Continuing his exhortation on submission, Peter moves from the realm of government (cf. 1 Peter 2:13-17) to the realm of employment (cf. 1 Peter 2:18-25). Later Peter will deal with submission in the realm of the family (cf. 1 Peter 3:1-6) and the church (cf. 1 Peter 5:1-5). Not only are believers to submit to hostile and corrupt governments, but they are to submit to workplace authorities, whether they are good or evil, because of the salvation they have been given. As such, believers are called to be suffering, submissive servants, following the example of Christ the Suffering Submissive Servant.
Beginning in 1 Peter 2:11, the focus changes from the one’s creed to one’s conduct. Previously, Peter has dealt with doctrinal truths for scattered and suffering believers — salvation, obedience, holiness, and love. Now, he begins to practically demonstrate how those truths should play out as one lives and works in a hostile and pagan society. First Peter 2:11-17, begins with a practical application of holiness. Believers must live as aliens and strangers in a pagan culture. Peter then continues with a practical application of obedience. Believers must live in obedience to a pagan government.
Without a doubt, believers face many pressures. Pressures, such as being scattered and suffering can cause one’s priorities to take a back seat. Thus, Peter reminds believers that they are newborn babies and living stones. As such they must pursue their priorities to feed on God’s Word, sacrifice to God, and proclaim His praises, even under pressure.
Peter gives another command — love one another -- to help believers combat the loneliness of being scattered. In 1 Peter 1:22-25, Peter enunciates the idea that though scattered, believers are still a family — brothers and sisters in Christ. As such, he exhorts them to demonstrate sacrificial and brotherly love towards one another because they are purified and born again. These believers are scattered, but loving one another. Being scattered does not hinder believers from loving one another, instead it made the command all the more important.
Previously, Peter encouraged his readers to live their blessed life by being prepared, obedient, and holy. Preparation is continuously saturating one’s mind in God’s Word. Obedience is following the Law of God. Holiness is exhibiting a lifestyle different from this hostile, pagan world. Of these three actions, the hardest is to be holy, notably when scattered and suffering.
In the Greek, 1 Peter 1:17-21 forms a single sentence and is a midrash or exegesis on the quote from Leviticus 19:2 — “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” Striving to be holy is not easy nor does it not come automatically; it requires motivation. Peter provides two motivations for holy living — the chastening of God and the cost of redemption.