Bible Class Notes on 1 Peter 2:19 | Notes on the Petrine Epistles
Here Peter shows why one should submit to even the cruelest of masters—he has God’s approval.
“Approved” is actually ‘grace.” The idea here is not “unmerited favor.” The idea is simply “favor”—One receives God’s favor for enduring in doing what is right.
These slaves who suffer mistreatment need to be “mindful of God.” The phrase is literally “conscience of God.” Some want to use the root meaning of “conscience” which is “conscious.” The idea would be that one needs to be mindful of God. Hence, the Revised Standard Version translation of “mindful of God.” However, this exegesis is based upon the root meaning of the word ‘conscience” and not its regular meaning in Koine Greek.
The translation “conscience of God” seems to be best. “Conscience,” of course, refers to our innate moral compass. But just what does “conscience of God” mean? Does “of God” simply describe “conscience?” This would mean a “God-like” conscience. Does “of God” mean that God gave the conscience?
This second view seems to be correct. Consciences need to be trained. As we read Scripture which God gave, our consciences will be trained.
Slaves would receive God’s favor if they endured pain while suffering unjustly. The pain under discussion here would be literal physical pain.
Aristotle taught that no injustice could be done to a slave. No matter how cruel a master was to a slave this was not “injustice.” The master owned the slave, and he could, therefore, not possibly be unjust to him. The slave was simply property, not a person. Physical punishment was common for slaves—this is emphasized by the next verse: “For what credit is it, if when you do wrong and are beaten for it you take it patiently?”
The slave would need to endure such physical abuse. He could not retaliate, not attempt to get even. Such actions would be maintaining “good conduct among the Gentiles.” To keep from being devoid of all hope and encouragement, at the end of this paragraph Peter is going to hold up Jesus as an example of enduring persecution.
This pain would constitute “suffering unjustly.” This suffering would be unjust in that the servant would not deserve the punishment. The master might just make unreasonable demands or he might just be in a bad mood.