The Pulpit Commentary

1 Peter 2:16 (1 Peter 2:16)

As free . This verse is not to be taken with what follows, for it does not well cohere with the contents of 1 Peter 2:17 ; but either with 1 Peter 2:14 ( 1 Peter 2:15 being regarded as parenthetical) or with 1 Peter 2:15 , notwithstanding the change of case in the original, which presents no real difficulty; the meaning being that Christian freedom must show itself, not in license, but in willing obedience to constituted authorities: "Not only for wrath, but for conscience' sake" ( Romans 13:5 ). Those whom the truth makes free are free indeed, but true freedom implies submission to legitimate authority. And not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness ; literally, not having your liberty as a cloak . The word rendered "cloak" ( ἐπικάλυμμα ) is used in the Septuagint ( Exodus 26:14 ) for the covering of the tabernacle. The pretence of Christian liberty must not be made a covering, a concealment, of wickedness. But as the servants of God. The truest liberty is that of the servants of God; his service is perfect freedom (comp. Romans 6:16-23 ).

- The Pulpit Commentary