One Verse, Four Commands, One Response.

17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” (I Peter 2:17).

One verse! Four commands! One response!

The one verse is I Peter 2:17. It is within the immediate context of I Peter 2:13-16.

This one verse contains four commands. Christians are to demonstrate their liberty in Christ in the following four ways. These commands are given so that they would be obeyed. God gives the commands. We are responsible to obey.

Honor everyone! We are to completely and actively respect everyone. This involves our thinking, feelings and decisions. It does not matter if we have met them in person or not. Honor and respect is our responsibility. We may not like a particular person, and they in turn may not like us. However, we are commanded to respect them as one created in the image of God and possessing inherent value.

The word honor (τιμάω; timao) means to attribute a high status upon something, or in this context, someone. The Old Testament associated honoring God with honoring those in government authority (Exodus 22:28; 1 Kings 21:10; Proverbs 24:21).

One way of explaining this command may be taken from the military. You salute an officer, not because you like him or her, but because you give them honor which is their due because of their higher rank.

Love the brotherhood! We are to completely and actively love fellow believers in Christ. The word love (ἀγαπάω; agapao) means taking pleasure in displaying a self-sacrificial love of the will towards fellow believers. Sometimes, Christians hurt other Christians. While this unfortunately does happen, we must make sure that we overcome whatever hurts we encounter with a self-sacrificial love of the will. This love is not dependent upon our feelings, but rather upon a conscious decision of our will.

Fear God! We are to completely and actively reverence, worship and respect the Lord God. This is done not only in what we say, but also in what we do and think. This is to be done daily. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 110:11; Proverbs 9:10).

The word fear (φοβέω; phobeo) means to honor, respect and worship God. We are to have a profound reverence for God.

Honor the emperor! We are to completely and actively respect leaders in government. We may not always agree with them, but we are commanded to respect them. The Apostle Paul wrote that we are also to pray for them (I Timothy 2:1-2).

November 22, 2017 marks the 54th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. This event is one in which every American remembers what they were doing that day when they heard the news of President Kennedy being shot and then dying from his wounds.

This singular event is an example of violating not only the letter but also the spirit of I Peter 2:17.There were those in the United States who may not have agreed with everything  President Kennedy had done, or not done, during his 1,000 days in office. However, the biblical answer is never to assassinate, figuratively or realistically, those who hold a position in government.

Finally, what is to be our response to this one verse, and these four commands? Simple! It is obedience. Regardless of how we may feel, we are to carry out these directives given by God through the Apostle Peter.

Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe.

Soli deo Gloria!


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