1 Peter 2:18-21

18 Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.
19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God.
20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.
21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

1 Peter 2:18 in Other Translations

KJV
18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.
ESV
18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.
NLT
18 You who are slaves must submit to your masters with all respect. Do what they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel.
MSG
18 You who are servants, be good servants to your masters - not just to good masters, but also to bad ones.
CSB
18 Household slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel.

1 Peter 2:18-21 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO 1 PETER 2

This chapter consists of exhortations, in general, to a holy life; and, in particular, to obedience to superiors. It begins with an exhortation to lay aside various vices, which were unbecoming regenerate persons, 1Pe 2:1 and, agreeably to their character, as new born babes, to express a desire after the Gospel, which is commended from its nature, being comparable to milk; and from its quality, being reasonable, sincere, and unmixed; and from the end and usefulness of it, a spiritual growth; and the argument engaging to such a desire is the experience they had of the grace of Christ in it, 1Pe 2:2,3 whose excellency is declared, under the metaphor of a stone, said to be living, to be chosen of God, and precious to him, though rejected by men; to whom the saints are encouraged to come, as lively stones built up, a spiritual house, for the exercise of the holy office of the priesthood, by offering up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Christ, 1Pe 2:4,5 and that Christ is such a precious stone, is proved from Isa 28:16 and not only to God, but to all them that believe; though to them that believe not, he is the stone of rejection, stumbling, and offence; to stumble at which, and the doctrine of it, through disobedience, they were of old appointed by God, 1Pe 2:6-8 but the character of the persons the apostle writes to was very different, quite the reverse, being chosen and called, and manifestly the people of God, and sharing in his grace and mercy, 1Pe 2:9,10 and these he exhorts, suitable to their state and condition, to abstain from sin, as an enemy to their souls, and to live an honest life and conversation among the Gentiles, that they, instead of speaking evil of them, might, by beholding their good works, glorify God, 1Pe 2:11,12. And particularly he exhorts them to obedience to civil magistrates, both superior and inferior; partly from the author of them, they being of the Lord; and partly from the usefulness of them to punish wicked men, and to encourage good men; and also from its being the will of God, by such obedience, to silence the cavils of foolish men, 1Pe 2:13-15. And whereas it might be objected, that they were made free by Christ, and therefore should not be the servants of men; it is granted, that they were free; but then it is denied, that they should use their liberty for a cloak of maliciousness: and besides, it should be observed, that they were the servants of God, and therefore ought to do what he enjoined them; and, among other things, yield obedience to civil magistrates, 1Pe 2:16. And to this purpose are various exhortations in 1Pe 2:17, and another particular one is added, which is to servants, to be subject to their masters, and fear them, whether they be good or bad, 1Pe 2:18 and then he comforts such that had bad masters, and encourages them to bear the injuries they received from them patiently; because so to do was grateful to God, and acceptable in his sight; and because they were called unto it by him; and because of the example Christ had left them in suffering for them, 1Pe 2:19-21. And this is further urged from the character of Christ, who was without sin, and yet suffered, and from his conduct, who, when reviled, made no return, but left his cause with God, 1Pe 2:22,23 which leads on the apostle take notice of the nature of Christ's sufferings in his body on the cross, and the ends of them, which were expiation of sin, healing diseases, and holiness of life, as a consequent thereof, 1Pe 2:24 previous to which conversion, which is illustrated by the former state and condition men are in, being as sheep going astray; and by their present one, being returned to Christ, the Shepherd and Bishop of souls, 1Pe 2:25.

1 Peter 2:18-21 In-Context

16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.
17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
18 Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.
19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God.
20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.
21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
22 “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

Cross References 8

  • 1. S Ephesians 6:5
  • 2. James 3:17
  • 3. 1 Peter 3:14,17
  • 4. 1 Peter 3:17
  • 5. S Acts 14:22; Philippians 1:29; 1 Peter 3:9
  • 6. S Romans 8:28
  • 7. 1 Peter 3:18; 1 Peter 4:1,13
  • 8. S Matthew 11:29; Matthew 16:24
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