“Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust” (I Peter 2:18).
I Peter 2:18-25 is a section addressing the duties and responsibilities of servants to their masters. Even Christians who were slaves in the first century were to display holiness in their particular economic situations. The IVP Bible Background Commentary gives us some valuable insight.
“This passage deals particularly with household slaves, who had more economic and social flexibility than free peasants did, although many of them still did not have much. Field slaves on massive estates were more oppressed; given the regions addressed (1:1) and the nature of household codes (see comment on 2:13–17), they are probably not addressed here and at most are peripherally envisioned. The most oppressed slaves, who worked in the mines, were segregated from the rest of society and would not have access to Peter’s letter; they are not addressed here at all.”
“It should also be kept in mind that Peter does not address the institution of slavery per se, although his sympathy is clearly with the slave (2:21): no ancient slave war was successful, and abolition was virtually impossible in his day except through a probably doomed bloody revolution. In this situation, it was far more practical for a pastor to encourage those in the situation to deal with it constructively until they could gain freedom.”
What application does this section have for us who are not slaves as some of Peter’s readers were? Perhaps we can examine this section of Scripture in light of our current employment and our relationships with our superiors or bosses.
Sometimes we may feel like we are slaves to our employers. I have worked for some pretty good bosses: both in secular situations and in the ministry. I have also encountered bosses who were difficult to work for. Some were unethical, some were condescending, and one I remember was an alcoholic. In all these situations and circumstances, my focus was to do my job to the best of my ability.
I Thessalonians 5:18 says, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Happy Thanksgiving!
Soli deo Gloria!