“Live such good lives among the Gentiles that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. – 1 Peter 2:12
John Calvin’s words on this passage are quite illuminating. After some predictable comments on the basic New Testament theme of the Christian’s duty to war against sin, he draws out the implications of the Christian’s pursuit of doing good deeds:
…he expressly says among the Gentiles; for the Jews were not only hated everywhere, but were also almost abhorred. The more carefully, therefore, ought they to have laboured to wipe off the odium and infamy attached to their name by a holy life and a well-regulated conduct. For that admonition of Paul ought to be attended to, “To give no occasion to those who seek occasion.” Therefore the evil speakings and the wicked insinuations of the ungodly ought to stimulate us to lead an upright life; for it is no time for living listlessly and securely, when they sharply watch us in order to find out whatever we do amiss.1Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles: The First Epistle of Peter trans. the Rev. John Owen (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1999), pp. 78-79
He then observes that the Christian’s upright life before secular eyes may be a means by which God saves them:
Peter shews…even that the unbelieving, led by our good works, would become obedient to God, and thus by their own conversion give glory to him…”2Ibid., p. 79.
For further thought:
- We are used to thinking about the necessity of holiness in terms of our personal battles with sin so that we may grow in sanctification. But what are the political implications of this verse from 1 Peter?
- Following out the remainder of Peter’s thought in this passage (see subsequent posts here), what should we do about our own political thoughts and deeds if they do not tend to cause unbelievers to glorify God?