“Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.”
be submissive to your masters
The word “submissive” means to be obedient to constituted authority. Industry has authority like any other facet of life.
Some of these servants no doubt thought that their conversion would free them from subjugation. They might have thought that they should be free from their cruel masters. “Submissive” means to do their job honestly and devotedly. Peter asks them to submit to austerity and inconvenience.
with all fear
The phrase “with all fear” does not mean in dread of punishment from our employers. God’s desire is that these servants submit with a sense of “all respect” for their masters. God wants us to have respect for the system of authority we call employer/employee relations.
God wants us to respect the constituted authority of our employment.
All of us have had disagreeable bosses. No doubt all of us wanted to buck the tiger at times. There are many ways of doing this. We can sit around and do a sloppy job. We can go to the human resource department and complain. The Word of God advocates none of these.
As a born again believer, our job is full-time Christian service. If we disagree with management, God wants us to do it “with all fear.” To respect authority does not mean that we respect the person. It does mean that we respect the authority that they represent.
Like everything else in life, business runs on authority. Without authority, the company would collapse. Without authority, the business would end in chaos. This is true of the military. This is true of family life. When there are two people, there must be some organization. Who has respect for institutions and people in institutions today? We are on a toboggan slide toward anarchy. Every man does what his right in his own eyes.