Epistle of Third Sunday After Easter

1 Peter 2:11-19

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, to refrain yourselves from carnal desires, which war against the soul, having your conversation good among the Gentiles: that whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by the good works which they shall behold in you, glorify God in the day of visitation. Be ye subject therefore to every human creature for God’s sake: whether it be to the king as excelling, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of the good: for so is the will of God, that by doing well you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: as free, and not as making liberty a cloak for malice, but as the servants of God. Honour all men: love the brotherhood: fear God: honour the king. Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy before God: in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Verse 11. I beseech you … to refrain, &c. from all unlawful and disorderly passions, that the Gentiles not yet converted may have nothing to blame in your lives and conversation, but may be edified and induced to praise God. Wi.

Verse 12. In the day of visitation. God is said to visit his people, sometimes by afflictions and punishments, and sometimes by graces and favours. Some think S. Peter here, by the day of visitation, means the approaching destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and that the sense is, that the heathen Romans seeing your peaceable dispositions and pious conversations, may have a favourable opinion of the Christian religion, and be converted. Others, that you and they to whom the gospel is preached, may glorify God when he visits them with graces and favours, whether exterior or interior. Wi. — Be careful not to give occasion to scandal. Detraction is the life of the world, and piety is most exposed to its shafts, because it most condemns the maxims of its followers.

Verse 13. To every human creature, to every one whom the order of Providence has placed over you, whether it be to emperors or kings, who have the supreme power in kingdoms, or to governors of provinces; obey your temporal princes, though heathens and idolaters, (as the Roman emperors were at that time enemies to the Christian religion) in all that is not sinful and against the law of God: for this is the will of God, and all power is from God. See Rom.s xiii. In like manner (v. 18) servants must be subject and obey their masters, though they be infidels. See 1 Cor. vii. By this you will silence the ignorance and calumnies of foolish men, who pretended that the Christian religion taught them to be disobedient to princes, and to be subjects of Christ only, their supreme spiritual king. Wi.

Verse 16. As free; to wit, from the slavery of sin, but take care not to make this Christian freedom and liberty a cloak for malice, as they do, who pretend that this makes subjects free from their obedience to temporal princes and magistrates; or servants free from the obedience due to their masters, even when they are froward, ill-humoured, or cross to them. Wi. — There were some heretics in the days of S. Peter, as there are at present, who under pretext of evangelical liberty seek to be free from all even lawful subjection, and thus set themselves above the ordinances of both civil and ecclesiastical power.

Verse 19. Take notice that this is praiseworthy, an effect of God’s grace, a thing acceptable to God, when you suffer injuries patiently; whereas it is no glory, nothing that deserves commendation or reward, either before God or man, to suffer for doing ill, as a malefactor, who deserves punishments. But it is glorious and meritorious for you to suffer as Christians, and for the Christian faith: be not then ashamed to suffer in this manner. These sufferings are marks of God’s favour towards you, and you have the example of Christ, which you must imitate. Wi.


1876-1877 — The Christian Constitution of States

From the Encycliacal "Immortale Dei," November 1, 1885

1876 In a like manner the Church cannot approve that liberty which begets an aversion for the most sacred laws of God and casts aside the obedience due lawful authority. For this is more truly license than liberty. And very rightly is it called “the liberty of ruin” * by Augustine, and “a cloak of malice” by the Apostle Peter [ 1 Pet. 2:16]; rather, since it is beyond reason, it is true slavery, for “whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin” [John 8:34]. On the other hand, that liberty is genuine and to be sought after, which, from the point of view of the individual, does not permit man to be a slave of errors and passions, most abominable masters, if it guides its citizens in public office wisely, ministers generously to the opportunity for increasing means of well-being, and

1877 protects the state from foreign influence.–This liberty, honorable and worthy of man, the Church approves most of all, and never ceases to strive and struggle for its preservation sound and strong among the nations.–In fact, whatever is of the greatest value in the state for the common welfare; whatever has been usefully established to curb the license of rulers who do not consult the people’s good; whatever prevents highest authority from improperly invading municipal and family affairs; whatever is of value for preserving the dignity, the person of man, and the quality of rights among individual citizens, of all such things the records of past ages testify that Catholic Church has always been either the discoverer, or the promoter, or the protector. Therefore, always consistent with herself, if on the one hand she rejects immoderate liberty, which for individuals and states falls into license or slavery, on the other hand she willingly and gladly embraces the better things which the day brings forth, if they truly contain prosperity for this life, which is, as it were,

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