2:13 Be subject to every human institution 1 for the Lord’s sake, whether to a king as supreme 2:14 or to governors as those he commissions 2 to punish wrongdoers and praise 3 those who do good. 2:15 For God wants you 4 to silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. 2:16 Live 5 as free people, not using your freedom as a pretext for evil, but as God’s slaves. 6 2:17 Honor all people, love the family of believers, 7 fear God, honor the king.
1 tn Or “every human being”; Grk “every human creation,” denoting either everything created for mankind (NRSV mg: “every institution ordained for human beings”) or every creature who is human. The meaning of the verb “be subject” and the following context supports the rendering adopted in the text.
2 tn Grk “those sent by him.”
3 tn Grk “for the punishment…and the praise.”
4 tn Grk “because thus it is God’s will.”
5 tn There is no main verb in this verse, but it continues the sense of command from v. 13, “be subject…, as free people…not using…but as slaves of God.”
6 tn Traditionally, “servants” or “bondservants.” Though δοῦλος (doulos) is normally translated “servant,” the word does not bear the connotation of a free individual serving another. BDAG notes that “‘servant’ for ‘slave’ is largely confined to Biblical transl. and early American times…in normal usage at the present time the two words are carefully distinguished” (BDAG 260 s.v.). The most accurate translation is “bondservant” (sometimes found in the ASV for δοῦλος), in that it often indicates one who sells himself into slavery to another. But as this is archaic, few today understand its force.
sn Undoubtedly the background for the concept of being the Lord’s slave or servant is to be found in the Old Testament scriptures. For a Jew this concept did not connote drudgery, but honor and privilege. It was used of national Israel at times (Isa 43:10), but was especially associated with famous OT personalities, including such great men as Moses (Josh 14:7), David (Ps 89:3; cf. 2 Sam 7:5, 8) and Elijah (2 Kgs 10:10); all these men were “servants (or slaves) of the Lord.”
7 tn Grk “love the brotherhood.” The Greek term “brotherhood” is used in a broad sense to connote familial relationships within the family of God. BDAG 19 s.v. ἀδελφότης 1 suggests “a fellowship,” but in the present context “love the fellowship of believers” could be taken to mean “love to participate in fellowship with believers,” whereas the present verse suggests the Christian community as a whole, in familial terms, is in view. This same word occurs in 5:9; there it has been translated “brothers and sisters.”