May 10, 2021 – Monday
1 Peter 2:16-17 NIV
16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.
17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
Before we get to verse 17, let us look first at verse 16, Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. The word slaves at the end causes a problem for many but consider it may also be translated as bond-servant, servant, or bondslave among a few others. However, the Outline of Biblical Usage gives us the following definition: one who gives himself up to another’s will those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men and/or devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests. This makes a great deal of sense as no one is forced to become a believer. Most of us freely gave up a life of sin where we were servants or slaves to sin, for a life of serving Jesus, a most welcome change in our lives.
In doing so we gained enormous freedom, especially from fear of death knowing we had the hope and confidence of going to heaven. Guizk writes in this verse, We are warned against taking the liberty we have in Jesus as an excuse for sin. Instead we use our liberty in Jesus to show the kind of love and respect that Peter calls for.
With this in mind, we now look at verse 17, Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. Many Bible versions instead of family of believers have the brotherhood. Either way the meaning is clear, we are to love our fellow Christians while showing respect to everyone, fearing God, and honoring the emperor.
Looking at the first phase of verse 17, Show proper respect to everyone or Honor everyone in some versions seems to be an expansion of verse 15, For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. If it does not silence the talk of foolish people we know it is not a result of our doing. The Pulpit Commentary reminds us, The Christians of Asia Minor saw heathenism and vice all around them; they heard of the abominable life of Nero and his courtiers at Rome. They were conscious of a great and elevating change which had passed over themselves. Then goes further reminding us, We must despise no one, as all men are the handiwork of God, created after created after God’s own image, though sadly marred and defaced by sin. Respect is due to all men, of course in varying degrees and to be shown in different ways; but in some sense it is due to all, to the humblest and even to the worst. I can’t speak for any of you, but this really made me squirm as I recalled my thoughts about many folks who I have ignored the fact that they too were made in the image of God and at one time I was no different in God’s eyes.
Then while Jesus directs us to love our enemies, Peter tells us to make sure we love the entire family of believers. Perhaps to be a love of the strongest kind for those who share a faith like our own. Next, we are to fear God, honor the emperor or king or president in our modern day. This is positive as the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Knowing Jesus is the King of kings leads us to be able to honor those in earthly rule. This was especially true and necessary (to urge the fear of God) when the king to be honored was the infamous Nero. The Benson Commentary adds, Perhaps no finer and stronger instances of the laconic style are to be found anywhere than in this passage. It is remarkable that the apostle requires Christians to honour the Roman emperor, though a great persecutor, and of a most abandoned character. Note we are to fear God – hold Him in incredible awe – while only honoring the emperor. We are not made in the image of the emperor, but of God!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, As difficult as it may be for my fallen nature, help me to show respect to everyone and love all of my fellow Christians while I hold you in great awe. Help me also to honor those in high leadership roles as well no matter how much I disagree with them. – In Jesus’ Name. Amen.