11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
[Abstain from fleshly lusts] As you are temporary residents, passing through on your journey toward your heavenly home, do not entangle your affections with earthly things. When others spend all their time and employ all their skill addressing earthly concerns, they are not strangers, they are at home, they are not pilgrims, they are seeking an earthly possesion. Heaven is your home; seek that. God is your portion; seek him. See Matthew 6:19-24, and in the same chapter, Matthew 6:33.
12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
[Having you conversation honest] Strangers who live by a different code naturally generate suspicion and concern among the natives. Our code is found in the word of God and it is necessary for us to be in conformity to it so that the ill will and evil speaking directed toward us is unfounded. Wise people will see God in us and through us and will be attracted to him.
13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;
[Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man] In every settled state and under every form of political government genuine Christians obey the law, "For the Lord's sake." This is our Christian duty.
As you read this do thoughts of, "Yes, but..." and, "What if...?" spring to mind? Me too. Let us put these distractions aside for now and reread the verse, listening to what the Holy Spirit is telling us about God's will.
13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether
it be to the king, as supreme;
[For so is the will of God] God, the supreme governor, tells us that it is his will for us to act uprightly and obediently at all times, thus confounding the ignorance of foolish men who assert that our religion makes us bad subjects.
16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.
[As free] The Jews preferred to think of themselves as a free people, owing allegiance to God alone; hence they were continually rebelling against the Roman government to which God had subjected them because of their rebellion against him. The malicious among them engaged in wicked behavior under the guise of rejecting ungodly rule.
[As the servants of God] We are free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2-4) but are indebted to our Savior to serve him in the manner he has prescribed.
17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
[Honor all men] We are to be attractors, not repulsors. We are not to drive people further from the knowledge of Christ by scornful attitudes.
[Love the brotherhood] All true Christians who form one great family. John 13:34-35.
[Fear God] Who gives you these commandments.
[Honor the king] For God has placed him over you. Romans 13:1-7.
18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.
[Servants, be subject] You can't even use the excuse that your superior is difficult to serve. Ephesians 6:5-9.
19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief,
[For this is thankworthy] If, in conscientious living, you suffer evil, this is in the sight of God thankworthy, pleasing and proper. It shows that you prefer his authority to your own ease and comfort. It is not popular to be honest in a dishonest society or to avoid the widely accepted sins of the day.
21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us,
leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
[Leaving us an example] These are difficult words to hear. Our instinct when treated "unfairly" is to stand up for our rights. Yet the example held out to us is Jesus himself who taught the truth vigorously but when personally maligned offered no resistance, leaving the redress up to the father.
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
I believe it is more important to God that we represent him well
by our faith and conduct so that people might be attracted to him, rather than
spending our energy militantly attacking the evils which surround us in this
Based upon excerpts from Adam Clarke's Commentary, 2nd edition published in New York by Lane and Scott, 1850. More recent editions may be purchased from Amazon.com
This page updated 02/16/2007Copyright (C) 1999,2003,2006,2007 Robert C. Denig. All rights reserved