by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 3 Study # 2 October 25, 2009 Lincolnton, N.C.
13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;
14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.
17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
1901 ASV Translation:
13 Be subject to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether to the king, as supreme;
14 or unto governors, as sent by him for vengeance on evil-doers and for praise to them that do well.
15 For so is the will of God, that by well-doing ye should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
16 as free, and not using your freedom for a cloak of wickedness, but as bondservants of God.
17 Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
I. Peter's Application of His Instruction to "Have Your Conversation Honest Among the Gentiles".
1. The term translated "submit" is used throughout the New Testament to refer to being dominated by the will of someone besides oneself. It is obvious, however, that the command, "Be subject...", means that such domination is really secondary; one does not need to "command" another to "be subject" unless such "subjection" is voluntary. In other words, "rebellion" is an optional alternative, so "subjection" is a matter of choice. Sometimes this term is used when there is no "voluntarism" (such as Romans 8:20). In these cases, subjection is enforced without regard for the choices of those being subjected. That Peter used this term in his command means that he understood that "demonstrating legitimate behavior" actually does come down to one's "choices" because anything else is hypocritical and, thus, less than legitimate.
2. Peter teaches this concept in four other places in this letter. His regular instruction regarding this issue of "whose will gets done" simply highlights two facts: one, that the Kingdom is one of voluntary servanthood; and, two, that such an idea is significantly odious to human beings who have been infected by the adversary's "rebellion virus". One does not have to "teach" others to "submit" unless "submission" is a foreign notion to the typical way people think.
B. "Every ordinance".
1. There are several words translated "ordinance" by the Authorized Version translators. The one Peter chose is used 19 times in the New Testament and only translated "ordinance" once (our current text). This raises an automatic red flag. Any time the translators "reach" for a translation that is significantly out of the ordinary, one ought to seek for the reason. Seventeen of the 19 times this word shows up under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, it is translated by the translators as "creature" or "creation". The word signals the "manufacturing" of something. So Peter actually had the "manufactured results" of others in view when he urged "submission". His context refers to "kings" and "the king's men" as the "manufacturers". Clearly, he had the "creation" of regulations in view. Thus, the translators opted for "ordinance".
2. The question is this: why did Peter decide to go with "creation" when there are good words for "ordinances" he could have chosen? It is a fact that "the creations of men" are flawed more often than not. Kings and the king's men are not generally altruistic. They are typically power mongers whose regard for others is subjected to their own interests. By pointing to what such men "create", Peter was not painting a particularly appealing picture. Yet, in the spirit of true "Love", he counsels "submission" because it most clearly reveals the truth about the Kingdom of the Original Creator.
3. One reality that continues to stand in spite of Peter's "every": no "creation of man" that is in direct opposition to God's stated will for those who would please Him is included in Peter's words (Note Acts 4:19). However, even when rebellion against the creations of men is required by obedience to God, there is no place for complaining about the consequences. Obeying God often means "suffering for doing good" (1 Peter 3:17), but it also means suffering without whining about it (Jude 16).