Sunday, 27 October 2019
…or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 1 Peter 2:14
Peter now completes the sentence which began with verse 13. He informed believers to submit themselves “to every ordinance of man.” This included the king as supreme. Now he says, “or to governors.”
The word is hégemón. One can see an early source of the word hegemony. It signifies a commander, governor, leader, and so on. It can even speak of a province. Thus, it can signify the officer placed in charge of such a province. It is these officials who are “those who are sent by him.” This is speaking of these individuals as representatives of the king.
In other words, these people are under the authority of the king, who is to be submitted to, and thus, these officials are likewise to be submitted to. Further, the word translated as “are sent” is a present participle. The king continuously sends these officials, as needed, to oversee the region which his jurisdiction covers. It isn’t that these officials are to be obeyed once, but always. When they govern, their authority speaks for the king.
Peter then describes what this authority reaches to by saying, “for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.” This lower level of authority has the power of the king to first punish those who do evil. The word translated as “punish” actually signifies something stronger. It extends to avenging wrong and executing vengeance. It is full and complete punishment. In other words, Christians are to be subject to such authorities. They cannot claim themselves “out of the world” and thus out of the vengeance of the king. His authority lies over them.
And so, when the believer abides by the rules of the land, he is also to be without fear. Instead, he would fall under the king’s “praise of those who do good.” Here, the word translated as “who do good” is unique in Scripture. It signifies “well-doers.” It reflects a person who does that which is inherently good.
When the king’s laws merge with the inherently good living of the believer, that individual can hope for praise because of his conduct. The king, as the one appointed by God, is in the position to hand out favor or discipline according to his will. This does not mean that Christians are exempt from his unjust wrath, but that whatever they receive from him is according to the position in which he sits, and according to his will.
Life application: Here, Peter is implying that each level of government has been established to bring about order in our society and when a particular level of authority passes a law, we are obligated to obey it. If we don’t, those authorities have been given additional powers – such as sending along people designated to enforce the laws which have been passed.
We have local police, sheriffs, state enforcement agencies, and also federal enforcement units – such as the FBI, DEA, TSA, IRS, etc. We may not always like how these people conduct their affairs, but they are the designated authorities, and we are accountable for our actions before them.
If we didn’t have law enforcement, there would be chaos. If we didn’t have tax collectors, the government wouldn’t be properly funded, etc. Evildoers would be in charge, and life would be far more miserable than it is when laws are enforced.
Likewise, when we obey the law and give respect to the authorities, we can (hopefully!) expect praise and compliments from them. Obviously, this isn’t always the case, but when law enforcement gets out of hand or when government becomes over-burdensome, the people generally handle the problem by replacing the offenders. In history, this has often been a bloody replacement, but if society works properly, these things can be handled at the voting booth.
Lord God, give us patience when dealing with the authorities. Too often they seem to step into our lives in a way which is beyond the authority they have been granted. If this is the case, may peace prevail, and may we be given the proper words and conduct to handle the situation. We pray this that You will be glorified through our actions under those You have appointed over us. Amen.