Church and State (1 Peter 2:13-17)

Church and State (1 Peter 2:13-17)


  • This is an important message when many are mocking, delegitimizing, and sabotaging the president. We need to consider what the bible says about civil authorities.
  • However, would you receive this message with the same enthusiasm were it preached last year? Peter is addressing all levels of civil authorities.
  • Live differently, yet exemplary lives by abstaining from lustful passions and maintaining honorable conduct.
  • Keep in mind the theme from v.3, Christians are to crave/“long for pure spiritual milk.”
  • As you crave growth in Christ, each relationship is transformed: Christians, Non-Christians, Civil Authorities, Employers, and Spouses.

Read 1 Peter 2:13-17

  • We naturally bristle against authority. We want autonomy and freedom. We think we can govern ourselves.
  • God’s will for you includes obeying and honoring the civil authorities he has established over you.
    1. Submit To Authorities (13-14)
    2. Do Good For Authorities (15)
    3. Honor All Authorities (16-17)

Submit To Authorities (13-14)

  • This is an implication of maintaining honorable conduct among unbelievers (v.12).
  • Remember, Peter was writing from Rome during the reign of Claudius or Nero.
    • Claudius executed 35 senators and 400 others. He expelled Jews from Rome.
    • Nero, had his mother murdered. Was considered anti-Christ by Christians, so he blamed them for a fire that killed hundreds. Raised taxes to rebuild.
  • Even a corrupt government is more beneficial than anarchy.
  • Having respect for authorities, however, does not mean we cannot disagree with them.
  • Even more, we might – in good conscience – object to their authority and refuse to obey their command when it contradicts the call of God upon our lives.
  • Peter himself had exemplified this very thing (Acts 4:18-20; 5:27-29, 40).
  • We may disagree with, object to, and at times disobey civil authorities. But our general disposition should be respectful.
  • God’s authority is not diminished by civil authorities. Submission to state doesn’t contradict submission to God.
  • Dishonoring civil authorities indicates a disregard for all authorities – including the Supreme Authority (Romans 13:1-2)!
  • Sproul If I show no respect to a person whom God has set in authority between Himself and me, my disrespect carries beyond that person and ultimately lands on God as the giver of the authority.

Beyond mere submission, we are also called to…

Do Good For Authorities (15)

  • “Doing good” means more than simply abiding by the law, otherwise it would not “silence” those who slander Christianity (incest, cannibalistic).
  • Does it open the door for being subversive when the government becomes oppressive?
  • “Doing good” = something the governor finds praiseworthy (v.14).
  • Should churches promotes social justice? The church as an institution is not in view, but Christians are called to serve their community in a way that outsiders would appreciate.
  • Original readers were Jewish Christians exiled to Asia Minor. Peter is exhorting them to benefit the city, adopting Jeremiah’s advice to exiles in Jeremiah 29:4-7.
  • He seems to be describing activity that society would see as good (i.e., helping the poor, feeding the hungry, loving the outsider, binding the wounded, serving the helpless, etc.).
  • Live exemplary lives before a watching world so that the slanderers will be silenced – even won over (2:12).
  • “Doing good” involves going above and beyond what is expected. Not mere morality or piety.
  • How could a governor praise private piety?
    • Nathan Magsig doesn’t recognize faithful church attendance.
    • Nancy Pelosi won’t reward outstanding family worship.
    • Donald Trump won’t sign a certificate of completion when you finish your Bible Reading plan.
  • Of course, these are indeed “good” practices but, not what Peter has in mind.

In addition to submitting and doing good, Christians are called to…

Honor All Authorities (16-17)

  • Christian liberty is to become a slave of God. The Christian’s liberty is meant to free him to be obedient to God.
  • Obedience exemplified through our respect of civil authorities.
  • Honor everyone, honor the emperor >> Love the family of God >>> Fear God.
  • Grudem Christians have obligations to the state, but their obligations to God and to the brotherhood of believers are higher.

  • Give to each type of relationship according to their due.
  • Ultimate authority rests in Jesus (Matt. 28:18). All earthly authorities are ultimately accountable to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. They cannot usurp his authority.
  • Joseph obeyed Caesar Augustus’ demand for a census even though it risked the health of his pregnant wife and unborn child (Luke 2:1-7), but his family fled the murderous rampage of Herod who sought to kill all males under 2 near Bethlehem (Matt. 2:13-15).
  • We are to honor authorities “for the Lord’s sake” (13), it “is the will of God” (15).
  • But won’t “they” attack our views on hot button issues (i.e., abortion or homosexuality) in order to minimize any good we might attempt to do?
    • That’s possible. We might be criticized or mocked trying to be a positive influence. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. We aren’t above our Master? If Jesus was mistreated, we will be also.

Submit > Do Good > Honor


  • Are you seeking the welfare of the city God has brought you to? Are you praying for and doing what you can to meet the needs of people in Clovis?
  • Is your disposition towards ungodly authorities one of disrespect?
    • We must remember who cast the deciding vote when a candidate we didn’t pick wins.
    • Honor is still owed to the office.
  • However, Peter is not encouraging blind obedience. In fact, “doing good” may lead to suffering (3:17) when a corrupt government redefines morality.
  • Generally, God’s will for you includes obeying and honoring the civil authorities he has established over you.