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A Living Stone and a Holy People (v. 1-12)
If I'm understanding this correctly, this section is a metaphor of the building of the church. The congregation are the living stones and Jesus is the cornerstone.
Seems like a fine metaphor to use, when we talk about creating any group we talk about building it, building a community for example, why not use the metaphor of actually building with stone? There are a couple of verses I wanted to single out and discuss.
v1 "So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander."
We are off to a good start in this chapter, here's a bunch of things that are bad for you, and bad for the church if you are a part of it, don't do these things. The only thing I will add here, is that it might be tempting to complain that this is obvious, but I think that would be misguided. Even if something is obvious to you, there is value in having it pointed out. Perhaps you know something is bad, but you might do it anyway without thinking about it too hard. Then if someone makes a point of it you might reevaluate and correct your own behavior.
v12 "Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation."
I'm honestly not even really sure what to make of this one. We start with a command to be honorable, which sounds good. But then these people are going to call you evildoers anyway. Alright, fair enough, there's a group of people who are going to hate you anyway, but even in the face of that you should be a good person. But then it says they will see your good deeds and glorify God. It would seem to me that they can either call you an evildoer or they can recognize your good deeds and glorify God, but how can they do both? Perhaps it has something to do with that "day of visitation". I don't really know what that means, is that when they die? Maybe that is supposed to be when Jesus finally comes down to those people personally. Actually that kinda makes sense, the command says be good around people even when they treat you like crap, eventually (once Jesus helps them see the light) they will reflect on their interaction with you and view you favorably. I wonder if I'm on to something here, I'm curious what the Christian commentaries will say.
Guzik seems to generally agree with this idea, cool.
Submission to Authority (v. 13-25)
It is the will of God that you be subject to human institutions as well as to God. You should do good and silence the ignorant people who speak against Christians.
This is interesting, it says you should follow human leaders. It would wonder how you could follow this verse if the human institution and the word of God were in conflict though. Obviously you would expect that the answer would be to listen to God, but how do you then follow this instruction. I suppose perhaps it lies in the meaning of "be subject...to every human institution". It would appear to me that this means to follow every rule, but is there another meaning that I'm not seeing?
Servants should be subject to their masters even if they are unjust. Jesus suffered even though he didn't deserve it, you should follow in his footsteps. It is a good thing if you suffer, you should be like Jesus and do not get angry or threaten in return.
First of all, what does 'servant' mean? It might mean slave, I looked at different translations and some say slave instead of servant. Some say household slaves or domestic slaves. I can't believe I'm going to write this, but the slavery itself is somewhat beside the point here, the bad thing is that the servants are supposed to be good to their masters even if they are unjust. What the hell?
As always, it is interesting to see how a Christian would try to defend something that is so obviously terrible. Guzik says the following "If we must endure hardship because of our Christian standards, it is commendable before God." Here is the good ol' Christian persecution complex again. But I would argue that what he is saying isn't even in the text. It doesn't seem to be talking about dealing with hardship from being Christian, it's just deal with hardship because your master is a piece of shit. Why should you have to take that?
He also quotes Meyer who said "Our case is like that of a criminal who had better bear quietly a sentence for a crime he has not committed, lest by too much outcry he induce investigation into a list of offenses, which are not charged against him, because they are not known." So basically, he's comparing this situation (being a slave with a shitty master) to a criminal who is in jail for a crime he didn't commit, but who should keep quiet because if they investigate too much they will find another crime for which he does deserve to be in jail. What a terrible analogy, the criminal deserves jail, he's just in there for the wrong thing, the slave was just screwed over by the world.
This is great, Gill's take is that the Jews thought that they shouldn't be slaves, and this verse along with others. Wow, so according to him the Jews tried to be anti-slavery and the bible put a stop to that idea. Amazing. If Gill is correct, this would have been a perfect time for an all loving God to jump on this opportunity and say "Yes, you are correct you should not be slaves to anyone. But that goes for everyone, not just you guys." Christians will often argue that slavery was just the way it was back then and it is unreasonable to think he would just put a stop to it. As terrible as that argument is, given this idea from Gill it is that much worse. Here is a perfect opportunity.
Up until the end here, I really though I was going to have a day where all of the summaries were good, and then BAM, right at the end, slavery. You almost got one through bible, you almost made it one day without being horrible.
For the overview post (If you think I should add or remove stuff from this list please let me know, I think it would make good conversation)
2:1 malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander are all bad things.
"So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander."
2:12 Act in an honorable manner even in the face of slander.
"Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation."
2:13 Follow all rules of earthly government
"Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution..."
2:18 Slaves, respect your masters even if they are unjust to you
"Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust."