1 Peter 2:13-17
Respecting People in Authority
13 For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, 14 or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. 15 It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. 16 For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. 17 Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king.
It would have been tempting for the early Christians to say that since they were free in Christ, they didn't have to submit to any earthly authorities. But Peter teaches them to respect those who God has allowed to be the ruling authorities in the land they lived in. And he gives them the following reasons for doing do:
1. It was for the Lord's sake that they submit to human authorities. Ultimately this didn't compromise their confession that "Jesus is Lord".
2. The role of the earthly leaders is to punish evildoers. Ultimately having civic authorities is good for everyone, including Christians. I know I appreciate our local police officers.
3. There were those who were trying accuse the early believers that they were lawbreakers, and that their new religion caused them to disobey the authorities. This wouldn't have been a good witness, and would have caused more problems for the growth and reputation of the Christian movement.
4. As God's servants they were to respect and honor those around them, including the family of God. Their fear of God should also lead to the respect of those given the power to rule.
The bottom line is God calls us to be good citizens, paying taxes, and abiding by the laws of the land. If we don't do this, it only tarnishes our reputation as Christ followers. People could say, "They say they believe in God, but they are lawbreakers!"
As we live our lives as respectful, honorable and good citizens, we can be a powerful witnesses in the communities we life in and hope to reach for Christ. Do you serve God in your citizenship wherever you live?