Sojourners and Civil Authority

It is the Fourth of July weekend and we will be celebrating the wonderful gift of liberty our country's founding fathers gave us.  I thought it would be good for us to recall what the Lord tells us about our relationship with civil authority.
The picture to the left is that of the Gate of Domitian entering into (or leaving!) the city of Hierapolis.  Hierapolis was a city across the Lycus River Valley from Laodicea, both in the region of Asia Minor.  Hierapolis was known for its hot springs which were believed to have healing, medicinal powers (a note of interest is that largest ancient necropolis is found outside the gates of Hierapolis!).  What is significant about this picture is that in order to pass through the gate a traveler had to pay homage to the Emperor Domitian, who was the Emperor of Rome about twenty or so years after Peter wrote I Peter (81-96).  By that time emperor worship was established throughout the Roman world, and it became a severe trial for those who followed Jesus.  Nero was the Emperor when Peter wrote (54-68) and he was certainly was not friendly to followers of Jesus.  In fact, when Rome burned in 64, he made Christians the scapegoat and with the utmost cruelty tortured and killed them.  With that background in mind we will read I Peter 2:13-17 and listen to Peter and the Lord address the subject of a sojourner's relationship to civil authority.
To get the immediate context read carefully I Peter 2:11-17.  The questions below will hopefully help you think about this text of Scripture.
1.    Verses 11-12 set the context for our text today.  How would you put these words into your own?  What is Peter's conviction in verse 12?  When does 'vindication' come?
2.    One of the ways we keep our "conduct honorable among the Gentiles" is to "be subject...to every institution" (v. 13).  What does Peter tell us about civil authority in v. 14?  What is their role?
3.     What do you think Peter means when he qualifies our subjection to civil authorities by the phrase "for the Lord's sake"?  
4.    What is God's will for us in relationship to civil authority (v. 15)?
5.    How would you explain Peter's exhortation in verse 15?  In other words, how do we live free and yet be in subjection "to every human institution"?  
6.    How might people use their freedom in Christ as a cover-up for evil in relationship to the state or federal governments?
7.    Read Mark 12:13-17.  How would you interpret Jesus' well-known statement in v. 17?
8.    Read Romans 13:1-7.  What additional light does this add on our relationship with civil authorities?
9.    Are there any limits to our submission to civil authorities?  (Consider Mark 13:9-13; Acts 4:13-22; 5:17-32; Phil. 1:12-13).  If so, what are they?
10.    How might you put v. 17 in our text today in your own words?  
11.    What did the Lord show you from His Word today?  

Hope to see you on Sunday, Lord willing!

Dan