Ek is besig om deur die boek 1 Petrus te preek in my gemeente, ek het afgelope Sondag gepreek uit 1 Pe. 2:13-17, die gelowiges/kerk se verhouding tot ‘menslike verordeninge”. Ek hoop om later die week of volgende week die preek hier ook te plaas, DV.  Hier is Jay E. Adams se kort en kragtige verklaring van die teksgedeelte, wat die sake goed saamvat: ons moet beide anabaptistiese rewolusionisme (NGB art. 36) en messiaanse staatisme verwerp, terwyl daar altyd plek is vir regmatige bybelse verset op elke lewensterrein, omdat alle mag/gesag van mense en instellings (verordeninge) beperk is, net God en sy Woord, sy gesag is absoluut (opskrifte en beklemtonings is bygevoeg):

Be submissive to every human authority for the Lord’s sake, whether to the emperor, who is supreme, or to governors who are sent by him to take vengeance on evildoers and to praise those who do right. This is God’s will: that by doing good you may muzzle the ignorant talk of foolish persons. As free persons, and not as those who use freedom as a cover-up for evil, live rather as God’s slaves. Honor all men, love the brotherhood, fear God and honor the emperor (1 Peter 2:13–17).

Introduction: how should we then live under hostile governments?

Peter has set forth the general proposition that Christians must live before unbelievers in an exemplary way to dispel slander, to honor God’s Name and to win unsaved persons to Christ (see comments on vss. 11, 12). Now he begins to specify. Since governmental agencies were (or would be) one prime source of persecution, Peter immediately turns to a discussion of Christian behavior toward the government. How do resident aliens (literally and figuratively) live under a government that is often hostile? The answer given is broad enough to apply to the relationship of Christians to rulers in general.

Submission to all authorities

Submission forms the motif of the reply. In verses 13, 14 Peter enjoins submission to all authorities, including the emperor, who is the highest authority, and all those lesser ones who are under him. All governmental authority, at every level, must be respected as coming from God. The uniform Christian stance (cf. Rom. 13) was to recognize any valid government, paying taxes and obeying its laws. Revolution was never enjoined even in times of persecution or other gross perversions of power. (But I shall say more on this later.) It is not Christian to advocate the overthrow of a government in order to set it straight. Christians are opposed to anarchy because they recognize God as a God of law and order.

This stance is rooted in the truth that all valid governmental authority comes from God (Rom. 13:1). Governmental authority did not originate in a social compact, it does not derive from the consent of the governed or from the power of some to make their will dominant over others. Government is God-given. Christians, therefore, recognize government as a necessary factor in human society and show respect (vs. 17) for rulers.

Christ’s attitude towards rulers and authority

Submission, then, is not conditioned upon the holiness or justice of the ruler. Rather, it is a matter of recognizing rightful authority as God’s own authority. Christians may (as Christ did) call a ruler a “fox” (Luke 13:32), but may not resist his rightfully instituted authority. These words were an accurate description of Herod as a man; they had nothing to do with lack of submission. Christ also said, “Pay to Caesar what is his” (Luke 20:25; Rom. 13:5–7). So the Bible distinguishes the ruler as a person from the man as a ruler. It is in the latter capacity that he is to be respected and obeyed (the two elements of submission).

The Lord is Christ

Respect and obedience are called for because a ruler has authority conferred upon him by God. To respect this authority is to respect God Himself; to disobey, likewise, is to disregard God. That is what Peter means when he appends as a ground, for the Lord’s sake (lit., “because of the Lord”). The Lord is Christ. Submission does not recognize an official as anything in and of himself; it is proper to submit because officially he represents God as a proponent of law and order in the world. Rule is God’s prerogative; there is no power or authority elsewhere. Apart from Him, all assumed power is but a sham and a farce (Rom. 13:1, 2; John 19:10, 11). So, Christians submit to rulers because in exercising God’s authority rulers serve Him (Rom. 13:4, 6).

Typically, rulers have not recognized the source of their authority. God has often brought them to their knees in order to make them do so (that is one dominant theme in the book of Daniel). Yet, in spite of this, Christian citizens (resident aliens) must respect the legitimate authority that they possess, as Daniel did. This is true even in the face of persecution.

No absolute submission

But submission to rulers isn’t absolute because the authority God gave them isn’t unlimited. It is circumscribed by Scripture. The apostles submitted to legitimate authority exercised by rulers, but when rulers went beyond that authority, they no longer spoke with authority; instead they spoke with human authority. This was recognized by the apostles, who disobeyed and justified their disobedience in these words: “We must obey God rather than men” (cf. Acts 5:28, 29; 4:19, 20).

Sphere sovereignty

God’s authority invested in each sphere (the state, the home, the church, business) never conflicts with His authority in another. The authority of each is defined and delimited in the Bible. Civil disobedience may occur only when rulers, acting on purely human authority, require Christians to sin.

What is the task and limit of civil government?

Of what does governmental authority consist and what are its bounds? Largely this authority is comprehended in the statement that lesser rulers are sent by him (the ruler) or by Him (God) to take vengeance on wrongdoers and to praise those who do right (vs. 14). To maintain law and order by the exercise of force, and to levy taxes to support such activities, are the legitimate functions of governments (cf. Rom. 13).

Rejection of messianic statism

Typically governments exceed their God-given authority to reach into areas of social service, education, health, etc. (that ought to be exercised by the home or the church). This tendency has been a cause of much harmful legislation and difficulty for Christians. Rulers are required to punish and to praise, but the Bible says nothing of an obligation to provide.

Governmental authority also is limited to regulating behavior; i. e., outward actions. Peter speaks of rulers responding to those who do evil or good. Rulers have no right to bind the conscience. Both lesser and supreme rulers (duly constituted as such) must be respected and obeyed.

Rejection of revolutionary label

In verse 15, a second reason for submission is appended: God wants (this is God’s will) to muzzle the ignorant talk of foolish persons. Christians were accused of being radicals, troublemakers and revolutionaries. Because they refused to submit to Caesar as a divine being, they were thought to be subversive. But this was due to ignorance of God and Christian belief.

Foolish persons (a fool is one who speaks beyond his knowledge and/or against the facts) misunderstood and spread falsehood everywhere. Submission to rulers would counter such foolish talk. Note in the Greek the alliteration (using four words beginning with alpha) used in this sentence; Peter had voiced the idea before and had a well-framed response to the problem. The slander is slander because it comes from wilful ignorance, originating in a rejection of Christ.

What is the central reason for Christians obeying other human beings and authorities?

Verse 16 presents an interesting insight into the Christian’s status. The Christian is not a subject of any earthly kingdom, and in reality he is exempt from (free from) its laws and regulations. He is a citizen of the empire from the heavens. He is free from all human authority and all human institutions. Peter’s words echo Christ’s in Matthew 17:24–27, where free = exempt (cf. vs. 26). Christians don’t really take orders from human beings; they submit to Christ. Why then obey rulers?

Peter brings up this question of freedom only to anticipate a specious argument that might be made in order to cut it down before it sprouts leaves. Some might say, “If free, we don’t have to submit to government.” Peter replies, “Wrong! Christians have not been set free from all authority; the freedom that they have actually makes them God’s slaves (cf. Rom. 6:22). Freedom doesn’t mean anarchy. It is freedom to do good. As God’s slaves, they must obey Him. And we see that He Himself has commanded submission to rulers. Therefore, we submit to rulers because we want to submit to God.

True christian freedom in Christ rejects lawlessness

Thus, Christian freedom never may be used as a cloak to cover up evil (disobedience to God). On this tendency, cf. Jude 4. It is interesting that such persons (as Jude observes) are those who follow their own desires rather than God’s commandments (cf. Jude 16, 18; contrast 1 Peter 2:11, etc.). What our freedom means is that we serve God, not men. Christian counselors (and others) should be alert to the possibility of such a cover up among those who very strongly advocate freedom.

We fear God alone but respect authority and our neighbour

Finally, Peter puts it all into perspective—Christians must honor all men (i.e., show proper regard wherever it is due), but especially must show love to the brotherhood (cf. Gal. 6:10). Also, they must fear (show awe and respect for) God, and if they do so, they will honor the emperor.

Let’s now gather these verses together:

Introduction: Are you upset with the government? Disapprove of state or national policies? As a Christian, what should be your stance toward politicians and their policies?

  2. Because God commands it.
  3. Submission means obedience and respect
  4. To rulers clothed with God’s authority,
  5. Including both supreme and lesser authorities.
  7. God gave rulers authority
  8. To punish wrongdoers,
  9. To praise those who do right,
  10. And to levy taxes
  11. In order to promote law and order.


  1. Made by rulers who exceed the limits of their authority
  2. And, on occasion, require Christians to sin.
  3. In those cases, Christians must obey God rather than men.
  5. As freed persons who don’t use freedom as a cover for sin
  6. But honor God, by serving Him
  7. In order to muzzle ignorant slanderers
  8. And to show respect to all rightful authority (vs. 17).

Conclusion: What practices in your political life need to be changed?


[Bron: Trust and Obey: a practical commentary on First Peter (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House), 1979, p. 81-86]

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