 19-20 he gives us the reason or the motive for submitting.