The below from 1 Peter 2:11-25 teaches us to submit for the Lord’s sake to human authorities. These free inductive notes are intended as supplement to your own study, not a replacement. Feel free to copy, print, or share them. These notes can be helpful for individual study of the Word or for small group Bible studies. We hope your understanding of God’s Word is deeper from them.

1 Peter 2:11-25 – Submit for the Lord’s Sake

Read Passage: 1 Peter 2:11-25 – Submit for the Lord’s sake.


In the first verse of this book Peter says that he is writing to “those who reside as aliens scattered throughout” much of the Roman Empire. And here in verse eleven he calls them “aliens and strangers.” Some of them were likely Jews who lived far from home. Others were believers who had been displaced and scattered because of persecution. Peter was reminding them that the place they resided was not their permanent home.

Heaven is.

But while they are still waiting their heavenly home, how should they live? How should they relate to the authorities they lived under? How should they relate to their earthly masters? These were some of the questions they would have been facing.

And these questions are very applicable to us today. Any aliens here today? Do you feel like an alien? Well, many of us are aliens in two senses. We live as foreigners in a country far from home. Many years ago I was with my two young sisters at a zoo and I found more people were watching my sisters than were watching the animals.

The second way we are aliens is because our citizenship is in heaven. Our worldview is completely different from most of the people we meet. So turn to your neighbor and say “I am a two headed alien.” You don’t actually have to say that if you don’t want to :)

So the question before us today is how shall we live as foreigners  and as aliens on this earth?

We will see that to keep a good testimony before others we must practice submission for the Lord’s sake.

Let’s pray.

I. Submit to governing authorities for the Lord’s sake

A. Keep a clear conscience before God and man (11-12) Acts 24:16 – So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.

The very first thing Peter warns his readers about is the dangers of living in a foreign land is not something external, but internal. He tells them to “abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.

Living in a foreign land brings about more temptations, especially sexual temptations. The same is true for us here in Guangzhou. Here are a couple of reasons why:

  • You are far from home and your support structure. Your family members or brothers and sisters in Christ may help keep you accountable in your home country. They may ask questions like “where were you last night?” But when you first move to Guangzhou, you probably didn’t know anybody. In a sense, you are anonymous. Sin loves the dark; it loves secrecy. It is easier to fall into these sins when we think nobody will know.
  • Foreigners may attract extra attention by people with impure motives. For example when Joseph was a foreigner in Egypt his master’s wife targeted him to try to seduce him. Why Joseph, a slave? Well, he was a foreigner, and that is attractive to some people.

So what do we do about it?

Application: You must realize that you are in a war. Lusts wage war against your soul. And you must wage war against lust. Here are three simple ways you can proactively protect yourself from these types of temptations:

1. Get an accountability partner. {Share illustration of friend who called me on the phone before passing a spot he knew prostitutes might be hanging out.}

2. Be proactive in filling your time by serving the Lord. Someone once said “an idle mind is the devil’s playground.” If you spend a lot of time sitting around your apartment by yourself with nothing to do, nothing good is going to come from that.

3. Flee. If temptation comes, run the other way. Don’t flirt with it.

Keep a clear conscience before God and man.

We are called to be a light for Christ in front of the people around us. The believers of Peter’s day were under a microscope. Christianity was a new thing. Jews were openly hostile to the faith. Romans and Greeks were skeptical, treating believers with contempt and mocking. The people around them would study their lives looking for anything negative which they could accuse them about. Wild stories were circulated about believers. Many Romans believed that Christianity was an immoral cult and that Christians were incestuous cannibals who were highly immoral. Why would they think something so crazy?

Firstly, believers had regular love feasts which were basically a combo between taking the Lord’s Supper and a prayer service. But they were largely held in secret due to persecution. Rumors were spread that immoral things were going on during these “love feasts.” Believers also called each other “brother and sister,” which contributed to the false idea that they were incestuous. Finally, believers would “drink the blood of Christ” and “eat His body.” Thus rumors grew and stories spread that believers were cannibals. These and other terrible things were being said about believers.

So Peter tells them (read verse 12 – Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. ).

People may have many ideas about Christians here too. One of my friends became a believer and his parents were quite angry. It seemed that they thought Christians were idle and lazy and spent most of their time sitting around waiting for Jesus to come back instead of working. Eventually their sons diligent behavior won them over when they saw their ideas about him were false.

Application: As a two headed alien, every where you go you are under scrutiny. Some people are watching you out of curiosity. Others are watching because they want to find some sin to accuse you of. What will they see when they watch you?

We shared the gospel with one of our neighbors in America and he said “I know a Christian. She is evil. If Christians are like her I don’t want to be one.”

What about you? Will they observe your behavior and say “if a Christian is like… I don’t want to be one?”

Or will they look at your life and see the light of Christ? Will they see your joy and love and kindness and service and graciousness and say, “you know that Yudi, I want what he has.” “That James is so considerate of others. Why is he different?” “Richard is not like other teachers. He really cares for his students. I want that too.”

And some of you are new believers. When you return to visit your families they will observe you and see if you have really changed. I hope they will see your life is completely different than before. Perhaps before you just slept and watched TV and let your mom do all the work. What will you do now?

As a Christian and a foreigner, you are being watched. Will your behavior draw people to Christ or repel them away?

B. Submit to governing authorities (13-17)

Read verses 13-14 – Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority:whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.

Naturally the believers in the Roman empire would want to know how they were to relate to the government. This government was pagan and its leaders worshiped idols. Tax money was used for unjust wars or for building temples to false gods. Christians were actively persecuted or killed. Should they actively revolt? Should they practice civil disobedience? Should they refuse to pay taxes to fund these evil projects? Should they all escape to some uninhabited region and set up a Christian nation?

Peter answers these questions and his answer is very simple, “submit.” Submit. Obey. If believers had been paying attention, this was not new information. Jesus told the Jews in Matthew 17: to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.”

I would like to do a very scientific survey here so please pay attention. I have a question to ask. Think about it for a moment. Are you very happy with your home country’s government? If you think you are very happy with your government in your home country, raise your hand. Don’t be shy. Anyone?

And yet God established governments for a reason. No matter how bad you think your government is, it is almost certainly better than no government at all. While authorities may be corrupt, they still generally enact good laws.

If time read Romans 13:1-7. Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Murder, theft, assault, and many more crimes are illegal. Infrastructure is built which makes life easier. Our lives are more stable and secure because God has seen fit to establish governments. So what is our role?

A. Submit. Obey. And we should do this…

B. Submit for the Lord’s sake. IE: Being a good citizen means being a good testimony. Verse 15 tells us that by doing good we can silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. People may claim that Christians are bad citizens, loners, not good for the economy, not good workers, or not good employees. We must live in such a way to prove them wrong. We must respect the laws and rules of our countries. And as we are foreign guests in another country, this is even more important here.

We should follow the visa regulations. We should follow traffic rules. We should register our businesses legally. We should pay our taxes. We should be good employees. Our actions can attract people to Christ or repel people from Christ.

Do you live in such a way that you are eager to tell people you are a Christian or embarrassed to? Some of you know that I like to play basketball. I have been playing pick up basketball for over 15 years. I am a fairly competitive person and when I play I like to win. So in my younger days sometimes in the heat of a game I would get into an argument with the opposing team, probably over a foul call. I did like to make friends in the basketball games and invite them to church or share the good news with them. However, sometimes if I had an argument with the other team, I would not want to tell them I was a Christian for fear of making them think “If a Christian is like that, I don’t want to be one.”

Now when I play basketball I try to act in such a way my whole time on the court that after the game I can freely tell them I am a Christian and know that they will think of Christians in a positive light based on my attitude in the game. I hope that you too consciously think about how your actions will reflect on Christ.

C. Pray for your government instead of complaining. Before I asked if you were very happy with your government. Now another question? Do any of you ever complain about your government? I know I do. What does that accomplish? Nothing. Sitting around and complaining accomplishes nothing excepting adding to our own sins. Since we are commanded, “Do all things without grumbling and complaining.

That verse says to “do.” We should do something. If each of us decided to spend the same amount of time we normally spend complaining about our governments and use that time to pray for them instead, then maybe we would see positive change. One thing that would definitely change is our own outlook and attitude.

D. What is the result of living our life this way? Verse 15 tells us that by doing so we will “silence the ignorance of foolish men.” Actions speak louder than words. We may tell others around us, “Christians are good employees. Christians are good for society.” But the people around you are looking at your deeds. Do you live the way that you say you do? If they see your changed life… If they see your upright testimony… If they see that you are submissive to authorities, even unbelievers… Then their criticisms will stop. And maybe they will want to know about this Jesus whom you are following.

It sounds difficult to live this way, but verse 16 says that we are free. We are free of the chains of sin.

Without Christ it is impossible to live with this blameless testimony. But by His grace, we can.

Verse 17 summarizes what we have learned so far. “Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

So Peter tells the believers they are to submit to their government. What about their masters? Some of the believers were slaves. Should they stay with their masters or run away?

II. Submit to masters / bosses with all respect (18-20)

Peter tells them to submit. Many of us who read passages like this in the Bible may ask a question “does the Bible condone slavery?” I think we need to answer this question first.

The first thing you should know is that neither slavery in New Testament times nor slavery under the Mosaic covenant is the same as the sort of slavery that has occurred in more modern times where people were stolen from their families, put on ships, and sold in other countries.

The Bible is very clear that stealing people for any reason including making them slaves is sin. Exodus 21:16 says, He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death.

This verse already shows that those engaging in the slave trade deserved death.

Slavery in Old Testament times was much different. In essence Old Testament slavery was a type of bankruptcy law. When a person found themselves in a very desperate situation financially they might sell themselves or even their whole family as a way to pay off the debt. However, this was more like a contract of employment that lasted 6 years, because in the seventh year, the year of jubilee, they would be set free if they wanted to be. A slave/bondservant was acquired when a person voluntarily entered into it when he needed to pay off his debts.

Understand this, the Bible never endorses slavery and neither is our passage today an endorsement of slavery.

Rather, the Bible recognizes that slavery was a reality in this sin-cursed world and doesn’t ignore it. Instead it gives regulations for good treatment by both masters and servants and reveals they are equal under Christ. This bad situation could be made a little better if both sides acted according to Biblical principles.

In fact it was largely Christians who fought to end the slave trade. Have any of you heard of William Wilberforce? If not, watch the movie called “Amazing Grace.”

So coming back to our passage, Peter commands that servants submit to their masters. We see that submission is not only the external act of obedience, but also the internal attitude of respect. True submission is from the heart. When I was a kid I got into the bad habit for a while of rolling my eyes and sighing when my parents asked me to do a chore.

That is not real submission and my parents knew that. So they told me to stop. Well, the next time I did it again. Fortunately my reflexes were very fast. I realized I was in hot water and so I quickly put my hands on my head like horns and said, “I am a buffalo” and ran to do the work. I think I was cute enough that my mom did not discipline me that time. But I did learn the lesson that submission is not a grudging or complaining outward obedience. Real submission is joyful and genuine.

That is the kind of submission we are to have to our authorities, including our bosses.

It is really easy to submit to someone who tells us to do something that we already want to do. If your boss tells you, “Go home early today” you will submit very happily. But this verse tells us to submit even to those bosses who are unreasonable. We must obey even when they tell us to do things that we don’t like or that we deem unfair.

Though our boss is in some ways LIKE our master, I want to emphasize that your boss is not your master. While you are under employment you should obey your boss’ instructions so long as they do not contradict God’s Word. However, unlike slaves in the ancient world you have the legal right to leave.

You should be good employees. You should work hard. But if your relationship to God is suffering because of a poor or overworked business environment, you may need to leave that situation. But while there, you must obey with a good attitude. That means you should not get off work and go complain to your friends about your terrible boss.

{If time is short, skip {In verses 19-20 Peter revisits his theme of the book. Suffering. Persecution. It may be that you are unfairly treated, perhaps by your company or your government or by your parents or by any other authority. Peter tells us, “it finds favor” with God when we suffer for doing what is right.

In the Bible many faithful believers suffered for doing what is right. Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. His friends were thrown into the furnace. Elijah was chased into the wilderness. Stephen was stoned to death. James was beheaded. Paul was tortured again and again.

Read Romans 8:18 – I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Whatever you are suffering for God today, know that it is worth it. If you are not suffering, these verses should remind you that persecution in some form may not be far away. Persecution is promised to us in the Bible. It is not one of our favorites, but it is true. If you are a follower of Christ, you will be persecuted. When you are, know that God is watching. He sees what you have gone through. He remembers your sacrifices. And He will bless you, reward you, and watch over you.}}

Today we have learned that we should submit to the government and that we should submit to our bosses. Now we will see in verses 20-25 that we have an example of submission.

III. Submit to the Father like Jesus did.

A Christian is a follower of Jesus. We are to live and act like Jesus lived and acted. Peter knows his readers may be suffering. So he reminds them of the example of Christ. He lived His life in submission to both earthly and heavenly authorities.

Matthew 22:16-17 – They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. So tell us what You think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”

The religious leaders tried to tempt Jesus to make a statement against Caesar or Rome. They flattered him and praised his impartiality hoping to butter him up so that he would let down his guard and share his true opinion that paying taxes is not necessary. For a lot of us it would have worked. “Yeah, I’m glad you asked that. My friends tell me that I am an expert on taxes.” Jesus did not let down His guard, but He did share His true opinion. Pay taxes He said.

On another occasion, He told Peter that the Lord of the temple (Himself), need not pay taxes. He was not actually under the earthly authorities. But then He proceeded to pay the temple tax anyway. Why? He did these things to be an example to us.

Our Lord and Savior suffered too. He was persecuted for doing what was right, through no fault of His own. We know the story. He was beaten, scourged, whipped. He was spit on, mocked, cursed. He was nailed to a cross to die the most agonizing death imaginable. But He “did not revile in return.” He uttered no threats. Instead He entrusted Himself to the Father. On the eve before these things happened, Jesus said “not my will, but thine be done.” That is submission. That is our example.

When we submit with a good attitude to earthly authorities we are in essence submitting to God. He is the one who put these authorities in place. He is the one who put us under them. Obeying them is obeying Him. If the Creator of the universe can lower Himself to submit to earthly authorities, surely we should submit too.


Read verses 24-25. 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,”but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Verse 25 tells us that at one time all of us were straying like sheep. Each of us was going his own way. We were our own authority. We did what we wanted and when we wanted. We submitted ourselves to no one. In a way we were free. This freedom does not lead to happiness or security or blessing.

A sheep wandering around by itself is in serious danger. He cannot protect himself. He cannot take care of himself. What will happen to a sheep who goes astray? For a short while everything may appear OK, but sooner or later that sheep will face some huge problem and without the shepherd there to help him will die. There are many people like these wandering sheep in the world today. Lost. Lonely. Aimless. No purpose. No calling. No joy.

Friends if you have not yet chosen to follow Christ, know this. You have a loving shepherd who cares for you. He loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His own life for you. That is the best kind of shepherd there is, a shepherd who is willing to die for the sheep. In verse 24 it says, “by His wounds you are healed.”

How can you get this healing? There is one condition. Verse 25 says, “return to the Shepherd…the Guardian of your souls.” What does that mean? It means submit your lives to Him. Accept His authority. Repent of your sins and follow after Him. If you do, He will protect and guard your souls. It is a good trade.

Brothers and sisters, many of you have already done this. Jesus is already your shepherd. But are you living in full submission to Him in all areas of your life? I want each of you to take a moment and think. Is there any area of your life, no matter how small, that you are not submitting to Christ? Is there any area that you are keeping to yourself and saying “I will give others to the Lord, but not this one?” Pause.

If anything comes to mind, then that is what you need to deal with today. Make a commitment right now before the Lord that you will submit that area of your life under His authority.

In closing, I will read a quote from Dwight Moody. He founded my school, Moody Bible Institute. – He said, “Let God have your lives. He can do more with it than you can.