“Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 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 healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.”
Day to day life can be grueling especially for those who have difficult employers. It is hard to go to work day in and day out, knowing that you will be given a hard time. This also applies to children in school, especially those in public schools. Many Christian children are ridiculed everyday by teachers and classmates. Some employers will push you to work more with little pay. Those in Peter’s day were no stranger to suffering at the hands of their master’s. Peter addresses slaves and instructs them in how they are to live day in and day out under their master’s rule. It is interesting that the Bible never condones slavery, yet, it never condemns it. The Bible simply teaches how masters should treat their slaves and how slaves should respond to their masters. When it comes to the New Testament writers, “they did not believe that overhauling social structures would transform culture. Their concern was the relationship of individuals to God, and they focused on the sin and rebellion of individuals against their Creator.” Though the idea of living as a slave does not resonate with us in our western culture today, we do see in this passage principles that apply to how we live in the daily grind of life. In this passage we find two basic things: commands to obey and encouragement to receive.
Commands to obey. There are basically two commands that we see in this passage. The first command is to submit to those who are over you. God has set up and allowed a certain order of things. All of us, in one way or another, have someone that we must answer to. Children are accountable to their parents. Husbands and wives are accountable to one another. Employees are accountable to their employers. Students are accountable to their teachers. CEO’s are accountable to some type of board. A pastor and his congregation are accountable to one another. All of us are accountable to God. As Christians we will be held accountable to our obedience to the scriptures and how we conduct ourselves as ambassadors of Jesus Christ. Part of that obedience to the scriptures is to submit ourselves to those who have authority over us. Here, Peter tells us that we are to submit to those who are over us whether they are good to us or not. You may work for a real slave driver, yet, you still must submit to that employer. You may have a husband that neglects you and fails in his responsibilities, yet, you still must submit to him. You may have a mom or dad that is not walking with the Lord, yet, you still must submit to them. You may have a teacher that mocks your faith, yet, you still must submit to that teacher. We may have a government that has turned its back on God, yet, we still must submit to the laws of the land. The point is that even though there are those over us who will make life miserable for us, we are still to live in submission as good citizens, pointing people to Christ by our humble spirit.
The second command is to quietly endure suffering. Peter said that it is a worthy thing to suffer wrongfully. It is better to suffer wrongfully than to suffer because we deserve it. We are instructed to endure such suffering patiently. Patient endurance is acceptable to God. It is not a matter of whether or not God relieves you of the suffering, however, it is a matter of how you live during the suffering. How do we respond when someone gives us a hard time? How do we respond to the one who takes advantage of us? Our response will either bring glory to God and point others to Jesus or it will bring shame to the name of Jesus. Think about it.
Encouragement to receive. It can be a discouraging thing to think about submission and suffering. However, Peter does not leave us in our discouragement. Instead, he encourages us with three basic thoughts. The first thought is that Jesus is our example. Verse 21 speaks of how Christ has set an example for us in suffering. Jesus suffered for us, therefore, sometimes we are called upon to suffer for Him. Suffering is a part of our sanctification process. God uses the sufferings of this life in order to conform us into the image of Jesus Christ. This suffering is a prelude to our final reward in heaven. “Why are believers called to suffer in order to receive their final reward? The answer given is that this was also the way appointed for Jesus, the Messiah”. The thing we need to continually remind ourselves of is that our suffering can never compare to the suffering that Jesus went through for us. He suffered in order that we may live. We may suffer in living for Him. Yet, it is worth it all when it comes to our heavenly reward.
A second thought is that Jesus is our substitute in death. Jesus took our place on the cross. He was beaten and bruised. He was spit upon by His own creation. He was nailed to a cross. A crown of thorns was placed on His head. A spear was thrust into His side. His blood poured from His body. The sins of the world were placed upon Him. As a result, God the Father turned His back on His Son. He was abandoned and alone. He went through all of this in order that your sins and mine would be paid for. He suffered on our behalf in order to free us from the penalty of sin. In all that He went through, He never once complained. He did not retaliate. He did not fight back. He humbly took on the suffering as a lamb going to the slaughter, never opening His mouth in vengeance. This is why we are commanded to quietly endure suffering. Jesus is our example of how we are to endure suffering. No matter what the world may do to us, we quietly endure and take comfort in the fact that we are sharing in the sufferings of Christ.
A final word of encouragement is that Jesus is our shepherd. There are many great truths in considering Jesus as our shepherd. You and I were lost in our sins, yet Jesus paved the way for our salvation through the shedding of His own blood. As we have believed on the Lord Jesus, we have been brought into a right relationship with God and Jesus is the shepherd of our souls. He is looking out for us, protecting us, caring for us, leading us, and loving us. When we suffer in this life, we must take comfort in the fact that our shepherd is with us and He will never leave us nor forsake us.
“Several years ago a man reported his observations of the effects of a hurricane on a southeastern Gulf Coast town. As he walked up and down the ravaged streets, he observed that the palm trees had been uprooted and flung about. Once tall and majestic, their root systems were too shallow to withstand the hurricane force winds. But as he proceeded, he came upon a lone oak tree. The leaves had been blown away and some of the smaller branches ripped off, but the roots had gone deep, and the tree held its position. And in due season it would again produce leaves. So it is with us. If we are to endure in times of great stress and difficulty, we must beforehand have put down a depth of character that will sustain the blows of the trial.” Our foundation, our roots, should be firmly secure in Jesus. The truth is: we will suffer in this life. There will be times when we are taken advantage of and we will suffer wrongfully. There are many storms in life, but if we rest securely in the loving arms of our shepherd, we will make it through the daily grind.
 Schreiner, T. R. (2003). 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Vol. 37, p. 136). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
 Schreiner, T. R. (2003). 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Vol. 37, p. 141). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
 Green, M. P. (Ed.). (1989). Illustrations for Biblical Preaching: Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor’s illustration file.). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.