1Peter 2:18-25

Sunday Morning Bible Study

March 11, 2001


It’s been thirty years since Jesus ascended into heaven and the Holy Spirit came upon the early church.  The apostles have traveled much of the known world and preached the good news of God’s forgiveness through the death of Jesus Christ on a cross.  Tough times for the church have been getting increasingly difficult.  Paul the apostle has already had his first trial before Caesar, and Nero is only months away from unleashing massive persecution against believers.

In the section we’ll look at this morning, Peter addresses his concerns to “servants”, you know, the people at work. Work is not always a fun place to be.  Sometimes we can relate to that great philosopher, Dilbert:


Accept that some days you are the pigeon and some days the statue.

I don't suffer from stress. I am a carrier.

You are slower than a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter.

Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, because you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level then beat you with experience.

So what does Peter write to the church in his first letter?  Does he tell the church to buy swords, organize an army, fight back, and march on Rome?  Does he tell the servants to cut the throats of their masters in the middle of the night?  Not quite.  Instead he tells to the church to learn to submit and to learn to suffer.

:18-25  Submission and Suffering

:18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.

servants oiketes – one who lives in the same house as another, spoken of all who are under the authority of one and the same householder;  Employees.

be subject hupotasso – to arrange under, to subordinate; to subject, put in subjection; to submit to one’s control; to yield to one’s admonition or advice; to obey.  It was a Greek military term meaning “to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader”. In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”.

fear phobos – fear, dread, terror

masters despotes – a master, Lord.  Your boss.

good and gentle – the nice guys.

good agathos – of good constitution or nature; good, pleasant, agreeable, joyful, happy; excellent, distinguished; upright, honourable

gentle epieikes – seeming, suitable; equitable, fair, mild, gentle

froward skolios – crooked, curved; metaph. perverse, wicked; unfair


Submission doesn’t depend on your boss deserving it.

That’s one of the fallacies we have cultivated in the Christian church.  I’ve heard people tell others that they only submit when the other person deserves it.
Peter says to submit even if your boss is “perverse”, “wicked”, or “harsh”.  The boss that’s hard to get along with …
A secretary, a paralegal, and a boss in a big law firm are walking through a park on their way to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp.  They rub it and a Genie comes out in a puff of smoke. The Genie says, “I usually only grant three wishes, so I’ll give each of you just one.”  “Me first! Me first!” says the secretary. “I want to be in the Bahamas, driving a speedboat, without a care in the world.” Poof! She’s gone.  “Me next! Me next!” says the paralegal. “I want to be in Hawaii, relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of exotic foods, and the love of my life.” Poof! He’s gone.  “You’re next,” the Genie says to the boss. The boss says, “I want those two back in the office right after lunch.”
Yes, there is a point where you do not submit.  Early in the history of the church, Peter himself had been commanded by the Sanhedrin to stop talking so much about Jesus.
(Acts 5:29 KJV)  Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

If your boss is asking you to do something that clearly contradicts God’s Word, then you must obey God.

But be careful even here.  I’ve heard people say, “Well God has given me permission to not do what you ask …” when the issue was not a black and white law in God’s Word.

Learning submission to people is a step towards learning submission to God.
There are going to be times in your life when God may want to ask you to do something that is uncomfortable or unpleasant to you.  Are you going to pick and choose which things you’re going to obey when God commands you?  We need to learn to do uncomfortable things when those in authority over us ask us.

:19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.

thankworthy charis – grace; that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness

(NAS) For this finds favor ; (NIV) For it is commendable

consciencesuneidesis – the consciousness of anything; the soul as distinguishing between what is morally good and bad, prompting to do the former and shun the latter, commending one, condemning the other; the conscience

endurehupophero – to bear by being under, bear up (a thing placed on one’s shoulders); to bear patiently, to endure

grieflupe – sorrow, pain, grief, annoyance, affliction

sufferingpascho – to be affected or have been affected, to feel, have a sensible experience, to undergo; in a bad sense, to suffer sadly, be in a bad plight

wrongfullyadikos – unjustly, undeserved, without fault

(1 Pet 2:19 NLT)  For God is pleased with you when, for the sake of your conscience, you patiently endure unfair treatment.

I’m not saying that when you work for a bad boss or a bad company that there isn’t a time when you need to think about moving on.

But I think too often we wimp out and run when we’re faced with unpleasant circumstances.

God wants us to be the “obedient servant” at work.  He wants you to be the one that your boss comes to count on.

:20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

glory kleos – rumour, report; glory, praise

faults hamartano – sin.  to be without a share in; to miss the mark; to err, be mistaken; to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honour, to do or go wrong; to wander from the law of God, violate God’s law, sin

ye be buffeted kolaphizo – to strike with the fist, give one a blow with the fist; to maltreat, treat with violence and contumely

take it patientlyhupomeno – to remain; to tarry behind; to remain i.e. abide, not recede or flee; to preserve: under misfortunes and trials to hold fast to one’s faith in Christ; to endure, bear bravely and calmly: ill treatments

ye do wellagathopoieo – to do good, do something which profits others; to be a good help to someone; to do someone a favour; to benefit; to do well, do right

sufferpascho – to be affected or have been affected, to feel, have a sensible experience, to undergo; in a bad sense, to suffer sadly, be in a bad plight

acceptable charis – grace; that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech; good will, loving-kindness, favour.  This is the same word translated “thankworthy” in verse 19.

God isn’t giving out brownie points for people who suffer because they deserve it.  If people at work call you names behind your back because you’re obnoxious, you deserve it.


Blessing comes from enduring difficult people.

God pays attention if you’re doing the right thing and you get some flack for it.
Amy Carmichael in expressing her desire to become like the Lord Jesus said this:  “If in dealing with one who does not respond, I weary of the strain, and slip from under the burden, then I know nothing of Calvary Love.  If I have not the patience of my Savior with souls who grow slowly; if I know little of travail till Christ be fully formed in them, then I know nothing of Calvary Love.  If I avoid being ‘ploughed under’ with all that such ploughing entails of rough handling, isolation, uncongenial situations, strange test, then I know nothing of Calvary Love.”
A Roman coin was once found with the picture of an ox on it; the ox was facing two things—an altar and a plough; and the inscription read:  “Ready for either”.  The ox had to be ready either for the supreme moment of sacrifice on the altar or the long labor of the plough on the farm.
God’s desire is that we be ready for either.  Either to serve as obedient servants, or to be a sacrifice for having done what was right.

:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

ye calledkaleo – to call; to call aloud, utter in a loud voice; to invite

leavinghupolimpano – to leave, leave behind

an example hupogrammos (“under” + “writing”) – a writing copy, including all the letters of the alphabet, given to beginners as an aid in learning to draw them; an example set before one

When your child is learning to write, they will come home with homework in which they are supposed to copy the letters on the page.  They are to follow the example on the page that the teacher has already written down.  The teacher has written the example correctly and the student is simply to make their copy look as close to the teacher’s as possible.

follow epakoloutheo – to follow (close) upon; to tread in one’s footsteps

stepsichnos – a footprint, track, footstep; in the NT, metaph. of imitating the example of any one

Sometimes at the beach the boys and I will try to walk in a set of footprints in the sand.  It is kind of fun to watch a young child step in an adult’s footsteps.


Learn to suffer

That’s the lesson on the “top of the page” that we’re supposed to copy.  Jesus has suffered.  He has left huge footprints for us.  We are to follow after Him.
This verse impacted a writer named Charles Sheldon about a hundred years ago, and he wrote a fictional book entitled, “In His Steps”.  In the book he took a small town full of people who were challenged by one of the pastors to ask themselves the question “What would Jesus do?” every time they faced a decision.
People’s lives where changed when they began to look for the footprints of Jesus, to follow His example.
This is where those letters “WWJD” come from.
But this verse is not just about making decisions, it’s about learning to suffer.
Do we suffer in the same manner that Jesus did?
Stuart Briscoe ("Handling Your Insecurities," Preaching Today, Tape No. 119.) writes,
When I was in the marines, the training for commandos included cliff assaults. The theory was that a commando raid should be a surprise, done as quickly and as silently as possible on the area with the lightest defenses. The lightest defense is at the point where attack is least expected. More often than not, it was the cliffs.
We would come close to the cliff in our small boats and fire one rocket up through the darkness. Attached to the rocket was a grapnel. Attached to the grapnel was a light rope. When the rocket landed on top of the cliff, the grapnel would lie on the grass. We would then pull it back gently until it caught on something. We hoped it caught on something secure.
We had expert climbers. Those guys were like spiders. They would get out of the little boat onto the seaweed-strewn rocks, and scale those cliffs in the dark hanging onto this thin, little rope that was on the end of a grapnel they hoped was hanging onto something secure.
A bigger rope trailed behind them. Below, we held onto the rope. When the climber got on the top, he would secure the rope he'd taken up and then give two little tugs on it. The minute the two little tugs came, we jumped out of our boats, cold and wet on the waves and rocks. We would scale the cliffs. It was a hairy experience, except we had utter confidence in the one who'd gone before us. We had utter confidence in the security of the rope he had fastened for us.

Jesus has left us a trail.  He’s left us an example to follow.

:22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:

sinhamartia – to be without a share in; to miss the mark; to err, be mistaken; to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honour, to do or go wrong

guile dolos – craft, deceit, guile.  This is the third time Peter has used this word (or a close form of it).

(1 Pet 2:1 KJV)  Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,

(1 Pet 2:2 KJV)  As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:


Be a straight shooter.

Don’t be a trickster.  Don’t be a person who is trying to trip somebody up, who is trying to manipulate, who uses deceit to get his own way or to get out of trouble.

:23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not;

he was reviled loidoreo – to reproach, rail at, revile, heap abuse upon

reviled …again antiloidoreo – to revile in turn, to retort railing

Jesus did not get into a shouting match with His enemies.  He didn’t get into a name calling contest.

threatened apeileo – to threaten, menace


Watch your mouth

Jesus could have given some pretty heavy threats!  Just imagine what kind of things Jesus could have threatened the Sanhedrin with!  He could have threatened them with boiling oil, snakes, spiders, just about anything and it could have actually happened!

:23  but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

committed paradidomi – to give into the hands (of another); to give over into (one’s) power or use; to deliver to one something to keep, use, take care of, manage; to deliver up one to custody, to be judged, condemned, punished, scourged, tormented, put to death


Put yourself in God’s hands

Jesus knew that God was able to take care of Him.
We see this in the attitude of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego when Nebuchadnezzar threatened to throw them into the fiery furnace if they didn’t bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s statue:
(Dan 3:17-18 KJV)  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. {18} But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
They knew God could deliver them from Nebuchadnezzar’s threats.  But they left it all in God’s hands.  They weren’t going to bow to Nebuchadnezzar even if God decided it was time for them to die and go to heaven.

:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

being deadapogenomenos (“apart” + “to become”) – to be removed from, depart; to die, to die to anything

Peter is alluding to:

(Isa 53:5 KJV)  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

:25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

going astrayplanao – to cause to stray, to lead astray, lead aside from the right way; to go astray, wander, roam about

returnedepistrepho – transitively; to turn to; to the worship of the true God; to cause to return, to bring back

Bishop episkopos – an overseer; a guardian,

Peter is alluding again to Isaiah 53 –

(Isa 53:6 KJV)  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.


Submission and Suffering can bring benefit.

Jesus endured suffering for our sake, to bring about a great result.  He brought us back to Him. It was because He endured His suffering that we could be free from our sins.  It was because of His suffering that we could be spiritually healed.
During World War I, a British commander was preparing to lead his soldiers back to battle. They’d been on furlough, and it was a cold, rainy, muddy day. Their shoulders sagged because they knew what lay ahead of them: mud, blood, possible death. Nobody talked, nobody sang. It was a heavy time.
As they marched along, the commander looked into a bombed-out church. Back in the church he saw the figure of Christ on the cross. At that moment, something happened to the commander. He remembered the One who suffered, died, and rose again. There was victory, and there was triumph.
As the troops marched along, he shouted out, “Eyes right, march!” Every eye turned to the right, and as the soldiers marched by, they saw Christ on the cross. Something happened to that company of men. Suddenly they saw triumph after suffering, and they took courage. With shoulders straightened, they began to smile as they went. You see, anything worthwhile in life will be a risk that demands courage.

-- Gordon Johnson, "Finding Significance in Obscurity," Preaching Today, Tape No. 82.

Can any good come from your difficult times?  Yes.  Just look at Jesus.