CLAIM: Peter writes, “Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable” (1 Pet. 2:18). He even refers to slaves taking a “beating” (v.20 NIV). Critics argue that this demonstrates how the biblical authors supported the institution of slavery. Is this the case?
RESPONSE: Peter’s comments need to be read in light of verse 16, which commands freedom –not slavery (“Live as free men… live as servants of God” NIV). Even though God sees all humans as free to serve him, Peter understood that there were unjust systems at work. For a complete response to the NT view of slavery, see comments on “The Bible and Slavery.”