13. Would you like to explain to me the following words of Peter (1 Peter 2:13-14), for we are studying the first epistle of Peter and there are various interpretations?




“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man [1] for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well”.


[1] The IBRV and the IBDV read ‘creata dagli uomini,’ that is, ‘created by men’


These verses mean that we as Christians have to submit ourselves to every authority created by men. However keep in mind that even though Peter says that they are created by men the Bible clearly states that “there is no power [authority] but of God: the powers [authorities] that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1). Therefore the words ‘created by men’ must be interpreted in the light of these words written by Paul.

I explain to you this concept through the following passage of the law. God said to Israel: “Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment” (Deuteronomy 16:18) – The NIV reads: “Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the Lord your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly”) - therefore it was God who commanded that there should be judges and officials among His people. But who had to appoint or create them? Men, for God said “Appoint judges and officials”. Therefore on the one hand those authorities were established by God whereas on the other hand they were created by men. I think it is evident.

I will give you now an example taken from the New Testament. Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea, was established by the emperor of Rome, yet when he said to Jesus: ‘Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?’ Jesus answered him: “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin” (John 19:11). Therefore Jesus recognized that the roman Governor named Pontius Pilate had that particular power toward Him, but that power was given to Pontius Pilate by God and not by men, even though he had been appointed to the governorship by men.

In the light of all this, therefore, it does not matter what kind of authority is ruling a nation, that is, it does not matter if it is a democratic authority or a despotic authority, if it is an authority of the Right or of the Left, etc, all governing authorities were established by God, and so even if we don’t like them – humanly speaking – we must be subject to them for our good. Consider that even the king of Egypt who treated the Israelites badly and at the first refused to let the Israelites go free, had been established by God, as it is written: “Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, ….” (Romans 9:17).

We must submit ourselves to the authorities for the sake of the name of the Lord, for it is evident that since we must honour the name of the Lord and cause His name to be glorified in us, we must do every effort to prevent the governing authorities from blaspheming the name of the Lord because of us, and therefore we must cling to what is good.

The authorities to which we must submit go from kings to governors (obviously today in this nation – Italy – the highest authority has a different name for we have not a king, instead, as for the governors, the heads of the Italian Regions are also called ‘governors’ but they don’t have the same powers the roman governors had at that time). As for the governors, Peter says that they are sent by the king for the punishment of evildoers - or as Paul says, they are God’s servants, agents of wrath “to bring punishment on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:4 - NIV) - and for the praise of them that do well; - doesn’t Paul say: “Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same” (Romans 13:3)?

Therefore, if we live as wrongdoers we will be punished as the other wrongdoers, instead if we live honestly and justly then the authorities will commend us.

Therefore we must do good, and only good, to honour the Lord before the governing authorities. In this way, that is, by doing good, we will put to silence all those who speak against us as evildoers (1 Peter 2:15).

Of course, if the governing authorities command us to do something that is contrary to the will of God in Christ Jesus for us, we ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29; Daniel 3:1-30; 6:1-28; Exodus 1:15-21)