Sermon Notes & References

Submission As a Witness

1 Peter 2:17-21

June 16, 2019

17 Be respectful to all persons, love the brotherhood, fearfully reverence God, honour the king. 18 Domestic servants, be submissive to your masters in all respectful fear; not just to the good and considerate, but also to the perverse; 19 for this is to someone’s credit,* if for the sake of consciousness of God, he bears up under wrongs, suffering unjustly; 20 for what kind of fame is it, if sinning and being punched for it, you should endure it? But, if doing good and suffering for it you should endure it, this is creditable* before God. 21 For unto this you were called, because Christ also suffered on your behalf, leaving behind for you a pattern, in order that you should follow closely upon His footsteps.                * Literally, ‘grace’. (RGH)

A.    Showing Respect (v 17)

      1.   An Attitude Footnote

      2.   A Witness

B.   Domestic Slaves (v 18)

      1.   Those Addressed 

      2.   Their Varying Situations Footnote

C.   Pleasing God (v 19)

      1.   Conscience Footnote  

      2.   Bearing the Burden Footnote

D.   Finding Grace (v 20)

      1.   Patient Endurance 

      2.   Just Punishment

      3.   Unjust Persecution Footnote

E.   Our Example (v 21)

      1.   A Divine Purpose 

      2.   The Divine Pattern

Endnote  1 Peter 2:17-21. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Submission As a Witness


A. Showing Respect (v 17)

    1. “Honour all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honour the king.”

        a. we concluded our message last Lord’s Day on this verse

            (A)    with the mention that you can catch a horse more easily by sugar than by chasing it all around the pasture

            (B)    the same is true of bringing people to know Jesus Christ

            (C)   that there our lives should be the ‘sugar’ that attracts them

        b. this verse is an example of the ‘sugar’ mandated by God to do this


    2. An Attitude

        a. that is elsewhere summarized in the verse (which our T&T Awana children learn), “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself;” (Philippians 2:3)

        b. this is a respect to all men

            (A)    the same word – honour – is to be applied at all levels

            (B)    as in the verse of the song:

The poet with his pen, the peasant with his plough,

It makes no difference who you are, it’s all the same somehow.

The king upon his throne, the jester at his feet,

The artist, the actress, the man in th street. Endnote

        c. but to fellow Christians there is to be the added dimension of love – “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” (Galatians 6:10)

        d. and to God: fear, dread, awe and the deepest reverence


    3. A Witness

        a. such a respect – an honouring of others

            (A)    for mankind is honoured by being God’s special creation

            (B)    goes right against the grain of our old fallen nature

            (C)   a nature which, if we examine ourselves objectively, is me-oriented

        b. so, those who seek the good of others are conspicuous

            (A)    and that in a good sense

            (B)    one that gives glory to God and exalts Jesus Christ

            (C)   so that men and women are drawn to our Saviour


B. Domestic Slaves (v 18)

    1. “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.”


    2. Those Addressed

        a. are called slaves or servants

            (A)    not the usual, general word for slave which included labourers of all kinds, subject to a master, in contrast to a free man or person

            (B)    but rather to those attached to a household: a numerous class

            (C)   with varying levels of duties; some lowly, some more skilled

            (D)   a paedogogue, teaching the children

            (E)    a steward, running the household

            (F)    those washing dishes, cooking meals, cleaning house

        b. now, having heard that, please do not ‘tune out’ of this passage

            (A)    because you do not have any of those responsibilities

            (B)    or because you do and have heard it all before!

            (C)   because we can take and apply this lesson wherever you serve

                 (1)    in your place of employment

                 (2)    or, as a volunteer

                 (3)    or, within the family

                 (4)    or, elsewhere


    3. Their Varying Situations

        a. these household slaves might be under the supervision of the steward

            (A)    but ultimately were subject to the house-master or house-mistress (and the Greek has specific terms for each of these)

            (B)    a servant-master relationship, despot being the word for ‘master’

            (C)   they were slaves and mere property of their master

            (D)   who could behave toward them however he saw fit

        b. today’s employers, supervisors, do not have such wide-ranging powers

            (A)    according to our society and labour laws

            (B)    but they can make a person’s life enjoyable or miserable

            (C)   especially those whose dependence makes them vulnerable

        c. but respecting all men

            (A)    means that we obey those to whom obedience is due (Rom 13:7)

            (B)    although we many sometimes find it a ‘hard row to hoe’


C. Pleasing God (v 19)

    1. “For this finds favour, if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.”


    2. Conscience

        a. the moving force in the Christian in this matter

            (A)    is not to be found in complaints, or seeking redress from the shop steward or labour laws (although today these may legitimately be used if the oppression is affecting other people as well)

            (B)    for the persecution here is that which results from being a Christian

            (C)   one little example that I, and probably you, have seen is that Christians, particularly those vulnerable due to their dependence upon the job resulting from lack of other opportunities) are called upon to work Sunday after Sunday instead of in a fair rotation

        b. you see it is because the believer is acting according to his or her good conscience in their behaviour

            (A)    according to their consciousness fo God, being His child

            (B)    of following the verse, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men;” (Colossians 3:23)

            (C)   that on this account they suffer such unjust persecution


    3. Bearing the Burden

        a. the burden in question can be of various characters

            (A)    sorrows, pains, hurts, injury, abuse, caustic remarks

            (B)    sometimes it is vulgarities or using the precious Name of Jesus Christ when they know that these will offend the Christian

            (C)   in NT times and situations it could include harsh, physical abuse

            (D)   but whatever the character, it is such as to bring a real hardship to the child of God, one that distresses him or her in their soul

            (E)    and how are they to approach this burden?

        b. pick it up and put it on their shoulders

            (A)    the word here is active: there is a willing assumption or taking up of the burden, not just the mere passive

            (B)    the Bible instructs on Christian giving: “Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

            (C)   and that is the implication of the word ‘favour’ (literally, ‘grace’) in this verse: such a burden is to be accepted gracefully

            (D)   which is part of silencing the opposition.


D. Finding Grace (v 20)

    1. “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 favour with God.”


    2. Patient Endurance

        a. in the preceding verse we had the word bear up, also translated ‘endure’, signifying definite action by the believer –take up this burden

        b. in this we have the corresponding passive word: ‘endure with patience’

        c. the acceptance day by day on an ongoing basis that burden or load which one has taken upon one’s shoulders

        d. it is the remaining under the load once taken up

        e. but, here it is important to check out exactly what Is the burden that we think we are carrying.


    3. Just Punishment

        a. so Peter makes it clear that he is not speaking of our just deserts

            (A)    there is no credit, fame or glory in suffering for doing wrong

            (B)    indeed, if anything, this is the very opposite of Christian witness

            (C)   and we should not be very loud in voicing our complaint about it

        b. so sin – stepping over the bounds of what is acceptable behaviour; in this case proper servant behaviour – deserves an unpleasant ‘reward’

            (A)    the AV gives a more literal, if less familiar, translation of ‘harshly treated’ in the word ‘buffet’ – a blow with the fist

            (B)    because the Greek word is simply ‘you are fisted, hit with a fist’


    4. Unjust Persecution

        a. Peter is speaking rather of Jesus’ Beatitude teaching 

            (A)    “10 Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.” (Matthew 5:10-11)

            (B)    it is unjust because it is received on account of the believer seeking to live in a just or righteous fashion; doing what is right

            (C)   Jesus in that mountain sermon also makes clear

                 (1)    some of the ways that such persecution takes place

                 (2)    the innocence of the one on whom it is laid, and,

                 (3)    the reason for it, being for the sake of our Lord, Jesus Christ

        b. this way of receiving persecution as a Christian

            (A)    is such as to find favour or grace with God

            (B)    in fact, it is spiritually graceful in God’s eyes.


E. Our Example (v 21)

    1. “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,”


    2. A Divine Purpose

        a. we shall not speak at length on this verse, as we shall take it up again as we look next week, D.V,, at the rest of the chapter

            (A)    but the suffering that we receive, and

            (B)    the fashion in which we receive it, by the strength of the Holy Spirit of God

            (C)   is one way God has designed to give practical, unassailable evidence to the world that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation

        b. the persecution received by the people of God is never without purpose

            (A)    the persecution of the Jerusalem church sent the gospel outwards

            (B)    the cruelty of Nero and following emperors made the church to grow rather than diminish

            (C)   Tertullian (155-240 AD) wrote ‘the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church’ – as he had witnessed in his own time

            (D)   so it has proven throughout history: today, in those lands where the persecution of Christians is fair game, Christians are strong


    3. The Divine Pattern

        a. is Jesus Christ Himself, of which more is said in the verses that follow

        b. in the 1990's, there came a movement in the church, particularly in the United States

            (A)    it was marked by people wearing lapel buttons, wrist bands, or pendants marked with the letters, “WWJD”

            (B)    the wearer was prompted by these letters in a decision or trying situation to ask himself, “What would Jesus do?”

        c. “What would Jesus Do?”, though, was not then a new saying

            (A)    in 1896, Charles Monroe Sheldon, a Congregationalist pastor in the U.S. who was very interested that there be a social outcome from the receiving of the gospel, wrote a novel: “In His Steps”, the sub-title of which was the question “What Would Jesus Do?”

            (B)    yet the source of that question goes back even furthers.

            (C)   Charles Spurgeon, a well-known evangelical preacher in London, used the phrase “what would Jesus do” in quotation marks several times in a sermon he gave on June 28, 1891. In his sermon he cites the source of the phrase as a book written in Latin by Thomas à Kempis between 1418 and 1427, Imitatio Christi (The Imitation of Christ). Endnote

        d. but the true origin goes back to the verse before us this morning

            (A)    ‘Christ ... an example for you to follow in His steps’

            (B)    an example – this word, in Greek, describe the process where a child learned to write the letters of the alphabet: the paedogogue would write the letters at the top of the slate and the child copy them stroke for stroke below – practising until it became natural

            (C)   so we are to place our feet in the footsteps of Jesus – copying His actions – until it becomes natural to us.