Freedom and submission
Submit as free people, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but as God’s slaves. Honor everyone. Love the brothers and sisters. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 1 Peter 2:16-17 CSB
Peter continues on with his point from the previous section (v. 13-15) that believers are called to submit under the authority of leaders. Here, he says for believers to “submit as free people.” We were all created with free will with the ability to do right or wrong, which was visible since the beginning of our existence in the Garden of Eden, with Adam and Eve having the ability to choose to obey God’s command or reject it in regards to the tree of knowledge of good and evil (see Genesis 2: 15-17). When we became followers of Christ and confessed Him as Lord and Savior, we were given freedom to overcome the sin that previously wrought within us; freedom from the penalty of our sin, death; and freedom from having to earn God’s favor through perfect living (which is impossible, hence Christ). In the same vein, Peter is challenging believers to submit to those that have authority over them willingly out of obedience to God as His “slaves,” or servants. There is a paradoxical relationship here: on one hand, we have freedom to choose, yet, on the other hand, now that we are believers, we become servants of God, serving Him wholeheartedly. David Walls commented on this passage: “Christian freedom does not mean being free to do only as we like; it means being free to do as we ought.” During the time this was written, slavery was pervasive. Under the Roman Empire, it is estimated that there were sixty million people under slavery. So, when Peter writes in verse 17, “honor everyone,” he wants to emphasize that everyone was created in the image of God, and therefore, has value or honor, treating everyone with dignity and respect in light of the Creator. Peter calls us to “love the brothers and sisters.” Coming from the Southern Baptist Convention this week, there were moments of tension, with some heated disagreements. Yet, in the end, we are called to love one another as the church, for Christ loved us (John 13:34). Then, Peter tells us to “fear God,” a reverent respect and awe of God, who created all things and controls all things. Out of that reverential attitude, obedience is done in honor of our Master (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Finally, Peter brings it all together that as we have previously submitted to authority (v. 13-15), we should do it with an attitude of “honor.” So, today, out of our reverential fear of God, may we use the freedom that we have been so richly given to love one another, submit to authority, and honor everyone around us, that we may have opportunities to share the gospel through our testimony of living.
Isaac De Guzman