Having identified his readers as elect sojourners, temporary dwellers here on earth while traveling on their way to their heavenly home, Peter begins a series of applications as to how to impact the culture around them by their conduct and behavior.
Some of these household servants (domestic workers) were treated unjustly. They were physically and verbally abused for no fault of their own. Peter, in keeping with our Lord’s teaching on loving one’s enemies (Luke 6:27-29), exhorts them to submit to their unjust masters and to show them respect.
Peter then goes on to set before the believers the ultimate experience of unjust suffering, that of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was tried at the judgment seat of both Pilate and Herod, and neither could find any fault in Him that was worthy of death. Yet, He was unjustly beaten, mocked, and condemned to die as a criminal; how did Jesus respond to all of this? It tells us in Isaiah 53:7: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” Not only did He not seek physical revenge, he did not allow hatred to form in His heart against those who mistreated him. Instead of reviling and cursing, he blessed by asking God to forgive them, and committed His soul to Him who judges righteously. This He did, leaving us an example that we might follow in His steps; Christ, as the shepherd and overseer of our souls, has not only gone before us, but keeps us and comforts us in the midst of our afflictions.