Lord, open my heart and mind to hear You today.
Read 1 Peter 2:18–25
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.”[a]
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. 24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 25 For “you were like sheep going astray,”[b] but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
a 1 Peter 2:22 Isaiah 53:9
b 1 Peter 2:25 Isaiah 53:4,5,6 (see Septuagint)
New International Version (NIV)
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ReflectThis passage has a few concepts that are difficult to understand. What might be some of the differences in our culture today and when this letter was written and what are some similarities?
When Peter wrote this letter, slavery was a normal part of the social landscape. Many slaves were integrated into the household and in that sense part of the “extended family.” Others were in much less acceptable situations and doing dangerous work, for example mining. The sad fact is that slavery is part of our reality today. We have not yet eradicated slavery, even in our so-called modern, sophisticated cultures.
At first glance this passage can seem to encourage collusion with a corrupt and unjust system. Should slaves not be encouraged to rise up and resist inhumane treatment? Is Peter being unfair and unrealistic in his encouragement to slaves to submit to their masters? The underlying principle Peter is referring slaves to is the suffering of Jesus. Peter “has glimpsed a deeper truth, behind the moral quagmire which is so obvious to us when we think of people putting up with unjust and painful treatment” (Tom Wright, Early Christian Letters for Everyone). As Peter quotes again from Isaiah, and particularly from one of the “suffering servant” passages, he is stretching our thinking towards appreciating that the death of Jesus on our behalf not only brings us life, but also gives us a pattern for a way of living life.
Sit quietly with the Lord and consider the suffering he endured on our behalf.
Lord, empower me to live courageously for You.