In 1 Peter 2:13–17, the Apostle Peter reminded the “elect exiles” of his day (1 Peter 1:1) that they were but “sojourners” (1 Peter 2:11). They were to keep their “conduct among the Gentiles honorable” so that when they were reviled as evildoers, the revilers might “see [their] good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12). They were to “be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution,” including “the emperor as supreme” or to “governors as sent by him” (1 Peter 2:13–14).
Thus the command to do good. And thus the promise that they should, consequently, “silence the ignorance of foolish people” (1 Peter 2:15). Indeed, they were to “live as people who are free,” not using their freedom “as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16). They were to “honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:17).
Viret’s great purpose, like Peter’s before him, was reformation, not revolution. He therefore encouraged his beloved brothers and sisters, as oft-beleaguered sojourners, to be “the best of subjects.” He declared, “There is no doubt that rulers are—beyond compare—much better served by believers who know the Gospel than by any other men.”
Viret was deeply beloved in his day. To friend and foe alike he was known as the “Smile of the Reformation.” To others, he was the “Angel of the Reformation.” There is little wonder why.
Heroes of the faith have always been those who sacrificed their lives, fortunes, and reputations for the sake of the gospel.