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Lesson 4: Social Relationships *

Introduction: How should we relate to the government? How should we relate to our employer? How should we relate to our spouse? These are practical questions that vary to some degree with the nature of the government, your employer and your spouse. Nevertheless, Peter gives us critical advice on all three of these areas. His direction runs counter to some current thinking, so prepare to be challenged. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Government

    1. Read 1 Peter 2:13-14. Peter makes a distinction between kings and governors. I've never lived under the authority of an earthly king, but I've worked with governors. What point is Peter making when he writes of kings and their governors? (He tells us to submit both to the king, as the supreme authority, and to those delegated to wield the king's authority.)

      1. What is the principal reason why we should submit to governmental authority? ("For the Lord's sake." This has to do with God's reputation.)

        1. What is the secondary reason we should submit to governmental authority? (It can "punish those who do wrong and ... commend those who do right.")

    2. Read 1 Peter 2:15. Peter assumes that when we submit to the authority of the government that we are "doing good." Is that true? What about the Roman government of Peter's time? What about the authority that told the disciples not to preach and worked to crucify Jesus?

      1. What does Peter say is the goal of submitting? (To "silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.")

        1. If these men are both ignorant and foolish, why should we care? (This gets back to the reputation of God.)

    3. I'm a little troubled by what Peter is saying. Ignorant and foolish men are going to get things wrong. Is Peter saying that we should not do good, when it is against the law, because of ignorant and foolish men?

      1. Let's explore this a bit more for the United States. Who is the "king" here? Is it the President or is it you? (The authority, according to the U.S. Constitution, resides in the people. It is the people who decide who will be their president and their governors. Does that difference mean that "submit" to "every authority" has a different meaning here?

      2. Let's talk about authority and "doing good." In the United States abortion and same sex marriage are legal. Taking the life of another to benefit you is what I call the "anti-gospel." Same sex marriage is not only specifically condemned by the Bible ( Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:26-28), it is contrary to the creation plan for marriage. Should we say that we are the "authority" and we should fight against what is legal, or should we submit to the government's decision?

    4. Read 1 Peter 2:16. Notice that Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:15 about "doing good" and here writes about our "freedom" being "a cover-up for evil."

      1. What "freedom" does he mean? (Following the law of the land.)

      2. What do these two instructions, to do good and not evil, tell us with regard to laws which promote evil?

      3. Peter tells us to "live as servants of God." Does this suggest another path - not resisting evil laws, but rather making personal decisions that promote good? (Some Christians will interpret this to mean that they should ignore whatever evil the government might allow, and pay attention only to their own lives. On the other hand, if you can change the course of history by your influence, do you have an obligation to do it?)

    5. Read 1 Peter 2:17. Do you show respect to those political and moral views you think are wrong? (We need to show respect regardless of whether we think the other side is foolish and depraved.)

      1. Let me ask Peter, and you can answer for him, are you showing "respect" by referring to "the ignorant talk of foolish men" ( 1 Peter 2:15)?

  2. Employer

    1. Read 1 Peter 2:18. Since I'm doubtful that anyone reading this lesson is an actual slave, how would you apply this lesson to your employer?

      1. Would you support a labor union? Do they promote respect for employers?

    2. Read 1 Peter 2:19. Have you been treated unjustly at work? Why does Peter say it is "commendable" to endure unjust suffering? (It has to do with being "conscious of God.")

      1. What do you think that means: be conscious of God when you endure suffering? (Jesus suffered for us, and He is our Master.)

      2. What is the principal difference between you and a slave? (You can change your job.)

        1. Is that what we should do when we have unjust employers? (Yes! Peter is writing to people who cannot make this change. You can. But, until you make the change you should follow Peter's advice to slaves.)

    3. Read 1 Peter 2:20-23. Peter tells us that we deserve no praise for taking a beating when we deserve it. However, when we do not deserve it we are following in the footsteps of Jesus. Where does our hope for justice lie? (In God. We entrust ourselves to Him who judges justly.)

    4. Read 1 Peter 2:24-25. Jesus had a reason for His suffering. What is your reason for suffering? (It has to be the same - that it will bring glory to God.)

    5. Before we close on these two sections, consider the difference between being under the authority of Rome or under the authority of someone who owns you, and being a citizen in a democracy and working for an employer you choose. What principles Peter expresses apply to us today?

  3. Spouse

    1. Read 1 Peter 3:1-2 and 1 Peter 3:5-6. Is Peter addressing this advice only to women who are married to pagans? (No. Abraham was not a pagan, yet Sarah illustrates what Peter describes.)

      1. What do you think it means to "be submissive?"

    2. Let's skip down to 1 Peter 3:8. What is Peter's universal advice to all believers? (Live in harmony, be sympathetic, compassionate and humble.)

      1. If I am to be sympathetic, compassionate and humble to fellow Christians in general, what kind of attitude should I (a husband) have toward my wife? (Obviously, at least that!)

      2. Imagine a married couple where the husband is sympathetic, compassionate and humble toward his wife and the wife is submissive towards her husband. Does that make sense in the modern world?

      3. Read Ephesians 5:33. What attitude does Paul tell a husband he should have toward his wife? (He should love her as he loves himself.)

        1. Notice that Paul tells wives to "respect" their husbands. How important is that in a marriage?

    3. Read 1 Peter 3:7. What does Peter say about husbands respecting their wives? (He says respect is due. Thus, in a Christian marriage, the husband and wife should respect each other.)

      1. What is on the line for a husband who mistreats his wife? (His communications with God are "hindered.")

    4. This discussion might seem odd in modern times and infuriate some feminists. The divorce rate is high in the United States, and the percentage of couples who live together without marriage is substantial. What does that suggest about the merit of modern views on marriage? (They obviously do not work very well. We can hardly reject the advice of Peter and Paul when current advice leads to poor results.)

    5. We skipped over 1 Peter 3:3-4. Read it. Does this tell women not to spend money on their hair, wear poor clothes and avoid jewelry? (No. Rather, it says that your true beauty should come from your personality, not what you wear.)

      1. Is this good advice when you are looking for a spouse? Look for characteristics that do not change with time?

    6. Friend, do you notice a pattern in Peter's advice? That pattern is to have an attitude of respect and submission toward authority. Rebels are headed for trouble. Will you re-examine your attitudes today?

  4. Next week: Living for God.
* Copr. 2017, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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