"Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king." 1 Peter 2:17 NKJV

The ordering here is curious: people, brotherhood, God... king/emperor. It almost feels like a progression, except if that were the case then surely the king should have come before God, if not also the 'brotherhood'.

Why did Peter order these four items in this manner? In particular, why is the king the final item?


2 Answers 2


If we ignore the articles, the structure of 1 Peter 2:17 is simple - it consists of four phrases that are each: an accusative 2nd person plural noun, followed by, an imperative verb. Let me set this out clearly.

  1. Everyone honor
  2. the brotherhood love
  3. [the] God fear
  4. the king honor

The above chiastic pattern shown by the verbs is the first clue - the outer two ("honor") are the same while the inner two are almost opposites (Love vs fear)

Each statement addresses itself to a different sphere:

  1. Civil (everyone)
    • Ecclesiastical (Christian brotherhood)
    • Ecclesiastical (God)
  2. Civil (king, ruler of society)

The Nouns show a similar pattern:

  1. Plural
  2. . Singular
  3. . Singular
  4. Plural

The first two are different societal groups; the last two are rulers.

Now, if the places of the last two were swapped in this sequence, we would have a classic Hebrew parallelism but without matching elements. However, as it is, we have a neat chiastic structure with (as usually) the more important elements at the center.

Thus, Peter betrays himself as a person who thinks and writes in Hebrew thought patterns.


1 Peter 2:17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

The ordering seems to reflect that of the preceding verses:

1 Peter 2:12-14 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.

The Apostle seems to move from the general (gentiles as a whole) to the particular (the gentile rulers). When he repeats the idea, he specifies (gentile) believers as a subset of the gentiles (mostly non-Christian), and, in both instances, groups God with the king, since they both represent authority, the latter deriving his from the former (and not the other way around), as explicitly mentioned in 2:13, resulting in the ordering noticed by the OP.

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