Subjection to authority

by Mike Ratliff

5 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; 6 not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. 7 With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. Ephesians 6:5-8 (NASB)

God’s ways are not Man’s ways. His ways are far above our ways. In fact, to those with a fleshly focus, His ways are entirely inscrutable. It is saddening to hear so many in the pulpits of churches preach messages that lead their followers to pursue a self-focused or selfish lifestyle. It is as if they completely ignore all of the teachings in Sacred Scripture that command Christians to be humble and obedient.

13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. 17 Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. 1 Peter 2:13-17 (NASB) 

In this passage the two words “Submit yourselves” is one Greek word, “ὑποτάσσω” or “hupotassō.” It means to place in an orderly fashion under something. This is a command and is in aorist tense, imperative mood, and passive voice. Aorist imperative denotes a command, request, or entreaty calling for action to be begun at that very moment. The passive voice tells us that this is a command to do some action that will directly affect oneself, hence the word “Be” preceding the command. What Peter is commanding here conveys the word picture of us actually conforming ourselves in both attitude and deed.

Why are we to submit ourselves? It is for the Lord’s sake. Peter is commanding us to be subject to every human institution so that God will be honored and glorified. Rebellious conduct by Christians brings dishonor on Christ. How are you doing in obeying the speed limit and driving laws where you live and work? This command says that we are to be subject to every human institution. Peter then tells us that every human institution or ordinance includes all possible governmental authority of wherever God has placed us.

In the few years this blog has been online it has become more than apparent to me that there are many foolish people who dearly love to criticize our faith and try to make their outlandish comments in the hope of provoking an argument. It took me awhile, but over time I have learned to not entertain such foolishness. Instead I have determined to follow Peter’s command here to do good and thereby silence the ignorance of foolish people. If we obey the authorities God had set over us then those who desire to criticize our faith must do so from an untenable position. In v16 the word “servants” is the Greek word “δοῦλος” or “doulos.” This word means “one in permanant servitude.” In other words, a doulos is a slave. We bring dishonor on God when we attempt to live this life outside of the context of being God’s doulos. We bring glory to Him when we live as bondslaves of God honoring all people, loving the brotherhood, fearing God, and honoring the king” We may not have an “king” over us, but this still applies in our honoring of whatever leaders God has placed us under.

18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. 19 For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.
21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. 1 Peter 2:18-25 (NASB) 

Our Christianity does not give us the right to rebel against our superiors in the social structure no matter how unfair or harsh the conditions are. We must continue to do good. God does not promise that we will not suffer if we do what is right. Christ’s life is our example. He suffered for us and has left us to follow in His steps. Even though our Lord was treated harshly, He never retaliated in any way. Instead, He entrusted Himself to the Father who judges justly. The Cross was where He bore our sins. Those who are New Creations in Him are to die to sin and live unto righteousness. Our Lord’s suffering and death has healed our slavery to sin and cancelled the indictment of eternal death against us.  Therefore, let us obey our Lord in submitting to all authority over us for His glory alone.

Yes, I know that this message may not be very popular in today’s political climate…

Soli Deo Gloria!

2 thoughts on “Subjection to authority

  1. This is going to get harder and harder to obey considering those in authority seem to be getting further away from righteousness and are making “laws” in defiance of God’s clearly stated commands. The chosen ones will need more and more of His grace.
    Thankfully, He supplies an abundant amount!


  2. Yes, this came up in our Small Group last night as well. I asked the question, “Is Hillary and her bunch that stupid that they would risk civil war over gun control?” All the men said yes. Some even said that if it comes to that they are moving to Texas. Well, we have to be obedient to our Lord don’t we? I think things will become quite difficult and way beyond what we can imagine now. Come soon Lord Jesus…


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