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1 Peter 2:13

ESV Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme,
NIV Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority,
NASB Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority,
CSB Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the emperor as the supreme authority
NLT For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority — whether the king as head of state,
KJV Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;

What does 1 Peter 2:13 mean?

In the previous two verses, Peter has referred to Christians as aliens and strangers on the earth. He urges us to abstain from the sin we want to do and to choose to lead good lives, instead. One result of this is that even those falsely accusing Christians of wrongdoing will give God glory.

It's possible that some early Christians had argued that if, a) they were being falsely accused and b) they were spiritual "foreigners," perhaps they were not under the authority of human governments. They may have suggested that being a Christian gave one immunity from human laws and judges. Peter rejects this approach. In fact, he tells Christians to submit to every human authority, including the emperor. Why? For the Lord's sake. The reputation of Christ is built by His followers, and Peter insists that His followers should be known as people who submit to human authorities.

At the time Peter wrote these words, the emperor may well have been Nero. Many Roman emperors were notorious for cruelty and injustice, especially to Christians. As is clear in the following verses, Peter is not telling Christians to submit to authorities because those leaders are necessarily good, but to show that Christ is good.

As passages such as Acts 5:28–29 show, "submission" is not necessarily "obedience." Accepting the government's punishment for obeying God is, in and of itself, a form of appropriate submission to human authority.
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