Peter’s First Letter to Persecuted Believers (Part 2)
December 13 - Nº 347 1 Peter 2:13–21; 3:1-14; 4:1 – 5:14
The believers in the northern Roman provinces of Asia Minor were facing extreme persecution (see #346 - December 12). Peter wrote a letter encouraging them to follow Jesus’ example. No one else had ever suffered so much so unjustly. Yet he endured it without sinning. And he was willing to go through it for their sakes! In this letter of encouragement, Peter also included some rules. He explained that a believer’s life needed to be marked by submission—a willingness to surrender to someone else’s leadership—even during adversity. He gave several examples: · Believers must submit to human authorities. Although God was their ultimate authority, believers still needed to respect the laws of society. Peter gave two reasons: 1. Because God allows those in authority to be there for a reason, and 2. If they refused to obey, unbelievers could accuse them of being belligerent and lawless citizens. [Note: Peter chose to disobey authority only when a civil law forced him to contradict God’s law—see Acts 4:18-19; 5:29.] · Slaves must submit to their masters in the same way and for the same reasons that believers must submit to legal authorities. Peter reminded them of all the injustices that Jesus had endured for them. · Wives must submit to their husbands, and husbands must submit to their wives. · Younger church members must submit to their elders. Peter explained that the goal of submission was to provide an opportunity to share the Gospel! And the key to submission was humility. He said that if they were willing to humbly submit, God would honor them at the proper time, and He would give them peace in the process. In addition to their willingness to submit, believers were to be known for their compassion and love for each other. They were not to retaliate when other Christians mistreated them. Instead, they were to respond with blessings. And they were to be hospitable—serving and taking care of each other’s needs. Peter knew that more hard times were ahead, so he warned his readers to get ready. They needed to be certain their suffering was always for the sake of the Gospel—never due to their own sinfulness. He encouraged the church leaders to be kind shepherds who gently led the flock of people God had placed under their care. They were to guide them through their trials as loving leaders—not as pompous lords. They were to do it willingly without expecting compensation. Then on the day when the Chief Shepherd appeared, they would receive a crown of glory that would never fade away. Finally, Peter warned the believers that Satan is like a hungry lion looking for prey. His goal is to devour weak believers. As they were suffering, Satan would try to tempt them to sin. They needed to be alert and in control, ready to resist him by standing firm in their faith. They could find strength knowing that other believers were going through the same trials and that one day God would rescue and restore His children!
Are you obeying God by submitting to authority? Is there a particular area of your life where you need to swallow your pride and willingly submit? Submission does not imply weakness. It usually requires greater strength!