What does 1 Peter 2:17 mean?
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.
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
1 Peter 2:13–25 reveals God’s will for those who are free in Christ: to willingly submit to every human authority for God’s sake. This includes emperors, governors, kings, and even slave masters. Peter does not endorse slavery, but he does instruct Christian slaves to endure unjust suffering, as Jesus did for our sake on the cross. He does not expect us to ''obey'' when the instructions are sinful. Rather, Christians are called to imitate Christ by suffering for doing good. Because Jesus was willing to do so, we lost sheep are now under the protection of our shepherd.
Chapter Summary:
Peter gets specific about what it means to live as God’s set-apart people. Christ is the foundation stone of the spiritual house God is building. We must engage in battle with our selfishness and desire to sin. This includes submitting to human authorities, no matter how evil or harsh. It means enduring suffering, as Christ did for our sake when He died on the cross. Our role is not to fight a physical war for justice here; we will be going home soon.
Chapter Context:
First Peter 1 described the glorious reality of our present and future as God’s children, by His grace and through our faith in Jesus. He called us a holy people redeemed by God for new purposes. That means believers must live differently than those in the world around us. In this chapter, Peter narrows down exactly what it means to lead a holy life, including doing battle with our own desire to sin. This also means suffering under human authorities, even unjust ones.
Book Summary:
Some 30 years after the resurrection of Jesus, Christians are facing greater persecution for their faith. How should they respond? How should we respond to suffering today? The apostle Peter writes this letter both to comfort believers and to encourage them to stay strong. He urges them to put all their hope in their perfect future with Christ, and to obey and trust Him in the present, even in their suffering. Christ suffered greatly; now the Christ-followers have the opportunity to follow Him even in this, showing His grace and power in their hopefulness, obedience, and faith.
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