In this passage, the apostle Peter is instructing his readers on how they should relate to those in authority and to each other as members of the Christian community. He commands them to show honor and respect to everyone, including those in positions of power. He also instructs them to love their fellow Christians, who are part of the spiritual "brotherhood" created by their faith in Jesus. Additionally, Peter reminds them to fear God, recognizing God's ultimate authority and submitting to Him. Finally, he specifically tells them to honor the emperor, recognizing the temporal authority given by God and being subject to it.
The passage is part of a larger section in which Peter is encouraging Christians to live exemplary lives as they face various trials and difficulties. He wants them to be conscious of their status as "aliens and strangers" in this world and to live in a way that honors their heavenly citizenship. By showing honor and respect to those in authority, loving their fellow believers, fearing God, and submitting to earthly authorities, they can demonstrate the goodness of their faith and attract non-believers to Christ.
In these verses, Peter is emphasizing the importance of Christians being good citizens, living peaceably with those around them, and submitting to the authorities established by God. This includes showing respect and obedience to government officials, even if they are not always acting justly or fairly. By doing so, Christians can witness to the power of their faith and bring glory to God, rather than causing division and strife.
It is important to note that Peter's instructions to honor and respect those in authority should not be taken as a blanket endorsement of all actions taken by those in power. Christians are called to be obedient to earthly authorities, but they are also called to follow the commands of God and to be faithful witnesses to His truth, even when it conflicts with the opinions or actions of those in authority.
1 Peter 2:17-18. Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. Servants, be in subjection to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the wicked.