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1 Peter 2:13 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
13 Subject yourselves to every human authority for the sake of the Lord, whether to a king as having supreme authority,
Subject yourselves to every human authority. Gr., ‘to every creation of man,’ (ἀνθρωπίνῃ κτίσει.) The meaning is, to every institution or appointment of man; to wit, of those who are in authority or who are appointed to administer the government. The laws, institutes, and appointments of such a government may be spoken of as the creation of man, that is, as what man makes. Of course, what is said here must be understood with the limitation everywhere, implying that what is ordained by those in authority is not contrary to the law of God. See Acts 4:19. On the general duty here enjoined of subjection to civil authority, see Rom. 13:1–7.
For the sake of the Lord. Because he has required it and has entrusted this power to civil rulers. See Rom. 13:5. Comp. Eph. 6:7.
Whether to a king. It has been commonly supposed that there is a reference here to the Roman emperor, who might be called king because, in him, the supreme power resided. The common title of the Roman sovereign was, as used by the Greek writers, ᾀυτοκράτωρ, and among the Romans themselves, imperator (emperor;), but the title king was also given to the sovereign. John 19:15, ‘We have no king but Cesar.’ Acts 17:7, ‘And these all do contrary to the decrees of Cesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.’ Peter undoubtedly had particular reference to the Roman emperors, but he used a general term that would apply to all in whom the supreme power resided. The injunction here would require submission to such authority, by whatever name it might be called. The meaning is that we are to be subject to that authority, whether exercised by the sovereign in person or by those who are appointed by him.
As having supreme authority. Not supreme in the sense of being superior to God, or not being subject to him, but in the sense of being over all subordinate officers.
By Albert Barnes and Edward D. Andrews