3 May 2014

1 Peter 2:11-25

“Conduct yourselves honourably amongst the Gentiles, so that, though they maintain you as evil doers, they may see your honourable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge.” (v. 12)


We are provided with some very clear guidelines for the behaviour of these early Christians from how to treat others, to work with the state, and how to live as slaves or masters. One of the issues of the day was that if "Jesus is Lord" then what does that say about the role of the emperor. How could people worship Jesus and yet also follow the rituals of worship surrounding the emperor? Peter is very clear in his instructions. They were to show honour to everyone.

Slavery was a part of life and it would seem that many new believers were slaves. They were called to accept their position, but also to look for justice from their masters. Good behaviour should be rewarded. As slaves they were not exempt from authority but were reminded that they were now responsible to the higher authority of God.

The ultimate purpose was to follow the example of Christ that would glorify God. In verses 22-25 Peter writes about the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, freely trusting himself to God who would justly judge him, presenting this as the way the believers have been set free from sin. This understanding of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross for the sake of others would have made sense to the exiles Peter was writing to, as in Asia, they were surrounded by different religious groups who would also be offering sacrifices to placate their gods. Today it is only one view of the atonement (ie being at one with God) that is part of accepted understanding of Jesus' death on the cross.

To Ponder

  • How would you explain the work of the cross to someone today?
  • Is the exhortation to accept the authority of "every human institution" (v. 13) valid for us today? 
  • Are there people and organisations that seem to deny the purposes of God? To what extent should you accept their authority (or not)? 

Bible notes author

Susan Johnson

Susan has recently moved house from the north east coast in Durham to the west coast in Cumbria. After completing eight years as the Darlington Methodist District mission and development enabler she is taking time out to explore what next, but hopes to get involved with the local foodbanks in the area.