“Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)
Although this book was written to Christians during a time of horrible persecution, much of it is concerned with submission. Believers are to submit to the government (2:13-17); slaves to their masters (2:18-20); wives to their husbands (3:1-6); husbands to their wives (3:7); and each one to the other, as in our text, in just the same way Christ submitted to God’s plan for His suffering and death (2:21-25).
A summary of this teaching is found in 1 Peter 3:8-12. “Be ye all of one mind” (v. 8), Peter tells us, and live in harmony. Paul taught, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). There are exceptions to the rule (e.g., the primary doctrines of Scripture), but the Christian normally should not be the one to break the peace. He should do everything short of compromise to live in harmony.
Continuing (see 1 Peter 3:8), we should have “compassion” for others (such as the rulers, employers, and spouses mentioned). We should “love as brethren” and choose to serve rather than be served. “Pitiful” is usually translated “tenderhearted,” and “courteous” implies “humble in spirit.”
We should return a blessing for a curse instead of replying in kind (1 Peter 3:9). We should choose our words, use our speech carefully (v. 10), and “eschew” (i.e., avoid) evil (v. 11), actively replacing evil behavior with good. Peace must be consciously pursued.
There is great reward in such a lifestyle and attitude. In doing so, we will “inherit a blessing” (v. 9) and “see good days” (v. 10). “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (v. 12). JDM