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Read Read Matthew Henry's Commentary on 1 Peter 2:13-17.
In this section we see Peter urges the Christians to be in submission to the political/governing bodies of that time.
This is especially interesting in the light of how the Roman government (the ruling power at that time) had been treating them (Read the Historical Background to First Peter).
Verses 13-14 - Here we see that we are to submit ourselves to every ordinance/institution of man.
The Bible clearly shows us that to be a good Christian means you have to be a good citizen. We have a threefold responsibility to human governments....
(i) We are to recognise and accept that the powers that be are ordained by God (Read Romans 13:1-7 for the clearest Biblical teaching on this concept). Note that the wicked Roman Emperor Nero was in power when Paul wrote Romans 13 and also when Peter wrote this letter.
This truth applies even to atheistic human governments unless, of course, the law is anti-scriptural. In that situation the believer must obey God rather than man (See Acts 4:18-20 ).
See also Titus 3:1.
(ii) We are to pay our taxes to human governments (See Romans 13:7 , Matthew 17:24-27 and Matthew 22:21).
(iii) We are to pray for the leaders in human governments (See 1 Timothy 2:1-3 - we are to pray that we may live a quiet life and that the leaders may rule in godliness and honesty.
Peter exhorts the readers to submit to the 'king as supreme' (in their case this meant the wicked Roman Emperor Nero.
A 'governer' was a ruler under the emporer who ruled over a certain province (delegated authority).
Human governments are given authority by God, but God allows Satan a certain amount of influence. As Christians we are to pray for Satan's influence to decrease but be willing to suffer for proclaiming His truth in anti-Christ societies.
Verses 15-16 - The will of God is for the salvation of mankind. This is only accomplished as we willingly submit even if it means suffering.
Political resistance, fighting back, rebelling against the government are all contrary to the will of God as it alienates both parties. God's will is that we do good in our society to silence 'foolish men' (those ignorantly acting in opposition to God's will).
We are free, but we must not use our 'rights' so as to offend others and stumble them so they do not accept the gospel.
Verses 17 - Honouring all people means respecting levels of authority (even if they act in a way you disagree with but does not cause you to disobey God) and submitting to them. This in turn must be full of sincere love and in the Fear of God (which means that if any course of action the government asks for that dishonours God, Christians can have no part in it).
Following are some case studies that you can go through as a group...
(1) Your country's government has ruled that all Christians must pay 50%
more in taxes than all other citizens. You have been issued your Tax bill
and now have the choice of what to do. Discuss the possible responses.
What would be the Biblical response ?
(2) Your country's government has decreed that to be a citizen you have to
bow down to worship an image of the King. If you do not you will
be considered an outcast and hunted to death.
Discuss the options available to a Christian. What would be the Biblical
course of action ?
(3) Your country's government has ruled that all Christians should wear in
public a pointed hat and an armband with a cross on it. This will invite
jeering from onlookers and may incite them to throw rotten tomatoes at
Discuss the courses of action available to a Christian. What would be
the correct Biblical response ?
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