Summary: Peter indicates that our salvation should impact how we related to governmental authority. Submission is not a popular topic, but it is needful, in our rebellious & self-gratifying society. Submission is recognition of God¡¯s right to govern our lives.
1 PETER 2: 13-17
RESPECT CIVIL AUTHORITY [Renewing Hope Series]
From this point on 1 Peter discusses the effect of our salvation on our life and relationships. Because of our fallen understanding, what living the Christian life entails needs to be spelled out using practical details. Peter here indicates that our salvation should impact how we related to governmental authority.
Submission is certainly not a popular topic, but it is needful, especially in our rebellious and self-gratifying society. Submission does not mean slavery or subjugation but is a recognition of God's right to govern our lives. God established the home, government and the church and He has the right to tell us how these institutions should run. We will not understand or exercise authority properly, until we come under God's authority. [Wiersbe, Warren. The Bible Exposition Commentary. Vol 2. 1989. Victor Books. Wheaton IL. P. 403.]
These imperative [verb] instructions and encouragements relay at least four specific elements of Christian submission.
I. The Command to Submit, 13a.
II. To Whom Submission is Due, 13b-14.
III. The Reason For Submission, 15.
IV. The Principle of Submission, 16-17.
God established governments to administer the civil affairs of a nation. Verse 13 commands believers to submit to their established government. "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority,
Peter does not recommend one form of government over another. The principle is that the Christian should submit to the government or human institution under which he lives. Christianity has existed for two thousand years under all kinds of governmental structures. God has ordained the institution of government to provide order for society, and the Christian ought to fulfill his proper duties within and under it.
The word "submit" [huptass¨; tass¨, made from two words, meaning "to appoint, order, arrange" & hupo, meaning "to place under or subordinate"] which Peter uses in verse 13 is a military expression meaning "to place oneself under." The emphasis is on placing oneself under delegated authority. Does this mean that the Christian is never to oppose delegated authority? The same man who wrote these words once said to a religious council effort to control what he said about Jesus that, "We cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20). Occasions may arise when the Christian feels he must obey God rather than the government, but the Christian ought to have extremely good reasons for disobeying the chosen authority. Scripture says we should submit to our government, and if we disobey, we must accept the punishment.
Christians are responsible to obey the law (Rom. 13:1-7; Titus 3:1-2). They are to abide by governmental laws, to submit . . . to every authority (ktisei,, "a divine creation" or here "institution" or "law") instituted among men (anthr¨pin¨¥, "made by man, human").
The motivation for obedience is not avoiding punishment but is for the Lord's sake. Believers obey earthly authority to honor God who ordained authority including human government. Christians are to observe man-made laws carefully as long as those laws do not conflict with the clear teaching of Scripture (Acts 4:19). [According to some, this means that the Christian should submit because the Lord Himself submitted to the authority of government (v. 23). Yet the previous interpretation seems better because our Sovereign Lord delegated a chain of authoritative command and has granted government the right to administer the affairs of the nation. By our submission to the institution of government, which God established, we are submitting to the Lord also.]
[The principle of submission to government is found in many passages in the New Testament. The teaching of the Lord concerning the payment of taxes to Caesar (Mt. 22: 21), and the fact that He Himself paid taxes (Mt. 17:24-27) indicate that He submitted to the authority of government during His life on earth. When arrested, He submitted to the authority of the Roman soldiers and did not call for legions of angels to release Him (Mt. 26:52-53), even though He had committed no offense.
The apostle Paul states that the Christian should submit to the authority of government (Rom. 13:1-7) and reminds us of our responsibility to pray for those who are in positions of authority over us (1 Tim. 2:1-2). Titus 3:1-2 also confirms the principle of the authority of government. [Barbieri, Lou. First & Second Peter. 2003 The Moody Bible Institute. Chicago. P. 64.]
The Old Testament articulates the same principle. Daniel, in interpreting the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar, declared that "the God of heaven [had] given [to Nebuchadnezzar] the kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory" (Dan. 2:37). And in Daniel 4:17, the king himself would rightly acknowledge "that the living [should] know that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whom He wishes and sets over it the lowliest of men." The king had been removed from his throne until he learned this lesson. The Bible teaches that God is sovereign in the affairs of men, and thus we should submit to government. [Also see Deyt17:14-15; 1 Sam. 10:24; 2Kgs 11:12; 1 Chron. 29:24; Prov. 24:21-22 & Jer.29:4-14.]]