1 Peter 2:18-25 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. Whom is Peter addressing in this passage? See 1 Peter 2:18 (printed below)

Let the servants be in submission to their masters with all respect, not only submitting to the good and kind masters, but also to those who are harsh. (1 Peter 2:18)

In these verses Peter is especially addressing the household servant: a slave who may have been looked down upon with contempt, treated with abuse, and required to perform the most degrading and menial tasks. Note: as he continues in this passage, Peter is not only addressing such bondservants, but any Christian who may be encountering any form of unjust treatment.

2. What instruction does Peter give to these Christians who he is addressing? See 1 Peter 2:18 (printed above under question #1)

The apostle’s instruction may be summed up as follows: carry out your responsibilities with all reverence. That is to say, continue to fulfill your obligations and commitments, and do so with an attitude of respect, as opposed to an attitude of defiance or resentment. Peter exhorts the Christian servant to continue to fulfill his obligations and commitments not only when the person in charge is good and considerate, but even when they may show themselves to be harsh, unjust, and ungrateful. Here is the biblical command as it is presented in verse 18: at all times and under all circumstances, be conscious of your responsibilities and continue to faithfully carry them out.

3. According to Peter, what enables the Christian to carry out his responsibilities even when he encounters harsh or unjust treatment? See 1 Peter 2:19 (printed below)

It is commendable if a man endures the pain of unjust suffering because of his consciousness of God. (1 Peter 2:19)

In verse 19 the apostle Peter is describing someone who encounters unjust treatment and handles it in a Christ-like way “because of his consciousness of God.” Especially when we encounter unjust treatment, we need to be conscious of God’s presence. Especially when we encounter unjust treatment, we need to be aware of God’s sovereign control over the situation. When we encounter unjust treatment, we must be ever conscious of God’s ultimate commitment to justice. As Christians, let us handle unjust treatment in a Christ-like way, being conscious of God’s presence and character, and placing our confidence in God.

4. Of what does Peter remind these Christians who are suffering unjust treatment? See 1 Peter 2: 21-23 (printed below)

This is part of your calling, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example with the intention that you should follow in his footsteps. (22) He committed no sin, neither was any deceit found in his mouth. (23) When they insulted him, he did not insult them; when he suffered, he did not threaten; rather, he committed himself to him who judges righteously. (1 Peter 2:21-23)

In encountering such treatment, we are experiencing the life of Christ and are identified with Him. We are reminded that Christ also suffered for us, and so we must realize when we encounter suffering and unjust treatment that Christ is not asking us to undergo anything that He Himself has not personally undergone for our sake. We are reminded that Christ has left us an example: although He experienced the most awful form of abuse, He did not retaliate in kind; on the contrary, He put Himself and His cause into the hands of His heavenly Father, the true and only just Judge.

5. Of what does Peter remind us in verses 24-25 (printed below), something that should serve to temper our sense of indignation when we suffer unjust treatment?

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree; so that, having died to our sins, we might live for righteousness—by his wounds you have been healed. (25) You, like sheep, were going astray, but now you have been returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. (1 Peter 2:24-25)

Even as we are identified with our Lord in the unjust suffering He encountered, Peter reminds us to be conscious of our own lack of perfect innocence. The reason Christ suffered the agony of the cross was in order to bear our sins—we, who like sheep, were habitually wandering away from the law of God. Thus, the temptation to become self-righteous and judgmental in the face of unjust treatment should be tempered by the sobering awareness of our own sins and shortcomings. We must also be conscious of the fact that by Christ’s atoning death and resurrection we have not only received forgiveness, but have also been called to live by the righteousness of Christ our Lord—which includes handling unjust treatment in a Christ-like manner.