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From 2:13 to 5:10 Peter commands us to practise the principle of submission. This is a general command given to all of us to be applied in every life context. As well as commanding submission as the Christ-like attitude in every context, he also told us what submission will look like in some specific contexts, including, importantly, the context of unjust mistreatment and suffering.

But this all-inclusive submission is not an arbitrary requirement imposed upon us without any reason and without any purpose. Peter also includes in his instructions:

The motivation for submission, and

The results of submission.

The motivational truths that compel and inspire submission are:

‘... for the Lord’s sake’ (2:13)

To ‘show proper respect for everyone’ (2:17,18; 3:7)

‘... it is God’s will’ (2:15; 3:17; 4:2,19; 5:2)

‘... because (we are) conscious of God’ (2:19)

Christ left us ‘an example, that (we) should follow in his steps’ (2:21; 4:1)

Our fellow Christians are ‘heirs with (us) of the gracious gift of life’ (3:7)

‘To this (we) were called’ (3:9)

Christ is Lord (3:15)

Christ died for our sins (3:18)

Those opposing us are accountable to God (4:5)

The end of all things is near (4:7)

The sheer joy of the final revelation of Christ’s glory (4:13; 5:1,4,10)

‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble’ (5:5; see also 3:12)

God cares for us (5:7).

The motivational results that encourage and endorse submission:

Submission may ‘silence the ignorant talk of foolish men’ (2:15)

It ‘is commendable before God’ (2:19,20)

Unbelievers ‘may be won over’ (3:1)

It is ‘of great worth in God’s sight’ (3:4)

It has a positive impact on prayer (3:7; 4:7)

It reflects and expresses our blessedness in Christ (3:9,14; 4:14)

It may reduce to shame those who oppose or mistreat us (3:16)

It demonstrates that we have indeed turned from sin to God (4:1)

Beyond the suffering and the submission are two further motivations to be submissive rather than retaliatory or overwhelmed in the face of unjust suffering:

God will lift us up in due time (5:6)

God himself will restore us and make us strong, firm and steadfast (5:10).

As we meditate on these before and after motivations for submission, it is good to call to mind two verses from Hebrews:

‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart’ [Hebrews 12:2,3].

© Rosemary Bardsley 2018