Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles begins Peter’s encouragement to believers as Christ’s representatives on earth. As ambassadors for Christ, we have a responsibility to be witnesses to the effectiveness of the Gospel in our lives. We are to live a life of excellence before unbelievers (the Gentiles), as a testimony to the change which has been brought about in our lives by following Jesus Christ. Every Christian is an ambassador for Jesus Christ. The Greek word for ambassador is “presbeuo” and means “eldership, aged or rank.” This makes perfect sense for Christians, since you cannot properly represent Jesus Christ on earth if you are not advancing in the Christian Way of Life. (II Corinthians 5:20; Ephesians 6:20)
The Royal Ambassadorship of the believer is your visible relationship with others and is the result of (not the means of) your spiritual life (your invisible relationship with God). Just like non-Christian ambassadors, there are effective ambassadors and non-effective ambassadors. As believers, we take our precedence from Jesus Christ. Christ was God’s ambassador on earth. Since Christ has ascended to Heaven, believers are now God’s representatives on earth. With Christ as our standard, believers are to become effective ambassadors for Christ. (Hebrews 1:1-9) The effective ambassador is a blessing to others. God blesses the believer when he has developed capacity to receive blessing. Capacity is developed by the believer-priest as he builds his relationship with God. God never blesses the believer because of his production as an ambassador. This means that the primary responsibility of the royal ambassador is the application of Bible doctrine. (As a priest, the believer is responsible for the perception of Bible doctrine). Divine production is always the result of a right relationship with God, never the means. Before the believer can be an effective ambassador for Christ, he must have a developing spiritual life. If he gets the “cart before the horse”, his ambassadorship becomes legalism or Christian activism (trying to reform the devil’s world). (Matthew 6:33)
So that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they on account of your good works, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation refers to the testimony of a believer when he is properly executing the Christian Way of Life and producing divine good. Each of us is being evaluated by others, whether we realize it or not. You are the best Christian that someone knows and it is your responsibility to testify of Christ’s life-changing power in your life by how you live your life. We must each ask ourselves, “Am I a reflection Jesus Christ in my life?” Unbelievers often get their only clue about the grace of God by what they see in believers.
In the thing in which they slander you could be anything the unbeliever views (normally erroneously) to be an evil or “ungodly” deed. However, as they observe you over a period of time they will come to realize they were mistaken and what they thought was evil was instead divine production (normally grace as opposed to legalism). The truth is that unbelievers and most believers have no clue to what the Bible says about anything. They base their opinion on hearsay from many different sources none of which reflect Biblical truth. But you can change their idea of Christianity by your good works (divine production).
Your good works is referring to divine production and has to do with how you face every situation in life all the time being observed by others. Commonly called “Christian service,” true divine production is radically different from what most of us think. Divine production is the function of the royal ambassador motivated by his relationship with God. (Romans 12:11) Divine production can be visible or invisible. For example, prayer is invisible divine production. Sharing the Gospel is visible divine production. Both are rewardable when done from the proper motivation of love for God and impersonal love for others. Certain categories of divine production are common to all believers and some are fulfilled through the function of our spiritual gifts. For example, all believers are commanded to exhibit the character of Christ, but not all believers have the gift of pastor-teacher. (Romans 12:6-8)
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to government as sent by Him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right refers to one aspect of divine production which can be observed by unbelievers and where we can be witnesses for Christ in respect to authority. Life is made up of authority. The Greek word for submit is “hupotasso,” which means to stand in line under authority. It was originally a military term. It means you are in line and you are subject to command. So it finally comes to mean to be in subjection to, to recognize authority of or to be subordinate to.
This verse is a reference to the principle of divine establishment. Sometime in eternity past God the Father designed a plan for mankind based upon His grace, His righteousness, His justice and His perfect character. God is perfect and His plan is perfect, even with the introduction of man, who would become imperfect. God’s plan depends on God’s grace: in salvation Jesus Christ accomplishes the plan; in the Christian Way of Life the Holy Spirit accomplishes the plan; in eternity God the Father accomplishes the plan. It is always God who accomplishes the plan. Therefore, it is always grace. (John 3:16,18; Ephesians 1:1-14; I Corinthians 12:4-11; II Corinthians 5:8)
Under God’s grace policy certain principles or divine laws were established to ensure the function and the perpetuation of the human race. These principles or laws are called Divine Establishment and are given by God to believers and unbelievers alike. Within these laws there is no discrimination based on race, nationality, gender or any other factor. God’s laws of divine establishment apply equally to all members of the human race in all dispensations. This means that anyone, believer or unbeliever, can have a peaceful, happy life if they apply these principles. On the other hand, failure to abide by these principles or laws by individuals or nations brings only disaster.
A divine institution is a law or principle established by God for the entire human race for all dispensations. In order to provide protection for a nation and its citizens, God established the authority of human government. Nations, regardless of type, were established to provide the basic freedoms. These freedoms are privacy, the right to succeed or fail, protection from outside predators, freedom to accept or reject Jesus Christ, freedom of worship and free enterprise. By following this divine establishment law of nationalism, believers and unbelievers are free to pursue their dreams. (Genesis 10:5; Deuteronomy 32:8; Romans 13:1-7)
In order to prevent people from destroying themselves, God introduced human government as a ruling factor for the nation. Human government was given by God for all nations. It was the confusion of languages and the dispersion of mankind that God used to introduce human government into the human race. Tribal or clan leaders sat as a governing board for various nations. (Genesis 11:1-9)
As history has progressed, nations have risen and fallen, some good, some bad, but the concept of nations still exists. It is when individual nations fail to exist under a “one-world government” (as in the Tribulation) that freewill will no longer exist, marriage and family will disintegrate and the practice of nationalism will not be allowed. Nations are designed by God for the perpetuation of the human race, for freedom to accept or reject Jesus Christ, freedom to worship, freedom to succeed or fail and protection from interior and exterior predators. It is mankind that corrupts this divine institution and introduces evil into a national entity.
A Biblical pattern for a nation is one where freedom exists for all people (believers and unbelievers) and is governed by “the common good for all” concept. This pattern rejects anything that would subvert or corrupt the nation. This subversion or corruption can be, but is not limited to, music, art, literature and drama (including movies and television in our culture). When these cultural activities become corrupt, the people of the influenced nation begin to act out the pattern of behavior that they are being taught by the various medias. This bad behavior eventuates in several cycles of divine discipline, until the nation is destroyed from within or from without. Only a nation that remains true to the Biblical concept of a nation will prosper and survive.
Without authority the human race would be in such a chaotic condition that it would rival the days of Noah and the Flood. The ultimate authority, of course, is God, but He has given mankind these divine establishment laws and a government entity to enforce them so that we can live happy, productive lives in an atmosphere of freedom. Believers and unbelievers alike can enjoy their lives on earth if they adhere, either consciously or unconsciously, to the principles of Divine Establishment. The difference is that the believer has the power of the Holy Spirit and his eternal destination is Heaven. Therefore, the believer has no excuse for living a life of inferiority. When the unbeliever chooses to reject truth, he simply “reaps what he sows.” However, in the case of the believer, he not only “reaps what he sows,” he also comes under divine discipline for the rejection of truth (God’s authority). Often, an unbeliever who applies these principles is a much better person and exhibits more of the character of Jesus Christ (without knowing it, of course) than a believer who has rejected the authority of God in his life (Bible doctrine).
For the believer, God has established divine authority in four categories: 1) The Local Church, 2) The Pastor-Teacher, 3) The Man in the Home and 4) Parents in the Home.
In the Church Age, God has designated the local church as the place where the Word of God is to be taught by a pastor-teacher. We are commanded to assemble ourselves for the teaching of Bible doctrine and we are to support the local church with our prayers, our finances, our attendance, etc. Local churches are to be autonomous and free from influence by any type of hierarchy. The local pastor-teacher is the ultimate authority and responsible before God for all his actions. Deacons were also authorized in the New Testament as servants to the local body and believers are commanded to function under their spiritual gift or gifts. (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 5:24; Colossians 1:18; Hebrews 10:25)
The office and gift of pastor-teacher is given only to men and is given for the local church as the final ruling authority based on “rightly dividing the truth”. The pastor is commanded to watch over the souls of those under his care. The pastor is not to be a tyrant or a bully, but is to shepherd the “flock” of believers that God has placed under his authority. It is the accurate teaching of God’s Word that establishes his authority, as the authority from God, and is to be accepted by the members of the local church. If a person cannot accept the authority of a local pastor-teacher, they should look elsewhere for their right pastor-teacher. Plurality of elders (pastors) is not a Biblical concept and can lead to divided authority and confusion. The pastor must have the authority to protect and warn against self-righteous legalism, false teachings and anything that would distract or divide the congregation. (I Corinthians 16:15-16; I Thessalonians 5:12; Hebrews 13:7,17)
God has placed the man in the place of authority in the home. It is his duty and responsibility to provide for and lead his family. Respect for his authority is earned as he properly guides his wife and children to spiritual truth and exhibits the love that Christ exhibited for the Church in every area of the home life. Just like the pastor-teacher, the husband is not to use his authority from God to become a bully or a tyrant. Severe divine discipline will be the result of such actions, not to mention the loss of respect and love from his family, especially his wife. The man in the home is to be a teacher and should always take the lead in the development of his own spiritual life through the consistent study and application of God’s Word. Only in this way will he have the knowledge necessary to be the spiritual leader and set the proper example that God has commanded. (Ephesians 5:21-6:4)
Divine authority over children in the home has been given to the parents, father and mother. It is this authority that is the basis for an orderly, stable society. Breakdown in parental authority in the home leads to breakdown in authority in every area of society. Respect for authority begins at home. With this authority also comes great responsibility and great accountability. It is the responsibility of parents to share the Gospel with their children and to teach them God’s Word. Respect for persons in authority (such as teachers and law enforcement officers), respect for the privacy and property of others and respect for their country should be taught in every home. Proper training in the home by spiritually mature parents will at least give the child the information they need to become happy, productive adults. (Ephesians 6:1-4)