What Does 1 Peter 2:17 Mean?

Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

1 Peter 2:17(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

As children of God and citizens of heaven, Peter reminds us that we have a responsibility to live godly lives, as unto the Lord. We are no longer enslaved to sin and Satan, nor are we dead in our trespasses and without hope in the world, for we have been released from the slave-market of sin by the blood of the Lamb and are to live in a way that honours Him.

Earlier in the passage, the apostle reminded us that as members of His Body, we are a chosen generation and part of the royal priesthood of all believers. There was a time when Christians were not a special group of people but because of our faith in Christ, we have become the people of God and obtained His mercy and grace, His love and forgiveness. (We have not replaced Israel, who are still God's chosen people and there will come a time, yet future, when the plans of God will return to dealing specifically with the nation of Israel.) 

By faith we have been made alive in Christ and should endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. We have been born from above, freed from the curse of the Law, in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit, and become beloved of God and joint-heirs with Christ. It is for this reason that John exhorts us to honour all men, to love the brotherhood, to fear God, and also to honour the king and those in authority.

It is because of our position in Christ, our heavenly citizenship, and the liberty we enjoy in Him, that Peter exhorts us to conduct ourselves in an honourable fashion among unbelievers so that they may observe our good behaviour and godly attitude and glorify God when He convicts them of their sin and need of salvation. 

As Christians, we are in the world but not of the world and are to conduct ourselves accordingly. However, this does not mean that we run rough-shod over people nor does it mean that we dishonour the nation in which we were born and the government that God has appointed to rule over us. We should abide by the laws of the land, pay our dues, and live godly lives, which is why Peter writes, "Honour everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the Emperor."

Paul suggests that we respect all men such that "if your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink, for in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head." Our lives should reflect Christ and speak out the gospel of grace, not only in what we say but in how we live and the way we behave towards others - even those that despise and abuse us.

Similarly, in this modern society where Christians are increasingly maligned by their brothers and sisters in Christ for minor matters, the importance to love the brotherhood cannot be overstated. Naturally there are issues of conduct or doctrine that may need to be addressed in a local fellowship by the eldership - but how sad when caustic words and unacceptable behaviour occurs within the Church, and how important that we seek to love the brotherhood, and as far as we are able to be at peace with one another.

Reverence and godly fear for the Lord should be the unquestionable delight of all believers, but how sad when "God all-mighty" degenerates into "God all-matey" and the respect and honour due to our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ deteriorates into self-indulgent 'worship' or irreligious behaviours. 

Honouring the king, queen, president, or government, can be increasingly challenging in a world that devalues the Word of God, pokes fun at believers, dismantles the moral absolutes of the Bible, promotes the relative opinions of sinful men, and rejoices in ungodly practices - while tearing down the foundational truth that is rooted in God and revealed through Christ. But we are called to honour rulers and to pray for kings, presidents, prime ministers, and all who are in authority so we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

Never should we compromise the truth, dilute our faith, or become involved in lawless behaviour, but by prayer and supplication through the guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we should be prepared to give an answer for the hope we have in Christ, no matter what the cost.

May we seek to honour everyone in truth, love our brothers and sisters in Christ, fear the Lord in the beauty of holiness, honour the emperor and those in authority, be on our guard against the enemy, stand firm in the faith, be strong and very courageous, and trust in the Lord with all our heart without leaning on our own limited understanding. May our heart's desire be to acknowledge Him in all things, knowing He has promised to direct our paths.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You that we are not left in the dark but have been given clear teaching on the way we should behave toward sinner and saint alike in this fallen world as well as those in authority. I pray that I may live in a way that honours You. I pray that my life may become a clear testimony to all with whom I come in contact. I pray that Jesus has first place in my heart and that my life is lived as a sacrifice of praise for all that He has done for me. This I ask in His holy name, AMEN  

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