For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. — 1 Peter 2:20
When she was in eighth grade, a friend of mine realized that merely attending Sunday school did not make her a Christian. The Lord began talking to her heart, and one Sunday evening she accepted her Sunday school teacher’s offer of a ride to church, where she confessed her sins to the Lord. As each sin came to her mind, she told Him how sorry she was, and His love and forgiveness flooded into her heart. Her whole life was changed!
The difference in my friend’s life was obvious. From then on, she wanted to read her Bible and go to church. Her dad gave her permission to go to the services if she could get rides from the church family, so she went at every opportunity. After several months, her family could tell that her desires were different. She did not watch certain television programs, she no longer used bad language, and her clothing was not as extreme as it had been previously. Her life was different from the inside out.
As time went on, these changes began to cause tension between my friend and her dad. This was very difficult for her, as she had always looked up to him. More and more often, for any slight infraction, her dad and stepmother would refuse to allow her to attend church or Sunday school. At first she had to stay home for a week or so at a time, but gradually the time lengthened. One day, she accidentally stepped on a vacuum cleaner, and consequently she was not allowed to attend church for three months. She had picked up several tapes of church services on her previous visit, so when church time came, she went to her room and listened to the tapes, sang along, and prayed.
Eventually, her dad told her that she was causing division in the family, and that he had arranged for her to meet with a counselor at the church he was attending. He had decided he would follow the counselor’s advice as to which church she should attend. Rather than objecting to her dad’s decision, she prayed and asked the Lord what she should say to the counselor. The Lord went before her, and the counselor advised her father to allow my friend to continue attending her own church.
Although my friend was adversely treated for her faith, she was still respectful of her father’s request and the Lord went before her. Her patient attitude was acceptable with God. Likewise, we may suffer for doing well, but we can remember that the key to victory is to pray and be patient, though that may seem very difficult. In doing so, we become partners with Christ in His suffering, and afterward we are so grateful we relied on Him. How comforting it is to remember that the Lord will be with us!
Beginning with 1 Peter 2:11, Peter gave instruction regarding how believers were to conduct themselves in their relationships with unbelievers. Today’s text tells how holiness should be demonstrated through submission to rulers and masters. Verses 11 and 12 summarize the Christian’s responsibility and the reason for it. Verses 13 to 17 are specific to the believer response to governmental authority, and verses 18 to 25 instruct servants.
Peter encouraged these believers to remember they were “as strangers and pilgrims.” As such, they were not to take part in the “fleshly lusts” of the culture about them, because those warred against their souls. Those who were reading Peter’s epistles were living where pagan deities and idols were worshiped, often with sensual feasts and activities. He wanted them to stay away from anything that would hinder them spiritually. Additionally, Peter knew that if the believers’ “conversation” (daily conduct) was good, then their testimonies would be strong to the unbelievers around them, and those people might be converted.
Verses 13 to 17 command submission to governmental authority. When this epistle was written, Nero, who was especially cruel to Christians, led the Roman Empire. Peter was not telling these believers to violate their consciences, for Acts 4:19-20 and Acts 5:29 show how Peter responded when he could not conscientiously abide by the instructions he was given. Rather, he wanted these people to respect the authority of the civil institutions that were over them whenever the directives were not opposed to Scripture. Peter knew that such holy living would help silence those who slandered Christians. God had made the believers free from fear and the rituals of the Mosaic Law, but they needed to be sure they used that freedom to serve God willingly, and were good representatives of Christ to those around them.
In verse 17 Peter summarized his instructions. “Honor all men” — remember that each person was created by God and consequently give the proper regard. “Love the brotherhood” — have the right attitude toward other believers. “Fear God” — humbly reverence God. “Honour the king” — obey civil authority.
Beginning with verse 18, Peter addressed those who were servants, giving principles which apply to various positions ranging from slaves to employees. Despite the disposition of their masters, servants were instructed to show respect (fear) and to conduct themselves in a godly manner. Faithfulness to God was to be their motivation. When a person does right and receives undeserved punishment, yet continues to be humble and submissive, God’s grace is displayed and it is “acceptable with God.” The reaction is more important than the circumstance, for character is revealed by reactions.
In verse 21 Peter cited the example of Christ. Because Christ died in place of sinful men, the believer’s thanksgiving should result in a willingness to suffer for Him. The word example indicated the line a teacher would write on a tablet for a student to copy underneath, making his letters just like that of his master. Christians are to “follow,” meaning, follow exactly the Lord’s steps by submitting meekly, even to unjust treatment. Peter reiterated that, beyond being an example, Christ took mankind’s sins on Himself and paid the price of the punishment, thereby making it possible for believers to be dead to sins and live unto righteousness.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. The conduct of the believer
A. In summary (2:11-12)
B. In submission
1. Saints to civil authority (2:13-17)
a. The command (2:13-14)
b. The cause (2:15)
c. Another command (2:16-17)
2. Servants to masters (2:18-25)
a. The command (2:18)
b. The causes (2:19-25)
(1) The favor of God (2:19-20)
(2) The example of Christ (2:21-24)
(3) The new state (2:25)
Peter gave us helpful guidelines to live by: if we honor all men, submit to those who have the rule over us, and patiently and humbly bear our burdens, our lives will be acceptable with God.