Reading Scripture with John Calvin: 1 Peter 2.17

1 Peter 2.17

[17] Show proper respect to everyone, love your fellow believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

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COMMENTARY:

Calvin has given me approximately one page worth of material to work with here. According to his interpretation, this verse is a summary of all that has gone before, and it is rather self-explanatory. The movement is from a general concern that should be had for all human persons, followed by a special concern for fellow believers, rooted in the fear of God, from which obedience to the government derives. Calvin adds that the emperor / king is specifically mentioned because it represents the most despised form of government, and that all other forms of government should be understood as included under this form.

If you are looking for one verse that encapsulates the Christian ethic, this is a good place to start. I highly recommend memorizing this verse, which isn’t a very daunting challenge. But, I also recommend that you DO NOT memorize the TNIV version I have given above. Calvin’s translation as rendered into English, which is very reminiscent of some of the older English renderings of this verse, is much more evocative, in my humble opinion. Here is my own translation, which has slightly modified Calvin’s:
“Respect all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Respect the king.”
Feel free to substitute “fellowship” or “church” or something like that for “brotherhood” in the above (as the TNIV has done). The Greek in question is the expected and rather benign “adelphoteta”, for those of you who care about these things.

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