Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. (1 Peter 2:13-14)
Peter’s Essay On Submission
The act of submission is the acceptance to lower oneself or to yield to others. It becomes a form of servitude that is akin to being a servant or a slave. In the act of submission, a person willingly allows others to take control of their lives. There is a forced submission, but this is a cruel means to subject people to a totalitarian view. The Bible never teaches submission without the will and always presents it as a choice to make or refuse. As powerful as God is, He never forces His divine will on anyone, including His own Son. Submission to the Lord has always been a choice, realizing that failing to submit to God will bring consequences. The spirit of a man constantly fights the requirement of submission, choosing to follow his own will rather than submit to the word of God. Slavery is viewed as a distasteful and cruel act, yet the Lord demands all men become slaves to His will to be saved. Paul often called himself a bondservant of Christ or a slave of Christ. Peter writes that he is a bondservant of Jesus Christ. They recognized the need to submit themselves to Christ. Others like James and Jude refer to themselves as bondservants.
In Peter’s first epistle to the pilgrims of the Dispersion, he frequently commands the saints to be in submission. Peter addresses six areas of submission in his letter. He begins by showing the need for submission to the government for the Lord’s sake. The government Peter is speaking of is Nero, a man who ruled with unrestricted tyranny, extravagance, religious persecution, and debauchery. Peter had famously said to the Sanhedrin that obedience to God took precedence over obedience to men. However, if the will of government does not conflict with the will of God, the Christian must submit every ordinance. That was the will of God. The people were to be honored, and honor was to be given to the king. Failing to submit to government is sinful because it rebels against the will of God.
Servants were quite common in the days of the early church. The New Testament church never forbade slavery but commanded servants to be submissive to their masters (as faithful Christians), whether to a good master or a harsh one. Peter gives the example of Jesus as proof the servant could not revile against his master, threaten his master, or mistreat his master. The same rule of submission found towards government was found in the relationship of the slave to master. This is the will of God, and refusing to submit to the master was sinful and against the word of God.
Likewise, wives are to be in submission to their husbands. Submission to government and masters is a challenging course to follow, and many women find it hard to accept the headship of a man. The social norms of a freedom-loving world allowing women to take roles of leadership in the home have dulled the senses of the divine pattern given in the word of God. This is not a choice a woman can choose whether to submit to her husband or not. Refusing to submit to the husband is as sinful as refusing to submit to the government or slaves to masters. The wife of Abraham submitted herself to her husband as a godly woman of faith. Examples of women who have led their unbelieving husbands to Christ show the power of a submissive heart in the life of a courageous and faithful woman.
Peter encourages young people to submit to their elders. The so-called generation gap is an excuse to allow the spirit of youth to disrespect the older and the older to dishonor the spirit of the young person. God created young people and old people to learn from each other. Respect is a word seldom taught to young people when it comes to their elders. Submission, along with government, slave master relationship, and the home, is a vital part of the character of young people who respect the hoary head of wisdom and experience. Under the Law of Moses, rebellious and disrespectful children were stoned to death. While the law has changed, the mind of God has not. Young people who refuse to submit to their elders will find the wrath of God waiting for them. This is the will of God.
Finally, Peter admonishes that submission is something shared among brethren. He emphasizes submission by writing that everyone must submit to one another and be clothed with humility. The main ingredient to submission is humility. Refusing to submit is the sin of pride. God resists the proud, but the Lord will grant blessings upon the humble. Learning to submit to one another will teach the heart how to submit to government, roles of industry (slave-master), the home, and the aged. All of these roles show the unbelieving world the glory of God and the faithful character of His children. Refusing to submit in this life will not alter the submission of all men to the judgment of God. Learn to submit now before eternity begins.