1 Peter 2:18-25
Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the fraudulent.…
Writing to slaves, Peter, like Paul who was himself a Roman citizen and a Christian freeman - exhorts to patient endurance of the ills and wrongs too often inflicted by irresponsible power upon the unprotected and despised. Beside the specially Christian motives to which the apostle here appealed, he knew that there were other and more obvious motives. There was necessity. The power lay with the master, and the bondslave must needs submit. There was expediency. Resistance and rebellion on the part of the slave would only bring upon him punishment and increase of suffering. But Paul relies upon the distinctively Christian motives to produce patience and submission.
I. CHRIST'S OWN EXAMPLE OF PATIENT ENDURANCE OF WRONG. Our Savior, though sinless, suffered the contradiction and the contumely, the agonies and the death, inflicted by unjust and unfeeling men. And he did this without even reviling his enemies. The apostle, in vers. 21-24, paints in impressive colors the figure of the meek and much-enduring Redeemer, and holds up this incomparable figure for the admiration and imitation of the Redeemer's followers and friends.
II. CHRIST'S EXPRESS COMMAND THAT HIS PEOPLE SHOULD REFRAIN FROM RETALIATION. His precepts, preserved in the sermon on the mount, expressly forbade revenge, and inculcated brotherly kindness, and, more than this, the return of good for evil. And when Jesus himself was seized by the agents of those who plotted against his life, he forbade his friends to draw the sword in his defense.
III. THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF ENJOYING A HIGHER, A SPIRITUAL, LIBERTY. The meanest bondman who found Christ found freedom. He may have been treated with contempt and even harshness and cruelty; but he knew within himself that he was the Lord's freedman. He could endure bondage to an earthly master, for Christ had set him free from sin and spiritual slavery and death. Carrying this conviction in his breast, he could joyfully endure insults, injustice, and ill treatment.
IV. THE HOPE AND PROSPECT OF LIBERATION. His view might be gloomy as far as the earthly horizon extended. But he looked forward to "death, which sets the captive free." He was the free citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem, and his prospect in the life to come was bright. A Stoic slave, like Epictetus, was conscious of possessing, in the power of suicide, the means of freeing himself from a yoke which became insupportable. But this power extended only to release; the Christian bondman, forbidden self-destruction, had before him a brighter hope - a hope not only of release, but of liberty and glory.
V. THE DESIRE TO PRODUCE AN IMPRESSION FAVORABLE TO THE CHRISTIAN FAITH. Submission was not only "thankworthy," and "acceptable with God;" it might well prove profitable to fellow-men. When masters met, not with a sullen acquiescence, not with a surly defiance, not with a stolid insensibility, but with uncomplaining, cheerful obedience, a favorable impression was produced upon their minds. They could not but inquire into the cause which produced fruit so unusual and so admirable. And they could not but, in many instances, examine into the religion which introduced into human society an element so new, so impressive, and so beneficial. - J.R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.