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1 Peter 2:17

ESV Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
NIV Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
NASB Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
CSB Honor everyone. Love the brothers and sisters. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
NLT Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king.
KJV Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
NKJV Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.

What does 1 Peter 2:17 mean?

How should a citizen of heaven live on earth? These four simple commands sum up what God wants from us as we interact with human authorities, our neighbors, and other believers.

First, honor everyone. That's a broad statement, but it also makes life very simple for believers. Instead of picking and choosing who is worthy of our respect, God's will for us is to give respect to every single person. Will everyone deserve such treatment? Obviously not. But Christians are supposed to be known as people who give respect to others because of our obedience to Christ. Period.

Second, love the brotherhood or the family of other Christians. Again, this is a blanket statement. Peter doesn't mandate strong feelings here. He does not say, "like each other." He describes action—an act of the will to give love to every other Christian. Jesus said that the world around us would know we are His disciples by our love for each other (John 13:35). Peter likely has that in mind here.

Third, fear God. When used in reference to God, the word fear is not necessarily a command to live in shrinking terror of God, afraid that at any time He may decide to crush us. God has already demonstrated His love for us and promised us an eternal place in His family. But Peter's command reminds us to continue to hold His power, majesty, and sovereignty in awe and wonder. We are to continue to fully submit to Him as humble servants, or "slaves," as in the previous verse.

Finally, honor the emperor, or king. Again, the emperor or king may not be an honorable person. In fact, the emperor at the time Peter wrote this was probably Nero, a definitively evil leader who persecuted the people of God. Still, the command stands. As Paul wrote, there is no authority not established by God (Romans 13:1). We give honor and respect to the king as free and foreign citizens answerable to the authority who allowed the king to come to that throne.
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