A Difficult Message
_ Well we come to 1 Peter 2 in our studies at the Kielder Bible Study Group, and this has parts in it that are very difficult passages, to get ones head round. In fact one of the commentaries I read said that this is one of the hardest passages in the Bible. Not that it is hard to understand but hard to carry out, as there is an apparent conflict between what Peter says here and what is said elsewhere in the New Testament. For example
Peter says there
13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right ...and in verse
17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
I am aware that there is around 100 pages in the two concordances I am using on these few verses - one calls them the most difficult verses in the bible. There is the conflict between these verses and the apparent moral justification that we should "stand up for what is right" and obey Gods higher Authority. Especially if one then considers the next couple of verses taking the words slaves and masters to mean anyone under authority of a master be it the civil authorities or an employer..
18 Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God.
I have turned to a friend for his take on this and he says
“The question of Civil Authority in the NT is always a difficult one! The passages you quote are absolutely correct. I always turn to John Zeisler’s commentary on Romans,(SCM 1990), where he points out:-
1. Paul was opposed to anarchy, yes.
2. The Roman state at this stage was permitting Christians the freedom to preach.
3. Paul was trying to distance Christianity from the Jewish terrorists in Palestine. The Jewish Revolt was not far into the future, and seeds of unrest were sown already.
4. When the Emperor was persecuting Christians, as was the background in Revelation, the attitude of Christian writers has changed.
5. Paul expected Jesus to return any time soon, so resisting the state was not necessary; it would soon disappear anyway.
Peter Brooks points out neither Jesus, Paul or Peter advocated submissiveness. All three of them suffered (Crucifixion/imprisonment) because they would not obey the order to keep silent (Luke 19:40; Acts 4:18ff – CRUCIAL VERSES??)
Acts 4 -v18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
I think the key thing to remember is Matthew 22:35-38 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
And then everything else is in relation to this.
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Dyslexic doodles on photography, food (growing, cooking & of course eating), faith and other fascinating things. This is a personal blog expressing my views.