Christian Approach to Authority | 1 Peter 1:13-17

Christian Approach To Authority! by Rev. Shine P. Thomas

A Christian believer ought to fear God as well as honor our respective governments.

How do we do that?

What is a believer’s stand when it comes to obeying God and obeying human authority? How does a believer balance between God as the supreme authority and other human authorities that we have here on earth?

1 Peter 2:13-17

13Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

This passage talks about how Christians who are citizens of the Kingdom of God relate as citizens to the earthly nations and all other human authority.

We are told in 1 Peter multiple times that we Christians are sojourners and exiles here on this earth. In Philippians Paul says that our citizenship is in heaven. So the idea is we are foreigners and exiles here but that does not mean ignore and be in conflict with the worldly institutions.

Christians are not anarchists but loyalists in the Lord

So what is a Christian supposed to do? We are supposed to be subject to every human authority.

Submission to different authorities :

Now see submission to different authorities mentioned by Peter:

1 Peter 2:18

Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters.

1 Peter 3:1

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands.

1 Peter 3:7

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives.

1 Peter 3:8

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble

1 Peter 2:13

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority…

So Peter is talking as to how to deal as godly citizens in regard to government, business, family, and some general instructions about how we are to relate everywhere. This could be in education rules, civil rules, military rules or any place we work and so on.

This is about how we Christians as citizens of God who are free from subjection are freely ask to submit to human authority.

What Is The Role Of The Government?

1 Peter 2:13-14

13Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.

A. Governments Are Placed To Punish Those Who Do Evil.

B. Governments Are Placed To Praise Those Who Do Good.

Moral behavior is the criteria for praise. Not economic status or political favoritism.

Why Do We Have To Obey Every Human Authority?

When we obey human authority we honor God.

For the Lord’s sake we are to subject to every human authority. When we obey the human authority that God has placed upon us, we honor God. Therefore, God is exalted above the government.

1 Peter 2:16

Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.

Christians are free people. We have freedom from the power of sin. Romans 6:6-7. We have freedom from the guilt of sin. But a Christian does not have the freedom to do wrong. Therefore as God’s free servants, we must never use the freedom for wrongdoing. Freedom must result in great joy in doing right.

For the Lord’s sake we are free people in the Lord, that leads us to subjection to the ruling authorities.

Fear only God. Not men nor government.

What Does The Submission To Authorities In Christ Look Like?

1 Peter 2:17

Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

A. This Submission Is Not Because Of Fear But Out Of Honor

We do not obey the human authority out of fear. We fear God but honor the authority. I do not want to dishonor God by disobeying the rulers.

B. We Honor All People Appropriate To Their Role

1 Peter 2:17

Show proper respect to everyone…

We are to honor everyone according to their role God has given them here on earth. If someone is over us we honor them. If someone does mistake we honor God by exercising justice and punishment. There is a kind of honor appropriate to all.

C. Give Special Affection For Believers

Love the family of believers. This indicates a higher obligation for fellow Christians. We are not only to respect one another but to have strong, deep love to them. We need each other very badly.

D. Be Overflowing In Good Deeds

The whole book talks about it. We are to overflow in good deeds.

1 Peter 2:20

But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.

1 Peter 3:6

….like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

1 Peter 3:13

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?

1 Peter 4:19

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

1 Peter 2:17

For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.

So we are looking for ways by doing good to the world around us.

d. We Silence The Ignorance Of The Foolish People By Obeying The Human Authority

The Roman Empire at the time Peter wrote was Nero AD 54-68, under whose reign Peter himself would be later put to death. God expects Christians to be subject even to human authorities who are neither believers and not morally upright.

We are to pray for the government that they act according to God’s will.

1 Timothy 2:1-4

1urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Contrary to the claims of Roman emperors to be divine, the emperor was by no means equal to God or worthy of the fear due to God alone. Christians have obligations to the state, but their obligations to God and to the brotherhood of believers are higher.

What then should be our response as Christians?

We are supposed to do good to the country and to the citizens. Our participation in the country we are in becomes appropriate in the sight of God. We are servants of God. Only as a servant of the supreme God, we are now obeying the rulers in this world.

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