1 Peter 2:13,17 – “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; v.17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.”
The cruel Diocletian was bitterly persecuting the Church. Actors on the stage often included in their routine a parody on baptism, the Lord’s supper, and other items of the Christian faith. An entertainer named Genesius, who had been reared in a Christian home, was doing a pantomime on baptism one day when suddenly the arrow of conviction pierced his heart. To the amazement of the crowd and the consternation of the emperor who was seated in a box near the stage, Genesius cried out, “I want to receive the grace of Christ that I may be ‘born again’ and be set free from the sins which have been my ruin!” Turning fearlessly toward Diocletian, he said, “Illustrious Emperor, and all of you who have laughed loudly at this parody, believe me, Christ is the true King!”
The enraged Roman ruler demanded a slow and torturous death for the actor, and Genesius died a noble witness for Christ. But did you notice how he addressed the temporal ruler? He called him Illustrious Emperor.”
Peter, in today’s Scripture lesson declares that believers should respectfully yield to authority, and closes the discussion of this subject with the words, “Fear God. Honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17). We are to hold God in reverential awe, but we are also instructed to honor earthly rulers who have been placed in their positions by His permissive decree. This means we will be submissive even when we cannot obey, and that we will be respectful even when we do not agree with their actions.