First Peter is a subtle and subversive letter. I wish I could communicate more in the style it is written.
One of the main themes of 1 Peter is asking Christ followers to submit to human authority. We like to think of our Christian leaders differently (or higher) than those of the world; but that is more a traditional thought (likely taken on from Catholicism) than a Biblical thought. The Bible doesn’t have a place for hierarchy among the church, yet speaks volumes on the equality of every believer within the royal priesthood calling. This is one of my pet peeves with the church, we expect the pastors to do the work rather than taking ownership ourselves as “the church.”
Some have even gone as far as to say the Bible doesn’t really create a picture of hired staff that we have made the church out to be today. That the biblical picture of the church was lay leadership. That thought would also pass on to the money given in a New Testament biblical picture going to support the needy and missions, not the elaborate buildings and salaries.
The Flavor of 1 Peter, who some would say was the singular leader of the church, is actually quite contrary to that thinking. Peter insists that we have freedom under Christ and grants the emperor the same honor that is due everyone else. True equality.
Peter demonstrates this by asking slaves to submit to their masters and wives to their husbands. These slaves are not asked to be doormats, but as Christ followers who subvert injustice the way Jesus did— by bearing up under it and showing humility and servitude. This is the backwards kingdom ultimate sign of biblical leadership within the church.
Likewise, he admonishes wives not submit to unbelieving husbands from a posture of inferiority, but from one of triumph that wins over their husbands by the superior power of godly conduct. Perhaps this was cultural, but perhaps it wasn’t!
The head. kephalē (Greek: κεφαλή) appears some 75 times in the Greek New Testament. It is a borrowed word, in Greek it is known as a military term and shares a similar meaning to the more popular word phalanx (Ancient Greek: φάλαγξ; plural phalanxes or phalanges, φάλαγγες, phalanges) which was a military formation, usually composed of heavy infantry armed with spears, pikes, or similar pole weapons. An important aspect was that it marched forward as one entity. The head referred to the first part of the formation, guarding or revering those behind in a place of honor.
The head took the brunt of the attack. If you think of a Vietnam style formation and somebody tells you to take the lead or be the head… it’s not necessarily a place of great honor… it’s the place of great servitude… and there’s a very good chance that you might be asked to give the ultimate sacrifice of your life itself. Yet how many times in history have we seen the person who supposed to be the greatest, the commander or the general take the lead and urge the troops on towards battle.
When you take this mindset & apply it to Christ as the head of the church and the husband is the head of the wife it takes on a different meaning than what you might consider it traditionally.
It’s a position of extreme servitude, not just to the ones you love the most, but to everyone. It’s the greatest measure of honor towards equality within the church.
Today I ask you to take on the mindset of Peter and that you might not esteem to be the greatest of the church by the world standards, but to be the greatest servant… to be a picture of Christ in humility.