13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, Thanks, Peter! Now we have to discuss when it’s right to disobey the government. But we’ll actually address this at the end with verse 17.
whether it be to the emperor as supreme, I feel that the modern example of this would be Presidents and national elected officials.
14 or to governors Governors and state officials would fall into this category. I think it’s fair to add mayors in here are well.
as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. Now, this is rather thorny. The government is meant to punish evil and praise those who do good. But, what if they don’t? What are we to do? We do what God has prescribed. Though it’s easy to say that there are “gray areas” or “unclear matters” in the Bible a good rule of thumb is let clear passages govern unclear. We can see this in the idea that speed laws are not spoken of in the Bible. So how do we address them? Well our governing body has prescribed a speed limit. Add to it that by driving over that I’d add more harm to other drivers and it’s easy to see that following speed laws allows me to honor the government as well as love my neighbor all without disobeying the Lord.
What about when the government goes directly against God’s law? We refuse to participate in it, because it violates God’s directive. In this case we also share God’s word so that His word, which is able to make one wise until salvation will have room to do it’s work. We can’t MAKE someone be obedient to God, that’s the Holy Spirit’s job. Another good question to ask in these cases is “why would God do something that degrades or goes against His word and design?” Seems simple, but it’s a great question to drive you to His word and allow it to govern your responses.
My last addition to this for now is that none of this absolves us from the consequences of following God’s law in a fallen world. Not everything will be sunshine and rainbows, but our Lord never promised that it would. We are just commanded to obey and Peter reminds his audience as well as you and I to follow suit.
15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Our submission to God actually silences and puts to shame the “nay-sayers”. Later Peter will explain more how our Christian homes/relationships will conflict with the world around us, but Honor God richly.
16 Live as people who are free,What a refreshing view. I’m free in Christ and I will live as such. Though Peter doesn’t say it explicitly we can gather that he means 1) free from the power of sin in our lives and 2) free from any human institution that contradicts God’s law. We are still subject to the consequences, but that has already been stated.
not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. This piques my interest. People outside the faith may still call our Christian liberty evil. What should I do? We keep living as a servants of God. Our allegiance doesn’t hinge on cultural acceptance or approval. It is founded on the gospel and that never changes.
17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. Honor everyone, Christian or not. Love all fellow Christians. Fear God. Honor the emperor. There’s a lot to unpack in these 10 words. Considering the uneasy world we live in these words really do ring true. We honor EVERYONE. God is the only One to be feared. As members of the same family, we should show love and concern for everyone in the household of faith. With this in mind let’s look at verse 13. We are to be subject to all governing authorities, but not at the expense of any of God’s commands. That’s why we fear God alone. We’ll see this all played out further in other Christian relationships.