1 Peter 2 v 11 - 15

This has proved a very challenging passage for believers living under tyrannical leaders throughout Christian history. Readers must remind themselves that Peter wrote these words during a time of the worst persecution Christians have experienced and that throughout history, there have been believers who have recognised the limit of this command and that the regime they have been under has gone beyond this limit. Jesus declared, ''Give unto Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's''. He said these words as He presented a coin to pay tax, but this is an external action, it does not involve the heart. One of the greatest examples of a Christian recognising the evil nature of the leaders of the country to whom they belonged was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German believer who lived in the days of Nazi Germany, challenged the German church to stand up against Hitler and when they did not, set about attempting to assassinate him and had his life ended in a German prison. Peter is here giving a declaration of how Christians are to live generally. The declaration of Jesus meant that believers should seek to live peaceful lives and not become involved in insurrections. Their commitment should be to witnessing to their neighbours and their community about the love of Jesus and we can note that this is emphasised by Jesus in the fact that He made no statement about slavery or the treatment of women generally. However, He brought freedom to women and slaves through the way He treated them as equals. Examples which come to mind are the way He responded to the woman with the issue of blood as she reached out to touch His cloak whilst He was on His way to heal Jairus, the Synagogue ruler's, daughter (Mark 5 v 22-34). In Leviticus we are told that during their monthly period and for a week after, women were to be seen as unclean: this woman never stopped bleeding, so that when she touched Jesus He was rendered unclean. It was an act of desperation, but the way Jesus responded brought healing to her sense of worth as well as physical healing. Also, with slaves their role was elevated in the early Church and we read in histories of Christianity that there were slaves who lead churches. Paul endorses Onesimus, whom we are told elsewhere in Scripture was a runaway slave (Philemon v 10, Colossians 4 v 9) . The revolution took place through the Christian church, but gradually and quietly, so neither the Jewish religious leaders or Roman authorities felt it necessary to squash the Church in its early and vulnerable stage.

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