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Submission to authorities

Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the emperor as the supreme authority or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good. For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. 1 Peter 2:14-15 CSB

Peter continues to urge believers to live a good life so that others, especially non-believers, would see that testimony and believe in Christ. Here, Peter tells the believers to "submit to every human authority because of the Lord." The word "submit" here means "to be placed under another, like a rank." Essentially, we are called to obedience to those that have authority over us (from parents to government and everything in between) because the Lord has placed these leaders and rulers over us and is ultimately in control. These leaders were placed by God to "punish those who do what is evil and praise those who do what is good." Now, that brings up a couple of issues. Not every good goes praised and evil punished by leaders, yet here, Peter recognizes that still, God is the one who is in control, and therefore, should be obeyed. This means, we have to recognize the authority placed over us. We see Paul make this same assertion in Romans 13:1-2: ‘Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God. So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves.” Again, what is the purpose behind this obedience? To continue to have a good testimony among the "foolish people" and "silence" their arguments against you "by doing good" (1 Peter 2:15). Now, what if the rules established by the authority goes into direct violation of the Word of God? Remember that we are ultimately under God's authority. We must obey Him and His Word. Peter, the author of this passage, went against the high priest and the Sanhedrin in Acts 5. They wanted them to stop preaching about Jesus Christ and the gospel. In verse 29, “‘Peter and the apostles replied, ‘We must obey God rather than people.’” We can also see something similar in Daniel 3. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not worship King Nebuchadnezzar's golden statue for that goes in direct opposition of God's command to worship Him and Him alone. They stood up for their faith and responded to the king in Daniel 3:17-18: “If the God we serve exists, then he can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if he does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” Overall, we obey those that have authority over us and recognize that our obedience is “because of the Lord” (1 Peter 2:14) and it is “God’s will” (v. 15). He is the One who placed them over us and must trust God’s sovereignty over all things. Therefore, we too must pray over our leaders that they will seek out God’s wisdom and the will of the Lord in their lives and decisions. In 1 Timothy 2:1-2, “First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”


Isaac De Guzman


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